Village Living July 2024

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Community shows support for teen injured in shark attack

Brad Simpson doesn’t personally know Lulu Gribbin or her family, but that hasn’t stopped him from showing support for the Mountain Brook teen who was critically injured in a shark attack at a Florida beach on June 7.

Simpson owns Smith’s Variety, a small business in Mountain Brook that has been making purple ribbons in honor of Gribbin.

“Neighbors want to be there for one another,” Simpson said, “and mailbox bows are a simple visual representation of the care and concern people have for Lulu and the Gribbin family.”

Gribbin is one of three individuals who were injured in shark attacks that occurred within two hours and four miles of each other in the Florida panhandle area known as 30A, between Panama City Beach and Destin. She lost a hand and leg in the

attack, along with two-thirds of the blood in her body.

McCray Faust, also a Mountain Brook teen, sustained minor injuries to her foot in the attack.

Roughly 90 minutes earlier, a 45-year-old woman was also attacked and survived her injuries.

Gribbin’s family credits her survival to the bystanders on the beach, several of whom were nurses and doctors, who quickly jumped into action to pull her from the water and stop the bleeding while they waited for emergency responders to arrive.

She has already undergone life-saving surgery and a leg amputation, with several more surgeries to come before she can begin complete recovery, according to her mother.

See LULU | page 23

Mountain Brook City Schools Foundation Executive Director Rachel Weingartner, left, and president of the board of directors for the foundation, Kristin Ritter stand
Mountain Brook Junior High in front of one of the new video boards donated to the school system through the foundation. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.
Lulu Gribbin, her twin sister, Ellie, and Sherlock, a hospital therapy dog.
Photo courtesy of the Gribbin family.

About Us

Editor’s Note By Tim Stephens

You’ll notice a few changes in this issue of Village Living. We’re rolling out some new features with the goal of bringing readers closer to the people, places and things that are interesting and relevant in our community.

Expect to see more Q-and-As and spotlights on businesses, restaurants and other fixtures about town. From local government to arts and entertainment to new places, we want to be a guide in helping you live, work and play in Mountain Brook. We will introduce you to public servants, teachers, entrepreneurs, entertainers, athletes and more.

You’ll soon find even more of these new

features on our website, social media channels and in our daily newsletter.

We also want your help. Know someone with an interesting story who should be featured? Know of or own a local business or restaurant that would make a great spotlight? Let us know by emailing tstephens@



For advertising, contact:




Please Support Our Community Partners

Amy Smith Gardner, State Farm (22)

Bates Roberts Fowlkes & Jackson Insurance (5)

Bromberg’s (6)

Budget Blinds (13)

Compassionate Crossings (7)

Elle (9)

ENT Associates of Alabama (15)

Gardner Astroturf (6)

Gardner Landscaping (2) Guin Service (1)

Gunn Dermatology (9)

Harbin Discount Pharmacy (15)

Hoke Animal Clinic (5) Issis & Sons (2)

JB & CO (20)

Katie Crommelin, Ray & Poynor (10)

Linscomb Wealth (17)

Luckie’s Pine Straw (1) Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce (21)

Mr. Handyman of Birmingham (23)

One Man & A Toolbox (7)

One Source Heating Cooling and Electrical LLC (8)

Parrot Structural Services LLC (19)

Piggly Wiggly (12)

Ritch’s Pharmacy (8)

Contributing Writers:

Solomon Crenshaw Jr. Katharine Armbrester Charles Vaughan Carmen Shea Brown

Warren Caldwell Don Harris Cot Tindall

Client Success Specialist: Business Development Exec: Junior Account Exec: PLEASE RECYCLE THIS PAPER

Russell Lands (4) Southern Home Structural

throughout the community. For a list of pick up locations, scan the QR code below or go to villageliving

CORRECTION: In the June issue of Village Living, the article titled “Track meet raises $80K for school foundation” mistakenly stated that the Mountain Brook City Schools Foundation has given more than half a million dollars to Mountain Brook schools. The foundation has actually granted more than $10 million in total over the past 30 years, and in the past year has granted more than half a million dollars. We regret the error.



To the chagrin of City Councilman Gerald Garner, chicanes will be among the tools used to deter cut-through traffic on Halbrook Lane and Arundel Drive in Mountain Brook.

The Mountain Brook City Council in late May approved a series of measures — including speed humps and chicanes, which narrow the street and create curves to slow drivers — to address resident concerns about motorists using the two streets to avoid other thoroughfares that were designed for more traffic.

Residents originally asked the city to vacate the streets, making them private in order to stop motorists from cutting through.

“There is no great answer at all,” Council President Virginia Smith said. “If we go through the process of closing the road, we think we’re going to have opposition. The only way to justify [that] the road should be closed is to go through this process to reduce traffic through alternate means.”

Mayor Stewart Welch III said city leaders have received a number of emails from Vestavia Hills residents that mentioned litigation in response to closing Halbrook. He said legal action could also be taken by the federal government on behalf of the post office in that area.

“We need to go through this process so if we do get into litigation, we will have done everything we could short of closing the road,” Welch said.

Garner said he couldn’t vote yes on the complete plan if it included chicanes.

“I just can’t fathom putting two nearly 50-foot-long plastic dividers in front of residents’ houses,” he said. “I’ll trade speed humps for chicanes all day long, but I just can’t do that.”

to address motorists on Halbrook Lane

Traffic engineer Richard Caudle said speed humps should be installed in June, adding that there is a 60-day delay on getting the materials for the chicanes. Public Works Director Ronnie Vaughn said the chicanes could cost from $15,000 to $20,000 and the speed humps could cost from $30,000 to $35,000.

The council also passed a resolution supporting an application for Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) funding for sidewalks. While residents along Old Leeds Lane lobbied for the funds be used for sidewalks on their street, the panel opted to honor a previous commitment to install sidewalks on Brookwood Road.

In other action, the council:

► Appointed Cleo Kathryn Gorman to a full term on the Villages Design Review Committee. She was appointed to fill an unexpired term in March.

► Accepted a bid of $407,129 from CB&A Construction for the sidewalk extension on North Woodridge Road from Robin Drive to Locksley Drive. There were six bidders for the project.

► Agreed to a transfer of a right-of-way agreement with the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) for the roundabout project.

► Ratified an agreement between the city

and Lower Brothers Tennis Courts for resurfacing the tennis courts at Mountain Brook High School.

► Agreed to change out the scoreboards at the athletic complex, reverting to the scoreboards that were replaced a few years ago.

Mountain Brook Athletics wants wireless controls for the scoreboard, which are only available on the previously used Coca-Cola scoreboards.

“Coke, as part of their contract, is going to do all the work and pay for the new scoreboards and the wireless part,” Parks Director Shanda Williams said. “We just need to agree to let them swap them out.

“The new ones we got are inferior to the old ones we had,” she said, adding that the soonto-be replaced scoreboards will be declared surplus items and made available for auction.

► Authorized an agreement between Mountain Brook and Homewood for the bilateral lending of fire trucks and other firefighting equipment during emergencies and disasters.

Deputy Fire Chief Stacey Cole said the Mountain Brook department is having issues with the supply chain, which can yield issues repairing a fire truck.

“We got down to our last fire truck,” he said. “We have two reserve pumpers and one reserve aerial apparatus. We got down to the last one that we had available.

“We're like, if we needed a truck, we don't have an agreement already with any of the cities near us,'” Cole said. “We reached out to Homewood, and they entered into an agreement with us that if we needed their truck or vice versa, that we've got an agreement in place that we could actually go over to Homewood or Homewood could come over to us and borrow one of our reserve trucks so that they can pro

vide services.”

A car moves through the three-way stop at Asbury Road in Cahaba Heights and Halbrook Lane in Mountain Brook. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

Let’s stay in touch!

Mayor’s Minute

I am well aware of the many inconveniences associated with Jefferson County sewer system’s pipe replacement all across our city. Once completed, they follow up with road repaving. It has been a bit of a travel nightmare and often feels like a game of driving Whack-A-Mole!

In a few months, we will begin construction on the roundabouts in Mountain Brook Village. There always seems to be a number of projects in the works around our ever-improving city. How can a resident keep up with all the construction? The single best way is for you to join the city’s text communication program. Once you join, we’ll text you about major road closures as well as all other important events happening around Mountain Brook.

city council meeting, you will receive a text message with a link to both the council’s pre-meeting and formal meeting agendas.

A quick review will let you know what we are working on. If any topic is of interest to you, there are ‘deep-dive’ materials attached for your convenience. We welcome your opinions and input either in person, by Zoom or through email.

To join our text communication system, text MOUNTAINBROOK to 91896. You’ll immediately receive a text back indicating your request has been accepted.

We work hard to share only events and information we think will be of interest to you. It’s also a great way to keep up with city council business. Each Friday before the Monday

As typical, summer is a fun time in our city. Mark your calendar for July 20. This is the Chamber’s Market Day for Mountain Brook Village, where our retailers offer great one-day sales and specials. There is always a large turnout, so don’t miss this once-a-year event. July 30 marks the O’Neal Library Summer Reading Finale, with a Concert on the Lawn for the kids at 6:30 p.m.

Groundbreaking held for new fire station

Mountain Brook Mayor Stewart Welch said that the new fire station No. 2 is a dream that's been in the making for years.

“We are so happy today to see the beginning of this dream coming to fruition,” Welch said at a groundbreaking event held on June 10. “The old fire station served us well for the past 50 years, and we’ve outgrown it.”

Welch said the city found “a perfect piece of property right near the old fire station.” He said this location is a safer spot for the fire department, so when they're exiting during an emergency, both the fire vehicles and oncoming drivers will have better lines of sight.

“There's all new technology and best practices around fire stations, and we're going to be able to do that for our firemen and our community,” Welch said.

He thanked the members of the city council for their support of the project, along with city manager Sam Gaston and assistant city manager and Finance Director Steve Boone.

Mountain Brook City Council member Virginia Smith said that one of the city’s greatest

achievements is its top-notch first responders, and the city and council receive many emails and texts for all they do for the community.

Fire Chief Chris Mullins said it was a very special day for him and a once-in-a-career event to open a new station as a fire chief.

“I'm very proud to be part of this project,” Mullins said. “For me personally, this is a day of gratitude. We started discussing a new fire station five years ago and asked the mayor and council to put it on the radar. After much discussion, justification, very careful consideration and thorough planning, here we are today.”

Mullins thanked all the members of the MBFD and said they make decisions as a family and they were able to give input on what the station would be.

The future site of Fire Station No. 2 will be 3100 Overton Road. Construction began on May 7 and is expected to take one year, Welch said.

“This project is for our first responders, and we want to thank you for your continuous professional excellence,” Welch said. “We look forward to having you move into your new home, and we thank you for supporting this project.”

Stewart Welch III
Renderings of the new Mountain Brook Fire Station No. 2 during a ceremonial groundbreaking at the site on June 10. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

Council takes no action after hearing on luxury senior living

Residents generally had positive things to say during a public hearing held in late May to consider a request to rezone a parcel from local business to a planned unit development for a luxury senior living facility.

The matter was first discussed at a Mountain Brook City Council meeting in November 2023, where residents had concerns about the size and design of the proposed development at 2900 Cahaba Road..

“It seemed like they were very responsive to the changes we made,” Allan D. Worthington, principal and CEO of Dominion Partners, said after the two-hour meeting on May 21. “I didn’t hear anyone with concerns about the changes we made on Cahaba Road, which were the bigger changes. I was really pleased with the response tonight.”

Amanda Loper said she likes that the development company is proposing housing for a population that really needs it.

“They are the boomers, they make up a large part of our community and their housing needs are different than they were maybe 20, 30 years ago,” she said. “I really like that this would be a place for folks to go into that next season and stay connected to their community and close to their community. Maybe then the houses they move out of, their grandkids or younger families can move into and then go to the great schools we have here.”

Loper said the changes she saw presented were not insignificant.

“They pushed the building back a really significant amount [and] they’ve lowered a story,” she said. “Those are pretty big changes that probably affected the economics of the building. From my perspective, which is an outside one, I think the project sponsor is working to accommodate the community’s requests.”

Charlie Perry said two of his favorite people have already expressed interest in residing at the proposed senior living facility. He noted

“ ”I really like that this would be a place for folks to go into that next season and stay connected to their community and close to their community. Maybe then the houses they move out of, their grandkids or younger families can move into and then go to the great schools we have here.

three issues that residents had with the original plan.

“The first one was it would overpower the village and destroy the ambiance,” he said.

“The second one was it would increase congestion and density and traffic issues. The third one was flooding.”

The revised plan “helps the ambiance/

overpowering issue because they’ve moved it back,” Perry said. “It’s an improvement as far as the degree to which it overpowers the architecture. That’s better.”

Perry said he was not as confident about the answers to other issues discussed during the hearing.

“I’m not happy with the traffic report because

they’ve never gotten it right yet, even when I was planning commission chairman,” he said.

“It just doesn’t work.”

Worthington and others on his team said stormwater drainage will be better when the development is in place. Perry was unconvinced.

“The concept is good, but they don’t have

Mountain Brook residents listen to discussion of a senior living facility at the May 28 Mountain Brook City Council meeting. Photos by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.

anything down, so I don’t know,” he said. “I will say that the engineers on every project, every big project, have been wrong. I won’t say they’re wrong now, but they’ve not shown us in their report.”

Worthington said he understands resident concerns, especially with Mountain Brook’s history of stormwater issues.

“I get that,” he said. “We hired qualified, competent experts to do the traffic study. Skipper [Consulting] has been doing traffic study for as long as I’ve been around.”

As for stormwater, Worthington said, “We’re controlling the water through basically what I call a bladder that holds the water in it. That’s a pretty good way to do it, and I think we’re going to do really, really well.”

Fire Chief Chris Mullins expressed concern that the facility could increase the number of non-emergency calls for his department.

“I have no problem with emergencies. That’s what we’re here for,” the chief said. “It’s the non-emergency lift-assists that should be performed by the staff, that they’re not performing,

that they call the fire department for.”

Mountain Brook Fire Department has answered calls from other retirement facilities when residents fall and can’t get up on their own.

“This is nothing new for us,” he said. “The difference is, in my opinion, if you’re living in an assisted living facility, the word says ‘assisted living.’ That’s living with assistance.

“Assistance means if I fall, you [a staff member] can get me up if I’m not injured,” Mullins said. “If you’re injured, it’s a totally different thing. If you’re not injured, you’re paying for that assistance.”

“I’m not being calloused,” he continued. “I just have to be careful because we have to provide service for all the residents here. If my call volume goes up by 10% immediately, then I’m gonna be scrambling. I don’t want to be making calls at a facility where they should be taking care of themselves.”

The council took no action on the rezoning request and will revisit the matter at an upcoming council meeting.

A proposed design showing the facility’s independent living, memory care and assisted living spaces, as well as parking.


Business Happenings


The English Village location of Pinnacle Financial Partners, 2020 Cahaba Road, is now open and ready to serve customers. Open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the company provides personal and business financial solutions, wealth management and more. 205-545-4735,

Frida’s Cocina and Cantina is now open in English Village in the location formerly occupied by Civitas, 2031 Cahaba Road. The restaurant offers customers traditional Tex-Mex dishes, with all ingredients made from scratch, along with tortillas made fresh in-house. Frida’s is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. 205-201-4822, “Frida’s Cocina & Cantina” on Facebook


The third J. Crew Factory in Alabama is set to open this summer in the Cahaba Village shopping center, off of U.S. 280. The store carries casual, versatile clothing for the whole family.


Crestline Pet Care (formerly Pet Vet Express) and Village Pet Care recently combined at 253 Country Club Park in Crestline Village. The merger created

Crestline Pet Care, P.C. The clinic is open Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and provides comprehensive medical care to small animal patients, as well as grooming services, dental care, microchipping and more.



Emma Wells Strait, owner and founder of Heezie’s, has recently been nominated for the 2024 Alabama Retailer of the Year award. Strait opened the store at 81 Church St., Suite 100 as a nod to her late grandmother, who was lovingly called “Heezie.” She hopes the shop can help customers find a wide range of items to bring joy and happiness into their lives, homes and the gifts they give.


Mobley and Sons owner Hunt Mobley was recently nominated for the 2024 Alabama Retailer of the Year award. The men’s clothing shop at 112 Euclid Ave., offers quality clothing options in store, as well as custom fittings, alterations and even wedding planning services. 205-870-7929,

Frank Davies III, owner of Little Hardware in Mountain Brook, has been nominated for the 2024 Alabama Retailer of the Year award. The hardware store has been a part of the Mountain Brook community since 1959. Customers can stop by 2117 Cahaba Road for a little bit of everything, from home décor to garden supplies, tools, outdoor equipment and more. Business hours are Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 205-871-4616,

Jorge and Aimee Castro, owners of Sol Y Luna in

Lane Parke, have been nominated for the 2024 Alabama Retailer of the Year award. The restaurant specializes in unique Mexican small plates, known as tapas, and an extensive tequila list. Patrons can enjoy a meal for lunch on Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner Monday through Saturday starting at 5 p.m. Brunch is served on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 205-407-4797,

Paige Albright of Paige Albright Orientals, 2814 Petticoat Lane, Suite 2320, has been nominated for the 2024 Alabama Retailer of the Year award. Albright has extensive knowledge and experience sourcing unique oriental rugs and textiles for customers. The store is open weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. 205-877-3232,

Daniel George restaurant, 2837 Culver Road, was named the most beautiful restaurant in Alabama by Open Table. The restaurant is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and serves dinner Monday through Saturday from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. 205-871-3266,

Business News to Share?

Do you have news to share with the community about a business in Mountain Brook or the greater Birmingham area? Let us know at business-happenings

Jamey Shirah, owner, and Kyle Biddy, executive chef, stand outside Little Betty Steak Bar in Mountain Brook’s Lane Parke. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

Little Betty Steak Bar

Little Betty Steak Bar, an upscale steakhouse headed by Michelin star chef Kyle Biddy, is one of Lane Parke’s newest culinary offerings. Opened in the fall of 2023, the restaurant has already become one of Mountain Brook’s premier fine dining establishments, with an elegant, inviting environment.

Little Betty offers a menu full of steakhouse classics like wagyu and roasted bone marrow, alongside a rotating selection of seafood and pasta. Although welcoming of all ages, the restaurant aims to provide a mature dining experience, fielding an expansive selection of wine and drinks and a bar.

Little Betty Steak Bar is located at 321 Rele Street in Lane Park. Their hours are 4-11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4 p.m. until midnight Friday and Saturday. You can visit their website at

Coffee and pastries on a table outside of Church Street Coffee & Books. Photo courtesy of Church Street Coffee & Books.

Church Street Coffee & Books SPOTLIGHT

Church Street Coffee & Books, a staple in the Mountain Brook community since 2011, sits in the center of Crestline Village. The store is stocked full of reading materials that can be enjoyed while dining. As they order their coffee and pastries, customers are greeted by a book recommendation from co-owners Cal and Heather Morris. Church Street also offers a cozy upstairs reading lounge and sells books online.

The cafe’s most famous food item is the breakup cookie, once dubbed by Business Insider “the best cookie in Alabama.” The popular treat, said by Cal Morris to account for one-fourth of the store’s total sales, is a buttery, freshly-baked chocolate chip cookie garnished with a touch of sea salt.

Church Street Coffee & Books is located at 81 Church St. and is open every day of the week from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can visit their website at

Village Living is spotlighting local restaurants in print and online. To be considered for this free feature, please submit your restaurant’s information here:

Mountain Brook’s sweetest spots

We’re in the dog days of summer in Alabama, and what could be better on a hot day than a sweet treat?

Here are five spots in Mountain Brook to find some cool options:

1. Mountain Brook Creamery: the creamery offers ice cream cones, cakes, splits and shakes daily from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. at 2715 Cahaba Road.

2. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams: sells pints, scoops and beverages daily from noon to 11 p.m. at 931 Jemison Lane.

3. Marble Slab Creamery: serves ice cream, sundaes, shakes and smoothies. The creamery, located at 3000 Cahaba Village Plaza, Suite 120, is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday

4. Gilchrist: offers ice cream, shakes, floats, malts and limeades from the 2805 Cahaba Road store front. Open Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

5. Organic Cafe: serving smoothies, juices and acai bowls at 1081 Jemison Lane, Suite F. Open Monday-Thursday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Recently sold homes in Mountain Brook

► ADDRESS: 3623 Locksley Drive

► BED/BATH: 6/5

► ADDRESS: 3424 Brookwood Trace

► BED/BATH: 5/3.5

► ADDRESS: 3791 Fairhaven Drive #17

► BED/BATH: 3/3.5

► LIST PRICE: $899,900 ► SALE PRICE: $1,039,567

► ADDRESS: 3821 Cove Drive

► BED/BATH: 6/4

► SQUARE FOOTAGE: 3,347 sq. ft.


► LIST PRICE: $699,000

► SALE PRICE: $810,000

► ADDRESS: 3789 Fairhaven Drive

► BED/BATH: 3/3.5

► SQUARE FOOTAGE: 3,296 sq. ft.


► LIST PRICE: $889,900 ► SALE PRICE: $952,385

► ADDRESS: 2509 Mountain Brook Circle #D

► BED/BATH: 1/1

► SQUARE FOOTAGE: 687 sq. ft.

► NEIGHBORHOOD: Mountain Brook Village

► LIST PRICE: $255,000

► SALE PRICE: $255,000


Events Mountain Brook events guide

Tuesdays: Trivia at Melt. 6:30 p.m. Melt, 1011 Jemison Lane. Bring your friends to enjoy trivia night, have a bite to eat and enjoy a cocktail. Compete to win a Melt gift card. Visit

July 2: Thyme to Read Book Club — “The Woods of Fannin County.” 4-5 p.m. Birmingham Botanical Gardens, 2612 Lane Park Road. A book discussion of “The Woods of Fannin County” by Janisse Ray. This event is free and open to the public. Visit bbgardens. org.

July 4: Thunder on the Mountain. 9-10 p.m. Vulcan Park and Museum, 1701 Valley View Drive. Come out to one of the many viewing points from around Birmingham to view the epic fireworks that have become a beloved Magic City tradition. The soundtrack can be heard on iHeart media radio stations. For more information, visit

July 9: Nature Trivia Night. 7-9 p.m. Birmingham Botanical Gardens, 2612 Lane Park Road. Test your knowledge of Alabama’s flora and fauna with naturalist Henry Hershey. Enjoy complimentary drinks and compete for a chance to win a prize. The cost for members is $15 and non-members $20. For more information, visit

July 10: Tomato Troubleshooting and Taste Testing Extravaganza. 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Hodges Room, Birmingham Botanical Gardens, 2612 Lane Park Road. Bring your best-tasting homegrown tomato and participate in a blind taste test to determine the most delicious variety. The cost for members is $30 and non-members $35. For more information, visit

July 20: Mountain Brook Market Day. All day. Mountain Brook Village and Lane Parke. The Shoppers can enjoy a European-style sidewalk sale, with businesses discounting items and offering special sales. For more information, visit

July 25: What About Native Bees? 11 a.m. to noon. Conference Room, Birmingham Botanical Gardens, 2612 Lane Park Road. Discover the fascinating world of native bees with Dana Hazen, the director of Planning, Building & Sustainability for the City of Mountain Brook. The cost for members is $20 and non-members $25. For more information, visit

July 25: Jefferson County Historical Association Quarterly Meeting. 6:30 p.m. Mountain Brook City Hall, Meeting Room. Jim Phillips, a Samford University adjunct professor, will speak on "The Lost Treasures of Jefferson County.” Doors open at 6 p.m. and light

refreshments will be served. For more information, contact Thomase.

July 27: Otey’s Fest Shindig. 6 p.m. Otey’s Tavern, 224 Country Club Park. Visit

Otey’s Tavern Live Music Line-up

July 5: Joe Breckenridge. 5:30 p.m.

July 6: Delta Velvet. 9 p.m.

July 11: J.D. and The Man. 8 p.m.

July 12: Moral Support. 5:30 p.m. 8 Track Country. 9 p.m.

July 13: Local Honey. 9 p.m.

July 18: Rick Carter and John Kulinich. 8 p.m.

July 19: Noble Freeland & Young. 5:30 p.m. Will’s Dayton Rockstar. 9 p.m.

July 20: Beagle Blues Brigade. 9 p.m.

July 25: Tyler Diuguid. 8 p.m.

July 26: Tommy Terrell. 5:30 p.m. The Magnetic Elite. 9 p.m.

July 27: Negotiators post Otey’s Fest. 8 p.m.

O’Neal Library events


Tuesdays: Patty Cake — Lapsit Storytimes. 9:30-9:50 a.m. and 10:30-10:50 a.m. Ages infant to 18 months.

Tuesdays: LOL Extra — Various themes. 3:30-4:30 p.m. Grades 5K-2.

Wednesdays: Toddler Tales Storytimes. 9:30-10 a.m. and 10:30-11 a.m. Ages 1-3.

Wednesdays: Movers & Makers Storytimes. 1:30-2:15 p.m. Ages 3-5.

Thursdays: All Together Storytimes. 9:30-10 a.m. and 10:30-11 a.m. All ages.

Thursdays: SNaP – Various themes. 3:30-4:30 p.m. Rising grades 3-6.

July 1: Reading Buddies. 3:30-4:30 p.m. Grades 5K-6.

July 8-11: Reading Camp. 2:30-3:30 p.m. Grades 5K-2.

July 8: Breakout Book Club — “Orris and Timble.” 5-6 p.m. For emerging readers.

July 9: Xtreme Hot Off the Press Book Club. 6-7 p.m. Rising grades 3-6.

July 12: Sensory Play, Explore & More. Small group play at 9:30-10:15 a.m. and 10:30-11:15 a.m., free play at 11:15-11:45 a.m. All ages. Registration required.

July 15: Illustrator Art Club — art inspired by Vashti Harrison. 2:30-3:30 p.m. and 4:30-5:30 p.m. Grades 5K-6.

July 15: Coding Buddies. 3-5 p.m. Rising grades 3-6.

July 30: Summer Reading Finale — Roger Day Concert. Pizza at 6 p.m. and music at 6:30-7:30 p.m.


July 1: Reading Buddies Training and Volunteer Opportunity. 3:30-4:30 p.m.

July 8: Community Food Bank Volunteer Opportunity. 1-3 p.m.

July 10: Game On. 3-5 p.m.

July 12: DIY Yums — Halo-Halo Shaved Ice. 2-4 p.m.

July 15: Cahaba River Cleanup Volunteer Opportunity. 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

July 15: Coding Buddies Training and Volunteer Opportunity. 2-5 p.m.

July 17: Dungeons & Dragons One-Shot. 2-5 p.m.

July 19: Escape Room. 2-4 p.m.

July 22: Clean the Library Volunteer Opportunity. 1-3 p.m.

July 24: Library Loot Book Club — YA Trivia Summer Edition. 4-5:30 p.m.

July 26: Cozy Cat-fe. 1-3 p.m. Please consider any potential pet allergies before joining us for this event!

July 29: Teen Advisory Board. 4:30-6 p.m.


Mondays and Thursdays: Beginning Japanese Language Classes. 5-6 p.m.

Tuesdays: Gentle Yoga with Marie Blair. 10-11 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays: Open Maker Lab Hours. 2-6 p.m.

July 3: MahJong Meetup. 10 a.m. to noon.

July 7: Film Screening — “A High Wind in Jamaica.” 3-5 p.m.

July 8: Great Short Stories – “In a Grove” by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa. 6:30-7:30 p.m.

July 9: The Bookies — “A High Wind in Jamaica.” 1011:30 a.m.

July 9: Writing Workshop with Miriam Calleja. 5:30-7 p.m.

July 13: Crafterday. 9 a.m. to noon. Bring your own craft and work on it with us.

July 16: O’Neal Library Board Meeting. 8:45-9:45 a.m.

July 16: Writer/Poet Open Mic Night. 6-8 p.m.

July 17: Denim Upcycling with Julie Maeseele. 10 a.m. to noon.

July 18: Writing Workshop with Miriam Calleja. 5:30-7 p.m.

July 21: Film Screening — “Brain Damage.” 7-10 p.m.

July 23: Books & Beyond Meeting — Adventure. 6:30-8 p.m.

July 25: Neurodivergent Community Group. 6-7 p.m.

July 27: Film Screening — “Romancing the Stone.” 3-5 p.m.

23rd annual Market Day set for July 20

While some radio stations celebrate Christmas in July, Mountain Brook shoppers can get a head start on their holiday purchases at the 23rd annual Market Day on July 20.

Market Day has been a much-loved tradition for two decades, drawing both locals and visitors to Mountain Brook Village and Lane Parke to browse for deals.

The shopping event began in the early 2000s as a way to commemorate the French holiday Bastille Day. It has since morphed into a highly anticipated summer event that highlights Mountain Brook retailers. Shoppers can browse the European-style sidewalk sale and enjoy discounted prices that many of the featured merchants will offer all day.

“The community looks forward to it every year,” said Shelby Weir, the marketing & community relations coordinator for the Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce. “Everyone expects the biggest and best sales, and they definitely get it.”

There is often a sales slump in the summer, particularly after the end of wedding season, and Market Day is an opportunity for retailers to reduce their inventory and prepare for the fall and winter shopping season.

“Shoppers also get the opportunity to purchase upscale, high-quality items for prices that you won't find the rest of the year,” Weir said. “The majority of retail merchants in Mountain Brook Village and Lane Parke participate.”

Some of the participating merchants will set up outdoor tents and displays, and the lure of the perfect bargain will likely draw shoppers from all over the state again this year.

Retailers that have participated in Market Day in years past include Bromberg’s, Ex Voto Vintage and Table Matters.

“I would say our local merchants have an elevated quality of apparel and artisan items that you just won't find anywhere else,” Weir

said, “and the sales this year are going to be outstanding.”

Market Day coincides with the state-wide sales tax holiday on school supplies and apparel, which will be from Friday, July 19, through Sunday, July 21.


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A considerable part of the appeal of Market Day is the location, Weir said. “Mountain

Brook Village is so easily walkable,” said Weir.

“It really has its own charm, with merchants that have been there for decades.”

Last year, two shuttles ran during Market

Day to accommodate shoppers due to a Jefferson County sewer improvement project, but this year parking will be readily available throughout the Village and Lane Parke.

For more information about Market Day, visit

The 23rd annual Market Day returns to Mountain Brook Village on July 20. Photo courtesy of the Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce


All-South Metro Baseball

Barnett named Hitter of Year

High school baseball in the Birmingham area is always full of quality teams with rosters of talented players. The annual Starnes Media All-South Metro Baseball Team aims to recognize those players who had outstanding spring seasons.

Hoover’s Mason Blasche earns Player of the Year honors for leading the Bucs as a position player and pitcher. Mountain Brook’s Caleb Barnett is the Hitter of the Year after a spectacular season at the plate, in addition to being one of the area’s top arms. Bryson Morman from Oak Mountain was brilliant on the mound all season and is the Pitcher of the Year.

Mountain Brook’s Lee Gann and Spain Park’s Will Smith share Coach of the Year honors after each led their team to the postseason. The Spartans nearly advanced to the semifinals with a strong season, while the Jags replaced many starters and still found their way back to the playoffs.

► Player of the Year: Mason Blasche, Hoover

► Hitter of the Year: Caleb Barnett, Mountain Brook

► Pitcher of the Year: Bryson Morman, Oak Mountain

► Coaches of the Year: Lee Gann, Mountain Brook, and Will Smith, Spain Park


► Pitcher: Mason Blasche, Hoover; hit for a .398 average and drove in 33 runs, while pitching more than 54 innings against stout competition.

► Pitcher: Bryson Morman, Oak Mountain; posted a 1.23 ERA and threw 25 consecutive scoreless innings.

► Pitcher: Jack Ross, Homewood; posted an 8-2 record with a 1.88 earned run average.

► Pitcher: Dylan Lewkutz, Hewitt-Trussville; led the area with 70 innings and had a 1.68 ERA.

► Catcher: John Paul Head, Vestavia Hills; reached base at a .500 clip and drew 23 walks.

► First base: Will Adams, Hoover; another strong two-way player for the Bucs who won six games on the mound.

► Second base: James Graphos, Mountain Brook; stole 33 bases and knocked in 26 runs.

► Third base: Caleb Barnett, Mountain Brook; led the area with 8 home runs and was a perfect 7-0 pitching with a 1.04 ERA.

► Shortstop: Steele Hall, Hewitt-Trussville; hit .331 and stole 31 bases.

► Infield: James Battersby, Spain Park; drove in 26 runs and stole 22 bags.

► Infield: Jaxson Wood, Hoover; racked up 48 hits and 24 RBIs, while hitting .364.

► Outfield: Brett Moseley, Hewitt-Trussville; one of the top players in the area, hitting .404 with 34 RBIs.

► Outfield: Chapman Blevins, Spain Park; hit .326 and drove in 28 runs.

► Outfield: Will Clark, Briarwood; drove in 23 runs with a .322 average.

► Designated hitter: Carson McFadden, John Carroll; had a big year with a .536 OBP and 31 RBIs.

► Designated hitter: Matthew Widra, Spain Park; belted four homers and drove in 36 runs.

► Utility: John Robicheaux, Mountain Brook; a tremendous two-way player, hitting .427 and winning seven games.

► Utility: Jake Souders, Briarwood; posted six wins on the mound and had a .546 OBP.


► Pitcher: Kenneth Diddell, Mountain Brook; set the state record for career saves by adding 11 this spring.

► Pitcher: CJ Gross, Spain Park; went 5-0 with a 1.93 ERA.

► Pitcher: Cooper Sain, Homewood; went a perfect 6-0 with a 1.34 ERA.

► Pitcher: Logan Moller, Chelsea;

threw 53 2/3 innings and racked up an impressive 67 strikeouts.

► Catcher: Coleman Gray, Spain Park; drove in 29 runs and had a .496 OBP.

► First base: Carson Wideman, Hewitt-Trussville; hit .346 with 29 RBIs.

► Second base: Rob Wright, Hewitt-Trussville; came up clutch with 29 RBIs and a .522 OBP.

► Third base: Christian Helmers, Hewitt-Trussville; won seven games as a pitcher and was a strong two-way player.

► Shortstop: Nick McCord, Oak Mountain; racked up 32 hits and swiped 10 bases.

► Infield: Levi Nickoli, Homewood; hit five home runs and surrendered just a 1.59 ERA as a pitcher.

► Infield: Chase Lackey, Chelsea; had 33 hits and stole 19 bases.

► Outfield: Hunter Keller, Mountain Brook; hit .336, piling up 43 hits on the season.

► Outfield: William Tonsmeire, Vestavia Hills; hit .306 and stole 18 bases.

► Outfield: Aden Malpass, John Carroll; hit .391 and knocked in 26 runs.

► Designated hitter: Jackson Miller, John Carroll; drove in 30 runs.

► Designated hitter: Noah Smith, John Carroll; hit .435 with 31 RBIs.

► Utility: Jackson Barnes, Briarwood; hit .357 and won three games as a pitcher.

► Utility: Alex Harrison, Oak Mountain; hit .301 and held opponents to an 0.48 ERA in 29 innings pitched.


► Pitcher: William Andre, Hoover; Blake Patrick, Spain Park; Ty Shotts, Mountain Brook; John Littleton, Mountain Brook; Grant Hill, Chelsea; Cooper Huffman, Hewitt-Trussville; Chase Rafferty, Vestavia Hills; Collin Jones, Vestavia Hills; Kevin Jasinski, Oak Mountain.

► Catcher: Peyton Parkinson, Oak Mountain.

► Infield: Aiden Berke, Spain Park; Rhys Jones, Spain Park.

► Outfield: Cam Simpson, Hewitt-Trussville; Colby Durden, Hewitt-Trussville; Hayden Greer, John Carroll; Jeremiah Gary, Homewood; Camdyn Teague, Hoover; Carter Jackman, Hoover.

Starnes Media covers 10 schools across its six publications. The team is put together by the sports department in consultation with coaches.

Mountain Brook’s Caleb Barnett (9) makes contact in a game against Muscle Shoals during the first round of the Class 6A playoffs at Mountain Brook High School on April 19.
Photos by Erin Nelson Sweeney.
Above: Mountain Brook’s John Robicheaux (2) swings at a pitch. Below: Mountain Brook’s James Graphos (15) tags second as he turns to throw to first to record a double play.

All-South Metro Softball

4 Spartans named to 2nd team

The 2024 Starnes Media All-South Metro Softball Team recognizes the top players in the area for their efforts throughout the high school softball season.

Hewitt-Trussville won its fourth state championship over the last six years, outlasting Daphne in a thrilling title game. Sara Phillips capped off her career in style, as the star pitcher threw nine shutout innings in that game and was masterful all season. She wins Player of the Year, the third year in a row that a Husky has earned the title.

Taylor Burt of the Huskies is the Coach of the Year and Tait Davidson of Vestavia Hills is the Pitcher of the Year, each for the second consecutive season. Spain Park’s Maggie Daniel is the Hitter of the Year after another terrific season behind the plate for the Jags.

► Player of the Year: Sara Phillips, Hewitt-Trussville

► Hitter of the Year: Maggie Daniel, Spain Park

► Pitcher of the Year: Tait Davidson, Vestavia Hills

► Coach of the Year: Taylor Burt, Hewitt-Trussville


► Pitcher: Sara Phillips, Hewitt-Trussville; went 16-2 in the circle, posting a 1.35 earned run average with 175 strikeouts.

► Pitcher: Tait Davidson, Vestavia Hills: posted a 15-8 record with a 1.32 earned run average, with 217 strikeouts in another strong season.

► Pitcher: Olivia Christian, Hoover; led the area with 21 wins, putting forth a 1.91 ERA and 100 strikeouts.

► Catcher: Maggie Daniel, Spain Park; one of the most feared hitters in the area, hitting 14 home runs and getting on base at a .613 clip.

► First base: Corey Goguts, Hewitt-Trussville; burst onto the scene with a .462 average, 10 home runs and 45 runs batted in.

► Second base: Lucy Spisto, Vestavia Hills; hit .385 with 31 stolen bases.

► Third base: Alea Rye, Oak Mountain; drove in 37 runs in her senior campaign.

► Shortstop: Bella Foran, Hoover; a firstteamer for the third straight year, hitting .400 with 52 RBIs.

► Infield: Olivia Faggard, Hewitt-Trussville; capped off her career with 43 RBIs for the state champs.

► Infield: Charlee Bennett, Spain Park; hit seven home runs, stole 30 bases and got on base at a .583 clip.

► Outfield: Emma Hawkins, Oak Mountain; the catalyst for the offense, hitting .405 with 49 hits.

► Outfield: Hannah Christian, Hoover; had a phenomenal senior year, hitting .500 with 77 hits and 41 RBIs.

► Outfield: Ki Davis, Hoover; hit .413 with 62 hits and 29 stolen bases.

► Designated hitter: Sydney Carroll, Chelsea; one of the top power hitters in the area, finishing with 11 homers.

► Designated hitter: Meredith Kellum, Briarwood; hit .485 with 10 homers.

► Utility: Zaylen Tucker, Hewitt-Trussville; a strong season at the plate and in the circle, swiping 36 bases and winning 10 games.

► Utility: Mallory Ogle, John Carroll; hit .418 and pitched for the Cavs.


► Pitcher: Kaitlyn Raines, Hoover; had a 14-6 record with a 1.34 ERA and 148 strikeouts.

► Pitcher: Ella Ussery, Spain Park; won 11 games and struck out 145 batters.

► Pitcher: Kate Hicks, Hewitt-Trussville; won eight games in her final season.

► Catcher: Anna DuBose, Oak Mountain; hit .423 and knocked in 28 runs.

► First base: Emma Stearns, Mountain Brook; drove in 30 runs in the middle of the order.

► Second base: Baylor McCluney, Chelsea; hit over .300 as a senior.

► Third base: Teagan Huey, Spain Park; drove in 30 runs and walked 23 times.

► Shortstop: Madeline Epperson, Chelsea; finished her final season with a .406 OBP.

► Infield: Marrison Kearse, Mountain Brook; hit .362 with 26 RBIs in a versatile role.

► Infield: Chaney Peters, Hewitt-Trussville; drove in 33 runs.

► Outfield: Reagan Rape, Mountain Brook; knocked in 33 runs and stole 35 bases.

► Outfield: Sheridan Andrews, Oak

Mountain; hit nearly .400, hit four homers and stole 20 bases as a sophomore.

► Outfield: Claire Robinett, Mountain Brook; an on-base machine (.530 OBP) and stolen base threat (29 steals).

► Designated hitter: Emily Williams, John Carroll; hit seven home runs with a .543 OBP.

► Designated hitter: AhKeela Honeycutt, Hewitt-Trussville; hit seven homers and had the walk-off hit at state

► Utility: Katie Hopson, Chelsea; sparked the Hornets with a .374 average and 28 RBIs.

► Utility: Mia Gonzalez, Homewood; the Patriots’ most versatile player, collecting 45 RBIs and pitching well.


► Pitcher: Reagan Stewart, Spain Park; Kelsey Crain, Oak Mountain; Sophia Williams, Oak Mountain; Annie Gregory,

Mountain Brook; Grace Pilgrim, Homewood; Alaysha Crews, Chelsea; Jaley Young, Spain Park.

► Catcher: AT Goldman, Mountain Brook; Lindsey Westhoven, Hoover.

► Infield: Edith Kaplan, Mountain Brook; Mollie Hanson, Hoover; Kloeanne Smith, Homewood; Claire Purkey, Chelsea; Emma Parmley, Chelsea; Caroline Brown, Chelsea; Carolyn Graham, Oak Mountain.

► Outfield: Bella Williams, Oak Mountain; Caroline Charles, Spain Park; Tatum Lasseter, Spain Park; Lexie Kelly, Hewitt-Trussville; Madison Letson, Homewood.

► Designated hitter: Allie Whitaker, Spain Park; Makaila Hope, Hewitt-Trussville.

Starnes Media covers 10 schools across its six publications. The team is put together by the sports department in consultation with coaches.

Left: Mountain Brook’s Reagan Rape (8) throw the ball to the infield.
Below: Mountain Brook’s Emma Stearns (23) rounds first base in a game against Chelsea at Mountain Brook High School in April 2023. Photos by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

Banking Aligned with Your Financial Purpose

Helical Piers


Have a community announcement? Email Leah Ingram Eagle at to be considered for inclusion in an upcoming issue.

Christian author Katy Shelton pens third book

Growing up in Crestline, Katy Shelton was not what one would call a “deep kid.” She did not like to read, let alone write.

“I was a tomboy. I loved to play outside,” Shelton said. “You often hear writers say, ‘I was the one sitting on the bench with my nose in a book.’ No, not me.”

But when she was in junior high, she had an experience that changed her forever.

“My mother took me to see a one-man play, ‘The Revelation of John,’ at Samford University,” she said, “The actor was Tom Key, and he memorized the entire Book of Revelation. It really struck me as a 12-year-old that he memorized the entire book and acted it out with only one intermission.”

Shelton said she came home, got out her Bible and started outlining the Book of Revelation.

“By the time I got to the third chapter, I threw my pen down and thought, ‘I have no idea what this means,’” she said. “That’s how it started and that’s how it ended.”

That was until more than 30 years later, when she did what she never thought she would do: embark on a writing career. Now, Shelton has just finished her third book, “Forever Matters: How the Return of Jesus Completes You,” set to release on July 23 from publisher Iron Stream Media.

The book is a devotional based on her study of the Book of Revelation.

Her first two books, “Christmas Matters” and “Easter Matters,” were co-authored with her friend Anna Nash, founder and director of the local Christian nonprofit Beacon People. Having never forgotten about the play at Samford and

her subsequent interest in Revelation, Shelton began to wonder if she could write a devotional on the subject.

“I didn’t know if I could do it, but I knew it was there for a reason,” she said. “I’m not a pastor, Bible scholar or theologian. I’m just a person who loves Jesus and wanted to learn more.”

Shelton began doing research, studying and listening to podcasts from a variety of sources. She said the entire process took almost a year.

“I researched different people’s teachings

from different denominations, I took all of those opinions and I narrowed them down,” she said.

Shelton said she wanted to be able to answer two questions.

“Can we find Jesus in Revelation? And, if so, what does it mean for our lives today?” she said.

Shelton said her main takeaway from her research was that Revelation is about love.

“It’s about God’s forgiveness and patience; he gives people chance after chance to come back to him,” she said.

Shelton said her book begins with a quote

from Christian author and speaker Joni Eareckson Tada: “Sometimes God allows what he hates in order to accomplish what he loves.”

“He’s trying to bring the people He created back to Him,” Shelton said.

Shelton said each chapter ends with three Ps: process, prayer and promise.

“The process gives you three questions to think about, and the promise is a verse, usually taken from the Old Testament,” she said.

Shelton, who graduated from Auburn University with a degree in health services administration, said she did not start developing a love for reading until she was in her 30s, when she left her job to be a stay-at-home mom and needed “some kind of mental stimulation.” She also drew inspiration from her younger sister, Emily Carpenter, a former actor and producer who is now a successful novelist.

“The more I read, the more I wanted to read, and I thought, maybe I can write, too,” she said.

She is currently working on her next two books with Nash: “Giving Thanks Matters,” based on the Book of Mark, and “Reflection Matters,” based on the Book of Matthew. Nash has also collaborated with Shelton on a podcast titled “What Matters: Let’s Talk About It,” which discusses themes raised in Revelation.

“It's a very complicated book, but I would challenge the reader to give Revelation one month of your time,” she said. “I really believe it will make a difference in people’s lives.”

A book launch party will be held at the Little Professor Bookshop at Pepper Place, 2807 2nd Ave. S., on July 23 from 5-7 p.m. The book is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other major book retailers. For more information, visit

Left: Christian author Katy Shelton at her home in Mountain Brook. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney. Right: Shelton recently penned her third book, titled “Forever Matters: How the Return of Jesus Completes You.” Art courtesy of Katy Shelton.

CONTINUED from page 1

Those goals are still the focus of the foundation 32 years later, and since its creation, a total of $10.4 million in annual grants have been awarded to all six of the Mountain Brook schools through the foundation’s work. The endowment fund is currently over $12 million.

Kristin Ritter, president of the board of directors for the foundation, explained that the money given each year goes into the endowment, and the board uses a percentage of a formula to give back to the school system.

Having served on the board since 2016, Ritter’s term as president ends in May 2025, when president-elect Bennett White will take over the position as head of the 36-member board.

“We don’t raise the money in that year,” Ritter said. “Whatever is raised, we put in the endowment and then pull from that what the past five quarters look like. This is a really healthy organization because of the momentum we’ve had.”

Much of that momentum can be credited to the hiring of Executive Director Rachel Weingartner in 2019. The sole employee of the foundation, Weingartner is tasked with making sure the fundraising campaigns are successful and run efficiently.

That is something she has experience doing. Weingartner previously spent time working in the foundation department at the Creative Artist Agency, where she matched artists with organizations they could help.

From there, she moved to a position as the vice president of development for the Country Music Hall of Fame, which focused on individual giving, and also helped assist in a capital campaign to expand the museum.

In 2019, Weingartner was approached about the executive director position at MBCSF. While she wasn’t looking for anything fulltime as a mom to two young children, the position seemed like the perfect fit.

“It would be for my children’s school. It was an opportunity I just couldn’t turn down, doing what I love and had experience in,” she said. “My kids are now almost 10 and 8 and 3½, so I’ll be in the school system for a long time.”

Weingartner said that initially, the fundraising was driven by a major gifts campaign, but now there are several campaigns in progress and the foundation is raising more money than it’s giving away.

The annual grant for the 2024-25 school year, totaling $587,696, will fund resources including a math coach for each elementary school, the Mountain Brook Schools summer learning conference, Phonics First training for teachers, an updated website for the school system, the Institute for Innovation, stipends for teachers participating in summer professional development, projectors with advanced safety features for classrooms, Chromebooks for every student and teacher in the district and more.

“Last fiscal year [2023], we raised $777,301, and based on our set spending calculation, we gave out $549,440. We’re in a really good situation,” Ritter said.

To compare the growth over a year’s time, a total of $816,123.90 was raised for the most recent school year. Continued fundraising will allow the foundation to have a stable amount of money coming to the school system every year, even in dry or down times, Weingartner

Fundraising Campaigns

Mountain Brook Schools Foundation runs several fundraising campaigns and also hosts an annual Track Meet to raise money for the school system.

said. Over the last eight years, the annual fundraising has increased from $304,563 to $816,123.

“[Superintendent] Dr. [Dicky] Barlow comes to us with big-picture ideas about what impacts the entire school system the most,” Ritter said. “Where we differ from PTO, we are thinking of things to touch all six schools. If we had an additional $250,000 [and] we were the school system each year, there is plenty he could fund with those dollars.”

Another thing the foundation does is provide stipends for teachers who come in during the summer to do learning groups or to attend the annual learning conference hosted at Mountain Brook High School.

“Our teachers are some of the best advocates for the foundation because they really understand,” Ritter said. “When I talk to new teachers, they are blown away that there’s a group like the foundation that’s here to support them.”

The foundation also funds the Institute for Innovation yearly. Created by Barlow and team in 2016, teachers are encouraged to apply with ideas that will transform their classroom but would not normally be funded.

“What we’ve seen is the times that it does work, it just totally transforms our school system. This is the only time teachers get specific funding from us,” Ritter said.

One of these projects was presented by Morgan Chatham, a math teacher at Mountain Brook High School, who wanted to encourage more interaction from students in her classroom. She put whiteboards all around the classroom and a projector, which encouraged

more student collaboration and interaction.

“The other math teachers at the high school wanted their room to be structured like that, so Dr. Barlow was able to put school system money towards that because it was a proven concept,” Ritter said. “As a foundation, we want to make our teachers feel empowered and valued and I’m proud that’s something the foundation does.”

Ritter said it’s hard to put into words how much Weingartner does and means to the foundation.

She describes her as gracious, organized and a great communicator.

“We can be in a meeting where I have a lot of ideas and passion and by the end of the meeting Rachel has probably a full week worth of work,” Ritter said. “We [on the board] all communicate differently and she has the ability to understand the way people work. All of the campaigns are different, and she’s creative but very adaptable.”

Weingartner’s impact is also prevalent throughout the community. Ritter said that she is connected to a lot of people and there’s a mutual respect there.

“We as parents are asked for a lot of different funding. It’s hard to know what to give to and to know what the difference is,” Ritter said. “Rachel has had some conversations at the pool or The Pig or at dinner where people are and ask why they should give to the foundation. She really understands things that people don’t understand. It’s an on-the-ground person helping.”

Ritter said she has to remind herself how incredibly unique it is to have $12 million in

► Track Meet: The annual Track Meet fundraiser was held on April 16th and 17th at Mountain Brook High School. More than 720 elementary school students in third through sixth grades participated in the meet and helped raise more than $85,000 for the Foundation.

► Give180 Campaign: This campaign represents $1 for every day that a student is in school, and the goal is 100% participation from every family in the district. The 2023-24 campaign raised $238,235.80 from 750 families.

► Grandparents Club Campaign: Each year, Grandparents Club chairs and their committee ask other grandparents to make an annual gift to the Foundation. (The 2023-24 fundraiser raised $303,986.05 from 254 grandparents.)

► Senior Class Gift Campaign: The Class of 2024 raised $98,554.88 from 225 families. Families were asked to donate $224 or more to support the Foundation and in order for their senior student to receive a personalized graduation sign displayed at Mountain Brook High School.

► Every Dollar Counts Campaign: This annual campaign asks Mountain Brook teachers and administrators to support the school system through a donation of any amount to the Foundation. For the 2023-2024 school year, more than 40% of Mountain Brook faculty participated in the campaign with a donation.

the foundation’s endowment fund.

“The size of our endowment and what we were able to do with it — until people are educated on what it does for our system and what it would look like if we took it away you just don’t know until that’s explained to you,” she said.

Weingartner said what she loves about her job is that each day looks different.

“One day I could be designing an email to send out to everyone in the school system, the next day I’m doing bookkeeping, the next I’m speaking to PTO presidents,” Weingartner said. “Every day is very different and I wear a lot of different hats and I like that. It suits me.”

For more information on the Mountain Brook Schools Foundation or ways to give, visit

The shark attack made international news. In the week after it happened, social media monitoring platform Talkwalker found accounts discussing Lulu had a potential reach of 1.4 billion people. While the vast majority of the discussions took place in the United States, Lulu was mentioned by name as far away as Canada, China, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Brazil and Colombia.

But at home, concern turned from talk to action. Gribbin and her family face a tough road to recovery; the community in and around her Mountain Brook home has made it clear they’re here to support them.

“A fund has been established by family friends that allows community members to donate directly to the family to cover expenses,” Simpson said. “Additionally, we know of several great businesses in surrounding communities getting involved. Andy’s Creekside Nursery and Norton’s Florist are donating bows, T-shirts are being sold by Bandwagon and Shea Davis Boutique and Holland and Birch are selling bracelets. Other than financial, the community has come together in prayer to support Lulu.”

The mailbox bows have dotted Mountain Brook’s residential streets and adorned storefronts. Simpson said Smith’s Variety had already distributed over 450 bows, and they have approximately 600 more orders, bringing their total number to over 1,050 only a week after the attack.

“We were approached Saturday evening by friends of the family wanting to show support and care for Lulu. They initially asked us to make 15 to 20 bows for their neighborhood,” Simpson said. “More and more people wanted to show that they were thinking about and praying for Lulu, and the requests have grown every day.”

Simpson is selling the ribbons for $9.99, with all net proceeds going directly to the Gribbin family. Bows will be available for as long as people request them.

Holly Gunn of Gunn Dermatology has also shown her support for Gribbin and Faust. She sent both girls several products to help with scar treatment, and there are purple bows hanging on the exterior of her offices.

Gunn shared an Instagram post praising the community for showcasing the bows across town, saying it is a “simple and yet strong sign that this community is full of people that want to help, that want to truly support, and earnestly care.” Prayers for continued healing, love and support were included in the post as well.

As Gribbin starts her recovery journey, she has moved from Pensacola’s Sacred Heart Hospital to an unnamed facility in order to receive specialty care.

“We made the decision, not lightly, to have the remainder of her surgeries and rehab done in another hospital setting,” Gribbin’s mother, Ann Blair, said in a CaringBridge journal entry on June 12. “I prayed for God to help Joe and I make the best decision for Lulu regarding her care, and we believe this will give Lulu the best opportunity to live a normal life as possible with two prosthetics. Medically this is the best option for Lulu and is another step in this journey and road to healing.”

John Kemp, president and CEO of the Lakeshore Foundation, a Homewood-based nonprofit that provides resources for individuals with physical disabilities, says that besides the physical healing process, a large part of Gribbin’s journey will depend on how she accepts and addresses the challenges she will face. Kemp, who was born without arms or legs, has dedicated his life to disability advocacy and service.

He notes that a typical part of coping with such a traumatic event is anger that your life has changed so drastically. But then comes

the acceptance.

“There’s no denying that there’s a frustration period that is just going to be tough, and everybody will understand,” Kemp said. “We as people with disabilities, and she is now a person with a disability, are pretty well aware of who we are, and not much has changed for her psychologically in terms of her identity inside and how she views herself. I think the hard part is, what does she think other people are thinking of her?”

Kemp stressed that when Lulu is ready, there are resources available to help her adjust to her new reality. He also pointed out that mental health is an important part of the recovery process for Lulu — and her family and friends.

“Mental health services are now just kind of coming of age, and people are starting to understand how important they are, not to just Lulu, but to her family and what role they play in helping Lulu,” he said. “You’ve got to figure out how to cope and deal with folks and get along and even succeed and thrive, and a lot of that is just going to be her own intuition, … but she should not be afraid to ask for help.”

Gribbin discussed her mental health with a child life specialist while at Sacred Heart

Hospital, according to her mother’s CaringBridge post, and she completed an exercise that assigned colors to her feelings.

“Black, red, purple, and pink were the colors. Black was for when it is hard. Red was for surprised, surprised that this is happening to her. Purple was for anxiety, anxiety about what is coming in the road ahead,” the post read. “And then there was pink … pink stands for her biggest emotion she is feeling which is grateful. She said she is grateful for all the love and support that she has surrounding her.”

Gribbin has not only received support from the local community, but from people all over the country, including videos sharing words of encouragement from coaches and athletes of all sports. As Gribbin is an athlete herself, the director of her club volleyball program collected the videos in an effort to share uplifting messages.

“We continue to be amazed by the outpouring of love, support and prayers for Lulu and our family,” Blair said. “The texts, calls, Facebook/Instagram posts and messages, videos are so uplifting and a constant reminder that she is loved.”

You can follow Gribbin’s journey on Instagram at @lulug.strong.

Left: Dr. Ryan Forbess, a family medicine doctor from Orange Beach, Alabama, with Lulu Gribbins. Forbess was one of the doctors that performed lifesaving measures at the scene following the attack. Photo courtesy of the Gribbins family.

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