Village Living November 2023

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November 2023 | Volume 14 | Issue 8






Parallel lives of service 2 West Point graduates, Mountain Brook residents reflect on military service By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE


o honor our military veterans this month, Village Living spoke with two Mountain Brook businessmen about their time in service and their civilian careers.


William “Bill” Clark has practiced law in the Birmingham area for more than 50 years and also spent three decades of his life serving in the military. Clark and his family moved to Homewood when he was in the sixth grade. During high school, they moved to Vestavia Hills, where he graduated from Shades Valley High School. Although he was offered a football scholarship to the Virginia Military Institute, Clark knew he would rather attend West Point instead. He was able to play at defensive back his senior year, which he describes as a successful season, besides a loss to Navy and its quarterback, Roger Staubach.

See VETERANS | page A24

U.S. Army veterans William “Bill” Clark, left, and Marshall Clay both graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Clark graduated in 1963, and Clay graduated in 2001. Photos by Erin Nelson.

Lane Park Road paved in cooperative effort between Mountain Brook, Birmingham Traffic moves past the Botanical Gardens on Lane Park Road in Mountain Brook. The cities of Mountain Brook and Birmingham, along with Jefferson County, partnered to repave the road that runs next to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Photo by Erin Nelson.

By GRACE THORNTON Lane Park Road is a much smoother drive for Mountain Brook residents these days, thanks to a cooperative effort between their city and the city of Birmingham. The road — which stretches in front of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens from Country Club Road to Mountain Brook Village — belongs in part to both cities, which has made a cohesive paving project difficult to plan in the past. Stewart Welch, mayor of Mountain


Sponsors............... A4 City......................... A6

Business................ A9 Chamber.............. A12

Community.......... A13 Schoolhouse........A18

Brook, said the project’s recent success was born out of an idea that Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin brought to the mayors of the 35 municipalities in Jefferson County in 2017. “Mayor Woodfin came before the Jefferson County Mayors Association and said we need to double down on regional cooperation, and he launched the idea of the Good Neighbor Pledge,” Welch said.

See LANE PARK ROAD | page A26

Events..................A20 Real Estate......... A22

Sports.................... B4 Opinion................. B10

Setting Sail

Local ‘Legend’

Mountain Brook teen sails in prestigious regatta in Italy.

Mountain Brook native featured in UA “Where Legends Are Made” ad campaign.

See page A12

See page A17

A2 • November 2023

Village Living

Meet Jefferson County’s New Health Officer

David Hicks, DO, MPH, FAAFP Dr. David Hicks is a boardcertified family medicine physician and served as Deputy Health Officer at the Jefferson County Department of Health (JCDH), where he managed clinical operations. Additionally, he served as Incident Commander for JCDH’s COVID-19 response efforts. Before this role, he was the Medical Director of Adult Health & Family Planning. Before working at the health department, Dr. Hicks oversaw five clinic locations as Chief Medical Officer at Birmingham Health Care. He also has provided medical care in various settings, including urgent care clinics, correctional facilities, and an academic health system. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians, Chairman of Alabama’s STD Medical Advisory Council, and a member of Alabama’s Rural Medical Service Awards Advisory Board. Dr. Hicks stated, “I thank God for putting me in a position to continue the legacy Dr. Wilson and the other remarkable Jefferson County Health Officers set forth. Our staff remain committed to our vision of a healthier Jefferson County for all by strengthening partnerships, engaging with communities, and promoting health equity.” Dr. Hicks is a Leadership Birmingham graduate and a member of the Freshwater Land Trust Red Rock Committee, Kiwanis Club of Birmingham, and UAB School of Public Health’s Community Engagement Council, respectively. In 2021, he received the NAACP Metro Birmingham Branch’s Community Trailblazer Award. Dr. Hicks earned a Master of Public Health degree in Behavioral and Community Health Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and was a National Institutes of Health Fogarty MIRT Program research trainee at the National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. He later earned his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from Rowan-Virtua School of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his Family Medicine residency at Christiana Care Health System and served as Chief Resident. “In my free time, I enjoy fishing, doing genealogy research, reading, and cheering on my favorite sports teams,” added Dr. Hicks.

November 2023 • A3

A4 • November 2023

Village Living

About Us Please Support Our Community Partners

Publisher’s Note By Dan Starnes November — the one month of the year when it is truly in vogue to practice gratitude. When done well, experiencing gratitude is one of the most powerful and positive practices that there is. So, anytime is a good time for me to practice a little gratitude. When I dedicate time to think of the people I’m grateful for, I find the circle can widen to a point that it is hard to know where it ends. For me, a good place to begin is to look down the masthead on this page. I see the names of people who work on this paper. I then see a few dozen more names of businesses

the newsletter and follow the social channels. If you are reading this, know that I am grateful for you and your role in making this paper a reality. Truly. It means a lot. As always, it’s great to receive feedback, so if you want to share anything with us at all, even constructive criticism, please do. You can reach me at dan@

Alabama Craft Guild (A6) Alabama Power (B7) Always Best Care: ABC Senior Services (B13) Amy Smith Gardner, State Farm (B4) Bates, Roberts, Fowlkes & Jackson Insurance (A13) Bedzzz Express (B1, B16) Bill White Roofing and Specialty (A8) Birmingham Zoo (A14) Bromberg’s (B11) Bryant Bank (B9) Budget Blinds (A16) Canterbury Gardens (B8) Children’s of Alabama (B11) Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham (A23) Community Grief Support Service (A11) Elle (A11) ENT Associates of Alabama (B12) Etc. (A28) Floss Family Dentistry Crestline (B10) Gardner Astroturf (A6) Gardner Landscaping (A7) Guin Service (A1) Gunn Dermatology (A5) Harbin Discount Pharmacy (B8) Hoke Animal Clinic (B9) HomeRN (A13) Image Hive (A25) Issis & Sons (B1) JB & CO (A22) Jefferson County Department of Health (A2) Junior League of Birmingham (A17)

that support it. I then think of the tens of thousands who read the hard copy, go to the website, subscribe to

PHOTO OF THE MONTH A Mountain Brook student participates in the softball throw at HewittTrussville Stadium during the 18th annual Special Olympics track and field meet on Sept. 26. Photo by Erin Nelson.

Publisher: Dan Starnes

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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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Katie Crommelin, Ray & Poynor (A14) Linscomb & Williams (A20) Luckie’s Pinestraw (A1) Medicare Advisors of Alabama (A19) Moss Rock Festival (B15) Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce (A26) Mountain Brook Eye Care (A12) Mr. Handyman of Birmingham (A18) One Man & A Toolbox (A15) Parrot Structural Services LLC (B5) Piggly Wiggly (A3) Renew Dermatology (A27) Ritch’s Pharmacy (B4) Southern Home Structural Repair Specialists (B10) Southern States Bank (A18) SouthPoint Bank (A21) SouthState Bank (B14) Stretch Zone Mountain Brook (A8) The Cook Store (B4) The Exercise Coach (A15) The Fitness Center (A12) TherapySouth Corporate (B3) TrustMark Bank (B2) United Way of Central Alabama (B12) Vapor Ministries/Thrift Store (A25) Vulcan Termite & Pest Control (A22) Weissman Orthodontics (A9) Window World of Central Alabama (B13)

Find Us Village Living is distributed through direct mail to Mountain Brook residents. You can also find copies at a variety of locations throughout the community. For a list of pick up locations, scan the QR code below or go to villageliving

November 2023 • A5

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205.415.7536 | T WO LO C AT I O N S I N M O U N TA I N BROOK Crestline 32 Church Street Mountain Brook, AL 35213

Mountain Brook Village 391 Rele Street Mountain Brook, AL 35223

A6 • November 2023

Village Living


2024 budget approved at $50 million 20By SOLOMON CRENSHAW JR. The Mountain Brook City council approved a $50 million budget for fiscal 2024 during its Sept. 25 meeting. “Out of that $50 million, we have a budgeted surplus of $500,000,” said Lloyd Shelton, the council’s finance committee chairman. “It includes a 3% cost of living [pay increase for city employees], but it also includes a 10% upgrade for public safety. The Jefferson County Personnel Board designated a 10% bump for our fire and police, so it includes that systemwide.” Shelton said the budget process went smoothly because City Manager Sam Gaston and Finance Director Steve Boone had vetted the budget submissions from department heads, separating the “desires or wants” from “have-to's.” “We're really paying attention this year to capital projects; our capital project funds have taken a hit,” Shelton said. “We're keeping our eye on those projects and seeing what we do. It should be a good budget.”


Residents of two Mountain Brook streets told the Mountain Brook City Council how they would like traffic on their street altered. Halbrook Lane residents asked for their street to be closed to through traffic, while people living on Winthrop Avenue voiced their opinions on a proposal to make it a one-way street during school pickup times and restrict parking to one side of the street. During the pre-council meeting, Craig Ogard led a contingent of Halbrook Lane residents who complained about motorists using their street as a cut-through to avoid traffic on

to Overbrook, … they're going to park on Norman and Winthrop between Alden and Norman, pick their children up and cut through Alden and then cut back down Overbrook. If you've ever been on Alden Lane, there are children everywhere, all the time, on that street.” Council members Billy Pritchard and Graham Smith agreed to meet with Caudle to consider the concerns and look for an alternate solution.


Craig Ogard talks about Halbrook Lane being used as a cut-through at the Sept. 25 Mountain Brook City Council meeting. Photo by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.

other thoroughfares. “Richard [Caudle, a traffic engineer] came out there and did a study,” Shelton said. “The thing that shocked me is there are more cars that come down Halbrook than come across Knollwood Drive. Halbrook became a cut-through and it was never designed to be a cut-through.” The discussion included the impact on response times of public safety vehicles in the area. There were also questions about how closing Halbrook would affect neighboring Vestavia Hills. Shelton compared pedestrian traffic in the area to the video game “Frogger,” darting about to avoid motorists. Several from the area complained about speeders, saying that sidewalks wouldn’t address that safety concern. Caudle advised that the area be professionally surveyed to determine jurisdiction before proceeding.

“We obviously can't legislate outside your city and county, and you don't want to do it right on the line either because it's a flow-through,” City Attorney Whitt Colvin said. “There are property rights. It's not just the people who live on one particular corner or another.” Several Winthrop Avenue residents came to the podium during the Sept. 25 public hearing to address the suggestion that their street be made one-way during pickup times at Mountain Brook Junior High. The first, Eddie Burg, suggested that part of the problem stems from people trying to avoid the established line of vehicles picking up students. He explained that making the street a one-way may only shift the problem to other streets. “At pickup time at the junior high, we have a problem on our street, no doubt about it,” Burg said. “If you do one-way from Alden Lane down

The council also approved the city joining the Alabama Association of Fire Chiefs Mutual Aid Consortium. Fire Chief Chris Mullins explained that the consortium is similar to the agreement the city has with surrounding fire departments in Jefferson County. “This just expands it statewide,” the chief said. “It's more of a mutual aid agreement instead of a disaster proclamation. “If there's an emergency in Gulf Shores, a hurricane comes on shore, they can request services that quick, and we can be en route within 24 hours,” Mullins said. “It kind of takes that piece of the puzzle out, waiting on a declaration [of a state of emergency]. It's kind of like neighbor helping neighbor.” That call for help could come while authorities await an emergency declaration, which is needed to receive reimbursement from FEMA. If the emergency doesn’t meet the FEMA requirement, there would be no reimbursement. “Then it’s on the city’s dime,” the chief said. “There are 44 departments on this already throughout the state, and that number is going to grow. They'll do a rotation. They'll put certain departments on an on-call list for a month. With all those departments, you might be on call once a year. It might be once every 18 months and so.”

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Annual Fine Craft Show at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens November 11, 10 am - 5 pm November 12, 11 am - 4 pm This project has been made possible in part by a grand from the Alabama State Council on the Arts

November 2023 • A7

A truck makes its way along Cherokee Road toward U.S. 280 in Mountain Brook in July 2019. Photo by Erin Nelson.

Finding a fix for Cherokee Road By SOLOMON CRENSHAW JR. Elizabeth Jewell led a contingent of Cherokee Road residents who appealed to the Mountain Brook City Council for sidewalks and guardrails along a sometimes-dangerous stretch of road. Jewell cited major accidents that have occurred on Cherokee Road between Old Leeds Road and Overbrook Road during the council meeting on Oct. 9. “There have been two cars that have flipped at that same spot,” she said. “Something that we're very passionate about is having guardrails

along the golf course there on Cherokee Road, on the Mountain Brook Club side.” Jewell and neighbors noted that ponding happens on Cherokee Road during heavy rain. They said this impedes pedestrian traffic and motorists who drive too close to the edge of the road can find themselves in a huge ditch. Public Works Director Ronnie Vaughn said there are things city crews can do to improve the situation, including guardrails, freshening sideline stripes and adding reflectors. “We’ll proceed with some of these, what I would call relatively immediate, relatively

easy, city fixes and certainly looking at it more closely,” Council President Virginia Smith said. “This does not include the sidewalk right now, but we can certainly look at that and consider that.” Smith said she thinks the improvements that were mentioned during the meeting would help, at least with the danger of people running off the edge of the road. In other action, the council: ► Announced that a traffic study indicated that the speed limit on Spring Hill Road and Hermitage Road did not need to be lowered.

► Approved change orders for the Jemison Park project. ► Agreed to service agreements with All In Mountain Brook, the Birmingham Zoo and Birmingham Botanical Gardens at $10,000 apiece, Prescott House at $5,000 and Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce at $130,000. ► Accepted the proposal with Wicked Solutions for the strategic planning project for the city. ► Authorized the transit service agreement with Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority.

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A8 • November 2023

Village Living


Mayor’s Minute By Stewart Welch III The City of Mountain Brook is one of the most walkable cities in America. We are small geographically speaking, only 13 square miles, but we have over 46 miles of sidewalks and trails. What began as four miles of random, disconnected sidewalks transformed into a master plan with the help of Mountain Brook resident Nimrod Long, who is now a retired landscape architect. He and his former company assisted the city in getting federal government partnerships, which have been integral to our success. Our Public Works Department extended sidewalks along Locksley Drive from Dunbarton Drive to Warrington Road this summer. Soon, the city plans to extend sidewalks along North Woodridge Road from Robin Drive to Locksley Drive. It is hoped that we can complete Stewart Welch III the final link on Locksley Drive from North Woodridge Road to Warrington Road in a few years. Sidewalks have been extended on Brookwood Road from Crosshill Road to near Old Leeds Road. The city also plans to complete the last link of these sidewalks northward to paths in unincorporated Jefferson County in a few years. How important are our sidewalk and trail systems for our residents? These walking systems bring thousands of residents out of their homes and promote walking, socializing and good health in a very safe environment. According to Prevention, walking can: ► Improve your mood. ► Burn calories and help maintain your weight. ► Improve heart health. ► Reduce risks of chronic diseases. ► Reduce stress. ► Improve your sleep. ► Boost your brainpower. ► Alleviate joint pain. ► Delay onset of varicose veins. ► Stimulate your digestive system. ► Kickstart your immune system. ► Protect your bones. ► Enhance creativity. ► Makes other goals seem more attainable. ► Live longer. ► If any of these benefits are attractive to you, call a friend and tell them to, “Take a hike” — with you!

Bill White Roofing and Specialty

Since 1969



Ammons, Khodanian to speak at chamber luncheon By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE The Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce will host their quarterly luncheon on Nov. 8 at the Birmingham Country Club. The topic will be “Birmingham Has More” and will feature Birmingham Business Alliance CEO Steve Ammons and CCO Karla Khodanian as keynote speakers. Ammons, who assumed the CEO position for the Birmingham Business Alliance in May after serving on the Jefferson County Commission, will share an update on current projects and future plans for the organization. Khodanian will speak on their “BHM: Birmingham Has More” campaign and its impact on the

greater Birmingham community. “Strong relationships lie at the heart of regional cooperation,” Ammons said.” We are grateful to have Mountain Brook as a partner to help us as we strengthen bonds, share insights and pave the way for a more prosperous Greater Birmingham region together.” Networking will begin at 11 a.m., followed by lunch before Ammons and Khodanian speak. The program will conclude at 1 p.m. Tickets are $30 for members, $35 for non-members and $250 for table sponsorship (seats eight). For more information or tickets, visit

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November 2023 • A9


Business Happenings RELOCATIONS AND RENOVATIONS Drew Carter has relocated his State Farm insurance office from 15 Office Park Circle in Mountain Brook to a freestanding office in the former Wells Fargo bank branch at 2521 Rocky Ridge Road in Vestavia Hills. The office has five employees. 205-868-1103,

NEWS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS Scenthound is adding a fourth location in the Birmingham market. Following locations in Lee Branch, Mountain Brook and Hoover, the next location will be opening in Trussville in late December or early January. Embedded in the name, Scenthound focuses on the five core areas of maintenance that all dogs need: skin, coat, ears, nails and teeth. Monthly memberships, starting at $35, include a bath, ear cleaning, nail clip and teeth brushing. Haircuts and other services can be added on as needed. The Mountain Brook store is located at 354 Hollywood Blvd. Alabama Power launched a new mobile app to residential customers in October. With the new app, customers can enjoy the convenience and efficiency of managing

their accounts on-the-go with multiple new and updated features. 800-245-2244,

ANNIVERSARIES Taco Mama is celebrating its 12th anniversary this month. Its first location opened in November 2011 at 63 Church St. in Crestline Village. The restaurant chain has since expanded to 10 locations across Alabama. The women’s clothing store Village Sportswear, 2421 Montevallo Road in Mountain Brook Village, is celebrating its 58th anniversary. 205-879-5748, Over the Mountain Pediatrics, a female-run practice founded in 1981, recently celebrated its 42nd anniversary. The practice is located at 3300 Cahaba Road, Suite 102. 205-870-7292, Etc… — a jewelry, accessories and clothing store at 2726 Cahaba Road in Mountain Brook Village — is celebrating its 14th anniversary this month. 205-871-6747, Tonya Jones SalonSpa, an Aveda Lifestyle Salon, at 2410 Fairway Drive in English Village is celebrating its 14th anniversary. 205-870-4247, Integrated Behavioral Health, a mental health clinic for individuals and families at 4984 Overton Road, is celebrating its fourth anniversary. 205-768-5558, B. Prince is celebrating its seventh anniversary. Locat-

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ed across the street from the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and adjacent to the Grand Bohemian Hotel, B. Prince is an upscale apparel, shoe and accessory boutique. The store, formerly named Betsy Prince, has set the standard for high fashion in the Southeast for 38 years. 205-871-1965, Celebrating its 60th anniversary, Ruby Ansley Interiors, Inc. was founded in 1963 in Mountain Brook Village by Ruby Ansley. Sallie Aman is the present owner, having joined the firm after receiving a degree in interior design from the University of Alabama. The firm at 2806 Petticoat Lane offers professional design services, both residential and commercial. They work with architects, builders and craftsmen to create a beautiful setting to satisfy the client’s taste and lifestyle. 205-871-8294, Hufham Orthodontics recently celebrated 22 years in business. David Hufham, DMD, has been helping patients achieve healthy, beautiful smiles in the same office location at 120 Euclid Ave. since 2001. 205-871-8881,

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

A10 • November 2023

Village Living

Ex Voto Vintage honored as Retailer of the Year

By GRACE THORNTON Elizabeth Adams says she’s had “so many incredible, powerful women” as clients at Ex Voto Vintage, and she’s been grateful to be a little part of their story. “I’ve had people who say they put on one of my jewelry pieces and walk out of the room and say they feel ready for a big presentation or a difficult negotiation, or whatever they might have that day,” Adams said. “It’s like what a power tie is for men — it makes you feel a little bit stronger, a little more supported. It might give you the extra courage and bravery you need.” Adams knows what it’s like to need a little extra. In 2007, before Ex Voto Vintage was even a seed of an idea, her 3-year-old daughter was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in January, and passed away in November. Adams’s world fell apart. But she kept moving. “I survived this thing I thought was completely unsurvivable before I had to face it,” Adams said. With a kindergartner and second grader in school every day, she knew she had to keep her hands busy. That started her on a journey that eventually led into something she would never have dreamed up: a thriving retail business built around her art. And in September, Adams was named Alabama’s Bronze Retailer of the Year in the Annual Sales $1 Million to $5 Million category. Ex Voto is one of 11 businesses honored as 2023 Retailers of the Year by the Alabama Retail Association. “Ex Voto combines timeless beauty with modern elegance, infused in both their jewelry and clothing selections,” said Emily Jensen, executive director of the Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce, who nominated Adams for the award. Adams said after her daughter died, she went

Mountain Brook is a great community to create something, to launch something. I’m so grateful for everything they’ve done.

Elizabeth Adams, owner of Ex Voto Vintage, was honored as Retailer of the Year by the Alabama Retail Association. Photo courtesy of the Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce.

back to painting, which she called her “creative therapy.” “I started doing collage using pieces of broken jewelry,” she said, noting that she loved “tooling around” in Scott Antique Markets in Atlanta. She also started creating little pendants for herself, and people began asking her where she got her jewelry pieces. So, she began to sell them too. “They were all one of a kind, and it felt special and sentimental,” Adams said. “But I

looked up one day and realized, ‘I think I’m a jewelry designer.’” From there, it grew. She named her business after ex-votos, handmade gifts left at the church altar in response to an answered prayer. Then as she began meeting with more and more boutique owners in her home studio, she decided to open a showroom. That showroom eventually became a shop. And as people began to call wanting the clothes the models were wearing while they showcased the jewelry, Ex Voto became a clothing boutique too.


“It’s just been this ever-evolving thing,” Adams said. And it’s grown. One of the reasons Adams received the Retailer of the Year award was her sales growth and her use of fashion merchandising interns from multiple colleges. She currently has three stores — one in Mountain Brook at 2416 Canterbury Road, one in Montgomery and one in Rosemary Beach, Florida. She loves it, and she uses it to help others who are on the same road she’s walked. From the beginning, she’s given a portion of her sales to The Cure Starts Now Foundation for pediatric brain cancer research. Two years ago, she also started raising money for Lighthouse Ministries, which hosts restorative retreats for families going through pediatric cancer. Adams said she’s grateful for the community’s support. “Mountain Brook is a great community to create something, to launch something,” she said. “I’m so grateful for everything they’ve done.” Ex Voto Vintage is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 205-538-7301, visit exvotovintage. com or follow them on Facebook or Instagram @exvotovintage.

The Fitness Center: 30 years of wellness Beth and Vic Nigri at The Fitness Center in Mountain Brook. Photo courtesy of The Fitness Center.

By LOYD McINTOSH In 1993, former New Yorker Vic Nigri opened a small gym at the edge of Mountain Brook, on Montclair Road. Located on the second floor of an office building housing a post office and a smattering of other small businesses, The Fitness Center has been a mainstay in the community for 30 years. The business began as one-to-one personal fitness, part of a chain of personal training centers with locations throughout the Southeast. Nigri was working in management with the company, overseeing franchises in other cities, when he decided to launch his own franchise in the Birmingham market. Over the years, The Fitness Center has carved a niche for itself within Birmingham’s competitive fitness community. “We’re identified with this place,” Nigri said of their spot on Montclair Road. “We had outfitted it from the beginning and we did these renovations, so it just became our place. It was just a good place to be.” Eventually, Nigri bought the franchise out and rechristened the business The Fitness Center, and before long his wife Beth joined him. A former special education teacher for Birmingham City Schools, Beth came on board practically the moment she walked out of her classroom for the last time in 2004. “The funny thing is I told him, ‘Now, when I retire, I want two weeks where I can do what I want before I come work at The Fitness Center.' The day I retired, that afternoon I was answering the phones,” Beth said with a laugh. “I’m still waiting for my two weeks off!” While gyms have come and gone over the last three decades, The Fitness Center has continued providing cutting-edge fitness programs for people who need accountability and one-on-one instruction. Vic Nigri said he continues to maintain the viewpoint that most people who want to get healthy need someone knowledgeable and

compassionate to help them achieve their goals. “You still have human nature and you have people that need help,” he said. “They need somebody to show them what to do and how to do it right so they don’t get hurt, so the accountability factor is an important part of what we do.” The Fitness Center was launched at an interesting point in time for the fitness business in Birmingham. At that time, the city was dominated by large health and racquet clubs, places

that were as much social clubs as they were gyms. Gym culture in the 1980s and early 1990s was primarily focused on the outward appearance. The Fitness Center, on the other hand, was one of the first in the area that emphasized a holistic approach to fitness in a smaller space, a good 15 years before the micro-gym boom, Vic said. Their personal touch has been the hallmark of The Fitness Center and the key to its success for three decades. The Nigris are proud of the fact

that many of their clients have been with The Fitness Center for decades and many of their trainers have worked at the gym for more than 20 years. “You don’t go into this business unless you care about people,” Vic said. “They don’t care about what you know until they know you care about them and that it comes from the heart.” The Fitness Center is located at 3900 Montclair Road, Suite 210. For more information, visit

November 2023 • A11

The Exercise Coach: Training in 20 minutes

By CARMEN SHEA BROWN If there’s anyone who knows a thing or two about staying in shape, it’s Kendall Gadie. He lettered in basketball at Pleasant Grove High School and went on to play basketball from 2007 to 2011 for the Berry College Vikings in Rome, Georgia, where he earned commendations as a scholar athlete. However, his career took a completely different path. Gadie graduated with a degree in communications and went on to get an MBA from the University of Olivet, and he now works full-time in the field of insurance marketing intelligence. All the while, something else was stirring inside him — a passion he shared with his wife, Charnele, whom he met at Berry. He wanted to start a business. “We’re both very entrepreneurial people, so in 2015 we started a vending machine business,” Kendall Gadie said. “We did that for five years until Covid kind of ended it, but we both knew having our own business was something we wanted to do long-term.” The couple was living in Atlanta at the time, and decided to move to Birmingham in May 2022 to be closer to family. When they were getting ready to move, a franchise broker reached out to him on LinkedIn about opening a new business, but at first Gadie was skeptical because he didn’t know what it was. “He told me that he thought I would be a good fit,” Gadie said. “I told him I was getting ready to move to Birmingham but he could keep bugging me. We had a few more phone conversations, and that’s when I learned about the Exercise Coach.” The Exercise Coach was named the No. 1 fastest growing personal training brand in the United States by Entrepreneur magazine in 2021 and 2022. According to the company website, one 90-second set of strength training is enough to stimulate a particular muscle group. Gadie

Most people want to exercise because they know it’s good for them, but they have real-life things that get in the way, like family commitments. The Exercise Coach addresses that issue.


Kendall Gadie with his wife and children after the ribbon cutting of The Exercise Coach in Mountain Brook. Photo courtesy of the Mountain Brook Chamber.

said the revolutionary idea that people can get in shape with just 20 minutes twice a week was something he could get behind. “Science shows that once you get a certain adaptation level in your muscle, you can get results in much less time,” Gadie said. “Most people want to exercise because they know it’s good for them, but they have real-life things that get in the way, like family commitments. The Exercise Coach addresses that issue.”

Gadie said he met with some of the company leaders last July. Although the franchise was founded in 2000 and has over 100 locations, at the time there was no location in Birmingham. After months of planning and determining the best location based on market research, Gadie opened The Exercise Coach in Mountain Brook on May 5. Trainers at The Exercise Coach often quote the mantra “Strength Changes Everything,”

using state-of-the-art machines and technology from a company called Exerbotics to determine the course of their clients’ training. “Everyone does a test when they first come in,” Gadie said. “There’s a screen in front of you, and you can see if you’re hitting your target.” The Exercise Coach is by appointment only, with one-on-one coaching. Gadie said a small group option of up to four people together is also available. At just 1,800 square feet, the studio targets the over-50 demographic who prefer smaller, less busy workout facilities. According to The Exercise Coach website, 81 percent of clients are over 45. Gadie and his wife and children — Kallie (16), Levi (8), Kyndall (5), Amira (3) and another one on the way — are grateful for the support of the Mountain Brook community and other nearby areas. “The feedback has been positive,” Gadie said. “We’re continuing to build and grow.” The Exercise Coach is located at 3918 Montclair Road, Suite 207, in Mountain Brook. For more information, visit mountain-brook.

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A12 • November 2023

Village Living

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

Mountain Brook teen sails in prestigious regatta in Italy By LOYD MCINTOSH

with the Birmingham Sailing Club on Logan Martin Lake in Pell City or the South Carolina Yacht Club on Hilton Head Island. Darby’s older sister, Isabel, is also a competitive sailor and attends Auburn University. Now 18, Darby Smith has been sailing competitively since he was around 10 years old. During his time as an amateur, Smith has raced renowned North American events such as the C420 North American Championships and the 2023 ILCA National Championships at Lake Sinclair in Detroit. He's raced all over the eastern seaboard, New England, the Gulf Coast and even the Optimist Team Trials in California. However, nothing could prepare him for the scenic beauty and challenging environment of Lake Garda in Italy. "It was incredible. It was easily one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen in my life," he said. “I remember just sailing along and I would look up and I would realize where I was, and then I would be like, 'I need to focus back in and focus on sailing instead of the beauty around me.’" Lake Garda is not only stunning to look at but also one of the most coveted — and challenging — environments in competitive sailing. Darby's father, Fred Smith, said that the lake's extremely cold and deep water, combined with the unique wind patterns caused by the surrounding Garda

A Mountain Brook teen had the experience of a lifetime during the summer of 2023, competing in one of the world's most prestigious sailing competitions. Darby Smith, a senior at Mountain Brook High School, is a competitive sailor who is more at home testing his abilities on the water than on an athletic field or basketball court. "I really like how it's more mental than other sports. It's not like basketball or football, where you have to like to play through physical pain or something," Smith said. "It's just a good mix of strategy and pure physical endurance." He had the opportunity to put his skills up against some of his toughest competition yet at the world's largest regatta, held in Lake Garda, Italy. Located in north-central Italy, sandwiched between Milan to the west and Venice to the east, Lake Garda hosts close to 1,400 sailors competing in dozens of categories each summer. Smith was one of a handful of American teens invited to compete in 2023, racing a 14-foot sailboat as part of a fleet in a four-day series of races against 300 experienced sailors. For the Smith family, sailing is more than a hobby, it’s a passion. When not traveling around the country, setting sail for sport or leisure, the Smiths can often be found taking part in events

Darby Smith, a senior at Mountain Brook High, before a sailing competition in Charleston, South Carolina. Photo courtesy of Fred Smith.

mountains, can test the mettle of the most seasoned of sailors. "This lake is a sailing mecca. It's a bucket list and all our Olympic sailors go and train there because of the consistent breeze," Fred Smith said. "You get this cold water runoff and the lake is like a thousand feet deep."

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Overnight, the winds calm, but during the day the sun heats the surrounding mountains, sucking the warm air up and over the surface of the lake, an effect called the "Ora." The phenomenon is what brings sailors from around the world to every summer like clockwork.

"It's like turning a switch on every day at noon and it blows 20 to 30 miles an hour," Fred Smith said. "So you can count on this consistent breeze out of the same direction and that's why they hold all these huge events there because, you know, you're going to have just incredible wind." Darby Smith sailed well during the competition, finishing in the top 25 despite being penalized with a black flag, resulting in his disqualification from a couple of races. He said the regatta was a great experience, even though it did show him how much more work is needed to become a world-class elite sailor. "Back home, I'm used to winning, so it was a little like it was a little bit an eye-opener. But it was really fun because there were different types of sailors who are all very competitive," he said. Kids literally from all over the world come together to compete in this event, so it's really the best of the best, so a top 50 finish is phenomenal." Smith also recently achieved Eagle Scout rank, following a project to create 50 plaques in honor of American military veterans for residents at the Colonel Robert L. Howard State Veterans Home in Pell City. After graduation in the spring of 2024, he hopes to compete at the collegiate level at either Jacksonville University or the College of Charleston in South Carolina.

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November 2023 • A13

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A14 • November 2023

Village Living

Jewish group hires lead clinician to focus on anxiety, depression

By GRACE THORNTON Mark Driskill said most people like to think that the Covid-19 pandemic is over, and in many ways it is. But he said there are “some significant leftovers from Covid that have changed our society in many, many ways, and in terms of mental health, not for the better.” His work at Collat Jewish Family Services is rooted in helping turn that around. As the new lead clinician there, Driskill — a licensed independent clinical social worker — is focusing on addressing the anxiety and depression that seem to be surging since the pandemic. “Existing problems that people have that they were managing before Covid have been magnified since the pandemic, and people haven’t found a good way to overcome that yet,” he said. Part of that is because of the social distancing that stopped the normal rhythms of life, Driskill said. “We got used to being isolated during Covid, and a lot of us have found it easy to just remain more or less isolated and not rejoin the same social structures we may have had before the pandemic,” he said. But Driskill said counseling can be a great step for people to take toward mental health. “Just the idea of talking to someone, getting things off their mind, in terms of vocalizing it, can help,” he said, noting that specifically “speaking with someone who’s not emotionally involved in their life can be very beneficial.” Driskill, a Birmingham-area native and graduate of Shades Valley High School, said numerous studies have proven that talk therapy is a valuable resource, particularly for people with the common struggles of anxiety and depression. “One statistic says that probably 40% of the

Just the idea of talking to someone, getting things off their mind, in terms of vocalizing it, can help ... speaking with someone who’s not emotionally involved in their life can be very beneficial.


Mark Driskill is the lead clinician for Collat Jewish Family Services in Mountain Brook. Photo by Erin Nelson.

population at some point will struggle with anxiety,” he said. CJFS, located at 3940 Montclair Road, Suite

205, sees that as a big need that it would like to help meet with affordable, confidential counseling services. As a nonprofit agency, CJFS

accepts private insurance and Medicare, and for those who are uninsured, they offer a sliding fee scale based on income. Though many of CJFS’s services are geared toward older adults, their counseling services are designed for any adult, and clients don’t have to be Jewish. Lauren Schwartz, the CJFS executive director, said that’s long been a part of their mission. "For the past 34 years, CJFS has tailored its programs and services to meet the changing needs of our community,” she said. “At this moment, in the wake of the pandemic and other cultural conditions, we know people are struggling and seeking healing. We want the entire community to know that our professional counseling services are here to help them face life’s challenges." For more information about counseling at CJFS, call 205-879-3438, visit our-mission/professional-counseling or follow them on social media on Instagram @cjfsbham or on their Facebook page.

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November 2023 • A15

Lang takes new role at Birmingham Zoo By GRACE THORNTON

Bill Lang, the new marketing director at the Birmingham Zoo, poses with Zuri the giraffe. Photo courtesy of Bill Lang.

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Bill Lang said his wife has joked for a while that his job in retirement would be driving the train at the Birmingham Zoo. So when he recently joined the zoo’s senior management as the director of marketing and events, he said she commented that he was “just starting a couple of years early.” “My children grew up coming to the zoo and volunteering,” he said. “My daughter was a zoo volunteer in her teens, while she was a student at John Carroll [Catholic] School.” And because of that, the zoo and its residents — like Zuri the giraffe, who’s with Lang in his staff headshot on the zoo’s website — all feel like family to Lang. So when the opportunity for the director of marketing and events position presented itself, it was “too good not to do,” he said. “I’ve been overjoyed with the people here and the work they do and the mission.” Lang said since joining the staff, he’s learned even more about the state’s only accredited zoo, from the scientific research being conducted there to the zoo’s conservation efforts. “It’s a great fit for my passions and talent, and it’s great to be part of a bigger vision and mission,” he said. Before coming to the Birmingham Zoo, Lang worked in marketing and public relations for more than 30 years, more than half of that with Robert Trent

Jones Golf Trail. “The whole vision Dr. Bronner [creator of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail] has with improving Alabama, for me the zoo is right along with that,” he said. “I love telling stories about Birmingham and Alabama, and this is right up my alley. I’m excited about the opportunity.” Lang said he’s also excited about the events the zoo offers, like Hoots & Howls in October and Glow Wild, which starts in November. “I’m so thrilled with all of what they have right now … they give families great opportunities to come and do things locally that are world class,” he said. “I’m excited about bringing energy and outside insights into those events.” “His public relations and marketing experience, let alone his experience hosting big events, is just going to be an added bonus to the zoo,” said Jennie Whitman, the zoo’s chief financial officer. “We’re only going to benefit from that.” Lang said he’s delighted to be there and to experience day-to-day life at the zoo, from being part of the zoo’s mission to hearing elephants and lions at work every day. “While I love the events, the animals are the stars of the show, and they’re here every day,” Lang said. He’s excited about bringing his new grandson there, just like he did with his children. “It’s such a great place to be a part of,” Lang said.

A16 • November 2023

Village Living

Alabama Craft Guild to celebrate new name, 50th year at annual show

By GRACE THORNTON When David Byland talked about his craft guild in the past, people would say, “You’re the group that does the show at the Gardens.” “But they didn’t know our name, because it didn’t roll off the tongue, and it didn’t describe what we did,” he said. That’s why the group — Alabama Designer/ Craftsmen — recently changed its name to Alabama Craft Guild. Byland, the president of ACG, said their goals haven’t changed from what they were 50 years ago when Lowell Vann, an art professor at Samford University, and several other local artisans started the group. “We understand the importance of traditional craft and the Alabama artisans who laid our foundation in wood, pottery, metal and more,” said Byland, who himself is a leather artist. “Alabama has a rich heritage of fine handcrafted art, and our new name reflects the nationwide recognition our artisans are receiving and attracts patrons who understand the quality of work associated with guild membership.” Artisans become juried ACG members by having their work evaluated by experts in their craft. Currently, the guild has 75 members across the state, about 40 of whom will display their work at the group’s annual show at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens Nov. 11-12. The guild will also celebrate its 50th anniversary through the show’s theme, “Fifty Years of Fine Craft,” and will feature works in mediums from clay to glass to wood. The show will also include a “Tools of the Trade” exhibit and craft demonstrations from the artists. “People really look forward to it each year,” Byland said of the show, noting that some of their customers have been coming to the event for 20 or 30 years. When he and his wife, Laura, moved to Hoover from Oklahoma in 2014, they too visited the show and were hooked immediately. “We walked in, and we saw an amazing

... our new name reflects the nationwide recognition our artisans are receiving and attracts patrons who understand the quality of work associated with guild membership.


Olivia Easterling receives the first Alabama Craft Guild scholarship in fine/traditional crafts, presented by ACG President David Byland. Photo courtesy of David Byland.

assortment of handcrafted items that really represented what we thought Alabama was all about,” Byland said. The first display they saw was for Larry Allen’s

pottery, some of which was recently featured in the film “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” The couple also found pine needle artwork, which was “just beautiful,” Byland said.

They walked out with a half dozen items, now displayed in their home. “It was a way of feeling like we were now a part of Alabama; we had met the people who made those things,” he said. ACG’s show offers the chance to experience Alabama art as well as find handmade Christmas gifts you won’t find anywhere else, Byland said. The show is partially sponsored by a grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Admission is $5 per adult, part of which goes toward a college scholarship designed to encourage the study of traditional fine craft. Another part goes to fund the group’s outreach efforts, which include sending artisans to local schools to do their crafts with the students. “Alabama has a really rich history in craft, from the folk craft you see in some of the quilts to some of the stuff Larry Allen is doing that is high-end stuff in galleries all over the country,” Byland said. “It’s an important history to keep alive and keep people doing.” For more information, visit alabama or follow them on Facebook or Instagram @alcraftguild.


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November 2023 • A17

Mountain Brook native featured in UA ad campaign Emily Henderson, a recent graduate of the University of Alabama and alumna of Mountain Brook High School, is featured in this fall’s “Where Legends Are Made” advertising campaign for the Crimson Tide. Photo courtesy of the University of Alabama.

By GRACE THORNTON Emily Henderson says most people thought the University of Alabama “was going to be my choice coming out of the womb if they knew my father or anybody in my family.” The Hendersons are four generations deep in the school — her great-grandfather, grandfather, dad and sister all went there. “Growing up an Alabama fan had a huge influence on me,” she said. “It modeled for me what reality could look like if I were to go there. But I fought that, honestly, and I looked at other schools — I thought I wanted my space.” But fast forward to today, and Henderson is not only a recent Alabama graduate whose heart beats fast for the Crimson Tide, she’s also featured this fall in the university’s national advertising campaign “Where Legends Are Made,” which premiered during the team’s home opener on Sept. 2. Henderson, who studied news media with a specialization in sports media, can be seen in the ad with a camera on the football sidelines and developing photos in a darkroom. She also tells her story in a longer “Frame Your Passion” video available online. Despite initially resisting the idea of going to her family’s long-held alma mater, Henderson said studying at the University of Alabama ended up being a “dream situation,” and she fell in love with her major too. Back when she was a student at Mountain Brook High School, she had thought she might want to work in athletic training, and through a teacher’s connection she was able to shadow Jeff Allen, associate athletics director of sports medicine at Alabama. “I quickly thought, ‘Nope, I don’t think this is for me,’” Henderson said. But as she talked to Allen throughout the day about basketball and football, he suggested that she might like sports media. He was right — she did.

“Coming from photography classes in high school, I loved cameras,” Henderson said. “I’m really grateful we had a photography program; not many schools are blessed with the resources and teachers that can teach that.” She said her sister, Tara, had taken photography first and done really well, and Henderson’s competitive nature had made her want to try it too. “She was a really good role model to follow, and in several years with Mrs. Becton Morgan at the high school, I learned so much,” Henderson said.

She said throughout her time at Alabama, God opened the doors for her to serve in a variety of internships that helped her hone her skills. She worked at Crimson Tide Productions, operating a broadcasting camera for basketball, softball and baseball for ESPN and SEC Network, and as a recruiting photographer for Alabama football. This summer, she worked as a creative producer summer intern with NFL Films, working on shows like “Peyton's Places” and “Hard Knocks.” Now Henderson is in New York City, working as a photography and production assistant

intern with the New York Giants. She jokes that they tell her she just “doesn’t understand” what it’s like to be a true Giants fan, and she tells them they have no idea — it’s so much better being an Alabama fan. But Henderson has loved adopting the Giants as her team anyway, and every day as she enters the team’s facility, she can’t believe she gets to do what she’s doing. “I cannot say that it all happened because I worked for it. I did work really hard, but the Lord definitely directed my steps and a lot of people gave me that door,” Henderson said.

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A18 • November 2023

Village Living

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

Students from all four Mountain Brook elementary schools took part in a robotics competition at Mountain Brook Junior High School on Oct. 4. Photo courtesy of William Galloway, Mountain Brook Schools.

MBJH hosts robotics competition On Oct. 4, Mountain Brook Junior High hosted all four Mountain Brook elementary robotics teams for the annual VexIQ robotics competition in the MBJH cafeteria. The robotics program has grown rapidly over the past few years and has a presence in each of the six Mountain

Brook Schools. Students participate in competitions throughout the year in hopes of competing at the spring state tournament and possibly even on the international stage in May. – Submitted by William Galloway, Mountain Brook Schools.

Brookwood Forest Elementary students take part in the annual Ranger Run. Photo courtesy of William Galloway, Mountain Brook Schools.

Annual Ranger Run held at BWF Brookwood Forest Elementary School held its annual Ranger Run in October. The school’s event was themed “Rangers 24/7,” and students ran a lap that started on the field and represented day time. They ran around and through obstacles like a haystack, foam pit and a see-saw. Next, they ran into the gym, where there was a night-themed loop with neon lights and various indoor obstacles.

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Each grade had the chance to participate, and the run concluded with Doodles for every student. Students decorated glow-in-the-dark stars that were displayed on the gym wall for the indoor portion of the lap. The individual stars displayed together embodied the school’s mantra of “many trees, one forest.” – Submitted by William Galloway, Mountain Brook Schools.

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November 2023 • A19

Mountain Brook High School’s 2024 National Merit semifinalists. Photo courtesy of Mountain Brook Schools.

Childhood Cancer Awareness club officers Kaiya Leibovitz, Carson Romero and Ty Davis pose with members from Smile-A-Mile. Photo courtesy of Mountain Brook Schools.

MBHS club raises money for 25 MBHS students named National Merit semifinalists childhood cancer awareness

Twenty-five students from Mountain Brook High School have been recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation for their outstanding academic achievements and named 2024 National Merit Semifinalists. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation recognizes academically talented high school students in the nation based on their scores in the PSAT or the National Merit Scholarship

Qualifying Test. Only 16,000 students with the highest PSAT/NMSQT scores are accepted as Semifinalists for the program, out of 1.5 million students that take the test every year. There were 270 high school students in the state of Alabama who received this distinction in 2023. – Submitted by William Galloway, Mountain Brook Schools.

Each year, Mountain Brook High School’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Club donates to a local childhood cancer organization as part of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September. This year, the club donated $5,000 to Smile-A-Mile. Club officers Kaiya Leibovitz, Carson Romero and Ty Davis coordinated the donation using funds from the 2022 powderpuff game. The 2023 powderpuff game also raised money during

homecoming week in October of this year. “I appreciate the leadership and efforts of our students and student groups to give back to those in the Birmingham community,” MBHS Principal Carrie Busby said. “I am inspired by this club’s generosity and look forward to seeing other ways our students will serve and give back throughout this school year.” – Submitted by William Galloway, Mountain Brook Schools.

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A20 • November 2023

Village Living


Mountain Brook events guide Nov. 1: Tapas & Taps. Lane Parke, Rele Street. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Featuring drinks from Birmingham breweries, bites from local restaurants, a raffle with prizes from Mountain Brook and Lane Parke retailers and more. Tickets are $35 and sales benefit Smile-A-Mile, a Birmingham local nonprofit that provides programs, hope and healing to children diagnosed with cancer and their families.

Nov. 16: Lane Parke Tree Lighting. Information TBD at Nov. 17: Glow Wild: An Animal Lantern Celebration. 5-9 p.m. Birmingham Zoo. This larger-thanlife illuminated experience will be held on select nights during the months of November, December and January. Watch the zoo come alive with larger-than-life, jaw-dropping wild animal and sea life lantern creations brilliantly lighting up the night. Tickets are $21.95 for adults (members $16.95) and $13.95 for children 2-12 (members $10.95).

back to the school. Dogs are welcome. Register at

Nov. 2: The Brook & The Bluff — Bluebeard Tour 2023. 6:30-10:30 p.m. Avondale Brewing Company, 201 41st St. S. The band members, who are natives of Mountain Brook and Bluff Park, are embarking on their most ambitious North American tour yet. Tickets are $23 and available at Nov. 4: Mountain Brook FOP 5K Pig Run & 1-Mile Fun Run. 8 a.m. Crestline Elementary School. The route is through Crestline Village and

Nov. 8: Mountain Brook Chamber Quarterly Luncheon. 11 a.m. Country Club of Birmingham. Birmingham Has More. Featuring speakers Steve Ammons, BBA CEO, and Karla Khodanian, BAA COO. $30 for members, $35 for non-members, $250 for table sponsorship (seats 8). Nov. 16: Crestline Village Open House. 3-8 p.m. Visit spots in Mountain Brook Village, taking part in this special holiday shopping event.



Nov. 30: Mountain Brook Village Holiday Open House. 3-8 p.m. Visit spots in Mountain Brook Village, taking part in this special holiday shopping event.



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November 2023 • A21

O’Neal Library events calendar The O’Neal Library at 50 Oak St. is open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday 2-6 p.m. ALL AGES Nov. 8: Fall Pumpkin Houses — An Etc. Program. 3:30-4:30 p.m. Community Meeting Room. Decorate real pumpkins into tiny houses. One pumpkin per family. Families can bring pumpkins from home.

Nov. 16: Hot off the Press Book Group. 6-7 p.m. Storytelling Room. Grades 4-6. Share an enjoyable book and get to know some of Ms. Morgan's latest favorites over pizza. Registration required. Nov. 27: Illustrator Art Club. 4:30-5:30 p.m. Art inspired by wordless picture books. Community Meeting Room. Learn and create a personal version of a kids' book illustrator's art with Ms. Tess. Registration required. Children 6 and older.

Nov. 30: DIY Yums: Tater Twists. 4-5 p.m. Conference Room. Registration required. ADULTS Tuesdays: Gentle Yoga with Marie Blair. 10-11 a.m. Community Meeting Room. Bring a yoga mat and water. Registration required.


Nov. 29: JWC Book Buddies Party. 4-5 p.m. Community Meeting Room. As thanks for each donor’s $100 gift, a bookplate will be inscribed in a library book and the donor will be invited to meet and take pictures with Santa.

Tuesdays: Patty Cake — Lapsit Storytime. 9:30-9:50 a.m. and 10:30-10:50 a.m. Storytelling Room. Registration required.


Tuesdays: LOL Story Adventure. 3:30-4:15 p.m. Storytelling Room. Grades K-2.

Tuesdays: Beginner American Sign Language (ASL) Classes. 5:30-6:30 p.m. Free eight-week course meeting via Zoom. For teens and adults. Registration required.

Wednesdays: Toddler Tales Storytime — Directed Movement. 9:30-9:50 a.m. and 10:30-10:50 a.m. Registration required.

Thursdays: SNaP. 3:30-5 p.m. Community Meeting Room. Grades 3-6.

Wednesdays: Movers & Makers — Kindergarten Prep Storytime. 1:30-2:15 p.m. Storytelling Room. Registration required.

Nov. 1, 8 and 15: Game On. 3:30-5 p.m. Community Meeting Room. Video games, board games and card games galore.

Nov. 8: Medicare Made Clear: What You Need to Know. 10-11 a.m. Community Meeting Room. Registration required.

Thursdays: All Together Storytime. 9:30-10 a.m. and 10:3011 a.m. Community Meeting Room.

Nov. 1: Pixel Art Creations: Cross Stitch Patterns. 4-5 p.m. Makerspace. Make your own cross stitch pattern out of digital pixel art. Registration required.

Nov. 3: Sensory Play, Explore & More. 9:30-11:45 a.m. Storytelling Room. Children move through different sensory stations with their caregivers. Small groups from 9:30 a.m. to 10:15 and 10:30 a.m. to 11:15. Free play 11:15-11:45 a.m. Registration required.

Nov. 2: Creation Station: Cross Stitch. 2-6 p.m. Crossstitch supplies are available at all Open Maker Labs.

Nov. 12: No Longer Silent Presents: “A Page of Madness!” — An Under the Mountain Event. 6:30-10 p.m. Community Meeting Room. A free screening of the classic Japanese silent horror movie, with a live score performed by Stephen McClurg. Registration required.

Nov. 6: Reading Buddies. 3:30-4:30 p.m. Storytelling Room. Children are invited to practice reading aloud with a buddy. We have teen volunteers through the Teen Advisory Board and trained dogs through Hand in Paw. Nov. 13: Breakout Book Club: Esme's Birthday Conga Line. 5-6 p.m. Storytelling Room. Registration required.

Nov. 6 and 27: Teen Advisory Board. 5-6 p.m. Registration required.

Thursdays: Open Maker Lab. 2-6 p.m. Makerspace. Thursdays: Writing Workshop with Miriam Calleja. 5:30-7 p.m. Conference Room. Nov. 4: Author Julie Buckner Armstrong — “Learning from Birmingham: A Journey into History and Home.” 2-3 p.m. Community Meeting Room. Registration required. Nov. 6: Reading Buddies Teen Volunteer. 3:30-4:30 p.m. Storytelling Room. Nov. 7: Yoga 101 with Marie Blair. 12:30-1:30 p.m. Community Meeting Room. Registration required.

Nov. 13: Great Short Stories — Reading & Discussion Group. 6:30-7:30 p.m. Conference Room. Registration required.

Nov. 9: Cup Candles. 4-5 p.m. Conference Room. Make a candle in a mug to celebrate the upcoming holidays. Registration required.

Nov. 14: The Bookies Discuss “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow.” 10-11:30 a.m. Conference Room. Visitors and/or new members are always welcome.

Nov. 16: Dungeons & Dragons One-Shot. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Conference Room. Grades 7-12.

Nov. 15: Sustainable Style: Clothing Swap. 6-8 p.m. Community Meeting Room. Registration required.

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A22 • November 2023

Village Living

Real Estate

By the numbers: Sept. 2022 vs. 2023

35213 35213


35213 35223 35223


35223 35243 35243



Note: Real estate data is by zip code, but some parts of these zip codes are outside the city limits. Note: Data provided by the Greater Alabama Multiple Listing Service on Oct. 5, 2023

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November 2023 • A23

Recently sold homes in Mountain Brook

► ADDRESS: 2002 Garden Place ► BED/BATH: 3/5 ► SQUARE FOOTAGE: 3,844 sq. ft. ► NEIGHBORHOOD: Mountain Brook ► SALE PRICE: $2,110K

► ADDRESS: 3360 Dunbrooke Drive ► BED/BATH: 5/5 ► SQUARE FOOTAGE: 5,430 sq. ft. ► NEIGHBORHOOD: Brookwood Forest ► SALE PRICE: $1,125K

► ADDRESS: 908 Beech Lane ► BED/BATH: 4/3 ► SQUARE FOOTAGE: 3,776 sq. ft. ► NEIGHBORHOOD: Crestline ► SALE PRICE: $702K

► ADDRESS: 3648 Oakdale Road ► BED/BATH: 4/2 ► SQUARE FOOTAGE: 2,115 sq. ft. ► NEIGHBORHOOD: Mountain Brook ► SALE PRICE: $575K

► ADDRESS: 2319 English Village Lane ► BED/BATH: 2/2 ► SQUARE FOOTAGE: 1,382 sq. ft. ► NEIGHBORHOOD: English Village ► SALE PRICE: $505K

► ADDRESS: 3786 Glass Drive ► BED/BATH: 3/2 ► SQUARE FOOTAGE: 1,228 sq. ft. ► NEIGHBORHOOD: Mountain Brook ► SALE PRICE: $405K SOURCE: ALABAMA MLS

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INVESTING IN THE FUTURE, ONE LEGACY AT A TIME Guin Robinson wants to make an investment in the future of Birmingham that also pays tribute to the influence of earlier generations. That's why he has specified in his will that a legacy gift be made to the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham. "My family has always had a deep-rooted belief in giving back to the community, and I want to honor their values," says Guin. "As an only child with no children of my own, leaving a gift to the Community Foundation ensures that my family's legacy will be honored for years to come." Guin trusts the Foundation to manage his gift and honor his family's legacy based on our history, transformational work, and proactive approach to community challenges and crises. Visit and learn how you can join Guin in creating your legacy.

A24 • November 2023 VETERANS

CONTINUED from page A1 Upon graduating college in 1963, Clark went to Ft. Benning, Georgia, where he attended the Infantry Officer Basic Course, Airborne School, and the Army Ranger School. He married his wife, Faye, on Feb. 1, 1964, and then a month later sailed to England on a converted troop ship then boarded a train to Augsburg, Germany for his first assignment that lasted for two years. “This was when [the U.S.] and the Soviet Union were at odds with each other,” Clark said. “The division I belonged to had a mission to block the gap route the Russians used to come into Europe.” Clark spent two years as an infantry officer in Germany. Faye joined him on the deployment and gave birth to their first child there, before the family returned home in the summer of 1967, when the Vietnam War was just beginning. Clark was then stationed at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, where he commanded a basic training company training new soldiers, almost all of whom were reluctantly headed for Vietnam upon graduation, he said. Before being deployed to Vietnam, Clark attended the Army Advisor course at Ft. Bragg North Carolina, and then to the Army Vietnamese language school at Ft. Bliss, Texas where he served as an Advisor to the Vietnamese Army. Clark’s next deployment was serving as an advisor in the Delta region of Vietnam, where he would spend one year. Upon reflecting on his service, Clark said he had a “lot of interesting experiences” as an advisor, including surviving a helicopter crash. After his return from Vietnam, Clark transferred to the Army Reserve and started law school at the University of Alabama. After which he clerked for Hon. Walter P. Gewin in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Tuscaloosa for a year before moving to Birmingham to begin practicing law. “When we came back to Birmingham, we bought a house in the Birmingham City limits before moving to Mountain Brook (our current residence) on Canterbury Road within walking distance of both the elementary school and the junior high school and our children were school age at the time,” Clark said. Clark continued his military service in the Army Reserve during law school, serving in a number of key command and staff positions. One of his first missions in the Army Reserve unit in Panama was to build a major bridge across a river that flowed into the ocean, as well as minor bridges along the north coast of Panama. “That was not just a training exercise, but a real service to the people of Panama,” he said. He was promoted to major general in 1995 and retired from the Army Reserve in 2000. His decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Bronze Star, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Parachute Badge and Ranger Tab. He is also a graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College and the Army War College. During his legal career, Clark practiced with the law firm Redden, Mills, Clark & Shaw and its predecessors from 1972 to 2020, then joined Wallace, Jordan, Ratliff & Brandt, LLC in 2020 in an “of counsel” role. He has served as president of both the Birmingham Bar and the Alabama State Bar associations and been presented with numerous awards over his career. At age 82, Clark said he is still enjoying practicing law and “going full speed,” although he doesn’t handle as many cases as he used to. Both of his children live in Mountain Brook and he gets to spend time with them often. “The thing most important for a leader in the Army and Army Reserve is to understand what the mission of your unit is and train your soldiers to perform that mission and to take care of your soldiers,” Clark said. “Instill that same ideology in all the people that work for you, and that’s true whether you’re a lawyer [or any other profession], but particularly

Village Living

My military career has definitely served me well, in addition to my law degree, in this business. My experiences include leading people, dealing with diversity, overcoming mentally tough situations. Most people would say all their life experience gives them an advantage in what they are currently doing, and that’s the case for me.


Above: A photograph of Marshall Clay at West Point is seen in the foreground and a photograph of Clay, far left, with the Civil Affairs team of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division in the Kurdistan region of Iraq on the northern border of Iran. Left: A framed photograph from June 1996 of Bill Clark, a retired twostar general with the U.S. Army, and his granddaughter, Catherine Anthony. Photos by Erin Nelson.

The thing most important for a leader in the Army and Army Reserve is to understand what the mission of your unit is and train your soldiers to perform that mission and to take care of your soldiers. Instill that same ideology in all the people that work for you, and that’s true whether you’re a lawyer [or any other profession], but particularly necessary in the military with people putting lives on the line.


necessary in the military with people putting lives on the line.”


Marshall Clay served seven years as an officer in the U.S. Army, where he performed two combat tours of duty in Iraq and one tour in the Republic of South Korea. Clay grew up in Mobile with a family military background and a spirit of service. His

father and brother both attended The Citadel and his father served in the Air Force. A tennis player during junior high and high school, Clay met the West Point tennis coach at a tournament during his junior year and was invited for a recruiting trip at West Point. After the visit, Clay said it was evident that West Point would be his college of choice. “The most eye-opening thing for me when I visited West Point was it really just opened

up this new world for me that I never really thought existed,” Clay said. “You can’t really appreciate it until you go up there. I was just super impressed with everything that went along with the lifestyle in the academy.” A starter on West Point’s tennis team in each of his four years, Clay was team captain during his senior year and was also voted outstanding male athlete for his senior class. After graduating from West Point in June 2001, Clay attended a basic course in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and was there when the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks occurred. Six months later, he reported to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky in the spring of 2002 and was deployed with the 101st Airborne Division during the initial invasion of Iraq in February 2003. Clay spent a year as a field artillery officer during that tour. After that, he went to Ft. Benning, Georgia, for an infantry officer advanced course and was then assigned to the Republic of Korea for a year, where he lived at Camp Casey on the border between North and South Korea. Clay said he got out of the military after that duty station and started law school six months later, in fall 2007. However, he was in the inactive ready reserves and was called back into service to deploy again to Iraq. During his second deployment, Clay served with the civil affairs unit, attached to the 25th Infantry Division, for another year before returning to the U.S. in October 2009. “Both tours were difficult in their own way,” Clay said. “The first time, everything was all new and I had never deployed to a combat zone. There was the typical fear of the unknown and how you’re going to respond when pressure is on. The second time was different in many ways and in many ways was a lot more dangerous. There were no clear-cut battle lines. The complexity of deployment was a lot more difficult during the second tour. For me, I had to be a lot smarter with how you operated. The pressure was, in my opinion, more consistent and continuous during the second tour as opposed to the first.” Clay restarted law school in spring 2010 and graduated in December 2011 and took the bar exam. However, he decided that he no longer wanted to practice law. Instead, he pursued a career in finance. Mountain Brook Mayor Stewart Welch was the one who took a chance on Clay and gave him an opportunity to join his firm, the Welch Group in 2012. Clay became a partner in just over four years and has now been a senior advisor with the firm for over 11 years. “My military career has definitely served me well, in addition to my law degree, in this business,” Clay said. “My experiences include leading people, dealing with diversity, overcoming mentally tough situations. Most people would say all their life experience gives them an advantage in what they are currently doing, and that’s the case for me.” Clay, 43, and his wife, Dailey, have three sons ages five and under and live in Crestline.



November 2023 • A25

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Village Living

A26 • November 2023


CONTINUED from page A1 Before the Good Neighbor Pledge, relationships were cordial, but now mayors actively work together to find ways to partner. The Lane Park Road paving project is a great example of that, Welch said. He and Woodfin talked about coordinating their timelines so that Birmingham’s portion of the road — the stretch directly in front of the gardens — and Mountain Brook’s portion — the two ends of the road — could all be paved together so it wouldn’t look and feel disjointed for drivers. Then, Ronnie Vaughn, public works director for the City of Mountain Brook, and James Fowler, director of transportation for the City of Birmingham, hammered out the details in partnership with local company Dunn Construction. “It’s very easy now to have a conversation from Birmingham to Mountain Brook, Mountain Brook to Birmingham, about, ‘Here’s a project that we can work together on,’” Welch said. “Birmingham has been awesome. It really started with the Good Neighbor Pledge, and I give

It’s very easy now to have a conversation from Birmingham to Mountain Brook, Mountain Brook to Birmingham, about, ‘Here’s a project that we can work together on.’


Mayor Woodfin the credit.” Welch said he’s also appreciative of the way city councils are now working together as a result of the pledge. They’ve formed their own association, the JeffCo Councilors Coalition, and Welch said there’s a “spirit of cooperation” among everyone. Virginia Carruthers Smith, president of Mountain Brook City Council,

Above left: Traffic moves past Canterbury Gardens on Lane Park Road in Mountain Brook. Above right: From left, Mountain Brook Public Works Director Ronnie Vaughn, Councilwoman Graham Smith, Council President Virginia Smith, Mayor Stewart Welch, Dunn Construction driver Carla Dewberry, Birmingham City Council District 3 representative Valerie Abbott and Birmingham Department of Transportation Director James Fowler stand outside of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The cities of Mountain Brook and Birmingham and Jefferson County partnered in the repaving of Lane Park Road, which runs adjacent to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and the city of Mountain Brook. Photos by Erin Nelson.

said that the Lane Park Road project benefits both Mountain Brook and Birmingham residents. “It’s important because it’s a gateway to Birmingham’s free botanical gardens, and of course it’s next to our new development, Lane Parke, so we’re all super happy about this combination,” she said. Welch agreed, noting that the gardens and the zoo are two of Birmingham’s premier features, and Mountain Brook has “kind of adopted them as our own.” “We’re just proud to have some of Birmingham’s premier places close

to us, because our residents are big supporters of both and big attenders,” he said. Valerie Abbott, who has served on the Birmingham City Council since 2001, said in the past when cities didn’t work together as seamlessly, projects would often stall out and “disappear.” Graham Smith, a Mountain Brook City Council member, said she believes area municipalities have realized that “we don’t grow independently, we’re growing as a unit now.” “You can hear some of the different

municipalities’ struggles and can say, ‘Oh, we’ve been through that problem, here’s one solution that worked for us,’ or, ‘Hey, you’re doing this, this is a great idea and we would like to piggyback on what you’re doing.’ So it’s really saved a great deal of time and probably money also,” Smith said. Several other partnership projects between Mountain Brook, Birmingham and others are currently in the planning stages, including a few sidewalk and roundabout projects and a pedestrian bridge to cross U.S. 280 at Hollywood Boulevard.

November 2023 • A27

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Sports B4 Opinion B10 Metro Roundup B12



Spartans win on senior night By KYLE PARMLEY The Mountain Brook High School volleyball team put together an impressive regular season, as the Spartans eclipsed 30 wins at the beginning of October and kept on winning from there. The Spartans celebrated Senior Night on Oct. 3 with a win over Spain Park. That night, Mountain Brook honored seniors Paige Parant, Hannah Parant, Annie Lacey, Mae Mae Lacey, Alice Garzon and Ava Gillis. As of press time, the Spartans were in the midst of their playoff run. Check for updates on their chase for a state championship.

Left: Annie and Mae Mae Lacey with their parents and head coach Mattie Garner. Bottom left: Ava Gillis with her parents. Middle: Alice Garzon with her parents. Right: Paige and Hannah Parant with their parents. Photos by Erin Nelson.

B2 • November 2023

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Village Living

November 2023 • B3

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B4 • November 2023

Village Living

Sports FROM THE ARCHIVES: NOV. 25, 2022

Spartans beat Muscle Shoals to advance to state championship Let’s take a trip down memory lane this month. Last fall, the Mountain Brook High School football team put together a memorable season, advancing to the Class 6A state championship for the first time since 1996. Here is the story from the Spartans’ semifinal win over Muscle Shoals on Nov. 25, 2022. This month, the Spartans will begin another playoff run, with hopes of putting together another memorable run.

By KYLE PARMLEY Mountain Brook High School head football coach Chris Yeager refused to let his mind wander. Throughout the week, he kept his team thoroughly committed to the task at hand. Each practice mattered more than anything else in the world. On Friday night, that task was a Class 6A semifinal matchup at Muscle Shoals. Yeager was so laser-focused on each individual play all evening, he finally looked up at the scoreboard with 90 seconds to play and realized he could let his guard down, at least momentarily, as his Spartans soundly defeated Muscle Shoals 28-7 to advance to the 6A state championship. “I’ll be honest with you, I have not even let myself go there, that we could possibly be going to the state championship,” Yeager said following the game. “I promise you, we’ve been thinking

Mountain Brook running back Cole Gamble (19) leaps into the end zone for a touchdown in a Class 6A state semifinal game at James F. Moore Stadium at Muscle Shoals High School on Nov. 25, 2022. Photos by Erin Nelson.

about the next play and being great blockers, being great tacklers, securing the football and finishing each play.” Mountain Brook advances to the state title game for the first time since 1996 and the fourth time in program history. The Spartans will take

on another set of Spartans, from Saraland, next Friday at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn. Mountain Brook (12-2) made a two-hour trek north and did what it has done to opponents all season, pummeling Muscle Shoals with a stingy defense that refused to let the two-headed running

back monster of Jaelin Goodwin and Devin Townsend get fully untracked. Then, the Spartans followed with a heavy dose of their own wrecking crew, Cole Gamble running behind an offensive line that showed up once again and simply took care of business.

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November 2023 • B5

Mountain Brook wide receiver Jackson Beatty (14) catches a pass.

Gamble was unable to reach the 200-yard threshold for the fourth straight game, but he certainly impressed once again, toting the rock 25 times for 189 yards and three touchdowns. “I’m so proud of my guys,” the standout junior said. “These guys are my brothers. I’m so glad that wasn’t my last game playing with these seniors. We’re not satisfied. We’ve got one more.” Muscle Shoals (12-2) mixed some things up in the early going and gave the Spartans a few fits. After forcing a quick punt, the Trojans progressed 60 yards and scored on a 22-yard pass from Seth Mosley to Bryant Basden to take a 7-0 lead. That didn’t last long, though, as Mountain Brook’s offense got rolling and scored on three straight possessions to take a 21-7 lead at the half, as the defense adjusted as well and clamped down

The Spartans celebrate as head coach Chris Yeager brings over

on the home team. “We kept it together up here [mentally], and kept pushing, kept finishing,” Gamble said. Gamble broke free for a 36-yard scoring run to tie the game at 7-7 in the final minute of the first quarter. A 48-yard pass from John Colvin to Clark Sanderson set up Gamble’s next score, a 1-yard plunge in the second quarter to give the Spartans a 14-7 edge. After a defensive stop, Mountain Brook got the ball back with less than two minutes remaining in the half and executed a two-minute drill to perfection. Colvin struck with a 36-yard pass to Jackson Beatty, followed by connections with Sanderson for 21 and 10 yards. Will Waldrop’s only carry of the night was a 9-yard touchdown to make it 21-7 at the half.

Mountain Brook’s defense was the story in the second half. Parker Avery’s sack pushed the Trojans out of field goal range early in the third quarter. Tucker Crawford had a critical pass breakup early in the fourth quarter and intercepted a pass on the following possession. In between those key plays, Gamble scored from 12 yards out to give the Spartans a three-possession lead. Colvin finished the night 9-of-15 passing for 148 yards. Sanderson grabbed five passes for 84 yards and Beatty had 44 yards on a pair of catches. For Muscle Shoals, Townsend had 19 carries for 114 yards, while Goodwin posted 49 yards on 10 carries. Basden had four grabs for 49 yards and Jamir Goodloe caught six balls for 55 yards.

the Class 6A semifinal plaque.

Mountain Brook’s run has come to an end in the semifinals in the previous two years, but the 2022 squad was able to break down the door. “The last two teams, I’m proud of what they did, too,” Yeager said. “But this right here, it’s just special how things have come together.” The emotion released in the postgame celebration spoke to the team’s desire to break through and get to the state title game, a game the Spartans will look to win for the first time since winning back-to-back titles in 1975 and 1976. “There’s nothing in our fieldhouse that talks about winning a championship. It’s about being a champion, being the kind of person that’s a champion,” Yeager said. “Whether we won this game or not, that’s what these kids are.”

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B6 • November 2023

Village Living

Mountain Brook defense: Began region play with three straight shutouts.

Cole Gamble (19): Rushed for 213 yards and 4 TDs vs. Hoover.


The high school football regular season is winding down, with the state playoffs set to begin the second Friday of November. Mountain Brook will be one of those teams in the playoffs, looking to make a memorable run similar to the one in 2022, when the Spartans reached the Class 6A state championship game. Here are some highlights from the middle portion of the Spartans’ season.

John Cooper (11): Completed 10-of-12 passes for 146 yards and a TD vs. Hoover.

Photos by Todd Lester and Barry Stephenson.

Jack King (17): Scored 3 TDs vs. Jackson-Olin.

Hudson Young (26): Grabbed 3 passes for 59 yards and a TD vs. Hoover.

November 2023 • B7

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B8 • November 2023

Village Living

Sports Editor’s Note By Kyle Parmley

Such a good time of year It’s amazing the power that music has to bring back vivid memories, isn’t it? One day recently, I was driving into work and a song came on that took me back to my childhood days of attending a few Auburn University football games each year. Those were great times and undoubtedly played a huge role in where I’m at today, in terms of my interests and passions. Hearing just a small portion of a song takes me back to sitting in the stands at Jordan-Hare Stadium in 2004, watching Parmley the Auburn University Marching Band take the field pregame. Getting to be a part of the energy in that stadium and recognize the pageantry involved is something that, to this day, gives me chills. It also brings back highlights (and some lowlights) of quite a few games over the years. That 2004 undefeated team. The 2006 win over Florida. The 2013 Iron Bowl (yes, that one). A short snippet of a song took me on a long trip down memory lane. I wish I could get back to Jordan-Hare a little more often than I do. The on-field product has been a little lackluster over the last few years, but that is far from the only thing that turned those day trips into lasting memories. As we enter November, there are just so many good things going on. High school football is entering the playoffs. The college football season is getting better by the week. Basketball at all levels is about to begin. The holidays are right around the corner. The list goes on and on. I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds. Will one of our local high school football teams reach the state championship, like Mountain Brook last fall? Which teams will make the College Football Playoffs? For Alabama and Auburn football fans who may be saddened by the reality if their team doesn’t make the playoffs, well, basketball season is a point of pride now. It’s going to be a fun ride. I don’t know how we always manage to keep up with everything going on, but just remember, some of the music you listen to this season may be what you stumble upon 10 years from now. And it will bring you back to these moments. Hopefully they will be positive memories. Kyle Parmley is the sports editor at Starnes Media.

Varsity Sports Calendar BASKETBALL

Nov. 7: @ Jackson-Olin. 4:15 p.m.

Nov. 7: vs. Chelsea. Girls at 6 p.m., boys at 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 9: vs. Gardendale. 4:15 p.m.

Nov. 11: Girls vs. Cullman. 3 p.m. Wallace State Community College.

Nov. 16: vs. Mortimer Jordan. 4:15 p.m.

Nov. 13: vs. Madison Academy. Girls at 6 p.m., boys at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14: @ Thompson. Girls at 6 p.m., boys at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18, 20-21: Spartan Turkey Jam. Mountain Brook High School.

Nov. 28: @ Gardendale. 4:15 p.m. Nov. 30: vs. Woodlawn. 2 p.m.

CROSS-COUNTRY Nov. 2: Section meet. Veterans Park.

Nov. 30: vs. Huntsville. Girls at 6 p.m., boys at 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 11: State meet. Oakville Indian Mounds Park.



Nov. 2: @ Homewood. 4:15 p.m.

Nov. 2: vs. Baker. 7 p.m.

Nov. 6: vs. Southside. 6:30 p.m.

Nov. 10: Playoffs begin. TBD.

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November 2023 • B9


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B10 • November 2023

Village Living

Opinion Sean of the South By Sean Dietrich

Thanksgiving Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Yeah, I know most folks would choose Christmas as their favorite, but not me. Namely because I was a chubby kid, and we chubby kids preferred our holidays to center around cholesterol. In my family, the ladies would start preparing many days in advance for the big calorie party. You’d see women dusting countertops with flour, working tirelessly on butcher blocks, wielding surgically sharp cutlery and threatening to neuter any man who came within 14 feet of her range oven. The house would be a symphony of chopping sounds, cabinets slamming and the roar of Briggs & Stratton 12-horsepower hand-mixers. Christmas simply could not compare. At Thanksgiving, the food spread was sinful enough to qualify for an R rating. We had heaps of refined carbohydrates, wads of saturated fat, volcanoes of gluten and fruit pies that were completely obscured by Reddi Whip. Whereas at Christmas, all I got was khakis. Our childhood home would also be inundated with loud family members. Sometimes there were people loitering in our house who I’d never even met. “Come say hello to your cousin Hilda,” my mother would say, matting my hair with her own spit. Cousin Hilda was 94 years old, a complete stranger to me, and she talked at length about the disruptive nature of kidney stones to anyone within earshot. All day, the walls of our little house would throb with the sounds of human voices. And

even though our family was secretive about? Did they actudecidedly dysfunctional, it was ally think we boys cared what pretty fun. they were discussing? Give My uncle would sit on a sofa, me a break. We didn’t care. reading the newspaper, sipping We had way more important Pabst, yelling at his kids. He did things to worry about. So we this even though his kids were, eavesdropped. Then it was time to eat. for example, in their late forties. Other uncles and male cousWe’d all gather around the table, and in that moment, ins would hang out in the driveway, trying to look masculine. you’d realize how messed up This is a typical male activity your family was. Sometimes at Thanksgiving — driveway you’d look at your kinfolk, all Dietrich standing. gathered in one place, and you’d Driveway standing is not a marvel at how you — the only difficult sport to engage in. It goes like this: normal person at the table — managed to spring While one guy does something important, such from this malfunctioning group of walnuts. “Look at these people,” you’d think to youras staring beneath the hood of his ‘77 Ford Pinto, other men stand at a distance with hands self. “They’re crazy.” on hips, offering manly suggestions, and occaOne of your uncles defined himself as a sionally spitting. This is 97% of being a man. “serial monogamist.” One of your aunts kept Unless you’re a teenage man. In which case, adjusting the household thermostat to “meat Thanksgiving Day is all about bottle rockets. locker” until everyone could see their breath One year, my cousin Ed Lee brought a vapor. One cousin had spent half the day on gym bag full of barely legal fireworks to our the phone with her boyfriend having a heated family celebration. I will never forget when he tele-argument. attempted to launch a bottle rocket from the But before food came the big prayer. The waistband of his pants. My cousin had to eat great equalizer. We all bowed our heads while dinner standing up that year. the elder of our family folded his hands and The young female cousins were different tucked his knuckles beneath his nose. animals altogether. They would clump together, First, we would engage in that incrediapparently discussing matters of national secu- bly corny family tradition wherein everyone rity among themselves. takes turns naming things they’re thankful for. Girls were always so private. Which made us Nobody was very original during this little boys wonder: What the heck were they being so Joyce Brothers exercise.





Family-Owned and Operated Since 1996

Usually, everyone thanked God for the usual. Things like “good food,” and “family.” But then some people actually surprised you and offered heartfelt thanks.”I’m thankful for my mom,” said one. “I’m grateful my daughter is out of the ICU,” said another. Then, the patriarch would pray aloud. And it would move you. Because until today you had never seen your cuckoo family as real people before. So, while the head of the family would utter prayers for all, including the souls who left us and those who were sick among us, the air in the room would change. Aunts would sniffle, uncles cleared throats, mothers blew noses loudly and some of us dabbed our eyes. Because at this moment you somehow felt connected to something bigger than yourself. It was more than just a holiday and it was about something much deeper than food. Today was about understanding that even though you belonged to this messed-up group of humans, these were your messed-up humans. And when everything goes wrong in life, sometimes these humans are the only ones you will have left. By the time everyone said amen, you knew without a doubt that Christmas had nothing on Thanksgiving. 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.

November 2023 • B11

Life Actually By Kari Kampakis

Raising confident kids If I had to name one thing that I don’t want my children to struggle with, I’d probably say confidence. That is why it’s hard for me to see them doubt themselves or question their abilities. I remember the first time I witnessed real self-doubt in my child. It descended upon my daughter unexpectedly, and I felt helpless trying to stop it. She was in third grade and learning her multiplication facts. Every day after school, she practiced timed tests on the computer and dissolved into tears when she failed to beat the buzzer. After a week of discouraging lows, I noticed a change in my child. My once-confident little girl seemed to shrink before my eyes as she lost faith in herself and her intelligence. The worst part was hearing her self-assessment. It broke my heart. “I’m so stupid.” “I’ll never get this.” “That’s it. I’m quitting.” “I’m an idiot. I hate school.” She had pegged herself wrong, of course, but nothing I said could convince her of that. Even her history as a great student was irrelevant in her mind. This challenge in math stumped her, and it messed with her confidence in unprecedented ways. It took time and practice, but my daughter worked through the issue. She eventually learned her equations with speed and efficiency. With each step of progress she made, her confidence grew. And what I grew to learn myself was how little control I have in saving my child from a struggle. This was (and still is) painful to accept. As a mom, I want to kick self-doubt to the curb. I want to believe that lots of love, affirmation and encouragement will armor my four children with bulletproof confidence. But the truth is, my influence has limits. I can praise my kids all day, but how they feel about themselves and their potential is ultimately a matter that only their Creator can help them settle. The good news is, God loves them more than I do. He sees the future and knows what

they need today to be ready for tomorrow. While I want to rescue my kids immediately from uncomfortable situations and emotions, God sees the bigger picture. He understands how letting them wrestle with adversity and self-doubt can: ► Draw my children to Him ► Build character ► Cultivate the right kind of confidence If life was always easy, and my kids easily excelled in everything, they’d probably be arrogant. They might take full credit for their gifts and success. But when they see their weak points, they recognize their need for God. They can receive His grace and let His power work through them, since God’s power works best in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). This truth leads to humble confidence. It helps my daughters see God as the bigger force at work and credit Him for anything they accomplish or overcome. I want humble confidence for my children, but I wish there was a shortcut. I wish I didn’t have to watch them get knocked to their knees and pray they’ll make it back up. It toils my heart to see them struggle, yet I find peace in God’s promises. God has carried my daughters through obstacles in His perfect timing. The breakthroughs always come when a breakthrough is needed most. And while I don’t enjoy watching them hit roadblocks or mental blocks, I do love seeing the confidence they gain when perseverance and commitment pay off and they emerge stronger on the other side. It’s natural for all our children to doubt themselves, but I pray they never doubt God. God is working in them and for them, and with His help they can cultivate confidence that is rooted deeply in Him, enabling them to fulfill their God-given purpose and positively impact the world. Kari Kubiszyn Kampakis is a Mountain Brook mom of four girls, author, speaker, and blogger. Her bestselling books are available everywhere books are sold. Join Kari on the Girl Mom Podcast as well as Instagram and Facebook.

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B12 • November 2023

Village Living

Metro Roundup HOMEWOOD

Saw’s receives Retailer of the Year honor

By SARAH GILLILAND Saw’s BBQ has carved a permanent spot in Homewood’s culinary landscape since it was established in 2009. The barbecue and Southern comfort food restaurant was recently recognized by the Alabama Retail Association with a Bronze Retailer of Brought to the Year Award for you by our 2023, not only for sister paper: its menu but also for its impact on the Birmingham community. thehomewood Mike and fer Wilson opened Saw’s original location over 14 years ago, after Mike’s passion for cooking barbecue moved beyond the backyard. “Every single weekend, that was his passion,” Jennifer said of Mike. “He couldn’t wait to make barbecue all weekend. In 2009, he took some time off work and said, ‘I’m going to open up a barbecue restaurant.’ I said, ‘OK. Well you handle the food, and I’ll handle the business side.’” Jennifer and Mike ended up separating during the years after opening, and she continued in her teaching career while Mike ran Saw’s. When Mike passed away unexpectedly in 2020, Jennifer stepped back in to manage the restaurant, since he had left the company’s interests to the couple’s children, Tuc and Reese, who were too young to manage the business at the time. “I had already started my school year when he passed away in 2020, and that

year was a complete blur to me. I’d get up early in the morning, do the restaurant stuff, immediately head to school to teach and then head back to the restaurant until late at night,” Jennifer said. “I was wearing so many hats, and it was just a very difficult year. I couldn’t do both. I knew what I had to do for the kids. A lot of people would have given up and said, ‘This is too hard,’ but I knew what I had to do for my kids.” The Wilson children are older now and both are interested in the restaurant business. “My daughter is all about her senior year in high school and my son is a sophomore in college, majoring in business,” Jennifer said. “So Saw’s is definitely going to be part of his future. Any time he’s home, he is immersing himself into the business,” Saw’s now has six locations across Birmingham. Its Hoover, Leeds and Southside locations are managed by a franchise company. Jennifer solely owns the Homewood location, but when the business expanded initially, they gained partners to help manage the other locations, Saw’s Juke Joint in Crestline and Saw’s Soul Kitchen in Avondale. The Bronze Retailer of the Year award is a testament to Saw’s place in the community, Jennifer said. “I cried when accepting that award,” she said. “I wish he [Mike] was here to see how we are carrying on his legacy. He would be so proud.” Saw’s is located at 1008 Oxmoor Road and is open Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. For information on the restaurant, visit

Homewood Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Meredith Drennen, Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown, Saw’s Inc President and CEO Jennifer Wilson, and Co-Owners Tuc Wilson and Reese Wilson. Photo courtesy of Homewood Chamber of Commerce.

WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR HEALTH At ENT Associates of Alabama, P.C. Experience Matters If you suffer from allergies or other ear, nose, throat or hearing problems, we don’t want you to treat your healthcare lightly or ignore symptoms that could lead to more serious issues. For a complete and thorough evaluation make an appointment today to see one of our 15 board certified physicians, 4 highly trained, licensed PA’s, or 16 clinical audiologists – all available to serve your needs at any of our 10 locations. At our practice, your health comes first; and we strive to treat each patient as a person, not just another case. Our goal is to deliver a positive personal experience along with a positive outcome. For your convenience, we have same day appointments available, as well as early morning, evening, and Saturday appointments. Please call 1-888-ENT-5020 (1-888-368-5020) for more information, visit us on our website at, and scan the QR code below to follow us on social media.

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November 2023 • B13




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Always Best Care Receives ACHC Accreditation for the Third Consecutive Time! At Always Best Care, we are proud to be the only homecare agency in the state of Alabama to be accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Healthcare (ACHC). We are committed to quality and passionate about client satisfaction. ACHC is a national recognized accreditation leader which embodies excellence, integrity and unparalleled service.

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B14 • November 2023

Village Living


Vestavia Hills student reaches gold in karate championship By HEATHER JONES SKAGGS A 17-year-old Vestavia Hills High School senior recently brought home gold at the AAU 2023 National Karate Championship in Fort Lauderdale. Grace Kingrey won the top spot in her Brought to age group both in the you by our lightweight division sister paper: of sparring and in the grand championship division, in which all weight divisions vestavia compete. “The national championship has been my biggest accomplishment,” Kingrey said, “but winning isn’t about the medals. To me, it proves your hard work and perseverance to keep trying. When I won, I was extremely happy that my work had paid off. I and other girls my age who compete all go to training camps, tournaments and seminars to keep improving.” Keith MacConkey, the head instructor at the USA Martial Arts — Bluff Park Dojo where Kingrey trains, credits her success to her work ethic, perseverance, dedication and the support of her family. “Grace is constantly seeking out opportunities to grow and be challenged,” MacConkey said. In her gold medal match, her competitor was an athlete who had defeated Kingrey numerous times in the past. TBy persisting through multiple defeats, she was able to find success, MacConkey said. Kingrey has been competing at the national level for several years. She has been an AAU National Karate Team member since 2021, winning gold at the 2022 Atlanta Peachtree Cup and bronze at the 2022 WUKF World

Championships. Kingrey also competed for the United States at the World Championships in Romania in the fall of 2021. “I’ve been doing martial arts since I was 5 years old,” she said. “My dad trained in taekwondo, so I grew up around martial arts. So, when I was old enough, my parents enrolled me in classes. Karate has taught me about leadership, humility and respect. I have learned how to perform in front of others and take initiative.” In 2015, Kingrey joined the USA Martial Arts — Bluff Park Dojo and credits it with her continued growth in the sport. “At our dojo, people treat each other like family, and I love how people come together to support one another during tests or for fundraisers,” Kingrey said. “I have always had great teachers and training partners who have continually pushed me to improve. My success comes from their instructions and support.” The dojo family is something that is extremely important to MacConkey. “The idea of our dojo being a family is a foundation here,” he said. “I sincerely care about my students and their well-being. Although technique is important, what is more important is the core principle of our martial arts training, which is self-improvement. I stress to my students that when they focus on improving themselves, there is a ripple effect, and the people and things around them also improve. Our dojo has wonderful families that sincerely care about each other and invest in each other’s lives, and through this we have been able to achieve this sense of community and family.” MacConkey said Kingrey has a bright future. “Grace has wonderful parents who have given her a solid foundation to build from, and through applying the lessons she has learned in life and in the dojo, I believe she will be able to succeed in any endeavor she embarks upon.”

Grace Kingrey, a senior at Vestavia Hills High School, spars with a classmate at USA Martial Arts Bluff Park Dojo on Sept. 26. Kingrey recently competed in the AAU Karate National Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Photo by Erin Nelson.

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November 2023 • B15

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