Village Living December 2022

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Bruno Cancer Center artists featured at Birmingham Botanical Gardens

A special group of local artists' works are on display at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens’ Library at the Gardens.

Several artists who are part of the Art Ther apy Program at Ascension St. Vincent’s Bruno Cancer Center have their pieces hanging in the hallway entrance to the library. Their pieces include acrylic, oils, watercolors and mixed media.

An opening reception was held on Nov. 4, and the art will be on display until the end of the year.

Louis Josof, an oncology counselor at Ascension St. Vincent’s in Birmingham, had the idea for the art therapy program, which launched in 2015.

Soon, donors found out about the project and wanted to support the effort. Then, the art therapy group received a grant from Forstall Art Supply and was awarded supplies to keep the project going. Josof said there have been

A change in the weather

Had it not been for a coworker inform ing him of a job opening, Jerry Tracey may have never moved to Birmingham.

After graduating from Penn State University, Tracey spent a decade working at AccuWeather in State College, Pennsylvania, before making three moves in two years. His first stop was at WINK-TV in Fort Myers, Florida, then The Weather Channel, before joining WVTM in 1987 when he was 34 years old.

He wanted to get back into local TV because he enjoyed the local connection and interacting with viewers. Although he wasn’t planning to leave The Weather Channel so soon, a friend brought in a newspaper and showed him a job opening for a meteorologist in Birmingham and urged him to apply. She told him the city was a great place to live and raise a family.

He made the call to WVTM and spoke with then-news director Tom Roberts, who asked him if he could come for an interview the same week. He had his highlight tape and resume in hand, but it wasn’t far into their meeting that Tracey was in Roberts’ office discussing a contract.

The rest is history.

“We were in Pennsylvania one year, the next year we're in South Florida, the next year we're in Atlanta and then we're here,” Tracey said. “I do feel though I'm very fortunate this happened the way it did. It's really a God thing because I didn't plan this. I didn't have a road map that I would wind up in Birmingham, Alabama, someday, and if Mary hadn't come in with that article, I never would have known about the opening.”

At the time, Tracey and his wife, Kathy, had two young children and after several moves,

they were ready to settle in one spot. They lived in Cahaba Heights for several years before moving to Mountain Brook, where they have lived in the same house since 1991.

Their children, Stephen and Michelle, attended Cahaba Heights Elementary for sev eral years, and both graduated from Mountain Brook High School. They both live nearby, and Tracey looks forward to spending more time

them and his grandchildren, who range in age from 3 to 13, after his retirement.

DECADES
COVERAGE Without hesitation, when asked about the worst weather day Tracey has experienced, he Mountain Brook Schools Foundation celebrates milestone. Spartans building toward another strong year. Sponsors A4 City A6 Business A8 Community A11 Schoolhouse A16 Events A20 Sports B4 Opinion B10 Metro Roundup B12 Calendar B14 INSIDE facebook.com/villageliving See page A16 See page B1 Cheers to 30 Years Basketball
December 2022 | Volume 13 | Issue 9 MOUNTAIN BROOK’S COMMUNITY NEWS SOURCE VILLAGELIVINGONLINE.COM | STARNESMEDIA.COM BROUGHT TO YOU BY SERVING MOUNTAIN BROOK, HOMEWOOD, HOOVER, TRUSSVILLE, VESTAVIA HILLS, AND THE U.S. 280 CORRIDOR
with
OF WEATHER
Preview
After 35 years at WVTM-13, meteorologist Jerry Tracey retires
TRACEY | page A24
Jerry Tracey, WVTM’s chief meteorologist, stands in the weather station on Nov. 9. Tracey is retiring in December after 35 years at the news station. Photo by Erin Nelson.
See
See ART THERAPY | page A26
Art on display created by members of the St. Vincent’s Art Therapy group, part of the Bruno Cancer Support Services group. The exhibit is on display at the Library at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens through the end of December. Photo by Leah Ingram Eagle.
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About Us

Publisher’s Note By Dan Starnes

The Holiday Parade in Mountain Brook has been one of my favorite events of the year as long as we’ve published Village Living.

My perspective on the event has changed over the years from that of a single guy with a brand new commu nity newspaper to now as a father of an 8-year-old.

When we first started Village Living, I knew that I needed to be pres ent and take photos. I could post them to Facebook and I’d also need them for future years’ publications. There were plenty of good photo ops to be had, such as the promotional image presented with this column.

The parade also gave me the oppor tunity to see people I knew in the community from my previous life as a golf pro.

After a few years, I became a hus band, and then a father, and we brought our son to the parade. At first, it was

exciting for me to see any reaction and emotion from him as an infant.

After a few years of attendance at the event, it became about him seeing other kids he knew and socializing. And candy. Always candy.

Now that we’ve missed the last few years due to the pandemic and travel, I’m really not sure how he will react at the event or how excited he’ll be about it. That’s kind of the nature of kids growing up.

But one thing that I’m sure of is that it will be a different experience for us than it has been in the past. I think that these types of events (and the holidays in general) and how we associate them with milestones in our lives is what makes them feel special to us.

I also think that these milestones and the feelings associated with them make community events like the parade important to us not only as indi viduals, but also as a community as a whole. They help us build that sense of community.

So, I’m looking forward to the parade on December 4 and I hope to see you there.

Please Support Our Community Partners

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Alabama Vision Center (A8)

Always Best Care: ABC Senior Services (B11)

Amy Smith Gardner, State Farm (A26)

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Bedzzz Express (B1, B16)

Birmingham Speech and Hearing Associates (A24)

Birmingham Zoo (A5)

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Children’s of Alabama (A25)

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Homewood Carpet & Flooring (B10)

IOP Services (B9)

Issis & Sons (A25)

JB & Co. (A21)

Linscomb & Williams (B15)

Little Hardware (A11) Mold & Mildew Solutions (B5)

Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce (A23, B7)

Mountain Brook City Schools

Foundation (A18)

Mr. Handyman of Birmingham (A7)

One Man & A Toolbox (A10)

Parrot Structural Services LLC (A17) petvet express (A9)

Piggly Wiggly (B9) Publix (A27)

Ritch’s Pharmacy (A20) Senior Placement Services (B8)

Southern Home Structural Repair Specialists (B10) Southpoint Bank (A15) SouthState Bank (B13)

The Cook Store (A26)

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

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

Published by: Village Living LLC

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.

Please recycle this paper.

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Walton Financial (A2) Window World of Central Alabama (B15)

A4 • December 2022 Village Living
Children and parents line Church Street as they reach for candy at the annual Mystics of Mountain Brook Halloween parade in Crestline Village on Oct. 31. Photo by Erin Nelson.
Find Us ► Brookhill Condominiums ► Church Street Coffee & Books ► Mountain Brook City Hall ► Continental Bakery ► O’Neal Public Library ► Gilchrist ► Levite Jewish Community Center ► Mountain Brook Creamery ► Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce ► Otey’s Tavern ► RealtySouth ► RealtySouth - Crestline ► Taco Mama - Crestline ► Treadwell Barbershop ► Whole Foods Market Want to join this list or get Village Living mailed to your home? Contact Dan Starnes at dan@starnesmedia.com. Pick up the latest issue of Village Living at the following locations: Dan Starnes Leah Ingram Eagle Jon Anderson Neal Embry Kyle Parmley Erin Nelson Melanie Viering Ted Perry Shane Bell Simeon Delante Solomon Crenshaw Jr. Sean Dietrich Sarah Gilliland Candice Hale Loyd McIntosh Emily VanderMey Eric Richardson Warren Caldwell Courtney Jordan Don Harris Madison Gaines Sarah Villar Publisher: Community Editors: Sports Editor: Photo Editor: Design Editor: Page Designers: Production Assistant: Contributing Writers: Graphic Designer: Sales Director: Client Success Specialists: Business Development Exec.: Business Development Rep.: Operations Specialist:

It’s gonna be LIT.

Experience the breathtaking animal lantern creations of Glow Wild at the Birmingham Zoo November 16 –January 16. Every ticket purchased goes directly to supporting the Zoo and the animals so get yours today at birminghamzoo.com.

VillageLivingOnline.com December 2022 • A5
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City

Womack bids farewell to council

Members of the Mountain Brook City Council assembled on Nov. 7 for an organizational meeting as they plotted a course for the next four years.

However, Alice Womack wasn’t there. “I’ll be cheering you on,” she said during the Oct. 24 meeting as she concluded her final meeting as a member of the council.

Womack has served on the council the past eight years, but did not seek reelection.

“My husband thinks I'm gonna be starting with home-cooked dinners more often,” she quipped. “I've told him sadly that's not gonna be the case. I'm not gonna come home and cook all these nice meals.”

Council President Pro Temp Billy Pritchard chaired that October meeting in the absence of President Virginia Smith. The first order of busi ness was acknowledging Womack.

“We'll miss you,” Pritchard said. “Your eight years of service has been invaluable to our community and we're all a lot better for it. We couldn't let this night pass without saying that at least.”

After the meeting, Womack thought back to her first council meeting, remembering the discussion of the Piggly Wiggly in Crestline.

“The Pig not only brought the grocery store back to Crestline, it improved the area around it,” Womack said. “Interestingly enough, I am ending my tenure on the heels of

Lane Parke being finalized and begin ning to see that area becoming unified with Mountain Brook Village to pro vide a fantastic shopping destination.

The departing councilwoman said leaving the council is bittersweet.

“I'm going to enjoy some extra free time, but I'm thoroughly going to miss the people that I've worked with,” she said. “This is just a quality group of people that — between city staff, department heads and everybody at the city — is just top notch.”

Prior to her first term on the coun cil, Womack was very involved with the Chamber of Commerce and was

on the finance committee.

“My relationship goes back more than eight years with a number of these people,” she said. “I'll still be around. I'll still be involved but know ing that the regular being with them and the banter, I am going to miss it. I really am going to miss it.”

During the pre-council meeting, Rick Sweeney gave an update on the city’s changeover to AmWaste provid ing garbage and recycling pickup. He acknowledged there had been missed pickups, but said there has been improvement.

“We're absolutely not OK with

(that),” Sweeney said. “As we got further in the contract — week one, week two — (missed pickups have) been going down. On top of that, our time to recover or trying to address missed service … those numbers are getting to the point that we are sameday recovering those pickups. It's not 100%, but we are getting better.”

City Manager Sam Gaston said he knew the transition to AmWaste would have “some hiccups.” Sweeney said the company had hired an oper ational administrator support person to help provide faster responses to customers.

Fire Chief Chris Mullins gave an update on a conditional use request for Rougaroux to establish a rear patio at the restaurant at 2716 Culver Road in Mountain Brook Village. The question was raised at previous meetings about the ability for firefighters to access the alleyway in back.

Mullins recommended that the right of way behind the restaurant and adjacent businesses be striped off as a fire lane. “Instead of us telling people where you can park,” the chief said, “I just want to tell people where you cannot park.”

In other action, the council:

► Reached an agreement with Spire for relocation of its line in conjunction with the Field No. 1 fill project.

► Received updates on Mountain Brook School security and the All-In Mountain Brook committee.

► Authorized a service contract with Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce.

► Authorized a memorandum of understanding with One Place Metro Alabama Family Justice Center.

► Accepted a professional service agreement with Skipper Consulting Inc. in regard to on-call traffic engi neering services.

► Authorized the sale or disposal of surplus property.

On Nov. 7, Billy Prichard and newly elected Graham Leigh Smith were sworn in during the organiza tional meeting. Lloyd Shelton will be out of town and will be sworn in was sworn in on Nov. 14.

A6 • December 2022 Village Living
Alice Womack chats with Billy Pritchard during the Oct. 24 meeting of the Mountain Brook City Council, her last as a council member.
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Shelton sworn in for third council term

For the third time in his political career, Lloyd Shelton was sworn in as a member of the Mountain Brook City Council. And for Shelton, it seems like old times.

“This will be the beginning of my third term,” said Shelton, who missed being sworn in with two fellow council members last week due to being out of town. “The desire to serve and to give back is still there. That's why I ran. I feel very much the desire to continue to serve and be responsible in how we do it.”

Shelton said it appears more people are watching what happens in city gov ernment these days. He cites higher voter turnout as his reason for drawing that conclusion.

“Folks are gonna pay attention to what's going on in the city, which I think is a good thing,” he said. “I think the desire to do the right thing is just as strong as it was eight years ago when I

was first sworn in.”

Shelton’s absence last week was because he was out of town complet ing the 26.2 mile course of the New York City Marathon for the third time which he said is tougher than running the gauntlet of city government.

It’s easier, he said, because he’s part of a team of fellow council members and volunteers on the city’s various committees.

“There are just a lot of good, hard-working, smart people in the community,” Shelton said. “It's nice to know that I can pass that torch off if it gets into something that's really heavy legally. You've got Billy (Pritchard) and Virginia (Smith) with law degrees.

I think Graham (Smith) had some of that experience as well. Gerald (Garner) has the investment advice covered. It's nice to know you've got those folks working side by side with you.”

During the meeting, the council also:

► Approved the change order for the parking lot fill project near Field No. 1.

► Approved a contract with Focus Creative Birmingham for social media management, communications con sulting and other services.

► Reappointed Ro Holman and Elizabeth Poynor to the Board of Landscape Design.

► Approved the conditional use application for Watkins Branch to serve lunch at 2708 Culver Road.

► Approved the resolution autho rizing the sale or disposal of surplus property.

► Authorized an agreement for consulting services with Schoel Engi neering Inc. related to the Lorena Lane and Fairmont Drive area drainage improvements.

► Awarded the bid for the janito rial services contract for the O’Neal Library to Hills Janitorial Services.

The next regular meeting of the City Council is 7 p.m. on November 28.

Mayor’s Minute

The holiday season is very busy and a great time to reflect on so many things for which we can be thankful. At the city level, I am so excited about the completion of phase II of Lane Parke. At near full capacity, so many stores, restau rants, and businesses are in the process of filling out their space.

Once completed, we will have over 165 shops and restaurants throughout our city creating a diversity that should entice resi dents and visitors alike. There has never been a better time to ‘shop local,’ so I look forward to seeing you in and around our city.

I do not want to miss the opportunity to congratulate Dr. Dicky Barlow for being named 2023 Alabama Superintendent of the Year. This is an honor well deserved as Dr. Barlow, the school board, school administrators, and teachers who have worked so hard to make certain our schools are among the very best in America.

In fact, U.S. News and World Report recently ranked our high school in the top 200 in the nation! If that is not enough, our high school ath letics program ranked No. 1 in Alabama; No. 2 in the nation among public schools; and No. 5 in the nation among all schools. Quite a feat in both academics and athletics with much credit going to our teachers, coaches, and parents. Hey, it takes a village!

Finally, mark your calendar and be sure to bring the kids and grand kids to our annual Holiday Parade. This year’s parade will be Sunday, Dec. 4, starting at 3 p.m. the route will begin at Office Park; circle through Mountain Brook Village in front of the Bromberg’s Christmas tree; turn in front of Barton-Clay Fine Jewelers; and finish in front of Daniel George and Brick and Tin. I have heard a rumor that Santa may make an appearance … and maybe even the Mayor wearing his top hat!

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VillageLivingOnline.com December 2022 • A7
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Argent Trust Birmingham proudly welcomes Collins Compere, CIMC® Market President Lloyd Shelton is sworn in by Judge KC Hairston for a third term with the Mountain Brook City Council during the Nov. 14 meeting. Photo by Heather Richards.

Business Business Happenings

NOW OPEN

Dr. Lindsay Floyd, a Hoover resident who graduated Hoover High School in 1999 and the Auburn University Col lege of Veterinary Medicine in 2007, has founded a new business called Compassionate Crossings that offers pet euthana sia services in the home of pets.. The service operates primarily on weeknights, weekends and most holidays and serves Mountain Brook and sur rounding areas and gives pet owners an option for this service when their primary veterinary clinic is closed. 205-317-6747

Heidi Hallman and Catherine Romero of Heidi Cat have part nered to pursue their passion for florals and art by preserving bridal bouquets and wedding flowers in resin to create a unique and beautiful lasting memory of the couples special wedding day. 205-588-0305, heidicat.com

Business news to share? If you have news to share with the community about a brick-and-mortar business in Mountain Brook, let us know at villagelivingonline.com/about-us

The modern-American fashion and lifestyle brand Frances Valentine founded in 2016 by Elyce Arons and her friends Kate and Andy Spade is now open at The Summit. This is the first location in Alabama. 646-480-2091, francesvalentine.com

in marketing in May. She previously worked as a social media marketing specialist and sales representative for the Gaines Family Farmstead in Birmingham and a part-time leasing agent for College Station Properties in Tuscaloosa. Starnes Media, based in Homewood, pub lishes the Hoover Sun, The Homewood Star, Vestavia Voice, Village Living, 280 Living and Cahaba Sun news papers and websites and other publications such as The Birmingham Bar Bulletin. 205-313-1780, starnesmedia.com

RELOCATIONS AND RENOVATIONS

The mission of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is to bring a community together and make exceptional ice cream. The new shop is open in Lane Parke and hours are Mon day-Sunday, noon to 11 p.m. 205-677-6261, jenis.com

PERSONNEL MOVES

Madison Gaines in Sep tember joined Starnes Media as a business de velopment representative. Gaines graduated from the University of Alabama with a bachelor’s degree

Rheumatology Associates has relocated their offices to 12 Office Circle in Mountain Brook. They are special ists in auto-immune and inflammatory diseases. They have 13 providers and offer on-site infusion services. 205-933-9320, alrheumatology.com

A8 • December 2022 Village Living
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Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams opens in Lane Parke

Lane Parke has a new sweet spot.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams held a grand opening on Nov. 10, with a goal to serve amaz ing ice cream and build community.

“We are very intentional about where we open our shops,” said Kate Gentille, social media community and local PR manager for Jeni’s. “We look for walkable communities where we can become part of the fabric of the neighborhood. Lane Parke fits the bill. It felt like the right location to grow our community in Birmingham.”

Jeni’s was founded by James Beard Award winner Jeni Britton more than 20 years ago. The ice creams are built completely from scratch. Their flavors are made in partnership with makers and producers who supply their ingredients, from family-run dairies to farmers who grow fields of berries.

Jeni’s has a variety of signature flavors not found anywhere else. They include Bramble berry Crisp, Gooey Butter Cake, Darkest Choc olate, Salty Caramel and Brown Butter Almond Brittle, along with seasonal, limited-edition

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

► Address: 931 Jemison Lane

► Phone: 205-677-6261

► Web: jenis.com

► Hours: Monday-Sunday, noon to 11 p.m.

flavors. This year’s holiday flavors (available now) include new Cranberry Crumble, Boozy Eggnog, Pistachio Macaron, White Chocolate Peppermint and Mexican Hot Chocolate.

All of the ice creams can be served in their signature Buttercrisp Waffle Cone, and Jeni’s offers free samples all day, every day. Also available is an Ice Cream Flight, which includes 10 scoops of their signature ice creams.

Jeni’s has a customer rewards program, offers local delivery and offers shipping through the website.

Pet Vet Express Completes Long-Awaited Remodel Project

A remodel at Pet Vet Express in Mountain Brook adds in-suite digital dental radiology with designated pet dentistry space, a refreshed lobby and client area, upgraded equipment, along with additional treatment space.

Mountain Brook, AL – Pet Vet Express is proud to announce the completion of a highly anticipated expansion and renovation. Re-opening December 2022 in Mountain Brook, AL, Pet Vet Express has been a longstanding business and a pillar in the community for almost ten years. Having cared for countless pets within the community, the team has been excitedly awaiting an update to the facility.

This expansion adds clinical space, state-of-the-art technology, and a refreshed look and feel to the practice. Beyond the redesign of the facility, adding advanced veterinary technology was a top priority of this project.

Pet Vet Express now boasts a designated state-of-the-art dentistry suite with digital, in-house radiology. Practice leaders say this expansion brings advanced capabilities and more treatment space to care for an increasing number of pets in the Mountain Brook community.

Managing veterinarian, Dr. Amanda Oden, says “While our look may be new, we continue providing the same top-quality veterinary care the community of Mountain Brook has come to expect of us. With this remodel complete, we’re proud to elevate our patient’s care even further, and we look forward to serving clients and their pets for many years to come.”

Pet Vet Express proudly serves the pets of the Mountain Brook community by providing top-quality, compassionate, and full-service veterinary services.

VillageLivingOnline.com December 2022 • A9
Creams is now open in Lane Parke’s Phase II in
Jeni’s Splendid
Mountain Brook Village.
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AL

Culinary Dropout coming to The Summit in 2023

A new restaurant concept will debut at The Summit late next year. Culinary Dropout, a sister restaurant to established tenant North Italia, is coming to Birmingham after success ful openings in cities including Denver, Austin and Phoenix.

“The Culinary Dropout menu is filled with classic meals done with some attitude,” said Anita Walker, the vice president of marketing for Fox Restaurant Concepts. “You’ll want to taste everything, with crew favorites like housemade pretzels and famous fried chicken drizzled with honey. Culinary Dropout is for anyone who loves great food and drinks.”

Walker added that in addition to enjoying good food and drinks, live local music will be a staple of the dine-in atmosphere.

The Fox Restaurant Concepts team chose The Summit for their second Birmingham restaurant because of its incredible location.

“It’s right in the heart of Birmingham, and we have experience opening here with our sister restaurant, North Italia, a few years ago,” she said. “We love the neighborhood and think it’s going to make a great addition to the community.”

Culinary Dropout is a restaurant concept

described as a place for “families, date night or after-work food and drinks.”

Some of the most popular menu items include their soft pretzel and provolone fondue starter, 36-hour slow-roasted pork ribs in jalapeno BBQ sauce and hot wings with buffalo sauce.

A full bar will be available for patrons as well. One of the best-selling cocktails is the El Matador, made with Anejo tequila, elder flower liqueur, ginger agave and a dash of orange bitters.

Fox Restaurant Concepts has around a dozen restaurant concepts in its portfolio, ranging from comfort food and burgers to pizza, Mexican and Mediterranean menus. They manage more than 50 locations, according to the Fox website.

Walker said the company may consider bringing more of its restaurant concepts to Bir mingham in the future.

“Our focus is always on opening one great restaurant at a time,” Walker said. “While we don’t have definitive plans right now, we are always inspired and open to great opportunities for the future.”

Culinary Dropout plans to open in late 2023 and will be located in the former Macaroni Grill space near P.F. Chang’s. For more information, visit culinarydropout.com.

A10 • December 2022 Village Living isn’t for everyone. Because Doing it Yourself Residential Commercial Special Projects 205-823-2111 • OneMan-Toolbox.com One Man & a Toolbox Handyman Services
Top: An artist’s rendering of the Culinary Dropout location opening at The Summit in 2023 on the site of the former Macaroni Grill. Bottom: A sample of menu items from Culinary Dropout, opening at The Summit in 2023 in the former Macaroni Grill location. Photos courtesy of JLauren PR.

Community

Former NBA player shares his story of addiction, recovery

Former college and professional basketball player and motivational speaker Chris Herren brought his powerful and deeply personal mes sage of addiction and recovery to Mountain Brook on Thursday, Oct. 27.

Sponsored by All-In Mountain Brook, a civic organization purposed with protecting the com munity’s youth, Herren appeared three times at the Mountain Brook High School auditorium, speaking to the high school and middle school students, and addressing a mixed crowd of adults and teenagers.

“We focus on the worst day and forget the first day,” repeated Herren during the evening appearance. Throughout his talk, Herren directly challenged parents for their tolerance of a certain amount of substance use in their children or not confronting their own addictions.

“Don’t be afraid to ask your kids why,” Herren said to the parents. “‘Why do you need to get drunk in order to hang out with kids you’ve known since you were five-years-old?’”

Born and raised in Fall River, Massachusetts, a middle-class textile manufacturing town an hour south of Boston, Herren excelled on the basketball court. Herren played guard at Durfee High School, graduating with the most points in school history, and earned recognition as The Boston Globe at Gatorade Player of the Year.

Despite his success on the court, the Herren household was far from stable. His father Al was a prominent local politician, representing the 6th Bristol District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Mr. Herren described his father as an alcoholic who was “making our home miserable.”

Herren told the audience he first became

drunk on his father’s Miller Lite. His troubled home life and the pressure placed on him as his star rose led to a long period of addiction and self-destruction that derailed his college and professional basketball and almost cost him his family.

Herren first encountered cocaine while at Boston College. He was forced off the team due to drug use, eventually transferring to Fresno State. Despite the second chance from contro versial coach Jerry Tarkanian, Herren failed a mandatory drug test and was marched off to 21-days in rehab - his first rehab stay of many.

Still a high-profile and productive basketball player, Herren was drafted by the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and also spent time with the Boston Celtics, eventually playing overseas in Europe and Asia. All the while, his addictions to drugs and alcohol were spiraling out of control. At one

point, Herren was spending $25,000 per month on Oxycontin pills while also turning to “cheap vodka” and heroin.

In December 2007, Herren overdosed on heroin in the drive-thru line at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Falls River and crashed his car into a utility pole. “I woke up with a police officer on top of me. He said to me, ‘look at your arm son.’ The needle had broken off in my arm,” Herren told the stunned audience.

After completing a series of intense rehabilita tion programs, Herren has been sober since Aug. 1, 2008. He now travels the country sharing his story, a second act that began by accident.

“I was two years sober, and I got a phone call from a teacher who was teaching a health class at a school about 10 miles away from my house, and she asked me if I’d be interested in speaking to her class,” Herren said in an interview prior to

his third talk of the day.

Herren admits he had no idea what he was going to talk about that day, improvising his way through his speech.

“I was still kind of sifting through the wreck age of my past,” Herren explained. “I walked into that room that day and spoke, and I’ve been speaking ever since.

“I do this 250 times a year and, 12 years into it, I still feel it,” added Herren. “It’s really no different from day one as I recall the emotion. I still feel the angst, and the nerves are still very present.”

Herren and his wife of 24 years, Heather, have raised more than $8 million in scholarships for people unable to afford quality rehab services. In 2018, the Herrens established Herren Wellness, a residential health, and wellness program with two locations in Massachusetts.

VillageLivingOnline.com December 2022 • A11
Have a community announcement? Email Leah Ingram Eagle at leagle@starnesmedia.com to be considered for inclusion in an upcoming issue.
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Chris Herren, former professional basketball player and wellness advocate, speaks during an All In Mountain Brook event about his history with addiction and his path to recovery at Mountain Brook High School on Oct. 27. Photo by Erin Nelson.

Childhood tales inspire Mountain Brook author

Mountain Brook resident Ashlee Fulmer says that spending time with her parents during the COVID-19 pandemic was the catalyst for her book journey.

Fulmer remembers back to her younger years, when her dad would tell her stories about the biggest gorilla in the jungle. Although the animal may have seemed intimidating and scary, it was actually the sweetest animal of all.

“Every night I’d climb in bed and say my prayers and my dad would let me pick the animal to help that night,” Fulmer recalls. “Something would happen and the gorilla would come in and help fix what was wrong. I remember those stories from growing up. I loved them and would beg for them every night.”

While Fulmer was quarantining at the beach with her husband, two children and her parents, her dad, or “G” as he is known to his grandkids, began telling those same stories to her 4-yearold daughter.

“Seeing how much my daughter wanted to hear those stories again, day after day she would ask for them, and it was this constant reminder of how much she loved them,” Fulmer said.

“Being together and seeing and hearing her response to the stories, I think that's absolutely what kicked off the process, getting them on paper and writing them down and making a book series and turning it into something real.”

Fulmer said that she and her husband dis cussed how those stories transcended from her childhood to her children’s generation and had timeless messages, including not judging a book by its cover and being kind and helpful to others.

“I thought, ‘What if we wrote these [stories] down and got to share them with our friends and family?’” Fulmer said. “Being obsessive like I am, I sat down and wrote 12 stories (three are holiday themed: Easter, Christmas and Halloween).”

She spent time writing in the evenings after her kids went to bed. When Fulmer was fin ished, she began shopping her manuscript to different publishers. She was worried about going the traditional publishing route and decided to go with Mascot Books out of Vir ginia. Their agreement is to publish the first

two books and see how things go. Fulmer said she hopes her audience is able to see more of her books in the future.

“I don't have the bandwidth to be a physi cian, mom, wife and daughter and do all of that,” she said. “This for me was a labor of love, to be able to create the stories like I saw

them and maintain creative control throughout the process.”

Although she had written all of the stories in prose, Fulmer decided just before the first book, about a chameleon, went to press that she wanted to edit them to rhyme instead. Her son was 3 at the time and really enjoyed his books that rhymed the best. She also knew that rhym ing books helped children with their language and speech better than those written in prose.

“One night at 1 a.m. I woke up and wondered if I could write in rhyme, so I laid in bed with my phone and rewrote the entire chameleon book,” Fulmer said. “I read it to my husband the next morning and then pitched it to my editor. She liked it and it went to the printer the next week. It took a lot more work, but I’m glad I did it.”

All of the stories feature a different animal, each with a specific situation. Her first book, “Banjo the Gorilla and the Chameleon Who Lost Her Colors,” was released in October 2022. It features a chameleon who ate too much coconut ice cream and lost its colors. The book tells how Banjo helps to get its colors back.

Each book teaches lessons, including resil ience, perseverance, kindness, inclusion and self-acceptance. They also have clues about the animal that will be featured in the next book. The second book in the series will come out in early 2023.

Fulmer dedicated the first book to her dad, and said he was excited to see all of his ideas come to life.

“It's been a two-year process and a lot of work to get it to where it is today,” Fulmer said. “I think that for him, holding these stories that he told me 35 to 40 years ago and seeing them in a book bound in his illustrated hands is kind of surreal.”

Just as Banjo is dedicated to helping his animal friends, Fulmer shares a passion and an obligation to do the same. A portion of the profits from the books will be donated to wild life rescue, care and welfare organizations. For more information, visit banjothegorilla.com.

A12 • December 2022 Village Living
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Ashlee Fulmer signs her book for guests at an event at the O’Neal Library Photo courtesy of Ashlee Fulmer.

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Legislators discuss education issues at PTO forum

Legislators representing Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills gathered at Vestavia Hills City Hall on Nov. 15 to discuss issues related to education.

The 18th annual PTO Legislative Forum, facilitated by the PTOs of both Mountain Brook City Schools and Vestavia Hills City Schools, included state Sen. Dan Roberts, state Rep. Jim Carns, state Rep. David Faulkner and new state Rep. Mike Shaw, who represents House District 47. Longtime state Sen. Jabo Waggoner could not attend.

PTO representatives took turns asking the legislators present different questions about education.

Teacher shortages have been a problem all over the country, and legislators were asked how they would ensure both school systems can recruit and retain the best teachers.

Faulkner mentioned the 2021 law that cre ated TEAMS, which offers science, technology, engineering and math teachers up to $20,000 more each year and creates a different salary schedule. Faulkner said he wants to focus on teachers obtaining higher certifications and then making more money. He also brought up the possibility of apprenticeship programs to get high school students involved earlier in the education process.

Carns said there is not a one-size-fits-all solution, which was echoed by Roberts.

Mountain Brook Superintendent Dicky Barlow cautioned against relying too heavily on money.

“There is a point where it’s not about the money; it’s about the culture,” Barlow said. Teachers and administrators are “worn out” and are being asked to do much more than they were 20 years ago, he said.

CHARTER SCHOOLS

The issue of whether to fund charter schools

with local tax dollars was also discussed. Charter schools currently only receive state funding.

Roberts argued that while charter schools may not be needed here, there are parents in other parts of the state where traditional public schools are underperforming who would like the option of a charter school.

“I think we need competition in the educa tion system,” Roberts said.

Carns said he would not want to divert local funds away from traditional public schools.

Faulkner said charter schools are public schools and that if parents choose to send their child to a charter school, their tax dollars should be allowed to go to that school.

“Should your money follow your kid or the school?” Faulkner said.

Shaw said there have to be “creative solu tions” but said he is hesitant to take any fund ing away from local schools. The concern in the Vestavia Hills and Mountain Brook area would be charter schools opening for different philosophical or political reasons, as opposed to academic needs, given the strength of the over-the-mountain school districts.

Barlow took the side of taking care of “the least of these” by funding and improving underperforming school districts.

ALABAMA LITERACY AND NUMERACY ACTS

With the Alabama Literacy and Numeracy acts becoming law, PTO representatives asked about ensuring that both literacy and math coaches in schools were fully funded to help achieve the state’s goals in those areas.

The Literacy Act funded one reading inter ventionist for each school but did not cover the full cost of salary and benefits, while the Numeracy Act covered the cost of a math coach but only for some schools, a PTO rep resentative said.

Faulkner said the state has funded and

should continue to fund whatever is asked of them when it comes to education.

Carns said he supports the laws, while Rob erts said strengthening education in the state is critical for ensuring a positive future for children.

Both Mountain Brook and Vestavia are known for their strong school systems. So how do the school systems and the state raise the bar for future generations?

“It’s local government, parental involve ment and the community working together,” Roberts said. “This is the gem of the state, education-wise.”

Roberts also said it is important to protect the schools from the “woke” environment and ideology.

Faulkner compared Barlow and Vestavia Hills City Schools Superintendent Todd Free man to University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban and said getting to the top isn’t nearly as hard as staying there.

“Keep hiring great teachers,” Faulkner said. “Focus on things making a tangible difference.”

Faulkner said the state is seeing great results from the Literacy Act and touted the Computer

Science Act and other state initiatives training and developing teachers.

Shaw supported making vocational educa tion a priority and called it a different path to college. It is a way to engage more students, he said. Carns said preparing children for the future must begin in the home.

SCHOOL SAFETY AND HEALTH

With several high-profile school shootings and the revived emphasis on student health in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, PTO repre sentatives asked legislators if they supported creating a line item in the state’s budget to fund school resource officers as opposed to just funding them locally, as well as the idea of fully funding one nurse for each school.

Roberts said last year saw a record budget, with nearly $10 billion in state coffers, but that there will be a decrease in available money at some point, as federal dollars increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. So, with the surplus the state has now, it will likely be spent on onetime purchases as opposed to longer, continu ous issues such as the state funding of SROs.

“It’s a complicated mix,” Roberts said.

Roberts said he would need to see the fiscal note and know more about any proposal before deciding one way or the other, but added he supported the concept. He later added he believes it would cost between $50 million to $85 million to fully fund an SRO in each Ala bama school from the state budget.

Shaw said having an SRO in each school is great, but schools must also have a plan in place to keep students safe. He cautioned against a “one-size-fits-all” approach toward school safety.

On the issue of nurses, Roberts said the group is for school nurses and said there was a $9 million increase this fiscal year for nurses, a 22% increase from fiscal 2022. Faulkner said he is confident the funding for nurses will con tinue to increase.

A14 • December 2022 Village Living
From left: state Sen. Dan Roberts, state Rep. Jim Carns, state Rep. David Faulkner and state Rep.-Elect Mike Shaw prepare to answer questions during the 2022 PTO Legislative Forum. Photo by Neal Embry.
It’s local government, parental involvement and the community working together. This is the gem of the state, education-wise.
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Schoolhouse

Cheers to 30 years

Mountain Brook Schools Foundation celebrates green anniversary

The Mountain Brook Schools Foundation held a celebration marking its 30th anniversary on Nov. 3 at Mountain Brook Club.

Established in 1992 out of concern over the lack of state funding for public education, the founda tion has awarded more than $9.3 million in grants to the school system, with $10 million currently in the fund.

At its inception, community leaders created an endowment fund to ensure the long-term protec tion of the city’s school system. Over the years, the foundation has continued its mission to mobilize community support and resources for academic enhancement in the six schools.

The fund focuses on providing technology to all the schools, professional development for teachers and library enhancements.

Over 180,000 hours of teacher training as well as summer stipends for professional development have been funded by the foundation, along with the school system’s annual summer learning conference.

Rachel Weingartner came on board in March 2022 as the foundation’s executive director. In her first year, the foundation raised more annual funds than ever before, totaling $508,534.

Superintendent Dicky Barlow, who has been with Mountain Brook Schools for 26 years, said one of

the two most important things the foundation has done is creating a stop gap for funding, as state fund ing has been declining through the years, to make sure students did not have any loss of learning and opportunity.

“The second thing is it has encouraged innova tion from our teachers and our school system and has funded innovation that has changed the way we think in our school system,” Barlow said. “We are able to allow teachers to experiment and be able to support them in that.”

Barlow said that the foundation’s contributions are part of what helped the Mountain Brook School System receive the 2016 Distinguished District Award from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).

Key Hudson serves as president of the MBSF board and addressed the crowd during the anniver sary event. She thanked the founders, administrators, lifetime donors and board members, saying the foun dation would not be what it is today without them.

She also shared her unique perspective as an MBHS graduate.

“Because my parents gave to the foundation 30 years ago, I was able to benefit from it, but because it's an endowment, my children — their grandchil dren — are also able to benefit from the original donation they made, right, because it contributes to this endowment spending.”

She said that while the future needs aren’t known, there will be a predictable source of income avail able to adapt to the needs at that time.

Barlow echoed her sentiments.

“Through the help of the foundation, there is approximately half a million dollars every year for us to innovate, help improve instruction, and improve students' learning throughout the years to come,” he said.

A16 • December 2022 Village Living
Have a schoolhouse announcement? Email Leah Ingram Eagle at leagle@starnesmedia.com to be considered for inclusion in an upcoming issue. Mountain Brook Schools Superintendent Dicky Barlow addresses the crowd during the MBSF 30th anniversary event at Mountain Brook Club on Nov. 3. Photo by Leah Ingram Eagle.

Cherokee Bend working to build city's first inclusive playground

Creating a place where everyone belongs means making an environment inclusive — where individuals feel welcomed, valued and included — but oftentimes marginalized people are excluded in certain environments like an elementary school playground.

Audrey Paisley, a fourth grader at Cherokee Bend Elementary School, is wheelchair bound and doesn’t have many options during recess. However, she does have many nice and caring friends that spend time playing with her.

A year ago, Paisley wrote a persuasive essay for class, so touching that it moved the princi pal to have her read it to the PTO.

A portion of the essay read: “Imagine if you were in a wheelchair and wanted to play on the playground, but you couldn’t. If you were me, you would feel sad watching your friends play on the playground equipment without you. You would want to play with them. We should have a wheelchair accessible play ground. You might think it’s a lot of money, but don’t worry. It would be worth it to make people in a wheelchair happy.”

Paisley’s mother, Kim, posted her daugh ter’s opinion piece on Facebook and there was a general outcry of support and requesting to do what was possible to make playground ren ovations happen now.

“So many parents were moved by Audrey’s story and started reaching out to the PTO,” said former PTO president Kristi Chopin. “The playground had been brought up and we knew it would be a project in the future but Audrey persuaded us that we needed to do something now. And not just a shiny new playground, but a playground where everyone felt like they belonged.

“We want it to show the loving and support ive community that they have,” said incoming PTO president Patricia Craft.

“While the laws have been written to handle some issues concerning handicap

accessibilities and to be compliant for people with disabilities, the playground is not one of them the law is required to uphold,” she said.

Families at Cherokee Bend have raised $300,000, but need another $100,000 to meet their goal. The hope is to raise the funds this school year so that the renovations can be

completed over next summer.

Cherokee Bend Principal Brannon Aaron said that while the playground is ADA com pliant, the current playground leaves very few options for Paisley to participate with peers.

“We are extremely grateful to our play ground donors for making this dream a

reality,” Aaron said. “We are so excited to have a playground that is accessible to all of our students.”

The playground may be at Cherokee Bend, but will benefit the entire community. Cres tline mom Lizzie Inzer's son, Joseph, also needs an inclusive playground. They currently have to go downtown to find a playground that works for him. She has been campaign ing for an inclusive playground in Mountain Brook for years.

“It’s weighed heavily on my mind — the parks have never been fully open to the restric tions of children with special needs,” Inzer said. “To hear chatter now about the new park is very exciting. The children are being seen in a more visible way than they ever have been.”

Inzer said having an inclusive playground in Mountain Brook would be a blessing and that her main goal for the new park is making sure it is accommodating to all abilities.

GameTime, a playground supplier out of Fort Payne is the contractor of Chief play ground. It will be a fun play-place for all ages and stages. It could also be used for birthday parties, family days, or on weekends.

Craft said that the missing piece now is community engagement and corporate sponsorships.

“Please help us complete this project and set the bar for future playgrounds so that no student will ever feel left out at recess,” she said. “Sponsorship opportunities would have a lasting impact, just like the park could hold a lasting impact for the students in the Mountain Brook community.”

Aaron said that the students are buzzing with excitement about the new playground.

“We are incredibly grateful to all of our Playground Partners who are helping to make this dream a reality,” he said. The Chiefs are leaders that deserve a “place where everyone belongs.”

For sponsorship levels or to make a dona tion, visit chiefpto.com.

VillageLivingOnline.com December 2022 • A17
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Joseph Inzer, 6, a student at Crestline Elementary with Spastic Paraplegia Type 47, plays at an inclusive playground in Birmingham. The playground committee at Cherokee Bend Elementary School is raising funds to build the first inclusive playground in Mountain Brook. Photo courtesy of Lizzie Inzer.

When in Rome

When Jason Smith came to Mountain Brook High School as the band director eight years ago, one of his goals for the program was to give the band an international spotlight.

He has done just that. The band performed at the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii in 2016 and the 75th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France, in 2019.

To kick off 2023, the band will be perform ing in the Rome New Year’s Day Parade on Jan. 1 on World Peace Day. Crowds will gather in St. Peter’s Square to celebrate and receive the Pope’s New Year’s Day blessing. The event is an important part of Rome’s holiday season and during the World Day of Peace, the parade celebrates life, cultural diversity and interna tional goodwill.

The parade path will travel along the grand Via della Conciliazione and culminate in St. Peter’s Square.

“We march through downtown Rome where the Pope will give a blessing,” Smith said. “After the parade, we perform in the court yards of the Vatican — that is really the impe tus for our travel, to go and be international representatives in Rome for World Peace Day.”

Participants in the parade include military, civic and school marching bands and auxiliary units from the U.S. and Canada.

To prepare for the trip, the band has been having after-school rehearsals. Smith also held meetings for parents to discuss travel specifics.

“We will also do some in-depth study of where we’re going, including the museums and locations, and discuss what we’ll see,” he said.

Smith said that traveling internationally with a group of kids is challenging, but also rewarding at the same time.

“A whole lot of things come with interna tional travel like long flights, foreign coun tries,” Smith said. “We were blessed to have

a wonderful experience when we traveled to Hawaii and Normandy. Those type successes we are able to build on.”

When asked how the band is invited to attend these events, Smith told Village Living that it’s a combination of several things.

“I've been teaching for 28 years and have built a reputation with the programs I've been able to take on trips,” he said. “Mountain Brook as a school is recognized nationally and the reputation carries itself. We also have a history of traveling well. Whenever you have a band that performs well, has a solid director and the program has a solid reputation, this

MBHS Band to perform in New Year’s Day parade in Italy

quite naturally opens the doors for other events to be presented to you.”

The plan for this trip is for around 50 band members and 45 chaperones to leave on Dec. 28 for Rome, where they will stay for four days. In addition to their performances, they will spend time diving into all the history Rome has to offer, Smith said.

The plan is to see a performance of the ballet “Don Quixote” and possibly a trip to Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius.

From Rome, the group will go to Florence for two days before spending several days in Venice and then a stop in Milan before

returning home on Jan. 8.

The 11-day trip will take place during the second half of Christmas break, and the stu dents will only miss two days of instructional time after school is back in session in January.

The band will perform “Italian Mambo” by Dean Martin, the Mountain Brook High fight song and a patriotic song.

“You never really are satisfied, and are always working on the next thing,” Smith said. “We're constantly planning for things all the time.”

For more information about the parade, visit romenewyearsparade.com.

A18 • December 2022 Village Living
The Foundation invites Mountain Brook families to be a part of its Give 180 fundraising campaign for the 2022-2023 school year. More than 625 families have already donated, and it is not too late to give! The Give 180 campaign represents a $1 donation for each day your student is learning through Mountain Brook Schools. As a thank you, all Give 180 donors will receive a yard sign sharing your support of the Mountain Brook City Schools Foundation. Please visit MBGives.org to make your tax-deductible Give 180 donation today! We Give 180 To Support Our Students
The Foundation’s annual Grandparents Club Campaigns kicked off in November 2022. Campaign chairs are Jan & Grantland Rice, and committee members are Maggie & Will Brooke, Bronwyn & Scot Cardwell, Tanya & Skip Cooper, Betts & Felix Drennen, Karen & Doug Eddleman, Julie & Jim Goyer, Lynne & Tim Hennessy, Linda & Charlie Israel, Lauri & Randy Jordan, Tara & Tommy Mayfield, Chollet & Stephen Still and Marlene & TJ Willings. In appreciation of a donor’s gift, the Foundation will send the donor’s grandchildren a note letting them know that a gift has been made in their honor. Donations can be made at MBgives.org or by contacting info@mbgives.org. Where are pests hiding during the cold months? 3. Kitchen & Living Room - wherever you’re eating, so are rodents and insects If your pest problem gets too much to handle... 205-663-4200 vulcantermite.com Call The Best to Fight The Pest they’re
The Spartans marching band performs in the Mountain Brook High School Homecoming Parade in Crestline Village on Sept. 9. Photo by Erin Nelson.
Grandparents Fundraise for the Foundation

Mountain Brook Schools announces Teachers of the Year

Mountain Brook Schools announced its six Teachers of the Year on Nov. 10, representing each school in the MBS district.

► Brookwood Forest Elementary: Tan ishia Sims (Second grade)

► Cherokee Bend Elementary: Lyndsi Kirk (Literacy coach)

► Crestline Elementary: Debbie Holder (First grade)

► Mountain Brook Elementary: Anna Carlisle (Counselor)

► Mountain Brook Junior High: Debbie Stump (Biology)

► Mountain Brook High School: Bryan Rosenstiel (AP Chemistry & Engineering Teacher)

The purpose of the Alabama Teacher of the Year program is to commend and honor excel lence in education by identifying exceptional

teachers, counselors, librarians, or other cer tified educators at the local, district and state levels.

“These six individuals have been chosen by their colleagues and students to represent their school and do so daily,” MBS Profes sional Development Specialist Holly Martin said. “This is done through hard work and deep passion for students, colleagues and the teach ing profession.”

All six teachers will now complete the Ala bama Teacher of the Year application and in December, one elementary and one secondary teacher will be chosen to represent Mountain Brook Schools at the state level. If selected as the Alabama Teacher of the Year, they will serve as a full-time ambassador for the teaching profession during the 2023-24 school year.

– Submitted by Mountain Brook Schools.

Mountain Brook High School math team finishes 2nd at tournament

Fourteen members of the Moun tain Brook High School math team competed at the UAB Mathematical Talent Search on Oct. 29. The ninth and 10th grade team and the 11th and 12th grade team each placed second overall at their respective grade levels.

Hill McCluney (ninth grade) placed second individually in the ninth and 10th grade level, while Tommy Daley (12th grade) placed first individually in the 11th and 12th grade level.

The ninth and 10th grade team

was represented by freshmen Roscoe Bare, Hooker Cook and Hill McCluney; and by sophomore Sophia Self.

The 11th and 12th grade team was represented by juniors Thomas Baze more, William Chambliss, Emman uelle Lamontagne, Anna Prelipcean, Jackson Short and William Stringfel low; and by seniors Tommy Daley, Vaughn Frost, Jack Johnson and Caley Record.

– Submitted by William Galloway, Mountain Brook Schools.

VillageLivingOnline.com December 2022 • A19
Carlisle Stump Rosenstiel Kirk Holder Sims
Members
the
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Mountain Brook High School math team competed at the UAB Mathematical Talent Search on Oct. 29. Photo courtesy of Mountain Brook Schools.

Events

The Birmingham Zoo will host its third annual Glow Wild event just in time for the holiday season. The zoo’s previous holiday event, Zoo Light Safari, ended its 26-year run in December 2019.

“Our Glow Wild Animal Lantern Celebra tion began in 2020 to provide a greater inspi ration of animals during a nighttime, holiday event when live animals are not viewable at your zoo,” said Marketing and Public Rela tions Director Jennifer Ogilvie. “Glow Wild is much more than just strung lights.”

From Nov. 16 through Jan. 16, 2023, Glow Wild will showcase animals, sea life and fan tastical creatures all made of glowing lanterns, she said.

“The Zoo will come alive with hundreds of marvelous animal shapes of all sizes — from giraffes, bears, elephants and dolphins to a 150-foot-long dragon,” Ogilvie said.

Hanart Culture is the company that provides the hand-painted lanterns for the event. They can be seen painting touch-ups on the silk ani mals during set-up, which takes several weeks, Ogilvie shared.

Zoo visitors will be able to see Glow Wild most nights Wednesday through Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m. During the week of Christmas, Glow Wild will be held Monday, Dec. 19, and Tuesday, Dec. 20, in addition to the normal Wednesday to Friday dates. Glow Wild will not be available to attend on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

On Jan.16, the zoo will be open for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, the final chance to see Glow Wild for the 2022 holi day season.

Glow Wild is a weather-dependent event

and can be canceled due to inclement weather. Though tickets are nonrefundable, they are date/time transferable. The zoo highly encour ages members and non-members to purchase tickets in advance because they are less expen sive than tickets at the door, and they stop being sold at 8 p.m. nightly.

Non-peak ticket prices for visits on Wednes days and Thursdays are $16.95 for adults and $9.95 for children ages 2-12. Peak pricing

for

occurs Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, but also includes December 19-23 and December 26-27. Peak pricing is $20.95 for adults and $12.95 for children ages 2-12.

Members of the zoo receive a 30% discount on ticket prices purchased in advance and at the door.

The Red Diamond Express train and the Protective Life Carousel will be available for visitors to ride for an extra fee. Ride tickets

may be purchased on-site.

The Birmingham Zoo recommends visitors give themselves at least one hour to see all of the lanterns they will have on display. More time is suggested for visitors who want to include a train or carousel ride in their visit to Glow Wild.

For more information about Glow Wild at The Birmingham Zoo, visit birminghamzoo. com/event/glowwild-2022.

A20 • December 2022 Village Living
Wild
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Glow Wild lanterns at the Birmingham Zoo in 2021. Photo courtesy of the Birmingham Zoo.

Chamber to host holiday events

The Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a number of community events for the upcoming holiday season, including the city’s annual holiday parade.

Mountain Brook Village and English Village will host their holiday open houses on the eve ning of Dec. 1. The Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce will offer trolley transportation around the Villages from 4:30-8:30 p.m., so shoppers can park once and enjoy events in both villages.

Many retailers in the village and Lane Parke will decorate their stores and offer samples, snacks, beverages, sale items or other promo tions, and some stores will extend their hours.

English Village will be having their Poker Run from 5-7 p.m. with opportunities to win prizes and visit Santa. Mistletoe & Mimosas. Hosted by Crawford Square the event will take place in Lane Parke from 5-7 p.m., including

festive drinks and food.

The Mountain Brook Holiday Parade will take place on Sunday, Dec. 4 at 3 p.m. and will travel its traditional route through Mountain Brook Vil lage, concluding with the arrival of Santa Claus.

Following the parade, families can enjoy a special holiday storytime, along with photo opportunities with Santa and a children’s holi day craft station. This year’s parade is presented by Swoop, a children’s toy and apparel store in Mountain Brook Village.

Another much-anticipated holiday tradition returns this year as Bromberg’s puts up a 25-foot Christmas tree in front of its store in Mountain Brook Village.

For more information about merchant offer ings at the open houses, go to mtnbrookchamber. org and click on “events.”

– Submitted by the Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce.

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Disney characters wave to the crowd during the annual Mountain Brook Holiday Parade in Mountain Brook Village in December 2021. The parade returned this year after a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Erin Nelson.

Diving in paws-first

After a two-year hiatus, the annual Pooch Plunge benefiting the Animal League of Birmingham returned with a splash. Photos by Erin Nelson.

A22 • December 2022 Village Living
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said April 27, 2011. There were 29 confirmed tornadoes in central Alabama alone, and 62 tor nadoes across the state with a death toll of 250 statewide.

He remembers watching one of the tornadoes from atop Red Mountain.

“It was a day I don't think any of us really thought we would see, at least not in terms of the number of people who died,” he said. “None of us had thought that. We thought that tech nology was such that we would not face that kind of death toll again, but we did. And it was a shock.”

When he was asked by the National Weather Service why he thought so many lives were lost that day, he said that it was just so unusual to have so many powerful tornadoes hit so many populated areas.

“It was a realization that we have to do our best to really single those days out,” Tracey said. “There are days when the forecasts might say there could be a brief tornado. I'm afraid sometimes that only dilutes the message from the days that are really bad, the days that you really want people to take extra measures to protect themselves.”

When one of the photographers brought in debris that was blowing into the station’s park ing lot, Tracey said that’s when it became vis ceral to him. He said as a meteorologist, there is a tendency to think about what else he could have done.

“It wasn't just meteorological,” he said. “There were human beings being killed and houses being wiped out. I remember when I first went up to Pratt City after that storm, it was horrible. Things were just totally destroyed. And that really had a profound effect on me.”

Other days that Tracey remembers most are the blizzard of 1993, Hurricane Ivan in 2004 (when he was on air for 38.5 hours nonstop) and Snowmageddon in 2011. Being on air for hours at the time, Tracey said he never thinks about the end point.

“You just kind of let it play out, and some body is always there to rescue you if you just need a break,” he said.

He also fondly remembers being mistaken for Alex Trebec while at a Subway restaurant and the newscast where he shaved his signature mustache during a commercial break, which made the phones ring off the hook with viewer comments.

HIS HEALTH JOURNEY AND RETIREMENT DECISION

Tracey was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the fall of 2019 and was forthcoming with viewers about his diagnosis. He had no qualms sharing what he was going through and encour aged men to get their prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels checked because if caught early, the disease can be curable.

After researching his options, Tracey decided

to go with radiation over surgery. He went through 28 sessions of radiation and finished just as the pandemic was starting.

After his treatment, Tracey was filling in at the station on a Sunday afternoon when he received a call from his urologist telling him his PSA numbers are very low, and they have continued to remain so.

About five years ago, Tracey said he began thinking about retirement and decided to start planning for the future. After his last three-year contract was up, he signed his final one for 15 months, taking him near his 70th birthday, which he felt was the right time to make his exit.

“It just felt right,” he said. “When you have cancer, it does kind of change your viewpoints

on things, you're more aware of the fact that this is not going to be what I'm doing forever, and I just think it kind of changes your outlook. Or at least it did for me, anyway. And the idea of savoring life a little bit more.”

Tracey announced his retirement on air on Oct. 24. He will retire after 35 years at the sta tion as the longest tenured chief meteorologist in the station’s 73-year history, with a total of 47 years in broadcasting. His last day on air is scheduled for Dec. 9.

WVTM-13 President and General Manager Susana Schuler said keeping the people of cen tral Alabama safe was always Tracey’s priority.

“Thinking back on the 35 years of service and emergency weather coverage Jerry has provided to the people of central Alabama, it is difficult

CONTINUED from page A1
TRACEY
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Jerry Tracey, WVTM’s chief meteorologist, stands in the weather station on Nov. 9. Tracey is retiring in December after 35 years at the news station. Photo by Erin Nelson.

“Keeping the people of central Alabama safe was always Jerry’s priority, and he truly acted as WVTM’s guiding light to navigate through severe storms. His commitment and love for this community embodies our mission to serve and inform.

to put into words the impact he has had on our community and our safety,”she said.“Keeping the people of central Alabama safe was always Jerry’s priority, and he truly acted as WVTM’s guiding light to navigate through severe storms. His commitment and love for this community embodies our mission to serve and inform.”

WHAT’S NEXT AT WVTM-13?

Jason Simpson was announced as the new chief meteorologist several days after Tracey’s retirement. Tracey said he believes Simpson will fit in perfectly.

“I am so pleased that my successor as chief meteorologist is Jason Simpson,” Tracey said. “Jason grew up in central Alabama and has been following the weather here pretty much his whole life. He knows the different patterns that we experience, from severe storms to trop ical cyclones.”

Before joining WVTM-13 earlier this year, Simpson was a principal scientist for Dynetics in Huntsville, where he tested and analyzed radar systems. Prior to that, Simpson was the chief meteorologist at WHNT in Huntsville for more than a decade and has worked at WBMA in Birmingham and stations in Meridian,

Mississippi, and Columbia, Missouri.

"I grew up watching Jerry on WVTM-13,” Simpson said. “Tag-teaming weather with a mentor, friend and legend in central Alabama has been a dream come true these past few months. I am so blessed to become the next chief meteorologist at WVTM-13 and will con tinue to uphold Jerry’s high standards for accu racy and the station’s mission for delivering pertinent weather information to the people of central Alabama that helps them prepare for the future and protect their families."

Meteorologist Stephanie Walker, who has been at the station for 22 years, will continue covering the morning shift from 4 a.m. to noon, and Adrian Castellano and Harmony Mendoza round out the station’s weather team.

THANKFUL FOR THE JOURNEY

”His connection with local people is what Tracey says he will miss the most. He never imagined being able to stay at the same station for so long.

“Going to schools, going to churches, meet ing different people, the fact that they let you into their lives is a very special thing,” he said.

Tracey said he doesn’t think he will have any trouble enjoying retirement. He said he has enough interests that he will be fine. He probably will continue keeping up with the weather, though.

“The weather is always out there,” he said. “I can follow the weather, whether I'm working here or at home. My interest in weather will never go away. I have wanted to do what I'm doing now since I was 5 years old. I'm incred ibly blessed and really grateful that I’ve gotten to do what I wanted to do when I was a kid, and that interest has never gone away.”

In honor of Tracey’s service to the community and his history co-hosting the Children’s Miracle Network Broadcast for more than a decade, WVTM-13 will host a Day of Giving telethon to benefit Children’s of Alabama hospital on Dec. 1.

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“a

Not long after the program began, Josof met the wife of one of the patients in the program. She turned out to be an artist, and he asked her to come to the program and guide them. She became their first resident artist and was with the group for almost four years.

Upon her departure, Josof took over as facilitator of the program. He said the mem bers were able to find in themselves an artistic talent they didn't know they had before.

For several years, the group met at the Bruno Cancer Center the first and third Thursdays of each month. Just one of several cancer sup port services offered, art therapy is intended to facilitate creative ways for patients to respond to their cancer experience.

In the program, participants are able to express themselves through a relaxing and restorative activity and connect with others going through cancer treatment and recovery.

NEEDING A NEW SPACE

After the pandemic began, the group could no longer meet at the hospital due to the restrictions put in place. It was through one of the members that they found a new meeting space.

“I met a lady in the group when she came into the library one day to look at used books,” said Hope Long, director of the Library at Bir mingham Botanical Gardens, which is part of the Birmingham Public Library system. “We began talking and realized we were both sur vivors. She is the one who connected Louis and I.”

The art therapy classes began meeting at the library in June 2020 and have continued ever since.

Their meetings are held in the plant adven ture zone in the education hallway. It's a self-enclosed garden that includes a covered area, ceiling fans and tables, allowing partic ipants room to spread out. On cold or rainy days, the group meets in an indoor classroom.

Josof said the class is very therapeutic for patients, enabling them to enjoy the outdoors and express themselves artistically.

“They are amazed at the talent they uncover and discover for themselves,” Josof said. “They have fun, and for us to be able to incor porate something fun and therapeutic at same time is a plus.”

Class participants get to meet other patients and share their stories and talk about their own individual journeys, treatment or surgical pro cedures they've had. Josof said they always end up talking about something really positive and how they wouldn’t have met if it weren’t for this group.

Long said she considers herself an artsy person, and whenever she is working on a project, she will bring it to work with her and join in on the art therapy class.

“I'm always in and out of the plant adven ture zone, so I always have an opportunity to go in and visit with them for a while,” she said. “I love having the group here, and I’ve actually taught them a class before.”

Class members have a sense of camara derie due to their shared experience, Long

said. She said she’s grateful to be able to host their bimonthly meetings at the Library at the Gardens.

“There's not a session gone by that some one hasn't thanked me for letting the group meet here,” she said. “The fact they show up two times a month, I know they love it, and they are constantly telling me how much they appreciate it and love being there.”

Josof and Long had previous conversations about displaying the class’s art, and when Long had an opening for November/Decem ber, she knew it was the perfect opportunity.

“I told Louis, ‘Let’s do it. Let’s get the art group in here,’” Long said.

Josof said the group was excited when they found out they would be the featured gallery artists at the end of 2022.

“I think they were very flattered and very humbled by the invitation,” Josof said. “We know in Birmingham there are various art associations, and artists, and many have to present a request and portfolio to be on display at the Gardens. Everyone was excited about the opening reception and the fact their art will be on display for two months.”

Dianne Riley is a breast cancer survivor who has been in the art therapy group for sometime, describing it as her twice-a-month therapy.

“It has been very therapeutic for me,” Riley said. “It's healing.”

She hadn’t done art before but had several beautiful flower paintings on display at the exhibition. She said the group was a great way to connect after her cancer treatment and encourages others to do the same.

“We have a common bond, and I think that’s made a difference for me and my journey. It’s

been really good,” she said.

CAMP BLUEBIRD

This isn’t the first time the art therapy group has been on display. They had their first show at the Bruno Cancer Center in 2018, and again in 2019 before having to put it on hold due to the pandemic.

Thirty percent of the proceeds from this year’s sale will benefit the Library at the Gar dens, while 70% will go to Camp Bluebird, Alabama’s only adult oncology camp.

Josof said many of the participants in the art program have attended Camp Bluebird and are really excited to donate their paintings and artwork to the cause. The last camp session was held at the end of October, the first since the pandemic, and Josof said it was a huge success.

“We go to Springville Camp in Springville, Alabama. It's a church-owned facility where we are able to give campers their own private rooms,” he said.

Also at the camp are nurses, a dietitian, counselors, chaplains, social workers and many educational projects and programs. Attendees can do as much or as little as they want during the two-night, three-day trip.

Camp Bluebird offers recreation, relax ation, crafts, activities and the opportunity to openly discuss the experiences and emotions associated with cancer with other survivors. It is open to adults, ages 18 or older, who have been diagnosed or treated for cancer. The next one will be held in April.

“We want to help them learn coping skills and coping strategies,” Josof said. “Statis tically over the years, cancer patients are

I think they were very flattered and very humbled by the invitation ... Everyone was excited about the opening reception and the fact their art will be on display for two months.

surviving longer, and we want to contribute to their wellness ongoing.”

Josof developed Camp Bluebird 35 years ago, and it was the first oncology camp in the United States. The pilot program included 12 patients, and pre-pandemic attendance was more than 170. He has also put together a marketing kit for St. Vincent’s Birmingham to market Camp Bluebird to other hospitals.

“I was blessed to be able to travel all over the country to market our project,” he said. “At one time, it was in 24 different states with 35 different campsites all using the name Camp Bluebird. It's the first project ever that has gone national from St. Vincent’s, and I'm very proud of the project.”

For information on the gallery exhibit, visit bbgardens.org/art-gallery.

lot of individual donors who have helped support the project over the years.”
ART THERAPY CONTINUED from page A1 Celebrate in Style 2841 Cahaba Road, Mtn Brook Village www.thecookstoremtnbrook.com Find Christmas gifts and more at The Cook Store 205-879-5277 Christmas Open House December 1
Wishing you a Merry Christmas. May the joy of the season bring you love and peace. Merry Christmas to a wonderful Community! Here to help life go right.® Amy Gardner Insurance Agency Inc Amy Gardner, Agent 3900 Montclair Road Ste 350 Mountain Brook, AL 35213 Bus: 205-870-8220 www.amysmithgardner.com Village Living A26 • December 2022
Dee Scott, left, Joel Cleveland, Karen Wade and Chris Soniat, members of the St. Vincent’s Art Therapy group, part of the Bruno Cancer Support Services group, pose with their art at the Library at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Photo by Leah Ingram Eagle.
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Spartans building toward another strong year

The Mountain Brook High School boys basket ball team is no stranger to lifting the state cham pionship trophy.

The Spartans have emerged atop the proverbial mountain six times in the last decade, claiming more blue maps than a single person can carry. But they never start the year aiming for that goal. It’s all about the next drill, the next lift, the next practice and the next game. It’s safe to say that process has worked pretty well for the Spar tans over the years.

So, when faced with the disappointment of how last season ended — an overtime loss in the Class 6A Northeast Regional final against Huffman — the Spartans don’t go back to the drawing board or talk about how much that result drives and inspires them over the offseason. The Spartans simply get back to work.

“If you play in enough big games over the years, the ball doesn’t always bounce the way you want it to bounce. I don’t think anything ended up last year because of how we trained or worked or prepared,” Mountain Brook head coach Tyler Davis said at a preseason Birmingham Media Day event.

Julius Clark, a senior wing for the Spartans who is now fully healthy after rebounding from a knee injury in the 2021 state championship game, said each Mountain Brook team’s identity is forged in the summer during training and conditioning.

Mountain Brook’s relentless style of play makes conditioning imperative, as it is one of the Spartans’ primary advantages each season.

It all starts there and progresses throughout the year, one step at a time.

“We never talk about winning a state cham pionship. We don’t talk about the end goal. We don’t talk about winning tournaments. We talk

about winning that segment, winning that practice, getting 1% better every day,” junior point guard Ty Davis said.

That mentality and commitment to the process is evident as the Spartans adjust to life without Kyle Layton, a guard who led the Spartans in scor ing last season. Layton injured his knee over the summer, and the Spartans are unsure whether he will be able to return at some point this season.

“It’s a big hit for us to not have Kyle, but at the same time, these guys are all taught to be unselfish, to be fearless and play with intensity at all times, so it has to be something that we don’t necessarily have to worry about one guy,” Tyler Davis said. “Everybody has to continue to do their job, and everything else will take care of itself.”

Andrew Kohler is entering his third year on the varsity team and will be a key player in the Mountain Brook backcourt, along with Ty Davis.

Lawson Gardner is a strong player on both sides of the ball, while Josh Long and Henry Hufham will do most of the work in the paint for the Spartans.

John Carwie, John Webb and Carson Romero will be key players off the bench for the Spar tans, while football players John Colvin, Jackson Beatty, Clark Sanderson and Cole Gamble will be added to the mix after their season on the gridiron.

Tucker Crawford, Mac Couvillion and Jack Bakken are also expected to contribute for the Spartans this year.

Mountain Brook’s area will have a different look this winter, as the Spartans go up against the likes of Pell City, Woodlawn and Shades Valley. The Spartans will play in a couple prestigious tournaments and host one of their own. They also will play a home-and-home series against long time rival Vestavia Hills.

“I feel very confident in the group we have this year,” Clark said. “We’re gritty, we get loose balls and take charges. I’m really confident.”

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Mountain Brook’s Julius Clark (5) shoots a layup in the first half of the Class 6A boys Northeast Regional Final against Huffman at Jacksonville State University’s Pete Mathews Coliseum on Feb. 21. Photo by Erin Nelson.

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Lady Spartans poised to take next step

Last season was the breakthrough the Moun tain Brook High School girls basketball pro gram had been seeking.

With a young group learning how to win under head coach Sara Price, the Lady Spartans put together one of the best seasons in recent program history, posting a 25-8 record and advancing to the Class 6A Northeast Regional tournament.

It was a great season but one Mountain Brook felt could be even better. In the regional semifinal, the Lady Spartans fell short against eventual runner-up Oxford.

The raucous environment at Jacksonville State University was a unique experience for the players on that team, and the lessons from that day have inspired and motivated this year’s team, which is composed of many of those same players.

“Sticking to what we know in high-pressure situations,” senior Emily Straughn identified as one of those lessons. “That was a really good learning experience to stick to what we learn, trust our training and do what we know how to do.”

Much of the roster remains intact from last season because that team had no seniors. Straughn and MJ Lassiter are seniors now and lead the way for a team with expectations of making another big push this winter.

“We’ve had a long few months of the pre season and getting after it,” Price said. “We’ve got some excitement. We’re still sticking with our identity as being selfless, gritty and competitive.”

Straughn, Lassiter and junior Emma Stea rns — the three players Price brought to Bir mingham Media Day at Thompson before the season — have helped establish and maintain

that culture over the last few years.

Mountain Brook has been able to lean on its “young” label in recent seasons if things got tough, but the team now features those two seniors and is a “veteran team.” Stearns said she and the rest of the team lean on Straughn and Lassiter for all things, on and off the court.

“They have a focused attitude of, ‘We’re here to work, to grind, to play basketball, but we’re also here to have fun.’ We try to put that into practice.,” Price said. “It’s OK to be yourself and compete and laugh and get to know every one, and that’s been a fun thing the last three years.”

On the floor, Straughn and Lassiter have

established themselves as consistent, strong players. Stearns’ ability to shoot the 3-pointer makes her a weapon. Sarah Passink directs the Mountain Brook attack from the point guard position, possessing vision and an ability to distribute the ball.

Libby Geisler is now a starter after providing a bench spark last season, and Price expects her to be an offensive weapon as well. Marga ret Pelekis and Grayson Crowe thrive on the defensive end of the floor, and Kate Cotton is versatile enough to slide into multiple spots on the floor.

Ellie Halpern, Merrill Hines and Maddie Walter are young players Price believes can

contribute despite their youth. Halpern and Hines are freshmen, while Walter is an eighth grader.

Lassiter has big goals for her senior cam paign, but she noted “winning is not guaran teed.” The Lady Spartans will look to have a successful regular season and make another postseason push. They play in a new area this year with Pell City, Woodlawn and Shades Valley. They have a belief and confidence that is immediately evident.

“I’m really excited to show everyone the work we’ve put in,” Straughn said. “I’m ready to leave it out on the floor every game and show everyone what we can do.”

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B4 • December 2022 Village Living
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Mountain Brook’s Sarah Passink (25) shoots for 3-points guarded by Oxford’s Lauren Ellard (2) during the first half of the AHSAA Class 6A girls Northeast Regional Semifinal at Pete Mathews Coliseum on Feb. 17. Photo by Erin Nelson.
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Mountain Brook Junior High School cross-country sweeps Metro South Tournament

The Mountain Brook Junior High School boys and girls cross-country teams swept the Metro South Tournament in mid-September.

The girls won by 44 points on a strong 1-23-5 finish of Emelia White, Anna Erdberg, Kayman Hamilton and Francesca Demarco. Other scorers and all-metro runners were Emma Pounds, Claudia Nagi, Mary Lynne Hennessey, Elise Jackson, Hayden Butler, Sydney Martin

and Kathryn Baker.

The boys won by 37, led by a second-place finish by Brooks Bazemore. The other scorers were Luke Cribbs, Oliver Mange, Nicholson Lowery, Park Holley, James Burnette, Tripp Thuston, Joseph Zebot, Crawford Screws, Jack Williason and Ethan Schnioer. It was the most all-metro performers ever for the boys team.

– Submitted by Randy Stephens.

VillageLivingOnline.com December 2022 • B5
The 2022 Mountain Brook Junior High cross-country team. Photo courtesy of Randy Stephens.
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B6 • December 2022 Village Living
Mountain Brook running back Cole Gamble (19) has been nearly unstoppable this year as the key cog in the Spartans’ dominant running game. In a key region win over Parker, Gamble ran 10 times for 154 yards and three touchdowns. The following week, against Mortimer Jordan, he scored five times and ran for 192 yards. Mountain Brook quarterback John Colvin (12) has been extremely efficient all season long. The Spartans have boasted a dominant running attack, meaning they haven’t been forced to put the ball in the air too often, however, Colvin completed 10-of-11 passes against Mortimer Jordan for 199 yards and a touchdown. Mountain Brook showed up in a big way in the regular season finale, as the Spartans dominated Class 7A playoff team Baker 41-7. Clyde Beavers (20) made a big play in the game for the Spartans’ defense, as he intercepted a pass and nearly returned it for a touchdown. Mountain Brook receiver Jackson Beatty (14) has been one of John Colvin’s top targets all season. In a dominant win over Mortimer Jordan, Beatty caught five passes for 120 yards and a score. Mountain Brook fell short in the region finale against Gardendale, falling 29-28 in heartbreak fashion. But there were plenty of noteworthy plays throughout the game for the Spartans, including a 26-yard interception return for touchdown by Mac Palmer (16).
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Spartans volleyball finishes in final four

For many programs, a trip to the semifinals of the state volleyball tournament would be a unique accomplishment.

But the Mountain Brook High School vol leyball program has achieved so much success in recent years — winners of three straight state titles and six in the last eight years — that a semifinal exit Oct. 26 in the Class 6A tourna ment left the Spartans hoping for more.

Bayside Academy, a school that has won 20 consecutive state championships at various levels, knocked off Mountain Brook in four sets (25-21, 21-25, 25-18, 25-17) at the Birming ham CrossPlex, ending the Spartans’ season.

Spanish Fort defeated Bayside Academy for the 6A state title.

“Bayside played well. They were ready to go, and so were we. We knew going in that it was going to be a really fun, competitive semifinal match,” Mountain Brook head coach Mattie Gardner said following the Spartans’ final match.

The Spartans rallied after a slow start to even the match at a set apiece, but Bayside controlled play in the third and fourth sets to take the match.

Mountain Brook came out of the gates that morning and earned a 3-1 win over Northridge in the quarterfinals (25-11, 25-22, 21-25, 25-17).

“They were excited,” Gardner said. “They were definitely working through a lot of nerves in that quarterfinal match, and they were an emotional roller coaster during it, but they were

able to settle in and get that first win of the day.”

In the quarterfinal match, Paige Parant led the offense with 12 kills to go along with 8 digs. Hannah Parant had a terrific all-around match, finishing with 33 assists, 7 kills, 4 blocks, 6 digs and a pair of aces. Mae Mae Lacey had 10 kills and 5 blocks, and Ann Cole man finished with 9 kills and 2 digs.

Mountain Brook advanced to the state tour nament by winning the 6A North Regional in Huntsville, winning all four of its matches without dropping a set. The Spartans hovered around the .500 mark for much of the season’s first month but took off after returning from challenging tournaments in Florida and South Carolina.

“What I’m going to remember about this

group is the growth,” Gardner said. “They are not the same team that they were in August. To see how individuals grew and the team grew, it was so much fun, and it was such a special group of girls, it made being in the gym and competing fun.”

Addie Holden, Anna Frances Adams and Caroline Heck were the Spartans’ three seniors this year. Gardner called them “dream seniors” and lauded their “servant leadership” through out the year.

“Although they aren’t walking out with the blue map, they are leaving this program better than what they found it,” Gardner said. “What more can you ask from seniors? I’m really proud of them.”

Mountain Brook finished the season with a 38-17 record.

B8 • December 2022 Village Living
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Left: Mountain Brook’s Paige Parant (21) hits the ball at the net to score for the Spartans in a match against Northridge during the quarterfinal round of the Class 6A state volleyball tournament at the Birmingham CrossPlex on Oct. 26. Right: Mountain Brook’s Hannah Parant (1) and Mountain Brook’s Mae Mae Lacey (10) jump to block a hit at the net in a semifinal game against Bayside Academy in the Class 6A state volleyball tournament at the Birmingham CrossPlex on Oct. 26. The Spartans fell to Bayside 3-1. Photos by Erin Nelson.

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Opinion

Nothing breaks a parent's heart more than arguing with your child.

Even when a debate is needed, it's painful and unsettling to be at odds with the person who you would walk through fire for.

During the teenage years, the tension can escalate as teenagers push boundaries in their search for independence. This pushing helps them grow up and form an identity and life apart from their family. For parents in the trenches, it can be scary and unnerving. It's not always clear how to find the right bal ance between loving your teenager and still being their parent, correcting the attitudes and behavior that may hurt them long-term while keeping a strong relationship.

Like all parents, I've done many things right and many things wrong. What I’ve realized over time is how it's possible to argue well and recover from mistakes if our hearts stay in the right place. With that in mind, here are steps that we can take when the tension gets high: 1. Give your teenager the space to process their thoughts and feelings. Let them have time alone in their bedroom (if they want) because that’s the only room in the house that belongs solely to them.

2. Calm down, pray, and get your mind in a rational place. Ask God to help you see the sit uation clearly, set your pride aside, and guide you through the conflict.

3. Try to empathize and understand your teenager’s point of view. Even if you disagree

with them, putting yourself in their shoes and remembering yourself at their age can keep you from overreacting or reacting in a way that makes your child shut down. It’s possible to stay strong while still showing compassion for how they feel.

4. Seek good counsel after big fights. Espe cially if you’re unsure or doubting yourself, talk to someone who gives good advice: your spouse, your mom, your wise best friend. If they agree with your decision, you’ll feel more confident to stick by it. If they tell you you’re being too strict, too lenient, too dic tatorial, or too acquiescing, you can reflect on their observations and talk them over with God.

5. Circle back around after you’ve both had time to calm down. Apologize for your mistakes (I’m sorry I lost my temper, I plan to work on that and do better next time) and remind your teenager that even when you argue, you still love them with all your heart. If they pick another fight, don’t take the bait. If they give you the cold shoulder, don’t take it personally. If they open up and talk, don’t catalog all the reasons why they are wrong. Instead, listen closely, encourage respectful honesty, and talk about how to move forward and grow from this experience.

6. Buy your teenager's favorite food as a peace offering or to remind them that you are on their team, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

7. Remember how conflict is a part of life,

and learning healthy ways to work through it is a crucial life skill. Even in marriage, the No. 1 predictor of success is how well the couple can resolve conflict, according to John Gottman, America's top couple's therapist. By teaching your teenager how to respectfully work through their differences with you (a secure relationship where they can make mis takes and not lose your love) you set them up to thrive in other relationships too.

8. Remember, too, that the ultimate goal is to fight for your teenager, not with your teenager. Choose your battles wisely and save arguments for what really matters. If every conversation gets heated (or turns into a lec ture/lesson) your teenager will tune you out and look elsewhere for advice.

9. Be patient with your teenager just as God is patient with you. Every relationship con sists of two imperfect sinners doing the best they can with what they know at the time. Like you, your child is a work-in-progress, and they need grace and room to grow. Be the first person to believe in them and the last person to lose faith in them. Remember we are all on this journey together: making mistakes, learning, and being transformed through Christ.

10. Let God love you as you love your child. While some fights end quickly, others take time. Find comfort in knowing that God cares about you and understands. He is close to broken-hearted and can heal, strengthen,

and deepen any relationship that seeks to honor Him.

Parenting would be easier if we just didn't care. If we didn't set rules or boundaries, we wouldn't get pushback. At the same time, our teenagers need us to care. They need us to have their backs, look out for their well-being, and teach them how to thrive.

So when your teenager pushes your button, stop and take a deep breath. Don't lash out or speak out of anger. Instead, aim for rec onciliation. Show love even when there's not a quick fix. One day, when your teenager is grown, they'll understand your decisions better. They'll have a blueprint they can follow. They'll know how to respond when conflicts arise – and apply the lessons they learned through tensions with you to build better and stronger relationships.

Kari Kubiszyn Kampakis is a Mountain Brook mom of four girls, author, speaker, and blogger. Kari’s newest book, “More Than a Mom: How Prioritizing Your Wellness Helps You (and Your Family) Thrive,” releases April 5 and can be pre-ordered now on Amazon. Her bestselling other books, “Love Her Well,” “Liked,” and “10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know” have been used widely across the country for small group studies. Join Kari on Facebook and Instagram, visit her blog at karikampakis.com, or find her on the Girl Mom Podcast.

B10 • December 2022 Village Living
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It was just the two of us, seated at dinner. Alone on Christmas night. Dressed in our Sunday best. Candles on the dining table. Choral music playing.

“This is weird,” said my wife, slicing her turkey. “Not having Mother with us.”

“I know.”

“I keep waiting for her to call me on the phone. I keep waiting to wake up one morning and figure out it was all a bad dream, and that she never really died.” “Yeah.”

Long silence.

“Is this turkey too dry?” she said.

“Are you kidding? This turkey is so good it’s got an R rating.”

“How about the gravy?”

“I could water ski on this gravy.”

“You like the dressing?”

“I want to use this dressing in the shower.”

She smiled. “Do you recognize the plates that we’re eating off of?”

My wife lifted a dish. It had a simple green Christmas tree painted on it.

“These are your mama’s plates?” I said.

She nodded. “We ate on them every Christmas.” Then she inspected the plate and her eyes began to turn pink.

“And,” she said, “do you notice any thing about this blouse I’m wearing?”

“Your mom’s blouse.”

Another nod. “Do you like it?”

“I do.”

“This strand of pearls is hers, too.” “Ah.”

“The perfume I’m wearing, can you smell it?”

“I can. Was that your mother’s, too?”

Sean of the South By Sean Dietrich Merry Christmas

“Yes. Do you like this perfume? Is it weird that I’m wearing an old woman’s perfume at Christmas?”

“I adore that smell. And there’s no such thing as an old woman’s perfume.”

She covered her mouth. Her head dropped. Her hair fell into her plate. She dropped her fork and her knife, and there was the light sound of sobbing. I stood and went to my wife. I wrapped my arms around her.

“She’s gone,” moaned my wife. “Why can’t I seem to feel that? Why do I keep thinking she’s still here?”

“I don’t know.”

“Where is she? Is she happy? I don’t want to do this without her. Christmas was her favorite day. I can’t do this.”

“Ssssshhhh.”

“How can an old woman seem so normal and healthy one year, and then just up and die? How? Why do people die? Why, why, why?”

“I don’t know.”

“I called her every single day. She called me every single day. We were best friends. This hurts so bad. I need a Kleenex, I’m getting snot all over your sweater.”

“I don’t care.”

“No. It’s a lot of snot. Get me a Kleenex.”

“It’s fine.”

“No, seriously, there’s so much snot on your sweater, it’s getting all over

your khakis. Take off your pants and shirt, let me go run them through the wash.”

“I am not taking off my trousers and eating Christmas dinner in my underpants.”

Silent crying into my chest for several minutes. The Vienna Boys Choir sang “Adeste Fideles” in the background. The food was getting cold.

“Do you think she can see me?” said my wife.

“Yes,” I said.

“How can you believe that?”

“I don’t know. I just do. I believe she sees you, and me, and all of us. And I don’t believe she’s really gone. I believe she’s with us, somehow. I believe all our loved ones are with us.”

“You do?”

“I really do. I don’t believe she’s gone any more than I believe big waves on the ocean can truly disappear.

“I believe that waves take shape for a little while, and then they crash into the beach, and then they go back into the ocean. But they never disappear. They are always there. We are not a drop in the ocean. We are the ocean in a drop.”

“Wait. Did you steal that from a Disney movie?”

“Perhaps.”

“Which movie?”

“I don’t remember. I think I heard it on ‘Finding Nemo.’”

My wife pushed her plate away. “That

was a good movie.”

“Most underrated Disney flick of all time. Second only to ‘Apple Dumpling Gang.’”

Silence.

She said, “Do you think Mother knows how much I miss her?”

“I know she does.”

“Do you think I’m crazy for talking to her like I do all the time?”

“No.”

“Do you think she hears me?”

“I know it.”

“Can we talk to her now? You and me?”

My wife and I both bowed our heads. And the weight of holiday grief sort of pressed downward on my shoulders. My wife squeezed my hand.

“Dear God,” I began. “Please get a message to our loved ones. Please tell them how much we miss them, and how Christmas is not the same without them. And how this world will never be the same without them. And thank you for our lives, God. We are sorry if we don’t appreciate them enough.”

“Amen,” said my wife. Silence.

“I love you, Sean.”

“I love you, too, Jamie darlin’.”

“Merry Christmas.”

“Yes. It sure is.”

“Now take off that sweater right now.”

Sean Dietrich is a columnist and nov elist 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.

If you notice that someone in your family needs some extra care and attention, give us a call at Always Best Care.

As the only home healthcare company in the state of Alabama to be accredited by the Accreditation Commission of Healthcare (ACHC) and the National Association of Home Care and Hospice (NAHC), Always Best Care has served hundreds of seniors and disabled individuals in Birmingham. Services provided by Certified Nurse Aides (CNA’s) include personal care, transportation, meal preparation, medication reminders and companionship.

Always Best Care combines high touch and high tech through frequent in-home checkups, free balance testing, as well as 7x24 smart technology monitoring.

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Metro Roundup

HOOVER

National Computer Forensics Institute expands in Hoover

Hoover, Shelby County, state and federal offi cials recently celebrated the opening of a seventh classroom at the National Computer Forensics Institute in Hoover.

evidence proved they did it, he said.

“There’s a lot of children and women that will never know abuse because the bad guy was stopped by someone who went through this place,” Matson said. “There are people who will be alive and have meaningful, incredibly pro ductive lives because they didn’t suffer the sting of abuse or the sting of a violent crime because somebody went through this facility.”

ECONOMIC IMPACT

Brought to you by our sister paper:

hooversun.com

The new 2,200-square-foot classroom will allow the institute to train an additional 1,000 to 1,500 law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges from across the country in digital evi dence, forensics and cybercrime investigations over the course of a year, said Brent Harlan, the special agent in charge for the U.S. Secret Ser vice, which runs the institute.

In fiscal 2022, which ended Sept. 30, the insti tute trained almost 4,300 people, according to records provided by the Secret Service.

The institute in total gained about 5,500 square feet of space with this expansion, also adding eight administrative offices, a lobby and network server room, Harlan said. This expanded the insti tute’s total space in the Hoover Public Safety Center to about 40,000 square feet, he said.

The new space is in an area formerly occu pied by the Hoover Revenue Department, which relocated. The city of Hoover’s building services staff demolished the old space and built the new classrooms and offices.

Shelby County contributed $250,000 toward the buildout and paid for Turner Batson Archi tects to handle the design work.

Harlan said he greatly appreciated the support from the city of Hoover and Shelby County to make this expansion happen, saying the construc tion project went seamlessly and was completed within a year.

“I’ve never seen something move so fast with multiple government entities involved,” Harlan said. “Very little red tape. Our biggest problem was supply chain issues like everyone is experi encing across the country.”

He’s also thankful for continued funding from

the federal government.

EXPLOSIVE GROWTH

Congress in 2014 almost doubled the annual budget for the institute from $4 million to $7.5 million and has increased funding to $42.9 mil lion in fiscal 2022, records show. The amount of equipment, hardware and software that the institute has been able to put in the hands of law enforcement officials across the country last year crossed the $100 million mark since the insti tute’s inception in 2008, Harlan said.

As a result, the number of people trained per year has grown from 506 in 2013 to 4,279 in 2022, and the number of digital forensic exams conducted by graduates has grown from 13,445 to 156,548 in that same time period, records show.

“This program is not just a paper lion — something written down,” Harlan said. “It’s a real endeavor. It has real results, and we make an impact on communities across this nation.”

Barry Matson, executive director of the Ala bama Office of Prosecution Services, which

was instrumental in creation of the institute, said technology and digital devices have trans formed society, and that has changed the way law enforcement and prosecutors approach solving criminal cases.

DNA evidence was a gamechanger in the pros ecution of crimes, but DNA evidence is used in only a small portion of cases, Matson said. But with the introduction of smartphones and other new technology, “digital forensics are in every thing,” Matson said. “Every case has a digital component now.”

With law enforcement officers and prosecutors from all over the country and every new Secret Service agent being trained in Hoover, “this is the most impactful law enforcement facility in this nation,” Matson said. “This is something everybody in this state, every person in this room should take pride in that this is here because it is impacting lives.”

People have been exonerated of crimes because digital evidence showed they didn’t commit the crimes, and people who have committed hei nous crimes have been put in jail because digital

Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato said the city is honored to have the institute in Hoover because of the great work that is done here to combat crime across the country.

The facility also has a great economic impact on the city, with more than 20,000 people from all 50 states and five U.S. territories being trained there since 2008, Brocato said. In fiscal 2022, the institute accounted for more than $2.5 million in hotel stays, nearly $2 million in meals and inci dental spending and nearly $500,000 on transpor tation spending, and those numbers are expected to increase in 2023, according to the city.

U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer, who represents Ala bama’s Sixth Congressional District, said keep ing the institute well funded is one of his top priorities. The economic impact on Hoover and surrounding areas is good, but the main reason is the role the institute plays in fighting crime across the country, Palmer said.

Also, the institute plays a big role in protecting the safety of the nation because of the training it provides on cybersecurity, Palmer said. There are thousands of cyberattacks being launched on the United States every minute, he said.

“I cannot overemphasize the importance of this facility and the work that they’re doing,” Palmer said.

Hoover City Administrator Allan Rice said plans already are being made to hopefully add three more classrooms, an auditorium and other ancillary space at the institute. The ultimate goal is to have 10 classrooms training 8,000 people a year, Harlan said.

For more information about the institute, go to ncfi.usss.gov.

HOMEWOOD

Residents take part in ‘Love Your Trees Day’

In late October, the Homewood Environ mental Commission hosted its inaugural “Love Your Trees Day” at the Lee Community Center.

residents,” said HEC Chair, Kristin Trowbridge.

Brought to you by our sister paper:

Close to 30 participants gathered to enjoy free coffee and bagels with fellow Homewood res idents while learning about Homewood's native tree canopy from experts Henry Hughes, Bram Odrezin and Katie Wiswall.

The donated trees include native canopy varieties such as the Bald Cypress, Shumard Oak, White Oak, River Birch and American Beech as well as two native understory trees, the Eastern Redbud and Australis Bay Magnolia. Canopy trees are considered to be the uppermost branches in a forest, whereas the understory trees tuck in nicely under the protection of these canopy trees, providing another layer of shade and habitat.

thehomewood star.com

The Homewood Envi ronmental Commission set a goal of sending home 30 native trees to be planted in Homewood soil, as well as to build community and educate the public on the history of the city's urban forest as well as how to best plant and maintain these canopy and understory trees.

Some attendees joined the event out of curi osity with no intention of adding a tree to their yard, but after learning of the benefits these natives provide to our community, they left with one or more in tow, excited to be a part of a movement to help replace Homewood's aging and disappearing urban forest.

“We now have 33 new native trees in Home wood soil, thanks to this Commission, our city arborist, Hunter Trees and these willing

Henry Hughes, executive director of Friends of Shades Creek, shared his lifelong knowledge of the different types of trees indigenous to Bir mingham, as well as invasive species and their history. Katie Wiswall, partnership coordinator for the Alabama Forestry Commission, gave par ticipants instructions on how to plant their tree considering factors such as depth, width, mulch and water management.

“I loved meeting so many Homewood res idents that are interested in our community’s growth and development and how trees fit into the equation. It is definitely a conversation that needs to be continued and I am so grateful to the Environmental Commission for organizing this,” said resident Catherine Mayo.

Next year’s ‘Love Your Trees Day’ will take place on Saturday, Oct. 28.

– Submitted by Kristin Trowbridge.

B12 • December 2022 Village Living
The new National Computer Forensics Institute classroom will allow 1,000 to 1,500 more law enforcement officers to be trained each year. Photo by Jon Anderson. Volunteers plant trees and learn about them at Love Your Trees Day in Homewood in late October. Photo courtesy of Kristin Trowbridge.

Home on Hawthorn

Decorating has always been a passion for Sarah Fay and Jeannette Martin. But it didn’t become a business until the two moved to Haw thorn Street in Mt Laurel.

They became friends and began sharing their homes, families and love of design.

“Friends and family began asking us to help with their holiday and home decorating needs,” Fay said. “Over time, this evolved into a full-service business.”

Since Christmas 2021, their company — Home on Hawthorn — has stayed busy, help ing people all over the area decorate for the holidays.

They provide tablescapes, home decor and styling services, but they also have provided full redesign for clients’ homes, including new furniture and light fixtures.

Their Instagram bio describes the business as “two mamas with a passion for styling and holiday decor.” Their feed is full of dramatic before and after photos. They can assist clients with a holiday mantle or completing a surface or space in their homes that they can’t quite figure out how to finish.

The process begins with a meeting at the cli ent’s home, where Fay and Martin discuss what they are wanting to change, suggest items to add, furniture placement, color ideas and acces sory options to style.

A typical client meeting may cover anything from fabrics to layout or accessory options and preferences, and the two will also cover time lines and budgets.

“Balance is key in styling your home and making it feel complete,” Martin said. “For holiday decorating, we tailor our decorating according to your needs. Whether you want your entire house decorated or just a tabletop, stairwell or tree, we can tackle it for you."

She said helping a client achieve a look that’s right for them is where she and Fay thrive. They both find it very fulfilling to see a space get new life.

“We love the creative process the most, and we are in our element when we are coming

Laurel friends create decorating business

their love of design

up with ideas based on our clients’ needs,” Martin said.

Martin and Fay both say Home on Haw thorn can be a go-to business for holiday decor, whether it’s a quick spruce-up or a complete makeover. This Christmas, a number of tables, mantles and homes all over the area will have a new festive, designer look thanks to their expertise.

They say they love big and small projects and everything in between.

And they don’t just style for Christmas, Fay

said — they’ve got a lot of experience with fall festivals, Easter tablescapes and a range of other holidays and party themes, and they enjoy the challenge of new projects.

“Keep us in mind for events and holidays throughout the year,” she said. “If you are host ing a holiday or throwing a party any time of the year, we are here to help.”

To find out more about Home on Hawthorn, follow their Instagram at @homeonhawthorn or email Homeon Hawthorn@gmail.com.

VillageLivingOnline.com December 2022 • B13
Mt
from
280 CORRIDOR
to you
our
paper: 280living.com
Sarah Fay, left, and Jeannette Martin, owners of Home on Hawthorn, decorate a dining room in September. Photo courtesy of Home on Hawthorn.
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Area Events

Dec. 1: Mountain Brook Village Open House. Trolley transportation around the Villages from 4:30-8:30 p.m. so shoppers can park once and enjoy events in both villages. Mistletoe & Mimosas, hosted by Crawford Square, will take place in Lane Parke from 5-7 p.m. and include festive drinks and food. mountainbrookchamber.org.

Dec. 1: English Village Open House. Trolley transportation around the Villages from 4:30-8:30 p.m. so shoppers can park once and enjoy events in both villages. The English Village Poker Run will be from 5-7 p.m. with opportunities to win prizes and visit Santa. mountainbrookchamber.org.

Dec. 4: Mountain Brook Holiday Parade. 3 p.m. Floats, fire trucks, bands, choral groups, dancers and of course St. Nicholas himself parade down through Mountain Brook Village. mountainbrook chamber.org.

O’Neal Library

CHILDREN

Thursdays: All Together Storytime. 9:30-10 a.m. and 10:30-11 a.m. Community Meeting Room. All Ages. Informal storytime and lively music that seek to build positive relationships with books and the library for all ages.

Dec. 1, 8 and 15: SNaP. 3:30-4:30 p.m. Community Meeting Room. For Grades 3-6. Dec. 1: Tabletop and video games; Dec. 8: Book Bingo; Dec. 15: Movie & Popcorn: Minions Rise of Gru. Dec. 4: Storytime at the Parade - A Pop Up Story time. 3:30 - 4:30p.m. Mountain Brook Village under the Bromberg's Tree. A holiday storytime under the Bromberg's Tree with Ms. Merideth and Ms. Rachael immediately following the parade. Dec. 5: STEAM Powered. 4-5 p.m. For grades 4-6. Storytelling Room. Dive into the language of binary coding through art. Dec. 6 and 13: Patty Cake - Lapsit Storytime. 9:309:50 a.m and 10:30-10:50 a.m. Storytelling Room. Guide your child through storytime activities designed to boost development for infants to around 18 months. Registration opens on Nov. 29 at 9 a.m. Dec. 6 and 13: LOL Story Adventure. 3:30-4:15 p.m. Sto rytelling Room Laugh out loud storytime for Kindergarten - 2nd grade.

Sign in for K-2nd Graders for live action storytime for school-aged, independent kids.

Dec. 7 and 14: Toddler Tales Storytime - Directed Movement. Storytelling Room. 9:30-10 a.m. and 10:30-11 a.m. For toddlers to around age 3. Establish routine and build attention and literacy skills. Registration opens on Nov. 30 at 9 a.m.

Dec. 7 and 14: Movers & Makers - Kindergarten Prep Storytime. 1:30-2:15 p.m. Storytelling Room. For ages 3-5. Build cooperation, reading and school readiness skills through stories, move ment activities and creative expression. Registration opens on Nov. 30 at 9 a.m.

Dec. 7: Fancy Nancy Hairdo Hullabaloo. 3-5 p.m. Story telling Room. Children can get their whimsy on and get their hair styled like Fancy Nancy in her books. No appointments necessary. Sign up at the Children's Department.

Dec. 8: Hot off the Press Book Group. 6-7 p.m. Storytell ing Room. For grades 4-6. Share books and get to know some of Ms. Morgan's latest favorites over pizza.

Dec. 9: Sensory Play, Explore & More - Register for Small Group Play. 9:30-10:15 a.m. and 10:30-11:10 a.m. Storytelling Room. During the program, children move through different sensory stations with their caregiver. Small group at 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Free play at 11:15 a.m.

Dec. 9: Sensory Play, Explore & More - Free-Play. 11:15-11:45 a.m. Storytelling Room. During the program, children move through different sensory stations with their caregiver. Small group at 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Free play at 11:15 a.m.

Dec. 12: Breakout Book Club - Fox & Chick: Up & Down. 5-6 p.m. Storytelling Room. For emerging readers and their adults. Kids who are new to reading bring an adult with them to this book club, where they participate together in activities to encourage enthusiastic engagement with the book.

Dec. 13: Family Night - A Charlie Brown Christmas Movie with Mrs. Claus. 5:30-6:15 p.m. Community Meeting Room. Begins at 5:30 p.m. with a light dinner for kids following imme diately after. Also, a special appearance from Mrs. Claus.

TEENS

Dec. 2: Theater Dance Styles - with Red Mountain Theatre Co. 5-7 p.m. Community Meeting Room.

Dec. 5: Teen Advisory Board Meeting. 5-6 p.m. Com munity Meeting Room. Earn volunteer hours and improve the O’Neal

Struggling to align your people strategy with your business strategy?

Library’s young adult department by becoming a teen advisory board member.

Dec. 7: Game On - Teen Gaming. 4-5:30 p.m. Community Meeting Room. Video games and board games

Dec. 19: Library Loot Book Club. 3:30-4:30 p.m. Confer ence Room. Share the latest YA read with bookish peers and leave with a book box of goodies to enjoy over Winter Break.

ADULTS

Sundays: Yoga - with Marie Blair. 10-11 a.m. Community Meeting Room. Marie's popular weekly yoga classes are back on mornings at 10 a.m. Bring a yoga mat and some water.

Dec. 4: Ghost Stories for Christmas. 7-9 p.m. Community Meeting Room. An Under the Mountain event. Join us for a live reading of a classic ghost story by award-winning voice actor Matt Godfrey.

Dec. 6: Creative Writing Workshop with Miriam Calleja. 5:30-7 p.m. Community Meeting Room. A writing workshop for writers of all skill levels.

Dec. 7: Winecraft: Holiday wine glass crafts. 6:30-8 p.m. Create Holiday wine glass crafts.

Dec. 8: PEN America Presents “Birmingham READS: South to America” by Imani Perry. 6-8 p.m. Community Meeting Room. An interactive discussion of the book.

Dec. 10: Writing Workshop with Miriam Calleja. 3-4:30 p.m. Community Meeting Room. A writing workshop for writers of all skill levels.

Dec. 12: Great Short Stories - Reading & Discussion Group. 6:30-7:30 p.m. Conference Room. A conversation about great short fiction.

Dec. 13: Bookies Discuss If On A Winter's Night A Traveller - O'Neal Library Book Group. 10-11 a.m. Conference Room. Bookies meet on the 2nd of each month at 10 a.m. Visitors and/or new members are always welcome.

Dec. 21: Holiday Concert with the Samford String Quartet. 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Community Meeting Room. For teens and adults. Celebrate the season with a holiday performance from the Samford String Quartet.

Dec. 27: Books & Beyond. 6:30-8 p.m. Choose a book each month.

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