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Volume 4 | Issue 11 | March 2017

Golden Gloves


Vestavia BOE considers options to accommodate rising enrollment

VHHS coach and teacher Leo Harlan’s new passion for boxing creates fundraising opportunity for Relay for Life.

See page A19

Bop to the Top

Local dance group the Magic City Boppers gathers every Wednesday night at Bar 31 to dance the Panama City Bop and the shag.

See page B1

INSIDE Sponsors ......... A4 City ................... A6 Business .........A10 Events .............A15 School House..A17

Camp Guide ...A20 Sports ............... B4 Community .....B14 Medical Guide..B16 Calendar ......... B26

Pizitz Middle School students rush from class to class on Feb. 7, 2017. The Vestavia school board is considering several options to deal with the increasing number of students in the town’s school system. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.



he mantra that emerged out of the Vestavia Hills school system’s most recent strategic planning was “Learning without Limits.” And with multiple Blue Ribbon schools, often-awarded faculty and competitive athletics programs, as well as a veritable laundry list of esteemed programs and academic accomplishments, limits may seem a non-issue.

But with ever-growing enrollment and a city burgeoning with development, there is one limit Vestavia Hills City Schools are having to face head on: space. Over the next few months, the Vestavia Hills Board of Education will make decisions about renovating schools, potential changes to feeder patterns and what to do with the former Berry High School campus, all in order to address the expected continued growth in enrollment. In December, Hoar Program Management

(HPH), along with Lathan Associates Architects, presented eight possible facilities options to the BOE, ranging from minor tweaks to major shifts in feeder patterns and building usage.


The city’s school district has eight school campuses: five elementary, two middle and one high school. The 2016-2017 school year saw a

See SCHOOLS | page A30 Pre-Sort Standard U.S. Postage PAID Tupelo, MS Permit #54

Vestavia’s Walter Thomas honors father’s memory By SAM CHANDLER

Vestavia Hills senior Walter Thomas is one of the state’s best shot put throwers. Photo by Sam Chandler.

Walter Thomas couldn’t believe he was there, standing on the highest step of the podium with a gold medal draped around his neck. “Not a chance,” he said. Yet there he was, the newest king of

Alabama high school shot put. Just a little while before, Thomas had conquered the Class 7A field. His deep, arcing throw of 59 feet, one-half inch had shattered the previous state-meet record by more than eight feet.

See THOMAS | page A28

A2 • March 2017

Vestavia Voice

March 2017 • A3

A4 • March 2017

Vestavia Voice

About Us Editor’s Note By Sydney Cromwell A staple of the Vestavia Hills business community is closing soon. I recently interviewed Jewels by Rose owner Donna Jowers about the history of her 40-year-old store and her plans after it closes. Through the interview, I fell in love with the stories she told of her mother, Rose Goldner, who started the business in a time when few women owned their own jewelry stores. With some jewelry knowledge, talent and natural salesmanship, Goldner created her own successful business. She refused to be put off or dismissed when men assumed either that her husband was the real brains of the operation, or that they could take advantage of a female business owner. Though many more women are business owners now than in the 1970s, that fearlessness

several high school athletes who will be playing for college teams next year.. Inside, you’ll also find guides to some of the medical experts and summer camps in the community. It may seem like winter’s barely over, but registration for summer camps is already underway. We love sharing all the inspiring, interesting and important stories of Vestavia Hills. Got a story you think we should share? Email me at sydney@ — and stubbornness — is still something to applaud. Our March issue also features previews of several events around the city, the latest school news and profiles of


City Manager Jeff Downes teaches Cub Scouts from Den 12 about city government on February 13, 2017 in the council chambers at Vestavia Hills City Hall. Photo by Emily Featherston.

Advertising Manager: Matthew Allen Sales and Distribution: Warren Caldwell Don Harris Michelle Salem Haynes Rhonda Smith James Plunkett Gail King Eric Clements Publisher: Managing Editor: Design Editor: Director of Photography: Sports Editor: Digital Editor: Page Designers:

Dan Starnes Sydney Cromwell Kristin Williams Sarah Finnegan Kyle Parmley Alyx Chandler Cameron Tipton

Community Editor: Erica Techo Community Reporters: Emily Featherston Jon Anderson Jesse Chambers Lexi Coon Staff Writer: Sam Chandler Copy Editor: Louisa Jeffries Contributing Writers: Grace Thornton

For advertising contact: Contact Information: Vestavia Voice PO Box 530341 Birmingham, AL 35253 (205) 313-1780

Please submit all articles, information and photos to: sydney P.O. Box 530341 Birmingham, AL 35253

Published by: Starnes Publishing LLC Legals: The Vestavia Voice is published monthly. Reproduction or use of editorial or graphic content without prior permission is prohibited. The Vestavia Voice is designed to inform the Vestavia community of area school, family and community events. Information in The Vestavia Voice is gathered from sources considered reliable but the accuracy cannot be guaranteed. All articles/photos submitted become the property of The Vestavia Voice. 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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March 2017 • A5

A6 • March 2017

Vestavia Voice

City Council approves rezoning for future Slice Pizza location By EMILY FEATHERSTON The Blue Lake area of Vestavia Hills, as City Manager Jeff Downes said the city generally refers to the area near Blue Lake Drive and Patchwork Farms, is a step closer to getting a new restaurant option. The City Council voted unanimously to approve a rezoning request for 3104 Timberlake Drive, rezoning it from R-1 residential to B-1.2 mixed-use commercial. Place 1 councilor Rusty Weaver explained that the Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved the rezoning of the property on the corner of Timberlake Drive and Cahaba River Road, as long as the business indicates to customers not to continue down Timberlake when exiting the property. Downes explained that once the building is constructed, the owners will not get a certificate of occupancy until signage discouraging motorists is installed. The property is intended to be developed into the second location of Slice Pizza and Brewhouse, which currently operates in Lakeview in downtown Birmingham. While the new location is designed to be much larger than the original Slice, Claude Tindle of Longleaf Realty Partners explained that the design is very similar. “What we tried to do is pick up the building in Lakeview and move it,” he said. Tindle explained that while the area is in transition, it can be seen that the properties surrounding the location are trending commercial. Downes echoed that statement, and said that as the area moves in a commercial direction, the city is working to ensure that everything fits and is mutually benefiting. He explained to the council that in the coming weeks and months, the city is working

Claude Tindle of Longleaf Realty Partners addresses the council. Tindle said the new Slice location is designed to be much larger than the original, while maintaining a similar design. Photo by Emily Featherston.

on putting the finishing touches on an infrastructure plan for the Blue Lake area, and that some of the negotiations with the Slice property have taken that into account, including requesting that Slice move its sewer system anchor to a location that would benefit future developments on the street. Additional council business included:

► The council passed a resolution in support of the state of Alabama’s bicentennial celebration. Downes explained that in order for the library to apply for grants for the celebration, the council had to pass a resolution in support of the state’s efforts. ► Approved a resolution to authorize city officials to sign checks. ► Downes told the council he would be

emailing them about a possible warning period for enforcing the city’s sign ordinance, due to the large number of current temporary-sign violations that would need to be addressed. ► After the recent ice and wind storms, Downes said the city is working to add a crisis situation button to the online Action Center, to be used for nonemergency but time-sensitive requests during crisis situations.

March 2017 • A7

Council recognizes accomplishment of Piztiz employee, votes to enter agreement with PRA Government Services By EMILY FEATHERSTON The Vestavia Hills City Council met Feb. 13 to discuss multiple items of business, but began the meeting by recognizing a member of the community. Marco Johnson, a custodian at Pizitz Middle School, obtained his high school equivalency diploma in December, and Mayor Ashley Curry along with the rest of the council formally recognized him for his accomplishment. Johnson was accompanied to the council meeting by several Pizitz teachers, friends and family members, and was acknowledged with a standing ovation by the audience in the council chambers. He thanked his Pizitz family as well as his actual family for supporting him through his journey, and the city officials for their encouragement. Johnson was also honored before the council meeting with a graduation party, complete with snacks, cake and gifts, courtesy of his Pizitz supporters. Before getting down to business for the evening, City Manager Jeff Downes announced to the council the city’s recent upgrade in bond rating by Moody’s Investment Services, which Moody’s informed the city of on Friday, Feb. 10. “It puts us in the elite of elite, as far as finances go,” Downes said. He also acknowledged the city’s recent recognition by the National Council for Home Safety and Security as the second-safest city in Alabama, coming in behind only Helena out of the 87 cities listed. “I think it’s another validation of what we do and what’s important in our particular community,” he said. Downes also updated the council on ongoing projects, including road work on Sicard Hollow Road, which he said is still on track to begin seeing work in the next 30 to 60 days, though he added the caveat that because it is a

Marco Johnson receives his special commendation from the mayor and council. Photo by Emily Featherston.

county-led project, the city has limited control of the situation. He also updated the council on the progress of Meadowlawn Park. Crews have poured the majority of the sidewalks, and are expected to begin laying sod and pouring the concrete curbing. He said public works director Brian Davis has ordered playground equipment which should be delivered and installed within the next two to three weeks. During the meeting, the city voted to enter an agreement with PRA Government Services,

RDS, for the collection of various taxes and business license fees. Downes said that in his experience, including his time in Montgomery, he has been overwhelmingly pleased with the firm’s work, citing their speed and thoroughness as reasons he would go with them every time. “It’s done very efficiently, and the software they have allows us to be able to examine and analyze our revenues in a very timely and effective manner,” he said. Other council business included: ► The council voted to accept a bid for a

new police motorcycle. ► An old senior transportation vehicle and fire vehicle chassis were declared surplus. ► The council voted to update its disclosure and controls procedures, in order to maintain compliance with the Securities and Exchange Commission and best investment practices. ► The council approved funding for a new HVAC unit for the press box and concessions stand at Wald Park, in hopes the new unit would be installed by the first day of the spring baseball season.

A8 • March 2017

Mayor’s Minute By Ashley Curry

I would like to take a minute and tell you about the city’s newly commissioned chaplaincy program. This program, initiated by VHPD Sergeant Randall Jones and VHFD Lt. Don Williamson, was officially started Jan. 30, when members of the first class of Vestavia Hills Chaplains were commissioned. Vestavia Hills is one of the few cities in the nation to have chaplains trained and devoted to all departments of a municipality — quite an accomplishment. While most city chaplaincy programs connect chaplains to a fire department, police department or other city department, the mission of the City of Vestavia Hills Chaplaincy Program is to provide a ministry of service in chaplaincy care to all of the city employees, their families and to all residents of Vestavia Hills, regardless of race, creed, gender, religion and including those who hold no faith. These chaplains perform religious support activities according to their faith and conscience and provide religious support of other faith groups by coordinating with another chaplain or qualified individual to perform the support needed. The mission is accomplished by empowering qualified individuals and equipping them with the highest levels of professional standards and training. Each chaplain receives training and instruction in order to provide a consistent, compassionate level of care and service to all. All chaplains are properly ordained, licensed pastors in their denomination and have been undergoing training for more than one year. Jones and Williamson welcomed Tom Bell (retired), Ron Higey (Birmingham International Church), Tyler Hopkins (Vestavia Hills UMC), Fabricio Oliveira (Horizon Church) and Butch Williams (Vestavia Hills UMC) in the initial VHCP class. Sam Williamson (Canterbury UMC) is scheduled to complete training in March and join the team at that time. Our thanks to Jones and Williamson for being instrumental in getting this program going. This is another example of the many worthwhile programs our city offers to our residents.

Vestavia Voice

James Spann advocates for storm preparedness at chamber luncheon Pictured left to right: Mayor Ashley Curry, Chamber President Karen Odle, James Spann, Chamber Board Chair Roger Steur. Photo by Emily Featherston.

By EMILY FEATHERSTON James Spann has been a meteorologist since 1979, and in that time, he has given a lot of forecasts and followed a lot of storm systems. Yet, he said at the February Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce luncheon, every person has one or two days in his or her career that truly define it. For Spann, one of those days was April 27, 2011. The infamous date saw 218 tornadoes across the Southeast, including the multi-vortex EF-4 that carved a path through Tuscaloosa, and Spann said that the devastation and loss of life from the event still weighs heavily on him. Events of that size have happened in the past, Spann said, but added that

it doesn’t really matter, because any major storm can be deadly. “All it takes is one, and if that one comes down your street, it becomes your April 27th,” he said. And despite the amount of information and advanced warning, more than 50 people were killed, a figure Spann said is far greater than an event of that size should generate. “We’ve got a problem,” he said. A major problem he said the industry should address is the lack of storm coverage in rural areas. “We gotta fix that,” he said. Spann attributed the significant loss of life and number of injuries in recent major storm systems to three major causes: reliance on sirens, not wearing helmets and fatigue from false alarms. The tornado sirens in the state of Alabama are technology from World

War I, Spann said, and were only originally designed to reach people outside. “The ‘Siren Mentality’ killed more people April 27 than anything else,” he said. What people should do instead, Spann reiterated multiple times, is have access to a weather radio in their homes and businesses, as well as find a reliable weather app–and not the one that just comes with a smart phone. Finally, Spann said that the major thing is for people to take storms seriously. He said he recognizes that many times the media can build up a storm system just for nothing to happen, but that it only takes one event for everything to change. And that is something he really wants to make right. “There’s been too much loss of life on my watch,” he said.

March 2017 • A9

BOE discusses middle school alignment at work session Roger Dobnikar and Andy Carpenter make the case for a proposed alignment strategy at the Jan. 24 BOE work session. Photo by Emily Featherston.

By EMILY FEATHERSTON Parents, teachers, administrators and even a few alumni packed into the Board of Education boardroom at the January work session to hear updates and discuss multiple issues, but one was discussed for over an hour and a half: middle school alignment. Assistant Superintendent Jane-Marie Marlin began the discussion at the Jan. 24 meeting by reminding the board and audience of the alignment discussions origins in the accreditation process in 2014. “Today is an output of work over several years,” she said, detailing the various steps taken both before the parent forums in November as well as in the last two months. Marlin said that in that time, teachers and other school representatives from both Liberty Park Middle School and Pizitz Middle School met together to figure out how to make the student experiences at the schools as similar as possible, while maintaining the integrity of each community. Of the changes that are on the horizon, one Marlin said the team quickly realized was the need for aligned course offerings, meaning the addition of gifted courses at each school as well as adding languages and electives at Liberty Park. Plans also include adding Career Prep A, which is typically taken in high school, but can be taken in the 8th grade. Taking the course early would open up high school students for another elective. Pizitz assistant principal Andy Carpenter and Liberty Park assistant principal Roger Dobnikar presented the additional findings of the many meetings, namely the major goals for the alignment process, and a proposed schedule that both middle schools will use. Carpenter and Dobnikar, as well as Marlin and Superintendent Sheila Phillips, emphasized that changing the schedule was not the original intent of the meetings, but rather that changing the schedule was a product of the discussion. Carpenter and Dobnikar also pointed out that the “easy” option would have been for one school to adopt the other’s schedule, but that

there were benefits to both, and the team wanted to create an option that would serve both schools as best as possible, or “the third way.” The result is a seven-period day with a Lancer or Pirate period at the end of the day, depending on the school, and keeps the “rotating” aspect where students have courses at different times of the day. The schedule allows for students to take two electives, as well as a period of academic strategy, where teachers can better intervene with students needing help as well as cultivate study skills and academic progress. The proposed schedule also builds into teachers’ schedules professional development time and the ability to participate in learning

communities within their subject or grade level. The Lancer/Pirate period can be utilized in a variety of ways, which Dobnikar described as “fluid.” It could possibly make up for some of the compromises in the plan, such as losing the homeroom period. Carpenter and Dobnikar also said putting the Lancer/Pirate period at the end of the day would allow some courses or groups to continue after the end of the school day. There was also purpose behind the name not simply being “8th Period.” “It is not Pizitz 8th period with a shine on it, it is something new,” Marlin said. To make the new schedule and course

offerings possible, Pizitz would need eight academic strategies teachers, and Liberty Park would need six, along with an interventionist and six teachers for various subjects. “We recognize that what we’re asking for is a lot,” Marlin said to the board, but said that the staff changes were necessary to implement the plan. Phillips said that the next steps include determining how to make those changes happen, and present them to the board for approval. The recommendation from the meetings and focus groups would be to implement the alignment changes in the fall semester of 2017. “This is something that at the end of the day, I feel really, really good about,” Carpenter said.

A10 • March 2017

Vestavia Voice

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Now Open Ridge Drug Company has 1 Rocky opened at 3346 Morgan Drive, in the Western Market shopping center. It is owned by Matt and Keri Bates. 259-7100, Vida-Flo is now open at 796 Montgomery Highway, Suite P1. The clinic offers hydration therapy and IV vitamin drips in a clean, soothing medical spa environment administered by licensed medical professionals. 705-3288,


Birmingham is now open 3 True40 at 3168 Heights Village. The fitness studio combines a balanced mixture of barre, yoga, Pilates, bodyweight training and TRX. 538-7005,

Hirings and Promotions ARC Realty, 4274 Cahaba Heights Court, Suite 200, has hired Josh Ray, Bryant Turner Jr. and Jay Humphries as Realtors. 969-8910,


March 2017 • A11 Greenhalgh Insurance Company, 3144 Cahaba Heights Road, has hired Walter Crye as a commercial account executive. 967-8800,


Anniversaries Lili Pad, 3138 Heights Village, 6 The celebrated its 13th anniversary in February. 298-1811, Fancy Goods Variety, 2512 Rocky Ridge Road, Suite 102, celebrated its fifth anniversary in February. 978-1451


Blue Willow, 3930 Crosshaven 8 The Drive, is celebrating its 18th anniversary on March 8. 968-0909,


Business news

Jewels By Rose, 619 Montgomery Highway, has announced it will close after 40 years in business.


to share?

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If you are in a brick and mortar business in Vestavia Hills and want to share your event with the community, let us know.

Storm drains clogged ? Erosion problems ? Standing water ? Heavy runoff ?

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SOLUTIONS 244-1114 Alabama GCL# 43737

A12 • March 2017

Vestavia Voice

Home Instead celebrates 20 years of senior care By GRACE THORNTON

Dan Pahos, owner of Home Instead Senior Care, poses in the conference room of their Vestavia office. Home Instead celebrated 20 years of service this year. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.

Dan Pahos was standing at the sink washing dishes when he heard a gasp and turned around. It was his first day at the home of one of his first clients after starting the Home Instead Senior Care franchise in Vestavia Hills. He was afraid that sound meant something had just gone really wrong. “I showed up for my first day, and she [the adult daughter of the client] sat me down at the kitchen table, saying she would be right back, get her dad from his room and bring him to the kitchen to start the day,” Pahos said. While he was alone, Pahos decided to start washing the dishes. And as it turns out — that gasp he heard was a good gasp. “The daughter looked right at me, and with a smile on her face, she said, ‘I knew I picked the right agency.’ It was at that moment that I realized how big of an impact we can have on these stressed, anxious families by simply having a great attitude, and doing the seemingly smallest of things,” he said. And 20 years later, Pahos said he’s still running the same kind of business — the kind he hopes will make a difference. When he opened Alabama’s first Home Instead franchise in 1997, it was a natural fit — he’d been caring for his own aging parents in Minnesota and felt compelled to help others dealing with the same issue. And in the time since, he and other staff members have delivered more than 3 million hours of service to more than 12,000 families. Linda Campbell’s family is one of those. “I’ve been really pleased — they take such good care of my mom,” Campbell said. “I

have four kids, so it’s impossible to be everywhere at once. It’s been a blessing to have them.” One caregiver colors in coloring books with Campbell’s mom and occasionally takes her out to lunch, so she doesn’t have to stay in the house all the time, Campbell said. “They take a personal interest and do things with her that are above and beyond what would be required,” she said. That’s what Pahos said he’s aimed for Home Instead to be all along. “Twenty years of experience tells us great employees start by having a great attitude,” he said. “After our rigorous hiring process, we concentrate on training them via our 1,500-square-foot, in-house training facility with three labs, taught by our RN training managers.” They’ve also adapted over the years to the needs of aging baby boomers, who expect a quicker customer response than previous generations, he said. “Ten years ago, we had the luxury of two to three days to deliver what the consumer now expects same day, because if we can’t, our competitors will,” Pahos said. “So we have developed an infrastructure that aligns with ever-changing consumer expectations.” The industry has a promising future for growth, he said — more than 11,000 baby boomers turn 65 each day in the U.S. “I always tell people ours is a service that people don’t want, but they need,” he said, noting that it’s an “honor and privilege” to step into that gap for the community. “We love all that Vestavia Hills has to offer and plan to be here a long time.” Home Instead is at 2059 Columbiana Road. For more information, call 918-7601 or go to

March 2017 • A13

Jewels by Rose closes its doors

Above: Rose Goldner in the original Jewels by Rose location. Photo courtesy of Donna Jowers. Left: Donna Jowers inside Jewels by Rose, which is closing after 40 years in business. Photo by Sydney Cromwell.

By SYDNEY CROMWELL A woman-run jewelry business was almost unheard of when Jewels by Rose opened in 1976, but that didn’t slow down its namesake, Rose Goldner. “My mother is really a little spitfire,” said her daughter Donna Jowers, who now runs Jewels by Rose at 619 Montgomery Highway. Jowers is now retiring and closing the jewelry store, but its 40-year history has made the store something of an institution with local shoppers. Goldner got her first job in jewelry sales after Jowers had married and moved away. Jowers said her mother, now 93, not only had the knowledge and “gift of gab” to endear her

to customers, but also a knack for seeing the potential in pieces customers brought in. “She started learning about jewelry from her World Book encyclopedia at home,” Jowers said. Goldner intended Jewels by Rose to be a part-time job, but it quickly became too busy. She started in the back of a hair salon next door to the store’s current location, then somehow convinced the next-door barber into early retirement so she could move into his space instead. Jowers said her mom was a pioneer, and more than once had to set the record straight when customers came in asking for the owner, “Mr.” Goldner. “She had to retrain the customers that didn’t know her,” Jowers said.

Jewels by Rose made a name not only through jewelry selection but also because “no job was too small” that customers brought in. Jowers moved back to Vestavia Hills and joined the business 34 years ago. She said there was a lot to learn before she moved up from cleaning counters to chatting with customers. “There was a lot more to it than I could ever imagine,” Jowers said. Over 40 years, Jewels by Rose has developed a loyal customer base. Jowers said she has loved the opportunity to be part of engagements, weddings and other life events. She recalled one couple who came in for engagement ring shopping, and the man got down on one knee right in the store. On two occasions, customers came by Jewels by Rose on the way home from the

hospital with their newborn children. Leaving those loyal customers now that she’s retiring is one of the hardest parts of closing, Jowers said. “That part is hard because I’ve really enjoyed being part of their lives,” Jowers said. However, she has a list of things she and her husband have always wanted to do that were too difficult as a full-time business owner, such as traveling, art lessons and gardening. “I realized life is short,” Jowers said. Alan’s Express Jewelry Repair, which operated in Jewels by Rose, will continue to be located there. Jowers said she is grateful to the customers “for supporting us all these years and letting us be part of their lives and special occasions.”

A14 • March 2017

Vestavia Voice

New fitness studio brings best of all worlds By LEXI COON Do you want to get a good workout, but you don’t want to stick to one form of exercise? True40, which recently opened in Heights Village, might be what you are looking for. In one 60-minute class, instructors will lead participants through a cardio warm-up, barre, TRX, weights and yoga. “If you work one muscle group, you have to work the opposing muscle group,” said True40 owner and founder Allie Weingarten. “Our class is completely balanced.” It’s all low-impact too, which helps create a more injury preventive and rehabilitation friendly, and overall welcoming, class, Weingarten said. “Fitness is such an intimidating thing for women,” she said. “That was my goal, to do everything that honors your body … and to create a positive environment that’s very welcoming.” Weingarten got her start in the fitness world after she graduated from Auburn with a degree in exercise science, and she first worked in corporate wellness and taught various exercise classes including pilates, barre and TRX. “There’s pros and cons to all of them [the classes] that people said,” she said. Some people liked the low-impact, but then there’s limited cardio. If cardio, which is inherently high-impact, is added, some people might not be able to participate. “There’s not something that has the best pieces of all of it,” Weingarten said. So she made something that does: True40. Weingarten opened her first studio in Auburn, where her husband is attending the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, and had great success. “I had the fitness side experience, and I figured now is the time to learn the business side,” she said. “It just kind of happened.” But as some students who weren’t native to the Auburn area moved back to Birmingham, she said she got more and more phone calls

Allie Weingarten, center, cuts the ceremonial ribbon at the opening of her second True40 studio. Photo by Lexi Coon.

asking for a similar fitness studio to continue what they worked on in True40. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, should I expand?’” she said. In the end, she chose to open in Vestavia, only a year after opening her studio in Auburn. Much like her flagship studio, guests take part in 60-minute classes that incorporate barre, yoga, pilates, TRX and body weight exercises. Participants can adjust the movements to fit

their needs too, so every person can complete the class and get a full workout. “That was my one goal, to do everything that honors your body,” she said, which plays into the True40 mantra “Staying true to you.” “I wanted it to be very warm and welcoming. And everybody can do it, all ages, all fitness abilities,” she said. Her classes are even safe for pre- and postnatal exercise, and the studio has a childcare

center for guests who are out with their kids. “We really try hard to be a part of the community in Auburn, and so we’re going to try to carry over into Birmingham, too.” Weingarten said. “My heart is in it.” To find out more about classes and pricing or sign up for a class, stop by their studio at 3168 Heights Village or go to Classes are limited in size, so participants are asked to sign up in advance.

March 2017 • A15

Events Hand in Paw will bring some of its therapy dogs to Paws on the Patio this month. Photo courtesy of Hand in Paw.

Zaragoza, aTeam couple to be honored at LVH awards banquet

Above: Former Mayor Butch Zaragoza. Left: The Throwers, pictured left to right: Jan, Anderson, Avery and Andy. Photos courtesy of Wendy Wallace Johnson.

By EMILY FEATHERSTON Vestavia Hills community members will gather this month to celebrate the hard work of those who go above and beyond to serve the city and its people. The 27th annual Leadership Vestavia Hills Community Awards Banquet is March 2 at 6 p.m. at Vestavia Hills Country Club. The program will honor former Mayor Butch Zaragoza and aTeam Ministries founders Andy and Jan Thrower. Zaragoza, who will be presented with the LVH Lifetime Achievement Award, served the city as mayor for two terms beginning in 2008. Before that, he spent 39 years with the Vestavia Hills Fire Department, moving up through the ranks to fire chief before retiring and becoming a public servant. In his time

serving the city for nearly five decades as well as in various fire-chief associations, Zaragoza also served in top positions with the Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency and Jefferson County Mayors Association. The Throwers, who founded aTeam in 2009, will be honored with the Distinguished Citizen Award for their work offering spiritual, financial and emotional support to children and families facing pediatric cancer. The Throwers started aTeam after their son, Anderson, who is now a third-grader at Vestavia Hills Elementary West, went through a fight with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Individual tickets can be purchased for $50 each at For more information about sponsorship and reserving a table, contact Penny Lewallyn at Lewallyn@

Hand in paw, drink in hand By ERICA TECHO Specialty cocktails and dog treats do not always find themselves in the same place, but both will be on the patio at FoodBar in March. During Paws on the Patio, people can stop by FoodBar with their dogs and enjoy free appetizers (aka dog treats for the four-legged visitors), specialty dog-themed cocktails and learn more about Hand in Paw, the organization Paws on the Patio benefits. Hand in Paw is a Birmingham-based nonprofit that aims to improve day-to-day lives through animal-assisted therapy. This will be the organization’s fifth Paws on the Patio event with FoodBar. “We especially like the locations because it’s so central to so many people,” said Paige Saylor, director of marketing and community relations with Hand in Paw. FoodBar owner and chef George McMillan has been involved with Hand in Paw in the past, including when one of his dogs served as a therapy dog, said office manager Sara Modrall. The rest of the staff enjoys

supporting the cause as well. “He’s always kind of done stuff like this, and all of us here are kind of crazy about animals,” Modrall said. “… Hand in Paw has always been really close to our hearts.” During the event, there will be a bar outside, and from 5-8 p.m., 10 percent of all food and drink purchases will go toward Hand in Paw. A table also will be set up where people can meet some of Hand in Paw’s therapy dogs, learn more about the organization, directly donate or sign up for Mutt Strut, a 5K in April. “You really get to learn about our organization,” Staylor said. “A lot of people sometimes misunderstand what Hand in Paw’s mission is, and it’s really just a great opportunity to learn. It’s a great way to support an organization.” Staylor said they also enjoy working with FoodBar because the restaurant works to make it fun for the dogs, and the variety of food options is greater than a more casual restaurant. “My suggestion would be come early and snag a table outside,” Staylor said. Paws on the Patio is March 16. FoodBar is at 3156 Heights Village.

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Vestavia Voice

Folk singer and autoharpist coming to Vestavia library By LEXI COON The Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest is always looking for ways to reach out to people in the community, and it’s hoping guests of all ages will join them March 6 for a performance by autoharpist, storyteller and folk singer Adam Miller. Miller is a performer based out of Oregon and has played for crowds across the country from Alaska to Florida. According to his website, he began collecting old songs when he was in grade school and worked to learn every song he heard with the help of his audio-graphic memory. Today, Miller has a collection of 5,000 songs and has performed at numerous music festivals. “We’re always interested to get new people [to the library],” said April Moon of the Vestavia Hills Adam Miller, a folk singer, autoharpist and storyteller, will Library in the Forest. “He’s be performing for all ages at the Vestavia Hills Library in not somebody we would get the Forest on March 6. Photo courtesy of Sonia Lovewell. on a regular basis.” Although the library typipeople who aren’t normally the ones cally holds programs designed around certain coming in the doors,” she said. Moon comage groups, Moon was quick to point out that pared Miller’s expected performance to that Miller is suitable for — and welcomes — all of Bobby Horton’s, except Miller’s will be ages. inside. “We really want to entice the adults to “It appeals to a lot of people who like hiscome, too; it’s not just a kid program,” she tory,” she said. said. She also said hopefully Miller’s perforThe free event is from 6:30 to 8 p.m., mance will bring in those who don’t usually and no registration is required. To learn visit the library. more about Adam Miller, go to folksing“We’re always trying to reach those

Shoppers can find a wide array of children’s clothing options at the Butterflies and Bowties consignment sale this month. Photo courtesy of Liberty Crossings United Methodist Church.

Butterflies and Bowties offers consignment deals By EMILY FEATHERSTON The spring consignment season continues this month with Liberty Crossings United Methodist Church’s Butterflies and Bowties sale. Sale events are March 8-11. Butterflies and Bowties accepts all seasons and sizes of children’s clothing, including pre-teen and teen sizes and styles. As in previous years, the sale will begin on Wednesday with a private pre-sale for volunteers at 4 p.m., and for consignors at 5 p.m. For the public, there is an open pre-sale which starts at 6 p.m. with the purchase of a $10 ticket. The official public sale will be open from

8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, when many items are 50 percent off. There is a $10 fee to consign, but consignors receive 70 percent of the sales from items. The proceeds of the sale go toward Liberty Crossings’ children’s ministry and the ministries the church supports elsewhere. Those wanting to clean out their kids’ closets but not receive proceeds from their consignments can also make a donation of clothing items and should bring the donations to the church at least two weeks before the event. For more information, go to consignment or contact Liberty Crossings United Methodist Church at 951-7707.

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School House Purple People Run to benefit Open Hands Overflowing Hearts

Liberty Park student among winners of statewide Smart Art Contest Photo courtesy of Vestavia Hills City Schools.

Colorful paint flies through the air at one of VHHS’s most iconic fundraising events. Photo by Emily Featherston.

By EMILY FEATHERSTON One of Vestavia’s most colorful events will support a new cause this year, as the annual Purple People Run benefits Open Hands Overflowing Hearts. Each year, the students at Vestavia Hills High School paint the town purple to raise money for charity, and the 2017 event will benefit Open Hands Overflowing Hearts’ fight to end pediatric cancer. The March 18 event is similar to many race events, featuring a 5K and 1-mile fun run. However, at each mile marker along the course, runners will run through a paint station, with volunteers lobbing handfuls of blue, red and purple paint. The course for both runs begins and ends at the high school. This year, faculty sponsor Emily Erwood

said the event will have a bag-check, where participants can stow their personal items during the race. There will also be car-seat covers for sale to protect participants’ vehicles from the paint. Registration for the 5K is $30 per person if purchased in advance, and $35 the day of the event. Registration for the 1-mile fun run is $15 per person. Erwood said the students chose to donate the proceeds to Open Hands Overflowing Hearts because of founder Kayla Perry’s hometown tie to Birmingham and the work the group does to end childhood cancer. “This hits home to our student body, as many of our own students have faced [or] are facing this terrible battle,” she said. To register, go to, or contact Erwood at erwoodeb@

CollegeCounts – Alabama’s 529 college savings program – recently announced the winners of its SmartArt Contest. The contest was open to all fourth grade students attending a public school in the state of Alabama. CollegeCounts, in partnership with the Alabama State Department of Education, offered a lesson on careers led by their school counselor ending with the students completing a 50-word narrative describing what they want to do after completing college along with accompanying artwork. “We wanted this contest to serve as a catalyst for these young students to think early about their goals and let them know those dreams can be achieved, “said Young Boozer, treasurer for the state of Alabama and board chair for CollegeCounts. Of the participating schools, one student from each school system was chosen as a first round winner. Fourth grader Jack Cobb was chosen as Liberty Park Elementary’s first round winner. Cobb and other winners’ artwork was then sent to the state Capitol and judged in a second round to determine the final

statewide winners. Each first round winner received a $100 CollegeCounts 529 account contribution. Grand prize winners received an in-person visit from the state treasurer and a $529 contribution in CollegeCounts funds. Although the competition has closed, parents are able to enroll for a CollegeCounts 529 account and begin saving for their student’s collegiate futures at any time. CollegeCounts has no minimum contribution requirement, allowing families to open accounts and save a little each month through quality investment funds. Funds may be withdrawn and used at colleges, universities, trade schools and graduate schools at one-, two- and four-year schools in Alabama and across the U.S. Under the 529 Section of the tax code, special tax benefits are provided to families saving for future college expenses. For more information about CollegeCounts, Alabama’s 529 Fund and how to open an account, please visit – Submitted by CollegeCounts.

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Vestavia Voice

Littleton honored with national award By KYLE PARMLEY The 2016 season was a banner one for the Vestavia Hills High School girls soccer program, as the Rebels won the Class 7A state championship and were declared the top team across the country by MaxPreps. As a byproduct of that success, head coach Brigid Littleton was named as the South Region Coach of the Year by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). It is the third award that Littleton has received since the state

title, including being named state coach of the year by the NFHS and National Soccer Coaches Association of America over the summer. “I was honored and humbled to receive this award, and I’m thankful for all the people I’ve had around me through the years here,” Littleton said. “We have great teams of girls who do what they’re supposed to do and stay committed to their goals. This is a reflection of all they do,” she said. The Rebels began their 2017 journey on Feb. 14 with their first game against John Carroll.

VHHS girls soccer head coach Brigid Littleton. Photo courtesy of Vestavia Hills City Schools.

A new approach to science at VHEE This academic year, students at Vestavia Hills Elementary East (VHEE) are getting a fresh look at science. “The Alabama science course of study calls for more hands-on, active learning than ever before,” said Principal Mark Richardson. “Our school has added even more opportunities for children to gather data, form hypotheses, conduct experiments, and design as engineers. All of these activities are designed to not only teach basic science concepts, but also to show our students how scientists and engineers approach questions and problems in the real world.”

All teachers were trained in the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative (AMSTI) and are using hands-on modules from this training, as well as other resources such as the Mystery Science website. Third graders recently tested gravity by designing a path to drop a small object and then redesigning the path to make the object fall more quickly in a second test. In second grade, students focus on earth materials and how they can be most effectively used based on their properties. They observe and test several different types of materials, from wood to

rubber and paper to metal, by building towers and bridges using a variety of the materials. First graders study light and sound, experimenting with shadows, refraction of ligh, and creating a drop chamber to help students differentiate between varieties of sounds. Kindergartners recently became weather engineers to design and construct shade structures for “friendly monsters” that needed shade on a hot day. After the structures were completed, students tested them outside, using thermometers to record the temperature on top of the structures and then underneath the structures after 10 minutes. If the temperature was cooler under the shade structure, it was a success! “I absolutely love the new STEM-related

curriculum that we are expanding this year,” said second grade teacher Jason Cooper. “I really feel like my students are getting a firmer grasp on scientific content and principles rather than just remembering some facts related to science. The great thing is that they love the hands-on component, and they also learn from both failures and successes through reflection and observation. It really is a wonderful lesson for many areas of their learning.” “STEM-based activities have provided wonderful experiences for our students to enhance their curiosity and overall interest in learning,” said kindergarten teacher Lauren Richey. “We are creating life-long learners through this discovery process, and it has been truly profound to witness.” – Submitted by Vestavia Hills City Schools.

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Vestavia coach and teacher using boxing passion to raise funds By GRACE THORNTON Two and a half years ago, Leo Harlan’s wife bought him a one-month membership to a local boxing gym. “That was obviously a mistake on her part,” he said with a grin. Because these days, not only is he still boxing — he’s boxing in front of a gym full of his students at Vestavia Hills High School. And he’s not choosing easy opponents. Two years ago, Harlan boxed against the current super heavyweight champion of Alabama as part of Knockout Cancer, a fundraiser for Relay for Life. He “didn’t do so great” at that matchup, he said. But this year at Knockout Cancer 3 — set for St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, during the 10 a.m. student activity period — he’s going to be looking for redemption. Harlan, a history teacher and soccer coach at the high school, is planning to box against a prison guard. “The boxing aspect is totally legit,” he said, noting that his gym — Round 1 Boxing — is producing the event. “It’s their ring, their judges, their equipment,” Harlan said, who himself is a Golden Glove amateur boxer now. “The reason why we’re doing this is to try to raise $10,000 for cancer research.” He’s creating a green St. Patrick’s Day T-shirt and selling it for $20 as the ticket to the fight. Students and community members alike are welcome to purchase tickets and attend the match. David Godber, owner of the local Round 1 Boxing franchise, said they started a few years ago with the intention of just making the event better. “That first year, we had a makeshift ring and had five bouts,” he said. “We packed out the gym with more than 1,000 people.” Attendance waned a little for Knockout Cancer 2 because Harlan wasn’t boxing, Godber said.

Leo Harlan in the ring at Golden Gloves Round 1 Boxing in Hoover. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.

“The students didn’t just want to see my boxers fight — they wanted to see people from Vestavia Hills High School,” he said. So this year he’s bringing in his real ring and matching Harlan up against the prison guard, whom Godber also trains. “We’re trying to pack the gym again,” he said. “I think it will be a good match.” Both boxers are trained by Godber, and “Leo has more experience, but our prison guard is a big boy and well-qualified,” he said. “Leo the Lion” Harlan, as Godber called

him, will come out in a prisoner’s uniform, and his opponent will come out in a prison guard uniform. “They aren’t trying to kill each other — but we want to make it more interesting each year,” he said. “We want to make it better, so we can make more money.” All the money raised will go toward Vestavia Hills High School’s total Relay for Life goal of $250,000. Relay for Life is the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society and culminates in a relay team walk with collected

sponsorships on April 22. The ring and production for the boxing match at the high school will be the real deal and look like Las Vegas, Godber said. The event, he said, is the biggest fundraiser for Vestavia’s Relay for Life. “We’re excited to be a part.” And after that event is over, the Golden Gloves championship tournament will be at the gym that night and the following day, March 17-18. That event also is open to the public and will serve as an Olympic qualifying round.

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G U I D E special advertising section


s days turn warmer, it’s time to start thinking about summertime at last, and no summer is complete without a camp experience. Peruse our guide to learn more about which programs best fit your child’s personality, interest, age and availability. No matter which you choose, it’s time to jump in for fun and adventure this summer.


Two camp opportunities for kids at Cahaba Park This summer, Cahaba Park Church is offering two camps for children: Vacation Bible School and Studio C. Vacation Bible School will be June 4-7, from 5-7 p.m. This year’s theme is “Created by God: Built for a Purpose.” Our VBS is is a fun-filled family affair! Geared for kids in 4K through fourth grade, older children and parents are encouraged to participate as Group Leaders and volunteers for songs, games, and more. Studio C is the perfect summer camp for the little art enthusiast, children who are rising into 4K through second grade. “This is a hands-on event for boys and girls. They will learn about the arts from a biblical perspective. God has blessed each of us with gifts and abilities to serve Him and others.

Discovering and developing those in a fun environment is what Studio C is all about,” said Adam Wright, chief musician at Cahaba Park. With a unique leadership team and many creative activities, there is something for every child who attends. This year, Studio C will be an extended one-day camp, on July 26, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Children will create with visual arts (mixed media), musical arts (guitar, percussion, vocal) and culinary arts (food prep and presentation). Camp facilitators include Jordan Holt, children’s director; Beth Pearson, early childhood director; and Adam Wright. Registration for both VBS and Studio C is available on our website at We look forward to having you and your children at camp with us this summer!

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Grow theater skills in BCT summer camps For children with a flair for the dramatic, they can shine in the Birmingham Children’s Theatre summer camps. BCT offers camps for children pre-K through eighth grade, with activities including theater basics, dance, stage combat, music and fairy tales. The summer camps aren’t just about theater, though. BCT Director of Advancement and Sales LeNa McDonald said they keep an eye on education standards throughout the year to incorporate into their programs. “BCT allows children to gain foundations in all aspects of theater while also giving them the opportunity to perform. In addition, all of our camps are routed in academic programs that support continued learning throughout the summer even when school is not in session,” McDonald said. “We monitor reading, literature, theater and STEM learning objectives and standards throughout the school year to also implement those standards into our summer offerings.” The Young Actor’s Theatre at BCT is designed to inspire creativity, confidence and a sense of community through the exploration and practice of theater skills. This includes not only summer camps, but private instruction and programs year round. BCT has offered summer camps at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) for more than 10 years. This year’s camps include: Summer Theatre Camp #1 ► June 5-6, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ► Pre-K-second grade ► Explores theater fundamentals with

music, storytelling, dance and crafts ► Registration: $200 before April 1; $250 after April 1 Summer Theatre Camp #2 ► June 12-16, 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. ► Third-eighth grade ► Students will take classes in acting, dance, music and stage combat. The last day of this camp will feature a showcase. ► Registration: $300 before April 1; $350 after April 1 Summer Theatre Camp #3: Fairy Tale Tellers ► June 19-23, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ► Pre-K-second grade ► Students will play games and create short stories to make fairy tales come to life by the end of camp. Parents will be invited to open house on Friday to see how the students tell their tales. ► Registration: $200 before April 1; $250 after April 1 Summer Theatre Camp #4: Behind the Mask ► June 26-30, 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. ► Third-eighth grade ► Students will use different activities to create and tell a story through movement and dance while masked. Every child has a “mask” they hide behind, and these activities will allow the students to discover their own truths. The performance at the end of the week will be created from their own stories and a poem about being true to oneself. ► Registration: $300 before April 1; $350 after April 1 Visit for more information.

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Huntington offers summer tutoring sessions Huntington Learning Center is offering summer tutoring sessions so your student can catch up or get ahead for the coming year. “We give personalized attention and tailor make the program for the student,” said Marty Lively, owner of Huntington Learning Center in Vestavia. “We focus on more than homework help. We figure out where their struggle is and work from there at the student’s pace, not ours.” Huntington is the tutoring and test prep leader. Its certified tutors provide individualized instruction in reading, phonics, writing, study skills, elementary and middle school math, algebra through calculus, chemistry and other sciences. It preps for the ACT and SAT, as well as state and standardized exams. Huntington programs develop the skills, confidence, and motivation to help students succeed and meet the needs of state standards. For most students, study skills are not inherent. These aptitudes take time to learn and consistent practice to be most effective. Whether your child is a successful student or struggling with one or more subjects, there are certain essential skills that will build a foundation for his or her success in school and life. Huntington Learning Center focuses on something called executive functions. Executive functions are neurologically based skills that require self-regulation or mental processing. Put simply, they help children focus, prioritize tasks, set goals and work toward them, and stay attentive when studying. These functions include organization, time management, planning and retention. Organization will help the student to keep workspaces tidy and put supplies in places where they can be found easily combined with the ability to stay on top of homework and supplies needed in class and at home. Time management will teach students to organize one’s time with the aid of a planner/calendar in order to maximize work time and deter procrastination. Planning teaches

the ability to manage short-term and long-term to-dos. Retention will teach the ability to retain information and retrieve it later when completing a task. Students will also learn note-taking skills at the summer sessions. “Students need to develop a reliable method of taking notes and make sure their notes record key points covered both in textbook and in the class,” said Lively. The learning center focuses on test-taking skills, as well. “A solid study plan is the core of a good test-taking strategy,” said Lively. “Children who embrace reliable

learning methods and stick to a study schedule are best equipped to perform well on exams, but most need guidance to fine tune their test-taking skills.” Huntington also offers tutoring geared toward standardized testing and college entrance exams. “We also have ACT prep,” said Lively. “This is one on one instruction dynamic because the focus is usually scholarship dollars or entrance into a college or university.” Huntington Learning Center is located at 790 Montgomery Highway, Suite 112, Vestavia Hills, AL. We are in the Vestavia Hills City Center, next to Publix.

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Come to camp at McWane Science Center

What will your child do over summer vacation? McWane Science Center Summer Camps make learning an unforgettable adventure you just can’t experience anywhere else. In one week of camp, your budding scientist can discover a dinosaur, travel into outer space, design and build a skyscraper, or explore the ocean floor. Various themes and activities allow children to experience something new each day. Blast off in Cosmo Camp, investigate with CSI McWane, or get creative in Smarty Arty Pants Camp. Robotics, cool chemistry,

dive into marine biology or dig paleontology. The flexible programs allow you to choose programs you want for your child for a full week of fun and learning! Summer Camps will be offered for seven weeks beginning June 5 and ending July 28. Each session is a week in length. We will offer morning camps for Pre K and K children from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Camps for grades 1 through 7 are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day. Before and aftercare will also be available each day. Don’t miss out on a great program of science and

wonder here at McWane Science Center this summer! We will show your kids how fun science can be for them. Summer Camps: ► June 5 – July 28 ► Each session lasts one week (M-F) ► Grades Pre K and K – 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. ► Grades 1 through 7 – 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. ► Before and aftercare available ► Includes lunch and snack each day

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Vestavia Voice

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Achieving goals and scoring goals

Kids can achieve their goals — literally — at the Vestavia Hills Soccer Club’s summer camps. The club fields children’s and youth soccer teams year-round, but each summer it hosts a series of camps to teach recreational and competitive players new skills. VHSC general manager Jason Woodall said the club has hosted summer camps for 10 years. He said kids love the camps because they stay active, have fun and get to learn and build their skills. “Our summer soccer camps and clinics are a great way for parents to keep their children active in a game of soccer and to boost their confidence while playing the game. What children enjoy the most

about these camps and clinics is the great experience, making friends and learning how to enjoy the game,” Woodall said. This year’s summer camps include: Got Skillz Camp 1 ► Focuses on skill development, small-sided games and fun ► July 10-13, 9 a.m.-noon ► Open to boys and girls, ages 4-14 ► Registration fee: $150 ► Registration deadline: July 7 Got Skillz Camp 2 ► Focuses on skill development, small-sided games and fun ► July 17-20, 9 a.m.-noon ► Open to boys and girls, ages 4-14 ► Registration fee: $150

► Registration deadline: July 15 Keeper-Striker Camp 1 ► Focuses on all aspects of the game around the penalty area and goal ► July 21-23 ► Friday, 6-9 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.noon; Sunday, 1-3 p.m. ► Open to boys and girls U9-U18 ► Registration fee: $175 ► Registration deadline: July 19 ► Camp includes instruction by co-director Marine Cano, who has coached at Soka University and University of California Irvine, and was a member of the 1976 U.S. National Team. University of Soccer ► Aug. 7-11, 6-8:30 p.m. (tentative) ► Open to boys and girls U9-U11

► Registration fee: $175 (No fee for U9U10 competitive VHSC players) ► Registration deadline: Aug. 1 Keeper Striker Camp 2 ► Focuses on all aspects of the game around the penalty area and goal ► Aug. 7-11, 6-8:30 p.m. ► Open to boys and girls 12U-19U ► Registration fee: $175 ► Registration deadline: TBD All summer camps are at Sicard Hollow Athletic Complex, 4700 Sicard Hollow Road. Official registration ends three days prior to the camp’s start date, but Woodall said walk-ups are accepted as well. Call 978-0182 or email

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YMCA summer day camp focuses on youth development Youth development is the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical processes that all youth uniquely experience from birth to career. A successful developmental process fulfills children and teens’ innate need to be loved, spiritually grounded, educated, competent and healthy. Trading stories and sharing a favorite book or song with a new friend. Being greeted with smiles and high-fives from staff and teammates after scoring the winning point. Always fitting in, just for being you. This is what Summer Day Camp at the YMCA of Greater Birmingham is all about — ensuring kids get more out of their summer break: more friendships, more achievement, and more belonging. The Y is a place where kids feel safe, welcomed and can express their individuality in an environment that provides positive relationships, encourages parent engagement, and helps children realize their passions and talents. It’s also loads of fun! To learn more or to register, go online to Other YMCA summer opportunities: ► YMCA Camp Cosby The YMCA of Greater Birmingham’s sleepaway camp, Camp Cosby, offers a one-week, co-ed, safe and structured experience for children ages 6 to 16 on the shores of Logan Martin Lake. YMCA Camp Cosby gives children a chance to play hard, make new friends, and have the adventure of a lifetime in a safe, fun and structured environment. Your camper will develop new skills, gain confidence, make friends and have an amazing experience.

► YMCA Hargis Retreat Unlike other day camp programs, Summer Day Camp at Hargis is really camp! Located on 200+ wooded acres complete with swimming pool, hiking trails, fields for games, rock face for climbing, and our own private lake, it is the perfect backdrop for the traditional camp activities that we offer. Activities include: • Hiking • Fishing • Canoeing • Lake swimming • Archery • Rock climbing ► Summer Adventures In Learning (S.A.I.L.) The Summer Adventures In Learning program works with struggling students in grades 3-5 who need extra help. Summer Adventures In Learning is designed to help prevent learning loss, offer chances to explore new interests and skills and close the achievement gap for children from lower income communities. ► THINGAMAJIG® Invention Convention July 2017 THINGAMAJIG® is a daylong event that combines STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), active fitness and play, creative eco-art and team challenges into one child-focused festival. Learn more online at thingamajig.

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Keep learning in a variety of classes Summer is the perfect time to try something new, dive deeper into a current interest, fine tune math and English skills or fulfill required courses in a more relaxed environment. Altamont offers a wide array of quality classes, taught by our outstanding faculty, that are both educational and fun. Altamont’s six-week program is open to rising 1st through 12th graders. It includes three separate sections of two-week classes: June 5-16, June 19-30 and July 5-14. Early and after hour care is available. Registration opens February 1 at Credit courses: High school credit courses for rising 9th-12th graders include Altamont-required half-credit courses in Speech, Laboratory Technology and Health. Full-credit courses are offered in Honors Geometry and ninth grade Honors Ancient and Medieval Civilizations. Elective classes for rising 3rd-8th grade students include photography, theater, cooking, astronomy and gaming, as well as enrichment classes in math and English. One of our exciting

Tennis camps for adults, youth

new offerings this summer is a creative writing/gaming course with Lou Anders, award-winning author of the Thrones & Bones books and game. Sports and music camps: Our popular basketball and soccer day camps are open to players of all skill levels in rising 1st-12th grades. Music offerings include rock band camp, band camp and string camp. Whether it’s enrichment, enlightenment or entertainment, Altamont has what your child needs most this summer — something constructive to do. Enroll today. Registration and course information at Contact Dr. Josh Barnard, Summer Program Director, at

Sewanee: The University of the South offers summer tennis camps for both adults and youths during the month of June. The picturesque mountaintop campus is an ideal setting for an instructional tennis programs and camp activities for players of all skill levels. There are four separate six-day junior sessions designed to accommodate tournament level competitors, intermediates, and beginning players. The 4:1 student-teacher ratio insures that all campers receive personalized instruction in evenly matched training sessions. The daily schedule includes four hours of organized drill sessions and three hours of competitive match play in both singles and doubles. Located just two hours from Birmingham, Sewanee hosts one of the largest and most prominent tennis camps in the south. The university’s head coaches, John and Conchie Shackelford, have

lead the teaching staff for over 30 years. They are joined on staff by fellow college coaches, college players, and tennis professionals on the beautiful 21 indoor and outdoor tennis courts. Students are supervised around the clock with planned recreational activities each afternoon including an Olympic sized swimming pool and a mountain reservoir. Evening activities include bowling, a trip to the movie theatre, karaoke night, casino night, and a camp dance. “The strength of our program has always been personal attention and individualized instruction to meet the needs of each one of our campers”, says Coach Shackelford. “The friendships the students build each year last far beyond the moment the last ball has been struck, and keep our campers coming back home to Sewanee year after year.” For more information, visit

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March 2017 • A27

special advertising section



Spend the summer on stage From singing and improv to stage combat and makeup, the Virginia Samford Theatre’s summer camp introduces children to the wide world of theater before the final curtain closes. Summer camp at VST is meant for beginning and intermediate theater students ages 7 to 17. Education coordinator Jennifer Spiegelman said the camp staff enjoys introducing children to their craft and tailors the lessons to their students’ abilities. “Our main goals of Camp VST are helping students to build confidence, learning to work together effectively and efficiently as a group, and developing and exploring their creativity. These three goals filter into all of the activities we do, whether games, scene study or improvisation,” Spiegelman said. All camps include lessons in acting, dancing, singing, improvisation, stage combat, Shakespeare and stage makeup taught by Birmingham drama

teachers, actors and directors. The twoweek summer session explores these topics in more depth and closes with a showcase for campers’ parents. “Theater is such an expansive art, but most students are only introduced to the acting or singing part of it,” Spiegelman said. “Every single student can benefit from an education in theater, even if they don’t want to become a Broadway star. Arts education is not only a wonderful tool to instill arts appreciation, but a way to enrich, enhance and cultivate a better understanding of self and community.” The one-week sessions are June 5-9 and June 12-16, while the two-week session runs June 19-30. All sessions are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Registration fees are $295 for one-week sessions and $550 for the two-week session, with full payment due by May 22. For more information go to

Summer-sault into a good time at Vision Gymnastics Summer camp at Vision Gymnastics is all about getting kids moving, even if they’ve never tried a somersault or a handspring. Gym manager, Jodie Juneac, said Vision’s high energy full day and half day summer camps include not only gymnastics, but also arts and crafts, trampoline time, foam pit play, outdoor play and plenty of games at their Hoover facility. “The kids are moving the entire time and get the opportunity to meet lots of new friends,” Juneac said. “The kids have so much fun that they don’t want to leave when parents come to get them.” Camps run Monday through Friday from June 5 to August 4, except the

week of July 3-7. Full day camps last 8 a.m.-4 p.m., and half day camps can run either 8-11:30 a.m. or 12:30-4 p.m. Juneac said the camps are open to all children ages 3 and older who are interested in being active, having fun and making new friends. Registration begins February 15. Registration requires a $50 non-refundable deposit with a total fee of $275 per week for full day camps and $175 per week for half day camps. The Vision Gymnastics website has a parent portal for registration at Vision Gymnastics is at 3314 Old Columbiana Road in Hoover. Call 9797969 for more information.

A28 • March 2017

Vestavia Voice

Thomas finished second at the 2017 state indoor track and field meet on Feb. 4. Photo by Sam Chandler.


CONTINUED from page A1

“It was just crazy,” Thomas said of last May’s first-place feat. “I was stunned.” But it was a welcome shock, the kind Thomas had dreamed about. A year before — after he placed third at the 2015 state outdoor track and field meet — he told himself he wanted to be in this coveted position. A state title was what he’d been working toward. He just didn’t expect it to happen as soon it did. “After sophomore year, I was like, ‘Man, I’m going to be a state champ one day,’” Thomas said. “And surely the next year, I was a state champ.” The stunning suddenness of reality has become one of the overarching thematic concepts in Thomas’ life story. Things can happen quickly and unexpectedly — both good and bad. Thomas, a 17-year-old Vestavia Hills High School senior, knows this better than most. That’s because he never imagined he would be here, sitting in an empty classroom next to his school’s blue track discussing the indescribable heartbreak engendered by the passing of a parent. Feb. 24 marked the one-year anniversary of the death of Walter Thomas’ father, Robert Thomas Jr., who worked at the Vestavia Country Club for 27 years. He died at age 50, only five months after being diagnosed with multiple myeloma bone cancer. “It’s fast acting; it metastasizes,” said Alicia Thomas, Walter’s mother, of the cancer. Robert Thomas’ diagnosis and subsequent physical demise blindsided Walter and his family, which also includes his two older siblings. His sister, Tiffanie, graduated from Vestavia in 2003 as one of the top scorers in the history of the girls basketball program. His brother, Robert III, graduated in 2013 as a letterman in three sports. Walter Thomas said he and his family leaned on each other for stability in their time of need. Alicia Thomas, a 1984 Vestavia graduate, said the community acted as their foundation of support. Never was that more evident, she said, than

Without a doubt, I knew that if he was here, I knew what he would have wanted me to do. He would have been at every meet, wanting me to compete and PR [personal record] every single meet just like I wanted for myself. I just had to go out there and make him proud.

when members of the Vestavia community packed out the gymnasium at Greater Shiloh Baptist Church for Robert Thomas’ funeral. “It was amazing. I didn’t know we had that many friends, that many people who loved us,” Alicia Thomas said, the sound of tears audible in her voice. “It was amazing how they helped us out. I get emotional.” Admittedly, Walter Thomas said he struggled in the aftermath of his father’s passing. Coaches said they saw him retract silently in grief. He said he tried to internalize things too much on his own. “You can’t do it alone,” he said. “I figured that out the hard way.” Shot put became his outlet — choir, too. Nicknamed Big Walt for his 6-foot-3, 360pound frame, Walter Thomas sings in three choirs at school. A couple of months ago, he crooned the theme song to “Frozen” at a holiday concert — solo. “He is something else,” Alicia Thomas said. “When he sets his mind to do something, he’s going to see it all the way through. I could not believe he was that good, but he knocked it out of the park.” Walter Thomas, quite literally, started doing the same thing last spring at track practice. Vestavia head track and field coach Brett Huber said he knew his star thrower was on the brink of a major breakthrough when his heaves reached the end of the school’s shot put area, which is about 60 feet long. “I think he realized he had a real talent with it,” Huber said.


Walter Thomas improved continually during the 2016 outdoor season, even as his father’s absence weighed heavily on his heart. He lost only once. Huber said Walter Thomas’ desire to be the best, regardless of the competition, helped spark his success in the shot put ring. He just doesn’t want to beat guys, Huber said; he wants to outperform them. “That really drives him,” Huber said. “He wants to have the best performance.” Another trait Huber pinpointed as a trigger for Walter Thomas’ growth is his phenomenal strength. Walter Thomas said he places an emphasis on developing explosiveness rather than muscle mass because of its necessity in his event. He can power clean 275 pounds. “Walter has as much explosion out of his hips as anybody I’ve ever had,” said his football coach, Buddy Anderson. “He did a good job for us.” Anderson, who has been at Vestavia since the 1970s, shares a special connection to the Thomas family. He taught Alicia Thomas in a math class when she attended the high school, and he’s coached both of her boys. Anderson also happened to be at the hospital with the family the night that Robert Thomas died. The veteran coach said he tried to speak words of comfort and encouragement to Walter Thomas and his grieving family, telling them that he felt confident Robert Thomas “was very proud of all of his children.” Walter Thomas made him even prouder. Channeling his pain into his throws, Walter Thomas used shot put as a way to honor his

father. Every time he stepped into the ring last spring, Robert Thomas was on his mind. “Without a doubt,” Walter Thomas said. “I knew that if he was here, I knew what he would have wanted me to do. He would have been at every meet, wanting me to compete and PR every single meet just like I wanted for myself. I just had to go out there and make him proud.” Walter Thomas brought that mentality with him to Gulf Shores for the 2016 state outdoor meet. Ultimately, it carried him to the title — and more. According to Huber, his winning mark of 59-½ was one of the top five throws in Alabama high school history. “He walked into it with humility,” Huber said. “But then on his first throw, he knew he was on, and it was there.” Alicia Thomas and Robert Thomas III were both in attendance to witness Walter Thomas’ championship moment. The first thing his mother did after he walked off the track was wrap him up in a hug. “He wouldn’t stop smiling,” she said. The only thing that would have made the triumph sweeter was if Robert Thomas had been there to celebrate with them. Walter Thomas told his mother he wished his father had been there to see his victory. Alicia Thomas, in response, whispered a simple reminder: “He is here,” she told him. “He’s just in a different form.” The tears began to flow, at least for Alicia Thomas. Walter Thomas said he didn’t cry. His mother remembers otherwise. Even though her son tried to hold them back, she said she saw “little tears in his eyes.” “He had some,” she said. “He had some.” Minutes later, Walter took his place on the podium to receive his state medal. It wouldn’t be the last. On Feb. 4, he captured a second-place finish at the 2017 state indoor track and field meet. He fell to Auburn’s Erik Ebel by three feet. “I mean, we’re just going to come back for outdoor,” Walter Thomas said afterward. “It didn’t go how I wanted it to. I’ll fix it. I’ll work on it.” Keep an eye on him this spring. Histroy has illustrated that when he puts his mind to something, he’ll see it to completion — for himself and for his father.

March 2017 • A29

A30 • March 2017

Vestavia Voice





Uses the current school alignment and feeder patterns. Does not require any rezoning. Pizitz Middle School students, 6-8, move to the Berry campus, and Vestavia Hills Elementary Central students, 4-5, move to Pizitz campus. Central campus converted into 9-12 “Academy” for special programs optimized to hold 25 percent of current VHHS capacity. Would be the need to identify which students would move to the academy school. Implement systemwide K-5 alignment. Add an academy facility. Vestavia Hills Elementary East and Vestavia Hills Elementary West converted from K-3 to K-5. Pizitz moves to Berry, and VHEC moves to Pizitz campus and converts to K-5. The option would require rezoning for VHEC, VHEE and VHEW, but would leave the rest of the system the same.


CONTINUED from page A1 student population of roughly 7,100 students spread among the schools. Based on the most recent census data, when Superintendent Sheila Phillips gave a presentation to parents in the fall of 2016, enrollment in 2027 is expected to be nearly 8,500. With the current configurations, overcrowding and space issues are not just a problem 10 years from now. Seth Acuff, who has a child at Vestavia Hills Elementary Central and has had experience with Vestavia Hills Elementary East, said overcrowding is a major concern for him as a parent. He said he believes when facilities are a comfortable fit, students learn better because there are fewer opportunities missed. “When it gets too crowded, they have to juggle,” he said, reiterating that the facilities that surround academic programs can have a major influence on learning. Acuff pointed to the significant parking and carpool problems at Central as evidence of the challenges schools face. For school events such as Grandparents Day or for recitals or performances, Acuff said he and other parents often have to park in the Walmart parking lot across U.S. 31. “It’s kind of ridiculous,” he said, but that there isn’t much to be done considering the landlocked position of the school and the way

it sits into the hill. Phillips acknowledged the issues with Central, and also pointed to them as symptoms of the greater problem. “If parents and grandparents can’t get to your facility, or if it’s not accommodating, whether it’s in size or whether or not it’s just a matter of parking … that doesn’t make for a stellar experience for our students and/or our families,” she said.


While some may see the facilities conversation coming into focus over the last few months, Phillips said in actuality, setting out a solid plan has been a longtime coming. “We want our facilities to mirror the expectations we have academically,” Phillips said, adding that process began three years ago when the schools engaged in the strategic planning process. “It was an opportunity for everyone to re-evaluate where we are, and the relationship between development of the city, and the level of impact,” she said. Over the last few years, she said the BOE and city leaders have been working to find the balance between development for the city and enrollment in the school system. “As you have economic growth ad valorem implications, generation of funding for schools is significant,” she said. “At the same time, you’re balancing that with the growth in population and whether or not our facilities can support that.”

Aims to align K-3, 4-6 and 7-8 along the U.S. 31 corridor, and would create a systemwide ninth grade. VHEC converts to K-3, Pizitz facility converts to 4-6. Students grades 7-9 in U.S. 31 area take over Berry campus. Liberty Park students stay at Liberty Park Middle 6-8, and move to Berry for ninth. Requires rezoning for VHEE, VHEW, Pizitz and Berry. Uses majority of current alignment pattern for most elementary schools, but would move Pizitz 6-8 to the Berry campus, moves VHEC 4-5 to Pizitz, and adds a ninth-grade wing to Berry, with Liberty Park students moving to Berry in ninth. The plan does not require any rezoning, and would take the VHEC campus offline.

However, Phillips said it became clear through the strategic planning process, as well as a parent survey, that overcrowding, class sizes, facility conditions and inadequate space were among the top concerns, and the conversation quickly began to reflect that changes needed to be made. With space disappearing and many existing facilities showing their age, Phillips said the conversation changed and became more urgent. “[Facilities] had to immediately become something that we address,” she said. In September 2016, the BOE closed on a $69.6 million bond issue, and after using a portion to pay down existing debt, was left with roughly $54 million to dedicate to construction projects. Several projects are already in the works or have been completed, including a new cafeteria and gym at Vestavia Hills Elementary Cahaba Heights, classroom and cafeteria expansion at Vestavia Hills Elementary Liberty Park, baseball turf replacement at Vestavia Hills High School and cafeteria upgrades at Vestavia Hills Elementary East. But the game changer, as Phillips said she has noted before, was the chance to purchase the former Berry High School property on Columbiana Road.

of individual schools. With the purchase of Berry and the potential for the campus to come online in the next two to three years, Phillips said it gave the board the chance to look at programming, feeder patterns and personnel, as well as at facilities. “You would have, I would suggest, an opportunity to evaluate all of those things at the same time,” she said. She said the decision was made to go back to the goals of the strategic plan and look at the overall picture of how resources are allocated and how the district is structured. “That goes beyond the bricks and mortar,” she said, but added that taking facilities into account is a major part of the discussion, and one that elicits a lot of emotion from stakeholders. “Those conversations get very messy in the meantime,” she said, because as the decisions are made, those involved have to balance the traditions and values she says make the district what it is, as well as the need to adapt and change. “We didn’t get to where we are in the past three years,” she said. “It didn’t just happen, so now, how do we maintain and move forward at the same time?”


At the December meeting, Brennan Bell of HPM presented the eight potential options to the board in front of a full-house audience. Bell also introduced Tracey Richter with Cooperative Strategies, who was contracted by the BOE to conduct a full demographic study of Vestavia

The 38.5-acre campus opens up a range of opportunities, Phillips said, both academically as well as athletically, that changed the conversation to a more global approach to facilities, rather than looking just at the immediate needs


March 2017 • A31


Creates a systemwide K-6 alignment for elementary schools, and converts both middle schools to 7-9, with Pizitz students moving to Berry and VHEC moving to Pizitz. To accommodate the growth at VHEW, the board of education would potentially move its offices to the vacated VHEC campus. Option would also require rezoning for VHEE, VHEW and Pizitz.



Would maintain the current alignment and feeder patterns across the system, and create a new high school in Liberty Park. Option would move Pizitz to Berry, VHEC to Pizitz and would take VHEC offline. With the major costs, board members have expressed doubt over the feasibility of the option, if there is the required 40 acres of land available and if Liberty Park has the students to populate a 1,000-capacity school.


Hills in order to get the most accurate picture of future enrollment. “We have so many layers,” Phillips said, and the more experts the board can employee in order to have the best information to make a decision, the better. Of the eight options, which Phillips said likely will be updated once the demographic study comes back, several would require significant changes in the system’s feeder patterns, and five would require rezoning. One of the major threads throughout the options would be to move Central to the Pizitz Middle School campus, a move Acuff said he supports. “I’m all for it,” he said. A majority of the plans also include moving Pizitz students to the Berry campus, including some that would change the grade alignment to 6-9 or 7-9, creating a ninth-grade wing, which would take some of the pressure off the high school. But with big changes, as some of the options propose, Phillips said they recognize there is only so much change a school system can handle at one time. “You have to make as much progress as you can, but you try to minimize the disruption,” she said. And there are some options that may simply be out of reach. Phillips said the idea of adding an additional high school at Liberty Park is not new, and with continued growth in the area, was put back on

Would create K-5 alignment for all elementary schools, converting VHEE, VHEW and VHEC to K-5 and adding a new K-5 at Pizitz. Pizitz Middle students would move to Berry for 6-8. Liberty Park Middle remains the same. New ninth-grade wing would be added somewhere on VHHS campus to accommodate for growth. Option would be to create K-2 and 3-5 alignment along U.S. 31, with VHEE and VHEW converting to K-2, and VHEC moving to Pizitz and converting to 3-5. Pizitz, 6-8, would move to Berry, and the VHEC campus becomes 9-12 academy facility. The other facilities would remain the same.

the table. However, the financial cost would be immense: a minimum of $60 million for the buildings and athletics facilities, which wouldn’t include the cost of the required 40 acres of land, as well as an annual cost of $12 million to operate the school and service the debt to build it. At the January BOE work session, Matt Adams of Raymond James financial advisers explained that, in order to cover the cost, the BOE would need to ask the city for, conservatively, at least a 4-cent sales tax increase, or an increase of 20 mills for ad valorem — which on a $300,000 home would be an additional $600 annually. “There’s only so much money,” Phillips said.


The path to sustainability, Phillips said, is not an easy one. “If it were just about renovating Berry or just about renovating the high school — that’s easy,” she said. If that were the case, she said HPM and Lathan could present a plan, the board would vote and construction would begin. But with an overall redesign of the school system, the decision is far too complicated to have that kind of timeline. “It has to play out properly, and we have to ‘chase the squirrel’ if you will, as it comes to us, because this is such a big task,” she said. Still, the clock is ticking.

The Berry campus is a crucial part of the BOE’s considerations and will play into any final plan. Photo by Emily Featherston.

The current bond issuance has a limited lifespan, and decisions on how to use the remainder of the funding need to be made in the coming months. Once the demographic study is final, Phillips said HPM will revise the options, and that while decisions will be made as methodically as possible, they also will be made as quickly as possible. That being said, major changes, such as moving schools to different campuses, are at

least two to three years out. And along the way, she said the BOE will continue to conduct its discussions in public, getting as much information from experts and stakeholders along the way. “You just keep fleshing this out and vetting it out,” Phillips said, “and making as many decisions as you can along the way knowing that you’re not going to answer everything, you’re not going to please everyone.”



B MARCH 2017

Sports B4 Community B14 Medical Guide B16 Real Estate B25 Calendar B26





very Wednesday night, there’s a dance party going on at Bar 31. With music from the 1950s and ’60s, the dance floor is full of couples dancing the Panama City Bop and the shag. “We are just a bunch of retired teenagers reliving our youth,” said George Buchanan, a member of the Magic City Boppers. What eventually became the Magic City Boppers first started as a group of Birmingham/Bessemer residents gathering at WT’s Bar and Grill in Bessemer. They listened to the music of their teenage years, danced the night away, and in 1990, member Phil Graf decided to officially form the Magic City Boppers.

See BOPPERS | page B12

Members of the Magic City Boppers dance at Bar 31 for one of their weekly meetings. Photo by Erica Techo.

B2 • March 2017

Vestavia Voice

March 2017 • B3

B4 • March 2017

Vestavia Voice







n the packed lobby of Vestavia Hills High School’s gym lobby, four student-athletes made their college commitments official on 2017’s National Signing Day. On Wednesday, Feb. 1, family members, teammates and friends crowded in to watch the students sign their National Letters of Intent. James and Jacob Edwards, Patrick Nuss and Cambree Kennedy thanked their coaches, parents and friends for supporting them throughout their high school careers. Athletic director Jeff Segars said that signing day is always an important occasion for student athletes. “It’s really a celebration of 12 years of work for these kids,” he said. In addition to the four students who signed Feb. 1, others have signed in recent weeks and months:


University of Louisiana at Lafayette ▶ LOCATION: Lafayette, LA ▶ MASCOT: Ragin’ Cajuns Photo courtesy of Karen Askins Photography

▶ SPORT: Football ▶ COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY: Clemson University ▶ LOCATION: Clemson, SC ▶ MASCOT: Tigers Photo by Emily Featherston


▶ LOCATION: Clemson, SC ▶ MASCOT: Tigers Photo by Emily Featherston

CAMBREE KENNEDY ▶ SPORT: Soccer ▶ COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY: Huntingdon College ▶ LOCATION: Montgomery, AL ▶ MASCOT: Hawks Photo by Emily Featherston

March 2017 • B5


Southern Union State Community College ▶ LOCATION: Wadley, AL ▶ MASCOT: Bison Photo courtesy of Christy Mann

CADEN LEMONS ▶ SPORT: Baseball ▶ COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY: University of Mississippi

▶ LOCATION: Oxford, MS ▶ MASCOT: Rebels Photo courtesy of Karen Askins Photography

AUDREY MELOUN ▶ SPORT: Softball ▶ COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY: West Liberty University

▶ LOCATION: Wheeling, WV ▶ MASCOT: Hilltoppers Photo courtesy of Kristie Dieguez


West Liberty University ▶ LOCATION: Wheeling, WV ▶ MASCOT: Hilltoppers Photo courtesy of Kristie Dieguez

PATRICK NUSS ▶ SPORT: Football ▶ COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY: University of Alabama at Birmingham ▶ LOCATION: Birmingham ▶ MASCOT: Blazers Photo by Emily Featherston


Birmingham-Southern College

▶ LOCATION: Birmingham ▶ MASCOT: Panthers Photo courtesy of Christy Mann


Birmingham-Southern College ▶ LOCATION: Birmingham ▶ MASCOT: Panthers Photo courtesy of Vestavia Hills High School yearbook staff

B6 • March 2017

Vestavia Voice

Complementary pieces By KYLE PARMLEY


Kate Nash features a “nasty” drop curve that induces a great number of ground ball outs. Photos by Kyle Parmley.

t would be challenging to find a pair of pitchers who get the job done as differently as Jessica Perley and Kate Nash, a pair of seniors on the Vestavia Hills High School softball team. Perley uses power. The righty has a fastball that eclipses 60 miles per hour and works both sides of the plate to keep batters off balance and occasionally simply blow them away. “She’s got speed like a demon,” Nash said. Nash uses finesse and movement. She has no fantasies of overpowering opposing hitters, but instead features a drop curve that could be described as “nasty,” in a good way. “I have a drop curve, and if they hit it, it’s usually going to be a ground ball, so it makes it easier for the infield,” Nash said. Perley is right-handed. Nash is left-handed. Combine the two in the same game, and it presents an extremely difficult circumstance for lineups. “We want to split games,” Perley said. “She’ll start, and they get used to her speed and her rhythm and her coming at them from the left-handed angle, and they get used to everything being down.” Once Perley enters a game

behind Nash, the timing is tough to get a handle on. “They won’t be used to my movement going side to side,” Perley said. “We help each other.” That is not to say that either pitcher is opposed or not capable of completing games themselves, but having the other always at the ready removes the pressure of being the only option. “You get to split that pressure, and the dependency they have on you,” Nash said. “It’s nice to depend on somebody else and have them depend on you as well. You get to split that leadership.” Perley and Nash’s relationship is a microcosm of the entire Rebels’ roster and how well the team functions as a unit, a characteristic that has been repeated often throughout the last two years. “We know each other and how we work,” Perley said of the two pitchers. “We like each other. I like everyone on this team. We have really good chemistry.” For softball pitchers, there are many variables that must be in sync to maximize their abilities on the mound, even those beyond the rest of the pitching staff and team chemistry. For Perley, many of her obstacles are mental, including how much she demands of herself as a self-admitted “perfectionist.” “I’m very hard on myself,” she said. “I put all the blame on myself, and I’ll make myself sick over it.” At times, Perley attempts to be too perfect, and that can come back to bite her if she tries too hard to keep opposing batters from making contact. “I try to get too fancy sometimes,” she said. “I’ll get away from the fastball too much and then you start to lose your velocity.” Another variable Nash and Perley deal with is the catcher situation. The Rebels are in a great position with their backstop, as Audrey Meloun drew rave reviews from both pitchers. “She’s a boss back there,” Nash said. “It’s so nice having her back there.” Audrey Meloun and her twin sister, Kate Meloun, have signed to play collegiately at West Liberty University in Wheeling, West Virginia, and Audrey Meloun allows both pitchers full belief to throw any pitch. “I’m confident enough to throw [my drop curve], and confidence is a key thing to throwing my pitches,” Nash said. “Without a good catcher, you can’t throw it,” Perley said. “If I’m going to throw a drop ball, if I’m scared that she’s not going to block it, I can’t throw it to the best of my ability.” Perley, Nash and Audrey Meloun also work together throughout games. All three pay particular attention to opposing hitters’ tendencies and draw on past memories to formulate a game plan with familiar batters. “I try to read their body stance and language,” Perley said. “You can tell by their feet what they like and what they don’t like. If

March 2017 • B7 they take the first pitch, a lot of times they’ll have their weight on their heels, so you watch that, and know what you can throw and what you can’t throw.” Drop balls tend to induce more ground balls than any other pitch, and Perley and Nash not only must trust their catcher, but also that their infield will make the plays required when the ball is indeed put in play. The Rebels return the entirety of their starting infield from a season ago, with Southern Union signee RaeAnn King at third base, Samford commit Merritt Cahoon at shortstop, Kate Meloun at second base and Hannah Grace Roden or Savannah Hayes at first base. “That makes me feel so much better, because our infield is the same people,” Perley said. “I’ve seen what they can do, and I have complete faith in them.” Nash and Perley were a large part of Vestavia’s success last season, which resulted in a thirdplace finish at the state tournament. The pitchers combined to hurl nearly 270 innings and win 23 games. Perley’s bat will also play a role for the Rebels this spring. In 2016, she hit four home runs and drove in 18 runs, and she said she believes she can perform much better with the stick in 2017. That state tournament run gave the Rebels a small taste of the ultimate goal last May. They want a much bigger serving this time around, and have the arms to do so. “We’ve been working so hard since August; I hope we’re not going to stop until May,” Nash said.

Birmingham-Southern signee Jessica Perley uses power and location to take care of opposing hitters.

B8 • March 2017

Vestavia Voice

Rebel seniors aiming for more in final season Christian Cusimano (Louisiana) and Caden Lemons (Ole Miss) at their signing ceremonies. Photo courtesy of Karen Askins Photography.

By KYLE PARMLEY Christian Cusimano is unable to hide the excitement on his face when talking about the baseball season that began in recent days. “I can’t wait,” he said. “It’s one of those things you’ve been waiting for since you started playing the game. Your senior year in high school, just being able to compete and play in this community.” The Vestavia Hills High School shortstop is entering his final year with the Rebels, and after what his team accomplished a season ago, that anticipation is warranted. “Last year, we were nationally ranked, and we had all the hype around us, and we were winning all those games,” said the University of Louisiana at Lafayette signee. The Rebels put together an impressive 28-4 regular season record and drew attention from around the country. “Of all the teams I’ve ever played on, that was one of the most successful and winningest teams I’ve been a part of,” he said. “When you were a part of that team, there was just something about every time you step on that field, you’re ready to compete, and you’re ready to go, so it was definitely something special.” Cusimano was one of the Rebels’ offensive leaders in 2016 and will be counted on to provide the same production and stability in the middle of the batting order and the infield again in 2017. Another big factor in Vestavia’s success under first-year coach Jamie Harris last spring was the pitching staff, led by now-Alabama player Sonny Potter and Ole Miss signee Caden Lemons. Potter drew many headlines, and rightly so, but Lemons put together a dominant campaign on the rubber last year as well, including a no-hitter against Spain Park in an area contest. Lemons said he felt he was capable of having a breakout year. For him, the mindset precedes the action.

“You have to think that way to get there,” Lemons said. “I’m going to try to put it together this year, too.” Over the past few seasons, Lemons said he has improved the most with his pitch command and his velocity. Those things work hand in hand for a pitcher of his ilk. A hurler who throws 100 miles per hour is no good if he cannot get the ball over the plate. “Throwing strikes, working ahead and keeping my pitch count low,” Lemons said of his goals this season. While last season was a great run for the

Rebels, the first round playoff exit still stings, as the top-ranked team was defeated by Oak Mountain in the rubber game of that series. Both players used the word “finish” when asked about the lasting impact of that series. “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” Cusimano said. “It sounds cliché, but it’s so true. We really are taking pride in doing everything right, and we’re going to finish everything that we do. Don’t take anything for granted.” Both Cusimano and Lemons already have signed to play baseball at the next level, and each with programs that have expectations of

competing nationally. Louisiana and Ole Miss each won 43 games in 2016. “I felt like it was home there,” Lemons said of Ole Miss. “I felt a good connection with the coaches and felt like I had a place. They were the first school to recruit me and have me on a visit.” Of Louisiana, Cusimano said, “When I went down there, I felt like it was home, even though I was six-and-a-half hours away. The more people I met and the more people I talked to, it was unbelievable … That’s been my dream since I was a kid, to play Division 1 baseball.”

Rebels finish 2nd at bowling state tournament By KYLE PARMLEY The bracket unfolded how it was intended to at the end, with the top-seeded Vestavia Hills High School boys bowling team taking on No. 2 seed Spain Park in the final of the 2017 AHSAA Bowling State Tournament on Jan. 27 at Oak Mountain Lanes in Pelham. The Rebels even held a lead after the third of five games in the championship round, but fell to Spain Park, 1,036-899, as the Jags took home the state title for the second consecutive season. In the final, the Rebels bowled a 205 in the first game, and held a seven-pin lead after three games. In that fourth game, Spain Park bowled seven consecutive strikes to take the lead on the way to a 258. The Jags held on comfortably in the final game to win the championship. Vestavia began the day with a 1,050-638 win over Northview, followed by another relatively comfortable win, a 1,005-896 defeat of Thomp- Sam Lawhon at the AHSAA State Bowling Tournament, son. East Limestone posed a where the Rebels finished second. Photo by Sarah Finnegan. challenge for the Rebels in the semifinals, but an impresfollowing matchup. sive 246 in the third game propelled them to a For the Lady Rebels, the team included 1,003-940 win. Dalton Benefield, E.J. Hardy, Mary Scott Will Evans, Sam Lawhon, Travis Saunders, Israel, Mary Calloway Thomas, Alisha BudBarrett Blackwood, Boris Lu, Cameron Monis- hwani, Samantha Ferguson, Haylee Jemison tere, Beau Reed and Mason Maners competed and Sydney Kirk. for the boys team. The Vestavia boys team earned the top seed for The girls team advanced to the quarterfinals regionals the week prior to the state tournament, after earning the No. 5 seed for the tournament. but were upset in the quarterfinal round. The firstThe Lady Rebels hung on to beat Auburn, 684- round win was enough to qualify for state, as the 621 in the first round before falling to even- top eight finishers advanced. Vestavia’s girls tual state runner-up Hartselle, 755-707, in the advanced to the semifinals of regionals.

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Rebelettes headed to nationals By EMILY FEATHERSTON Some students at Vestavia Hills High School don’t even know their school has a dance studio, much less that their Rebelette team placed third in a 2016 national competition and will be returning this year to seek a title. Senior members of the team said they think that may be because the competitive team spends so much time working on their national routine, that they don’t get a chance often to show the school their skills. “We put a lot more work in than we show,” said four-year Rebelette veteran Mary Frances Garner. Early this month, the varsity Rebelettes will travel to Orlando to participate in the 2017 National Dance Association National Championship, as they have done for the last 12 to 13 years. The team, made up of juniors and seniors, begins practice for the annual competition almost as soon as they return from the previous year’s event. “Anything we do is going toward nationals,” Garner said. Fellow senior Ally Cross said in the last few weeks of practicing, the hard work and reality of the approaching competition really came into focus. “It just keeps getting more real,” she said, adding that though it can be stressful, the team is also excited. Coach Faith Lenhart, who is the VHHS dance director and chairwoman of performing arts, said the rigor of the competition is unlike anything most of the dancers have experienced, but that the intensity is something she thinks is beneficial to the team as well as the individual girls. “They have to have the endurance to finish the dance and not look exhausted,” she said. “They all walk away stronger dancers,”

The varsity Rebelettes work on their team routine to prepare for nationals in early March. Photo by Emily Featherston.

Lenhart added. Garner said she thinks they come away stronger people, too. For this year’s competition, the Rebelettes will perform two numbers. The first, a jazzbased piece, is more of what Lenhart said people might expect from a dance class, in that it’s a “pretty dance,” with a lot of emotion. The second or “team” dance, which is much more high energy, is comprised of 25 percent each of jazz, kick elements, hip hop and pom pom elements.

Both routines require extreme precision, Lenhart said, down to every fingertip looking exactly alike. “The precision part of it is very much a learned skill,” she said. The team will leave March 2 and will go through two days of preliminary competition before the finals. Lenhart said that even though the competition is held at Universal Orlando, the trip is almost entirely a hard-work experience. “It’s not a vacation at all until the awards

ceremony is over,” she said. Garner and Cross said they have really enjoyed their four years on the team, despite their friends and family not quite understanding why being a Rebelette is such hard work. “You kind of have to be an athlete and an artist at the same time,” Garner said. The NDA High School Nationals is March 3-5 at the Hard Rock Live at Universal Orlando Resort. Results will be available after the competition at NDAnationals.

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State Rep. Williams decides against running for additional term in 2018 election

Rep. Jack Williams. Photo courtesy of Jack Williams.

By EMILY FEATHERSTON On the eve of the 2017 regular legislative session for the Alabama state Legislature, Rep. Jack Williams (R-47) announced he would not be seeking another term in 2018. Williams was first elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2004 to serve District 47, which encompasses portions of Vestavia Hills as well as parts of Hoover. Williams is well known for being the co-sponsor of the Williams-Coleman Human Trafficking Act, which outlawed human trafficking at a state level and increased the state’s role in stopping the crimes and enforcing punishment of those guilty. Williams said he first had an idea that this would be his last term during the 2014 election, but said he wanted to give things adequate time to settle down before he made a final decision. He said that after giving the issue ample thought, he feels comfortable saying there are other opportunities he wants to pursue, and he doesn’t think those are in Montgomery. He will, however, finish out his current term, and said he will be focusing on the structural issues the state is facing. He said he will continue to battle the state’s recent budget troubles, something he thinks his eventual successor will also have to deal with. “Whoever succeeds me is going to have that issue,” he said. Another thing he said he wants to focus on, and wants whoever follows him to focus on, is the stagnant population growth he said the state, and in particular, Jefferson County, continues to see.

With the greater Birmingham area comprising a large amount of the state’s overall GDP and contributions tax revenue, Williams said he along with other legislators are trying to focus on efforts to “come back” to Birmingham and the over-the-mountain areas. “There’s opportunity here,” he said, “and we need to build all those opportunities.” Otherwise, he said, Alabama could face losing a congressional representative in Washington in the next 15 years, something he said he thinks would not be in the state’s best interest. Williams said he also expects legislation later in the session that will address the growing opiate-addiction problems he said the state is seeing. “The cost of doing nothing is too great,” he said, addressing the growing number of drug overdoses in the state and the strain it puts on both families and the healthcare system. Even though he thinks his time in Montgomery is coming to an end, Williams said that he is keeping an open mind with regard to public service elsewhere, and that he is aware of potential opportunities in politics outside of the state capitol. He said he will also continue to pursue his connections and interests in the private sector as marketing director at Hatch Safety. Ultimately, Williams said he plans to make a decision in the next six months about what his life will look like after 2018. In the meantime, he said he just wanted to focus on serving his constituents and thanking them for their support over the last 12 years. “I’m really grateful for just the honor to serve in this capacity,” he said.

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CONTINUED from page B1 About 27 years later, the group has grown to more than 200 members, with between 40 and 60 boppers coming to each weekly meeting, and about 100 attending their monthly parties at the Fire Fighters Hall in Homewood. The group also hosts an annual “hangout weekend” at the Boardwalk in Panama City Beach. “It’s mostly people that were in high school in the ’50s and ’60s and just love that music,” said Linda Gail Burchfield, president of the Magic City Boppers. “And then once you get in, you meet so many great people and form so many friendships.” The group’s five rotating DJs will play music from artists such as Sonny Boy’s, Ernie K-Doe’s, The Drifters, Hank Ballard and others, and everyone will gather on the floor to show off their moves. While they’re all dancing the Panama City Bop or shag dancing, that doesn’t mean everyone’s dance looks the same, Burchfield said. “If you watch five different people, they say they’re bopping, and the five different people will be doing something different,” she said. Susan Ausman, one of the original members and the group’s only female DJ, saw the group grow over the years as everyone reminisced about their school days. New members typically join the group if their lifestyle has changed, whether that’s losing a spouse or moving to a new area, she said. “I joined because it was a dance I did during the ’50s and ’60s, and I love to dance,” said Kaye Fulbright, a former president of the Magic City Boppers. “This gave me an opportunity to get out and see some friends I knew back in high school and to be able to dance, have fun.” The group has danced in several places since its old haunt closed down, and member Becky Buchanan said they aim to go places where everyone can relax and be around people their own age. “When you’re in your 40s and you’re looking for something to do, you don’t want to go to a bar where there’s a bunch of kids and teenagers,” she said. “This is the perfect place, and we’ve danced in a lot of different places.” When Buchanan was president of the group, she polled members to find a centralized meeting place. There are several members from Shelby County, some from along the Warrior River, and others from Ensley or Bessemer, and Buchanan said it wound up that Homewood, Vestavia and Hoover were the most central cities. So they came to Bar 31. Vestavia resident Ed Shrake said he heard about the Magic

Clockwise from left: Carole Posey, Virginia Jones, Gary Swann, Norma Sorensos and Mary Cooper are all members of the Magic City Boppers. Photo by Erica Techo.

City Boppers for several years before he and his wife, Grenna Shrake, actually joined. Now that they’ve started bopping, however, he wishes they had joined sooner. “We all get together and have dinner, have fun, and nobody judges anybody,” he said. “You just enjoy your life for whatever time we have left.” Even after 27 years, Fulbright said the group has not changed much. They listen to the same music and do the same dances, but all that’s changed is when members come and go. When new members come in, however, it’s always a fun experience. “Most of us, we’ve been doing this for a long time,” Ausman said, “but you see somebody different come in, they just go ballistic because they haven’t heard [the music] in all these years.” “I have reunited with high school friends I hadn’t seen in

years and years through Magic City Boppers,” Burchfield said. For those who cannot bop or need a refresher course, Burchfield said they can reach out to the Magic City Boppers, and someone can give them a quick lesson before the weekly meeting. “I can’t say enough how nice the people are,” she said. “That’s the thing that draws me to it more than anything is just the people. Everybody, there’s an age difference, but we all seem to have so much in common. I think the thing we have in common more than anything is we love the music. It makes you feel young again.” The Magic City Boppers meet at Bar 31 from 7-10 p.m. every Wednesday and the third Friday of each month at the Fire Fighters Hall in Homewood. For more information, go to

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Best-sellers and bonds: Book clubs engage minds, friendships By EMILY FEATHERSTON Some people use reading as an escape, but the re-emerging trend of book clubs has some using reading to bring people together Over the years at the Library in the Forest, Adult Services librarian Terri Leslie said they have seen an ebb and flow in the number of book clubs actively gathering either at the library or elsewhere, usually dropping off in the summer months when things get busy. But even during the lower periods, she said book clubs have remained a staple in the community, and she thinks it’s partially because of the social nature of the activity. “Many attendees state that they just have to get out of the house or the rut that they’re in,” Leslie said. “They are looking for a personal connection and personal interaction.” The library offers three book clubs for adults, Page Turners in the Treehouse, Read & Feed and Miss Olivia’s Evening Reads. But there are other book clubs not officially connected to the library that also keep people connected while exploring the world of words. Nefertari Brown is a member of Red Dirt Readers, a book group started about 2009 as a group of co-workers who wanted to form a book club. Each month, a member of the Red Dirt Readers chooses a book and hosts the group, either at her home or at a local restaurant. “We really are talking about the book,” Brown said with a laugh. “I think that the socialization of it is part of it as well.” Brown said her group is quite varied, with women ranging in age from 25 to 45, and everyone from newlyweds and new moms to mothers with teenage children. And while the group originally started as a group of co-workers, others have joined along the way. In addition to participating in a club herself, Brown said she was inspired to start a mother-daughter book club with her daughter and friends. At those meetings, they try to include an activity for the girls to get them engaged

The Read & Feed book group has been meeting for three years to discuss a wide variety of books. Photo by Emily Featherston.

with the subject matter, but she said she thinks the first year has been very successful. Both Brown and Leslie said book groups are a great way to socialize, but also a way to expand horizons when it comes to literature. “People are often surprised when they visit a book group … especially if it’s one focusing on a book that someone in the group hates,” she said, but added that in her experience the discussions are always honest and open. “We inevitably have a fantastic discussion about it.

Sometimes it’s liberating to discuss themes, values or types of people that you don’t like.” At its February gathering, the Read & Feed group discussed “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance, a critically acclaimed memoir about Vance’s upbringing in the Appalachians and the issues facing the white working class in rural areas. While the book has been touted in political discourse since its publication in 2016, Leslie started the discussion by reminding everyone

to remain courteous. While there were hard conversations, members said that they appreciated the chance to read something that was truly challenging. “Our discussions are always honest,” Leslie said. She encouraged anyone interested to seek out one of the library’s book clubs, or others that have organized in the area. Information about library book clubs can be found at

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Vestavia Voice

Community Property value evaluations coming this spring

Michael Coby receives Eagle Scout rank

The Woodridge neighborhood had its property values and property taxes reduced this year after resident protest. Photo by Sydney Cromwell.

Michael Coby, a member of Troop 533 chartered by Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church in Shelby County and under the leadership of Scoutmaster Mark Clark, was recently awarded the rank of Eagle Scout by the Boy Scouts of America. Michael’s Scouting career began in 2007 as a first-grader and Tiger Cub Michael Coby in Cub Pack 533. Michael enjoyed five years in the Cub Scout Pack, completed the God and Family Program in 2011, participated in four Cub/Webelos Day Camps, competed in five Pinewood Derbies, spent the night on the USS Alabama battleship and earned the highest award in Cub Scouting, the Arrow of Light in early 2012. Michael crossed over to Boy Scout Troop 533 in the Spring of 2012 and has been to four summer camps at Camp Sequoyah, as well as many monthly outings with the Troop that included spelunking, horseback riding, shooting, snorkeling, deep sea fishing, hiking, canoeing, river rafting, snow skiing, camping, cooking and much more. During a trip to the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier in Charleston, he was honored to help the U.S. Park Service fold one of the flags flying over Fort Sumter. Michael has served as a Den Chief and Scribe in his troop, and served as a Head Chorister with the Birmingham Boys Choir from 2014-2015. Michael completed National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) in June 2016. He is a Sophomore at Oak Mountain High School and plays the Alto Saxophone and Bassoon in the band. Special thanks to Mrs. Christy Holt, Oak Mountain Middle School Social Studies teacher, for sponsoring Michael’s Eagle Scout Project to refurbish a lifesize replica train railcar for use in teaching the sixth grade Holocaust unit. Michael is the son of Mark and Merrilee Coby. – Submitted by Mark Coby.

By SYDNEY CROMWELL This spring, many Vestavia Hills homeowners will receive notices in the mail from the Jefferson County Board of Equalization about changes in their property values. What residents may not know is that they have just a 30-day window to communicate with the board if they feel their valuation is too high — or too low. Maria Knight, the Board of Equalization chairwoman, said her department reviews each of the approximately 325,000 properties in the county about once every four years. Based on exterior appearances, repairs, additions and surrounding market value, the BOE staff determines each property’s value, which is used by the county tax assessor to determine property tax amounts. When a property’s value increases or its boundaries change, the BOE staff sends notices to property owners, typically in

April or May. The board also posts information online and in newspaper legal notices. Whether a property’s value increases, decreases or stays the same, Knight said owners have the right to bring a protest before a three-member board to present their case for why the property value should be changed. “We do want taxpayers to know this is an option for them,” Knight said. While protesting a home value doesn’t guarantee a change in the homeowner’s favor, Knight said county residents should be proactive in paying attention to their property value and bringing information to the BOE when something is amiss. “We feel like the taxpayer is actually our employer,” Knight said. One Vestavia Hills resident recently went through this protest process. Cahaba Heights resident Jack Norris said his protest resulted in a more than $20,000 reduction

in his home’s value and a decrease in his 2016 property taxes. Knight said this change happened through the creation of a new property value zone for the Woodridge neighborhood, separating it from higher property values in the South Shades Crest zone that previously encompassed it. This change lowered about 50 homes’ 2016 property values, and Knight said Norris was one of multiple residents who protested and led the board to make this change. Norris said he was pleased with the way the BOE handled his requests during the protest process and appreciated the chance to be heard by local government. He said he would like to put together seminars for other Vestavia Hills residents to teach them about the property value protest system. To learn more about the Board of Equalization, view your property value and the county’s protest system, go to

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Living to learn, learning to live Several days each week, a group of local Birmingham area seniors can be found in a classroom enjoying the opportunity to learn new skills or gain knowledge on a particular topic. The teacher is knowledgeable and, typically, enthusiastic and entertaining. The “students” are attentive, actively engaged, and having fun. They are members of the The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) of Greater Birmingham, which was started more than three years ago. It is one of about 120 OLLI chapters that span all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia. Each of the chapters is affiliated with a university. OLLI of Greater Birmingham, with approximately 200 members, is under the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. The University supports chapters in Tuscaloosa and Gadsden, as well as Greensboro and Pickens County, with approximately 1300 total members. In addition, Auburn University also supports an OLLI chapter in the state. Nationally, OLLI was started in 2001 through an educational grant from the Bernard Osher Foundation with the goal of supporting lifelong learning for mature adults. Numerous studies have demonstrated benefits to seniors who continue to be adult learners and stay mentally active and socially engaged. “Osher Institutes fulfill the promise of education in its best sense: To develop the mind and spirit for a lifetime of purpose and human flourishing,” according to the Osher National Resource Center, based at Northwestern University. With this in mind, the OLLI chapters strive to provide members the opportunity to learn, travel and embrace life in a fun and engaging manner. No tests, no grades, no stress, just learning for the joy of learning. Just like college, each semester brings the opportunity for members to enroll in new courses that each individual is interested in. The choices of topics are wide ranging. Some courses from the Birmingham chapter include: What Archaeology Teaches Us About Our Religions and Ourselves; American Policies on Economics, Tax, Budget, and Social Welfare; Chefs and Foods From Other Nations; Hands-on Training in Smartphone and Tablet Use; and The Rise and Fall of Napoleon

Bonaparte. These are just some examples of the 15 courses offered in the spring semester. Although there is individual course variability, the courses typically meet once a week for four sessions, each lasting an hour and a half or two hours. OLLI members choose whatever course or courses they want to attend. In addition to courses, each semester offers new opportunities for single session “bonus” programs. There are 14 of these programs offered in Birmingham for the spring. Some of the topics are Tuskegee Airmen, Ask a Vet About Your Pet, Go Wild for Native Plants and Liver Eating Jeremiah Johnson. Courses and bonus programs help develop new talents, such a flower arranging or learning a new skill such as chess. Field trip opportunities are also part of the OLLI offerings for members. These can be half-day trips (Backstage Tour of the Alabama Theater) or overnight (Birds, Beach, and Bellingrath), with more than 20 trips available in the spring semester. The OLLI educational courses and bonus programs are taught by individuals highly knowledgeable on the topic, and many OLLI members end up volunteering to teach based on their work experience or personal interests. OLLI is a member-driven program, led by volunteer members, and provides opportunities for learning and rich collaboration with other adults. OLLI members often choose to serve on committees to arrange social events, establish curriculum and promote awareness of OLLI to the community. Because of the financial support from the Bernard Osher Foundation, annual OLLI membership is only $25, which includes participation in any or all of the bonus programs and socials offered throughout the year. For OLLI chapters of UA, the single semester fee also allows a member to register for courses at the other chapters, including Tuscaloosa, where there are 80 courses offered in the spring semester. OLLI of GB cordially invites and welcomes any interested senior adult in the area to come and participate in a bonus program or a class session. Please take a look at our website for a complete list of bonus programs and classes, including locations and times. – Submitted by Glenn Morgan, OLLI.

aTeam hosts annual Heart2HeART visual-art fundraiser By JESSE CHAMBERS aTeam Ministries, a nonprofit started by the Vestavia Hills Thrower family, seeks to help by offering financial support — and badly needed emotional and spiritual comfort — to pediatric cancer patients and their families. The organization held its largest annual fundraiser, Heart2HeART, at the Bridge Street Gallery and Loft in Midtown Some of the works at Heart2HeART created by five on Feb. 11. Heart2HeART fea- professional artists who were paired with, and inspired by, pediatric cancer patients. Photo by Jesse Chambers. tured artwork by present or former pediatric provides is financial, including help cancer patients and professional artists who work as pairs to with food, housing, medical bills, create pieces — one by the professional temporary apartment stays and other expenses, according to Thrower, who child and one by the child. The art pieces made by professionals serves as the organization’s president. “We’ve also made a lot of mortgage were offered in a live auction, and the art works made by the young patients payments and paid a lot of utility bills,” he said Saturday night at the event. were offered in a silent auction. In 2016, the nonprofit spent a little This year’s artists were Anderson Thrower, age 9, who was paired with over $25,000 assisting families, accordprofessional artist Katie Adams; Jesse ing to Thrower. The organization also provides other Jamison, age 8, who worked with artist Cassie Ball; Sarah Anne Hicks, age 19, services. For example, aTeam helps link who worked with Annie Butrus; Jordan families with volunteers who can help Miller, age 11, paired with Elizabeth fill specific needs, delivers personal Hubbard; and Meredith Dyer, age 10, hygiene items to family members stuck in the hospital and hosts special events, paired with Carrie Pittman. Anderson Thrower’s parents are such as celebrations of milestones in Andy and Jan Thrower, who started treatment. The Heart2HeART event provided aTeam in 2009 after Anderson was almost half of aTeam’s ministry budget diagnosed with leukemia. Much of the support that aTeam in 2015.

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SCHAEFFER EYE CENTER Schaeffer Eye Center Q: What is the Schaeffer EyeCare experience? A: Schaeffer Eye Center is a family-owned and operated optometry practice founded over 35 years ago with the mission of providing the very best in cutting edge vision care and style in the region. The Schaeffer EyeCare Experience is based on three core values: science, style and service, which enables us to take care of you and your entire family. Our doctors, clinicians, patient advocates and eyewear consultants are dedicated to providing you comprehensive eye care, fashion-forward eyewear and exemplary service. Q: What makes Schaeffer Eye Center unique? A: There are many attributes that make Schaeffer Eye Center a unique company. Patient care is at the root of everything we do, which is why Schaeffer Eye Center has a wide spectrum of services, convenient locations and office hours. What makes us really stand out is our team. The Schaeffer team builds and sustains relationships with every patient from check-in to check-out. We know insurance is confusing, and Schaeffer Eye Center patient advocates understand your insurance and billing process to eliminate confusion


and stress. Schaeffer Eye Center doctors and clinicians provide a thorough and efficient eye exam to ensure your eyes are healthy and seeing well, and Schaeffer Eye Center eyewear consultants personally help you through the selection processes of frames and sunglasses for your medical needs, facial features, lifestyle and budget. Q: What eye care services does Schaeffer Eye Center provide? A: Schaeffer Eye Center has a highly trained staff of doctors and clinicians to provide comprehensive eye exams that include advanced medical testing for the entire family. The integration and use of advanced technology is an important part of what separates us from other optometry practices. We are able to detect and provide treatment options for glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and macular degeneration. Investing in advanced treatment options such as LipiFlow allows us to improve the quality of life for patients living with chronic dry eye conditions. Schaeffer Eye Center’s Pediatric Department offers vision therapy, myopia control, concussion management and sports and reading acceleration.



Schaeffer LaserVision provides the latest in LASIK surgery with one of the most experienced surgeons in the world conducting surgery on more than 80,0000 patients, including 300 eye doctors. Schaeffer Eye Center also provides the largest selection

of contact lenses including toric, multifocal and specialty lenses, and the best selection of eyewear including exclusive brands such as SAMA, SALT. Optics, Robert Marc, Barton Perreira and l.a. Eyeworks. Q: What does Schaeffer

Eye Center support in the community? A: As a local business, Schaeffer Eye Center truly embraces the communitycentric philosophy by supporting many organizations, nonprofits and events. Schaeffer Eye Center is a proud partner of The Birmingham Zoo, supporting the Schaeffer Eye Center Lorikeet Aviary and Wildlife Show. Schaeffer Eye Center commissioned the first piece of art at Red Mountain Park with the addition of Schaeffer Specs to accompany the Schaeffer Eye Center Segway Tours. It is vital for the growth and betterment of our communities to support what is important to our staff and patients. We contribute to numerous nonprofits and organizations including the Arthritis Foundation, Lupus Foundation and American Cancer Society, Camp SAM, Children’s Harbor, Junior League of Birmingham, school athletic programs and Alabama Symphony Orchestra to name a few. Schaeffer Eye Center is also the title sponsor for the Village 2 Village 10K in Mountain Brook on March 11th, where we will also donate eye care services to economically disadvantaged children in the community on behalf of registrants.

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Vestavia Voice



Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Q: What is Atrial Fibrillation? A: Atrial Fibrillation is an irregular heart rhythm. Atrial Fibrillation is when the top chambers of the heart atrium are not beating in a normal fashion. That lack of contraction of the atrium puts you at risk for blood clots that can form in the top chamber of the heart. The clots can break off and migrate to the brain, causing a stroke. Q: How common is Atrial Fibrillation? A: Atrial Fibrillation is the most common kind of heart arrhythmia. Over 2 million in the U.S. have Atrial Fibrillation, which is about 1 in every 150 people. By 2025, an estimated 3.3 million people will be hospitalized with Atrial Fibrillation. If you think that you may have Atrial Fibrillation, talk to your doctor. Q: Is Atrial Fibrillation serious? A: Atrial Fibrillation can lead to some serious complications including stroke and heart failure, but the condition does not have to be life threatening. Atrial Fibrillation is treatable with mediations, or in some cases, ablation. However, if untreated, Atrial Fibrillation tends to worsen over time. Q: How severe does Atrial Fibrillation have to be to require treatment? A: All patients with Atrial Fibrillation should be evaluated by a physician to ensure proper treatment. Treatment decisions are individualized based on symptoms, stroke risk and other factors. Atrial Fibrillation is best treated early when the effects may be reversible. When treatment is delayed, Atrial Fibrillation may become severe enough that treatment options are limited.


Q: What is an ablation for Atrial Fibrillation? A: An ablation is a procedure aimed at fixing the electrical problem that causes Atrial Fibrillation. Under sedation, catheters are passed from the veins in the legs into the heart. The electrical signals in the heart are mapped and recorded. Small amounts of energy are applied in specific locations to keep the abnormal electrical signals from affecting the good part of the heart.



JJ EYES 2814 18th St. S.


Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Q: What sets your office apart from other Birmingham area eye care providers? A: JJ Eyes is one of the only eye exam facilities in the region where the patient receives 100 percent of the eye testing from a doctor. We offer a complete eye exam given by our optometrist. The exam involves a series of tests designed to evaluate your vision and check for eye diseases. Q: What services do you offer? A: At JJ Eyes, we offer full service eye exams and specialized contact lens fittings, as well as help with difficult prescriptions. In addition, we carry a wide variety of designer eyeglasses and prescription sunglasses in our boutique. To find out more about booking an eye exam, feel free to call our office, where one of our highly trained staff members will be happy to assist you. Q: What technological advances do you offer to help provide the best care? A: At JJ Eyes, we not only supply a wide selection of unique designer eyewear, but we also utilize the latest in state-of-the-art technology to provide you with the best and most protective eyewear available. The following are some of the latest technologies available at our eyewear boutique: Ultra-Thin High Index lenses; Progressive lenses; UV protection; antireflective coatings; and a wide variety of other products from both Carl Zeiss and Hoya Labs. Q: What should patients know before they come in for an appointment? A: Our complete eye exams generally take about 20 minutes to complete and involve a series of tests designed to evaluate your vision and check for eye

diseases. Each test during the eye exam evaluates a different aspect of your vision or eye health. We also have parking in the rear of the building, and at JJ Eyes you never have to wait for your appointment. Q: What is your advice for helping patients improve their eye health? A: Scheduling a regular eye exam is essential, not only for keeping your eyes at peak performance, but for keeping your whole body healthy and happy. At JJ Eyes, our highly trained optometrist professionals can detect a variety of additional health issues when conducting an eye exam including heart disease and diabetes. That level of importance extends to children, as well. Q: How does your staff contribute to a great patient experience? A: Our goal at JJ Eyes is to provide the ultimate customer experience and quality merchandise with state-of-the-art lenses and couture frames. We are a premier optical boutique that carries exclusive top lines found only in the world’s most metropolitan areas. We pride ourselves on our customer service where we take the time to evaluate each client’s face shape, coloring and personality when fitting for a pair of glasses.

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NEURALIFE NEUROPATHY & PAIN CENTER 1849 Data Drive, Suite 1, Hoover Q: What do you treat? A: The NeuraLife treatment effectively treats neuropathy and chronic nerve conditions. It is effective regardless of the origin of the neuropathy. We successfully treat symptoms resulting from disease and illness as well as from accidents and injury. Common symptoms include: ► Numbness/burning pain; ► Leg cramping; ► Sharp, electrical-like pain; ► Pain when you walk; ► Difficulty sleeping due to leg and foot discomfort; ► Prickling or tingling feeling in the hands and feet Bottom line: If you have pain because of nerve issues, we can help. Q: Will I have more medications? A: No, we are nonpharmaceutical. Q: Is surgery involved? A: No. Q: Is therapy involved? A: No, we are a non-light therapy, non-physical therapy, non-chiropractic and non-laser practice. Q: Is it safe? A: NeuraLife treatment involves physical science and not chemistry. Therefore, it is considerably more natural and


Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m. to noon exercise, with no reported negative side effects.

physiological to the human body. This technology is extremely safe, noninvasive, effective and virtually free of undesired side effects. Q: Is a medical doctor involved? A: Yes, NeuraLife offices are staffed by medically degreed personnel, and each office has a medical doctor (MD) as its medical director. Q: Could you elaborate on the history behind your practice? A: The use of electrical signals for various medical treatments has been mentioned since ancient times, with the

earliest man-made records (2750 B.C.) discussing the electrical properties and treatment potential of the Nile catfish, while other compilers describe medical treatment with electric fish by Hippocrates (420 B.C.). In the 1700s, European physicians documented the use of controlled electrical currents from electrostatic generators for numerous medical problems involving pain and circulatory dysfunction. During that period, Benjamin Franklin also documented pain relief by using electrical currents for a number of ailments including frozen shoulder.

Q: What kind of results have you seen? A: Proven studies show objectively measured outcomes in more than 87 percent of patients. The patients had resolved or significantly reduced neuropathy symptoms. One year after treatment, all reporting patients were still pain and symptom free. Positive results from treatment have included: ► Improved balance and stability; ► Improved and pain-free sleeping; ► Reduced swelling and increased blood flow to legs and feet; ► Improved walking and

Q: What are some longterm advantages to these treatments? A: NeuraLife offers safe and effective medically-directed nerve pain treatments to reduce the hyper-irritated state of the nerves. The long-term advantages of this treatment regimen include: ► Avoiding surgery; ► Avoiding the probability of chronic pain; ► Dramatic cost savings in both treatment and subsequent (lifelong) medication costs; ► Potentially returning a disabled patient to daily living; ► Patients able to perform activities of daily living with minimal pain. Q: How will I know I am getting better? A: Patients typically feel improvement as sensation and coordination return, plus a reduction in pain. It’s important to note that in the initial stages — as damaged nerves begins to heal — the return of sensation can sometimes be experienced as pain of varying degrees. This is a normal part of the restorative process and is usually limited in duration, disappearing as treatment progresses and sensation more fully recovers.


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THERAPYSOUTH 1944 Canyon Road, Suite 100


Monday-Thursday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Q: What do physical therapists do, and how can they help with an injury? A: Physical therapists are experts at treating movement disorders, including problems with your muscles, bones, joints, ligaments and/or tendons. After a thorough evaluation, your therapist will decide which exercises and handson techniques are needed to maximize your ability to function normally. Q: What are some common misconceptions about physical therapy? A: Many patients think they can only access their physical therapist by referral from a physician. Based on a state law passed in 2012, patients no longer need a referral to see their physical therapist. Many patients also think therapy only consists of exercises that are difficult and painful. Specific exercises that address your individual needs are important to your recovery, but good therapy also consists of handson techniques including manipulation, mobilization, myofascial release, massage, manual stretching, dry needling, instrument assisted soft tissue massage, therapeutic taping and other skilled techniques. Throughout the course of your care, we will appropriately

advance your exercises as your pain levels allow. We also use modalities such as heat, ice, electrical stimulation, spinal decompression/traction, ultrasound and iontophoresis. Q: How successful is physical therapy in pain management? A: Most of our patients come to us with pain. Unfortunately, many of the dysfunctions we treat start long before the pain shows up. You can even have pain in an area that is removed from the dysfunction (called referred pain). We are experts in helping you manage and overcome pain so you can return to your normal activities. In some cases, pain is a sign of injury or a normal part of the healing process. Following your evaluation,

your therapist will help explain your pain and show you ways to minimize or eliminate it. Q: Can physical therapy eliminate the need for surgery? A: In some instances, physical therapy can prevent surgery. For example, if a patient has a shoulder that subluxes or has too much movement in the joint, therapy can help by strengthening the rotator cuff and other surrounding muscles to tighten the shoulder joint, preventing the excessive movement. In many cases, therapy prior to surgery or “pre-hab” is also helpful. This allows time for your body to prepare for the surgery and usually results in better outcomes following surgery.

Q: What are some of the main reasons people need physical therapy? A: ► Back pain/bulging discs ► Arthritis ► Balance problems and/or falls ► Tendonitis ► Sports injuries ► Headaches ► Plantar fasciitis ► Muscle strains/ligament sprains ► Bursitis ► Car accidents ► Post-surgical rehab ► Work-related injuries ► Work-place injury prevention and testing ► Ergonomic assessment ► Education and knowledge about body structure and performance ► Injury prevention ► Dizziness

► Proper exercises and technique ► Pelvic pain ► Breast cancer rehab ► Parkinson’s disease Q: What sets TherapySouth apart from other physical therapy clinics? A: TherapySouth was founded on a set of core values that guide the way we do business: faith, family, integrity, service, compassion, fitness, perseverance and giving. Our therapists strive to provide a warm, friendly and professional environment to facilitate your recovery. Our 24 convenient clinic locations with more than 60 physical therapists provide you with hands-on care close to home and work.

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WEIGH TO WELLNESS 4704 Cahaba River Road


Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Q: What is Weigh to Wellness? A: A medically supervised weight loss clinic offering a customized approach with various options including nutritional guidance, protein supplements/meal replacements, prescription medications and injections among many other tools. Our program is uniquely individualized based on your health characteristics, lifestyle and weight loss goals. Whether a patient is looking to lose 10 pounds or 100 pounds, we have a plan for you!

prescription medication (if applicable) or injections that may enhance weight loss. Everything is a la carte! There are NO CONTRACTS and NO SIGN UP FEES.

Q: Who is on the Weigh to Wellness staff? A: Owner Leslie Ellison has acquired a wealth of knowledge with over 21 years of experience in the industry. Dr. Timothy H. Real is the medical director and is board certified by the American Board of Obesity Medicine. We also have fulltime Registered Dietitians and Nutritionists. Our staff is able to recognize many psychological and genetic factors that cause obesity and design processes specific to each of our patients for the best results.

Q: Do I have to follow a specific meal plan or keep a food diary? A: There are many options offered, but the patient picks and chooses the aspects of the program that best fits their lifestyle. Benefits to keeping a food diary are detecting food intolerance, controlling portion sizes, keeping you mindful of nutrition and often identifying triggers to unhealthy eating. Patients who keep a food journal typically lose twice the amount of weight of those that don’t.

Q: What results do patients typically have? A: Patients typically lose an average of 2-5 pounds weekly. It is inspiring to see how excited our patients get when they see great

Q: Does the program have one-on-one counseling that will help develop healthier habits? A: Yes. Patients are typically seen on a weekly or biweekly basis for one-on-one counseling and behavior modification. Accountability and structure is key to every patient’s success.

results. It keeps them motivated and focused! Since opening in June of 2014 we have celebrated over 15,000 pounds lost! Q: How much does the program cost? A: A medical evaluation which includes an EKG, lab tests, body

composition analysis and a physical with Dr. Real is required to start any program — the fee for the medical evaluation is $130. Programs can range from $13-$100 weekly. Costs vary depending on if the patient chooses to use any meal replacements, protein snacks,

Q: Do I have to buy special meals or supplements? A: No, but Weigh to Wellness does offer convenient meal replacements and protein snacks. Most patients love these healthy options because they

are great for grab and go! Q: Does the program provide ways to deal with such issues as social or holiday eating, changes to work schedules, lack of motivation, and injury or illness? A: Yes. There is no perfect time to diet. Our experienced staff is used to working around any of these issues. We encourage each of our patients to think of it as a lifestyle change, not necessarily a diet! Q: Will Dr. Real work with my health care provider if needed (for example, if I lose weight and my blood pressure medications need to be adjusted)? A: Absolutely. We are happy to follow up with your primary care doctor or specialist at any time with your consent. Q: Does the program include a plan to help me keep the weight off once I’ve lost weight? A: “I can’t think of one thing I love that I don’t have to maintain — the oil in my car, the grass on my lawn, the paint on my home,” Ellison said. Yes, we offer a FREE lifetime maintenance program and it is the most important part of the program. Patients can continue to come weekly, biweekly or monthly for maintenance and there is no charge!

ABENOJA ORTHODONTICS 8000 Liberty Parkway 969-1969

Monday-Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday, 8:30 a.m. to noon

Q: What are the different types of braces, and how do patients choose the right type? A: There are many ways to create a beautiful smile, but the appliances that we use the most are metal brackets, ceramic brackets and Invisalign. Patients usually have an idea of what kind of experience they want to have with their braces, and it has a lot to do with their age and lifestyle. They are all great options. Q: Are there new products that you are excited about? A: I am super excited about my new ceramic bracket. It is strong and translucent and very attractive on the teeth. Also, Invisalign is continually making improvements to clear aligner therapy. Q: What is the most frequent question you get from patients, and what is your answer? A: “When I am getting my braces off?!” And, my answer is usually, “When your teeth, bite and smile are perfect!” Q: How does orthodontic treatment impact patient lives in the long run? A: Orthodontics is more than just straightening teeth. We are treating jaw and bite issues in addition to moving teeth. As a board-certified orthodontist, I am committed to the highest level of patient care. Orthodontics improves aesthetics for a better smile and facial appearance, which can enhance selfconfidence and self-esteem. Q: When should patients see an

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DR. CHRISTINE ABENOJA orthodontist? A: Age 7 is a great time for an initial orthodontic visit. Interceptive treatment may be appropriate for some. At this time we can also identify subtle problems in jaw growth and possibly guide the jaw growth. Q: Other than cosmetics, what are the health benefits of orthodontics? A: Orthodontics can help prevent or improve periodontal problems by stopping bone loss around teeth. We can prepare the teeth and arches for the general or cosmetic dentist to do their best work. Orthodontics can improve the function of the teeth and improve oral health.

8000 Liberty Parkway Vestavia Hills 205.969.1969


orthodontics with a

At Abenoja Orthodontics, our top priority is to provide you the highest quality orthodontic care in a friendly, beautiful environment. We utilize the latest technological advances in the industry, such as ceramic braces, along with the latest in computer technology to ensure that you receive the most effective care possible. Whether you’re an adult, adolescent or child, Dr. Abenoja and her staff are committed to helping you achieve the smile you deserve — a healthy, beautiful one!

Dr. Christine Abenoja, Board Certified

ALTADENA DENTAL 2100 Devereux Circle


Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m; 2 Fridays/month, 7 a.m. to noon Q: Dr. Trey Rosdick, why is cosmetic dentistry your favorite part of the job? A: Cosmetic dentistry is my favorite part of the job because the patients can see an immediate difference. Doing a crown or a filling on a back tooth is hardly noticeable, but when you give someone their smile back, they notice immediately and are beyond grateful. Q: What benefits can a small practice provide to patients over a big one? A: The benefits of a smaller practice are that I can interact and talk with my patients and not rush. I’ve seen large practices just get patients in and get them out, and that's not the way it should be. With a smaller practice, there is also a lot less wait time. If your appointment is at 10 a.m., then you get seen at 10 a.m. Q: What is your staff's approach to customer service? A: Our approach to customer service is making the patient comfortable and making sure they are happy. Many people are afraid of the dentist, and we do our best to ease their fear and show

them that it’s not like it used to be. Our patients who come in scared always leave with a smile. You have to show them that you care. That goes for any patient, whether they are scared or not. Q: What would you like patients to know before coming into your office for an appointment? A: Patients should know that although it is a small practice, it’s a very modern practice. We have a very comfortable reception area with big screen TV, bottled water and coffee. The patient chairs have a massage feature in them, as well as a TV in the hygiene room that patients can watch. Digital film make taking X-rays (radiographs) quick and easy, and we will always put the patient first.

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Vestavia Voice


VISITING ANGELS 400 Vestavia Parkway, Suite 120, Vestavia Hills 979-7400

Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Q: What sets you apart from other home care services? A: If somebody wants a caregiver with a higher skill level, they’ll get it. If somebody just wants a companion, they’ll get it, too. We have a broad base of caregivers we can select from, and they are welltrained in senior care, dementia and mobility issues. We want to accommodate what the client wants because we want them to be as independent as possible within their own environment, and we want to support not only the client, but the client’s family. Q: How do you match clients with their perfect caregiver? A: We do an in-home assessment before assigning the caregiver, then an orientation with the caregiver, client and family on the first visit. These two visits help ensure we match the caregiver — with the right skill set and personality — to the client. Additionally, we have regular visits and communication with the client and the family asking if the caregiver is a good fit or what things we can do to improve. Q: Are you planning to offer new services?

A: We plan to offer to our client families the same type of in-service training in dementia and Alzheimer’s care that we provide to our employees. Being able to have an in-service with the daughter or the son who’s worried about Mama helps them know how to interact and keep their family members engaged throughout this illness, because they have no clue what they’re faced with it. Q: What are you proud of at Visiting Angels? A: We’re most proud of the fact that we provide excellent quality care, and we go to great lengths to place the employees with clients where they can form close relationships. That’s when you know you’ve succeeded, when your caregiver has so much of a relationship with the client that they want to do the absolute best they can for the client.

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Vestavia Hills Real Estate Listings MLS #







1647 Woodridge Place





2181 Rocky Ridge Ranch Road





4252 Cahaba Lake Drive





1561 Bent River Circle





2106 Montreat Parkway





1320 Willoughby Road





2425 High Bluff Road





3029 Massey Road #K





317 Heritage Drive





2451 Monte Vista Drive





3463 Sheila Drive





8056 Mitchell Lane





1565 Panorama Drive





1931 Mission Road





2833 Seven Oaks Circle





1913 Highfield Drive





1848 Southwood Road





2414 Jacobs Road





1130 Winchester Cove





1321 Parliament Lane



Real estate listings provided by the Birmingham Association of Realtors on Feb. 13. Visit

1647 Woodridge Place

1565 Panorama Drive

B26 • March 2017

Vestavia Voice

Calendar Vestavia Hills Events March 2: Community Leadership Awards Banquet. 6 p.m. Vestavia Country Club. $50. Visit March 3: Artists Incorporated, First Friday Reception. 4:30-8:30 p.m. Artists Incorporated. Wine, hors d’oeuvres and live music. Visit March 7: Alabama History from the Words of Ala-

bama Authors. 1:30 p.m. Vestavia Hills Civic Center. Class continues March 14, 21 and 28. Free. March 9: Laura Story. 7 p.m. Shades Mountain Baptist Church. Christian artist concert. $15-$75. Visit March 13: Meal Prep Class. 6 p.m. Pure Fitness. Bring 8 ingredients and leave with healthy prepared

meals for the week. $22. Sign up on March 14: Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce Monthly Luncheon. 11:30 a.m. Vestavia Country Club. Visit March 18: VHHS Purple People Run 5K/1K. 9 a.m. Vestavia Hills High School. Raising money for the American Cancer Society. Visit

March 21: Addiction Prevention Coalition Wake Up Breakfast. 8 a.m. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. Free. Visit March 23: Preserving Your Family Papers and Photographs. 10:30 a.m. Vestavia Hills Civic Center. Free.

Vestavia Hills Library Events Children Mondays: Maker Mondays. 6 p.m. Something for everyone, but adults must accompany children. Tuesdays: Together with Twos. 10:30 a.m. Community Room. Toddler time of stories, songs, finger plays and movement. Ages 18-36 months. Tuesdays: PJ Storytime. 6:30 p.m. Children’s Program Room (except the 3rd Tuesday, which is Family Night). Wednesdays: Story Friends. 10:30 a.m. Children’s Program Room. Join Mrs. Lisa for stories and songs. Ages 5 and under. Wednesdays: This & That. 3:30 p.m. Children’s Program Room. All about comics. Grades 3-6. Thursdays: L.I.F.T. (Library in the Forest Time). 9:30 a.m.-noon. Children’s Programming Room. Special play equipment in the program room for preschoolers and their caregivers.

keep little ones engaged. For kids 6 and under. March 14: Ms. Olivia’s Evening Reads Book Group. 6 p.m. Historical Room. Discussing “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman.

March 21: Otaku Time. 4:30 p.m. Historical Room. Read, discuss and exchange manga. Snacks served.

March 25: Lego Wars. 11 a.m. Children’s Program Room. Create a Lego masterpiece that could win a prize! First grade and up.

March 28: Anime Movie Night. 4 p.m. Community room. Japanese treats served.



Fridays: Open Gaming. 4-5:30 p.m. Community Room. Video games on the Wii U, PS4, board games to play with fellow teens. Snacks served.

March 2: Go Wild for Native Plants. 1:30 p.m. Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest. Presented by OLLI of Greater Birmingham. Visit

March 4: Teen Art Group. 4 p.m. Historical Room. Drawing, sketching and doodling. Snacks served. For grades 6-12.

March 2: Read and Feed Book Group. 6:30 p.m. Taziki’s Café, Liberty Park. Discussing “News of the World” by Paulette Jiles.

March 6: Intro into 3-D Printing. 4 p.m. Electronic classroom.

March 6: Folksinger Adam Miller. 6:30 p.m. Folksinger, storyteller and autoharp performer. Visit

Thursdays: Book Babies. 10 a.m. Treehouse. Ms. Lisa’s story time for babies up to18 mos. Registration required.

March 7: The Playlist. 4 p.m. Community Room. Submit clips and channels from YouTube. Snacks served.

March 4 & 18: Family Yoga. 10:30 a.m. Children’s Program Room. Class for the whole family.

March 8 & 22: Teen Writing Group. 4 p.m. Historical Room. Build writing skills and receive feedback on work.

March 11: Small Fry Gym. 9 a.m-12 p.m. Children’s Program Room. Teach healthy exercise habits with our child-sized exercise equipment designed to

March 15: Studio 1221. 4 p.m. Treehouse. Make crafts and artwork.

March 14: Fandom Tuesday. 4 p.m. Community Room. Movies, crafts and themed foods.

March 8: ABCs of Medicare. 1 p.m. Treehouse. Independent Benefits Advisor Karen Haiflich provides simple and straightforward answers to all your Medicare questions. Free. March 9 & 23: Adult Tai Chi Classes. 2 p.m. Community Room. Bi-weekly class taught by a certified instructor. No registration for this free class. Ages 18 and up.

March 10: Upcycle City: Color Me Calm. 7 p.m. Community room. Coloring, wine and snacks. 21 and up. March 14: Apple Mobile Devices with Tech Ease. 2 p.m. Children’s Program Room. March 15: One-on-One Tutorial: Downloadables. 9:30 a.m. Electronic Classroom. Learn audiobooks and eBooks. March 16: How to Get Published. 1:30 p.m. Speaker Suzanne La Rosa, publisher of NewSouth Books in Montgomery. Presented by OLLI of Greater Birmingham. Visit March 21: Twitter 101. 10 a.m. Electronic Classroom. Learn how to tweet, interact and gain followers. March 23: Friends of the Library: Reverend Thomas M Kelly. 10 a.m. Featuring the legally deaf harp player. March 23: Windows 10. 6 p.m. Electronic Classroom. Gain practical experience. March 27: Vinyl Cutting. 4 p.m. Electronic Classroom. Make your own vinyl deals. March 29: Page Turners in the Treehouse Book Group. 2 p.m. Treehouse.

Area Events March 1-4: AHSAA Boys and Girls High School Basketball Championships. 9 a.m. daily. $10. Visit

March 2: UAB men’s basketball v. Florida Atlantic. 7 p.m. Bartow Arena. $5, $3 ages 3-17, UAB students free with student ID. Visit

March 1: UAB Music Student Recital. 12:20 p.m. Mary Culp Hulsey Recital Hall. Free. Visit

March 2: Live at the Lyric- Southern Broussard, Anders Osborne and Luther Dickinson. 8 p.m. Lyric Theatre. $29.50-$49.50. Visit events.

March 2: Birmingham Art Crawl. 5 p.m.-9 p.m. 113 22nd St. N. Meet local artists and performers and buy their work. Visit

March 3: Alabama Symphony Orchestra Coffee

Concert. 11 a.m. Alys Stephens Center. $18-$34. Visit March 3: Norah Jones. 8 p.m. BJCC Concert Hall. $40-$108. Visit March 3: Black Jacket Symphony presents Queen’s “A Night at the Opera.” Alabama Theatre,1817 Third Ave. N. The Black Jacket Symphony recreates classic albums in live performances with

musicians picked specifically for each album, as well as first-class lighting and video production. 8 p.m. Tickets are $25, $35 and $115. Call 800-7453000 or go to March 3-5: Cottontails Arts & Crafts Show. BJCC Exhibition Halls. 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, Noon-5 p.m. Sunday. $6 adults, $3 children 6-12. Visit cottontails.

Let us help spread the news! Email to submit your announcement. March 3-5 and 10-12: STARS presents Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, Jr. Virginia Samford Theatre. 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Visit $15-$20. Visit virginiasamfordtheatre. org. March 3-5: Birmingham Ballet: Cinderella. 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $30-$45. Visit March 4: Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Polar Plunge. 9:30 a.m. Oak Mountain State Park. $25 per plunger. Visit March 4: 2017 Birmingham Heart Ball. 6 p.m. Barber Motorsports Museum. An evening of hope and entertainment benefiting the American Heart Association. Visit March 4: Southeastern Outings Evening Walk. 7 p.m. Hillsboro Trail, Helena, Shelby County, Alabama. Four-mile evening walk. Depart for the walk from the front parking lot at the Helena Middle School. Call 205-789-9815 for information. March 5: Ahn Trio. 2 p.m. Alys Stephens Center. $42-$78. Visit March 5: Rachmaninoff Piano Concerti No. 1 & 2. 7:30 p.m. Mary Culp Hulsey Recital Hall. Presented by the UAB Department of Music, featuring student pianists Mira Walker and Jacob Skiles with Yakov Kasman playing the orchestra reduction. Visit uab. edu. March 6: BAO Bingo. 7 p.m. Birmingham AIDS Outreach. $15-$25. Visit birminghamaidsoutreach. org. March 6-10: Theatre UAB’s 14th Annual Festival of 10-Minute Plays. 7:30 p.m. Alys Stephens Center, Odess Theatre. $5. Visit March 7: UAB Music Guest Artist Recital. 7:30 p.m. Featuring clarinetist Sarunas Jankauskas. Free. Visit March 9: The Fab Four. 7:30 p.m. Alabama Theatre. Beatles tribute band. $17.50-$47.50. Visit March 9: UAB Music Chamber Concert. 7:30 p.m. Mary Culp Hulsey Recital Hall. Featuring violinist Julia Sakharova and pianist Yakov Kasman. Free. Visit March 9-25: Short Play Festival. Theatre Downtown, 2410 Firth Ave. S. An evening of short plays, all helmed by up-and-coming directors. Thursday-Saturday, 8 p.m. For information, call 565-8838 or go to March 9-12, 16-19, 23-24: The Mystery of Love and Sex. Terrific New Theatre. 8:30 p.m. nightly, 2:30 p.m. Sundays. $25. March 16 and 23 are pay what you can. Visit March 11: SpringFest. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Hand In Hand. Presented by UCP of Greater Birmingham. Free admission. Food and tickets for games available. Visit March 11: Natural Hair and Health Expo. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. BJCC Exhibition Hall. $12.75. Visit March 11: Southeastern Outings Dayhike, Sipsey Wilderness, Bankhead National Forest. Time TBA. Four-mile hike Call 205-631-4680 for information. March 11: John Pizzarelli. 8 p.m. Alys Stephens Center. $32-$57. Visit March 12: Southeastern Outings Second Sunday Dayhike in Oak Mountain State Park. 1 p.m. Fourmile walk in the woodlands. Depart from the Oak Mountain Park office parking lot. Park admission fee $5/person. Call 205-991-1045 for information. March 16-19 & 23-26: Exit Laughing. Virginia Samford Theatre. $15 students, $25 general admission. 8 p.m. nightly, 3 p.m. Sundays. Visit March 17: Winter Jam 2017. 7 p.m. Legacy Arena at the BJCC. $10 general admission. Visit March 17: Alabama Symphony Orchestra Red Diamond SuperPops! Series. 8 p.m. Alys Stephens Center. $25-$58. Visit March 17: Live at the Lyric- Sam Bush. 8 p.m. $22-$39.50. Visit

March 2017 • B27 March 18: Spring Walking Tour- Downtown, A First Look. 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Vulcan Park and Museum. $10 members, $12 non-members. Registration required. Visit March 18: Southeastern Outings Dayhike. 10 a.m. Lake Guntersville State Park. Depart from Kmart on Green Springs. Call 205-317-6969 for information. March 18-19: Tannehill Trade Days. 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Tannehill State Park. $5 adults, $4 seniors, $3 children. Visit March 18-19: Alabama Gun Collectors Association Spring Show. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Visit March 18-19: In Her Own Fashion. Red Mountain Theatre Company, Cabaret Theatre. Tickets start at $15. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Visit March 19: Alabama Wildlife Center & Audubon Teaches Nature- Mysteries of Bird Migration. 2 p.m. Alabama Wildlife Center, Oak Mountain State Park. Visit March 19: Southeastern Outings Wildflower Walk. 2 p.m. Wildwood Wildflower Preserve. Depart from parking lot of medical building on Lakeshore Drive. Call 205-417-2777 for information. March 19: Alabama Symphony Youth Orchestra Side by Side. 3 p.m. Alys Stephens Center. $10 adults, $7 ages 12 and under. March 19: Birmingham Punk Rock Flea Market. Market by the Tracks. 4271 Morris Ave. More than 50 vendors offering vintage, art, zines and more. Food vendors. Noon-4 p.m. For information, contact March 21: The Brain Candy Live Tour: Adam Savage & Michael Stevens.7:30 p.m. BJCC Concert Hall. $30-$76. Visit March 21: UAB music senior flute recital featuring Marta Pirosca. 7:30 p.m. Free. March 23: UAB Music Guest Artist concert. 10:30 a.m. Featuring percussion duo Escape Ten. Free. March 24: Charlie Wilson’s In It To Win It Tour. 7:30 p.m. Legacy Arena at the BJCC. $49.50-$87. Visit March 24: Chris Rock- Total Blackout Tour. 8 p.m. BJCC Concert Hall. $49.50-$125. Visit March 25: Magic City Cycliad. 8 a.m. Railroad Park. Bike ride benefitting the Deep South Cancer Foundation. Visit March 25: Rumpshaker 5K and 1M fun run. 8 a.m. Regions Field. Fundraiser for colorectal cancer. Visit March 25: Southeastern Outings Potluck Lunch and Easy Dayhike. 9 a.m. Paul Grist State Park near Selma. Three mile hike. Call 205-526-2253 for information. March 25-26: Repticon Birmingham. Reptile and exotic animal show. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. $12 adult, $5 ages 5-12, under 4, free. Visit March 25: Still Standing: The Melba Moore Story.7:30 p.m. Virginia Samford Theatre. $20-$25. Visit March 26: UAB Piano series concert. 4 p.m. Featuring Korean-American pianist Esther Park. $15 general admission, $5 students through 12th grade and UAB employees, UAB students free. Visit uab. edu. March 26: Home Free. 7:30 p.m. Alabama Theatre. $25.50-$123. Visit March 29: UAB Student Recital: Advanced Students. 12:20 p.m. Free. Visit March 30: UAB Music presents Eamon Griffith. 7:30 p.m. Free. Visit March 31-April 1: Alabama Symphony Orchestra EBSCO Masterworks Series. 7:30 p.m. $25-$74. Visit

Vestavia Voice March 2017  
Vestavia Voice March 2017