Village Living September 2023

Page 1

From a young age, Kat Smith loved swimming, but she had to wear a life jacket at first.

“It wasn’t her who wanted it; it took a while for us to get brave enough to let her swim without it,” said her mom, Carolyn Smith.

The reason for the apprehension: her daughter has cerebral palsy, which causes

her to have low muscle tone throughout her body.

“When she was a baby, she couldn’t even hold her head up for forever and couldn’t sit until she was around 2,” Carolyn said. “She used a walker until the sixth grade.”

But over the years, Kat — who turns 21 in September — has overcome a lot and become an accomplished competitive swimmer.

In July, she, along with six other team

members of the team, made a U.S. National Paralympic qualifying time during The Hartford Nationals swimming competition at the Lakeshore Foundation. The Hartford Nationals were held in partnership with Move United, the nation’s leading communitybased adaptive sports organization.

The Mountain Brook High School volleyball program is not accustomed to ending its season like it did last year.

After winning six state titles over

an eight-year period and entering the 2022 state tournament as the threetime defending champs, the Spartans fell in four sets to Bayside Academy, Sponsors A4 City A6 Business A11 Community A16 Schoolhouse A17 Events A23 Sports A24 Opinion A28 Metro Roundup B14 INSIDE Discover Mountain Brook-area health and wellness services in our biannual Medical Guide. See page B1 See page A20 Education Guide Learn more about Mountain Brookarea schools and tutoring services in our annual Education Guide. GUINSERVICE.COM Serving the Birmingham area since 1958. 205-595-4846 AL#12175 September 2023 | Volume 14 | Issue 6 MOUNTAIN BROOK’S COMMUNITY NEWS SOURCE VILLAGELIVINGONLINE.COM | STARNESMEDIA.COM BROUGHT TO YOU BY SERVING MOUNTAIN BROOK, THE 280 CORRIDOR, HOMEWOOD, HOOVER, TRUSSVILLE AND VESTAVIA HILLS See ACCOMPLISHED | page A30 See VOLLEYBALL | page A31
grad Kat
qualifies for paralympic swimming nationals ACCOMPLISHED
Spartans hungry for redemption
Kat Smith, a member of the Lakeshore Foundation swim team, swims laps during practice at the Lakeshore Foundation. Photo by Erin Nelson.
Fall Medical Guide
Mountain Brook’s Alice Garzon (9) hits the ball at the net in a match against Northridge during the quarterfinal round of the Class 6A state volleyball tournament at the Birmingham CrossPlex last fall. Photo by Erin Nelson.
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About Us

Publisher’s Note By Dan Starnes

Last month, we extended an invitation for you to help us “go to school on you” by completing our reader survey.

We’ve received responses that we truly appreciate. We’ve begun to learn more about the types of stories you like to read, what content you’d like to see more and if you read the paper in print, receive our newsletter or follow us on social media. For those of you who completed the survey, you are entered to win a drawing for a $50 gift card to the advertiser of your choice.

We’ll announce the winner on our Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as in our email newsletter. So if you don’t follow us on these social platforms or subscribe to our daily email, Village Update, you really should do that.

You can find access to all of these at the top of the homepage of our website:

The feedback we have received so far indicates that our readers are

pretty evenly divided on the types of content they prefer.

We’ve also received several great ideas for future stories. I’ve been surprised to see that a higher percentage of our print readers than I would have guessed may not be signed up for our email newsletter or follow us on social media. As I mentioned above, you really should do that.

As we evolve as a company, there will be more and more Mountain Brook content that does not appear across all of our distribution channels, so follow them all to make sure that

you don’t miss anything.

While we’re very thankful for the responses we have received so far, we’d like to grow the sample size, so we’re leaving the survey open for another month.

If you have already completed the survey, thank you. You will still be entered to win the drawing on Aug. 31. We’ll have another drawing on Sept. 30. If you don’t win on Aug. 31, your name will stay in the drawing. You can access the survey below. It will probably take you somewhere around 2-5 minutes or less.

Thanks for reading.

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Alabama Power (B16)

Alabama School of Fine Arts Foundation (A20)

Alexander Dentistry (B6)

All of Us UAB Research Study (B2)

Always Best Care: ABC Senior Services (B15)

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Children’s of Alabama (B13)

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Forefront Management, LLC (A3)

Gardner Landscaping (A5, A6)

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Medicare Advisors of Alabama (B9)

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Community Editors:

Sports Editor: Design Editor: Photo Editor: Page Designer: Production Assistant:

Contributing Writers: Graphic Designer: Client Success Specialist: Business Development Exec: Business Development Rep: Operations Specialist:

Dan Starnes

Leah Ingram Eagle

Jon Anderson

Kyle Parmley

Melanie Viering

Erin Nelson

Ted Perry

Simeon Delante

Katharine Armbrester

Solomon Crenshaw Jr.

Sean Deitrich

Kari Kampakis

Loyd McIntosh

Grace Thornton

Emily VanderMey

Warren Caldwell

Don Harris

Madison Gaines

Sarah Villar

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Contact Information: Village Living P.O. Box 530341 Birmingham, AL 35253 (205) 313-1780

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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, 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) 313-1780 or by email.

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Pick up the latest issue of Village Living at the following locations:

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► Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce

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A4 • September 2023 Village Living
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Council hears from residents regarding sidewalk extension

Nicole Gilbert made an appeal to the Mountain Brook City Council on Aug. 14 to extend a sidewalk across the street from her home on Brookwood Road.

Gilbert referenced seven children in the area, including her three sons, and asked that the sidewalk be extended 135 feet so that it’s across the street from her residence.

“For all of them, this would provide direct access,” she said. “They can cut through my yard. Boom. These kids have direct access to the sidewalks.”

Gilbert said she had gotten an estimate that the sidewalk extension might cost $30,000.

“Is it a lot of money? It is,” she said. “I'm not taking it lightly, but these are our children.”

Council members talked about the possible inefficiency of the extension.

“When you're doing a longer stretch, you're getting more bang for your buck, rather than adding in little pieces here and there, tacking them on at the end,” Council President Virginia Smith said. “I do worry about that. I worry about the next neighbor that says, 'Bring it up to my house,' and the next neighbor, 'Bring it up to mine.'”

City Manager Sam Gaston explained the current project.

“We have a contractor doing this work out there on the sidewalk,” he said. “We eventually want to connect

to [the sidewalk] that starts in Jefferson County. Where we were stopping at, it gets really steep from there. There would be a lot of retaining walls and other stuff, so it's going to be very expensive. We're trying to get it about halfway down and then hopefully, maybe in a couple of years, apply for a TAP grant to finish that section.”

Gaston said the estimate from the contractor to extend the sidewalk was more than expected. The city’s public works department will assess the situation to see if it’s something the department can handle.

The council agreed to additional services from Sain Associates on the Pine Ridge Road sidewalk project.

Nathan Currie of Sain said the next step is sending donation letters to affected residents.

The cost of the project will depend on how many of those residents donate a temporary right-of-way easement for the sidewalk to pass through their driveways. The proposal presented to the council was a worst-case scenario that would require appraisals to address rights-of-way.

“If a lot of property owners are willing to donate — and some people are in favor of adding sidewalks there — then we would certainly not bill for those services and wouldn't require that maximum amount we're showing,” Currie said.

The council also heard from Bryson Stephens, president of the Red Mountain Cut Foundation, who

talked about a plan to develop a sidewalk from English Village to the intersection at the base of Birmingham’s Vulcan Park. Stephens asked the city to contribute $25,000 to the project and to have its public works department extend a sidewalk and create a crosswalk to access the new project.

Gaston said the topic would be discussed at the Aug. 24 budget meeting. Stephens said he was cautiously optimistic.

"I would say that their seeming willingness to complete not only the 200 feet of sidewalk inside the Mountain Brook city limits, but also connect it with English Village and their sidewalk infrastructure, is a welcome investment," he said. "It would

be greatly appreciated. The additional $25,000, if they're willing to do that, would be great."

Visit for coverage of the Aug. 24 city council meeting.

Also during the 8/14 meeting, the council approved a right-of-way encroachment agreement for 2701 Overhill Road. The panel talked about a possible change order for the Field 1 overflow parking lot. They expect to meet on-site with representatives from the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT).

The council accepted usage times recommended by the Mountain Brook Park and Recreation Board for playing fields and courts for tennis and

pickleball. Usage standards are:

► Passive activities (no noise) at facilities without lights: Sunrise to sundown.

► Passive activities (no noise) at facilities with lights: Sunrise to 9 p.m.

► Noise-generating activities at all facilities: 7 a.m. to sundown for facilities without lights or 9 p.m. for those with lights. The time to end play can be extended if needed due to extra innings, extended play, rain delays or other unanticipated circumstances.

Facilities on Board of Education property will be closed to the public during school hours while schools are in session or while they are being used by the Board of Education.

School board use of board-owned facilities will not be subject to the aforementioned hours of operation. Hours of use will be decided by and are subject to the discretion of the Board of Education.

Exceptions may be approved for special circumstances or on an individual basis by the park and recreation board.

Also during the meeting:

► A resolution was approved ratifying the bid to purchase an ambulance for Mountain Brook Fire Department.

► An ordinance was passed to set the speed limit on Marlboro Drive at 25 miles per hour.

► The council accepted the dedication of a right-of-way parcel related to the Lane Parke development.

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Mountain Brook resident Nicole Gilbert asked the Mountain Brook City Council to extend a sidewalk across the street from her home on Brookwood Road. Photo by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.

Council approves $133,440 for emergency repairs on Cherry Street

The Mountain Brook City Council recently agreed to pay about $155,000 for emergency work to rebuild a retaining wall that collapsed onto a house on Cherry Street after a heavy rain in May.

The city in March had hired Gillespie Construction to install stormwater drainage improvements on several roads, including Cherry Street, to remedy severe flooding problems, and part of that project involved improvements behind a retaining wall that stabilized a driveway at 133 Cherry St., according to a memo from city attorney Whit Colvin.

However, there was significant rain around May 15, and the retaining wall collapsed onto the neighboring house at 131 Cherry St., damaging the house, making the area

City receives Leading the Way award for municipal services

A few of those No. 1 ratings included:

unstable and compromising the flood mitigation improvements that were underway, Colvin said in the memo.

Colvin, in his memo, said Gillespie Construction was asked to remediate and correct the damage and conditions but was either unwilling or unable to do so in a timely fashion, so he advised the City Council to take immediate action to prevent further damage.

The city obtained two quotes and chose to award the contract to J.D. Morris Construction for $133,440 because that company was able to begin the project almost immediately. The council later approved an additional $21,000 due to some design changes in the job, for a total cost of about $155,000.

City Manager Sam Gaston said that, while the city is paying that cost now, the city likely will seek reimbursement from others as part of a cost-sharing agreement.

The city of Mountain Brook recently received a Leading the Way Award from a Kansas-based institute that helps local governments gather data from residents to enhance community planning.

This award recognizes “outstanding achievement in the delivery of services to residents,” and Mountain Brook scored in the top 10% among the local governments that participated in the ETC Institute’s DirectionFinder survey between January and May of this year.

“We are thrilled to see the hard work and dedication of so many in Mountain Brook recognized through this award,” City Manager Sam Gaston said. “We are grateful to our citizens, business owners, city employees and city leaders for investing their time and efforts into making our community truly the best place to live.”

Mountain Brook had the No. 1 rating in 29 categories of the survey and was in the top 10% in 12 other categories, according to a letter from the institute.

► Overall quality of city services (tied for first)

► Overall value received for city tax dollars and fees

► Overall quality of life in the city

► Overall feeling of safety

► Quality of park facilities

► Appearance of the city

In order to rank in the top 10%, a city had to a have a composite score of 210 or more, which means the city scored an average of at least 70 points in all three primary areas (overall quality of services, customer service provided by employees and the value residents think they receive for local taxes and fees).

The ETC Institute established this threshold of 210 using survey results from more than 400 communities that participated in the DirectionFinder survey over the past two years. Mountain Brook’s composite rating was 273, which was 101 points above the average composite score of 172 for all cities. September 2023 • A7
Mountain Brook officials pose for a photo with the Leading the Way Award the city received from the ETC Institute. Photo courtesy of city of Mountain Brook.
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equipment sits in the driveway of 133 Cherry St. on July 25. The Mountain Brook City Council on July
worth of repairs to a retaining wall between
Cherry St. and
Cherry St. after the wall collapsed during a heavy rain event on
about May
Photo by Jon Anderson.

Residents adjust to curbside service at O’Neal Library

Sharon Bergeron is a tutor who recently had to learn a lesson about curbside service at the O’Neal Library.

She went online and put books on hold for a student she is tutoring, and then she got a text saying the books were ready for pickup, she said. The books were indeed ready, but they weren’t outside the library with other books for curbside pickup.

“Apparently, I'm supposed to call the number before I come, to let them know that I'll be there,” Bergeron said. “Maybe that afternoon or something.”

Bergeron’s lesson is one that several patrons of the O’Neal Library are learning as their library continues its altered services while repairing water damage from a broken fire suppression system pipe in May.

The Mountain Brook City Council on July 31 awarded a $166,000 contract to Meadows Contracting to restore the library, and work is expected to be completed by the end of September.

“Thirty thousand gallons [of water] spilled into the library on the first floor and the basement,” contractor Bill Meadows said. “They have taken out 2 feet of sheetrock around the whole perimeter area that got wet. Our contract is to put the sheetrock back and paint and do baseboard and polish VCT [vinyl composition tile], and then replace ceiling tiles in the basement and put some cabinets back.”

Curbside service at the library began Aug. 1. Director Lindsy Gardner said patrons can go to the library catalog online and place a book on hold.

“We will happily pull that book for them, check it out to them and then place it outside for them to pick up,” she said. “For people who aren't sure how to place a hold on the catalog, we'll have a phone number available and people standing by to assist. Folks can call our regular number, which is 205-445-1101, and we'll be happy to help.”

Materials can be delivered from other library branches and made available for curbside pickup at O’Neal. Returns for other library branches can be dropped off there as well.

The Crestline location of O’Neal Library was shut down during June and July, and patrons used a temporary location on Overton Road. That location closed on July 27.

“We won't move inside [the Crestline location] until the work is complete,” said Susan Elliott, president of the O’Neal Library Board. In the meantime, residents can use the curbside service.

Gardner said she can’t wait to get fully back to the library’s regular home.

“I am very eager to have us open to the pub-

lic again,” she said. “All of us staff are ready. It can't happen quick enough, but we just have to be patient.”

The director urges patrons to visit the library’s website — — to stay abreast of developments. “We'll post updates there as soon as we know, as soon as we have a reopening date,” she said.

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Sharon Bergeron receives a reserved book from librarian Carey Norris. Photo by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.

Mayor’s Minute

Mountain Brook has one of the best police forces in the state.

One of the highest priorities for Mountain Brook Schools is safety for our students, teachers and staff. Several years ago, the city council made the financial commitment to help fund having a police officer in every school, every day. Our school resource officers are so much more than police officers protecting our schools.

MBPD Chief, Jaye Loggins, had this to say on June 5:

“The Mountain Brook Police Department School Resource Officers received the award for Best SRO Team for the 2022-23 school year at the 24th Annual Safe Schools Conference, presented by The Alabama Association of School Resource Officers.

“MBPD has an officer assigned to each of the six Mountain Brook schools and will be adding a seventh officer this fall. Those receiving the award were: Cpl. Glen White, Officer Tommy Tanner, Officer Lance Ziska, Officer Richard Knecht, Officer Ro Burrow and Officer Daphne Horton.

“The men and women who serve as SROs have the unique opportunity of serving as ambassadors of the police department to the next generation. They set the tone for future relationships between the police and the community. Not only are our SROs protecting the kids and staff at the schools, but they are also serving as the faces and voices of the police department to the kids.

“All of the schools and administrators love their SROs. Best of all, the kids love the SRO at their school. As an administrator and chief of police, I could not ask for a better group of people. I am not at all surprised that this team won the award.

“I can attest to their popularity among the students. I was recently at a school event where these officers were introduced, and each received loud applause and screams from fans typically reserved for rock stars.”

Recently, I attended a beautiful ceremony honoring the 50th anniversary of one of our fallen police officers, Sergeant Freddie Harp, who died from a gunshot wound after making a traffic stop on Aug. 6, 1973.

The ceremony was a sober reminder of the ultimate sacrifice made by one of our officers and the risks each of our officers faces every day.

Our Mountain Brook Schools continue to shine and have been listed among the state’s highest-ranking schools (scores) in math, science and English Language Arts. Guess which school was ranked number one in the state in all three categories? If you guessed Mountain Brook, you get a gold star!

Success does not just happen, it grows out of intentional efforts of all involved including our school board, Superintendent Barlow, school administrators, teachers, parent-teacher organization members and parents.

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Retired Supreme Court justice sees himself as just 1 of 5 Bolin brings big name to JeffCo Commission

Mike Bolin was a big man on campus during his college days at Samford University.

Bolin’s 6-foot-3 frame made him a natural for playing offensive lineman, defensive lineman and linebacker on the Pi Kappa Phi intramural football team.

But Bolin, who was sworn in on July 31 to represent District 5 on the Jefferson County Commission, knows he’s not the big man on this campus. Now that he’s in office, Bolin said, he is no one special.

“I’m just an average, one-fifth member,” he said. “I can’t do anything by myself. I have to have two more votes, assuming all five vote. I understand my limitations.

“It’s not completely different, although a bit different, from being on the Supreme Court, where you’ve got nine members rather than five,” said Bolin, who spent 18 years on the Alabama Supreme Court after 16 years as a probate judge in Jefferson County. “If you’re proposing an opinion on a case that’s pending, if you don’t get four people to concur with you, it doesn’t matter what you think; it’s not gonna fly.”

Toward that end, Bolin said it is necessary for commissioners to work together. No one should have “ironclad rule” on a public forum like the County Commission.

“Ideally, we’d all five agree on everything that’s put to a final vote,” Bolin said. “But we’re all five of us human, made by God. We’re gonna have disagreements, different points of view about certain things. As long as you do that in an agreeable fashion and don’t get angry, it usually works for the betterment of whatever comes out. It certainly did on the Supreme Court. We hardly ever had hard words. We talked back and forth.”

Prior to Bolin taking office, he met with County Manager Cal Markert to get up to speed concerning the financial aspects of county government and matters that are on the horizon.

“I told him during that time [that] this takes me back to my college courses,” said Bolin, who studied finance and management at Samford. “Jefferson County is really blessed to have had two good county managers [Tony Petelos and Markert] since they went into the county manager system.”

The commissioner from Vestavia Hills is still amazed that he won July’s special election — and that he won by nearly 20 percentage points.

“The people are not necessarily fickle, but we all have limited memories,” Bolin said. “The

last time I’d run a contested race was surely back in 2010. I don’t think I had an opponent in 2016 for the Supreme Court.

“The only thing that I really considered would be a help to me is being my father’s son and always remaining humble,” he said. “I think that’s the way God wants us all to be and to try to do the right thing. I’ve done that over the years, at least in my judgment I had.”

Bolin inherited the committee assignments of his predecessor, Steve Ammons, who stepped down in May to become president and CEO of the Birmingham Business Alliance. The new commissioner thus chairs the information technology and economic development committees.

“Steve, I consider just a giant in the field of

economic development,” the new commissioner said. “I really want to immerse myself in that to begin with. Steve is a really good guy. He’s got big shoes to fill. I’m going to do my best.

"I’ve got big feet," Bolin said of his size 11, extra wide shoe. "We’ll see how much I fill them.”

Beyond his committee assignments, Bolin said he’s always believed in public safety. That will be a focus of his term on the commission.

“Whether I’m on the public safety committee for the commission or not,” he said, “I want to go around to not only just the police chiefs but some of the police officers that are out there and ask them, ‘What do you see as our answer [to crime]?’”

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Mike Bolin speaks with fellow Commissioner Sheila Tyson during his first Jefferson County Commission committee meeting on Aug. 8. Photo by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.


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Revival Restaurant’s newest restaurant concept, Little Betty Steak Bar, is set to open in Lane Parke in October 2023. The steakhouse and bar will feature a lively environment to make guests feel at home. The menu will feature influences from Italian and Japanese cuisine.


MaryDee Snow with MaryDeeTravel was named a 2023 Condé Nast Top Travel Specialist. MaryDee Travel, 2900 Cahaba Road, Suite 100D, specializes in European, Caribbean and global travel for discerning clients looking for custom curated experiences. 205-454-4999,

Mountain Brook Eye Care is now accepting Village Gold. The business at 921 Jemison Lane is one of the newest additions to the Village Gold retailers. Village Gold can be purchased online at mtnbrookchamber.

org/purchase-village-gold or in person at the Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce office.


Otey’s Tavern at 224 Country Club Park in Crestline Village has now expanded to Edgewood. Otey’s Tavern is the perfect spot for a delicious bite to eat, a cocktail after work or even those late nights out in a fun village setting.



Larry Read has joined as an associate broker at RealtySouth’s Mountain Brook office at 2807 Cahaba Road. 205-870-5420,


Snoozy’s Kids, a specialty toy store at 228 Country Club Park, celebrated its 35th anniversary on Aug. 4. Owner George Jones opened the store in Crestline in August 1988. The Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce and City of Mountain Brook helped them celebrate with a ribbon cutting.


Daughters Baking’s Mountain Brook location at 2812 Cahaba Road celebrated its second anniversary on July 29. 205-637-6238,

Hufham Orthodontics, 120 Euclid Ave., is celebrating the practice’s 22nd anniversary in Mountain Brook this month. Dr. David C. Hufham, DMD, PC, and his team provide orthodontic care for children and adults. 205-871-8881,

MPower Pilates + Cycle is celebrating the third anniversary of its English Village location at 2008 Cahaba Road.

The studio offers Megaformer Pilates and cycling classes. Other locations in Mountain Brook include 1117 Dunston Ave., Suite 1103, in Crestline and 2419 Canterbury Road in Mountain Brook Village. 205-518-5676,

Amparo Fine Living, a curated lifestyle shop in the heart of Mountain Brook at 2003 Cahaba Road, Suite 101, is celebrating its third anniversary in English Village. The store sells handmade home goods and lifestyle products from all over the world, hand-picked by owner Mariana Barrande Goodall.


Village Dermatology, 2900 Cahaba Road, recently celebrated 15 years in business. In 2008, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jenny Oakes Sobera opened Village Dermatology in her hometown of Mountain Brook. With a state-of-the-art medical facility, Village Dermatology includes the Skin for Life Boutique and the Aesthetic & Laser Center. All procedures provided by their doctors are performed in-office for a more convenient, comfortable and cost-effective patient experience. 205-877-9773,

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 September 2023 • A11 Business Helical Piers PHONE: 205-668-2626 EMAIL: INFO@PARROTSTRUCTURAL.COM WEBSITE: WWW.PARROTSTRUCTURAL.COM Statewide Residential, Commercial, and Industrial Service

Mountain Brook resident’s PR agency wins national award

Krista Conlin Robinson said her job every day is to help her clients tell their story and help them move forward. She’s always shining the spotlight on them. So she was surprised when she found out her agency, KC Projects Public Relations, had won

Top Public Relations Agency of the Year in the boutique category by Ragan’s PR Daily Awards.

“Our job is always to promote our clients, so it was a bit odd to have the spotlight turned on us,” said Robinson, founder and president of KC Projects. “But we love what we do, and it was an honor for sure.”

Robinson, a Mountain Brook resident, opened the agency in 2011 after an unexpected journey encouraged her to pursue a career in the public relations field. As an undergrad finance major, she had “dabbled” in public relations but didn’t really get a taste of it until she started the international business portion of her MBA work.

“I enjoyed everything about it, and the lights went off, ‘this is where I should be,’” she said. “Finally I made the switch and jumped off the high dive. It was the best thing I did; it just checked all the boxes for me and fit how my mind naturally ticks.”

Robinson said she’s a big relationship person, and she cherishes the relationships she’s built over the years through her work.

“The relationships I’ve built mean the world to me,” she said. “The trust and loyalty my clients give us with their brand, their messaging, their company, everything behind the curtain is never taken for granted on my side. I’m very

deeply committed to my clients and the work we produce.”

Robinson said she loves the way public

relations offers unique opportunities to make her clients’ mark in the world. She also loves the brain workout of figuring out the best way

to tell their stories in an industry that’s “evolving by the year.”

“Everything we touch is about telling a story,” she said.

KC Projects specializes in doing that through media relations, digital communications, social media management, community engagement, crisis communication, brand messaging and design collaboration.

The team of seven at the all-female company represents more than 50 business locations and secured more than $2 million in press coverage for clients in a single year recently, highlighting their deep-rooted relationships with local, national and regional media.

Those accomplishments contributed to the national award the agency was presented in New York City on June 14.

Brendan Gannon, senior marketing manager for awards programs at PR Daily, said the recognition “serves as a testament to KC Projects' dedication to pushing boundaries, driving meaningful impact and delivering results that exceed expectations. It further reinforces the agency's commitment to excellence and positions it at the forefront of the industry.”

For more information on KC Projects Public Relations, visit

A12 • September 2023 Village Living
“ ”
Krista Conlin Robinson at the Ragan’s PR Daily Awards. Photo courtesy of Krista Conlin Robinson.
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Everything we touch is about telling a story. KRISTA CONLIN ROBINSON

Snoozy’s Kids celebrates 35th anniversary

In August 1988, George Jones opened Snoozy’s Kids, a specialty toy store in Crestline Village.

This August, the store celebrated its 35th anniversary, and the community of Mountain Brook came together to celebrate alongside the Snoozy’s team with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Snoozy’s Kids started as a children’s bookstore called Snoozy’s Bookstore at University of Alabama Birmingham. The store featured a small section of toys amid the books.

The toys kept selling, and three years later, George Jones opened Snoozy’s Kids in Crestline. He learned the ins and outs of the market by talking with sales representatives, buyers and owners of other toy stores. He also continues to welcome suggestions from customers about the toys they want to see in store.

“We always know that we have to have the coolest and the latest,” Jones said.

Jones said several brands of toys have persevered over the 35 years he has been in the business. Hot Wheels and Barbie remain two of those brands that he has sold since that first day in 1988.

Although much has remained the same in the specialty toy business, there have been many changes as well, one of the biggest being an increase in online shopping. Jones said that he likes to buy from companies who do not sell their products online, because those companies have been faithful to support small businesses.

Jones said this is a large reason why his store has retained the same amount of business that they had before the online shopping craze.

“In an ironic way, it [online shopping] helped,” Jones said. “It sounds convenient at first but if you have an issue, luck to you!”

Not only does Snoozy’s sell toys that cannot be found online, but they also offer free gift wrapping and free returns for any product,

which is not common with online stores.

“Our goal is that everybody’s got to be happy,” Jones said.

Jones said he has always liked having a job where he’s involved in the community and building relationships with people, not “stuck in an office.”

In August, the community showed their love and support for Snoozy’s as the store celebrated its anniversary all month, including one day when the Snoozy’s team offered 35%

off the entire store.

“It was a very good day,” said Lillian Falkenburg, Jones’ daughter and one of Snoozy’s buyers. “It was very busy in here, which I like.”

Lucy Marks, the store’s other buyer, said she felt well-loved by the community during the celebratory month.

“It’s just so exciting to see the turnout of the community coming and celebrating with us,” Marks said.

George Jones rearranges items in his store, Snoozy’s Kids. Jones works with his daughter, Lillian, and wife, Virginia, and they are celebrating 35 years in business. Staff photo.

Jones said he is thankful for Mountain Brook and the surrounding communities and their support over the last 35 years.

“I just could not be here without this community,” he said. “I can’t push that enough about the sense of community and how they’ve held our hand throughout the years.”

Snoozy’s Kids is located at 228 Country Club Park and is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. September 2023 • A13 BRYANTBANK.COM/PERSONAL BRYBNK-BeyondBank-Print-Half Village Living 2023.indd 1 3/19/23 10:32 PM

Condado Tacos opens in Mountain Brook

A build-your-own-taco concept that started in Columbus, Ohio, in 2014 has made its way south and opened its first Alabama location. Condado Tacos, located in Cahaba Village (in the former Newk’s spot), features tacos with fresh ingredients, margaritas and more. The company will have 50 locations open by the end of the year and plans to have 100 locations open by 2026.

“Condado celebrates individuality and we dig being original,” said Roger Drake, PR and marketing executive for the company. “We believe that every person should be their own authentic self. That’s why we work hard to maintain a workplace that honors the uniqueness of our people and the communities we serve.”

Drake said the restaurant’s main attractions are its eclectic atmosphere and an extensive menu, featuring the build-your-own tacos with fresh ingredients made daily.

“We have craveable, clean, fresh, preservative-free tacos,” Drake said. “It’s affordable and has a great value, but it’s really clean food, too. Our ingredients are as fresh as they come. We’re very proud of the product we serve.”

The chips and dip menu features five queso dips, three salsas, Mexican street corn and Skywalker nachos. The suggested taco options include chicken, ground beef, pork, brisket, steak and plant-based, along with build-yourown tacos that customers can create. Side options are loaded tots, black beans, Mexican street corn, rice and bacon refried beans.

For beverages, there are margaritas, cocktails, mocktails, beer, wine and non-alcoholic options, including a house horchata.

Drake said Lucy’s Fire (a roasted chicken taco with a double decker shell) and Blue Dream (a ground beef taco with a cool ranch shell) are two of the most popular choices.

Happy hour takes place from 4-6 p.m. on

weekdays and features drink and food specials.

The Cahaba Village location employs around 60 to 70 staff and can seat around 100 in the dining room and bar and another 50 on the outdoor patio.

Every Condado restaurant features handpainted floor-to-ceiling murals by local artists, and the Cahaba Village location’s mural has a

Greek mythology theme.

Drake said Condado Tacos also offers catering and the Buds with Benefits reward program.

“Basically, you earn a taco just in a few visits,” he said. “You can quickly earn free items through that program. We often say you’re missing something if you’re not in the rewards program and are a regular at

Condado Tacos.”

The Cahaba Village location, at 2800 Cahaba Village Place, Space 130, is open seven days a week, Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. until midnight.

For more information, visit condado

A14 • September 2023 Village Living Barringer CPA Small Business Accounting & Taxes 205-410-2520 | | 2320 Highland Ave. #150, Birmingham, AL 35205 Offering a broad range of professional services with a focus on small businesses.
Condado Tacos is a fast-casual restaurant that focuses on tacos and margaritas. Photo courtesy of Condado Tacos PR & Marketing Department.

Former Otey’s owner opens new restaurant in Vestavia

After close to 20 years of experience in the restaurant business, Doug Smith recently unveiled his newest concept, The Palm & Pig, in Vestavia Hills.

Conceived as a seafood and barbecue restaurant and neighborhood hangout, Smith said The Palm & Pig is an amalgam of the various stops along his career in the food and service world, along with the kind of place where he’d like to hang out.

“The whole premise of this thing here is it’s taking a little of our backgrounds from all the places we’ve owned all kind of rolled into one,” he said. “We kind of open up places with the idea of where we would go to spend our time.”

After moving to Birmingham with his wife, Joy, in the early 2000s, Smith attended the now-defunct Culinard Culinary School. However, just before graduation, the Smiths purchased Otey’s Tavern in Crestline, a decision that came as a major shock to his parents for more reasons than one.

“We brought my mom and dad up for a nice dinner and I said, ‘Well, we’re buying a bar,’” Smith said. “My dad said, ‘What are you going to do when your friends want free beer all the time?’ I said, ‘Free beer? I got a baby on the way.’ So, I told my parents I was buying a bar and having a kid in about 15 seconds.”

The Smiths ran Otey’s for more than 15 years, before moving on to other ventures including Smith’s Oysters & Steaks, also in Crestline, and a partial ownership stake in Saw’s Juke Joint.

Smith said The Palm & Pig is designed to be a casual, funky hangout where people can stop in for a beer and bite to eat on a whim or for a nice night out planned in advance.

“We don't really want to give anyone a reason to say ‘no.’ We try to have a diverse menu and a non-pretentious atmosphere that’s pretty laid-back,” Smith said.

The Smiths opened the doors to The Palm & Pig on July 4. As this issue went to press, the full menu is still being developed, however,

so far it has included fresh seafood and Carolina-style barbecue.

One of the featured barbecue sauces is the Carolina Gold Sauce, a mustard-based recipe that has already become popular among diners. It’s also an homage to Smith’s father, a South Carolina native who passed away a year and

a half ago.

“My dad was from South Carolina and before he passed away he just loved me to feed them all the time, so this is a little bit of an ode to my father,” Smith said.

“It’s a little twist on a Carolina sauce that we developed with the help of some recipes from family and different places,” he added. “It's actually become the favorite, from what I understand, because it's a little bit different than maybe what they're used to.”

While barbecue is a major part of the menu, Smith emphasized The Palm & Pig is not a traditional barbecue restaurant. As the staff gets their sea legs, Smith said diners will see more seafood options on the menu, including oysters, shrimp and fresh fish.

As for the name, the Smiths drew inspiration from pubs across the pond with names featuring a juxtaposition, like the Lamb & Flag or the Dog & Bell in London, for example.

“My wife and I love pub names in Ireland, England and Scotland, so we always knew we wanted to call it ‘The Something and Something,’” Smith said. “We also wanted a name saying what we are without saying what we are.’”

With that in mind, the Smiths christened their restaurant The Palm & Pig, with the word “palm” evoking seafood and a beachy vibe and, of course, the word “pig” being a reference to pork barbecue.

“The Palm & The Pig is a little bit of an enigma, but at the same time, the moment you explain to somebody how you came up with it, they’re like, ‘Oh, well that makes perfect sense,’” Smith said.

The Palm & Pig is located at 633 Montgomery Highway. Currently, they are open for dinner only but do plan to open for lunch in the future and feature live music on the weekends. September 2023 • A15
Right: A shrimp po’ boy is one menu item at The Palm & Pig in Vestavia Hills. Below: Doug Smith, owner of The Palm & Pig in Vestavia Hills, cuts a rack of ribs. Photos by Erin Nelson.

From Mountain Brook to Switzerland’s Mont Blanc

Hannah Straughn has a heart for mentoring young people and for taking them on adventures they will never forget.

A graduate of Mountain Brook High School, Straughn also graduated from Washington and Lee University with a degree in accounting this past May. In 2021, she began her exciting world travels.

Straughn is an outdoor team leader for Apogee Adventures, an organization based in Brunswick, Maine. Apogee offers summer traveling opportunities for teenagers, and they learn invaluable skills on their journeys.

Part of the organization’s mission statement reads, “we work to educate our students and staff so they might continue stewardship long after their Apogee experience. … We are working to mentor and empower the next generation of environmental stewards.”

At Washington and Lee, Straughn was on staff for the university’s outing club, leading outdoor trips for the community. This experience was valuable preparation for her time with Apogee Adventures. During her first summer working for Apogee, she led a photo trip on the Maine coast and a biking trip from Vermont to Montreal. Straughn said she “was hooked.”

Last year, Straughn led the Alps Explorer Trip and guided young explorers on the Tour de Mont Blanc, a 100-mile trail through France, Italy and Switzerland. Mont Blanc is Western Europe’s highest mountain, renowned for its breathtaking vistas.

This summer, Straughn led the inaugural Iceland mountains and coast trip, and she and her charges kayaked to Mount Kirkjufell, which is now known for being a filming location for the television series “Games of Thrones.” During all of these trips, she has been responsible for students ages 12 to 16, encouraging them out of their comfort zones and inspiring them with a greater appreciation of nature.

“One of my favorite things as a leader is watching how much the students can grow on the trip,” Straughn said.

Straughn also brought her love of cooking to Apogee Adventures. In Birmingham, she was a culinary apprentice at Blueroot restaurant, assisting an award-winning chef, and she said her culinary talents have been invaluable on her travels and she has enjoyed making the students feel helpful when they cook as a group.

“We are trained to serve simple, tasty and plentiful meals, and I have really been able to hone in on my cooking skills because [cooking] for over 15 people on a camping stoves is no easy feat,” she said.

Where Straughn’s future plans are concerned, she hopes to return to Mountain Brook soon, but will move to Washington, D.C., in the fall to start a job with Hanover Research, a global research and analytics firm.

“I would encourage kids who are curious about learning more about the outdoors to try out an Apogee trip,” she said. “It teaches responsibility, respect and social skills in a short period of time.”

A16 • September 2023 Village Living Community
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Just put Mountain Brook grad Hannah Straughn leads a group as part of her job with Apogee Adventures. Photo courtesy of Hannah Straughn.

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

Marching Spartans Schoolhouse

The Mountain Brook High School marching band is gearing up with a new group of students for Friday Night Lights.

The band spent many hot summer days preparing for their halftime show at the Spartans football games.

The band is under the direction of Mountain Brook grad James Rogers, the director of bands for Mountain Brook Schools. He said he is looking forward to serving the community and continuing to represent Mountain Brook throughout the Southeast.

Rogers came to Mountain Brook in 2017 and served as the assistant band director for one year, where he was integral in returning the beginning bands back to the elementary schools. The next year, he became the associate band director at Mountain Brook Junior High, where he tripled the size of the program and created the MBJH Concert band and Leadership Council.

Prior to his time at Mountain Brook, Rogers served as the director of bands at Montevallo High School and Childersburg High School. This is his 12th year in teaching.

Working with Rogers on the staff are Michelle Smith, assistant band director, and Sarah Haymon, associate director of bands.

There are 100 members in the Spartans marching band, which has grown every year for the past six years, and the overall program (6th-12th grade) has more than doubled in that timeframe.

This year’s halftime performance is all about

the piano and will feature the music of Billy Joel, Scott Joplin, Queen, Adele and Coldplay.

The band is led by drum major Blayne Hannon and band captains Lydia Loglisci and Ann Tillery Moak.

Last year, the band participated in the Pell City Marching Band Festival, where it received straight superior ratings and also won best in

class in percussion and dance line.

In addition to performing at all of the Mountain Brook football games, the band will march at the Hewitt-Trussville Marching Invitational in October and perform at the Mystics of Mountain Brook Halloween parade, the city of Mountain Brook Holiday Parade and numerous other community events throughout the year.

Sept. 21 4pm - 8pm 2:00PM: $5 Early Shopping Pass (Advance purchase available online) 5:00PM –8:00PM: Public Sale ..........................
The Spartans marching band practices for the 2023 halftime show at Mountain Brook High School on Aug. 10. Photo by Erin Nelson.

MBS hires 36 new teachers for 2023-24

MBS welcomes new SRO

Johnny Jones will be the newest school resource officer in Mountain Brook Schools. He joins a team of SROs who were named the “Top SRO team in Alabama” last school year. “Everybody here in Mountain Brook knows the SRO group, and I’m excited to now be a part of this team,” Jones said. “I value the trust that our department, along with the school system, has in me, and I look forward to serving in this role.”

Jones has been with the Mountain Brook Police Department for five years and has 25 years of experience as a sworn officer.

Mountain Brook Schools Superintendent Dicky Barlow said he and his team are thrilled to have Jones on board. “Our SROs are not only the cornerstone

of our school safety plans, they are loved and admired by our entire school community,” Barlow said. “Our school personnel are already welcoming Officer Jones, and we’re excited about the chance for our students to know and connect with him.” Mountain Brook Chief of Police Jay Loggins said Jones cares deeply about the Mountain Brook community.

“He has the experience and knowledge that will complement our SRO team even more,” Loggins said. “I am excited to have Johnny assigned to the schools. Both the schools and the police department will benefit from his assignment.”

– Submitted by Mountain Brook Schools.

Mountain Brook Schools welcomed 36 new teachers to the school district for the 2023-24 school year.

Prior to the start of school, the group completed New Teacher Week, which spanned four days and provided the chance to dig into the district’s purpose of providing an effective, challenging and engaging education for each of its students.

“Our goal with New Teacher Week was to not only welcome all of our new teachers, but to bring them into our school community and help them understand our purpose and why we are here,” MBS Professional Development Specialist Holly Martin said. “This year, we restructured our schedule in order to allow our new teachers to take in as much information as possible while fostering relationships with new colleagues.”

New teachers spent two days hearing from the Mountain Brook Schools finance, personnel and technology departments before the

“official start” of New Teacher Week on July 20, which marked the beginning of three days of professional development sessions.

The week concluded with the annual New Teacher Breakfast, as teachers heard from Amy Jackson, Katie Harrison and Anthony Marino, who all just completed their first year as a teacher in Mountain Brook. Their message resonated with new teachers.

“I learned firsthand how Mountain Brook doesn’t just value education, but how much we value the educator,” Jill Wiggins, an incoming seventh grade English teacher said. “We felt welcomed, we felt chosen and we developed an appreciation for how the community supports education. It was like no other new teacher orientation that I’ve ever experienced.”

Mountain Brook’s 36 new teachers are originally from seven different states. They hold 24 master’s degrees and represent 15 different colleges and universities.

– Submitted by Mountain Brook Schools.

A18 • September 2023 Village Living
Johnny Jones, the newest member of Mountain Brook Schools’ team of school resource officers. Photo courtesy of Mountain Brook Schools. New Teacher Week introduced Mountain Brook’s new faculty to the school system. Photo courtesy of Mountain Brook Schools.

MBS continues facility improvements

Mountain Brook Schools continued its efforts to improve all of its school facilities over the summer in preparation for the new school year.

“We’re very pleased with progress we made on all six campuses over the past two months,”

MBS Facilities Director Tommy Prewitt said. “Each school received some sort of change and some projects are bigger than others. A few schools will see work on their larger projects continue into the first few months of school, but we have ensured that the renovations will not hinder student’s learning.”

The following is a rundown of what has taken place at each school:


► New luxury vinyl tile flooring in the majority of classrooms and corridors

► Pre-K and Extended Day Program room received new flooring and painting

► Cleaning the building’s exterior


► Renovated four bathrooms

► New luxury vinyl tile flooring in the majority of classrooms and corridors

► Seven new classroom AC units

► Major kitchen renovation (anticipated completion: end of the first nine weeks)


► Front entry of the school under renovation. It will feature a new exterior and interior for the front office and renovated administrative offices. (anticipated completion: front office and administration in September, front exterior entrance in October)

► Renovated five bathrooms


► New windows

► Bathroom cosmetic work

► New playground equipment


► Storm drain project (partner project with the city) will be completed before start of school — includes Richmar/Hillsdale


► Field project (partner project with city). The athletic field are projected to be available in late September and parking, tennis courts and restrooms complete by end of October

According to the Alabama Administrative Code r.290-080-090-.10(2)(g), an education agency must retain a copy of education records for five (5) years after the termination of the special education program for which they were used. At the end of the five (5) year retention period, the education agency shall provide written notice to parents to inform them that the special education records are no longer needed and will be destroyed. This serves as notice that special education records for students who have not attended Mountain Brook Schools since May 2018 will be destroyed after October 1, 2023 unless the parents notify the Director of Special Education at the following address prior to that date to arrange a time to receive the records:

Dr. Missy Brooks

Director of Special Education Services

Mountain Brook Schools

32 Vine Street Mountain Brook, AL 35213


► Parking lot paved

► Luxury vinyl tile flooring in the previously existing three-story building and Overbrook road side of the school (hallways)

► Overbrook wing: several classroom were consolidated to create a new home for the art department

► New surface on the old gym floor

► Minor landscaping in front of media center


► Spartan Learning Center renovated

► Concession stand and public restrooms in Spartan Stadium getting a facelift prior to football season

► Temporary parking lot (practice field) restored back to a practice field and usable this fall

Cherokee Bend Elementary’s summer building improvements included new flooring, AC units and major renovations to the kitchen and bathrooms. Photo courtesy of Mountain Brook Schools.

Alabama School of Fine Arts

The Alabama School of Fine Arts provides an ideal home for teenagers in the state in grades 7-12 who wish to follow their passions for art, math or science.

A tuition-free, state-funded public school, ASFA inspires students to fully develop their creative abilities.

Students choose from six specialties: creative writing, dance, music, theater arts and visual arts, as well as math-science.

In addition, ASFA students get a wellrounded education from a nationally acclaimed faculty. The school offers AP and honors classes, a college counselor and a dormitory for students living beyond commuting distance.

ASFA is “a next-level school,” says Tim Mitchell, school president.

More than 90% of ASFA’s graduating seniors receive merit scholarships for college each year, Mitchell said.

The students also thrive in the creative, nurturing atmosphere at ASFA, located in Birmingham’s downtown cultural district,

“I hear all the time, ‘I’ve found my people. This is my place,’” Mitchell said.

○ Grades: 7-12

○ Where: 1800 Reverend Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd. ○ Call: 205-252-9241 ○ Web:

“The combination of all the arts and the math and sciences in one building is its own teacher, so no matter what department you’re in, you are interacting with a lot of creative individuals and kind of cross-pollinating ideas,” says Celeste Pfau, a visual artist and 2007 ASFA graduate.

Admission to ASFA is based on applications, letters of recommendation, school records, and auditions or interviews.

Located at 1800 Rev. Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd., ASFA will host an open house for prospective students and their families Nov. 4.

For more information about Alabama School of Fine Arts, call 205-252-9241 or go to

A20 • September 2023 Village Living 2023 Advertorial Section Education Guide 2023
meet our award-winning faculty, tour the specialty education spaces, and learn how you can apply to ASFA!

STAIR of Birmingham

It’s critically important that children develop a love of reading early on, preferably by the first or second grade.

Children who aren’t reading on grade level by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than their peers.

The nonprofit STAIR of Birmingham – STAIR stands for Start the Adventure in Reading –helps struggling young readers by giving them the tools to learn how to read. STAIR, which provides one-on-one tutoring to about 200 students annually, needs lots of volunteers.

In fact, between 300 and 400 tutors are needed each year to serve 200 firstand second-graders.

“The more volunteers we have, the more students that can participate,” said STAIR CEO Karen Griner.

Volunteering “can be incredibly rewarding and life changing for our tutors,” Griner said.

Regan began tutoring while attending UAB.

“What I wasn’t expecting was the absolute passion I ended up feeling for STAIR’s mission, and the love I felt for the students I was paired with,” Regan said.

Regan tutored for two years, and even changed career paths from medicine to education.

“I highly recommend STAIR to anyone needing volunteer hours,” she said.

One student who flourished at STAIR

○ Grades: Grades 1-2

○ Where: 12 schools throughout Birmingham

○ When: 3-4 p.m. 1-2 days a week for 10 or 20 weeks during the school year

○ Call: 205-730-7799

○ Web:

is Antonio, a kind, giggly, soccer-loving kid who recently completed his second year there.

Tutors Gracie and Kaylan worked with Antonio two days a week the first year, and his reading and self-confidence improved.

His second year, Antonio read more advanced books, and loved “Pete the Cat,” “The Good Egg” and “Five Little Monkeys.”

STAIR offers lots of opportunities to tutor and inspire kids like Antonio.

“Like me, you may end up with a new lifelong passion,” Regan said.

To fill out a volunteer application, go to

Indian Springs School

Welcome to Indian Springs School, a beacon of academic excellence attracting the brightest students from Birmingham, the United States and around the globe. Serving day and boarding students in grades 8-12, our unique educational program centers around experiential learning in an inclusive environment fostering growth and discovery.

Our 350-acre campus near Pelham provides a picturesque natural sanctuary that inspires our nationally-ranked STEM program and world-class art program. Our distinguished faculty — with the majority holding advanced degrees — delivers exceptional teaching, enriched by state-of-the-art classrooms and independent study options.

We encourage students to pursue their passions both within and beyond the classroom. Our diverse offerings extend beyond academics to include vibrant special interest clubs, meaningful community service opportunities and a strong athletic program with participation in 13 varsity sports as a member

○ Grades: 8-12

○ Where: 190 Woodward Drive

○ Call: 205-332-0563

○ Web:

of the Alabama High School Athletic Association.

Our alumnus and renowned author John Green ’95 described Indian Springs School as a place where “all at once, I become a learner because I found myself in a community of learners.” Our impact extends far beyond our campus as we are a passionate global community of alumni, parents, and friends, connecting across generations. We invite you to experience the magic of Indian Springs School at our open houses on Oct. 15 and Dec. 3. Applications for the 2024-25 school year will open on Sept. 1.

For information on admission and need-based financial aid, go to indian or contact us at admission@ or 205-332-0563. September 2023 • A21
Advertorial Section Education Guide 2023
Antonio and Kaylan

Highlands School

For more than 60 years, Highlands School has served as Birmingham’s premier infant through eighth grade independent school. Ranked as one of the 50 Best Private Elementary Schools in the country by TheBestSchools. org, Highlands is distinguished by our commitment to academic excellence, our belief in the magic of childhood and our intentional leadership development.

Highlands School is a preschool through eighth grade school — intentionally. A student’s journey at Highlands encompasses their entire childhood from infancy through middle school. While challenging curriculum and academics are at the core of our school, so is the importance of preserving those precious moments in such a crucial time frame of a child’s development. In today’s world, our children are faced with so many stressors, which is why we recognize the importance of social and emotional learning in teaching our students. With more than 350 students, Highlands is thoughtfully small, which

○ Grades: 6 weeks through eighth grade

○ Where: 4901 Old Leeds Road

○ Call: 205-956-9731

○ Web:

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Members of the Vestavia Hills Fire Department stand at attention during the playing of Taps at the Patriot Day Remembrance

Ceremony with the cities of Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills and Homewood at Vestavia Hills City Hall on Sept. 11, 2022. Photo by Erin Nelson.

Homewood to host Patriot Day event on 9/11

On Monday, Sept. 11, the Homewood Fire and Police Departments will host the annual Patriot Day memorial event, held in collaboration with the cities of Vestavia Hills and Mountain Brook.

It will take place in front of Homewood City Hall at 9 a.m. and will feature speakers, singing, a flag ceremony and a bell-ringing ceremony.

The fire and police departments of these three cities have been holding this event since 2002, the year after the terrorist attacks occurred in New York City and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

Each year, the fire departments hold a bell-ringing ceremony as part of the Patriot Day

Botanical Gardens to host 17th Antiques at the Gardens

The Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens will hold their 17th annual Antiques at the Gardens weekend from Thursday, Sept. 28, to Sunday, Oct. 1.

Each year, the event draws visitors from all over the Southeast and raises money for the Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens, a nonprofit that strives to preserve and celebrate the gardens.

The show will feature 22 antiques dealers with a selection of furniture, art, jewelry, rugs, textiles and home and garden decor. O’Neal Industries will present the show, with de Gournay and Cowtan & Tout featured as sponsors.

program. According to Captain Mark Shannon of the Homewood Fire Department, this ceremony honors lost firemen by ringing a bell that represents their last alarm.

“There were 343 firemen and other public safety personnel that lost their lives on 9/11,” Shannon said. “As Americans, we should take time to remember those who died, as well as their families and friends. This ceremony lets people reflect and honor those lives.”

Along with this ceremony, Melissa Turnage will speak at the event. Turnage is a local resident who lost her son in the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001. Lexi Bresnan, the daughter of late Homewood Fire Chief John Bresnan, will sing the “National Anthem” and “Color Me America” by Dolly Parton.

Mountain Brook Events Guide

Sept. 8-9: Fall Plant Sale 2023. Birmingham Botanical Gardens, 2612 Lane Park Road. Hundreds of plants — many of which have been nurtured at the Gardens by the Friends’ dedicated volunteer growing groups — will be available for purchase. Proceeds from the sale will support the Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens’ mission to protect, nurture and share the wonders of the gardens. The sale is free and open to the public. The event will take place Friday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visit

Sept. 12 and 26: Terroir Tuesdays: Spain. Golden Age Wine, 2828 Culver

Road. 6-8 p.m. For this month's tasting, the focus will be on Spain and its diverse regions and styles. Each tasting includes a guided tasting through four wines, light cheese and charcuterie and a glass of bubbly upon arrival. Tickets are $50 and available at

Sept. 21: Casting Hope 2023. Grand Bohemian Gallery, 2655 Lane Park Road. The event will benefit On River Time, an organization that helps make a difference in the lives of children of abuse and neglect. The featured guest speaker will be Chris Gardner of “The Pursuit of Happyness.” Information is available at

Shopping hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

The event also includes 16 speakers, a collection of nationally and internationally acclaimed designers and architects, who will give talks throughout the weekend. After the Gala in the Gardens kick-off event on Thursday night, each day will feature a different keynote speaker and panel. Saturday will also have a second panel and a floral workshop in the afternoon.

The weekend’s festivities conclude on Oct. 1, or “Southern Sunday,” with another keynote speaker and a final panel, entitled “The Art of the Home.” All talks by authors will

be accompanied by book signings, and books can be purchased at Leaf & Petal before and after the show.

For information on tickets, a full schedule, speakers and more, visit antiques.

Sept. 23: Oktoberfest. Birmingham Zoo, 2630 Cahaba Road. 5-9 p.m. The annual event will feature seasonal autumn brews, live music and German food favorites. Attendees can enjoy selections from local food trucks, and the zoo’s Nourish 205 restaurant will be hosting build-your-own brats,

along with other Oktoberfest-themed snacks and small bites — all for an additional charge. For ages 21 and up. Tickets are $48 general admission, $40 general admission for zoo members and $25 designated driver admission. Purchase tickets at bhamzoo. September 2023 • A23 Events
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An antique vase is among antiques features at the 2022 Antiques at the Garden event. Photo courtesy of Cassia Kesler, Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

Spartans begin region play in September

Mountain Brook High School’s football team has its sights set on another Class 6A, Region 5 title this fall, after having it taken away by Gardendale in 2022.

The Spartans won the crown with undefeated region campaigns in 2020 and 2021, before the Rockets took them down in the regular season last fall. Their quest to reclaim the region trophy will begin in September, as the Spartans will play three of their six region contests. This comes after opening the season with non-region games against Vestavia Hills and at James Clemens.

The Spartans will head to Minor on Sept. 8 for their first Region 5 game. Mountain Brook and Minor have only squared off five times, with the Spartans taking the last four. Mountain Brook took down the Purple Tigers 49-14 last season. Mountain Brook will head over to Lawson Field the following Thursday, Sept. 14, to take on Woodlawn in another region game. The Spartans lost three of the first four games of the series in the early 1990s but have dominated the series ever since, winning the last 13. Last season, Mountain Brook took an easy 56-6 win.

The Spartans return home the next Friday to take on Jackson-Olin on Sept. 22. The two teams became region foes for the first time last year, as Mountain Brook claimed a 41-0 shutout victory over the Mustangs. That was the second meeting between the


Aug. 24: vs. Vestavia Hills

Aug. 31: @ James Clemens

Sept. 8: @ Minor*

Sept. 14: @ Woodlawn*

Sept. 22: vs. Jackson-Olin*

Sept. 29: @ Hoover

Oct. 6: OPEN

Oct. 13: vs. Parker*

Oct. 20: vs. Mortimer Jordan*

Oct. 27: @ Gardendale*

Nov. 2: vs. Baker

two, after the Spartans won in the 2021 playoffs. Mountain Brook wraps up the month with a trip to Hoover on Sept. 29, in arguably the most challenging game on the schedule. The two teams were longtime region foes until the Spartans dropped to 6A a few years ago, but they picked up a two-year series beginning last fall.

Last season, Hoover won 26-14, the Buccaneers’ eighth consecutive win in the series. Hoover holds a 35-8 lead all-time.

A24 • September 2023 Village Living Sports (205) 942-9460 |
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Mountain Brook running back Jack King (17) in a game last fall. The Spartans play three of their six region games in September. Photo by Shawn Bowles.

Sports Editor’s Note By

How do you respond to adversity?

If you have been involved in sports in any capacity, you have likely heard the famous Mike Tyson quote: “Everyone has a plan ‘til they get punched in the mouth.”

This quote has been often repeated over the years, for good reason. There is plenty of truth and life application in it.

I often think about this quote at the beginning of seasons. When I was making the preseason rounds in the summer and talking to high school football coaches, in preparation for our Under the Lights magazine (pick one of those up, if you haven’t already), positivity reigned.

Before the season begins and everyone sits at the same 0-0 record, there is plenty of reason to be positive. This will be the year we turn the corner, or this will be the season that we capture that elusive championship.

It’s reasonable, right? Hewitt-Trussville’s offense is going to be even better than it was last year. Hoover is finally ready to take down Thompson in the playoffs. Clay-Chalkville’s early playoff exit was an aberration. Homewood is going to remain a double-digit-win team.

And the list goes on. All of those statements could easily come to fruition.

Hope is a powerful thing, and it gives players, coaches and fans alike a reason to believe that they can do something special.

However, life doesn’t always work out the way we want it to. After the first week of the high school football season, half of the teams around the state have been saddled with a disappointing loss, sending them back to the drawing board to figure out the next steps.

If you start 0-1, where do you go from there? Is it merely a blip on the radar or a sign of what’s to come? You’ll see both of those this fall during football, volleyball, cross-country and flag football season. Some teams will keep their heads down and continue to strive for incremental improvement. Some will fold up like a chair and the losing snowball will begin rolling downhill.

In the summer, it’s so easy to espouse confidence and belief. The sky is the limit, after all.

But once the real games begin and it’s harder than you hoped it would be, how do you respond?

It’s one of the many great lessons sports teach us about life. Responding to all types of adversities is a daily thing. A bad moment can either ruin a day or a choice can be made to flush it and move on. When disappointments come, the choice must be made either to fold or to persevere and make the best of a situation.

On the field or the court, the most inspiring teams are not always the ones that go undefeated. Often, it’s the ones that don’t get deflated by a tough loss or two, but carry on and push through. They may not be the best team, but they maximize their potential, and that’s all anyone can ask for.

So, the question must be asked: What happens when your team gets “punched in the mouth?”

Kyle Parmley is the sports editor at Starnes Media. September 2023 • A25 Give Life SCAN QR CODE TO bringing life to communities dying from extreme poverty. MEET URGENT NEEDS END POVERTY SPREAD THE GOSPEL WE ARE... TOGETHER
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He may not realize it, but longtime Mountain Brook resident and Mountain Brook Elementary School fifth grade teacher Bill Andrews is a trailblazer. Literally and figuratively.

An avid cyclist and an active member of Birmingham’s mountain biking community, Andrews has been a constant sight on two wheels around town over the last two decades.

Andrews is accustomed to a challenge, having ridden and raced on some of the toughest terrain and courses throughout the region. However, from a mountain biking perspective, Andrews may have accepted his toughest challenge yet when he was tapped to lead the Mountain Brook High School mountain biking team three years ago.

A relatively new sport for middle and high schoolers, mountain biking has been gaining popularity throughout Alabama, but particularly around the Birmingham metro thanks to an abundance of exceptional trails at such locales as Oak Mountain State Park, Red Mountain Park and Tannehill State Park.

While many area high schools have formed teams and captured championships since the sport was organized into a league a decade ago, Mountain Brook High School just started their program in 2021. Andrews has recruited athletes and volunteer coaches and built awareness and support for the program within the school system and the community at large. The team has grown largely under the radar, but he credits the Mountain Brook community for supporting the fledgling program during its humble beginnings.

“Not many people know about us, but I think the Mountain Brook

community is so gracious, and when they learn about something, they support it whole-heartedly,” Andrews said. “The community is really my first priority.”

Not yet sanctioned by the Alabama High School Athletic Association, mountain biking is technically a club sport governed by an independent body. For almost 10 years, high school mountain biking teams competed under the auspices of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association. However, in 2023, state programs began competing in the newly formed Alabama Cycling Association.

While training and informal rides begin in the fall, the official Alabama Cycling Association season begins with time trials in February and typically includes five events at state parks from March through May.

Mountain Brook mountain biking team creating a legacy on two wheels

numbers, there is one demographic in which the program is struggling: girls. In order to encourage teams to diversify their rosters, additional points are awarded to team totals at competitions in the girls’ categories. Andrews said he would like to see more girls join the team not only to help the program be more competitive, but also to provide a better experience overall.

“We definitely need some more females on the team. That would help with points but would also make the team more diverse and fun,” Andrews said.

Entering the 2023-24 school year, Andrews expects to have two seniors on the team, including Perry Stringfellow, a cyclist whom Andrews has seen develop into a fierce competitor and leader since he was a freshman.

Like most other high school mountain biking teams, the Mountain Brook program is not officially part of the high school athletic department, which means the team has to raise money for its own budget, arrange its own travel plans and rely on volunteer coaches — mostly parents — to run practices and competitions.

“It takes a village, for sure, for this team,” Andrews said. “There is a lot of parental involvement. As head coach, I rely on mothers and fathers who ride to be assistant coaches so we can have enough people out on the trail to make it safe.

“So, we have lots of dads and moms who ride with us, which is a really neat part of this sport because if you’re playing football, your mom and dad aren’t out there with you,” he added. “That makes it unique because you can have that straight parent

interaction. We have a great group of parents that are ready to take us to the next level.”

The Mountain Brook High School mountain biking team officially launched in 2021 with five athletes in high school — the minimum number to qualify for a team in the league — and a solid group of middle schoolers who were allowed to compete as sixth graders under National Interscholastic Cycling Association and Alabama Cycling Association rules. Andrews said the middle school cyclists are the lifeblood of the program, functioning as the feeder system for the high school team.

“I always say you need to get them before they get their driver’s license,” Andrews said. “It's been really neat to watch them grow from middle school to high school.”

While the team is growing in

“When he came onto the team three years ago, I was beating him up climbs and I was a good bit faster in a lot of areas than he was,” Andrews said. “We just got back from a Utah trip, and I just told him to wait at the next intersection for me.”

While Andrews hopes to grow the program into one that will contend for multiple team and individual championships, his primary focus is getting more kids interested in offroad cycling.

“We just feel it’s such a positive for the community of Mountain Brook and it gives these kids another outlet, which I think is so important in these days of social media and technology,” Andrews said. “It’s a good, healthy lifelong skill. You’re not going to play football or soccer forever, but mountain biking is something you can do well into your older years.”

A26 • September 2023 Village Living
Learn more about the Mountain Brook High School mountain biking team at Above: From left: Bill Andrews Mountain Brook Cycling Team Coach, James Inscoe, Perry Stringfellow, and Max Benton. Bottom left: Jack Barrett, 8th Grader (2022-23 school year). Right: Perry Stringfellow, freshman (2022-23 school year). Photos courtesy of Mountain Brook Schools.

Dr. Jennifer Cushing Bares specializes in medical and cosmetic dermatology. Originally from Trussville, Alabama, Dr. Bares graduated summa cum laude from Auburn University with a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering degree in 2012. She continued her medical training at The University of Alabama School of Medicine, where she graduated with summa cum laude and AOA honors at the top of her class in 2017. Dr. Bares completed an internship at Tulane University in New Orleans before moving to New York City to continue her dermatology training. Dr. Bares completed her dermatology residency at The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in 2023. She was selected by her peers to be Chief Resident in her final year of training. She and her husband, Chandler, now reside in Trussville with their dog, Champ.




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Parenting is hard for every family. Even with two unified parents giving 110%, it never feels like enough. Something will fall through the cracks because we, as humans, can’t meet every need. We have blind spots, weaknesses, oversights, and limitations…which is why we need a limitless, sovereign God.

Life can quickly feel overwhelming without a partner to share your load. You may feel the weight of the world on your shoulders and lay awake in bed worrying about your kids, your finances, or your future. But remember: God can work with any circumstances, and if you do what is right and stay faithful, you’ll reap a harvest in due time (Galatians 6:9). That’s a promise you can stand on.

My single mom friends have some of the strongest faith I’ve witnessed. They carry no illusions that they have it all under control. They depend on God daily for help, strength, and wisdom, and this reliance keeps them humble. It makes them aware of His hand in their life and every act of grace.

Your faithfulness is a gift to your children because one day, they’ll reach the end of themselves. Life events will bring them to their knees, and they’ll have a map to follow thanks to what you modeled. It’s been said that what you learn in the light,

you’ll use in the dark, and somehow, God will use the seeds of faith that you plant today. These seeds may be a game-changer when your children face a crisis.

If you’re newly single, you may be in an especially dark place. You may look ahead and see nothing: no hope, no joy, no meaning. But God’s mercies are new each morning, and through Jesus, you gain new life.

Keep in mind that dark thoughts are from the enemy, who wants you to feel stuck and defeated, so take those thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. Replace the stories in your head with God’s timeless truth.

Instead of saying, “I’ve ruined my kids’ lives” say “I can do all things through Christ, and I trust God to use for good what man means for harm.” Rather than saying, “This is hopeless, and I don’t stand a chance,” say, “I’m doing the best I can in circumstances far from ideal. I’ll show myself grace and remember that I serve a God of miracles, who can turn 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread into a feast for 5,000 people.”

Even on your worst days, God loves you deeply and unconditionally. He’ll meet you where you are, but He won’t leave you there because His love transforms you. It changes you from

the inside out by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Your greatest identity, even greater than your identity as a wife or mother, is that you are a child of God. You have immeasurable worth, and no person or event can strip you of that worth because you were born with it. What God creates, God loves, and what God loves, He loves forever. So whether you’re single because your spouse died, your marriage grew unhealthy, he left you for another woman, or some other reason, you’re still priceless to your Creator. He still has a plan and purpose for you.

Parenting solo can be lonely. It’s important to surround yourself with encouraging voices, let people help you, and not be too proud to admit when you’ve hit a wall. In the Bible, when Moses’ hands grew too tired to keep holding them in the air, they put a stone under him so he could sit. Aaron and Hur then held his hands up, one on each side, so his hands remained steady until sunset and Israel could win the battle. Moses was a mighty leader, yet even he had weak moments. Weak moments don’t make you needy; they’re just proof that you are human.

Again, God can work in all circumstances. Your obedience is the key. Even if you must go back to work, even if you

must downsize or tighten the budget, even if your kids need therapy and the family is falling apart…God is not scared of your mess. His power is made perfect in weakness, and He works all things together for good for those who love Him. He can redeem and restore what is broken.

In the meantime, hang in there, pray, and trust the Waymaker. Life will never be perfect on this side of heaven, but with Jesus we are walking toward a paradise with no pain, no sorrow, and no suffering. God is for you and God is with you, and through the healing power of Christ, He can lead you to a place of hope. He can empower you to see and proclaim the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Kari Kubiszyn Kampakis is a Mountain Brook mom of four girls, author, speaker and blogger. Kari’s newest book, “More Than a Mom: How Prioritizing Your Wellness Helps You (and Your Family) Thrive,” is now available on Amazon, Audible and everywhere books are sold. Kari’s bestselling other books — “Love Her Well,” “Liked” and “10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know” have been used widely across the country for small group studies. Join Kari on Facebook and Instagram, visit her blog at, or find her on the Girl Mom Podcast.

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Life Actually By

Sean of the South By Sean Dietrich

United Airlines Flight 93


The Flight 93 National Memorial sits on a broad, green pasture. The field is remote, interrupted only by minimalist monuments standing in the distance, surrounded by vivid wildflowers.

One monument is a 93-foot high musical instrument, with 41 colossal wind chimes making clunking sounds that sing across the meadow like an enormous glockenspiel. There is no other structure like this in the world.

The monument honors the 41 passengers and crew members from United Airlines Flight 93. The hijacked plane that crashed in this field 22 years ago.

The National Park Service runs this place today. But not so long ago, this was open farmland.

It happened on a Tuesday morning. Perfect weather. Clear sky. Locals saw a Boeing 757 jerking through the air at an awkward angle.

Farmers watched in slack-jawed amazement. Commuters pulled over to see a commercial airliner bounce from the sky and slam into the Earth.

When the plane hit soil, it sounded like the world had come apart at the bolts. A mile-high column of black smoke wafted into the air. The clear sky was ruined.

Earlier that morning, the flight had been due for takeoff from Newark International Airport at 8:01 a.m. But, because this is America (Land of the Free and Home of the Flight Delayed), the flight was running late by 41 minutes.

In the cockpit, pilot Jason Dahl was going through his preflight steps. He was

43, cobby build, with a smile that looked like he could have been your favorite uncle Lou.

Jason always carried a little box of rocks with him — a gift from his son. When a man carries a box of rocks simply because his kid collected them, you know that’s a decent man.

After the flight, Jason was going to take his wife to London for their fifth anniversary.

In the passenger area, you had folks like John Talignani (age 74), retired bartender, stocky, cotton-white hair, a World War II vet. He was one of the millions of long-suffering, anguished souls who call themselves New York Mets fans.

And Jean Peterson (55). She was traveling with her husband, Don (66). They were going to Yosemite for vacation.

One of the flight attendants was Lorraine Bay (58). She’d been an attendant for 37 years. Meaning, she was either a glutton for punishment or she loved her job.

CeeCee (33), a Florida girl. She was new to the flight-attendant game. Only nine months ago, she’d been a police officer in her hometown of Fort Pierce. She was a law enforcement officer to the core, unafraid of confrontation. Her last words on a phone conversation to her husband were: “We’re getting ready to do it now. It’s happening.”

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

After the plane took off, it was obvious that there were bad men on this flight. At 9:30 a.m., three aggressive men in red

bandannas rushed toward the cockpit with wicked intentions.

The first thing you should know is that these men chose the wrong plane to mess with.

Flight 93 was not filled with 41 passive church mice.

Onboard was Jeremy Glick (31), a six-foot-one, national collegiate judo champion and black belt. Mark Bingham (31), a rugby player. CeeCee, the no-nonsense former cop. And Tom Burnett (38), once a college quarterback, sturdy as a hickory stump.

Tom Burnett made his last phone call to his wife and said, “If they’re gonna run this plane into the ground, we’re gonna do something.”

And they did. Forty-one ordinary people made their countermove at 9:57 a.m. All that is known about their actions comes from the flight audio recorder. The recording merely plays sound. Difficult sounds.

Your mind’s eye can see the rest.

There is the sound of passengers storming a flimsy cockpit door. Noises from a crashing beverage-service cart. Flinging dishes. Shattering glass. Ice cold screams. Shouts. Punches. Slaps. Groans. Gags. Pleas for help.

One passenger's voice shouts, “Let’s get 'em!”

Another passenger, maybe struggling for the flight controls, hollers, “Give it to me! Give it to me! Give it to me! Give it to me!”

More shouting. More fighting. Then click.

The recording stops. The plane goes down. The earth in Somerset County rumbles like an act of God.

Todd Beamer (32), raised in Chicago, tried to call his wife only minutes before his death. But he couldn’t reach her. So he dialed zero on the in-flight phone. He got a customer service rep named Lisa. He was all over the map, emotionally, according to Lisa. Todd kept saying, “Please call my family and let them know how much I love them.”

And in the quiet moments before Todd and the others would assault violent men, Todd asked Lisa to say the Lord’s Prayer with him. She did. Then he asked her to say the 23rd Psalm along with him. She did. Lisa could hear dozens of voices reciting the verses with Todd. The timeworn words filled the cabin like perfume, or the smell of rain, or fresh-baked bread.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table for me in the midst of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.”

Which is where they are right now. All 41 of them.

Sean Dietrich is a columnist and novelist known for his commentary on life in the American South. He has authored nine books and is the creator of the “Sean of the South” blog and podcast. September 2023 • A29


CONTINUED from page A1

Emily Mallard, Kat’s coach and Lakeshore’s aquatics coordinator, said that accomplishment enables Smith to go to nationals in mid-December, where she could have the opportunity to “move on to the World Series level and international level to hopefully earn a spot on Team USA in the future.”

Kat said that’s the dream.

“I’d very much like to do that,” she said, noting that she’s found her niche in swimming. “I always wanted to play a sport or do something physical, and swimming was just a great sport for me. I tried other things, but this clicked.”

Her mom said water is an “equalizer” for her, and she agreed. “My body works better in water than on land,” Kat said.

Kat started swimming in the life jacket when she was in elementary school, then at 16 she started swimming without it at Life Time Fitness.

Kat’s father, Nathan, said his daughter is “a very, very driven person” and has the competitive spirit of his side of the family.

“It has served Kat well to have that in her genetic code to keep going,” he said, noting that no matter what has come her way, she has never stopped.

Nathan said his daughter is constantly pushing herself and is “definitely not scared to try new things.”

Before swimming competitively, she would beg him to join the team at Life Time, he said, adding that that spirit is consistent in her life outside the pool, too.

“She always wants me to take her to the track to work on her gait, her balance and her jogs,” he said.

She also helped manage her high school soccer team until she graduated from Mountain Brook High School in May 2022, and now she’s studying with college in mind.

Kat joined the team at Lakeshore Foundation after graduation. She was immediately recognized as a breaststroke specialist but, more importantly, a leader.

“She was just one of those who put in a lot of extra work and was really self-motivated and went above and beyond to encourage the team and work on herself,” Mallard said.

For her whole life, Kat has pressed

through physical difficulties, including some mild visual impairment in addition to cerebral palsy. Then in November 2021, she had a pulmonary valve replaced, then she had to returned by ambulance to the hospital after discharge for a second surgery.

“That was pretty rough, but she overcame that,” Carolyn said.

Just six months later, Kat joined the Lakeshore team. She now practices four afternoons a week at Lakeshore, sometimes doubling up with morning swims at Life Time Fitness as well.

“The most amazing thing about her,

though, is how dedicated she is,” she said. “Even if she can’t come to Lakeshore, she’ll put in time with another pool, or if she’s at the lake, she’ll work on dives. She’ll pick something she wants to work on.”

Mallard said Kat “progressed really well over last season,” but in February she experienced a new hurdle to overcome: a shoulder issue.

“Despite all of that, through her good days and bad days, she continued to kick and do what she could and came to meets to be with the team, then made her national Paralympic qualifying time at the meet in July,” Mallard

said. “She was so excited, and I’m excited for her.”

Nathan said Lakeshore has been a great place for his daughter to grow even more.

“That facility is a hidden gem; we’re very lucky to have it in Birmingham,” he said, noting that it’s one of only seven elite U.S. Olympic & Paralympic training facilities in the nation.

Nathan said his daughter has also benefited from swimming with the Lakeshore team in meets with able-bodied swimmers at the Birmingham CrossPlex.

“That exposure has caused the swim team to grow in popularity,” he said. “People will come to the meet, see our team swimming and they’ll know someone who might want to be a part. The team has grown, and we have swimmers from Huntsville, Hamilton, even one from Memphis.”

Kat Smith said the meets mean a lot to her, and occasionally they come with other memorable life experiences, too. For instance, at a competition in Colorado in July 2022, she was able to watch Paralympic swimmer Julia Gaffney break a record in the 200-meter backstroke.

Gaffney, a double-leg amputee who competed in the 2020 Paralympics with Team USA and has medaled 12 times at world championship meets, set aside some time after competing to have lunch with the Smiths. That was inspiring for Kat, since she and Gaffney share the same Paralympic S7 classification on the scale of physical ability levels.

“It was an amazing experience,” Kat said.

Kat’s next competition will be the Fred Lamback Para-Swimming Open in Cumming, Georgia, Sept. 29-Oct. 1. Nationals will be in mid-December, with date and location still to be announced.

Village Living A30 • September 2023
Above: Kat Smith, left, and Julia Gaffney, a Paralympic swimmer for Team USA. Right: The Lakeshore Foundation swim team Photos courtesy of Carolyn Smith. Kat Smith joined the Lakeshore Foundation swim team after graduating from Mountain Brook High School in May 2022. Photo courtesy of Amanda Dyer.
“ ”
I always wanted to play a sport or do something physical, and swimming was just a great sport for me. I tried other things, but this clicked.


CONTINUED from page A1

the eventual Class 6A winner.

That didn’t sit well with the Spartans.

“That loss was hard for us, because we felt like we didn’t leave everything out on the court,” Mountain Brook head coach Mattie Gardner said. “There was an element of hunger to get back into it [leading into this season]. The girls really worked hard this spring.”

Mountain Brook’s mantra this season was lifted from an old Under Armour advertising campaign: “It’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light.”

Applied to this year’s team, that meant putting in the work in the spring and summer, when matches were not being played. That meant bonding with the assembled 2023 team to make it a strong unit.

“They really did buy into that,” Gardner said.

Mountain Brook’s six seniors have taken the lead in that task. They display the hunger and motivation to rebound from that disappointing conclusion to last season.

“We have a lot of returners,” Alice Garzon said at the preseason Over the Mountain Media Day event at Thompson High School in August. “We have a lot of players that experienced that loss last year. That was a tough loss, but having such a big group that came from that team is going to help them see the drive and the want that we have to win.”

Gardner loves what she has seen from that senior group so far, a group that is diverse in positions and skill sets. She could put all six of them on the court at once and not feel like the team is deficient at a position. She also has enjoyed seeing the way they have absorbed the new varsity players into the mold, calling the seniors a “servant-oriented group.”

“They really understand that, in order to reach the goals they have, they have to get the girls that are new to varsity comfortable and confident,” she said.

Hannah Parant, a setter committed to the University of Alabama, is entering her fourth year as a varsity starter, so she has been with the Spartans at the height of their powers.

“We’re always establishing our standard,” she said. “Even though we didn’t reach our standard [last year], it’s still there. Our standard is still high.”

Gardner is excited to see what Parant can achieve this year, now that her recruiting process has been settled.

“I’m looking forward to seeing a Hannah that’s very confident out there. She’s an experienced set of hands, super strong,” Gardner said.

Grace Stewart is a junior setter for the Spartans who possesses touch and is strong on defense as well.

Garzon is one of two senior middles, along with Mae Mae Lacey. Gardner called Garzon one of the best blockers in the state and commended her ability to stay even-keeled in every situation. Lacey is a strong attacker who got her first varsity experience last fall and will be an even bigger part of the team this year. Sam Settle is a sophomore middle and is one of the

tallest players on the team.

Annie Lacey, Mae Mae’s twin sister, is a senior who hits left-handed from the right side. She contributed some last season and Gardner is excited to see her take another step forward and be a key player this year.

Julianne Malatesta is new to the varsity team and will play on the right side.

Paige Parant, Hannah’s twin sister, is a senior outside hitter. Mae Mae Beatty is a junior who will also contribute in a big way on the outside. Gardner has been pleased with their progress within the offense.

“Those two came into the summer with so much confidence,” Gardner said.

Ava Ruth Borland is a sophomore outside, along with Maddie Wolter, who is the first freshman to make the varsity team since Hannah Parant in 2020.

On the back row, senior Ava Gillis and juniors Ella Kate Wright and Lulu Bateh are

battling for playing time as defensive specialists, particularly at libero.

Mountain Brook will play in the Juanita Boddie Tournament in Hoover, the Border Battle Tournament in Tennessee, the HeffStrong Tournament in Hoover and the Margaret Blalock Tournament in Homewood.

In regular season play, the Spartans will play a schedule that is a who’s who of the top teams in the state. They will face the likes of Spanish Fort, Hoover, Vestavia Hills, McGillToolen, Bob Jones, Bayside Academy, John Carroll, Chelsea, Homewood, Oak Mountain, Hewitt-Trussville and Spain Park.

At the preseason media day, Annie and Mae Mae Lacey talked about the team’s chemistry and the bond the players have. Gillis noted the team’s ability to collectively hold one another accountable.

“Being able to lean on each other makes us a better team,” Paige Parant said.

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Piggly Wiggly is committed to connecting Alabama farmers and families. Left: Mountain Brook’s Hannah Parant (1) sets up the ball. Right: Ava Gillis (8) serves. Photos by Erin Nelson.


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2023 FALL

A community pharmacy with a family-centered approach RITCH’S PHARMACY

For over 75 years, Ritch’s Pharmacy has served the communities of Homewood, Vestavia Hills and Mountain Brook with personalized care and a family-centered approach.

Ritch’s Pharmacy is an individual community pharmacy offering prescription medications or over-thecounter products located in Mountain Brook Village. They provide services and products ranging from immunizations, durable medical equipment, compounding and home delivery. The four pharmacists on the team at Ritch’s Pharmacy — Ralph Sorrell, Becky Sorrell, Dr. Laura Scoggins and Pam Reeve — collectively have over 100 years of experience.

The co-owner of Ritch’s Pharmacy, Becky Sorrell, alongside her husband Ralph Sorrell, said that being able to interact with patients in different communities in Birmingham and being a part of their healthcare team is invaluable. “We really focus on listening to our patients — we want you to be able to tell us your needs and work together to meet those goals.”

Ritch’s Pharmacy also carries unique products that may be more difficult to find elsewhere and they implement

► WHERE: 2714 Cahaba Road

► CALL: 205-871-1141

► WEB:

comprehensive health and wellness screenings. “We can make decisions for ourselves whenever we need to,” Sorrell said. “Larger stores have to go through the corporate office, but turnaround time to add to inventory for us is much quicker.” Ritch’s Pharmacy also offers a convenient packaging system — a blister card that carries all necessary medicines according to certain days and times.

“In 2023, patients should expect fewer drug shortages than the previous year,” Sorrell said. “We also plan to go to underserved areas in Birmingham once a month. We will reach out to people beyond our normal population and provide them with help and education.”

Ritch’s Pharmacy B1 All of Us UAB Research Study B2 TherapySouth B4 Alexander Dentistry B6 Brookdale University Park B7 Gunn Dermatology B8 Medicare Advisors of Alabama ......................... B9 Hoke Animal Clinic B10 Harbin Discount Pharmacy B11 Floss Family Dentistry B11 UAB Callahan Eye Clinic B12 Total Fitness Consultants B12 Children’s of Alabama B13 B SECTION SEPTEMBER 2023 Fall Medical Guide B1 Metro Roundup B14 LABOR DAY $1,000 SAVE UP TO 2714 Cahaba Road, Mountain Brook | (205) 871-1141 Prescriptions | Wellness | Gifts | & More Prescription Delivery Available airand...enjoythe Stay Well with Ritch’s crisp getoutside, fall

UAB returns ‘value’ to participants in All of Us study

The National Institutes of Health began enrolling participants in its groundbreaking new All of Us Research Program in 2018.

Working with researchers, health providers, community organizations and universities, including The University of Alabama at Birmingham — the NIH hopes to eventually have at least one million Americans volunteer to take part in All of Us, in which participants share their personal health information to help create one of the largest, most diverse health databases in history.

Scientists will use this data to learn how our biology, lifestyle and environment affect us and to find new and better ways to treat and prevent disease.

They also hope to find ways to better customize medical diagnosis and treatment for individual patients.

Researchers at The University of Alabama at Birmingham are playing a big role in All of Us. UAB leads the All of Us Southern Network, composed of more than 10 sites in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Dr. Bruce Korf, chief genomics officer of UAB Medicine and the associate dean for Genomic Medicine, is the contact principal investigator for the Southern Network.

Dr. Korf calls All of Us “a unique opportunity to influence medicine for a long time into the future.”

He said the program is designed “to generate the data to understand risk factors for disease and outcomes for a diverse population over a period of time, and from that will come new insights for prevention, diagnosis and treatment,” he said.

A program like All of Us would not be nearly as effective without the tremendous advances in recent decades in the speed and capacity of genetic and genomic research, Dr. Korf said. Genomics refers to the mapping of all the DNA in an organism.

The All of Us research program holds out the “possibility of customizing prevention, diagnosis and the treatment of disease to the individual — taking into account what they are specifically at risk for and how they will respond to treatment,” Dr. Korf said.

“This will inform precision medicine for generations to come,” he said.

Nearly 36,000 people have signed up for All of Us in the Southern Network so far, and more than 675,000 Americans have signed up nationwide.

And UAB is continuing to seek new participants in the program.

People who take part will answer surveys on different topics and be asked to share their electronic health record, give samples of blood and urine for lab and DNA tests. The health information that participants share with All of Us goes into a secure database.

By participating in All of Us, people receive numerous benefits. First of all, like the researchers themselves, the participants get the chance to be part of a historic study.

“One of the major reasons they participate is because they want to be part of something important and meaningful that will benefit their families and future generations,” Dr. Korf said.

Participants also receive “a rich return of value” because All of Us is using genomics, which includes genetic sequencing, he said.

They will have the chance to learn more about their ancestry and genetic traits, but researchers also look at “medically significant genes” in participants who opt into this analysis, Dr. Korf said. These genes could point out risk for such conditions as cancer or heart disease.

“Most people are not going to have a variant in one of those genes that put them at risk for disease, but if they do, they can be provided genetic counseling,” he said.

“For a small proportion of people — about 3% — this

can be life-changing and even life-saving,” he said.

The All of Us program reached a milestone in December when the NIH began returning personalized health-related DNA results to more than 155,000 participants, with reports detailing whether participants have an increased risk for specific health conditions and how their body might process certain medications.

The return of the results to participants “was very exciting,” Dr. Korf said,

The wide diversity of All of Us participants is also very important to the project, Dr. Korf said.

“Historically a lot of the research has been done on people of European ancestry, and we’ve learned a lot, but we’ve also learned that some of the things we found don't apply equally well to people of different ancestries,” he said. “We want to provide medical care that is broadly applicable and available to people regardless of their background.”

More than 50% of people enrolled in All of Us are from racial and ethnic minorities.

“You’ve got to reach out to diverse communities if, in the long run, you want to serve diverse communities,” he said.

The success of the All of Us research program also “requires building trust in communities that historically may have had good reason not to be

trustful,” Dr. Korf said.

Community engagement has always been a “cornerstone” of All of Us, he said.

However, community engagement “does not mean selling the community on the program,” he said. “It’s learning what’s important to the community and making sure that what you’re doing is sensitive to their needs.”

Community members have been part of All of Us from the beginning and people from diverse communities take part in the leadership groups, Dr. Korf said.

As part of this effort to reach as many people as possible, the All of Us Southern Network has several enrollment sites in Alabama.

All of Us recently opened a new site in Dothan, an area which was previously not well-served by the program, Dr. Korf said.

They also have a mobile unit that travels the state, including areas with poor internet access.

“It brings All of Us to people wherever they may be and offers us a chance to involve people who might not otherwise have the opportunity,” Dr. Korf said.

The lofty goal to enroll one million or more participants in All of Us nationwide is still in reach, despite delays caused by COVID-19, he said.

With the slowing of the pandemic, All of Us is back in “a rapid enrollment phase,” Dr. Korf said.

“It’s clear that the goal of at least 1 million participants will be reached,” he said.

U.S. residents ages 18 and older can join the All of Us program.

For details, call 833-JOIN-UAB or go to or

ALL OF US UAB RESEARCH STUDY ► CALL: 833-JOIN-UAB ► EMAIL: ► WEB: or DR. BRUCE KORF To start your journey, go to and Create an account Give your consent Agree to share your electronic health records Complete the Consent to Get DNA Results Answer health surveys Have your measurements taken (height, weight, blood pressure, etc.) and give blood and urine samples, if asked After completing these steps, you’ll receive $25. 1 2 3 4 5 6 $25gift card Visit bm edicin or download the All of Us app to get started on your journey. Get started. Apple App Store Google Play All of Us and the All of Us logo are registered service marks of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. To learn more and to enroll, contact us at: | | There’s Power in All of Us We're all di erent, but when we visit the doctor, our treatments are often the same. We think one day health care should be tailored for you. The more researchers know about what makes each of us unique, the more tailored our health care can become. Join a research e ort with one million or more people nationwide to create a healthier future for all of us.

TherapySouth providing ‘Hands On Care, Close to Home — and Work!’

Q: What makes TherapySouth stand out in the physical therapy industry?

A: TherapySouth is a private, physical therapist-owned practice that has been serving the greater Birmingham communities for over 15 years. Our numerous convenient locations across the metro area allows us to live out our message of providing “Hands On Care, Close to Home — and Work!” Our staff develop relationships with each patient and truly make the clinic environment feel like a family. With access to quality physical therapy care, we believe we can help our community live better, healthier lives!

Q: Why should someone see a physical therapist?

A: Most often, patients are referred to one of our clinics by their orthopedic surgeon or primary care physician to assist with recovery from an injury or procedure. But, physical therapy is beneficial to anyone seeking pain relief and improved function. The physical therapy approach is to evaluate the neuromuscular and musculoskeletal systems and address movement limitations or malalignments that are affecting mobility and causing pain. When patients come to physical therapy first, they can often avoid unnecessary surgery and medication. Through intentional exercises and hands — on treatment, patients can get back to their hobbies, everyday tasks and more.

Q: Do I need a doctor’s referral to schedule an appointment at TherapySouth?

A: Patients are welcome to schedule an initial evaluation appointment without a physician’s referral. Your therapist will perform an initial evaluation to determine if therapy is appropriate for you and communicate with your primary care physician, or physician specialist, to obtain approval for ongoing treatment. You can also receive wellness services depending on the nature of your problem. To schedule an appointment, patients can call the clinic directly or visit our website to check appointment availability and set up an initial visit.

Q: What would you like potential patients to know about your practice?

A: We take our core values very seriously. We are a company based on faith that believes in family, integrity, service, compassion, fitness, perseverance, and giving. We try to instill these values in all our employees and encourage them to live them out not only at work as professionals, but also in their personal lives.

Q: What does a first visit look like at TherapySouth?

A: During the initial evaluation, your therapist will take a thorough history of your condition or injury and review past medical history that may influence your case. Appropriate baseline objective measures will be recorded to evaluate throughout your treatment, such as range of motion and strength. Together, you and your therapist will discuss and set goals to help you achieve maximum function. Your therapist will determine a treatment plan and prescribe a home exercise program for you to perform at home to compliment therapeutic activities performed in the clinic. In addition, skilled manual techniques are utilized to further enhance recovery. Your therapist will communicate and coordinate with other health care professionals as needed to provide optimal care.

► WHERE: 205 Country Club Park

► CALL: 205-871-0777

► WEB:

► WHERE: 3800 River Run Drive, Suite 102

► CALL: 205-970-2350

► WEB:

Liberty Park

Are you recovering from an injury or struggling with chronic pain that keeps you from doing the things you love? You aren’t in this alone! Our experienced team of therapists will work with you on an individualized care plan to get you moving better with less pain.

TherapySouth has many clinic locations throughout the Birmingham metro area so you can conveniently attend physical therapy two to three times per week to improve your daily functions. We will be with you each step of the way! September 2023 • B5 2023 FALL MEDICAL GUIDE SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION CRESTLINE 205 Country Club Park 205.871.0777 Zach Edwards, Clinic Director
get stronger with us by your side
3800 River Run Drive, Suite 102 205.970.2350 Derek Van Gerwen, Clinic Director
Scan this code to schedule an appointment and find a team to support you today!

Get a great smile and share your joy

Smiles are important. When you smile, you feel good – and you bring joy to others. Not only that, but your smile can make you feel much more confident and self-assured as you meet and talk to other people.

At Alexander Dentistry – a full-service family practice in Mountain Brook with a focus in cosmetic dentistry – they want you to love your smile. They say that having a smile you’re proud to share can change your life forever.

“Many people habitually cover their smile if they are not happy with it,” Dr. Kevin Alexander says.

Some people whose smiles are “okay but not great” still hesitate to smile, he says.

“However, for those with beautiful smiles, they share joy more freely and confidently. They smile big!”

Alexander Dentistry enhances and renew smiles. Depending on needs and desires they use beautiful cosmetic veneers and crowns, bridges, implants and Invisalign.

”Patients love these options, and we take pride in doing them very well,” Dr. Alexander said.

He and his staff stay on top of the latest techniques and procedures, and they offer patients a wide variety of options.

In addition to cosmetic procedures, Alexander Dentistry repairs teeth, handles dental emergencies and offers dentures, teeth whitening, TMJ therapy and snoring appliances.

Prevention is always the primary concern. For example, gums can be a silent problem until it is too late, so it’s important to get regular check-ups.

“We cannot offer elective procedures –many of the cool and beautiful things we

► WHERE: 48 Church St.

► CALL: 205-871-7361

► WEB:

do – unless patients' teeth and gums are healthy,” Dr. Alexander says.

“Oral wellness and health are directly linked to overall wellness and health,” he says.

Dr. Alexander, who has operated his practice for nearly 35 years, earned a B.S. from Birmingham-Southern College in 1985 and graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry in 1989.

He has a simple philosophy – to put patients first and take their needs and desires seriously.

The atmosphere at Alexander Dentistry is very warm, friendly and inviting. From the moment you walk in, you’ll feel welcomed.

In addition, the team at Alexander Dentistry, including the receptionists, hygienists and assistants, strive to give patients the caring attention they deserve.

“Over the last few years, we have a new team of dental health professionals who are highly trained and really friendly,” Dr. Alexander says. “I am very proud of them. We invite you to come and have a great experience with us.”

Alexander Dentistry is located at 48 Church St. in Crestline Village next to Mountain Brook City Hall. To make an appointment, call 205-871-7361 or go to

B6 • September 2023 Village Living 2023 FALL MEDICAL GUIDE SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION INVISALIGN | VENEERS | WHITENING | WELLNESS Crestline Village | 205.871.7361 | Kevin J. Alexander, DMD Three generations of smiles. Member, American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry Smile Ads Village Living-fnl.indd 1 8/7/23 10:25 AM

Clare Bridge Crossings fosters positive environment for dementia care


Brookdale University Park is an upscale continuing care retirement community in Birmingham that offers its residents an enjoyable lifestyle with a wide selection of care options to meet their changing needs.

Conveniently located off Lakeshore Drive, Brookdale provides a full range of care, including independent living, assisted living, Alzheimer’s and dementia care and skilled nursing and rehabilitation.

And that menu of offerings grew even larger earlier this year when Brookdale expanded with an exciting new addition to its facility.

The new Clare Bridge Crossings program is a stepping stone between home or assisted living and Clare Bridge Memory Care and is designed to support those living with early-stage Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

The new program “builds on the growing body of aging research that shows well-designed programs can help sustain mental functions often impacted in the early to early-middle stages of Alzheimer’s and other related dementias,” says Elizabeth Vise, Resident Program Manager at Clare Bridge Crossings.

The new facility includes unique building features, such as an exercise room, art gallery and resident-use kitchen, to help residents stay engaged and socially active.

“As a proactive discipline, the Clare Bridge Crossings program may benefit

individuals whose symptoms are just starting to result in the need for additional cueing and care,” Vise says. “The Crossings’ daily path of activities features mindand-body enhancing, socially engaging programs.”

These programs include art and music, gardening, outings, vigorous mental workouts using the latest technology and activities that recognize residents’ prior occupational skills, interests and hobbies.

“The Crossings specialized programming is designed to preserve self-esteem and enable those living with early dementia to remain engaged with peers when they might otherwise struggle socially —

and be more susceptible to depression — in a traditional Assisted Living setting,” Vise says.

“We hope to create a positive, warm, happy environment for residents and their families to thrive and grow,” she says.

Clare Bridge Crossings offers numerous amenities, including “a beautiful spa” where residents are treated to weekly appointments, Vise says.

The spa is a place for residents to enjoy a calm, soothing sensory time with features like relaxing music, aroma air therapy and bathing and body lotions.

The facility’s lovely Conservatory, which features a screened porch, offers such

► WHERE: 400 University Park Drive

► CALL: 205-870-0786

► WEB:

fun, stimulating activities as gardening, bird watching and coffee chats, and will also host special events, such as church services, painting classes and musical performances.

The food served at Clare Bridge Crossings is very good, as well.

Dining in the Crossings encourages choice and participation to build self-esteem and help maintain autonomy, Vise says.

“Healthy and delicious meals featuring our optional Optimum Life brain-healthy menu help increase our residents’ nutritional health and decrease their risk for weight loss,” she says.

Clare Bridge Crossings is designed to “feel like home,” Vise says. “We want the residents and their families to feel a strong sense of community … [and] to create an atmosphere that is fun and exciting where something is always going on.”

Call 205-870-0786 to connect with one of our team members who would be delighted to help you plan your personal visit, September 2023 • B7 2023 FALL MEDICAL GUIDE SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION (205) 870-0786 Brookdale University Park, a CCRC Birmingham, AL 35209 Independent Living | Rehabilitation & Skilled Nursing Assisted Living | Alzheimer's & Dementia Care 400 University Park Drive Brookdale University Park is pleased to introduce Clare Bridge Crossings Our Clare Bridge Crossings program builds on the growing body of aging research that shows well designed programs can help sustain mental functions often impacted in the early to early-middle stages of Alzheimer’s and related dementias. For more information, please call Brookdale today at 205-870-0786

Dr. Holly Gunn is an accredited, board-certified dermatologist with almost 15 years of experience and a lifelong desire to help others.

“When people come to me with a problem that I know how to fix or improve, it brings me so much joy,” she says.

She also dreamed for years of opening her own practice.

“I wanted to create my own happy place where I could help patients,” Gunn says.

That dream came true in 2020 when she opened Gunn Dermatology in Mountain Brook.

“We seek to provide the best care in the community through our innovative technology, knowledgeable staff and our comfortable, friendly atmosphere,” she says.

In August, Gunn and her staff celebrated the third anniversary of their original location in Crestline Village. In November, they’ll mark the first anniversary of their second location at Lane Parke in Mountain Brook Village.

“This is my happy place, my do-good place, and I can’t believe how much it’s grown,” Gunn says. “When we started, I didn’t even imagine we would have two locations.”

At both facilities, Gunn and her staff provide what she calls “not just good medical care, but

► WHERE: 32 Church St., Crestline Village and 391 Rele St., Lane Parke

► CALL: 205-415-7536

► WEB: gunn

great medical care, in a luxurious environment.”

They take pride in offering full-body medical and cosmetic care, with any service or treatment patients could possibly need.

Full-body care is important — even in cosmetic dermatology — because the skin is the largest organ of the body.

“We treat you as a whole person with realistic, long-term goals to achieve your healthiest skin,” Gunn says.

Their many services include cosmetic and surgical procedures, head-to-toe skin exams and acne treatments. They provide basal cell and skin cancer removals, including safe, effective non-surgical techniques.

As a full-service wellness center, the practice offers cryotherapy, infrared sauna sessions, spray tans and many other services. The staff performs treatments to make the skin healthier

and stronger while removing signs of aging and discoloration.

Gunn Dermatology is always looking to find new technology to help patients and are excited about the Vivace Ultra device, which can be used on any area of the body that a patient wants to tighten, tone and contour. With the precise individualized settings from the ultrasound, patients are seeing great results.

Perhaps most important, Gunn Dermatology staff members provide a welcoming, comfortable experience and seek to make their patients feel like family.

“Patients feel like this is their home away from home,” Gunn says.

Dr. Gunn also maintains a warm, supportive atmosphere for her staff.

“Everyone feels loved and respected, and we carry that over to our patients.”

Dr. Gunn enjoys running her own business, even though she had never seen herself as an entrepreneur.

“It just goes to show you that if you love what you do and are passionate about it, you can do it,” she says.

However, it’s her entire staff “that makes it happen.” she says. “They’ve also invested their hearts and souls in Gunn Dermatology.”

B8 • September 2023 Village Living 2023 FALL MEDICAL GUIDE SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION Celebrating 3 Years 32 Church Street, Mountain Brook, AL 35213 391 Rele Street, Mountain Brook, AL 35223 SCAN TO FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM! @gunndermatology Dr. Holly Gunn and the team at Gunn Dermatology offer Medical, Pediatric, Cosmetic and Surgical Dermatology. Schedule a Medical Visit or Cosmetic Consult with us to see what all we can do for you! 205.415.7536 | of Gunn Dermatology Making patients ‘feel like family’ GUNN DERMATOLOGY

Medicare doesn’t have to be stressful — let Medicare Advisors of Alabama help


Q: What is AEP?

Q: Who is Medicare Advisors of Alabama?

A: We are a locally owned insurance agency that specializes in helping Alabamians better understand Medicare. Medicare is overwhelming, but once someone with patience and knowledge teaches you the questions to ask and then guides you through the process, the whole thing becomes much less stressful. That’s what we provide: a stress-free Medicare experience.

Q: What does your service cost?

A: Our services don’t cost you anything. We’re only paid by insurance companies if we help you enroll in a plan. Our reputation has been built on word of mouth and living the Golden Rule. Let us prove that to you.

Q: Why does someone need a broker/adviser?

A: There are so many advertisements and plans available that it’s becoming almost impossible to sort everything out on your own. A good broker will help you see the positives and negatives of each insurance company and will work to find the best solution for their client.

► WHERE: 2116 Columbiana Road

► CALL: 205-704-9020

► WEB: medicare

Q: When does someone need to help me with Medicare?

A: It’s never a bad idea to learn about Medicare at any age. Most people become eligible for it at age 65 or earlier if they become disabled. However, if you or your spouse are still working and have good health insurance you may not need Medicare at all. Deciding when to enroll and what to enroll in are our two most asked questions. Our team can help you make an informed decision.

Q: What if I keep working past age 65?

A: Many people think they’ll face penalties if they don’t sign up for Medicare at 65. That can be true, but not always. You can postpone enrollment beyond age 65 if you or your spouse are still working, and you have health insurance under an employer plan.

A: AEP (or Annual Enrollment Period) runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. If you are already enrolled into Medicare, it’s the time of the year you can make changes to your plan for the upcoming year.

Q: What is an ANOC Letter?

A: An ANOC letter (or Annual Notice of Change) is what you get from your insurance plan in late September that lists the changes for the upcoming year. If a person needs to make changes, they can use AEP to make those changes.

Q: Where can I get help with Medicare?

A: You can schedule a consultation with someone on our team. We can talk over the phone, meet virtually via Zoom or in-person at our local office, your home, your business or even out at a coffee shop. Once a month we teach a class called “Prepare for Medicare” at our local office. We have lots of fun, and it’s very educational. No specific products are discussed, but it’s a great way to learn the basics of Medicare and get your questions answered. September 2023 • B9 2023 FALL MEDICAL GUIDE SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION We have answers! Call us TODAY 205. 704.9020 NO CHARGE Medicare Advisors of Alabama is an insurance agency based in Birmingham, Alabama and we’re not a part of the federal government. We do not offer every plan available and currently represent 55 out of 56 Medicare Advantage plans and 21 out of 27 Part D drug plans in our area along with many Medicare Supplement plans. Please contact at 1-800-MEDICARE, or your local State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) to get information on your options.

When you trust Hoke Animal Clinic with your veterinary needs, you’ll get a customized experience from knowledgeable staff.

“Each patient we see has a treatment plan tailored specifically to their needs,” said Dr. Tucker. “We have over 40 years combined experience offering top quality care. Each doctor has his or her specialty which gives a unique advantage for complex cases.”

Hoke Animal Clinic offers a wide variety of surgery and internal medical services that include state-of-the-art laser surgery, ultrasonography, radiology, dental procedures, nutritional therapy, behavioral therapy, end-of-life care, geriatric care, preventative wellness (heartworm/flea/tick prevention), grooming and long or short term boarding.

The clients benefit from Hoke Animal Clinic’s in-house pharmacy, lab, diagnostics and surgical center, which means the staff is able to perform almost any procedure right there in the animal hospital.

Unlike most veterinary hospitals today, Hoke Animal Clinic is still family owned. Dr. Gregg Tucker became an owner in the clinic in 2000. He and Emily have two daughters, one dog and one cat.

“We aren’t run by corporate giants hundreds of miles away with only the bottom line in mind,” Dr. Tucker said. “We are able to offer what is medically best

for the patient and not what a consultant has deemed best for the practice.”

But the compliment Hoke Animal Clinic receives most often is in regards to how knowledgeable and attentive the staff is.

“We know each and every client by name,” Dr. Tucker said. “We form a very close-knit bond with our clients over the span of an animal’s life. Because we are a family-owned business, we understand

the stress and fear that can come with seeing your pet sick or hurt. We are all pet owners, and we treat every patient just how we would treat our own. We have dogs that come for day boarding five days a week just to come play with our pets in the play yard. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing we are trusted during easy as well as difficult times.”

As a complete care clinic, clients at

► WHERE: 1559 Cooper Hill Road

► CALL: 205-956-6096

► WEB:

Hoke can feel reassured knowing all of their pet’s needs can be met by the staff they know and trust without the worry of being referred out to other clinics when serious issues arise.

“We are so very thankful to each and every family that entrusts us with the care of their pets. It’s very humbling to know our clients can choose anyone, anywhere and they choose us. We feel compelled to honor that trust each and every time they walk through our doors. We know without them, we couldn’t do what we were born to do.”

The staff has a passion for working with animals and understands that pets provide much-needed love and companionship for their clients. They feel it is their calling to make sure these faithful friends lead an active, healthy lifestyle.

“Because of their selfless commitment to us, we owe the very best to them,” Dr. Tucker said.

Hoke Animal Clinic is open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and has Saturday and Sunday boarding pick up availability.

B10 • September 2023 Village Living 2023 FALL MEDICAL GUIDE SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION Hoke Animal Clinic Family Owned Since 1985 Surgery • In-house Pharmacy Grooming & Boarding • Behavioral Training Nutritional therapy • Wellness and More! 205-956-6096 | 1559 Cooper Hill Rd Convenient Care with In-House Surgery 30 Years of Exceptional CareYour Pets are Our Family Our Full Hospital Services Include: Soft Tissue Surgery Mass/ Tumor Removal Cystotomy Gastrointestinal Obstruction Anal Gland Removal Prolapsed 3rd Eyelid Gland (cherry eye) And More... Orthopedic Surgery Bone pinning/ Fracture repair ACL Repair Femoral Head Ostectomy Providing comprehensive veterinary care in one convenient location HOKE ANIMAL CLINIC

Birmingham’s family-owned, independent pharmacy since 1928


When you walk through the doors of your pharmacy, do the pharmacists say hello and call you by your name?

If you’re a client at Harbin Discount Pharmacy, your answer is yes.

“We have watched generations of children grow up and now have children of their own,” said Jerry Newman. “We truly care about each and every person that walks through our door.”

Harbin Discount Pharmacy is a family-owned, independent pharmacy that has been a Birmingham institution since 1928. Its four pharmacists have been practicing for a combined total of 130 years. There are two locations: one in Crestline Village and one downtown near University of Alabama Birmingham.

Because Harbin is a local pharmacy, it has a very comfortable and relaxed environment. The customers can feel free to ask questions and not feel like they are being rushed. The customers also have easy access to the pharmacist, both in person and over the phone. And since medications are compounded in house, the pharmacists are able to fully serve their customers in every aspect.

The staff is committed to customer service, and Jerry said the delivery service is top notch. “Our customers appreciate that their medicines will be delivered in a timely manner and they

► WHERE: 57 Church St.

► CALL: 205-871-2196

► WEB: harbindiscount

do not have to get out if they are sick or busy.”

Customers can also feel good about shopping at Harbin and knowing they’re keeping their dollars local. Harbin gives back to the Mountain Brook community by sponsoring as many local youth and community activities as it can.

“Did you know that when you spend your dollars at a local store, over 70 cents of every dollar spent stays in our community?” Jerry said.

Harbin Discount Pharmacy is a very special place that is reminiscent of the mom and pop stores from a bygone era. Visit for more information.

Get your ‘wow’ smile transformation


Q: Tell us about Floss Family Dentistry. What makes it great?

A: We are a locally owned neighborhood dental office offering a wide range of cosmetic, restorative and preventative dentistry.

Because we are a small office, we can focus closely on the individual patient, giving them individualized comprehensive treatment using the latest technology.

Q: What kind of services do you offer?

A: Our most important service is the patient cleaning and comprehensive exam. The mouth is the gateway to one’s overall health, so our exams check for numerous different issues. At every cleaning appointment we check our patient’s teeth, gums, joint function and do a thorough oral cancer screening. We believe early detection helps minimize treatment and avoid emergencies.

We provide a full array of dental services, relaxing gas and televisions to watch while you have your dental work done. We also have a variety of whitening options that we can tailor to the individual needs of the patient.

Q: Do you offer Botox?

A: We do offer Botox and dermal fillers because we recognize that a smile is a to-

► WHERE: 27 Church St.

► CALL: 205-879-8500

► WEB:

tal package, not just teeth. Adding a little filler to plump lips and Botox to smooth wrinkles can make the difference between a good result and an exceptional result.

Q: What’s your favorite part about your work?

A: A “wow” smile transformation is always our favorite thing to do. Helping someone who has not wanted to smile for years turn into someone who can’t stop smiling is the best feeling. Also, when a patient who is “afraid” of the dentist comes in and leaves knowing that they’ve gotten great care and maybe even a laugh or two during the appointment, it’s very rewarding. September 2023 • B11 2023 FALL MEDICAL GUIDE SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION Call or visit today 57 Church St. Mountain Brook | 205-871-2196 521 Richard Arrington Jr Blvd S. Birmingham | 205-323-2474 We discount the price, not the service | Delivery | | Covered by Blue Cross and most insurance plans | | Complete line of health and beauty items | | Flu, Covid-19, and shingles vaccinations | | Compounding Lab | Established 1954 LOCALLY OWNED AND OPERATED
Dr. Suzie McCullough Dr. Christy Stevens

Committed to innovation and expert eye care


What could you accomplish if you could see the world more clearly? Now you can — with comprehensive eye care conveniently located just around the corner. Whether you need an annual check-up, treatment for an eye condition or even surgery, you’ll find unparalleled knowledge and skill to help repair and restore your vision at UAB Callahan Eye.

Committed to innovation and unmatched care — and equipped with the country’s leading experts in the treatment of both eye disease and eye trauma — UAB Callahan Eye offers a level of excellence to ensure you receive the highest quality treatment, for any need and for any patient circumstance.

UAB Callahan Eye offers treatment for the whole family, beginning at birth. Several clinic locations specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of children’s eye disease, and Callahan’s team of expert pediatric optometrists and ophthalmologists work together to treat young patients. In addition, UAB Callahan Eye’s practices are sensoryinclusive, making each clinic visit easy for everyone. It’s no wonder Alabama parents trust their family’s eyes with Callahan.

With 20+ locations across central Alabama, patients can access the highquality eye care and treatment they need without leaving UAB Callahan Eye’s patient network. Plus, with a conveniently-located pharmacy nearby at The Kirklin Clinic of UAB Hospital and eyewear stores at several clinic locations,

Offering ‘amazing’ trainers and personalized workouts


The certified professional trainers at Total Fitness Consultants in Mountain Brook have helped people of all ages and types achieve their fitness goals for 22 years.

Total Fitness — with private facilities at 2833 Culver Road in Mountain Brook Village and 204 Country Club Park in Crestline — is dedicated to a personalized, oneon-one approach.

“Each of our clients has individualized goals and needs, so we program their workouts based on those goals,” says Haley Lisenba, co-owner and facility director of the Mountain Brook Village location. “We’re able to focus on that client for the full session and make sure they get exactly what they need.”

► MOUNTAIN BROOK: 2833 Culver Road

► CRESTLINE: 204 Country Club Park

► CALL: 205-871-7744

► WEB:

► WHERE: 1720 University Blvd.


► WEB:

your eye care appointment can be a onestop shop.

Making an appointment is easy for busy families, and same-day appointments and walk-ins are welcome. To find a convenient location near you and start seeing your future more clearly, visit

Instead of offering group classes, Total Fitness trainers work with clients individually or in partner workouts, in which two clients work out together and split time with a trainer.

Everyone is welcome at Total Fitness, including athletes, seniors and working professionals.

The facility’s well-rounded program touches all aspects of fitness, including flexibility, balance, strength and cardiovascular health, and uses a wide range of equipment, including free weights and machines.

“You get a better workout by diversifying it,” company founder

David Thomas says.

The trainers are “amazing and extremely knowledgeable,” Lisenba says. “They work hard to make their clients enjoy their sessions while seeing the best results possible.”

The Total Fitness trainers “build close relationships” with their clients, Lisenba says. “Seeing how happy our clients are when they see results is gratifying.”

“We’re in this business to help people,” Thomas says.

To schedule a free consultation, call 205-871-7744 or go to


Meet Dean Stratton


The conversation lasted only a few seconds, but it changed the lives of Dean Stratton and his family. “I have bad news,” a doctor told them. “It’s a brain tumor, and it looks like cancer.” Days later, a pathology report confirmed that Dean, not yet a year old, had anaplastic ependymoma. His tumor was malignant and very aggressive.

Dean soon began chemotherapy treatments that required two-week stays in the hospital. The process was difficult, but it didn’t take away his joy. “He smiled the whole time,” Dean’s mom, Leighann said. “Everyone commented on how happy he was.”

Dean was able to spend his first birthday, which fell

► WHERE: 1600 7th Ave. S., Birmingham

► CALL: 205-638-9100

► WEB:

on Thanksgiving Day in 2022, and Christmas at home before beginning proton radiation therapy as follow-up to the chemo. His treatment ended in late February 2023, and by April his first treatment scan was clear with no evidence of disease.

Now, Dean is undergoing some additional therapy to

help him meet the developmental milestones that were delayed due to his cancer treatment, and Leighann says he’s doing well overall. The Strattons remain grateful to Dean’s care team. “I remember the names of all these people,” Leighann said, “because they were so important in our lives.” September 2023 • B13 2023 FALL MEDICAL GUIDE SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION Are you actually reaching new patients? Be the voice of your industry in the Medical Guide. Email for your Medical Guide Strategy Session Kennedi is cured of sickle cell disease thanks to a life-changing bone marrow transplant she received from her sister here at Children’s of Alabama. The amazing treatments, discoveries and innovations for pediatric blood disorders and cancer happening here are helping change lives for the children of Alabama, across the country and around the world. happened Her cure CURE_Kennedi-Hoover-Sun-Newsprint-9.75x3.75-PROD.indd 1 8/4/23 4:23 PM

Metro Roundup

Council OKs $935,000 in tax breaks for McLeod Software expansion

The Hoover City Council has approved more than $900,000 worth of tax abatements for McLeod Software, a transportation management and trucking software company based in Meadow Brook Corporate Park that is embarking on a $14 million expansion.

McLeod in 2018 invested $21 million into buying the 140,000-square-foot 100 Building in Meadow Brook Corporate Park and renovating it for its corporate headquarters, moving 400 jobs to Hoover, city records show.

Since then, the company has added 232 jobs, 150 of which are remote positions that are not physically tied to the office, records show.

McLeod ran out of space, and now the company has bought more space and wants to bring remote and new jobs related to growth in-house, CEO Tom McLeod told the Hoover City Council.

In late July, a close operating partner of McLeod — Software Guys 2.0 — bought the nearby 300 Building, a five-story, 101,527-square-foot building that has been vacant for more than 10 years, McLeod said. The plan is to renovate the 300 Building, which McLeod said is in great shape but needs refurbishing so it can accommodate modern technology. It was built more than 30 years ago, he said. His company plans to occupy about 20,000 square feet of the 300 Building initially, grow into more space there and lease out space to

other companies, he said. It probably will be nine to 12 months before the space is ready to be occupied, he said.

McLeod also just spent more than $1 million renovating the first floor of the 100 Building to accommodate a 4,000-square-foot conference center that can handle 300+ people, he said. His company has already started using the conference center to host meetings for the transportation industry, and he hopes the community at large can use the facility as well, he said.

Hoover’s Office of Economic and Community Development recommended the city offer tax abatements estimated at $935,290 to assist with McLeod’s expansion. That includes $479,290 in property taxes and $456,000 in sales and use taxes related to construction, city records show.

Of those tax abatements, $377,522 would have gone to the city of Hoover, $323,858 would have gone to the state and $233,910 would have gone to Shelby County, records show.

However, due to increased property values,

Hoover City Schools should gain $657,312 in additional property taxes over 10 years because the education portion of property taxes is not being waived, Hoover Economic Development Manager Greg Knighton said.

Also, the new jobs being brought into Hoover are projected to have an average annual salary of $73,000, for a total increased payroll of almost $11 million, records show. Those employees are expected to spend some of that money on things such as lunch, gasoline and groceries in Hoover, which should increase sales tax revenue as well, economic development records said.

Knighton said McLeod Software has been very supportive of the city’s desire to make Meadow Brook Corporate Park a technology hot spot, believing that adding technology jobs will attract other technology companies and develop business synergies.

Hoover Council President John Lyda noted this is the second time the city has partnered with McLeod Software with tax breaks. The Hoover City Council in December 2017 approved nearly $1 million in tax breaks for McLeod’s initial relocation to Meadow Brook. Lyda said the city is proud to be a partner with McLeod.

Derrick Murphy, chairman of the council’s Commerce and Development Committee, said it’s huge anytime a city is able to fill a vacant building, whether that be for commercial or residential purposes.

McLeod Software has developed products that are in demand in the transportation industry, and he looks forward to seeing them continue to expand, he said.

“They feel comfortable here. We love having them here,” Murphy said. “We want to keep that relationship growing.”

B14 • September 2023 Village Living
HOOVER If you are in a brick-and-mortar business in Mountain Brook and you are... Business news to share? Now open Coming soon Relocating or renovating Announcing a new owner Celebrating an anniversary Hiring or promoting an employee Announcing other news or accomplishments Let us know! Share your news with us at business-happenings
Brought to you by our sister paper: Software Guys 2.0, an affiliate of McLeod Software, purchased the 300 Building in Meadow Brook Corporate Park in July 2023. Photo by Jon Anderson.
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At Alabama Power, we work hard to provide the dependable service our customers expect and deserve. We give 100% to achieve 99.98% dependability. That means regularly inspecting and trimming trees as a way of preventing potential outages.

About 45% of outages experienced by Alabama Power customers are due to trees and plant life.

Overgrown branches can brush against power lines and cause outages. They also make power lines more accessible to wildlife.

We use technology and data analytics to help identify areas in need of tree trimming to protect the electrical system.

Keeping you aware of upcoming work is a priority to us. Scan the QR code to see the neighborhoods tree crews will be working in.

If you have any questions, please call Alabama Power at 205-257-2155 and request to speak with a member of our utility tree care team.

To learn more about how we safely maintain our system or for recommendations on planting the right trees in the right place, visit © 2023 Alabama Power Company.