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Village Living Volume 6 | Issue 3 | June 2015

Remembering Alex

neighborly news & entertainment for Mountain Brook

Lane Parke: Generation next

Read more about the founding of Alabama Forever and the legacy Alex Sokol has left in Mountain Brook.

Features page B1

Where’s Mocha?

John and Rele Evans are continuing the legacy of their grandfather and father, who first developed the Lane Parke property more than 60 years ago. Construction is scheduled to begin on the development’s new retail phase in June. Photo by Keith McCoy.


Many have been searching for a dog named Mocha since she disappeared from Crestline. Find details inside.

The completed Lane Parke development has been years in the making. Talk of redevelopment started in the 1990s, the city approved its master plan in 2012, and construction began on the new apartments in 2013.

A slate of eight new restaurants and retailers coming to the development’s first retail phase was released May 1 following years of anticipation. A groundbreaking will be held for the retail phase in June. Evson Inc.’s John Evans said they could have developed a tenant list sooner but they

wanted to take the time necessary to focus on attracting unique boutique retailers. “It has been a marathon, but we can see the finish line now,” he said. For Evans’ family, ties to development

See LANE PARKE | page A22

Features page A17

INSIDE Sponsors ........A4 City ..................A6 Business .........A12 Community ....A14

School House...B5 Sports ...............B8 Faith .................B13 Calendar ........ B14

Pre-Sort Standard U.S. Postage PAID Memphis, TN Permit #830

Hitting the road Greg Echols, Mountain Brook’s legendary track, cross-country coach, wraps up career

By DAVID KNOX Greg Echols will probably wake up every morning and slip on a green Spartans shirt. It’s more than habit. It’s been a way of life. The retiring track and cross-country coach arrived in the Mountain Brook system not as a coach, but as a second-grader. His parents both taught in the system, and his grandmother taught at Crestline when it was a two-room schoolhouse — 94 years ago. After graduating from MBHS and then the University of South Alabama, he returned as a teacher and coach at Brookwood Forest Elementary. He progressed to the junior high and then the high school and just completed 38 years of coaching track and crosscountry this season, his 22nd year at the high school.

See ECHOLS | page A21

Greg Echols has coached at Mountain Brook schools for 38 years. He retired in May. Photo by Keith McCoy.

Village Living

A2 • June 2015

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June 2015 • A3

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Village Living

A4 • June 2015

About Us Please Support our Community Partners

Photo of the month

“Popsicle princesses” Charlotte Warner, Elle Lourie, Lilly Weiss, Lila Warner and Emma Weiss enjoy a cool treat. Photo courtesy of Jill Warner.

Editor’s Note By Jennifer Gray With the start of summer, I’m not sure who is most excited — kids, parents, teachers or grandparents. There is something wonderful in this busy world about not having a lot of structure for at least 10 weeks. Sure, there are camps and summer reading to be done, but in a lot of ways, each day can be planned on the fly. Kids don’t have to be up by 6 a.m. Even working parents have a break from some of the hectic pace of the mornings when not everyone has to be out of the house by 7:45. So how are you going to spend those wonderful days? Well, this issue is a great place to start. If you are looking for a great summer read, you will want to pick up a copy of Mountain Brook resident and New York Times bestselling author Patti

Callahan Henry’s new book The Idea of Love. Reading her newest novel each summer has become one of the things I look forward to and savor each year. Also out for summer is Anna Meade Harris’s book, Fresh Faith. Read all about Anna and how a mission to encourage parents of boys has taken on a life of its own and grown into this book. There is also the Emmett O’Neal summer reading program. Each year kids get so excited about the theme, activities and prizes they can earn from participating. Make sure you get your school-age children and grandchildren enrolled so that they can join in the fun. We have a listing of local churches’ plans for vacation bible school this summer and stories to wrap up the

school year. It is always so great to see MBHS’s Leadership Mountain Brook’s ideas and what projects they chose to focus on. Many have been implemented in the past and made successful change or improvement to our community, so read more about this year’s projects inside. Maybe consider using this summer to try something different in Mountain Brook. Browse through that shop you’ve been saying you’d like to pop in to, grab dinner at one of the local eateries that you haven’t been to in awhile, check out the new Cahaba River Walk, or stroll around the villages with a cool treat from one of the stores. Enjoy the summer and all the Mountain Brook has to offer.

Village Living Publisher: Creative Director: Editor: Managing Editor: Sports Editor: Staff Writers: Community Reporter: Editorial Assistant: Copy Editor: Graphic Designer: Advertising Manager: Sales and Distribution:

Contributing Writer: Published by:

Dan Starnes Keith McCoy Jennifer Gray Madoline Markham David Knox Katie Turpen Sydney Cromwell Roy L. Williams Madison Miller Louisa Jeffries Emily VanderMey Matthew Allen Rhonda Smith Warren Caldwell Don Harris Michelle Salem Haynes Kari Kampakis Village Living LLC

School House Contributors: Catherine Gasque - Cherokee Bend, Collins Clegg - Crestline, Kathleen Woodry - Brookwood Forest, Elizabeth Farrar - Mountain Brook High School, Hilary Ross- Mountain Brook Elementary, Dena Berte - Mountain Brook Junior High Contributing Photographers: Karim Shamsi-Basha, Image Arts

Contact Information: Village Living #3 Office Park Circle, Suite 316 Birmingham, AL 35223 313-1780

Please submit all articles, information and photos to: P.O. Box 530341 Birmingham, AL 35253

For advertising contact:

Legals: Village Living is published monthly. Reproduction or use of editorial or graphic content without prior permission is prohibited. Village

Living is designed to inform the Mountain Brook community of area school, faith, family and community events. Information in Village Living is gathered from sources considered reliable but the accuracy cannot be guaranteed. All articles/photos submitted become the property of Village Living. 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) 370-0732 or by email.

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June 2015 • A5

Village Living

A6 • June 2015

City Construction begins on Cahaba Road condos

Mayor Terry Oden speaks at The Manning’s groundbreaking. Photo by Madoline Markham.

By MADOLINE MARKHAM Bonnie Austin heard a lion roar outside her back door every day for two and a half years. In March she and her Cahaba Road neighbors bid their daily feline greeting from the nearby Birmingham Zoo good-bye as they moved to make way for The Manning, a new condominium development. Ground broke for The Manning April 28. Eighty percent of the development’s 14 units have been presold. Together they will take up about 2 acres where eight homes are currently located. “It is not a large project, but I think it will have a large significance as it connects Mountain Brook Village and English Village,” real estate developer and longtime Mountain Brook resident Ron Durham said at the groundbreaking.

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The two-story building will be set back on the property with a landscape buffer between it and Cahaba Road. Units range from the $600,000s to $1 million. The building is named for Warren H. Manning, the first landscape architect and land planner for Mountain Brook.This Boston architect completed the master plan for the city in 1916. Margie Ingram and her team at Ingram and Associates are handling the sales and marketing for the project, and B.L. Harbert International is the contractor. Barrett Architecture Studio and Environmental Design Studio are both involved with the development as well. For more information, visit themanningcondos. com.

City to make Overbrook traffic improvements By MADOLINE MARKHAM The city is considering traffic improvements at Overbrook Road intersections around Mountain Brook Junior High School. Improvements to the Mountain Brook Parkway intersection are scheduled to move forward immediately. At its May 11 meeting, the city council heard updates on Apple Grant recommendations for the Montevallo Road-Overbrook Road intersection and the Overbrook Road-Mountain Brook Parkway-Pine Ridge Road intersection from Richard Caudle of Skipper Consultants. Traffic from Mountain Brook Junior High and Mountain Brook Parkway currently causes congestion at Overbrook Road and Mountain Brook Parkway. Neither a traffic circle nor paving would be possible at this intersection, Caudle said. Skipper recommended installing vehicle detection for all lanes at the intersection, implementing a queue detector for the westbound turn lane on Overbrook Road, installing a pedestrian signal for a crossing and installing a new traffic signal controller that would adjust the timings of the light based on field observations. The project would cost $60,000 but could possibly come in under $50,000. “We think it would be money well spent for the city,” Caudle said. “It won’t make everything perfect, but

it will make a difference.” Council members said they think the signal timing is needed and that they would like to have the changes made before school starts back in August. At Montevallo Road and Overbrook Road, the intersection is also affected by Mountain Brook Junior High traffic as well as by traffic at the Montevallo-Church Street intersection. “Unless the intersection at Church and Montevallo Road is solved, this will never be solved,” Caudle said. In the short term, Skipper recommended increasing the green time at Montevallo and Overbrook for westbound left traffic and decreasing it for eastbound and westbound through movements during the morning. Right now the first movement has 40 seconds and the second has 20 seconds; these would be flip-flopped to 20 and 40 seconds, respectively, during morning peak hours. The council recommended pursuing this small change to the timing. For the long term, Skipper recommended construction a left turn lane on Montevallo Road westbound and extending the right turn lane on Overbrook Road northbound. These projects would cost $691,000 and $174,000, respectively. Caudle planned to prepare a contact for the Overbrook Road-Mountain Brook Parkway intersection following the May 11 meeting.

5/6/15 2:07 PM

June 2015 • A7

To-go restaurant planned for Crestline By MADOLINE MARKHAM

CUP Food You Pick Up will be located in the former Gia’s Cakes location in Crestline Village. Photo by Madoline Markham.

A new fast-casual restaurant in Crestline Village will layer meals into cups. CUP Food You Pick Up will open in the former Gia’s Cakes location at 73 Church Street this summer. The City Council approved a lunchtime conditional use application for the restaurant at its May 11 meeting. Breakfast, lunch and dinner meals will be prepackaged, and about 80 percent of orders will be served to-go at the establishment. Still, there will be limited seating, with six to eight seats inside and six to eight outside. The owners said they chose the business because of the walkability of the village.

A new yoga studio for Mountain Brook Village By MADOLINE MARKHAM A new yoga studio is coming to Mountain Brook Village. Mountain Brook Yoga will be located in part of the current Linda Dobbins Dance storefront at 2414 Canterbury Road. The studio will occupy about 2,400 square feet. The owners plan to add showers to the current changing rooms. In addition to yoga services, Mountain Brook Yoga will sell yoga clothing items and accessories as well as bottle waters, juice, and blended fruit and vegetable health drinks. Yoga is a discipline that enhances one’s health and well being by systematically stretching and strengthening muscles throughout the body, increasing circulation to internal organs and

glands, quieting the nervous system and improving concentration. “We hope to enhance and improve the lives of community members,” owners James Lee and Linda West said in the conditional use application that the council approved on April 27. “Yoga allows students to progress at their own pace and is suitable for young people and seniors alike.” Classes will run between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., with limited classes and sizes between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Each will be 1.5 hours long, and will accommodate no more than 25 students. Linda Dobbins Dance is moving to a new location near its current one in Mountain Brook Village. The yoga studio plans to begin its lease in August.

Menu items include a Choked Up Chicken Cup with grilled chicken, pasta, artichoke hearts, capers, sun-dried tomatoes and Parmesan with a “CUPlement” of artichoke salsa; a Hick Up Pork Cup with pulled pork, cabbage, three-bean salad and potato stix, served with a “CUPlement” of whole-grain mustard barbecue sauce; and a Heads Up Seafood Cup with seasoned salmon, cabbage, kale, capers, quinoa and a “CUPlement” of lemon pepper sauce and edamame hummus. It will also serve vegetarian, breakfast, snack-size and dessert cups. CUP Food You Pick Up’s hours will be 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. The chain currently has two locations on Highway 30A in Florida. For more information, visit

Village Living

A8 • June 2015

Council updates By MADOLINE MARKHAM At its recent meetings, the Mountain Brook City Council: }} Heard an update on the Piggly Wiggly development from Jeffrey Brewer with Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood. Construction on the store is scheduled to be complete around Christmas, and it should open for business by early February 2016. The construction is estimated to take about eight months, and they are hoping to start paving before Thanksgiving. }} Heard a paving update from Public Works Director Ronnie Vaughn. Dunn Construction plans to start work on the major thoroughfares June 1, and work on a few smaller roads wbegan around May 18. }} Appointed W. Craig Fravert, Thomas Yardley and Paige Daniel to Finance Committee. }} Proclaimed May 10-16 Women’s Lung Health Week. The proclamation states that every five minutes a woman is diagnosed with lung cancer, that it is the number one cancer killer of women in the United States and that the lung cancer rate in women has almost doubled over the past 37 years.

}} Awarded a contract to Lose & Associates for a new Park and Recreation master plan. }} Approved a lunchtime conditional use application for CUP Food You Pick Up at 73 Church Street in Crestline Village. }} Approved license agreements homeowners for a West Montcrest Drive sidewalk construction project: Robert Bradford and Katie Avery, 12 West Montcrest Drive; John and Gina F. Thomas, 16 West Montcrest Drive; and John B. and Kerri C. Windle, 14 West Montcrest Drive. }} Approved a change order for Cahaba River Walk. Not all of the $14,500 remaining in the park’s budget will be used for pedestrian crossing signals as originally planned, so City Manager Sam Gaston suggested transferring some it to cover the $19,053.86 change order for an intersection walkway and drainage improvements required by Jefferson County. }} Set a date for a budget planning work session held by the mayor and council for the FY-20l6 Budget Schedule. Budget meetings with city departments are scheduled to take place by the end of July. }} Approved the city’s participation in the 2015 Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday for Aug.

Ashley Lyerly of the American Lung Association listens as Mayor Terry Oden proclaims May 10-16 Women’s Lung Health Week. Photo by Madoline Markham.

7-9. Mountain Brook will exempt certain school supplies, computers and clothing items from municipal sales or use tax. }} Approved a conditional service use application for Mountain Brook Yoga’s classes at 2414 Canterbury Road in Mountain Brook Village, subject to specified conditions, as

submitted by James Lee. }} Declared a 2008 model postage machine obsolete and as surplus and authorized it for trade-in, and authorized a lease agreement for a Pitney Bowes Connect +SOOW Mailing System between the city and Secap Financial.

‘Serial robber’ charged with Office Park and Brookwood Village armed robberies By ROY L. WILLIAMS A Tuscaloosa County man has been charged with recent Office Park and Brookwood Village armed robberies, among other charges. Authorities are calling the suspect, Devon Samir Minter, 21, of Lake View, a serial robber, charging him with similar robberies in Hoover and other area cities. On May 4, Minter allegedly drove up in a black older model Dodge Charger, walked up to

a woman’s car, displayed a handgun and stole her purse, cell phone and credit cards. She had been sitting in the parking lot at 201 Office Park Drive when she saw him drive up and park behind her. On the evening of April 30, the suspect robbed another victim sitting in his car in the parking lot of Macy’s at Brookwood Village. In both cases, the victim was armed when he approached and after taking the items ran and then drove away. Multiple law enforcement agencies throughout the Birmingham metro area worked together

for a few weeks, comparing evidence and similarities among several robbery cases. On May 5, Birmingham investigators discovered and shared a crucial piece of video evidence that led to Minter being identified. Arrests warrants were obtained May 7, and a $375,000 bond has been set. In addition to the Mountain Brook incidents, on April 7 at 6:30 p.m. a woman was robbed at gunpoint while sitting in her vehicle in the south parking deck at the Riverchase

Galleria. The gunman took her wallet, credit cards and iPhone before fleeing in an unknown vehicle.  On April 17 at 8:20 p.m., another woman was exiting her car in the north parking deck of the Riverchase Galleria when she was approached by an unknown male who pointed a handgun and demanded her valuables. He took her purse, credit cards and iPhone before fleeing.

June 2015 • A9

Fifteen-minute, four-hour parking spots coming to villages By MADOLINE MARKHAM The villages will soon have new 15-minute parking spots in select locations and longer parking limits in Crestline and English villages. After discussing parking limits with village merchants, City Planner Dana Hazen recommended changing twohour parking signs in Crestline Village and English Village to four-hour parking signs at the May 11 city council meeting. Hazen said the longer time amounts to encourage people to stay and eat and shop in the village longer while still discouraging employees from parking there all day. The new time limits will also be consistent with the time limits in Mountain Brook Village. The city also proposed adding 15-minute parking spaces so that one such space would be located on most blocks of the villages. Two 15-minute spaces have already been designated at Ritch’s Pharmacy and Ousler’s in Mountain Brook Village. The merchants said the spaces have allowed customers a chance to park to pick up orders quickly. “We have to try something new,” council member Lloyd Shelton said. “We have to listen to the merchants.” Public Works Director Ronnie Vaughn said that the new signs should go into effect by May 25. Merchants who have requested short-term parking: }} The Cook Store (Mountain Brook Village) }} White Room Bridal (Mountain

New Existing

Mountain Brook Village (North End)

This map shows new and existing 15-minute parking spaces in part of Mountain Brook Village.

Brook Village) }} Kay Cleaner (Mountain Brook Village) }} Olexa’s (Mountain Brook Village) }} Mountain Brook Cleaners (Crestline)

}} Iz Café (English Village) Other potential short-term parking locations: }} Mountain Brook Creamery (Mountain Brook Village)

}} Berthon’s/SneakyPete’s (Mountain Brook Village) }} Oli.O (Mountain Brook Village) }} Green Door Vitamins/Village Framer (Mountain Brook Village) }} Table Matters/Another Broken Egg

(Mountain Brook Village) }} Charlotte Woodson/Beverly Ruff (Mountain Brook Village) }} Hassig Chiropractic (Crestline) }} Taco Mama/Harbin’s (Crestline) }} City Hall (Crestline) The council also approved changing signage for 11 parking spots along Park Lane on the south side of Little Hardware in English Village to encourage them it be used for Little Hardware employee parking. The council had discussed solutions for a shortage of long-term parking, and property owner Mike Mouron asked that the city instead designate the spaces along Park Lane as “Little Hardware Customers and Employees Only.” Hazen noted that the city does not traditionally designate street parking for a specific merchant. In response, Mouron said he owns part of the Park Lane land and that he does not want employees from other businesses to park along the street. Council Member Billy Pritchard said that there are similar situations in the villages where businesses own part of public parking areas and that he fears if Little Hardware employee-only spots were approved that it would open up that possibility to other businesses. The council ultimately decided to change the Park Lane spots to a four-hour limit and encourage Little Hardware employees to park there. Pritchard asked Mouron and Little Hardware’s owner Frank Davies to take note and report back to the council on how these changes work.

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Village Living

A10 • June 2015

Wreath-laying ceremony honors lives of fallen officers By MADOLINE MARKHAM The lives of three fallen police officers were memorialized May 11 during a wreath laying ceremony. The families of Theron Houlditch, Freddie Jackson Harp and George Todd Herring attended the event at the Mountain Brook Police Department Memorial in Crestline. Houlditch was checking on an abandoned car in 1990 when a teenager on a motorcycle sped over the hill behind him and struck him. Harp was shot and killed during a traffic stop in 1973, and Herring was struck by a truck while he escorted a funeral procession in 1987. “They devoted themselves so completely to the community that they lay down their lives,” said Marshal Marty Keely, a former Mountain Brook Police chief and current U.S. Marshal of the Northern District of Alabama. Keely was a first responder when Harp was killed, and was chief when Herring and Houlditch lost their lives.

“We honor them not because they gave their lives but because of the lives they lived,” Keely said later in his speech. “[Dying] is a burden that those who take the oath of office are willing to accept… By placing this wreath, we continue to honor officers Harp, Herring and Houlditch.” Abrielle Mullins, a country music singer and daughter of Mountain Brook Fire Battalion Chief Chris Mullins, sang the National Anthem to open the ceremony, and Jeff Jones closed it by playing “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes. Department chaplain Detective Don Garrett spoke an invocation and benediction. The families of the officers were invited to a lunch at City Hall following the ceremony.

Mountain Brook Police Officers lined the department’s memorial during a wreath laying ceremony held on May 11. Photo by Madoline Markham.

Go online for more.

Council addresses concerns about leaf blowers, other noises By MADOLINE MARKHAM The city addressed complaints from residents regarding leaf blowers and other noises during the April 27 city council meeting. Kathy Thomson said she has trouble working from home when on some days she hears leaf blowers from her Brookwood Road home in the morning. She also said she has heard them as early as 6:45 a.m. and as late as 7:45 p.m. Thomson suggested the landscape providers use new,

quieter leaf blowers on the market and restrict the hours to 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Since June 2014, the city has prohibited leaf blowers between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. on weekdays and between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. on weekends. Mayor Terry Oden suggested they send letters to landscaping companies to suggest they use newer, quieter leaf blowing machines and to solicit feedback from them, and the city plans to follow that suggestion. Another resident, Albert Tinsley had

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complained in March about the fan noise and the “unsightly” appearance of the black-screened chain link fence around the equipment yard behind the police station in Crestline Village. Tinsley, Council President Virginia Smith and city Finance Director Steve Boone met at the site to address the request. Since then, AT&T replaced a fan motor, and the city’s HVAC contactor repaired a fan, resolving part of the noise issue. Boone has quoted the cost of a wooden fence to be built in front of the existing chain

link fence for $4,462. Council President Virginia Smith said that the wooden fence would reduce the noise but not significantly, and the city is looking into other noise calming options to address the issue further. At the May 11 council meeting, Boone reported that the decibel readings from Tinsley’s home are within normal range and that he does not recommend adding a wooden fence for aesthetic purposes but said that it would help with noise buffering.

June 2015 • A11


FUN Photo Contest

in a jpeg format s to o h p r u yo l ai To enter, em li e ag ll vi s@ to o h to p on. allowed per pers e ar s to o h p r u fo Only

#MBSummerFun be high quality st u m s to o h p g Winnin edit tion and photo cr and include a cap

Winners will be announced in the September issue.

Category 1: Any summer fun photo Category 2: A summer fun photo displaying a copy of Village Living wherever you are

Deadline is August 9, 2015

Village Living

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Coming Soon John Cassimus, owner of Maki Fresh, has announced plans to open Sawtooth Cookhouse at 53 Church St., in the former CVS/Pharmacy building. An opening date has not been announced as leasing negotiations are ongoing, but he hopes to be open by late summer.


News and Accomplishments

Business news

Aliant Bank has been rebranded as USAmeriBank. The bank has a location in Crestline at 92 Euclid Ave. 408-2090,


to share? Business news

Cup: Food You Pick Up will open soon at 73 Church St. in Crestline. The restaurant concept, based in the Florida Panhandle, offers layered meals that are served in cups, which are guaranteed to be fresh for five days after purchase. Plans call for five to seven stores in the Birmingham area.


June 2015 • A13

Good Fences of Alabama donated labor and materials for new fencing at the Tot Lot in Crestline Village. 2844 Overton Rd. 994-0531,


to share?

Relocations and Renovations

RealtySouth’s Mountain Brook Cahaba Office, 2807 Cahaba Road, welcomed Catherine Pewitt as a new real estate agent, and the Mountain Brook Crestline Office, 105 Euclid Ave., welcomed Amanda Dabbs as a new real estate agent. 870-5420 (Cahaba), 879-6330 (Crestline),


Coming Soon

The Dobbins Group has purchased an office building at 2914 Linden Ave. and will move to that location. The multifamily real estate firm was previously located in Mountain Brook at 500 Office Park Circle, Suite 420. 503-4000,


Hirings and Promotions

Coming Soon


Business news


to share? If you you are are in in a a brick brick and and mortar mortar business business If in Mountain Brook and want to in Mountain Brook and want to share share your event event with with the the community, community, your If you are in alet brick and mortar business let us us know. know. in Mountain Brook and want to share your event with the community, let us know.

Coming Soon Village Living iving Village Living

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If you are in a brick and mortar business in Mountain Brook and want to share your event with the community, let us know.

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BEST OF MOUNTAIN BROOK Village Living 2013 Best Mexican Food

Village Living

A14 • June 2015

Community Birmingham Belles presented

Front row: Frances Henley Conner , Shelly Grace Proctor, Clair Conzelman Godwin. Back row: Carson O’Neil Hull, Madeline Lysbeth DeBuys, Sarah Nace Hale, Margaret Hanna Pewitt, Madeline Elizabeth Barron. Photo courtesy of Dee Moore.

The Birmingham Belles 47th annual Birmingham Belle Presentation was held on April 19 at the Country Club of Birmingham. The purpose of the service organization is to give senior high school girls the opportunity and experience of volunteerism and civic responsibility as they gain knowledge about their community. The young ladies presented will be visible at city functions throughout the year. This past year the Birmingham Belles served more than 1,200 hours. Their volunteer opportunities include Arlington Summer Luncheons; delivering cookies baked from Belle recipes to assisted living homes; Birmingham Museum of Art; Christmas at Arlington; Big Oak Ranch; Decorators’ Show House; Mystics Halloween Parade; Mountain Brook Art Association Spring Art Festival; Mountain Brook Christmas Parade; The Birmingham

Zoo; Childcare Resources Fairy Tale Ball and Junior League of Birmingham’s Bargain Carousal. This year, Bennett Daye Searcy and Vivian Jane Walsh were the recipients of the 2015 Scholarship Fund, which was established to honor Birmingham Belle founder, the late Mrs. James Mallory Kidd Jr. The Birmingham Belle presentation coordinators were Julie and Sarah Patton Butler, Britney and Jane Ryland Elliott, Reed Ellis, Mary Margaret and Mary Winston Hendry, Ann and Mary Carlisle Jones, Andrea and Hannah Kelley, Leigh Anne and Betsy Lambert, Meg and Ellie Meadows, Kathryn and Maggie Reaves, and Donna and Caroline Savage. Jackson Winfield Kidd, Duncan Young Manley III, Samuell Owen Conzelman and Matthew Stanley Parker Jr. were on hand to assist as well.

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Steeple Arts celebrates 80 years

Front row: Maggie Lee, Emma Pounds, Catherine Pounds, Mary Harter Pounds, Madeline Woods. Second row: Frances Reynolds, Addie Lott, Anne Reynolds, Mary Bains Reynolds, Grace Stewart, Lily Lott, Cate Woods. Third row: Summer Robinett, Caroline Lewis, Catherine Corley, Callie Davis. Back row: Julia Bell Pope (soloist), Maggie Baker (soloist), Salley Rose Wilkerson. Photo by Image Arts.

Steeple Arts Academy of Dance celebrated its 80th anniversary by presenting students in a gala performance entitled “Happy Seasons” on May 10 at Samford University’s Wright Center. This season’s production was designed by Steeple Arts Director Deanny Coates Hardy to showcase the dancers in an 80-minute performance. Hardy, as well as instructors Annette Troxell-Collins, Bee Lewis, Mary Haley Byrne and Liz Kindred, choreographed the prodcution. Assistants to the director include Troxell-Collins,

Lewis, Kathy Nolan and Sanford Hardy. Assistant instructors are Mary Ellen Wall, Kelly Ireland, Brooke Lofton, Nicole Hardekopf, Maggie Baker, Mitzi Ireland, Nolan and Hardy. Two dance graduates were featured prominently in solo performances in this year’s show. Julia Bell Pope has been a dance student for 14 years, and Maggie Baker for eight years. The studio’s 2014-15 season marks 55 years of its location at 36 Church Street in Crestline Village in addition to its 80 years of dance instruction.

State-of-the-art gait analysis lab In-depth biomechanical exam 3D Laser mapping of the foot Specialty custom made orthotics for everyone from sports specific for all types of athletes to custom-made, brand name sandals and shoes Performed by a Board Certified Pedorthist (American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics)

June 2015 • A15

Haver, Smith up for LLS Man of the Year

Otey’s and Taco Mama Owner Will Haver, pictured, is running for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Man of the Year Award along with RealtySouth’s Fred Smith. Photo by Keith McCoy.

By MADOLINE MARKHAM Will Haver didn’t realize how many people had fathers, daughter and other family members with leukemia and lymphoma until this spring. Since he announced that he was running for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Man of the Year Award, at least 50 people have approached him to tell them about who they know who is battling or has battled the disease. “It’s more prevalent that I realized,” he said. “It’s been really eye opening.” The goal of the campaign is for each Man of the Year candidate to raise as much money as possible for LLS treatment, therapies and research during a 10-week period. The candidate who raises the most money is named Man of the Year. The campaign ends June 25 at 6:30 p.m.

“Thank goodness no one in my family is affected by it,” Haver said. “But my friends are affected by it, and that motivates you. This is a serious, serious deal.” Crestline-based RealtySouth realtor Fred Smith is in the running for Man of the Year, as well as six men and women, who are up for Woman of the Year. At the end of the day, Haver said all of the candidates hate cancer and are trying to get the same message out there: “donate, donate, donate.” Most donations in the campaign are not thousands of dollars but $10 or $20, he said. “Everyone wins,” Haver said. “These are good people I am competing against.” For more information about Man of the Year or to donate, visit, or lls-man-of-the-year-campaign/.


Village Living

A16 • June 2015

Sophomores presented at Candlelight Ball

Churches hold summer Vacation Bible Schools Area churches are hosting Vacation Bible School programs in June and July. Below are the details on each.

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church G-Force For rising 4K-sixth grade $10 registration fee includes T-shirt and CD of songs June 1-4, 9 a.m.-noon Register at

Mountain Brook Baptist Church Journey Off the Map For children age 4 on Sept. 1 or older July 6-10, 9 a.m.-noon Family Night: July 9, 5 p.m. To register, call 871-0331 or visit

Canterbury United Methodist G-Force Lower VBS (Completed 3K to second grade) June 8-12, 9 a.m.-noon Candlelight Ball chairmen and their daughters. Front row: Janie Branch, Jane Perry Starling, Janie Creighton, Celie Harris. Back row: Sumner Starling, Lynn Creighton, Elisabeth Branch, Kathy Harris.

Sophomore girls from Mountain Brook were presented at the 2015 Candlelight Ball held on April 25 at the Cahaba Grand Conference Center. A seated dinner preceded the presentation of the girls with their escorts. The setting for the ball, staged with the help of Robert Logan, featured touches of glimmering silver. A lighted chandelier graced the stage and framed the night sky backdrop for the presentation. The emcee for the evening was Zach Skipper. Following the presentation, the honorees, their dates and guests danced to

the music of 24/7 from Atlanta. Kathy Harris served as chairman of this year’s event; Elizabeth Branch, Lynn Creighton and Sumner Starling served as her co-chairmen. Secretary Kathleen Doss and Treasurer Jill Clark were also on the event committee. Leigh Ann Haas and Caroline Sirkin secured the band; Lee Dawkins and Cary Walheim were in charge of the boutonnieres; and chaperones were organized by Argie McDonald, Leigh Ann Davis and Stacey Torch. Jane Huston Crommelin and Jennifer Childs were in charge of the decorations, and

dinner/seating was organized by Leigh Whatley, Susan Davies and Tricia Pugh. Liz Briggs and Anna Cooper served as escort chairmen, hospitality was led by Dawn Holloway and Sara Schilleci, and the invitations and programs were under the charge of Kristin Ritter and Lois Bradford. Pam Billingsley served as chairman of photography, Adelaide Vandevelde and Katrina Logan chaired presentation; Kathy Skinner secured publicity; and transportation was chaired by Crawford Bumgarner, Meg Sullivan and Carol del a Torre.

J.W. & Company Upper VBS (Completed third to fifth Grade) July 13-16, 5:30-8:30 p.m. Visit

Brookwood Baptist Church For first through sixth grades Free but T-shirts are $10 each June 8-12, 9 a.m.-noon Register at Email for more information

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Journey Off the Map For ages 4K through sixth grade June 1-4 9 a.m. to 12:00 noon. Register at

June 2015 • A17

The search for Mocha By JOEY KENNEDY Mocha, a chocolate Shih Tzu, has been the talk of Mountain Brook since the start of April. Mocha, whose family lives in Cumming, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, was in Mountain Brook with her caretaker on Easter Sunday when she escaped the back fence she was in. She’s been missing ever since, though many people have been searching for her. The pup is owned by Tera Reese-Beisbier and her husband, Brad Beisbier. The Beisbiers were on a cruise with their extended family at spring break and asked a friend to look after the 2 1/2-year-old Shih Tzu. The sitter visited relatives in Mountain Brook over Easter weekend, and that’s when Mocha got loose. “It’s like finding a needle in a haystack,” Reese-Beisbier said. “We don’t know where she is.” Much of the search for Mocha has been coordinated on the What’s Happening in Mountain Brook Facebook page. On April 11, Reese-Beisbier posted this on the page: “Can you all please keep an eye out for our precious ‘Mocha’? We went on vacation out of the country and our friend brought little Mocha to visit her Mountain Brook family. She was in Rock Brook Circle, near Crestline. We got back today to learn Mocha ran away on Saturday, April 4 in your community. My kids [and I] are devastated. We are offering a reward!!!” That’s when the search really picked up. Animal welfare volunteer Nancy Porter has been leading the effort, along with a number of her friends.

Mocha has been missing since Easter Sunday. She was last seen near Crestline Village.

“My biggest hope is that she’s in somebody’s house,” said Porter, who added she became involved when she saw Reese-Beisbier’s post. “Here’s a woman who comes off a cruise, and not only is her dog lost, but her dog is lost from a city three hours away from her,” Porter said. “You only act when something pulls at your heartstrings. Here’s this family that has clearly taken care of this dog and loves this dog. My thought is, ‘Why wouldn’t I help? Why wouldn’t I look for this dog?’” Reese-Beisbier received Mocha as a Christmas gift from friends in November 2012. She was 9 weeks

old then. Mocha is chocolate brown with some silver and gray, an unusual color for a Shih Tzu. She weighs about 13 pounds. She also is microchipped. Porter said a dog matching Mocha’s description has been spotted in Mountain Brook and even in Forest Park, but she said there has not been a reliable sighting for a couple weeks. Still, the search continues. “I’ve been over there three times,” Reese-Beisbier said. “You go over and have high hopes.” In the beginning, Reese-Beisbier’s three children, 11, 9 and 7 years old, were very upset. The 7 year old kept telling his mother how much he

missed Mocha. “I’d just say we have to keep hoping,” Reese-Beisbier said. But after so long, Reese-Beisbier said, she doesn’t know what will happen. “What’s going on? Is she hurt? Does she need me? Is she cuddled up in somebody’s lap?” Reese-Beisbier said. “I’d just like to know.” Reese-Beisbier said she is not angry at her friend who brought Mocha to Mountain Brook. “She didn’t do it on purpose,” Reese-Beisbier said. She added that when something like this happens, “you take inventory about what’s really important.”

Lost Pet Professionals is helping in the search, as are many Mountain Brook residents – and people who live elsewhere, like Porter, who lives in Forest Park. “I go out once or twice a day,” said searcher Nancy Marriott. “I’m just a big animal lover. At one time in my life, I worked in an animal shelter, and I saw all the pups who were abandoned or who were stray. If [Mocha’s] family lived in town, she wouldn’t be missing this long. Most dogs can find their way back home. This dog has no way of finding its way back home.” Searcher Natalie Isom Sansom agrees. “This dog doesn’t remotely know where she is,” Sansom said. “I just keep thinking the dog will show up.” Porter said she doesn’t know how long the search will continue. “How long do you search? You search until you have exhausted every opportunity to find out about this dog,” Porter said. Reese-Beisbier is encouraged by the response of the Mountain Brook community. “You have a wonderful community there,” Reese-Beisbier said. “Nobody ever turned me down for putting signs up in their restaurants. The majority of everybody has been really compassionate and kind to me. They’re giving their time to a stranger. “I dream about a reunion,” Reese-Beisbier said. “I just picture her running up to us.” Joey Kennedy is president and publisher of Animal Advocates of Alabama, a news and information website. He is also back-page columnist for B-Metro magazine.

Village Living

A18 • June 2015

BWF teacher Diane Waud and her brother, city council member Lloyd Shelton, both attended the school.

Retired teacher Frances Mitchell, 102, cuts the ribbon to the new history hall at Brookwood Forest Elementary at an anniversary event on April 26. Photos by Madoline Markham.

Brookwood Forest celebrates 50 years By MADOLINE MARKHAM

Various pieces of memorabilia from the school’s history were on display.

Frances Mitchell taught fifth grade when Brookwood Forest Elementary opened its doors 50 years ago. At age 102, she took part in the school’s 50th anniversary celebration on April 26 by cutting a ribbon to enter a new history hall created for the celebration. Scrapbooks full of memorabilia, old yearbooks and other mementos from the school’s history were set out for the anniversary event, which drew students, teachers, parents and other friends of the school from the past five decades. “It’s a place near and dear to my heart,” said Linda

Mason, who attended the school, has taught there for 25 years and whose children attended the school. “It’s like a big family.” Mason, along with two other teachers, organized the April 26 event. The previous Friday, Brookwood Forest students celebrated the anniversary beginning with a surprise visit from the Mountain Brook High School Marching Band. Band members paraded through the school’s hallways, leading the kids from their classrooms to the school’s field, where they formed the numbers 5-0 and were photographed by a drone that flew overhead.

Teachers and parents tour the new permanent history hall that opened during the anniversary event.

Current sixth-graders at the school show off the new library while giving tours of the school to alumni and former teachers.

Brookwood Forest’s technology programs were featured in the New York Times.

June 2015 • A19

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Village Living

A20 • June 2015

Father’s Day Gift Guide Men’s Silk Ties

GT Grade Carbon Ultegra


These ties are perfect for the pet lover and available in several styles. Hollywood Feed 2800 Cahaba Valley Plaza 977-9300


This carbon-frame bike is perfect for any dad who likes to take on the road on two wheels.

Deakin and Francis Cufflinks

Birmingham Bicycle Company 1105 Dunston Ave. 870-8330

From $200

These silver and enamel cufflinks are a available in numerous styles, fitting any dad’s interests. Bromberg’s 2800 Cahaba Road 871-3276

Barr-Co. Oatmeal Saddle Soap

Arrow Steel Sconce $878


This hand-crafted interior sconce is made out of steel with three candelabra lights.

This 97 percent natural soap is known to smooth irritated skin and helps maintain moisture and keep skin smooth.

Brandino Brass 2824 Central Ave., Suite 100 978-8900

Marguerite’s Conceits 2406 Canterbury Road 879-2730

• Save $$$$ over remodeling

• Custom colors & styles

This StarWalker Urban Speed Ballpoint Pen is the perfect gift for Dad to both write and admire. Barton-Clay Fine Jewelers 2701 Cahaba Road 871-7060


Grill and serve in the same piece. It also keeps food hot longer and offers a lifetime warranty. The Cook Store 2841 Cahaba Road 879-5277

Call 205-598-0331

• Painted or Stained

This signet ring is cast in sterling silver and 14K gold from an original antique ring from the Middle East from the collection of designer Elizabeth Adams. Ex Voto Vintage 2402 Canterbury Road 538-7301


Grill & Serve Pieces


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$179-$775 (before engraving)

Yeti Colster $29.99

Dad will never deal with a lukewarm beverage again thanks to 18/8 kitchen-grade stainless steel, double-wall vacuum insulation and sleek sweat-free design. Alabama Outdoors 3054 Independence Drive 870-1919

Transform your old cabinets to NEW in just 5 days!

• New Solid Wood Doors and Drawer Fronts

Montblanc Pen

Patrick Ring

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We want a relationship, not just a job!

Owner: Wendi Peeks Showroom (Inverness Village): 5291 Valleydale Rd., Suite 121

Gift Certificate Various Prices

Gift certificates provide three or more one-on-one personal training sessions. The Fitness Center 3900 Montclair Road (above the Post Office) 870-1121

June 2015 • A21


CONTINUED from page A1 Most folks know that Mountain Brook High has more state championships than any other school in the state — 152 and counting. Echols’ teams picked up 46 of those blue state championship trophies. There are another 19 red runner-up trophies, including one in girls outdoor track in May. In his career at the junior high and high school, he’s coached a whopping 68 state championship teams. No wonder he’s in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame. For Echols, 60, it seemed the right time to walk away. Part of it is the blessing of the Alabama retirement system and part of it is the curse of the daily grind. No matter how much you love to coach and teach young people, “Working six days a week for 38 years, I’m tired,” Echols said. “I still love kids, still love coaching, that part’s never changed. I’ve been a single father for 11 years, so I go home to a second job.” But even though the time seems right, “It’s been a bigger struggle than I thought to stop. One of those things you pray about it, you feel like it’s the right timing, the right thing to do. And it just makes financial sense.” Mountain Brook is a unique place. It is acknowledged as one of the top academic schools in the country and yet it has more state championships than any school in this sports-crazed state. Furthermore, those athletes that accomplish the state titles are not, by and large, elite college prospects. Echols agrees that being a longtime Spartan — as many of the coaches at MBHS are — is an asset to understanding the Mountain Brook way. “You understand the culture,” Echols said. “And like [boys basketball coach] Bucky [McMillan] and I

Coach Greg Echols greets current and former athletes he coached at a reception in May.

have talked some, that you understand these kids do not necessarily play sports to get a college scholarship. They may get one and they may want to do sports in college, but that’s not why they do it. They do it because they love sports, they love the team, they love the camaraderie, they’re raised to work hard. It’s just the nature of Mountain Brook. They work hard at school — everything they do, they work hard. “[You use] what you know in this community about how to get kids to dig down and find more.” Still, Echols said some things have changed since he started coaching. Track has to compete with all the other sports, most of which have become year-round activities, and the internet and all the other distractions. As a coach, he said youngsters have so

many “coaches,” including “gurus” and parents, that it’s not a given he can command their respect immediately. “What does ‘coach’ mean? Every dad coaches T-ball, they coach baseball, they coach soccer. So here I come, and I’m ‘Coach’? After having 30 coaches in their lives, what makes me different? Every season I’ve got to earn their respect and belief in me because it’s not, ‘Oh, Coach Echols, he’s won so he knows what he’s doing.” Through the years, he’s had one particular philosophy of coaching, what he calls “coaching kids’ hearts.” “Kids’ hearts haven’t changed a bit,” Echols said. “They still want to have somebody care about them, they still want to have a purpose, they still want to feel like what they do makes a difference, matters.

“The idea that you’d take the time to talk to them about life, not just running, and they realize, ‘Hey, he cares about me.’ … They realize they’re in a safe place. I think that’s a huge part of our success.” Recently retired Athletics Director Terry Cooper said Echols has been a tremendous asset at Mountain Brook. “I feel that paramount in Greg’s success has been his focus and ability to emphasize the ‘team’ concept in a sport that many consider to be an individual sport,” Cooper said. “Greg has been able to take athletes of all abilities and motivate them to discover and accomplish things far above their potential. He has been able to identify in athletes something that they did not know they had and help them discover where it is that they can be most successful.

“The most important characteristic of Coach Echols is his love of kids and his desire that they learn through track the character values important in life.” One of those character traits he espouses is that the only failure is not trying, and though he wants to win as much as anyone else, it’s not all about winning. His final girls outdoor track team managed a runner-up spot, but he was immensely proud of the girls. “Wow,” he laughs. “We weren’t real deep. We had a few quality athletes, but watching these kids come together … We probably should’ve been fifth. We had to have our best performance of the year in the final event, the 4x400 relay. We were three-quarters of a point behind Auburn and a quarter-point ahead of McGill. So we had to beat them both in the 4x4. And these girls have just found a way to get it done. And it was seniors, eighth-graders, just whatever it took, some kids have stepped up. Scored two girls in the long jump, we weren’t supposed to score anybody. Frances Patrick just had a phenomenal meet in the mile and 2-mile. “It’s a team concept. We really don’t have that superstar, just blue-collar girls working their tail off. All of a sudden we look up and we’ve got enough points to get second. And that’s what makes it exciting for us. Everybody pitching in and doing their part.” Ultimately, through all the trophies and numbers, the numbers that really matter are the number of students coaches like Echols reach in their career. “I hope if I have a legacy, it’s that I’ve made a difference in kids’ lives,” Echols said. “That’s why I got into coaching. And as much as winning is great, that’s never what it’s been about to me. It’s been about making a difference. Making them better people when they get out of here.”

Village Living

A22 • June 2015 LANE PARKE

M & S opens initial location next to Western

started decades earlier. John Evans’ grandfather (his dad Rele’s father) first developed Lane Park apartments in 1948 and the current shopping center in the 1950s, and the Evans said they have always sought to continue both his legacy and that of Robert Jemison, who designed the village and was friends with the Evans family. “[My dad] did everything for the long-term, in quality and service,” Rele Evans, John’s father, said. “Our decision process has always been to maintain the approach my dad had. We feel comfortable knowing it will be an asset for Mountain Brook. “I’m delighted the concept has evolved to where it is now. The inn, retail and apartments are like three legs of a stool. They all support each other. We think aesthetically it’s going to add to what’s available to people who live here.” The first retail phase will be 66,640 square feet in total. Most of the retailers announced are new to Alabama except those that are currently in Mountain Brook Village. Two additional restaurant concepts are planned to neighbor these eight retailers but have not yet been announced, and Retail Specialists is waiting to lease three additional retail spaces in this phase to women’s or children’s clothing or accessories boutiques once construction begins. The Evans worked with Retail Specialists to create a tenant mix to complement Lane Parke’s new Grand Bohemian Hotel, which is already accepting reservations for its October opening, and its apartments, which completed construction in January. The developers also wanted the tenant mix to complement Mountain Brook and the greater Birmingham community. W. Mead Silsbee of Retail Specialists said they marketed the development as an extension of the village, not as its own property. “It will feel like the village has always been this way once it’s all in place,” Silsbee said. Once Western, Interiors by M&S and A’mano have moved into the first retail phase, the current shopping center from Western to Ollie Irene will be demolished. Smith’s Variety is moving to Crestline Village and Ollie Irene to another part of town. Construction of a new road, Jemison Lane, will be then completed to connect Montevallo Road to Lane Parke, alleviating traffic in the village and providing easier access to the hotel and shops. Construction on the second retail phase will not begin until 2020, assming Rite Aid does not move before its current lease ends in 2019 Retail Specialists is Birmingham-based, as is the project’s architect, Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood, and its contractor, Hoar Construction. The project’s financier is IberiaBank. John Evans said most of the construction for the development will take place within the property’s footprint and not affect traffic in Mountain Brook Village. To learn more about the newly announced retailers, see page A23. To learn more about the development, visit

Interiors By M & S Handmade Furniture is now open in Mountain Brook Village. Photo by Keith McCoy.

CONTINUED from page A1

By ROY L. WILLIAMS One future Lane Parke retailer has already opened its doors in Mountain Brook Village. Since late April, Interiors By M & S Handmade Furniture has been located in a former Little Hardware space in the Western shopping center. Store owners Jessica Brasfield Mackin and Ryan Sanders specialize in imported furniture and accessories handmade in India. “We go directly to artisans and cut out the middleman, allowing us to sell directly to the public at lower prices,” Mackin said. Among the dozens of furniture and other household items inside the retail store are a multi-drawer handmade buffet ($908), a one-drawer chestnut carved side table, a three-drawer wooden painted side table and a three-legged cricket table. Interiors By M & S also carries floor lamps ($200) and wooden frames for $12, and can order customized furniture for customers, Mackin said. The store also sells handmade rugs, lighting,

chandeliers and a specialty line of $18 scented candles inspired by Birmingham, such as Magic City Moon, Red Mountain Magnolia and Highland Honeysuckle. “From casual decor to custom designs, M & S offers you fantastic selections of living room, dining and bedroom furnishings, as well as accessories and fixtures,” Sanders said. Mackin, who lives in Homewood, met her business partner Sanders, a native of Piedmont in Calhoun County, a few years ago after hiring him to work for her at another furniture store. This is their first retail venture. “We clicked as we both have the same design taste,” Mackin said. “We are bringing a different type of furniture shopping experience to Mountain Brook. This store is a good fit for the city.” M & S, along with A’Mano and Western Supermarket will relocate to the first phase of retail space at Lane Parke once it is complete next year. For more information, visit

Welcome home. Beautifully designed homes, highly-ranked schools, swimming, parks, and a family-friendly neighborhood await. Home to the highly-rated Vestavia Hills Elementary and Middle Schools in the Vestavia School System. Homes from the high $300s to $600s plus.

(205) 945-6401 |

All information contained herein deemed accurate but not warranted. Liberty Park Joint Venture, LLP, Liberty Park Properties, and their respective builders and agents, are not responsible for errors or omissions. Plan information subject to change without notice.

June 2015 • A23

Get to know the future Lane Parke retailers CharBar No. 7

What: Mix of upscale and casual dining with burgers and steaks What’s unique: Steaks, burgers and fish are charbroiled at 1,700 degrees. From the menu: Blackened Chicken Nachos; Das Pretzels (with a side of queso); Seared Ahi Tuna over a ginger dressed salad; Blackened Tilapia Salad with fried fruit, sunflower seeds and citrus vinaigrette; CB7 Burger with blue cheese coleslaw, apple wood smoked bacon, Swiss and CB7 Sauce on a pretzel roll; Ribeye with optional caramelized onions and grilled mushrooms. Other locations: Charlotte, Greensboro and Matthews, North Carolina For more:

Kinnucan’s Specialty Outfitter and other outdoor items.

What: Specialty retailer featuring men’s and women’s apparel, footwear, technical outerwear and accessories, kid’s apparel and toys,

What’s unique: The original On Your Feet store in Auburn focused on running footwear. The name later changed as its selection expanded. Brands: The North Face, Columbia, Patagonia, Costa Del Mar, Mountain Khakis, Southern Marsh, Kuhl, Mobile Bay, Maui Jim’s, Ray-Ban, Oakley, Nike, Salomon, Merrell, HOKA, OluKai, Minnetonka, Sebago, Keen, Chaco, Rainbow, Teva, Sanuk, Georgia, Ugg, Hunter, Durango and more. Other locations: Tuscaloosa, Auburn, Opelika, Montgomery, Prattville, Madison; Atlanta; Knoxville; Athens, Georgia; Oxford, Mississippi; Collierville, Tennessee For more:

The Local Taco

What: Tex-Mex cuisine meets Southern food What’s unique: Taco combinations are often referred to as “tapas in a taco.” From the menu: Tequila Lime Chicken Taco; Portabella Taco with sage goat cheese and zucchini slaw; Korean BBQ Taco with Asian slaw; Buffalo Chicken Taco; 10 Hour Brisket Slow Smoked Taco Platter; Queso Cauliflower; Yucatan Shrimp Fajitas; Country Fried Chicken Breakfast Taco (for weekend brunch). Other locations: Greenville, South Carolina; Nashville; Lexington, Kentucky For more:

Revelator Coffee

What: Coffee shop with roots in New Orleans, now headquartered in Birmingham What’s unique: Drinks are served in Louisville Stoneware, a pottery studio in operation since 1815; and baristas wear aprons from New Orleans-based denim company Holt McCall. From the menu: Coffee roasted in small, profiled batches; custom herbal teas from a family-run company in Bellingham, Washington, that uses organic, fair trade ingredients. Other locations: 3rd Avenue North in downtown Birmingham; Chattanooga; New Orleans For more:

YEAH! Burger

What: Grass-fed beef burgers topped with organic produce What’s unique: Founder Erik Maier wanted to create a place where diners are excited about the restaurant’s sustainable values and practices. It uses naturally raised, hormone- and antibiotic-free meats; all-natural hot dogs; organic produce and dairy; and all-natural artisan buns. Food is raised locally whenever possible. From the menu: Triple B bison burger with Bacon Jam, caramelized onions and blue cheese crumbles; Southern Dog topped with pimento cheese and Hot Alabama Relish; Kale Salad with mint, pine nuts and Parmesan; Truffle Parmesan Fries; Caramel Sea Salt Handspun Shake made with Atlanta’s High Road Craft ice cream; Agave Margarita; gluten-free, vegetarian, paleo and vegan options. Other locations: Atlanta For more:



Village Living

SECTION B School House B5 Sports B8 Faith B13 Calendar B14

Unstoppable passion for people The life and legacy of Alex Sokol By MADOLINE MARKHAM

Alex Sokol, in red shirt, takes part in a dedication ceremony of a new gazebo Alabama Forever helped build in Pratt City after the April 27, 2011, tornadoes. Photos courtesy of Krista Colnlin.

From his office below Mafiaoza’s, Alex Sokol listened to Phish in the morning and Paul Finebaum in the afternoon. There was never a shortage of laughter or jokes in the space. “He brought so much life to this office, as he did to everything,” said Jason Rogoff, remembering his cousin with whom he shared office space. “He was such a passionate person, whether that was football or friendships, but it was mostly Alabama football.” Sokol would often call attention to how Nick Saban was smiling in a photo of the two of them from a park opening planned by Alabama Forever, Sokol’s nonprofit organization. Not a day passed when he didn’t talk about his framed No. 8 Julio Jones jersey. On the wall of his office hung just as many framed Alabama football Sports Illustrated covers as the university’s offices, if not more. Sokol’s connection wasn’t just to the sport, though. It was to its people. Practice credentials hang alongside passes to national championships and the Sugar Bowl in his office. Rogoff recalled being in the football practice facilities in Tuscaloosa and hearing Sokol yell, “Hey, LC!” Landon Collins, an NFL safety who played for the Tide at the time, turned around.

See ALEX SOKOL | page B12

B2 • June 2015

Village Living

June 2015 • B3

Training up little leaders More Leadership Mountain Brook Projects Recycled Benches The Leadership class has been working all year on a redesign of the mall area of the high school, and as a part of that, one group of students is working with the city’s Parks and Recreation department to move the mall’s current benches and picnic tables to parks, bus stops and other public areas in the city. This process will begin once the design on the mall begins this summer.

Dining Guide Starting June 1, a new dining guide for Mountain Brook restaurants will be available online thanks to a group of students. The website,, will offer descriptions and contact information for each eatery. Students hope that both residents and visitors will use the site to explore culinary options around them. Anna Matthews, Adele Bird and Jim Crosswhite shovel mulch to place on the Tot Lot during Little Leader Day. Photo by Madoline Markham.

By MADOLINE MARKHAM The recent improvements to the Tot Lot in Crestline were the project of not just this year’s Leadership Mountain Brook class but also the other community members they brought on board. As a part of their service projects for the year, the Mountain Brook High School students planned Little Leader Day, a two-hour introduction to the inner workings of the city and how to serve it, held on April 26. The students

planned meetings with Police Chief Ted Cook, Fire Chief Robert Ezekiel, Emmet O’Neal Library IT department head Marylyn Eubank and City Manager Sam Gaston, offering mini versions of what they themselves had learned from city leaders a few months earlier. Each city leader talked to the fourth- through sixth-grade participants about the character traits important to have as a leader, student Sophie Britt said. “We learned so much about the city,”

Leadership Mountain Brook student Julia Bell Pope said. “We wanted to share it with everyone else.” The day ended with a service project at the Tot Lot in Crestline Village. Another Leadership Mountain Brook group spearheaded adding new pine straw and mulch to the area as well as installing and painting a new fence. The city demolished the old fence, and Good Fences, a new Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce member, donated the new one at the request of the students.

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The whole group finished laying mulch together before a ribbon-cutting at the playground at the conclusion of the event. The Little Leader participants also painted their handprints on the new fence. “The class came together to do all the work on Little Leader Day,” said Amber Benson, the MBHS teacher who leads the Leadership class along with Hannon Davidson of the Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce. Leadership Mountain Brook plans

for Little Leader Day to be an annual event that introduces kids to the city and acts as a fundraiser for future class projects. Class members organizing the Tot Lot project were Benjamin Rosenthal, Sophie Bluestein, Anna Matthews, Annie Leonelli and Robert Waudby. Members organizing Little Leader Day were Sophie Brint, Julia Bell Pope, Courtney Neimann, Katherine Grace Moore, Carter Hancock and Lucy Gardner.

Village Living

B4 • June 2015

Cherokee Bend teacher saves life of choking student By SARAH MCCARTY Mountain Brook mother Candy Graham Prater started crying five minutes after she hung up the phone with the nurse at Cherokee Bend Elementary, where three of her children attend. “When the first words are, ‘Well, we had some excitement,’ I knew some crisis had been averted,” Prater said. That crisis was her daughter choking. Prater’s daughter, fourth-grade student Mills Prater, survived the ordeal on May 5 thanks to the help of a friend and a teacher who saved the choking child. “I guess I just inhaled the Golden Grahams, and it was becoming hard to breathe,” Mills said. “Before I was not able to speak, I was trying to tell Rosemary what was happening to me.” Mills was able to squeeze out the words “I’m choking” to her classmate Rosemary Cabaniss. “At first I didn’t really know what was going on, but her face turned really red, like as red as the kick balls we have in PE,” Rosemary said. “And then I just ran and got Mrs. Hunt.” Rosemary ran to her fourth-grade teacher, Shelley Hunt, who performed the Heimlich maneuver for the first time and saved Prater. “I just started wheezing and gagging, and I kind of threw up a little on my shirt,” Mills said. “The nurse

Cherokee Bend Elementary student Mills Prater, left, choked on May 5 and was saved by teacher Shelley Hunt, center, and classmate Rosemary Cabaniss, right. Photo by Sarah McCarty.

started running down the hallway. But she was pretty far and it was probably not going to be really good to wait, so Mrs. Hunt started giving me the Heimlich. She did it three times before I was able to breathe again.” Hunt said she did what any teacher would have done.

“From my perspective, you just kind of do what you’re supposed to do, as we do for all kids all the time,” she said. “It was just a reaction.” Hunt said a community of people really helped, including the colleagues surrounding her and the nurse who cared for Mills after the incident.

“I don’t know what people did or what they said. I just have memories of people’s faces, and I’m like, ‘Okay, my family’s here to support me,’” Hunt said. “[They] supported me to be able to do what I needed to do.” Mills’ mother said she couldn’t think of a good way to thank

Rosemary and Hunt, so she decided to post her story on the What’s Happening in Mountain Brook Facebook page to give them some recognition. “I was thankful that they just acted and didn’t wait,” she said. “It can be just one second between a tragedy and a good story.”

June 2015 • B5

School House BWF fling returns

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Sixth-graders Matt Holloway, Andrew Putnam, Jack Cole and Strother Gibbs enjoy fling fun.

By KATHLEEN WOODRY Students, teachers and staff at Brookwood Forest Elementary held the annual Forest Fling on April 24. Incoming kindergarten students joined in the fun as well.

BWF parents volunteered their time by providing baked goods and working different booths such as Free the Beast, Happenin’ Hair, Angry Birds, numerous inflatables, Fancy Fingers and drinks. The sixth-graders had fun taking turns in the dunking booth.  

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Fourth-graders Mary Ellen Yeager, Reghan Wilcox, Breese Tierney and Ellie Fooshee pose with their Candy Stealer Keeper Outer, which was created to disguise and protect their candy from their siblings.

By CATHERINE GASQUE Cherokee Bend’s Bendvention returned this year on April 29. This annual event gives students in third through fifth grades the opportunity to foster and enhance their creative thinking by taking an idea to the next level. At Bendvention, students can work

BWF’s Got Talent BY KATHLEEN WOODRY Brookwood Forest Elementary held its annual BWF’s Got Talent show in April. There were two different shows that afternoon. One showcased the talents of students in kindergarten through third grade. The later show showcased the talents of students in fourth through sixth grades. The highlight of the afternoon was a surprise appearance by teachers and staff at both shows dancing to “Uptown Funk You Up.” Students got to show off their talents for singing, dancing, piano and rhythm performances. Langston Lilly and Ruthie Armstrong

individually or in groups with the goal of thinking of an everyday problem and creating an invention to help improve or solve the problem. Students must research patent laws to ensure their invention is original, as well create a plan and write a description of their invention. As the culmination of their efforts, the entire school is invited to admire their inventions.

Village Living

B6 • June 2015

ArtForms takes the stage at MBJH By DENA BERTE Mountain Brook Junior High’s annual talent show, ArtForms, was held on March 13 at the MBHS Fine Arts Center. The Best Little Talent Show in the Brook showcased piano pieces, singing, Irish dancing and even some student bands. This year’s overall winner was ninth-grader Grace Cope, who played the piano. “Grace has a true passion for the piano, and she is driven to study and perfect every piece she performs,” said Amy Roberts, Grace’s piano teacher of five years. “Her musicality is exceptional, and Grace often wows the audience as she shares the emotion of the music. This award celebrates the years of intense dedication and practice. It was a pleasure to help Grace prepare for the ArtForms competition.” Seventh-grade winners were Carly

ArtForms overall and ninth-grade winners Lacy Smith, Avrham Robinson, Elizabeth Leitner and Ellie Lipp.

Cole and Bebe Holloway, who tied for first place. Lindsay Jane Drummond won second place, and Leila Radney placed third. Eighth grade winners were Tess Levine, placing first, and Denson Camp placed second. Ninthgrade winners were Elizabeth Leitner,

who won first, and Ellie Lipp, who placed second. Lacy Smith and Avrham Robinson tied for third place. Lacy Smith sang “Bright” by Echosmith for her performance, and Avrham Robinson sang “What a Wonderful World” by Louis

Armstrong for his performance. Both have been a part of the Red Mountain Theater Company Conservatory and enjoy the opportunity to showcase their talent through an event such as ArtForms. Two bands competed in the new

Menendez steps down as BOE president By MADISON MILLER Mountain Brook School Board President Jane Menendez recently announced her resignation from the board after 10 years. Menendez was first appointed to the board in 2005 and was elected president by school board members in 2011. She previously served as vice-president. “I was fortunate to work with people whom I respect and admire,” Menendez said. “I have the highest regard for our superintendent, Dicky Barlow, and my fellow board members. I have the utmost confidence in the future of our school system and know that my grandchildren will receive an outstanding education.” The board held a reception honoring Menendez at its meeting on

May 18. Mayor Terry Oden read a resolution proclaiming May 18 “Jane Menendez Day” in Mountain Brook. “She is grace personified,” Superintendent Dicky Barlow said. “She avoids the limelight and never loses focus on the students and our purpose. Jane has always been a great source of encouragement for our entire staff and is beloved by everyone who knows her. She will be greatly missed on the school board.” Menendez plans to focus on spending time with her husband and six grandchildren after stepping down from the board. Superintendent Dicky Barlow and Board President Jane Menendez speak at a recent Board of Education meeting. Photo by Madison Miller.

band category this year for ArtForms. RiverBend won first place with members Stanton Langley, Price Prewitt, Avery Schelske and Max Simon. Second place went to 2020. Members are Alex Canterbury, Charlie Carbonie, Hayes Edmunds, Caroline Mauro, William O’Leary and Jane Margaret Turner. The emcees for the night were former ArtForms winners who are now MBHS students. Bill Perry, Sophie Brint, and Emily Donahue handled the evening with style and flair as they engaged the audience between performances. “After performing in the previous two ArtForms, I was excited to have the opportunity to emcee this year’s show,” Donahue said. “I’m always amazed by the talent the Junior High has to offer. I’m proud that Mountain Brook supports and showcases its artists in this way.”

June 2015 • B7

Crestline Elementary holds Invention Convention

Virginia Averyt created a Transition Windshield for the Crestline Invention Convention.

By COLLINS CLEGG Crestline Elementary held its third Invention Convention on March 20. Fifty-eight students in grades K-6 submitted 37 inventions that solved a host of problems from pets to germs to safety. Virginia Averyt’s Transition Windshield, a

self-darkening windshield that reduces glare in bright light, was awarded Best in Show. Nate Sartelle’s Crestline Zipline, a plan for all Crestline students to zipline to school, was named Most Innovative. Noah Warren’s Invisibility Cloak, a model of how lenses can be used to make things appear invisible, was named Judges’ Favorite.

MBE Chess Team takes second place in state championship

The Knight School coach Dr. David Brooks and MBE chess players present their trophy to principal MBE Principal Belinda Treadwell.

By SHAUN FLYNN The Mountain Brook Elementary Knight School team traveled to Mobile this spring to participate in the Alabama State Chess Championship. Jackson Nunneley tied for second

overall in the individual competition. The MBE team, comprised of Robert Flynn, Jackson Nunneley, Farley Nunnelley and Charles Lichty, finished second in the state in the K-3 team competition.

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Village Living

B8 • June 2015

Sports MBJH tennis teams named Metro champs

The MBJH tennis champs. Photo courtesy of Adelaide Vandevelde.

Mountain Brook Junior High boys and girls tennis teams won the Metro Championship this spring. The boys had a tough challenge from Berry but outscored them 25-21 to claim the championship. Individual results included: }} Carter Hale, runner-up, No. 1 singles }} William Watts, champion, No. 2 singles

}} Harrison Hitson, champion, No. 3 singles }} August Boyd, runner-up, No. 4 singles }} Brooks King, champion, No. 5 singles }} Zachary Lewis, runner-up, No. 6 singles }} Mac Holman and Zach MacLean, champions, doubles Other




contributed throughout the season were Peyton Haley and Joe Daniel. This is the ninth consecutive Metro Championship for the boys tennis team, which finished the season with a 10-0 Metro record and 10-3 overall record. The girls dominated the field, claiming five out of seven possible championships. Individual results on the girls’ side included:

}} Whitton Bumgarner, semifinalist, No. 1 singles }} Liz Vandevelde, champion, No. 2 singles }} Ann Vandevelde, champion, No. 3 singles }} Madison Jenkins, champion, No. 4 singles }} Charlotte Gillum, champion, No. 5 singles }} Sarah Kate Crafton, champion, No. 6 singles

}} Adelia Collier and Sully Ferreira, runner-up, doubles Other team members who contributed throughout the season and in the first round of the Metro tourney were Courtney Clark and Claire Collier. The girls finished the season with a perfect record of 10-0 in the Metro and 13-0 overall. The girls have won nine Metro championships in the last 10 years.

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June 2015 • B9

Boys state tennis title is the 50th for the school By DAVID KNOX Mountain Brook High School has more state championships than any other school in the state. And no sport at Mountain Brook has won more state crowns than the tennis program. The Spartans notched another when the boys claimed the inaugural Class 7A tennis title at Lagoon Park in Montgomery in May. That’s the 50th tennis title for the school. Head boys and girls coach Susan Farlow has been a part of a bunch of those in her eight seasons heading the program with the able assistance of Wally Nall. This is her seventh state title, with girls titles in 2011, 2012 and 2014 and boys in 2008, 2009, 2010 and now 2015. She’s been coach of the year four times with an overall combined record of 165-20. The Spartans posted 75 points, with Spain Park and Huntsville tying for second with 35 points. The Mountain Brook girls were 7A runners-up to Huntsville. The Panthers posted 61 points to Mountain Brook’s 57 and Vestavia Hills’ 50 in a tough, tight battle. The boys’ win ended a run by Vestavia Hills, which had won four straight boys crowns after a three-year run by the Spartans. Actually, it was Spain Park that thwarted the Rebels from getting back to state, and the Jags ended up tying for second place with Huntsville. “Typically, Vestavia is our No. 1 rival, but it has always been a friendly

The boys varsity tennis team celebrates its new 7A state title with coaches Susan Farlow and Wally Nall.

one,” Farlow said. “Our boys and the Vestavia boys have known each other and competed with each other all of their ‘growing-up’ years, taking clinics together from the same local pros and playing against each other in tournaments. If you look back over the years, it’s generally pretty cyclical with Mountain Brook being dominant

for a period and then Vestavia having a run. “Spain Park was strong this year with Whalen Merrill leading their team at No. 1. [The Spartans’] Sam Lidikay lost to Whalen both times in close matches during the regular season before beating him at sectionals.”

One key for the boys was sweeping the doubles. “That was a huge reason we complied so many points. It was also a personal accomplishment for me and Wally because doubles is something not typically taught by their pros but what we work a lot on in our team practices.”

The individual state champions included Lidikay at No. 1 doubles; Peter Hartman at No. 2 singles and No. 2 doubles; Yates Jackson at No. 3 singles and No. 1 doubles; David Faulkner at No. 4 singles and No. 2 doubles; Will Hargrove at No. 3 doubles; and Paul Jones at No. 6 singles and No. 3 doubles. On the girls side, Sarah Cooper was No. 2 doubles champion with Ellie Polk, who also was the No. 4 singles champ, and Cele Sullivan won at No. 5 singles. Mountain Brook High opened in 1966. It won its first of more than 150 state titles in 1969 – in boys tennis. Farlow passes out the accolades to others as to why Mountain Brook has been so successful over the years in tennis. “The kids themselves work hard and have a lot of passion for the game,” she said. “The parents of these student-athletes are very supportive and allow their children every opportunity to excel. And the local pros who have coached these kids for many years — and there are many in town who can claim a professional relationship with one or more of my team members. “And the Mountain Brook administration — [Principal] Amanda Hood, [recently retired athletics director] Terry Cooper and [current AD] Benny Eaves — recognize the importance of finding a good balance between academic, athletic and social experiences.”

Village Living

B10 • June 2015

Spartans win Class 7A boys golf championship in Eaves’ final go-round By DAVID KNOX The Mountain Brook Spartans, paced by Jonathan Eyster, captured the Class 7A state boys golf championship in Mobile on May 12. This is the second state championship for coach Benny Eaves, who also led the Spartans to the 2011 title. They were runners-up last year. It’s also the last one, more than likely, for Eaves, who stepped into the athletics director role this year. “I will stay involved as needed to help the new coach’s transition,” Eaves said. “Who that will be hasn’t been determined at this point. We are exploring options and the best scenario for our program.” At the state championship tournament, Spain Park senior Patrick Martin sank six birdies and 12 pars on day two to close with a 6-under 65 to claim low medalist. Martin’s two-day 36-hole total of 133 beat co-runners-up Alex Green of Fairhope and Mountain Brook’s Eyster by seven strokes. Eyster shot 68-72 as Mountain Brook shot a 10-over 587 total for the title. Fairhope finished second (606), followed by McGill-Toolen (614) and Vestavia Hills (622). In all, that makes it 11 golf titles for the Spartans’ boys and girls programs. Eaves said it’s unrealistic for him to continue as coach given that more programs are active in the late winter and spring than at any other time of the year. “To be actively engaged during that time with all the coaches and teams is nearly impossible while serving as the golf coach,” he said. “When I was hired by [former AD] Terry Cooper to take over as head golf coach he told me that the program was special to him. At this point, knowing that I am looking for the next guy, I know exactly

Mountain Brook’s boys pose with their Class 7A state golf championship trophy. Photo courtesy of Mountain Brook Athletics.

how he felt the day he offered me the job.” He said will miss the camaraderie and working with the teams, but he thinks he’s positioned the program well for future success. “This program has been mine to nurture and develop for the last eight years,” Eaves said. “During that time, we have made some changes that I feel have helped take our program to another level. We brought ninth-graders into the high school program from the junior high as the first change and later established a junior varsity program that allowed development of younger players. We have utilized short-term and longterm goal-setting, statistic tracking, as well as

varied practice plans and drills. “The past several years we have seen the fruits of those changes.” He praised the athletes and the support of the administration and faculty and emphasized his belief that it’s the No. 1 high school golf job in the state. “We have the best support from our local clubs – Country Club of Birmingham and Mountain Brook Club. The head pros at both clubs, Eric Eshleman [at CCB] and Jeff Jordan [at MBC], have been nothing short of outstanding in their support of our program. [We] could never express our appreciation enough to those

guys for their commitment to help our players and teams. Our program would not be where it is without the unwavering support of the memberships of both clubs and their golf staffs. We have great practice facilities available throughout the season thanks to CCB and MBC. “And the quality of the young people we get to work with in our program is unbelievable. Character, class, work ethic, commitment — you name the positive quality or characteristic and I can say they have it. Factor all those together and you have a very special situation — one that I am going to miss dearly.”


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June 2015 • B11

Mountain Brook’s Kirkpatrick signs with Alabama to play wheelchair basketball



Mountain Brook senior Will Kirkpatrick passes the ball inbounds for the Lakeshore Lakers. Photo courtesy of Lakeshore Foundation.

By DAVID KNOX Mountain Brook High senior Will Kirkpatrick, a current member of the Lakeshore Lakers wheelchair basketball team, signed with the University of Alabama to continue his basketball career. Kirkpatrick has spent the past 10 years playing at Lakeshore Foundation in Homewood. In April, Kirkpatrick helped the Lakers to a third-place finish at the Junior National Invitational Tournament in Louisville,

Kentucky, and he was named a National Wheelchair Basketball Association second team Academic All-American. Kirkpatrick will start classes in August and begin practice with the Alabama team about a month into the fall semester. Alabama has both men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball teams. The women are coming off a national championship in 2015, beating Illinois for the title, their fourth national championship. The men won a national championship in 2013.

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Village Living

B12 • June 2015 ALEX SOKOL

CONTINUED from page B1 “They all knew him,” Rogoff said. “It was so fascinating to me that he knew all these people and they knew him back.” Sokol’s passion for people was evident on March 26 of this year. That day a playground was dedicated at Alberta Elementary in Tuscaloosa, a school that had been destroyed in the April 27, 2011, tornado. The project was completed in partnership with Nick’s Kids, Nick and Terry Saban’s nonprofit, and the Junior League of Tuscaloosa, but like most things he got involved with, Sokol was the driving force behind it. Two days later, Sokol died. He was 38. A day before the dedication, Sokol had given a check to his friend, musician Matthew Mayfield, to support his new record. Like everything he gave away, he expected nothing in return. “Any time you needed something, he didn’t hesitate to do it,” Rogoff said. “He’d say, ‘Absolutely, yes, I’ll do it.’ That’s a rare trait. And he’d do it for anybody, not just his friends. He loved helping people.” Friends and family filled Temple Emanu-El for Sokol’s funeral a couple of days later, leaving standing room only, even though many of his friends were out of town on spring break. Again friends came together a few days later to celebrate Sokol at a memorial gathering at Mafiaoza’s once more of them were back in town. Looking back now, Chris Nix, Sokol’s lifelong friend, can see that for years Sokol was hurting badly to do something for people. He wanted to take ownership in something. They often talked about starting businesses, and Sokol eventually found a taste of his calling by working at The Pants

Lifelong Mountain Brook resident Alex Sokol founded Alabama Forever in 2011.

Store, where he got to know countless moms and children. Then the tornadoes came on April 27, 2011. The next day Sokol went down to Tuscaloosa to help a friend’s mom and at some point wandered off, taking in the damage to the town and its people. Two days later, he had a plan. He called up a group of friends, including Nix, and told them to meet him for lunch at Moe’s Original BBQ. “I have an idea, and we’re going to do it,” Sokol told them. Its name was Alabama Forever, and it was going to help the communities devastated by the tornadoes. “I’m not sure I believed him, but I

believed in him,” Nix said. The lunch meeting formed the foundation of Alabama Forever’s first board of directors: Jim Ashurst, Ed Welden, Cory Reamer, Richard Estes, Scott Mullins and Shannon Crull, along with Nix and Sokol. Within a month, Sokol quit his job at The Pants Store and had a logo, a mission, a vision and funds for Alabama Forever. The board tried to slow him down, knowing that obtaining 501(c)(3) status was a slow process. An attorney said it would take three to six months. “Nobody cares about that right now,” Sokol told them. “People need

our help.” And sure enough, Sokol got them their nonprofit status in 45 days. Sokol had started at the first of May by collecting donations at The Pants Store and delivering them to tornado-ravaged areas but soon found that they needed to address long-term needs. He and his new board of directors set a new goal to make a “generational impact,” and that started with rebuilding a baseball field in Cordova as well as projects in Pratt City and Hackleburg. In Pratt City, instead of rebuilding the library, a big project, they focused on getting computer equipment to

stock the library once it opened. Across the street they also built a gazebo to create green space for families with the help of kids from Mountain Brook. Uncle Al, also known as Big Al, always dropped everything to spend time with them, so they didn’t think twice about helping Sokol with a project that they might have turned up their noses at if their parents had asked. “If Alex asked [my kids] to lay sod in Pratt City, they would jump at the chance,” said Ed Welden, a lifelong friend and Alabama Forever board member. “He’d make it fun and taught them a lot of lessons.” After that initial year, Alabama Forever decided to focus more broadly on education in areas of need in Alabama. Each year they accept applications from high schools that need help funding athletic equipment and were able to help about 25 of them a year. They never presented checks, though, instead providing the uniforms themselves or whatever items were needed. “Whether it was a playground or food or materials, [Alex] wouldn’t stop,” Welden said. “He was relentless and would pull together his friends and resources to make it happen.” Sokol’s work at Alabama Forever still isn’t finished. The organization is helping with a playground project at a new Tuscaloosa YMCA that will open next year, a project Sokol had begun, as well as the development of a scholarship fund in Sokol’s memory. Still, there’s no denying a void has been left. “We want to help keep Alex’s legacy alive, but it will be difficult because he had that ‘it’ factor,” Nix said. “He had a worldwide reach in this small community. Alabama Forever was the platform that shared Alex with the world.”

June 2015 • B13

Faith Life Actually By Kari Kampakis

The woman who loves her people well By KARI KAMPAKIS I have a friend who hopes to start a ministry. She’s equipped to do it and her life story is pointing that way, but currently she’s in a season where she is waiting for God to reveal His plan and provide more direction. She’s a great mom to her kids and other people’s kids, too. My children love her and look up to her. She’s also a dear friend, the kind who will drop everything to help you. Here’s an example: A while back when I had an unexpected doctor’s visit, I called to see if she’d pick up my child from MDO. I spoke quickly because my cell phone was dying. She said she’d pick up Camille and bring me a phone charger to the doctor’s office after she finished lunch with a friend. I never thought to ask for that favor, and the fact that she did speaks volumes about her nature. Recently, she and I talked about the ministry she hopes to start. I could tell she’s a little restless in this period of waiting, and I can relate to that. As I left I told her, “What you’re doing right now, being really available for your family and friends, is just as important as what you hope to be doing two years from now. I want you to remember that.” She smiled shyly and shook her head, as if her current contributions aren’t that big a deal. But they are, and the truth is, what she’s doing now is far more important than what she hopes to be doing in two years.  Because what she’s doing now is loving her

people well. She’s avoiding the mistake that too many of us make, the mistake of spreading ourselves too thin and not leaving room in our calendars for the people we love most. It’s interesting now that I’m in ministry because I have a fresh perspective of what this world needs. I can look back with new eyes on the days when I was in my friends’ shoes, waiting for more clarity from God and fighting the restlessness to do more than raise a family and be a good wife and friend. I never planned to go into ministry, but somehow it happened when my passion for writing collided with my passion for God and I wrote a book that led to speaking engagements and other events. It’s been an awesome journey, and I’m grateful for every opportunity to connect with moms and daughters. At the same time, I’ve grown more aware of how valuable my work was before my ministry ever started. Back when I was “just” a stayat-home mom and all I could do was love my people well because caring for little ones left little time for outside interests, I gave myself too little credit. While I loved staying home with my girls and was grateful to have the option, I often felt like I should do more. I couldn’t fully recognize how I was already fulfilling my greatest call. I was doing work far more important than what I hoped to do in the next season of motherhood. Mother Teresa once said, “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your

family.” This message deserves more attention, because in our world, we’re often pushed to do more and think bigger. We’re encouraged to reach the masses and spread goodness far and wide. And while I’m certainly on board with this mission, I’d like to point out how we can get so caught up in having a wide influence that we fail to have a deep influence. We can spend so much time growing an audience around the world that we miss the best opportunity of all with the small audience inside and around our home. Because as much as the world needs us, our families and loved ones need us more. They always have and always will. What ministry has taught me is the importance of striking a balance. My work life should complement my personal life, not take away from it. My soul should be fed, not depleted.  What this world needs has become clear to me through the emails I receive, feedback I hear and people I meet. All around us, people are really struggling with something. They’re wanting advice and insight on how to find it. When I’m asked to speak, it’s the most commonly requested topic. It’s particularly important to females because deep in our heart, we hunger for this We want it on a level that’s true, genuine, and real. What is it? Friendship. Good, solid and loyal relationships. In an age where we’re highly connected online, people are lonely in real life. They’re surrounded by faces, yet they still feel invisible. In many ways, friendship is becoming a lost art. People who make others feel seen,

loved and valued are a rarity. So before we act globally, maybe we should love better locally. Maybe we should remember the value in quiet acts of service — like picking up our friend›s child from MDO, or taking a cell phone charger to her doctor›s visit — that don›t get posted on social media or draw fanfare but that express love to someone in a deep, meaningful way. If you’re in a season of life where all you can do is love your people well, or if that’s your primary life goal, please know that you are a gem. Don’t think you’re letting God down as you wait for more important work because your current work is more important than any purpose you may discover later. What our world needs most are more people who understand real love, real connection and real community. A woman who loves her people well is loved well in return. Her relationships stand the test of time. Those who know her adore her, and those who don’t are missing out because what a joy it is to be loved by an unsung hero who treasures her relationships and makes those around her feel seen, loved and valued. Kari Kubiszyn Kampakis is a Mountain Brook mom of four girls, columnist and blogger for The Huffington Post. Her first book, 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know, is available on Amazon and everywhere books are sold. Join her Facebook community at “Kari Kampakis, Writer,” visit her blog at or contact her at



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Village Living

B14 • June 2015

Calendar Community Events All month: Camp LJCC. Levite Jewish Community Center. Camp LJCC offers weekly day camps to the entire Birmingham community for children entering grades K-8. Visit

June 8-10: Mountain Brook Baseball Minor League Camp. 8:30 a.m.-noon. Mountain Brook High School. Ages 5-8 and 9-12. Visit

3:30 p.m. Professional Learning Center, 32 Vine Street. Visit

Mixed Doubles Tennis Tournament. 2-5 p.m. All levels invited to play. Visit

June 8-11: Mountain Brook Junior High Girls Summer Basketball Camp. 2-4 p.m. Mountain Brook Junior High. $80. Visit

June 12: OLLI Summer Class: Railroad lanterns, Cholera and a Sinking Ship: Theatre in Birmingham in the 19th Century. 10:30 a.m.-noon. Birmingham Levite Jewish Community Center. Visit

June 22-24: Mountain Brook K-6 Football Camp. 8:30-11:30 a.m. Mountain Brook High School Stadium. Visit

June 1-3: Mountain Brook Baseball High School Prep Camp. 8:30 a.m.-noon. Mountain Brook High School. Age 13-14. Visit

June 8: Board of Education Meeting.

June 14: Oldies But Goodies Nostalgic

June 24: Flicks Among The Flowers: Ghostbusters. 8 p.m. Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Free. Visit

Emmet O’Neal Library Events 50 Oak Street, 879-0459


June 12: Chopped Crestline. 1-4 p.m.

June 8: Great Books Book Group. 6:30 p.m. Will discuss short stories. June 9: The Bookies Book Group. 10 a.m. Will discuss All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. June 9: Parent Teen Olympics. 6:30-8 p.m. Call 445-1141 to register. June 16: Documentaries After Dark. 6:30 p.m. Film about photographer Vivian Maier.


June 19: Superhero Movie Marathon. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Children Mondays: *Toddler Tales. 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. Wednesdays: Mother Goode Story Time. 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. Thursdays: *Patty Cake Story Time. 9:30 and 10: 30 a.m. Thursdays: SNaP. 3:30 p.m.

June 6: Game On Tournament. 1-3:30 p.m. June 9: Parent-Teen Olympics. 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Saturdays: Family Story Time with Mr. Mac. 10:30 a.m.

June 2: MadCap Puppet: Aladdin & Friends. 10:30 a.m. All ages.

a.m. All ages.

June 3: Movie and Popcorn: Big Hero 6. 3:30 p.m. All ages.

June 16: *Bookmania: 13 Story Treehouse Series. 6 p.m. Rising fourth-sixth grade.

June 4: SNaP: Super Slime Time. 3:30 p.m. Rising third through sixth-graders welcome.

June 17: Movie and Popcorn. Mickey’s Three Musketeers. 3:30 p.m. All ages.

June 9: Ats-Magic: Magician Arthur Atsma. 10:30 a.m. All ages. June 9: *Bookmania: Sidekicks. 6 p.m. Rising third-graders. June 10: Movie and Popcorn: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. 3:30 p.m. All ages. June 16: Hampstead Stage Live Theatre: Hercules and the Heroes. 10:30

June 23: Superhero Smash: Meet & Greet the Heroes. 10:30 a.m. All ages. June 24: Movie and Popcorn: The Incredibles. 3:30 p.m. All ages. June 30: Doug Berky Mime and Masks. 10:30 a.m. All ages. *Space is limited. Call 879-0497 or visit to register.


THE CRAFT Jason Wilson, Foounder Back Forty Beer Company

© 2015 Alabama Power Company

Safe, affordable, reliable electricity is one form of power we provide, but not the only one. For the Back Forty Beer Company, it’s helping them lead the way for craft beer in Alabama. With a lot of hard work, vision and a little help from Alabama Power to make their facility and processes efficient, Back Forty is proving that a local dream can turn into an amazing reality. That’s power to build on your passion. That’s Power to Alabama.

Watch the Back Forty Beer story at

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2/17/15 5:26 PM

June 2015 • B15

Calendar Area Events June 3-6: Miss Alabama Pageant. 7:30 p.m. Wright Center at Samford University. The pageant will include talent, evening wear and swimwear competitions, and winners will receive college scholarships. Call 726-4069. June 4-5: Steel City Jazz Festival. 11 a.m. Linn Park. Hear different jazz artists play your favorite jazz tunes. Visit June 5-6: Magic City Brewfest. June 5, 7-11 p.m., and June 6, 4-8 p.m. Sloss Furnaces. Weekend dedicated to learning about craft beer and sampling the best that Alabama has to offer. Visit June 5-7: Alabama Symphony Orchestra: Symphony in the Summer. June 5-6, 8 p.m., and June 7, 6 p.m. Railroad Park. Bring out your lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy the free concerts by the ASO. Call 975-2787. June 6: Memory Lights Walk. , 6:308:30 p.m. Homewood Central Park. Benefiting Community Grief Support Service. LED-lit balloons with specially prepared prayers or sentiments attached will be released at the end of the evening. June 6: SliceFest 2015. 9 a.m. Slice Pizza and Brew. One-day event to celebrate local fare, brew, music and entertainment. $25 advance or $30 at the gate, children 12 and under admitted for free. Call 715-9300. June 6: Know More Orphans 5K. 8 a.m. Veterans Park. Benefits Altar84, an organization committed to serving orphans and vulnerable children both locally and globally. $25. Visit active. com/hoover-al/running/distance-running-races/ know-more-orphans-5k-2015. June 7: Vulcan’s 111th Birthday. Noon-4 p.m. Vulcan Park & Museum. Music, games and

refreshments. $5, free for kids under age 4. Visit June 7: Viva Health Starlight Gala Featuring Jay Leno with Street Corner Symphony. 8 p.m. Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. $125. Visit June 11: Chefs for the Cure. 5:30-8:30 p.m. The Club of Birmingham, 1 Robert S. Smith Dr. Taste gourmet cuisine and bid on silent auction items to raise funds for breast cancer research. $100 per person, $175 for two people. Visit June 12: Monty Python and the Holy Grail. 2 p.m. The Alabama Theatre. $8. Visit June 12: Black Out Cancer. 8 p.m.Midnight. Iron City Bham. The black-tie optional event is hosted by the Junior Executive Board of Birmingham. $45 single, $80 couple. Call 9183220. June 13: Caribbean Day in Linn Park. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Linn Park. Enjoy music, food, vendors and dancing in the street. Call 383-1726. June 12-13: Garth Brooks with Trisha Yearwood. 7 p.m. BJCC Arena. Visit June 12-14: Moto America. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Barber Motorsports Park. $10-$55. Visit

7th Ave. N. Take a scenic downtown run and enjoy a health fair, music and food. Proceeds benefit the YMCA financial aid program. $30 beginning June 1, $35 race day and $75 community team. Visit June 20: Happenin Fest 2015. 2-11 p.m. Good People Brewery. The festival includes a long line-up of performing artists, on-site vendors and food trucks all day. Pre-sale tickets $17, $20 day of the show. Visit June 20: Black Creek Arts Festival. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Black Creek Park. More than 40 fine artists, musical entertainment and children’s arts activities. Free. Call 538-3676.

June 27: Def Leppard. 7 p.m. Oak Mountain Amphitheatre. $41-158.50. Call 745-3000.

June 20: YMCA Race to the Courthouse. 8 a.m. YMCA of Birmingham, 2400

June 28: South Pacific. 2-5 p.m. The Alabama Theatre. $8. Visit


Referred for a reason.


June 26: The Big Lebowski. 7-9:30 p.m. The Alabama Theatre. “The Dude” Lebowski, mistaken for a millionaire Lebowski, seeks restitution for his ruined rug and enlists his bowling buddies to help get it. $8. Visit

June 19: Ghostbusters. 7-9:30 p.m. The Alabama Theatre. $8. Visit

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June 21: To Kill A Mockingbird. 2-4:30 p.m. The Alabama Theatre. $8. Visit alabamatheatre. com.

June 14: Roman Holiday. 2-4:30 p.m. The Alabama Theatre. $8. Visit

Give yourself a break, call the cleaning service most recommended to family and friends.

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June 18-20: National Sacred Harp Singing Convention. June 18-19, 9:30 a.m.2:30 p.m. and 7-9 p.m.; June 20, 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. First Christian Church, 4954 Valleydale Road. Visit

June 27: Birmingham Heart Walk. 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Uptown Entertainment District, 2221 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. N. Free, but donations encouraged. Call 510-1515.


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Village Living June 2015  

Community news, entertainment and sports for Mountain Brook Alabama

Village Living June 2015  

Community news, entertainment and sports for Mountain Brook Alabama

Profile for 280living

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