Village Living March 2023

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City Manager Sam Gaston remembers Terry Oden as a councilman and mayor who had a fondness for police and fire, even in retirement.

“One of his hobbies was buying and collecting, [along with some friends] old fire trucks and restoring them,” Gaston said. “When you saw one in the parade, usually it was one of theirs or one of their group’s. For several

years, he would ride the fire truck in our homecoming parade, especially our Christmas parade.”

City Council President Virginia Smith admits that she and Terry Oden didn’t always see eye to eye. Usually, but not always.

“We did not always agree,” Smith said. “But we talked candidly with each other. Whatever position he took, he always stood by it very firmly, and there was no budging.”

Smith admits that Oden’s stern stance could be frustrating.

“But I respected that, and he always respected my positions as well,” she said.

Zoë’s Kitchen reopens in its original Crestline location. Learn more about summer camps going on in the Mountain Brook area. Sponsors A4 City A6 Business A8 Chamber A16 Community A18 Schoolhouse A20 Events A23 Sports B4 Opinion B14 Calendar B15 INSIDE See page A10 See page B12 Zoë’s Homecoming Summer Camp Guide GUINSERVICE.COM Serving the Birmingham area since 1958. 205-595-4846 AL#12175 March 2023 | Volume 13 | Issue 12
TSee TERRY ODEN | page A26 A look back at the life of former Mountain Brook mayor, councilman Remembering Terry Oden Terry Oden served as Mountain Brook’s mayor for 20 years, but before that he had a long career in the Secret Service. Oden is seen in his office at Mountain Brook City Hall in January 2016 Staff photo. By LEAH
he residential real estate market in Mountain Brook slowed down a bit in 2023 compared to the previous year, but it’s not because the market declined. The total home closings in Mountain Brook declined slightly from 404 single-family homes in 2021 to 357 in 2023, but according to Katie Crommelin, a realtor at Ray & Poynor, it’s due to there being fewer Low inventory causing slight market slowdown REAL ESTATE SPOTLIGHT New custom homes are under construction in the Moss Creek Circle development off Old Leeds Road in Mountain Brook on Feb. 8.
See REAL ESTATE | page A25
Photo by Erin Nelson.

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About Us

Publisher’s Note By Dan Starnes

Writing these publisher’s notes gives me a chance to reflect on the beginnings of this publication and all that I’ve learned and experienced and the people I have met as a result of starting Village Living in 2010.

This month is no different.

Reading Solomon Crenshaw’s cover story on the life of Terry Oden, I am left standing in awe. Not only in awe of Mayor Oden’s life, although I definitely am. But also in awe of this community as a whole.

It has more than its fair share of people with incredible accomplishments and extraordinary experiences. And these people make the city what it is.

In the early years of Village Living, when I was much more hands-on in its production, I had

intimidating. I’d encourage you to read Solomon’s article on Terry Oden to scratch the surface of Mayor Oden’s life.

The fabric and culture of the city, and the cumulative effect of all of its citizens, are very special and make it a great place to live. Terry Oden certainly had a big impact on the city and the quality of life that Mountain Brook residents will continue to enjoy.

fairly frequent interactions with Mayor Oden. I was always impressed by what I knew about his life in the Secret Service and beyond. I didn’t hear him say much about it, but I was told by others. And I found the varied experiences of his life and his accomplishments to be both inspiring and a little


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

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Leah Ingram Eagle

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Kyle Parmley

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Legals: Village Living is published monthly. Reproduction or use of editorial or graphic content without prior permission is prohibited. Village Living is designed to inform the Mountain Brook community of area school, family and community events. Information in Village Living is gathered from sources considered reliable but the accuracy cannot be guaranteed. All articles/photos submitted become the property of Village Living. We reserve the right to edit articles/photos as deemed necessary and are under no obligation to publish or return photos submitted. Inaccuracies or errors should be brought to the attention of the publisher at (205) 313-1780 or by email.

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A4 • March 2023 Village Living
The Mountain Brook student section cheers as the Spartans face Mortimer Jordan in the Class 6A AHSAA wrestling duals championship at Bill Harris Arena on Jan. 20. Photo by Erin Nelson.

Physician-driven, patient-centered kidney care

Nephrology Associates, P.C. 205.226.5900 |

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There have been amazing scientific medical advances in medicine in recent years – a non-smoking acquaintance in his 40’s was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer several years ago, and instead of a life expectancy of 6 months or so, he is living very comfortably taking a pill specifically designed for his cancer, for which he had a genetic predisposition. These incredible and transformative breakthroughs have been seen in many fields of medicine, but unfortunately, advancements in treatment for patients with kidney disease have lagged behind.

Due to the cost and complexity of care of patients with kidney disease, however, one area of innovation for which kidney disease care is becoming a proving ground is care delivery. Patients with chronic kidney disease are generally very medically complex, with higher rates of heart disease, cancer, and even gastrointestinal bleeding than the general population. They have significant care coordination needs focused on preventing worsening of kidney disease, preparation for kidney transplant, and unfortunately preparation for dialysis when appropriate. All of these facets of care require extensive and iterative education; there are many appointments required with various specialists at many different facilities (for which patients require something as simple as transportation); patients with kidney disease often require very extensive and complex medication regimens. Well-intentioned and hard-working nephrologists cannot provide all of this support alone, and deficiencies in support and care lead to worse outcomes for patients, increased hospitalizations, and significantly greater cost to the healthcare system as a whole.

CMS and private insurance companies are acutely aware of these problems. As a result of a combination of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 and the Executive Order Advancing American Kidney Health of 2019, in addition to a change in eligibility for Medicare Advantage plans for patients with End-Stage Kidney Disease (ESKD), we now have an opportunity to partner with both CMS and private insurers to make radical changes to our care delivery models in an effort to increase support, education, and care for patients with kidney disease – and doing so will almost assuredly lower costs.

The phrase being used for these changes in care delivery is “Value-Based Care.” There are a number of healthcare companies attempting to provide some of these services via care management systems run primarily by nurses and other support staff, often remotely, and rarely in partnership with a patient’s physician. In our case, I prefer a phrase that is less catchy but more accurate: “Physician-driven, patient-centered care.” It is physician driven because nephrologists will be taking responsibility and financial risk for every facet of their patients’ care. It is patient-centered because every medical decision we make in partnership with our patients will be guided only by what is best for those individual patients. Now, I would like to think that all of us as physicians have always made decisions for patients based only on what is best for them – but in a

fee-for-service system, we must all recognize that distorted incentives exist that affect how patients are cared for.

Along with 16 other practices nationwide, our practice has partnered with Evergreen Nephrology to provide physician-driven patient-centered care to our patients in need. Over the next several years, we expect to provide these expanded services to a majority of our ESKD and advanced CKD patients. We will be doing home visits, providing mental health support services where needed, addressing transportation limitations, education and patient engagement, food insecurity, early support and education for transplant services, medication review and education, just to name a few facets of care we will provide. Using data analytics and other advancements in information technology, we will be accessing all of a patient’s available electronic health information and leveraging that access and predictive modeling to identify and intervene on the highest-risk patients to make their lives better. We will be heavily focused on disease prevention and stabilization to reduce the number of patients who are forced to start dialysis or undergo transplantation; for those who worsen despite our best efforts, we will be helping to coordinate kidney transplantation when possible – hopefully before a patient ever needs dialysis if possible. For those who are forced to start dialysis, we will be highly focused on Home Dialysis modalities which have equivalent outcomes to standard in-center dialysis, but much better quality of life scores at a lower overall cost.

It is a very exciting time in nephrology as a result of these care delivery innovations. Our programs begin for a relatively small number of patients on 1/1/23, and we hope to increase those numbers dramatically over the next several years. I feel certain that our efforts will yield better, happier, and healthier lives for our patients, and I can’t wait to see to see the results.

Thomas Watson, M.D. is Board-Certified in Nephrology and Internal Medicine by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Born in Lexington, KY, he graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Chemistry from Vanderbilt University. Dr. Watson received his medical education in Atlanta at Emory University where he was president of his graduating class. He continued his training in Internal Medicine and Nephrology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital of Cornell University in New York, NY, where he was also honored to serve as assistant chief medical resident.

His interests include chronic kidney disease treatment and prevention, hypertension, electrolyte abnormalities, acute renal failure, and interventional nephrology—for which he is certified by the American Society of Diagnostic and Interventional Nephrology. He performs procedures at the Nephrology Vascular Lab. He is a member of the American Society of Nephrology, the Renal Physicians Association, and the American Society of Diagnostic and Interventional Nephrology. March 2023 • A5
Thomas H. Watson, M.D.

Council approves drainage project bid

Following the advice of its engineers, the Mountain Brook City Council approved putting the Canterbury/Surrey drainage project out for bid during the Feb. 13 meeting.

Dick Shea told the council it should not accept bids on the project. He was at the pre-council meeting representing his vacationing son Charles Shea, who lives on Canterbury, and neighboring Foots Parnell.

“Essentially, you've got a whole lot of big pipes draining into a smaller pipe,” the elder Shea said. “This particular project is not going to do a bit of good, at all.

“You've got two 36-inch pipes draining into a 42-inch pipe,” he continued. “It won't work. You just compound the situation by tearing the street up. People think something good is gonna happen. It's not gonna happen.”

Council President Virginia Smith acknowledged having received advice on the matter.

“Dick, I respect your opinion,” she said. “But we've had our experts study it a lot.”

“They're not experts,” Shea interrupted. “They're engineers.”

“All right,” she continued. “We've had our engineers study it (and) I'm comfortable moving forward with (this) tonight.”

Billy Pritchard said Shea is correct in his assessment that the matter is extremely complicated in a lot of ways.

“It's been studied, looked at exhaustively,” Pritchard said. “This is the best ... This is part of the solution. It's not the absolute solution to the problem. This is what's been recommended to us. It's the best that can be done given the fact that there's a lot of other component parts in the whole system, all the way down there. We're at a point where we've all been trying to help the

best (that) we thought we could. I think this is one of those things that has been presented to us for us to bid out. I'd hate for us to pass up the opportunity to get something done to help mitigate the problem. Is it going to solve the problem? Of course not.”

The council opted not to put the Cherry/ Lorena/Euclid projects out for bid.

During the meeting, Jim Hicks made a 20-minute presentation to the panel concerning a planned project on fields at Mountain Brook Junior High School. John Somerville, the attorney for Hicks and neighbor Michael Kelley, said

the city is trying to go against the terms of an agreement made in 1995-96 regarding a buffer area.

Somerville added that lights at the field are a concern, as is drainage from the field area.

“It's already caused flooding,” the attorney said, “and we want to ensure that their houses are not flooded further in the future.”

Smith, the council president, said the city will seek advice whether what was stated in the presentation is factual. Hicks said during his presentation that the city is rushing into the project, but Smith disagreed.

“I don't think it has been rushed though,” she said. “I know that one goal is to try to get it done so that it can be used by the school system.”

In other matters:

► Four persons were appointed to the First Responders Foundation. David Faulkner and Steven Hydinger were appointed by the council; Tanya Cooper and Christopher Mouron were appointed by the mayor.

► “Two will be for three years and two will be for two years,” Vince Schilleci told the council. “We're going to stagger that term just so we don't have a mass exodus in any given year.”

► Faulkner and Cooper are appointed to a three-year term while Mouron and Hydinger are appointed for two years.

The council approved the paving list for fiscal 203. Streets to be paved are:

► Caldwell Mill Road from Pumphouse to bridge

► Caldwell Mill Lane

► Sterlingwood Drive

► Old Leeds Circle

► Lane Park Road, full length from Cahaba Road to Country Club Road

► Dexter Avenue from Church Street to Vine Street

► Carla Circle

► Peachtree Street from Euclid to Dexter

► Chabad Center, leased parking for Overton Park

► Forest Glen Drive

► Northcote Circle

► Northcote Drive from Dover to Warrington

► North Woodridge Road from 3400 Sedley Drive to the end of the North Woodridge Road cul-de-sac

► Oakdale Drive from the city limit sign to Westchester Circle

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Dick Shea addresses the council about the drainage projects out for bid. Photo by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.

Mayor’s Minute By Stewart

Hollywood stars walking the streets of Mountain Brook? Who would have thought that could happen?

In the past several months, we have had three movies filmed in our city. Hollywood director Jordan Ross (“Jerry Maguire” and “Thumper”) filmed “The Tutor” starring Garrett Hedlund (“Troy” with Brad Pitt), Noah Schnapp (“Abe”) and Victoria Justice (“A Perfect Pairing”) in two homes in Mountain Brook.

“We were fortunate to have both ‘The Tutor’ and the Hallmark movie filmed in our home,” said Mountain Brook resident Sara McDonald. “It was such a great experience for our family, especially our kids, to see the hard work that goes into making a movie. We all enjoyed meeting the cast and crew members from all over.”

Hallmark also filmed a movie in a Mountain Brook home. And recently, a sci-fi movie was filmed at Slim’s Pizzeria in Crestline Village.

Hollywood has moved out of California and has, largely, re-based in Georgia and Louisiana due to financial incentives offered by those states. Alabama offers about $20 million in incentives annually, which makes our state an attractive destination for smaller film projects. According to our secretary of the Department of Commerce, Greg Canfield, $1 of incentives returns $7 of spending within our state.

I and others are working with our state legislative leaders, Senator Dan Roberts and House Member David Faulkner, to increase our incentive package because once our incentives run out, producers move to another state (Georgia has unlimited incentives). These film projects produce jobs and revenue for our state, region and city.

There are at least two ways you can get involved. First, if you feel you have a unique filming location, you can register that location so that future producers know about it. This could be a home, church, farm, barn … anything you feel is unique. And yes, producers pay you for use of your property, plus it is just fun to watch a film crew at work.

“I was honored that the production chose Slim’s to be featured as a location in their film,” said Miller Mobley, owner of Slim’s. “It means a lot to me because of my intention and desire to make Slim’s a place that resonates with our guests from a culinary perspective and design sensibility. I also feel the community should be proud that we have substantial film productions choosing our beautiful neighborhood as their backdrop.”

If interested in registering a location property, visit and click on “Locations.”

Second, if you would like to be in a film, you can sign up at the same website and click on “For Locals.’ Film extras also get paid. I was an extra back in the 70s for a film with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sally Fields, Jeff Bridges and Fannie Flagg called “Stay Hungry.” We had fun watching how a movie was made and meeting Schwarzenegger and Bridges. March 2023 • A7 30% OFF SELECTED SIGNATURE SERIES WINDOW TREATMENTS Excluding Plantation Shutters. 205-824-3300 | 2130 Columbiana Road, Vestavia AL 35216 Schedule your FREE in-home consultation today! BUDGET BLINDS OFFERS A WIDE VARIETY OF ENERGY-SAVING WINDOW TREATMENTS $19 99* FIRST TREATMENT Long Lasting Green Lawn GREET SPRING WITH A | 205-305-7949 *Terms And Conditions Apply - Please Call For Details Keeping Your Turf & Ornamentals Healthy Since 2010

Business Happenings


BenchMark Physical Therapy opened its first Mountain Brook outpatient clinic in January. The location at 356 Hollywood Blvd. will offer in-clinic and telehealth options for outpatient physical therapy, Clinic Director Amanda Johnson earned a doctor of physical therapy degree from Duke University and is a specialized vestibular physical therapist. With nine years of clinical experience, Johnson is certified in LSVT BIG for treating Parkinson’s disease and in functional dry needling. Her clinical interests include neurological outpatient care, pediatric and motor development rehabilitation and migraine/concussion rehabilitation. The clinic is open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday.



After a fire devastated the Ray & Poynor building in November, they now have a new interim location on Shades Creek Parkway. 205-879-3036,


Updates on a few businesses in Lane Parke: Sons Donuts opened before the Christmas holidays and MELT opened in January, along with Ladybird Taco. The owners of Mountain Brook Olive are retiring and are closing this store. Information on a replacement retail tenant will be available soon. Treadwell Barbershop is in a temporary location in Lane Park due to the fire at the Ray & Poynor building in December.

Always Best Care for Seniors, based in Mountain Brook, is pleased to announce that for the 2nd year running, they have been awarded the prestigious Best

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

of Home Care Employer of Choice Award! The Best of Home Care — Employer of Choice award is based on caregiver satisfaction ratings collected via telephone interviews by Home Care Pulse, an independent satisfaction research firm. Agencies that have earned this award are best-in-class for caregiver satisfaction. 205-874-9730,


Always Best Care for Seniors in Mountain Brook is pleased to welcome Connie Gortney to its staff as a recruiting coordinator. Gortney has a bachelor’s degree from Mississippi State University and more than 25 years of professional experience working in customer service and communication roles. Having spent many years taking care of an elderly family member, she has a passion for seniors. In her new role as a recruiting coordinator, she looks for job candidates with a compassionate heart, as well as extensive professional health care experience.



Sol Y Luna, a tapas and tequila restaurant, is celebrating 25 years in business. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Reservations are accepted, and online ordering and catering are also available. 205-407-4797,

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Marguerite’s Conceits is celebrating 30 years of business. Since 1993, Marguerite’s Conceits has served Mountain Brook Village as a bed and bath boutique. 205-879-2730,

Therapy South’s Crestline/Mountain Brook location is celebrating 15 years in business. The clinic offers a variety of services and treatments to promote healing and strength. They accept all patients, regardless of whether they have been referred by a doctor or not. They are open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.


Located in Mountain Brook Village, Watkins Branch Bourbon and Brasserie is celebrating its three-year anniversary. The restaurant features robust plates and concentrated craft cocktails. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday 3:30-10:00 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. 205-593-4403,

We can digitize and enhance it all and bring them into the 21st century so that you and your family can enjoy your memories for generations to come.

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A personalized approach for wellness

Laura and Steve Olsen, the owners of a wellness studio in Mountain Brook, did not initially set out to be involved in such an adventure, but it somewhat fell into place after Laura’s struggles with lupus.

Years ago, she was healed from the disease in what the Olsens described as a medically documented miracle. Since then, Laura has dealt with other health issues and sought relief through a combination of both traditional and holistic treatments. These specific medical treatments inspired the husband-and-wife duo to open up the unique health studio—Restore Hyper Wellness.

After living across different parts of the country, the couple landed back in Birmingham and with them came a Restore franchise opportunity that just fell into place. The Olsens currently operate the only location in the state.

“Our mission is to help other people in Birmingham improve their health and wellness so they can do more of what they love in life,” the couple said.

Restore Hyper Wellness in Mountain Brook offers 12 different services for members and clients, depending on personal wellness goals. Their most popular services include IV drip therapy, infrared sauna, whole body cryotherapy and hydrafacials.

“Because we offer so many services at our location, we ask our clients what their goals are first and then suggest two to three things they might like so their choices don’t become too overwhelming,” Steve said. “We must have a passion for the mission instead of trying to overwhelm the client with choices— so we listen and take time to understand their concerns.”

The wellness studio offers pricing and packages for both members and individual services. Packages for membership range from $99 to $299 (which includes discounts and credits) and are based on a client’s needs and

wellness goals.

Restore Hyper Wellness has served the Birmingham area since December 2021 and has a wide range of clients that come in to optimize their health. While the average clients are in

their mid-30s to 50s, the client range is from ages 12 to 88 and from high schoolers to professional athletes. The gender breakdown is nearly even, with 55% female clients and 45% male clients.

The Restore brand focuses on Hyper Wellness, which is defined as a “system of total balance, energy and proactive healing that allows you to feel your best, reach your full potential and do more of what you love.”

Restore believes this is best achieved through nine natural elements used in the studio’s services: oxygen, hydration, cold, rest, nourishment, movement, heat, light and connection.

The hydrafacial is meant to treat the skin, fight acne and extract fat in a process that is managed by an esthetician, who leaves clients feeling radiant and beautiful.

“The hydrafacial is a big part of the age defying process,” Laura said. “When we have a good self-image attached to ourselves, then we enjoy life more and we can be happy. We want that for our clients.”

Whole body cryotherapy is for clients who are dealing with the stresses of surgery recovery, arthritis, back pain, pain management and more. Restore Hyper Wellness is the only location in the state with an electric cryotherapy machine (not nitrogen gas), which is much safer, they said.

“Our machine relieves pain, promotes healing and boosts energy,” Steve said.

The Olsens are committed to helping the communities of Birmingham to restore their health. The opportunity to start this franchise has changed their life in significant ways and given them direction after lupus tried to alter their journey.

“I don’t think of it as a business, but as a ministry,” Steve said. “I’m closer to helping people directly. It feels like it is my purpose.”

Laura added that many people don’t think about health care until they are sick or injured.

“Restoration is important because everybody has more freedom from health constraints and can reduce their risk of chronic illness. My prayer for everyone is that they can contribute to society, use their gifts and abilities, and give more time to their families and communities,” she said. March 2023 • A9
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Jade Skelton sets the timer and music option on the whole body cryotherapy chamber as a client experiences a 3 minute, 15 second session at Restore Hyper Wellness in Mountain Brook’s Cahaba Village Plaza. Photo by Erin Nelson.

For the Cassimus family, entrepreneurial pursuits are part of their livelihood.

Marcus and Zoë Cassimus started their fast-casual restaurant concept, Zoë’s Kitchen, in the late 1990’s. Their son John knew they were onto something and refused to back down from a challenge.

“In 1999, I was getting ready to start up another business, and through some advice of some mentors and my own thoughts, I ended up taking over my mom’s small business,” he said. “My parents didn’t want me to do it — they thought I should be in New York on Wall Street in finance. I decided to do it, and I had to do it on my own. It was ultimately the company that went public and grew to over 260-plus restaurants around the United States.”

Cassimus says his path to success was not a linear one. In the early years of Zoë’s Kitchen, the growth was slow.

“We had to open stores with cash,” he said. “We weren’t able

to get financing or anything. It was very difficult. We did it as inexpensively as we could.”

But he never gave up. Throughout the early 2000s, John said, the company went through a rebranding and an introduction of investors, and it ultimately went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014.

“From the time the company went public until they were forced to sell the company back to the private market, they were suffering significantly financially,” he said. “They were purchased by a company called CAVA in 2019. Their plan was to grow their concept [CAVA] alongside the Zoë’s concept.”

The Cava Group Inc., based in Washington, D.C., acquired the Zoe's Kitchen brand for $300 million.

Things were looking up for the Zoë’s Kitchen brand until the pandemic hit in 2020.

“That really derailed their plans,” he said. “They had to shut down a significant number of stores that weren’t performing well. As they reopened stores, and things tried to get back to normal in


2021, they made the decision to shelve the brand and close down all the Zoë’s that weren’t going to be converted into CAVAs.”

Cassimus said that he and his family became friends with the people who run the CAVA brand, and he even occasionally enjoys a meal in the Homewood location.

So how did the Zoë’s Kitchen resurrection come about?

“They called me about six or seven months ago and said that the brand was going to be put to bed permanently, and I had an idea that I felt like the brand should stay alive, especially in Birmingham,” he said. “I have an agreement to be able to come and operate here in Birmingham and open this store and see what kind of success we’re going to have when we go back to the original.”

What is the relationship now between Zoë’s Kitchen and CAVA? Cassimus shared that the CAVA Group still owns the intellectual rights to the brand, but they have given the Cassimus family permission to open and maintain a store in the Crestline area.

“It’s in its original location,” he said. “It’s going to be right

A10 • March 2023 Village Living
Zoë’s Kitchen makes a comeback
Crestline Photographs
prepares to reopen the business in mid-February. From left: Zoë Cassimus and her
Zoë Bromberg
the restaurant;
the kitchen of the original Zoë’s Kitchen in Homewood; Zoë Cassimus and
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line the walls at Zoë’s Kitchen in Crestline Village as the Cassimus family
Zoë Cassimus in

here, just like it was back in the day. The fact that I was able to end up with this store is super satisfying.”

He said what sets Zoë’s Kitchen apart from other fast-casual restaurants in the area is getting back to the basics. Their goal is to return to their original purpose of sharing fresh, healthy food with the community.

According to his personal social media accounts, the video he shared on Facebook announcing the return of Zoë’s Kitchen has reached over 47,000 users, with 987 comments and 200 shares.

“Ninety-nine percent of the menu items people are asking for are the original menu items,” Cassimus said. “Thousands of comments are all about the original menu. There is a lot of pent-up demand for the brand. There is

a lot of excitement.”

So what about the Cassimus matriarch and patriarch? Cassimus says Marcus and Zoë are excited to be involved in this reopening process and plan to work in the restaurant wherever they are needed.

The impact of the original Zoë’s Kitchen is still being felt today. Cassimus shared that employees who worked for him over 20 years ago have asked to be brought back on again when they reopen for business.

“I’ve had so many of them wanting to come back and work for me,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for my workers. It makes me feel extremely proud that they want to come back and work with me and my family.”

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Take-home meals take center stage at ‘Teenie’s Take-home Market’

Tina Liollio’s heritage is a mix of distinct cultures, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“My dad’s family is 100% Greek Orthodox, and my mom’s family is 100% Sicilian,” Liollio said. “My mom is from Birmingham, but my dad’s family immigrated from Greece to Pensacola, and that’s where they met. The first few years of my life, we lived in Pensacola, but in the 1990s, we moved to Birmingham, and it’s been home forever.”

Liollio learned to cook from both sides of her family. Her great-grandmother lived across the street, and every Saturday and Sunday, she would go to her house to watch and help make spaghetti and meatballs and all the Sicilian things she liked to make, Liollio said.

She spent time working for Jim-n-Nick’s throughout her early years, but after college, Liollio heard they were starting a new catering program that would launch in the Birmingham

area first.

“I started relationship building in the community [for Jim-n-Nick’s] and helped manage things like the call center and their first sales force,” Liollio said. “The restaurant business has been in my dad’s family since the 1960s, so I grew up in the restaurant business.”

When she left Jim-n-Nick’s, she managed the catering market for the state of Alabama, and she supported out-of-state events for major corporations and nonprofit organizations.

In late 2018, Liollio decided to start her own business that manages events for nonprofits, called Local Link.

“One of the nonprofits that I work for is Jones Valley Teaching Farm,” she said. “They do a lot of work with different schools in Birmingham to show kids what it means to grow your own food. They [recently] opened a center for food education where they teach children things like fractions through interactive cooking and use that as a way to teach and continue their mission.”

In 2020, when events were virtually nonexistent, Liollio used the opportunity to begin cooking for friends and family and delivering meals to those in need. Once things began to get back to normal, she continued doing events, but her meal delivery experience was always in the back of her mind.

“One of the big events that I did was the World Games. When that was over, Jennifer Ryan, who owns BlueRoot and who I met during the event, reached out to me about a space she was considering sub-leasing because she was busy with her location at the Pepper Place Market,” Liollio said.

This conversation happened in October 2022, and the spot for Teenie’s Take-Home Market opened in November 2022.

“It all happened so fast,” she said. “It’s so small. It’s 300 square feet. We cook [our meals] at Jones Valley Teaching School because they have a commercial kitchen, I am one of their employees, and that’s where we are certified by the Jefferson County Health Department,” she said.

Currently, Teenie’s Take-Home Market does not offer catering due to space restrictions, but Liollio hopes to add that as part of the business in the future. Products at the store, including main courses, sides and desserts, must be purchased in person.

“We will always have lasagna and Greek chicken on our menu,” she said. “Those are our staples. We do have weekly specials, and we will rotate different things by season, but we will always have staples available.”

Her mission with Teenie’s Take-Home Market is to incorporate more local, women-owned businesses into the store. They purchase wholesale items from companies like BlueRoot, Dryft Coffee, The Breakup Cookie and NOLA Ice – Broad St. Peaux Boys.

“I plan to incorporate many other local, female-owned businesses into the mix each quarter,” she said. “The goal is to offer variety as well as promote other local female entrepreneurs in the community.”

For more information on Teenie’s TakeHome Market, visit

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Right: Tina Liollio stocks the cooler with meals at Teenie’s Take-Home Market Mountain Brook Village. Far right: Teenie’s Take-Home Market is located on Petticoat Lane in Mountain Brook VIllage, Photos by Erin Nelson.

Bringing a sweet presence to Crestline

Wayne Bolden began his candy career under the tutelage of a confectioner in Savannah, Georgia.

Before his foray in the candy industry, he started out working in computer science.

“In the early 2000s, I moved from Virginia to Savannah and needed to find a job,” Bolden said. “Savannah is not a very tech-savvy city, and I needed a job change. I got on with a company during the holidays, and I just started falling in love with the whole process [of candy making].”

Bolden’s wife, who is from Hoover, was attending Savannah College of Art and Design when the two met. After they were married, they decided to move back to Birmingham, and Bolden knew he wanted to start his own candy company.

His wife was supportive of the endeavor, and they got their start with a booth at Pepper Place. The couple continued to run their business through pop-up shops until they were offered a more permanent space in the Pizitz Food Hall in 2018.

“We’ve been at the Pizitz Food Hall ever since, and now we’ve been able to expand to Crestline,” he said.

Bolden shared that when they first started, they were the very first company in the entire Birmingham-metro area that actually did chocolate and candy.

“We decided to keep it as local as possible and tried to source as many ingredients as locally as possible,” he said.

They dabbled in online sales during their initial opening but did not have the capacity to handle both online and in-person sales. As they are working to get the Crestline location up and running, he hopes they will have the ability to add online sales to their business.

“The response [to our business] has been phenomenal,” Bolden said. “I think that going into the communities during the beginning of our company through farmer’s markets and such

was helpful. When we finally did have a permanent location we could say, ‘Hey, you can come visit us here anytime.’”

Bolden said that having the Crestline location is opening up opportunities for them to expand the company beyond selling confections.

“Not only do we want to do in-person sales, we want to do kids’ parties and classes for adults, similar to painting classes but with chocolate and wine. We’re going to concentrate on Crestline for right now and see what we can do,” Bolden said.

Bolden gives credit to his staff for helping their business survive the pandemic.

“Providing a quality product as well as superb customer service, treating our staff like family, letting them know that they are part of a growing business and we want them to grow with us helped us survive,” Bolden said. “Our property managers at the Pizitz Food Hall were also helpful in supporting us.”

Birmingham Candy Company is known for their caramel, according to Bolden, who said that it is different from other caramels because it

doesn’t “stick to your teeth.” He also said that customers love their fudge, especially their seasonal flavors.

So what are his favorite treats to indulge in?

“I love to eat our dark chocolate sea salt caramel bites,” he said. “One of my favorite things to make is our fudge. We have a lot of varieties, and they are really fun to make.”

Birmingham Candy Company is located at 81 Church Street in Crestline Village. For more information, visit birminghamcandycompany. com. March 2023 • A13 LOVE YOUR WARDROBE Monday - Saturday 10-5 or by appointment 61 Church Street | 205.870.5683
Ruby Martin, 4, looks through the display case at the Birmingham Candy Company as she picks out chocolates for her birthday at the new shop in Crestline Village. Above: Wayne Bolden, owner of the Birmingham Candy Company, dips chocolate caramel apples in crushed Butterfingers.
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Seeking to give clients a ‘red-carpet experience’


To be a good real estate agent, a person must possess several important attributes, according to Amanda Dabbs, a Realtor with The Fred Smith Group, the RealtySouth office in Crestline.

For example, real estate agents should have “a lot of integrity” and be “very honest, accountable and transparent,” Dabbs said.

They should also care deeply about their clients and respond quickly to their needs and wants, she said.

For example, if a client is calling, Dabbs answers her phone every time. “I am very responsive to my clients,” she said.

She also loves her job, which she believes comes through in her work.

“I just really like what I’m doing, and I absolutely love the process of real estate, so I enjoy it a lot, and I guess my clients can see that,” Dabbs said. “I always try to make it a really pleasant experience so that we can establish lifelong relationships.”

Dabbs finds it gratifying “being able to educate my clients on the best route to go, whether buying or selling or investing,” she said. “Being their source of knowledge and guidance is really special.”

“I try to make it a red-carpet experience so they can feel comfortable, confident and secure in the process,” she said.

A Mississippi native, Dabbs earned a degree in marketing from The University of Southern Mississippi. She began her real estate career in Mississippi after watching her husband, Joseph, work as a real estate agent for two years. “He started selling real estate, and I loved it,” she said. The couple moved to Birmingham in 2010.

Dabbs and her husband live in Homewood with their three children, all of whom attend Homewood High School. Carter is a senior, Caroline is in 10th grade and Charlie is in ninth grade.

Since 2015, Dabbs has been part of a team of 10 agents at The Fred Smith Group and she really likes working there.

“I love the team experience there, she said. “It's my family — my work family — and the support, the encouragement, the camaraderie and just love that we have is really special.”

The team has a “family atmosphere,” she said. “That’s how we treat each other, and when we have clients that’s how we treat them.”

The Fred Smith Group also tries its best to make the entire process of buying or selling a home “as smooth and seamless as possible,” Dabbs said.

“We lay out a roadmap for them of what’s going to happen in the whole process so they know what to expect and when to expect it,” she said.

Buying or selling a home can be very stressful, so Dabbs and her colleagues try to reduce that stress.

“I find that the more information we provide for them — and having a plan in place for them — really reduces their anxiety, because they know what’s going on," Dabbs said.

Dabbs and her team strive to provide their clients with great marketing, too.

“We know and realize when you are selling a home it is a lot more to it than just taking some pictures, putting it on MLS and plopping a sign in the yard and waiting for something to happen,” she said. “Anybody can do that.”

When they sell a home, they have “a strategic marketing plan,” Dabbs said. “We also adjust that plan according to how the market is changing, so when the market moves, we move, and we try to remain very educated on all the marketing availability out there, including online and social media.”

The red-hot real estate market recently “has settled down, which it needed to,” Dabbs said.

Interest rates have gone up. However, “really they have just evened out,” she said. “They'll end up at about 5 points or so, which is what they were before they went down.”

The seller's market the last couple of years was “very tough on buyers,” she said. “If you didn't have the cash and were not willing to forgo inspections and be willing to give up your first-born child, you were not getting a house.”

Over the last two years, Dabbs — in addition to working with buyers and sellers in the general market — has also developed a new line of business that she is excited about.

► CALL: 205-746-8820


► WEBSITE: amandadabbs.

“I also have an expertise in real estate investment,” said Dabbs, who helps investors from all over the world find homes in the city of Birmingham to buy and hold for use as rental properties, many of which are rented to lowincome residents as part of the federal Section 8 program.

In 2022, Dabbs opened her own company, Complete Property Management, to manage the rental properties for all of her investors.

“I would just say I have a strong faith life, and I just kind of go where the Lord guides me, and so he kind of gravitated me toward the investor market," she said.

“It’s not just money focused,” she said.

Dabbs discovered that there are many houses in the “less fortunate areas” of Birmingham that “need to be fixed up” and that “there are a lot of slumlords out there,” she said.

“That's why I got into the management side, because

I wanted to help wherever I can to fix up the houses in those areas and make sure the tenants are being taken care of and they’re not just being ignored,” Dabbs said.

“This really allows me to help build up and refurbish those communities,” she said.

Women in business definitely bring some positive qualities to the table, Dabbs said.

Many women are “a lot more heartfelt and empathetic,” she said. “Not every man is like this, but with a lot of men it’s pride, being driven and trying to get to the top. And it’s like that for women, I’m sure. But I think a lot of women have a natural mothering instinct, an empathetic instinct.”

There are now more opportunities for women in business. and some of the old sexism seems to be fading, Dabbs believes.

“Most of my investor clients are men, and me being a woman does not make them shy away from me at all, because I get it done,” she said. “I provide great service, or I try to.”

There are also some women “starting to trickle into” that investor market, “which I really like to see,” Dabbs said. “They probably enjoy working with another woman. Being a woman definitely hasn’t been a hindrance. I think it’s just about the service that you give.”

A14 • March 2023 Village Living

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A16 • March 2023 Village Living Chamber
Vivian Terry and Suzan Doidge. From left: K.C. Hairston, Greg Cook, Danny Carr, Glenn Durough and Emily Jensen at the annual Mountain Brook Chamber Luncheon at the Country Club of Birmingham. Left: Lindsy Gardner, executive director of the O’Neal Library, introduces the winner of the 2022 Tynes Award. Middle: Alice Womack, the recipient of the 2022 Jemison Visionary Award speaks to the crowd. Right: Mountain Brook Mayor Stewart Welch addresses luncheon attendees Guests attend the annual Mountain Brook Chamber Luncheon at the Country Club of Birmingham on Jan. 25. Photos by Erin Nelson.

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New Horizon program focuses on lifelong learning

Learning can begin at any age, and it does not simply stop as a person gets older. For seniors, lifelong learning means staying sharp and engaged.

Members at the New Horizon program are all 50 and older and enjoy learning, socializing with others and attending cultural events and field trips.

The program was founded in 1989 as a part of the Aging Research program at UAB and celebrated its 30th anniversary as a nonprofit organization in 2019.

Members at New Horizon come from a variety of backgrounds and attend three weekly morning meetings followed by a Zoom discussion.

Kathy Rostand, the company’s social media and communications coordinator and past president, has been a member since 2011. She said she would like to see an uptick in community participation because the program has great benefits and a strong history at UAB.

“If they are retired, they can join the group because there is no age restriction,” Rostand said. “If someone wasn’t able to work full-time and could be driven to the meeting, then they could come, too.”

— winter, spring, and fall — each lasting for eight weeks. Individuals can join at any time, and there are no attendance requirements. There is a $95 tuition charge per semester that covers facilities, lecture speakers and snacks.

group because they have created a community of friends and welcome everyone with open arms each semester.

Lisa Sharlack, a guest speaker from UAB, gives a lecture on gender politics in Iran and Afghanistan and how the political climate has changed, for New Horizons, a lifelong learning group through UAB, at Valley Christian Church on Jan. 27. Photo by Erin Nelson.

A18 • March 2023 Village Living
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Teachers of year named for Mountain Brook Schools

Mountain Brook Schools has named the six Teachers of the Year representing each school in the MBS district.

The purpose of the Alabama Teacher of the Year program is to commend and honor excellence in education by identifying exceptional teachers, counselors, librarians, or other certified 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 Professional Development Specialist Holly Martin said. “This is done through hard work and deep passion for students, colleagues, and the teaching profession.”

This year’s teachers of the year are:

► Brookwood Forest Elementary – Tanishia Sims, second grade: “Ms. Sims helps to facilitate a classroom environment rich in

relationships; students feel valued and capable. Support staff who work alongside her value how she communicates with them to ultimately help her students learn and grow. She is a lifelong learner and seeks ways to grow in her own practice.” (From a BWF colleague)

► Cherokee Bend Elementary – Lyndsi Kirk, literacy coach: “Mrs. Kirk knows that the expertise of her colleagues helps to make her and her students better, so she consults every person involved in a student’s learning to make sure she is doing everything she can to meet the individual needs of each and every student.” (From a CBS colleague)

► Crestline Elementary – Debbie Holder, first grade: “Debbie is an amazing teacher, colleague, and advocate for her 1st graders. She pushes her students to their potential and beyond with her in-depth knowledge of each individual child in her classroom. Her heart

goes beyond her students and onto her colleagues as she shares her ideas and strengths with others.” (From a Crestline colleague)

► Mountain Brook Elementary – Anna Carlisle, counselor: “Anna leads from the heart every day. She is a vital part of our MBE family and the greater part of the Mtn. Brook community as the head school counselor.” (From a colleague at MBE). She was also described as “detail-oriented, knowledgeable, approachable, trusted, and a good communicator” by multiple people.

► Mountain Brook Junior High – Debbie Stump, biology : “Mrs. Stump is the most supportive teacher I have ever met. She will do anything and go out of her way to help her students. It is impossible to leave her classroom in a bad mood.” (From a MBJH student)

► Mountain Brook High School – Bryan Rosenstiel, AP Chemistry and Engineering:

“Bryan pours his heart and soul into his students every day and is always seeking out ways to improve his teaching,” said Philip Holley, MBHS Principal. “He truly cares about his student’s success both in and out of the classroom. In fact, you can often find Bryan at numerous events supporting not just his students, but all of the students at Mountain Brook High School. I cannot think of a better person to represent Mountain Brook High School and everything we value.”

In December, Kirk and Rosenstiel were chosen to represent Mountain Brook Schools at the state level. If selected as the Alabama Teacher of the Year, they will serve as a fulltime ambassador for the teaching profession during the 2023-24 school year.

– Submitted by William Galloway, Mountain Brook Schools.

A20 • March 2023 Village Living
Have a schoolhouse announcement? Email Leah Ingram Eagle at to be considered for inclusion in an upcoming issue.
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Holder Kirk Rosenstiel Sims Carlisle Stump

Mountain Brook students compete in spelling bee

Five students from across the Mountain Brook school district competed in the annual district Spelling Bee in January. Mountain Brook Elementary’s Owen Ward came away as the winner in the 13th round spelling “benefited” as his championship word.

Cherokee Bend’s Crosby Long finished in second place. Other contestants included Bo Stallcup (Crestline Elementary), Campbell Eason (Brookwood Forest Elementary), and Emelia White (Mountain Brook Junior High).

“We’re very proud of each of these contestants and the way they represented not only themselves but also their school,” District Spelling Bee Coordinator Lanie Kent said.

Each individual won their respective school’s Spelling Bee during the fall semester to earn a spot in the district bee.

The 2023 Spelling Bee pronouncer was Dr. Lisa Beckham and judges were Dr. Susan Cole, Cory Morris and Rachel Weingartner.

– Submitted by William Galloway, Mountain Brook Schools.

MBHS student wins Congressional App Challenge

Sophia Li from Mountain Brook High School was named the winner of the 2022 Congressional App Challenge for Alabama’s 6th Congressional District. The contest provided a valuable opportunity for middle and high schoolers to develop their skills in computer coding, math, science, and related subjects by creating an original application. Her app is titled “Hook-ED” and is a three-in-one app that aims to help students maintain a healthy work and life balance.

“I’m impressed with Sophia’s creation for the App Challenge,” Congressman Palmer said. “She has created a valuable tool for students that is user-friendly and includes education resources, an easy way to

keep track of tasks, and a place for students to reflect on their day. STEM skills are increasingly important in today’s professional and academic environments, and this app indicates that Sophia will go far. She should be proud of her hard work.”

Hook-ED assists individuals, especially students, with the ability to create a healthy work and life balance. It provides easy access to a customized to-do list, academic resources for the four core subjects, and a journal to reflect on one’s day.

Li will receive a recognition certificate from Congressman Palmer and will have the chance to present her app during a coding fair in Spring 2023.

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From left: Emelia White from Mountain Brook Junior High School, Campbell Eason from Brookwood Forest, Crosby Long from Cherokee Bend, Bo Stallcup from Crestline Elementary and Owen Ward from Mountain Brook Elementary. Photo courtesy of Mountain Brook Schools. Sophia Li, pictured with Patton Hahn, at the November 2022 Board of Education meeting at Cherokee Bend Elementary. Photo courtesy of Mountain Brook City Schools.

Riley named Gatorade Player of the Year

Mountain Brook High School runner Reagan Riley was recently named the 2022-23 Gatorade Alabama Girls Cross Country Player of the Year. Riley is the second Gatorade Alabama Girls Cross Country Player of the Year to be chosen from MBHS (Madeline Morgan: 200708, 2008-09) and the 14th athlete from MBHS to receive a Gatorade Player of the Year award.

The award program, which is in its 38th year, recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishing Riley as Alabama’s best high school girls cross country runner. She is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Player of the Year award, which will be announced later this month.

The 5-foot-6 senior raced to a second straight Class 6A individual state championship this

past season with a time of 17:57.30, leading the Spartans to back-to-back team titles. Riley also won the Southern Showcase and took second at Nike Hole in the Wall Invitational in Washington. She placed ninth at the Garmin RunningLane National Championships. The co-president of the Justice Club, organized to raise awareness about human trafficking, Riley has also volunteered locally at Alabama Game Changers, where she tutors autistic youth to make them feel comfortable in new environments. She is also the secretary of the Civitan Club, which plans service projects within her community.

Riley has maintained a weighted 4.16 GPA in the classroom. She has signed a National Letter of Intent to run on scholarship at the University of Notre Dame this fall.

– Submitted by William Galloway, Mountain Brook Schools.

A22 • March 2023 Village Living
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Mountain Brook’s Reagan Riley leads in the girls race during the 31st annual Husky Challenge cross-country meet at Hewitt-Trussville High School on Oct. 15. Photo by Erin Nelson.



returns for 19th year

The 19th annual Chili Cook-Off is set for March 4, offering residents a taste of a variety of chilis.

The event will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the upper parking lot of the old Macy’s at Brookwood Village, said Elizabeth Sturgeon with The Exceptional Foundation, the sponsor and beneficiary of the event.

Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the event or in advance at exceptional Children 12 and younger are free.

This year’s event will feature a bigger kid zone with inflatables and Touch a Truck, along with live music, Sturgeon said. The main draw, however, is the all-you-can-eat chili cooked by more than 100 teams, made up of businesses and community organizations.

In 2022, 146 teams competed, with hopes for that many teams or more this year, said Robbie Lee with The Exceptional Foundation. Each team’s four chefs make 15 gallons of chili. Guests can try as much of the chili as they want.

There is often traditional chili, along with

Chili Cook-Off

• WHERE: Upper parking lot of the old Macy’s at Brookwood Village

• WHEN: March 4, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• COST: $15; children 12 and younger are free

• WEB:

unique twists on the dish: sweet, spicy, white chicken and more, Lee said.

An overall winner will be chosen by local celebrities participating as judges. There will also be a participant’s choice award chosen by members of The Exceptional Foundation, along with a spirit award and a people’s choice award, voted on by guests, Lee said.

The proceeds tallied more than $400,000 last year, the highest amount ever. The money represents about a quarter of the organization’s annual budget and helps pay for activities like summer camp, the day program, prom and more.

take off at the start of the 2018 Village2Village Run. Staff photo.

Chamber hosting Village2Village Run

The Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce will host the 2023 Village2Village 10K/7.5K Run on Saturday, March 11.

Warm ups will begin at 7 a.m. with the race kicking off at 7:30 a.m.

The race starts at the Grand Bohemian Hotel with a course that winds through the streets of Mountain Brook, around the Birmingham Country Club, and finishes downhill past Birmingham Botanical Gardens, into Lane Parke.

Each finisher (10K and 7.5K) will receive a custom made, logoed, metal bottle opener. Village Gold awards will be given to the 10K Top 3 Overall Males and Females, Top Male and Female Masters, and Top 3 Males and Females in each age group. The 7.5K will be timed, but there will be no overall or age group awards.

After the race, guests can enjoy a Race Village After Party in Lane Parke including food and drink vendors, live music, a kids zone, and awards for 10K race participants.

Late registration and packet pick up will be

Village2Village 10K/7.5K Run

• WHERE: Starts at the Grand Bohemian Hotel and finishes in Lane park

• WHEN: Saturday, March 11; warm ups will begin at 7 a.m. with the race kicking off at 7:30 a.m.

• COST: Registration costs $40 for the 7.5K and $45 for the 10K

• WEB:

Thursday, March 9, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce and on Friday, March 10, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Trak Shak in Homewood.

To register, visit

– Submitted by the Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce. March 2023 • A23
Kara Kelley serves chili at the 2020 Exceptional Foundation Chili CookOff event at Brookwood Village. Staff photo. | 6 Office Park Circle, Suite 315, Birmingham, AL 35223 IN-HOME CARE • bathing • grooming • housekeeping • meal preparation • incontinence care • medical reminders • transportation • skilled nursing services Call Our Client Team Today! (205) 874-9730 + FREE • routine RN health and wellness visits • routine supervisory visits • regular balance testing
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homes on the market.

“When there are fewer listings, you can see the correlation between less available units for sale going for higher prices because the demand is so large,” Crommelin said. “When someone says the housing market is on decline because there were fewer units sold, that’s not really accurate for us. There's less inventory available and as a result, it’s driven up the price of the homes. The demand is still there, that’s the bottom line.”

The average home sale price in 2023 was $1,026,819, compared to $992,529 in 2021. Average days on the market for both years were between 11 and 18.

Over the last six months, homes for sale have averaged 16 days on the market. Crommelin said peak rates hit at the beginning of last summer as well as the number of days on the market.

“In June and July things slow down, so it’s hard to say if it’s the rates or time of year,” she said.


In 2018, there were 378 existing homes and nine new homes for sale; in 2019, there were 447 existing homes and nine new homes for sale.

In 2020, the pandemic didn’t have a huge effect on the housing market in Mountain Brook, with 416 existing homes for sale and seven new homes for sale; in 2021, the market stayed mostly steady, with 428 existing homes and only three new homes for sale.

2023 saw the lowest numbers of the past five years for existing homes for sale, at 351, and an additional six new homes for sale.

The price per square foot for new home construction in Mountain Brook rose from $206 per square foot in 2018 to $288 per

square foot in 2023, MLS data shows. The cost for existing homes also has risen over the past five years. The average price for an existing home in the city rose from $733,366 in 2018 to $1,026,819 in 2023.

Crommelin said that from Feb. 7, 2023, to Feb. 7, 2023, more than 300 homes were sold in Mountain Brook, staying on the market an average of 11 days.

“There are some that have been on the market for a long time, mostly those over $2 million,” she said. “The higher the price, it reduces the pool of buyers able to purchase that home and the longer it can stay on the market.”


Some realtors and builders say the biggest reason for the decline is the rise in interest rates. However, Crommelin said even though the rates have increased, they are still very low compared to historical numbers.

“Houses were sold every day when interest rates were 18%,” she said. “Even though right now to us the rates feel elevated, the fact is they still are very low. … Instead of seeing a larger impact caused by interest rates going up, we've continued to see very high demand, which has meant less effect caused by those rates.”

The average interest rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage had fallen below 3% after the

COVID-19 pandemic hit, dropping as low as 2.65% in January 2021. That was the lowest rate in history and encouraged many people to move or build because they could borrow money at a lesser price and afford a bigger house.

But the Federal Reserve steadily raised short-term interest rates throughout 2023 in an effort to control inflation. The result was that the average 30-year mortgage rate edged up from 2.75% in December 2021 to 4% in March, 5.25% in May and 7% in October, according to Freddie Mac. The Federal Reserve lists the current interest rate in the U.S. at 4.5%.

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New custom homes are under construction in the Moss Creek Circle development off Old Leeds Road in Mountain Brook on Feb. 8. Photo by Erin Nelson.


According to Crommelin, there is such limited inventory in Mountain Brook that currently the city is still at a moment where there is very high demand for homes.

“In Mountain Brook, real estate is a supply-and-demand issue,” she said. “We have a lot of demand and not enough supply to meet it. When houses come on the market, they still move very quickly. Some are still selling over the asking price in the first few days.”

As of Feb. 7, there were 19 single family homes for sale in Mountain Brook. Of those, six were under $1 million and four of them were new construction.

Crommelin said the spots where new construction is taking place are Moss Creek Circle — a new development off Old Leeds Road — along with some on Mountain Park Drive and one on Euclid Avenue.

“What we have within the city limits is it,” she said. “We don’t have hundreds of acres of land able to develop.”

Waiting to hear back from two builders and will add info/quotes if/when they respond.

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In Mountain Brook, real estate is a supply-anddemand issue. We have a lot of demand and not enough supply to meet it. When houses come on the market, they still move very quickly. Some are still selling over the asking price in the first few days.


CONTINUED from page A1

“We had a good working relationship. Most of the time, he and I were always on the same page. I admired him very much, and I think he admired me, too.”

Oden passed away on Jan. 10 at the age of 85. At his memorial, an honor guard of firefighters led the family into the service at Canterbury United Methodist Church.

Rev. Bill Morgan admitted feeling a bit tested to deliver a eulogy that captured the various parts of Oden’s lifetime.

“He lived a pretty diverse and wide life,” the minister said. “To try to put that in 15 or 20 minutes, it’s kind of a challenge. You want to do justice to their lives.”

According to his obituary, Oden was a graduate of Birmingham’s Woodlawn High School and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Auburn University. His service as jailer and dispatcher on the Auburn Police Department foretold his service with the U.S. Army Security Agency, where he served for three years in the Far East and was a member of the Special Forces Club in London.

Oden was commissioned into the Secret Service in April 1964 and retired in 1988. During his career, he served as one of the first sky marshals; served as a special agent in Atlanta, New York, Birmingham, LBJ Ranch, Washington field office and the Presidential Protective Division; was assistant special agent in charge (ASAIC) of Kansas City; ASAIC and special agent in charge (SAIC) of San Francisco; SAIC of the Paris office; and SAIC of the Birmingham office.

He also was the security coordinator of the 1984 Democratic Convention, detail leader of President Reagan’s winning campaign, a member of the first foreign dignitary detail and a member of the first Kennedy detail in New York City.

Upon retirement from the Secret Service, Oden became the corporate security director for a large regional bank. After retiring from the bank, he opened his own security company.

Gaston, the city manager, served in Mountain Brook city government for nearly a quarter century alongside Oden, who was on the city council before his 20-year stint as mayor.

“He was extremely proud of this community and he loved his community,” Gaston said. “Although he was not a native, [Mountain Brook] became his adopted home.”

Gaston added that Oden’s spirit of public service likely came from his father, a longtime employee in the Birmingham Fire Department.

“He was very involved with a lot of things, especially with our public safety departments,” Gaston said of Oden. “That was one of his liaisons as mayor, to be the public safety liaison, and also with our municipal judges, municipal court. He loved our employees, and our employees knew that he really cared about them, too.”

Gaston said Oden had several accomplishments in his time in public office. Among those of which he was most proud was his help in saving the Birmingham Zoo.

“Many, many years ago when the city [of Birmingham] was not doing well and it was looking at [the zoo] being privatized, he helped make sure, along with Homewood and Jefferson County, that the old Shades Valley High School property was not developed

commercially,” Gaston said. “Some of that was given to the zoo for expansion. That’s one of the major things he was very proud of, saving that property from being commercialized, giving some to the zoo, getting the zoo back on financial footing, although it was in Birmingham.

“But that’s something that has a lot of impact on Mountain Brook and Homewood,” he continued. “He was very proud of that accomplishment and, of course, [commercial development there] would have had a major negative impact on Mountain Brook Village and our commercial area there, too.”

David Haigler is president of Oden’s Sunday school class at Canterbury United Methodist. He remembered Oden not being at a loss for words at a dinner party when he and his wife, Sandra Oden, attended social events.

“And any other setting, too, probably,” Haigler said. “He had tons of experiences that most people in this world and this country don’t ever have. He was careful not to divulge things that were private information to people that he had worked with in the past in sensitive and private situations.

“But he had a lot of stories to tell about places they lived and the people he interacted

with in the Secret Service,” the Sunday school class president continued. “He always was easy to talk to and I think he enjoyed being with people. I think he liked people and liked to serve people. That’s what his whole life was devoted to, really.”

Haigler said Oden was not looking to impress anyone or to further his own image when he served in public office.

“He just liked people and liked to serve people,” Haigler said. “That was his motive and it wasn’t a political gain-type issue. He just wanted to serve in a capacity that was helpful to his community and to the people around him. We were lucky to have him serve us. I know the country was lucky to have him serve in all the capacities he did. He was a good, solid citizen and somebody I think we’re all proud to know.”

Rev. Morgan, who delivered the eulogy, said one thing Oden didn’t keep secret was his love for his family.

“No question about that,” he said. “He apparently was just a great husband and great parent, great father, great grandfather. He loved his dogs. The people I talked to who worked with him, everyone in their own way said he was a real people person. He loved people.”

Smith said Oden’s true passion in the city government, and one of his areas of complete expertise, was in the fire and police departments.

“Security was his background, so he really helped us a lot in that,” she said. “You could tell from the [memorial] service how much they respected that because I believe it was the fire department that reached out to Mrs. Oden and said, ‘We’d like to be there as a color guard.’ That's what I’ve heard, and that shows the respect that they gave him.” 40 Church St • Birmingham, AL 35213 • 205.848.7800 BOYS & GIRLS SIZES 4-18 Mon mi create your own style monamibham Village Living A26 • March 2023
“ ”
Left: Former Mountain Brook Mayor Terry Oden and his wife Sandra. Photo courtesy of Janet Forbes. Above: Mayor Stewart Welch shakes hands with former Mayor Terry Oden at the dedication ceremony for the new Mountain Brook police and fire training facility in October 2017 Staff photo.
He was extremely proud of this community. Although he was not a native, [Mountain Brook] became his adopted home.
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High hopes for Spartans baseball

There is reason to believe this season could be a banner one for the Mountain Brook High School baseball team if things go according to plan.

Mountain Brook had a strong team last season, posting a 24-10 mark and reaching the second round of the Class 6A playoffs, where the Spartans fell only to eventual state champion Hartselle.

The good news for the Spartans? Nearly all of their production from 2022 is back for another season, with Mountain Brook only losing a few players to graduation.

“There’s quite a few players back from last year and even the previous year,” Mountain Brook head coach Lee Gann said. “We’re excited to come into the season with a seasoned team. We’ve got a great nucleus coming back, which we’re excited about.”

Gann said there is an obvious “hunger” in the team’s collective eye heading into the season, noting that many of the players were critical to last year’s success. There are several guys that also play football, and that team’s run to the state championship game has the players yearning for similar results this spring.

“Guys are ready for the challenge. We’ve put together the toughest schedule we’ve ever played,” Gann said. “Hopefully that prepares us for the challenges that are down the road.”

Speaking of the schedule, Mountain Brook is entered into a few prestigious events. The Spartans will host part of the Prep Baseball Report Kickoff and will also play in the Perfect Game Showdown at the Hoover Met Complex, play in the Battle of the Beach in Biloxi, Mississippi, and compete in the IMG National Classic in Bradenton, Florida.

Gann believes this year’s team is ready for that kind of challenge. The Spartans have 12 seniors this year, many of whom have plenty of varsity experience to lean on heading into the season.

Gabe Young, Evan Bibb, Charlie Berryman, Ford Moffatt, Jack Thomas Kelly, Colin Couch, Mac Palmer, Walker Allen, Davis Peterson, Trent Wright, Grayson Long and Mac Smith will all be leaned on to provide production in 2023.

One of the key spots the Spartans will have to replace this season is the anchor of its pitching staff, following the graduation of Howell Polk. John Robicheaux was solid on the mound for

the Spartans last spring, with Kelly, Young, Berryman and Caleb Barnett among those who will compete for innings.

Long and Moffatt also pitch, and the Spartans also get back junior Kenneth Diddell and Bibb, who excelled in relief roles.

Berryman, Palmer, Young and Robicheaux will be among the team’s outfielders, with James Graphos and Allen back to hold down the middle infield. Moffatt, Long and Wright can log time at first base, while the Spartans will look to some combination of Barnett, Nolan Shaver and Wyatt Swanson to make up much of the time

at third base.

Behind the plate, Couch and Peterson provide plenty of stability for the Spartans.

“Without putting pressure on ourselves, we’re going to try to go out there and play our best each day,” Gann said.

Mountain Brook will play in an area with Homewood and Shades Valley, with hopes of making another playoff run.

“We’re not looking toward the end, we’re just focused on being the very best version of ourselves today, as we go about our business,” Gann said.

Above: Mountain Brook’s Walker Allen (17) fields the ball in a game against Gadsden City during the Buc Classic spring break tournament held at the Hoover Met Complex in March 2022. Right: Mountain Brook’s Gabe Young (3) catches a fly ball in right field to record an out as the Spartans face McAdory in March 2022. Photos by Erin Nelson.


 Ammunition

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 Electronics

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 Aparatos domésticos

 Electrónicos

 Pilas

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 Pesticides, Herbicides and Fertilizers

 Paper Shredding

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Je erson County Residents Only Verification of Residency Required (valid driver license or photo ID with address)

 Tires

No Businesses Allowed to Participate

April 29, 2023

 Pintura

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 Papel para ser triturado

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Solo para residentes del condado de Je erson -Necesita verificación de residencia(license de conducir o foto ID con dirección)

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No se permite la participación de negocios

April 29, 2023

First Baptist Church Gardendale-South Location-940 Main Street, Gardendale 35071

Site 2

B2 • March 2023 Village Living the
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City of Bessemer Public Works Laydown Yard-1205 15th Avenue North, Bessemer, 35020 March 2023 • B3 Raymond James and its advisors do not offer tax or legal advice. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional. Rebalancing a non-retirement account could be a taxable event that may increase your tax liability. Any opinions are those of Riverpeak Partners and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss. No investment strategy can guarantee success. *Jasper office address: 401 19th St E, Jasper, AL 35501 We manage more than your wealth. We manage your legacy. Brokered Certificates of Deposit Matthew Laird Managing Director James Michael Moyer Associate Vice President, Wealth Management John Romano, WMS® Financial Advisor Craig Vinson, MBA Financial Advisor Matthew Gordon, CFP® Practice Business Coordinator Toby Banks Associate Vice President, Investments; Financial Advisor *Jasper Office Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Member New York Stock Exchange/SIPC 205.874.1804 | 2900 Highway 280, Suite 100 • Birmingham, AL 35223 Are you staying invested? If you are interested in hearing more information on brokered CDs, please contact Shelia Griffith at 205-802-4272 4.50%4.60%4.70%4.75% 2/1/2023

Spartans softball putting another foot forward

The Mountain Brook High School softball program has taken positive steps in each of coach Heather McGuirk’s previous four seasons.

But the step the Spartans took last season was a significant one, as they posted a winning record and returned to the regional tournament for the first time since 2014.

“The biggest part was proving to ourselves and our school that we can compete,” McGuirk said. “We’ve rebuilt the program from the bottom in a short amount of time. The excitement that it brought to our program and showing that we can win was huge.”

The program is also continuing to gain traction throughout the Mountain Brook community. In addition to all the field and facility improvements in the last few years, McGuirk said the

numbers in the program are trending higher once again this year.

“The excitement around the sport of softball in Mountain Brook, it’s been incredible,” she said.

This season, Mountain Brook will look to take yet another step forward. For McGuirk, that means making it back to regionals and competing even better this season.

“Let’s continue to work hard and try to raise the bar little by little as we go,” she said.

The pieces are in place for the Spartans to do that, as they have a significant amount of returning experience this spring.

“So far, things are looking really good,” McGuirk said. “The kids are working hard, and they’re great kids. The attitudes and all that are fantastic.”

Ellie Pitts and Patty Ann Frierson are this

year’s two seniors. Frierson is the team’s primary catcher, a position that requires leadership to begin with. Pitts is a pitcher and a versatile player as well.

“They’re a vital part to the team,” McGuirk said. “Watching both of them grow up has been a lot of fun.”

Marrison Kearse and Annie Gregory will throw plenty of innings this season as well. Gregory has returned to Mountain Brook after spending the past two years at John Carroll. McGuirk said adding her to the team’s pitching staff is “exciting.”

Gregory, Kearse and Pitts all play in the infield in addition to their pitching abilities. Sophomore Edith Kaplan and junior Emma Stearns are back on the corners as well. Claire Robinett can play in the infield or outfield, and Pearl Kast and Reagan Rape are returning outfielders as well.

In other words, there are plenty of familiar faces around the diamond.

“It’s been huge, not having to completely rebuild this year, like we have in the past,” McGuirk said. “Being able to go out there where everybody knows each other, they have great relationships with each other.”

Mountain Brook will be competing this season against Homewood, Woodlawn and Shades Valley in area play, with the Spartans heavy favorites to be one of the top two teams to advance to regionals.

After opening the season in a strong Red & Blue Classic, hosted by Vestavia Hills, Mountain Brook is also playing in tournaments at Pelham, Clay-Chalkville and Gulf Shores throughout the year. The Spartans will play the likes of Chelsea, Hueytown and Briarwood during regular season play.

B4 • March 2023 Village Living Sports
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Left: Mountain Brook’s Ellie Pitts (20) pitches in game one of the Class 6A, Area 9 tournament against Homewood at the Chelsea Sports Complex May 3. Right: Mountain Brook’s Patty Ann Frierson (16) catches a pitch from Ellie Pitts as the Spartans face Clay-Chalkville in a game at the Mountain Brook High School softball field March 2, 2022. Photos by Erin Nelson. March 2023 • B5 Give Life SCAN QR CODE TO bringing life to communities dying from extreme poverty. MEET URGENT NEEDS END POVERTY SPREAD THE GOSPEL WE ARE... TOGETHER THE RIGHT WAY IS THE ONLY WAY Solid solutions to structural problems due to unstable soils or shifting foundation. FOUNDATION REPAIR SPECIALISTS Call for your foundation repair estimate (205) 668-2626

Spartans girls victorious at state indoor

The Mountain Brook High School indoor track and field team capped off the season at the state meet, held at the Birmingham CrossPlex on Feb. 3.

The girls team earned the Class 6A state championship, winning it all for the first time since 2019 and avenging a close loss to Northridge last winter. The Spartans scored 77 points to take home the title, more than 12 clear of runner-up Northridge, which finished with 64.5 points. Homewood was third with 61.75 points.

“This was definitely something they were gearing up for,” Mountain Brook coach Michael McGovern said. “They wanted to go out and win an indoor championship.”

Mountain Brook’s boys finished third. McGill-Toolen won state with 84 points and Homewood’s 66 points was good for second. The Spartans accumulated 54 points.

The girls showed out in the 800-meter run, as Lucy Benton and Reagan Riley claimed the top two spots. Benton ran the race in 2 minutes, 13 seconds. Riley followed a second behind her to reach the podium as well. McGovern lauded Benton and Riley as the “backbone” of the girls team.

Riley grabbed a title of her own, winning the 1,600 in 5:06. The girls also took the crown in the 4x400- and 4x800-meter relay races. In the 4x400, Callie Kent, Mary Katherine Malone, Ellie Fooshee and Benton combined to run the race in 4:05. In the 4x800, Kent, Malone, Kennedy Hamilton and Riley won in 9:45.

Riley and Virginia Averyt also reached the podium by finishing second and third in the 3,200.

One of the biggest positives for McGovern, though, is that the effort was far from just Riley and Benton.

“That’s the big thing,” he said. “This really showed off that we were able to put different girls in different events and still get the outcome we were hoping for. We’re really deep.”

Also earning points for the girls were Benton (fifth in the 400), Gracie Walker (fifth in the 1,600), KG Halsey (sixth in the long jump), Annie Kerr (sixth in pole vault) and Livy Holt (eighth in pole vault).

Julia Grooms, Anne Lawson Finch, Lea McCauley, Mary Jim Doyle and Willow Pierce also competed for the girls team.

On the boys side, Davis Lee reached the podium by finishing third in the 400, earning six points for the Spartans. The boys shone in the relays, as the 4x200, 4x400 and 4x800 teams all finished second in their races. Miller Knott,

Max Kuehnert, Spence Morano and Lee ran in the 4x200. Morano, KJ Leedy, Kuehnert and Lee were the 4x400 participants. In the 4x800, Clayton Collins, Leedy, Tate Hoffman and Jack Chapman ran for Mountain Brook.

Also earning points for the boys were Collins (seventh in the 800, fifth in the 1,600 and fourth in the 3,200), Chapman (eighth in the 800), George Pelekis (sixth in the 1,600), Max Baltz (fifth in high jump) and Caleb Mumm (fourth in pole vault).

Gri Cashio, Anderson Horn and Massey Cater also competed for the team. McGovern said it is

The Spartans girls indoor track and field team claim the Class 6A state indoor track and field championship trophy at the Birmingham CrossPlex on Feb. 3. Photo by Erin Nelson.

one of the best finishes for the boys team at state in a decade or so.

“We had points all over the place. It was a true team effort,” he said.

After winning the outdoor title last spring in addition to this season’s cross-country and indoor titles, the Mountain Brook girls are the current holders of all three state titles across 6A girls. They are looking to complete the calendar sweep this spring.

“State championships are hard to win in any sport,” McGovern said. “The girls are definitely shooting for a triple crown.”

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Spartans wrestlers claim state duals title

It is only up from here. That was Mountain Brook High School wrestling coach Justin Ransom’s message after his team won its first state championship in program history on Friday morning, defeating Mortimer Jordan 32-27 in the Class 6A State Duals Championship in Bill Harris Arena.

The Spartans (14-4) found themselves down 6-3 after three individual matches before rattling off five consecutive victories, propelling them to a 29-6 lead. Four straight wins for Mortimer Jordan cut the Spartans lead to eight, 29-21. Then, Nathan McCain secured the victory for Mountain Brook, winning a 5-3 decision in the 13th of 14 matches.

Ransom, the winningest coach in Mountain Brook wrestling history (153 wins) praised his

44-person roster for its hard work and growth to achieve this level of success.

“Words can't explain this because we’ve challenged our guys to finish and they did,” he said. “I’m ready to win more and I think that’s in the near future. Our kids pay the price every day in practice.”

The duals championship title marks the 182nd team state championship in Mountain Brook Schools athletics history. The wrestling team will continue its season as it seeks to continue its wave of success as it competes for individual state championships in the traditional state tournament in Huntsville in February.

Here's a breakdown of each match in the final:

► 106 pounds: Wyatt Chavez, Mountain Brook dec. Amonte Fleming, Mortimer

Jordan, maj. dec. 10-2.

► 113 pounds: Caleb Wright, Mortimer Jordan dec. Stephen Springfield, Mountain Brook, 9-4.

► 120 pounds: Aiden Morris, Mortimer Jordan dec. Christopher Brown, Mountain Brook, 6-2.

► 126 pounds: Brodie Christmas, Mortimer Jordan dec. Douglas Johnson, Mountain Brook, 7-6.

► 132 pounds: Cruz Rainwater, Mortimer

Jordan pinned Bill Bradford, Mountain Brook, Fall 1:14.

► 138 pounds: Nathan McCain, Mountain Brook dec. John Leon, Mortimer Jordan, 5-3.

► 145 pounds: Caden Todoroff, Mortimer

Jordan pinned Stuart Andrews, Mountain Brook, Fall 1:34.

► 152 pounds: Jacob Horton, Mortimer

Jordan dec. Coleman Bates, Mountain Brook, 4-2.

► 160 pounds: Judd Smith, Mountain Brook dec. Gavin Friese, Mortimer Jordan, 8-2.

► 170 pounds: Conner Horton, Mortimer Jordan dec. Sam Carroll, Mountain Brook, 7-3.

► 182 pounds: Jack Windle, Mountain Brook dec. Weston Tossie, Mortimer Jordan, 13-1 maj. dec.

► 195 pounds: Allen Baker, Mountain Brook pinned Terrence Bowie, Mortimer Jordan, Fall 2:59

► 220 pounds: William Courtenay, Mountain Brook pinned Jacob Anderson, Mortimer Jordan, Fall 1:00.

► 285 pounds: Malik Barfield, Mortimer Jordan vs. Daniel Ellis, Mountain Brook March 2023 • B7 For Registration and Information Visit:
Above: Mountain Brook’s Allen Baker and Mortimer Jordan’s Terrence Bowie compete in the AHSAA wrestling duals championship at Bill Harris Arena on Jan. 20. Right: Mountain Brook’s Nathan McCain and Mortimer Jordan’s John Leon compete. Photos by Erin Nelson.



B8 • March 2023 Village Living
Left: Mountain Brook’s Sarah Passink (25) shoots a 3-pointer in a game against Pell City at Spartan Arena on Jan. 17. Above: Mountain Brook’s Emily Straughn (22) dribbles the ball downcourt guarded by Pell City’s Kyla Torok (2) at Spartan Arena on Jan. 17. Right: Mountain Brook’s John Webb (20) shoots the ball in a game against Pell City at Spartan Arena on Jan. 17. Below: Mountain Brook’s Julius Clark (23) dunks the ball in a game against Pell City at Spartan Arena on Jan. 17. Right: The Spartans wrestling team cheers as Mountain Brook faces Mortimer Jordan in the Class 6A AHSAA boys wrestling duals championship. Below right: Mountain Brook’s Christopher Brown and Mortimer Jordan’s Aiden Morris compete in the AHSAA wrestling duals championship at Bill Harris Arena on Jan. 20. Below left: Mountain Brook’s Douglas Johnson competes against Wetumpka in a semifinal round of the AHSAA duals’ wrestling tournament at Mountain Brook High School on Jan. 17

Spartans soccer teams looking to follow up record-setting 2022

The Mountain Brook High School boys and girls soccer teams had breakthrough 2022 seasons.

The boys won the program’s first state championship, winning the Class 6A state championship in an overtime thriller over Pelham. The girls got to the playoffs, reaching the quarterfinals before falling to eventual champion Homewood.

Both teams were represented at the high school soccer media day event held at Thompson High on Jan. 25-26.

The boys team knows it has to reboot after a 25-2-2 season. Following a 3-2-2 start, the Spartans ripped off 22 straight victories to finish off the season and will carry that winning streak into 2023. But that won’t win any games for the team this year.

“It’s a new season,” head coach Joe Webb said. “We’re starting over. We have the goals that we want to get to and we’ve got to work to get to them.”

Webb brought reigning state Gatorade Player of the Year winner Jack Heaps, Henry Tabb and Vance Phillips, the MVP of the state championship game. The players said they believe they have the potential to repeat as state champions, but will have to work hard in practice every day to have any chance of replicating that success.

The players also said they know they will have a target on their backs following last season’s title. This year’s seniors include Reed Harradine, Eliot Walton, Gus Bailey, Tabb, Jack Welsh, Heaps, Phillips, Howie Eldridge, Stephen Lilly, Graham Cooper and Allen Hobbs.

Webb said he enjoys the process of learning what works best for his team as the year goes along.

“I have really no idea, and that’s what’s fun,” he said. “That’s what I enjoy the most, is figuring out what we need to do. Here’s what we look like now, but what will we look like in April?”

Mountain Brook assistant coach Anna Johnsey and five seniors represented the girls team at media day. She had high marks for Ellie Keplinger, Mackenzie Ligon, Ainsley Kelley, Breese Tierney and Lily Pate.

“They’ve all been a huge part of the team for years,” Johnsey said. “They’re leaders and go above and beyond what we ask of them. They embrace our culture and bring the younger girls along.”

The girls team did lose 10 seniors from last year’s squad, so there is quite a bit to replace this season. But this year’s seniors want to use last year as a building block to continue elevating the program.

The seniors said they want to hold themselves to high expectations — a standard that has already been set — in the hopes that the younger players will follow suit.

“They were all on the team the year before

and there was a lot of continuity,” Johnsey said. “But when you do lose a lot of players, you do get a chance to redefine expectations and culture and future vision. All of the new players this year, it gives them the opportunity to do so many new things to make our mark on the program.”

Mountain Brook’s soccer teams compete in an area against Pell City, Shades Valley and Woodlawn. March 2023 • B9
Above: Mountain Brook head boys soccer coach Joe Webb, Vance Phillips, Henry Tabb and Jack Heaps attend the 2023 soccer media day at Thompson High School on Jan. 26. Top: Mountain Brook girls soccer assistant coach Anna Johnsey, Ellie Keplinger, Mackenzie Ligon, Ainsley Kelley, Breese Tierney and Lily Pate. Photos by Kyle Parmley.

Metro Roundup


Freddy’s Wine Bar to open 2nd location in former Nabeel’s spot

The space formerly occupied by Nabeel’s Cafe and Market will have a new tenant this summer. Stuart Stone, owner and operator of Freddy’s Wine Bar, signed a lease in December and is scheduled to open his second Freddy’s location this June.

Named after his beloved poodle, Stone opened Freddy’s Wine Bar on the bottom floor of Highland Park Towers apartments. Taking a cue from intimate cafés throughout Italy and France, Stone envisioned Freddy’s as a neighborhood gathering place for space specializing in charcuterie, upscale Italian salads and sandwiches, and hand-selected wines from such well-respected regions as Burgundy, Loire Valley, Tuscany and Napa Valley.

Stone understands he has big shoes to fill by moving into a space once occupied by a treasured local business and is well aware of the special bond Nabeel’s had with Homewood for half a century. A native of Birmingham now living in Crestline, Stone and his family were regulars at Nabeel’s, and he desires to honor the spirit and legacy of Nabeel’s while establishing Freddy’s as an anchor in the community.

"I grew up in Birmingham and I remember going to Nabeel's and loved it, especially the chicken salad," Stone said. "It was an institution and we're really excited and happy that it's staying as a local restaurant.

“We’re not trying to erase the past at all. We


restaurant, bar and a market under one roof.

“The menu will be similar but will have some slight differences. We probably won’t have quite as big of a wine and bar program over there [Homewood] as we have here to make way for something that’s a little more [like] Pranzo and Freddy's had a pseudo baby,” Stone said.

Stone says he would like to incorporate as much of the old Nabeel’s decor that remains as possible. For instance, he intends to keep the old mosaic tile treatment in the upper portion of the restaurant. However, much of the artwork and the fireplace were already removed by the time Stone signed the lease. “It was basically an empty box when we went to look at it for the first time,” Stone said. “We’re trying to keep it as a neighborhood space with a local feel, but it'll be a Freddy's.”


to honor the space that was there and keep it as a similar amenity to the neighborhood,” Stone said. “I would love to get my hands on their old chicken salad recipe, but that’s for my own benefit, too.”

A graduate of Auburn University with a degree in environmental engineering, Stone jumped into the food business in 2015 after spending a couple of years working in the family business, Stone Building Company. With the blessing and assistance of his father, Scott opened Pranzo, a trendy spot on 3rd Avenue North in the “no man’s land” between 22nd Street and Richard Arrington Boulevard in downtown Birmingham. Pranzo — Italian for the word “lunch” — offered

Italian-influenced sandwiches and salads before closing in 2016. Despite the setback, the Scotts regrouped, opening Freddy’s in late 2017.

“We said, ‘Okay, we learned our lessons, let’s try this one more time,’” Stone said. “We knew we wanted to do something night-oriented with a bar, but we didn't want to be a bar. We also knew we wanted to do more wine because my dad is a big wine geek and taught me a little bit of that kind of thing.”

While the original location is known as Freddy’s Wine Bar — a name that even Stone admits has pigeonholed the restaurant in some respects — the new location will most likely be called Freddy’s Cafe and will have a full-service

The new decor will incorporate elements from the original Freddy’s on Southside, including pressed tin ceilings and copper accents throughout. Unlike the first Freddy’s, which is strictly a night-time restaurant, the Freddy’s in Homewood will have daytime hours although Stone is still thinking through the exact schedule.

“We'll probably do some charcuterie, fresh to order, cheeses and that kind of stuff during the day, and then probably around six or so that will kind of go dark and we'll be doing dinner service,” Stone said.

Stone said the restaurant may eventually serve lunch.

"That's not going to be day one. We're going to try to baby step our way into that, but I could see us doing a lunch special on Sundays after church.

“We just need to figure out what the neighborhood wants,” Stone added. “At our core, we're a neighborhood space.”

Taking care of (dog) business

Thirty years ago, Greg Milam worked at the Big B Drugs in Bluff Park as a teenager.

Brought to you by our sister paper:

After graduating from Berry High School in 1993, he went to Auburn University and then spent more than two decades working all over the country in the car auction business, but now he’s back in Hoover and working in the same building that once housed Big B.

Only this time, he’s not helping in a pharmacy. He’s running his own business.

Milam opened the Birmingham area’s first Camp Bow Wow, a dog day care, boarding and grooming business, in November. He’s taking up about two-thirds of the former Big B Drugs building between Bluff Park Village and Shades Mountain Plaza.

The building most recently was owned by Hoover Fitness, but the owner, Jason Cerniglia, sold it to an investment group and leased onethird of the space, leaving the rest for another tenant.

Milam spent 21 years in the Cox Enterprises car auction business, most recently as the general manager of a location in Seattle, but he decided he wanted to do something different and get closer to family, so he moved back


to Hoover.

“I always thought it was a great place to live and wanted to get back here,” he said.

He and his wife came from Seattle in 2019, and Milam signed a franchise agreement with Camp Bow Wow in September 2020. Navigating through COVID-19 and other details of construction buildout and opening a business took two years.

Milam, who lives in Ridge Crossings Estates off Ross Bridge Parkway, said he chose to put his business in

Bluff Park because there are a lot of new families with children moving into the community, and young families often have dogs.

He chose to operate a dog day care, boarding and grooming business because he loves dogs and knows that people these days are looking for quality care for their dogs when they need to leave them, he said.

“People are passionate about their pets. They treat their pets like their children,” he said.

The Camp Bow Wow business

model is very “pro-dog” in the sense that the dogs aren’t just left alone and fed, Milam said. Dogs that stay there generally spend most of their time playing with other dogs and workers, unless the owner specifies that their pet doesn’t get along well with other dogs, he said.

The Camp Bow Wow in Bluff Park has 6,100 square feet of indoor space and 1,300 square feet of outdoor space, he said.

There are 47 “cabins” that are either 4x4 or 4x6 feet, one family cabin that

is 8x6 for owners bringing more than one dog and two larger suites that include a TV for the dog, Milam said. Unless the owner specifies a channel, he usually leaves “Seinfeld” reruns on for the dogs to watch, he said.

“I love to watch ‘Seinfeld,’” he said. “Hopefully the dogs do, too.”

But unless the dogs are eating, taking a brief rest or going in for the night to sleep, they spend most of the time playing with other dogs, he said. There are three indoor play areas and three outdoor play areas, each with cameras that allow owners to check in on their dogs whenever they want, Milam said.

“You can always see what your dog is doing. We’re not hiding anything. We think that’s important,” he said. “We’re in the business of providing peace of mind. That means transparency.”

Camp Bow Wow accepts all breeds, but all dogs go through a three-hour “interview” during which staff determine if the dog has the right temperament to be there and handles the “cabin” environment well, he said.

So far, business is going well, with about 300 dogs interviewed in the first two months and Camp Bow Wow typically seeing about 35 dogs a day, Milam said. Thus far, about 75% of the dogs have come just for day care, with 25% staying overnight, but he expects that to shift a little more toward overnight stays as time goes on, he said.

The good thing is that they’re seeing a lot of repeat customers, he said. “That means we’re doing our job.”

B10 • March 2023 Village Living
Riley Lynch, left, walks Butters as Greg Milam walks Cash during an interview period for Butters on her first at Camp Bow Wow in Bluff Park. Photo by Erin Nelson. Stuart Stone, owner of Freddy’s Wine Bar in Birmingham, stands outside of the former Nabeel’s Cafe in Homewood on Feb. 13 Stone is opening Freddy’s Cafe in the Nabeel’s Cafe location. Photo by Erin Nelson. Brought to you by our sister paper: thehomewood

Swinging into a new business

The Golffice opens on US 31

Michael Weber always wanted to put a golf simulator in his home.

Fifteen or so years ago, he was a member at the Riverchase Country Club and played golf four to five times a week.

He would have put a simulator in his home, but he never had a house big enough for it, he said.

But when a friend’s business client offered to sell him a golf simulator last year, Weber took him up on the offer and put the simulator in some vacant space on the first floor of his business, Weber Mortgage on U.S. 31 in Vestavia Hills.

He invited real estate agents and clients over to join in the fun, and after a couple of months turned the space into a consumer-oriented golf simulation business called The Golffice. It opened Jan. 11.

For $35 an hour, people can rent out the golf simulator room to work on their swing, play a variety of games or play simulated golf on hundreds of courses. The 900-square-foot space also includes a small conference room with a table that converts into a poker table and a largescreen TV that’s good for watching sporting events, Weber said.

That room also can be rented for $35 an hour,

or both rooms can be rented for $50 an hour.

Weber said he expected to see a lot of men in their 40s coming in as customers, but so far, the customer base has leaned more toward younger people — teenagers and people in their 20s.

Weber’s 21-year-old son, Jack Weber, is serving as manager of The Golffice.

A lot of customers are individuals, but in the first few weeks, two companies had rented both spaces, Michael said. The simulator room, which includes seating for six, can fit about eight people at most, and the two rooms

combined can handle 12 to 15, he said.

There’s a small bar in the simulator room, but The Golffice doesn’t serve food or beverages. People can, however, bring their own food or have gatherings catered. Some people have rented space just to watch sports with friends.

Jack Weber said it usually takes about an hour for one person to play a full 18 holes on the simulator.

For people wanting to improve their game, the simulator tracks things such as ball speed, launch angle and spin rates. People also can

practice hitting targets, hit on different kinds of slopes, or change the wind, light and weather settings, the Webers said. It’s also just fun for goofing off, they said.

Right now, there’s just one simulator, but if the business proves profitable, Michael said there is potential for expansion to add more simulators and possibly food service in the future.

Also, “if we can prove the model, we would look at franchising it,” Michael said. The 900-square-foot space could easily be put in a strip center, he said.

While some people who make or sell golf clubs or teach golf lessons have simulators, he’s not aware of another business in the Birmingham area that is designed primarily for golf simulation rental by the public.

That type of business is more common in the North, where the colder weather means shorter golf seasons and more demand for indoor play, he said. The peak season for golf simulation businesses is winter, he said.

Michael said there was little risk in starting the business because he already had the simulator and the space. Weber Mortgage formerly had space on both floors of the building but consolidated employees on the second floor when the mortgage business slowed down and the number of employees dropped.

His father, who started Weber Mortgage in 1999, still owns the building and leases it to the company, which Michael took over in 2008. Jack, who graduated from Spain Park High School in 2020, spent a “gap year” in Colorado but then moved back to the Birmingham area and now is the loan processor for Weber Mortgage, in addition to taking on management of The Golffice.

People can book sessions at The Golffice online at March 2023 • B11 VESTAVIA HILLS When people with extraordinary talent and passion are given the technology, the facilities, and the support, they achieve great things. The discoveries taking place today will help shape the future of treatments and lead to cures – benefitting not only our patients and families, but people across the country and around the world for years to come. 1600 7TH AVENUE SOUTH • BIRMINGHAM, AL 35233 • 205-638-9100 happens Amazing Childrens AL •org Brand_AMAZING_Starnes-Broadsheet-Newsprint-4.79x7.59-PROD.indd 1 2/1/23 11:33 AM Over 500 Booths! Birmingham/Jefferson Convention Complex 205-836-7173 Fri/Sat: 10am-6pm Sun: Noon-5pm Advance Ticket holders get in an hour early! All credit cards accepted $10 ADULTS march 3-5 WWW.COTTONTAILSFESTIVAL.COM Adults-Advance: $10, At Door: $11 Children 6-12 Advance: FREE, At Door: $5 Children under 6: FREE! ALL CREDIT CARDS ACCEPTED Party dresses for your princess | creative gifts | personalized Easter baskets | home decor | garden accessories arts | crafts | gifts | food The first opportunity to purchase tickets to Christmas Village in November is in the show office at Cottontails! TICKETS: Amy Gardner Insurance Agency Inc Amy Gardner, Agent 3900 Montclair Road Ste 350 Mountain Brook, AL 35213 Bus: 205-870-8220 Availability and amount of discounts and savings vary by state. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company State Farm Indemnity Company State Farm Fire and Casualty Company State Farm General Insurance Company Bloomington, IL Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there® Protect two roofs under one I can save you time and money when you bundle your home and auto insurance. Call, click or stop by for a quote today.
Brought to you by our sister paper: vestavia
The Golffice, located at 1442 Montgomery Highway in Vestavia Hills. Photo by Erin Nelson.

Learn dance with the professionals

Alabama Ballet

The Alabama Ballet School is the official school of the Alabama Ballet, the state’s premiere professional ballet company. The Royal Academy of Dance certified Alabama Ballet School provides the highest quality training to aspiring artists of all ages through various summer programs including Summer Intensive, Junior Camp and Tutus and Tiaras.

Junior Camp is a two-week camp for dancers ages 8-12. Students will take age-appropriate ballet classes, learn modern dance, and jazz technique, and take character and/or theatre dance classes. All students will study dance history and prepare for an end of the session performance.

Tutus and Tiaras is a one-week camp for children ages 4-7. Students will take age-appropriate ballet and tap classes, create ballet-oriented crafts, and learn how ballet dancers tell stories with pantomime. Students will also have a story time where they can learn the story of ballets such as The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and other classical ballets.

Both camps will take place July 17-28 at the Alabama Ballet Center for Dance in Birmingham.

For more information, contact Natalie Hunt, Alabama Ballet School Administrator,


► Junior Camp: Two-week camp for dancers ages 8-12

► Tutus and Tiaras: One-week camp for children ages 4-7

WHERE: Alabama Ballet Center for Dance

WHEN: July 17-28


CONTACT: Natalie Hunt, Alabama Ballet School Administrator

CALL: 205-322-1874

EMAIL: nataliehunt@alabama

at or 205-322-1874. Registration is open now at

B12 • March 2023 Village Living

Take the spotlight in a supportive, fun atmosphere

Virgina Samford Theatre

Virginia Samford Theatre

in Birmingham offers children and teens ages 7-18 a fun, no-pressure introduction to the joys of creating musical theater with its STARS Camp VST in June.

STARS Camp VST focuses on singing and dancing and also offers classes in stage combat, costume and set design, playwriting and Shakespeare. There are two levels of instruction, beginner and intermediate.

“We'll also have a small showcase at the end of the week to highlight some of the fun music, dancing, scenes and games we've learned,” says Jenna Bellamy, director of the STARS Program at VST.

The VST is also launching its new STARS Summer Studio — open to rising 6th graders and up with prior theater or performance experience — where campers can receive advanced instruction in dance and vocal performance.

All of the instructors are theater professionals or have a musical theater background.

The atmosphere at the camps is “fun, supportive and kind,” Bellamy says.

And this year, the camps will be held at the recently renovated Mountain Brook High School.

“It's exciting to have campers working and learning in their beautiful arts campus,” Bellamy says.

WHERE: Mountain Brook High School

WHEN: June 5-9 and June 12-16,

AGES: 7-18

EMAIL: stars@virginiasamford

WEB: vststars/camp-vst

There will be two one-week sessions of Camp VST, Monday-Friday, June 5-9 and June 12-16, from 9 a.m to 3:30 p.m. There will also be two one-week sessions of STARS Summer Studio on the same dates from 12:30-4 p.m.

The cost is $350 for registrations before April 1 and $400 after April 1.

Parents can register their kids at virginia

Offering boys a unique outdoor experience Summers

Summer camps have existed for generations, but Southern Preparatory Academy in Camp Hill, Alabama, has reimagined the experience and created a unique, exciting program for boys entering grades 6-12.

Summers at Southern, which the Academy has offered for over a decade, returns in 2023 with an authentic outdoor experience on the school’s well-equipped 320-acre campus.

The campus features two fishing ponds, gyms and rifle ranges, as well as a football field, indoor swimming pool, dining hall and dorms.

All activities are designed to allow boys to get outside, get dirty, run, play, jump, swim and get off of their electronics.

Perhaps most important, Summers at Southern also gives boys the chance to problem solve and think for themselves through creative challenges.

With a 16:1 camper-to-counselor ratio, Summers at Southern gives the boys the individualized attention they need.

The counselors challenge the campers in a positive way and make sure they have the best summer ever while making new friends and building their confidence as young men.

► Week One – Adventure (June 18-24): Activities include whitewater rafting, canoeing, paintball, aviation, firearms safety and more.

► Week Two – Survival (June 25-July 1): Activities include archery, land navigation, shelter building, overnight camping, kayaking and fishing.

at Southern

WHERE: 174 Ward Circle, Camp Hill CALL: 256-307-7348 or 256-790-9202


► Week Three – Advanced Adventure (July 9-15): This is an advanced version of Week One with no prior experience required.

► Week Four – The Challenge (July 16-22): Campers sharpen their survival skills while camping overnight, building fires and catching and cooking their own catfish.

Each camp is customized to the boys’ experience and grade level.

Registration opens March 1 at summersat For details, call 256-307-7348 or 256-790-9202.

Summer Camp Reimagined

Are you looking for a summer experience unlike any other? Summers At Southern is a series of week-long themed camps designed specifically with boys in mind. Our camp is 90% outdoors, with activities ranging from white-water rafting, catfishing, aviation, firearm safety education, kayaking, paintball, and much more! March 2023 • B13
Boys in Rising 6th - 12th Grades Visit to register today.

Sean and his wife Jamie moved to the Birmingham area in March 2022. This is a column he wrote on his fourth day in his new town.

Day Four. We have been living in Birmingham for four days and I am lost. Hopelessly lost. Right now I am in interstate traffic and I have no idea where in the Lord’s name I am.

Also, it’s colder than a witch’s jogbra in this city. The temperature last night was 37 degrees and I couldn’t feel my digits.

Before you accuse me of being a weather wimp, I must remind you that I come from the Panhandle, where the median temperature is 103, and our hurricane season lasts from June to the following June.

So I was not ready for the freezing temps a few nights ago. My entire little family slept in one bed to keep warm, and whenever it got cold, my wife threw on another dog.

But that’s what you get here in the foothills of the Appalachians. Because when I asked the guy at the hardware store if it would ever warm up, he explained the weather like this:

“This is Birmingham, dude. You git what you git, and you don’t pitch a fit.”

Which reminds me: I know all the hardware store employees on a first-name basis now. I’ve been spending a lot of time at Home Depot lately.

Since we are still busy moving into our house, my wife has been sending me on random hardware errands for items such as felt chair pads, shims, sink stoppers, and (don’t

Sean of the South By Sean Dietrich New in town

ask) pitchforks.

I go to the hardware store four or five times per day, sometimes more. Sometimes I don’t even buy anything, I just wander the aisles wearing a helpless look, glancing at my wife’s list in a way that causes concerned employees to sidle up to me and ask if I need a chaplain.

Then an employee leads me to an aisle where my item is located and I am forced to choose between an infinity of options, colors, and denominations.

Do you want the one with the five-eighths angled grommet, or the eleven-sixteenths one with the reinforced brackets? Do you want galvanized or powder coated? Or would you like the three-quarter nodule with the all-weather defibrillator and the reverse coupling ribbed flange?

Nothing is easy in the hardware store anymore.

Take lightbulbs. Used to, buying light bulbs was a snap. Your mom bought them at the supermarket. She simply tossed a box of bulbs into her buggy with her non-smoking hand and kept on trucking.

Back then, you had three kinds of bulbs to choose from — which were all the same bulb, but different wattages. The whole process took maybe 4 seconds.

Today, however, the hardware store has a lightbulb aisle that’s roughly the size of Newark. There are bulbs with different “lumens,” “finishes,” “contours,” “hues” and “shapes.”

You have incandescents, compact fluorescents, halogens, light emitting diodes, tubes, candles, globes, floodlights, spirals, Edisons, capsules, track lights, cool lights, white lights, warm lights, menthol lights, Miller Lites, etc.

And God help you if you buy the wrong bulb, because your wife will send you back to the hardware store. This is very embarrassing. When you re-enter through the pneumatic doors again, you immediately make eye contact with the same employees you saw a few minutes earlier, and you feel much like a neutered dog.

Then, one of the employees usually attempts to make you feel better by saying, “Listen, it’s not easy, shopping in this store, it’s overwhelming.”

Which makes you feel about as manly as a guy dressed in a Hello Kitty costume.

But hey, this is all part of the moving process. Moving means learning how to adjust to new situations, new experiences, and new highways.

Speaking of highways. I’m still driving, and

Life Actually By Kari Kampakis

When I was growing up, and especially as a teenager, the word “virtue” made me cringe.

What flashed through my mind was a picture of a nun or a monk, and since I had no desire to spend the rest of my life in a convent, it didn’t sound too appealing.

Today, as an adult, I think differently. I see the necessity of virtue to live a positive life, especially after witnessing the heartache, destruction, and consequences caused by unvirtuous choices. I understand evil as a corruption of the good that God creates and why virtue helps us become our best selves.

The challenge now is, how do I convey this to my kids? How do I counter the permissive, anything-goes society that pokes fun at anyone who tries to live by a moral code? Working with teenage girls, I’ve seen how the enemy gets clever. In this stage of life where peer approval is paramount, and nobody likes to feel awkward or alone, it’s easier to go with the flow and do what is popular rather than what feels right.

Consequently, many teens make choices they don’t want to make. Many who fall into the permissive, anything-goes lifestyle later wrestle with deep regret and end up in a counselor’s office. At this point, the enemy can go in for the kill, whispering lies to make them hate themselves or believe their future is doomed. Those who don’t know the truth about God’s mercy, redemption, and grace may spend years (or decades) believing hopeless thoughts. They may wrongly assume they’re damaged goods or that it’s too late to turn things around.

So when talking about virtue — defined as “behavior showing high moral standards” — it’s important to be sensitive to human fallibility.

I still have no earthly clue where I am.

So far, I’ve been learning how to navigate this foreign city with a sociopathic GPS that often tells me to “turn right here” while I am speeding over a bridge.

I’ve had to pull over and ask random pedestrians for directions three times this morning. Although, I have to admit, the residents in this city are extremely accommodating.

A few minutes ago, for example, I asked a guy for directions who I met in a parking lot near a Mexican restaurant. He was Latino, and more than happy to help.

This kind hearted man took nearly 15 minutes of his valuable time to tell me, in painstaking detail, exactly where I should go, where I should turn, and how long it would take me to get where I was going. At least I assume that’s what he was saying because he didn’t speak one lick of English.

In fact, the only English words he apparently knew were, “It is what it is, man.” He must have said this phrase 2,193 times.

“Thank you for your help,” I said as we shook hands and parted ways.

“It is what it is, man,” he answered.

Which, I suppose, roughly translates into, “You git what you git and you don’t pitch a fit.”

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

Talking to your child about virtue

We’ve all made unvirtuous choices, and the enemy loves to keep us stuck so we don’t choose a better path.

As Christians, God calls us to be different. He sets us apart for His purpose. Rather than blindly following the crowd, He wants us to follow Jesus. One way to explain this to your child is by pointing to nature and the journey of a salmon.

A salmon is different because it swims upstream against the current while most fish swim downstream. In its final and most difficult journey, the salmon swims upstream back to its birthplace to lay eggs and produce babies. This takes great energy, perseverance, and commitment, and by the time the salmon arrives, it’s exhausted. Many die shortly after reaching this destination.

Amazingly, God equips the salmon to accomplish this mission. A salmon can do miraculous things, like leap up waterfalls and swim past hurdles such as fishermen’s nets, rushing rapids, and predators like bears and eagles. While some salmon won’t survive, many will. They’ll press on toward home to do what they were born to do.

This salmon’s journey is considered one of nature’s greatest triumphs. It takes more energy to accomplish this feat, yet that energy is spent in a way that maximizes life fulfillment.

Like the salmon, God designed us to swim against the current of what’s popular. He works miracles to help us reach our destination. We were created for eternity, and the longing for heaven that God planted in our hearts helps propel us home. Our journey is difficult but worth it. Even if we’re exhausted by the end, we

find meaning and fulfillment in a life well-lived.

So how do you help your child live a life of virtue? What does “swimming upstream” look like in real life? These tips can offer a starting point.

1. Be intentional. Nobody lives a positive life by accident. Set standards for yourself and pre-decide what you’ll do in tricky situations so that when the time comes, you’ve mentally prepared and have a response.

2. Trust your gut. When something doesn’t feel right, it’s usually not right. Trust God’s quiet voice inside you over the megaphone of public opinion, and know that His nudges and whispers can guide you toward the right path.

3. Live for God’s approval. Many of us are people-pleasers by nature. We hate to disappoint or let people down, but this can cause trouble — especially when a questionable request is made, like a friend asking to cheat off your test or telling you to exclude someone. Friends come and go, but God is forever, so aim to please Him, not people. When you put God first, you’ll attract friends who do the same and won’t put you in situations that force you to compromise your values.

4. Know you’ll be teased no matter what choices you make. You might as well make choices that are good for you, help you sleep well at night, and honor God.

5. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Learning to endure awkward moments is a crucial life skill. Each time, you build muscles of self-control that prepare you for bigger pressures. Sadie Robertson once said, “5 seconds of awkwardness can save you from a lifetime of regret,” and it’s true. It’s okay to be the only

person in the room not participating or to leave when things go south.

6. Find your people. In any journey, you need like-minded friends. You need allies who relate to you, support you, and have your back. Especially when you’re tempted to quit, you need friends who can say, “These are our goals. We can do it.”

7. Show yourself (and others) grace. Nobody lives virtuously all the time. We all mess up and miss the mark. Thankfully, God’s grace is bigger than any mistake or wrong turn. As He forgives us, that’s how we’re called to forgive too. Only through His power can we resist the pressures that get us off-track.

G.K. Chesterton once said, “A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.” When God’s spirit lives inside us, we gain the desire and the power to do what pleases Him. Nobody lives a perfect life, but we can live an intentional life, a life that values virtue and understands its role in helping us become our best and propelling us toward our final home.

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

B14 • March 2023 Village Living Opinion

O’Neal Library


Tuesdays: Patty Cake - Lapsit Storytime. 9:30-9:50 a.m. and 10:30-10:50 a.m. Infants up to age 18 months. Storytelling Room. Guide your child through storytime activities designed to boost development for infants to around 18 months.

Wednesdays: Toddler Tales Storytime - Directed Movement. 9:30-10 a.m. and 10:30-10:50 a.m. Storytelling Room. For toddlers to around age 3. Establish routine and build attention and literacy skills.

Wednesdays: Movers & Makers - Kindergarten Prep Storytime. 1:30-2:15 p.m. Storytelling Room. Ages 3-5. Build cooperation, reading, and school readiness skills through stories, movement activities, and creative expression.

Thursdays: All Together Storytime. 9:30-10 a.m. and 10:3011 a.m. Informal storytime and lively music that seeks to build positive relationships with books and the library for all ages.

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


March 2: SNaP - 3-6 Grade. 3:30-5:15 p.m. Storytelling Room. Movie and Popcorn: Lyle, Lyle Crocodile.

March 6: STEAM Powered - Grades 4-6. 4-5 p.m. Storytelling Room. Make and test catapults.

March 9: SNaP - 3-6 Grade. 3:30-4:30 p.m. Community Meeting Room. Tabletop and video games.

March 13: Breakout Book Club: Geisel Award Books. 5-6 p.m. For emerging readers with their caretaker. 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.

March 16: SNaP - 3-6 Grade. 3:30-4:30 p.m. Community Meeting Room. Get crafty. Sharpie Mugs.

March 16: Hot off the Press Book Group. 6-7 p.m. Storytelling Room. Share a book and get to know some of Ms. Morgan's latest favorites over pizza. Grades 4-6.

March 20: Illustrator Art Club - Art inspired by Denise Fleming. 4:30-5:30 p.m. Community Meeting Room. Learn and create a kids' book illustrator's art with Ms. Tess and Ms. Gloria. For ages 6 and up with a grown up.

March 23: SNaP - 3-6 Grade. 3:30-4:30 p.m. Community Meeting Room. Life size Angry Birds game.


March 7: TAB Meeting. 5-6 p.m. Community Meeting Room. Earn volunteer hours and improve the O’Neal Library’s Young Adult Department.

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

March 11: Taste the World Snacks. 1-3 p.m. Community Meeting Room. Sip and sample the world at the library.

March 13 and 20: Dungeons & Dragons. 4:30-7 p.m. Makerspace. Glory, monsters, and mayhem abound. For grades 7-12.

March 15: DIY Yums: Cookie Decorating - with Lisa Little. 4-5 p.m. Community Meeting Room. Enjoy simple and delicious sweets.

March 23: Library Loot Book Club. 4:30-5:30 p.m. Conference Room.


Tuesdays: Beginner American Sign Language (ASL) Classes. 5:30-6:30 p.m. This free, eight-week course will provide an introduction to American Sign Language. Classes meet via Zoom. For teens and adults. Registration is required.

Thursdays: Yoga 101 with Marie Blair. 12:30-1:30 p.m.

Community Meeting Room. Monthly class for adults who are either new to yoga, returning, or ever curious to fine-tune the basics.

March 2 and 7 : Writing Workshop with Miriam Calleja. 5:30-7 p.m. A writing workshop for writers of all skill levels.

March 4: Saturday Short Story Matinee - “The Last Time I Saw Paris.” 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. O’Neal Library - Community Meeting Room. 1954 adaptation of an F. Scott Fitzgerald story.

March 4: Teen Poetry Reading. 4-6 p.m. O’Neal Library - Community Meeting Room. For teens and adults.

March 7: Gentle Yoga - With Marie Blair. 10-11 a.m. Community Meeting Room. Marie’s popular yoga classes are on Tuesday mornings at 10 a.m. Bring a yoga mat and water. For teens and adults.

March 13: Great Short Stories. 6:30-7:30 p.m. Conference Room. A reading and discussion group. Conversation about great short fiction.

March 14: The Bookies: An O'Neal Library Book Group. 10-11 a.m. Conference Room. Discussing “I'm Glad My Mom Died” by Jennette McCurdy. Bookies meet every second Tuesday of each month. Visitors and/or new members are welcome.

March 15: Medicare Made Clear: What You Need to Know. 10-11 a.m. Community Meeting Room. A presentation to answer some questions about Medicare.

March 18: Author Grady Hendrix - An Under the Mountain Event. 7-10 p.m. Community Meeting Room. Join in-person or virtually for an evening with the award-winning author Grady Henrix.

March 25: Kickstart Your Health Journey with PlantBased Nutrition - A Food For Life Presentation. 1-3 p.m. Community Meeting Room. A plant-based cooking class with Angelia Dickinson, Food for Life Instructor, and owner of Divine Wholistic Wellness.

March 28: Books & Beyond. 6:30-7:30 p.m. Conference Room. Book clubbing.

March 29: 19th Century Life in Alabama - Letters and Diaries of an Alabama Family. 11 a.m. to noon. Community Meeting Room. Presented by Jim Baggett of the Alabama Historical Society Speakers Bureau. March 2023 • B15
Fill your roster. Day Care Programs | Private Schools Art/Music Lessons | Distance Learning Guides Tutoring Services | Fall/Summer Camps Email for your Education Guide Strategy Session Share the story of your program with the readers looking for you!


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