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Volume 4 | Issue 12 | April 2017

PLAYING hardball

Mary Norwood prepares a bed for a Family Promise guest. Photo by Emily Featherston.

Being born without a full left arm hasn’t stopped Josh Stevens from becoming a top Rebels pitcher

Area churches help homeless through Family Promise program


By KYLE PARMLEY here’s nothing Josh Stevens can’t do. Throughout the Vestavia High School senior’s baseball career, he has played first base, outfield and is now primarily a pitcher. As a pitcher, his fastball has risen in velocity from the 80-82 mph range early in his high school days, to now one coming across in the mid- to upper-80s. He has an above-average curveball and spent much of the past offseason working on his changeup, one that he began to feel more comfortable with as the 2017 season began. Stevens entered his senior season with a great opportunity. After pitching just a handful of innings in 2016, his first season with the varsity squad, coaches and players alike were expecting him to be one of the Rebels’ main cogs this spring. “I knew the whole offseason I needed to come in here and get to work every day,” Stevens said prior to the season. “I

By EMILY FEATHERSTON There are more than three dozen shelters and organizations in the greater Birmingham area aimed at housing and aiding the local homeless population. But only a handful of them are able to keep families together. Many are only able to take certain demographics or aren’t designed for family units in crisis. Family Promise, however, is designed exactly for that. Every night, in Birmingham as well as around the country, families with nowhere else to turn are welcomed into churches and synagogues for a hot meal and a safe place to stay together. The national organization has its roots in New Jersey. It began in the 1980s when founder Karen Olson realized families in her community were facing homelessness. In Birmingham, the organization came out of the Birmingham Hospitality Network, founded in 1998. Many of those who founded the organization were members of the Genesis Class at

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The fact that Stevens was born without a full left arm is secondary in his quest to become one of the Rebels’ top pitchers in 2017. Before the season began, Vestavia head coach Jamie Harris put it best: “Josh is just Josh.” Photo by Sarah Finnegan.


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Spring Home Guide

Find tips and tricks for your spring home projects from area businesses in our Spring Home Guide.

See page B1

Girl-Powered The all-girl Pizitz Middle School robotics team is traveling to VEX Worlds.

See page C1

A2 • April 2017

Vestavia Voice

April 2017 • A3

A4 • April 2017

Vestavia Voice

About Us Editor’s Note By Sydney Cromwell Two months ago, I was talking about getting ready for my wedding day in this Editor’s Note. Now, my husband and I are on the hunt to buy our first home. I’m just a dog and a white picket fence away from the classic picture of the “American dream.” For me, buying a home is a stretch in more than just the financial sense. I could generously be described as “overly cautious,” and I hate making any decision without knowing every possible outcome, particularly the disastrous ones. That doesn’t really work in home buying. Last week, we sent our real estate agent a list of six homes we’d like to visit. By the time she had made calls to set up visits, four were already under contract. That snapped me to the realization that my standard decision-making procedure would need a major shift.

It’s time to stop analyzing every decision to death, and start putting a little more faith in gut decisions. I have to stop assuming every fork in the road will lead to the worst imaginable result, because none of the paths I’ve taken thus far have even come close to that outcome.

It’s not as simple as that, but I keep reminding myself that risk and a little bit of impulse will take me farther than a carefully managed, predictable set of decisions. If you’re also the type of person who gets paralyzed by decisions, I’d encourage you to try the same. It doesn’t matter if it’s trying a new hobby, taking a trip somewhere you don’t speak the language or that DIY home project you’ve got your eye on. Take a step, and see what it feels like to trust your gut. Spring’s here, with all its flowers, birds and that feeling of fresh new possibilities in tow. It’s time to live a little.


Vestavia High School students cheer on the boys basketball team as they take on Auburn during an AHSAA Class 7A State Finals match on March 2, 2017, at the Legacy Arena of the BJCC in Birmingham. Despite it being the middle of a school day, students came out by the hundreds to cheer on the Rebels. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.

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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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April 2017 • A5

A6 • April 2017

Vestavia Voice

City Council approves annexation despite BOE concerns Jason and Stephanie Robinson explain their plans to renovate their home off of Dolly Ridge Road. The property is surrounded on multiple sides by Vestavia properties. Photo by Emily Featherston.

By EMILY FEATHERSTON The Vestavia Hills City Council voted unanimously Feb. 27 to annex the property at 2419 Dolly Ridge Road, despite reservations expressed by the board of education. The property, owned by Jason and Stephanie Robinson, is surrounded on multiple sides by Vestavia properties. Place 4 councilor George Pierce explained that the annexation committee reviewed the couple’s application and found that the home’s assigned value of around $160,000 was below the usual threshold for annexation of $225,000. Pierce also explained that the BOE representative had expressed concern that the family has three children, which Place 2 councilor Kimberly Cook further explained stems from the recent capacity concerns at city schools. Mayor Ashley Curry countered the expressed doubts with items he said he thought were of equal concern to the city. “I think there are other things that we have to consider, other than the value of the house,” he said. He said that, realistically, the city is already providing services like police and fire, because public safety officers won’t refuse a call to a location surrounded by the city, a fact further explained by City Manager Jeff Downes. Additionally, he said, the impact of three students coming from a lower-valued home is offset by the property owners who pay ad valorem taxes who don’t have school-age children. Place 3 councilor Paul Head pointed out that because the property is not within city limits, city officials cannot enforce property value-related ordinances like fence limits ― or raising cows and chickens. By bringing the

property into the city, he said, the council is protecting the surrounding property owners from losing property value by being adjacent to the property. The Robinsons explained to the council that like the two other homes they’ve lived in as Vestavia Hills residents, they plan to fix up the interior and exterior of the home, hopefully raising the property value. The couple also explained their participation in the community, such as coaching youth sports and volunteering at their child’s school library.

In other business, the council: ► Voted to codify the city’s code of ordinances by adopting supplements, updating the code with the measures that have been passed since the last update. ► Voted to repeal and replace the resolution outlining the selection process for BOE members, adding a question about conflicts of interest and measures for modern technology. ► Voted to officially dedicate Pump House Lane as a city street, as the subdivision under development by Pump House Partners

nears completion. ► Was informed by Downes that the RFP process to find a project manager for the implementation of the Community Spaces Plan would go out March 1, and that interviews would be scheduled for a work session, once the proposals came in. ► Was told by Downes that the city’s trash collection contract was put out for bid to be opened March 1, and that bids would be brought before the council in the next month or so.

April 2017 • A7

Council votes to annex properties, approve white-way lighting contract

Vestavia Hills City Manager Jeff Downes and Mayor Ashley Curry speak at the March (2017) City Council meeting. Photo by Emily Featherston.

By EMILY FEATHERSTON Four properties were brought into the city limits of Vestavia Hills after the City Council approved annexations as part of its first regularly scheduled meeting in March. All of the properties were in the Acton Road area, and City Clerk Rebecca Leavings showed the council where the properties were located at the edge of the city while explaining how the 90-day and overnight annexation procedures work. Homes at 3139 Renfro Road, 2696 Altadena Road, 2611 April Drive and 2470 Dolly Ridge Trail were brought into the city following unanimous affirmative votes for each property’s annexation. Place 4 Councilor George Pierce explained at the March 13 meeting the details of each property, including the number of children and property value of each. He said all four met the $225,000 property-value minimum the annexation committee prefers, and each home had two or fewer children, with one having no children. Mayor Ashley Curry reiterated the “Swiss cheese” nature of the edges of the city, with many properties that are part of the city surrounding properties that have not been annexed. The council also voted to approve a contract with Innovis Lighting for the new white-way street lighting along U.S. 31. City Manager Jeff Downes explained again how the previous proposal given to the council had fallen through due to ALDOT not approving the specific fixtures the company wanted to use. Downes said the investment of just over

$230,000 would reach pay-back status in roughly 1.5 years, and representatives from Innovis said that it may be sooner. Downes further explained that the savings on utility costs would free up funds from the gas tax to be used for other projects. At the close of the meeting, Curry asked the council for and was granted unanimous consent to consider a special item of business with regard to Senate Bill 31 in the Alabama Legislature. The bill, known colloquially as the “prescription bill” would make prescription drugs exempt from the total sales volume cities use to determine business license taxes. The bill passed in the senate, and moves next into the House committee process. Curry said the bill would “hurt a lot of cities,” and that current estimates have Vestavia Hills losing $60,000 in business license tax revenue annually due to the measure. Pierce asked Curry if the area mayors’ association has a lobbying effort in Montgomery, to which Curry said there was, but that he wasn’t sure of their action on this particular bill. Pierce said he had spoken with some state senators, and that they had said they were unaware of any opposition to the bill. The council voted unanimously to approve a resolution opposing the bill, and Curry said the city would be making their opinion known to area representatives. Other council business included: ► Voting to declare three police motorcycles surplus property. ► Proclaiming April 18 as “A Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving” for the annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast. ► Discussing the recent campaign to encourage adherence to the city’s sign ordinance.

A8 • April 2017

Vestavia Voice

Mayor’s Minute By Ashley Curry

Darryl Jones, standing, explains the drought the area faced and is still facing. Photo by Emily Featherston.

BWWB details future drought-mitigation plans By EMILY FEATHERSTON The Birmingham Water Works Board reduced the classification of the area’s drought to Stage 2 almost a month ago, but it’s still working to make sure Birmingham doesn’t run out of water, said Darryl Jones, assistant general manager of operations and technical services at BWWB. Jones gave a presentation to the Vestavia Hills City Council at the Feb. 20 work session, reflecting on the drought and looking forward to projects the board is involved in. Jones began by reminding the council that the area is still in a drought, and by walking them through a brief history of the water system in Jefferson County, explaining how the system feeds from the various water sources around the region. As most people know, Vestavia Hills, Hoover, Mountain Brook and the other communities south of Birmingham are all provided water primarily through Lake Purdy. While the system is set up to handle that demand in a normal year, Jones said the highest-demand area being served by the smallest lake in the system leads to major issues during peak usage times and seasons of drought. “This is the thirsty part of the system,” he said.

However, Jones said he thinks people don’t know the majority of the county, geographically, is served by lakes and rivers in the north, including Inland Lake and the Warrior River. These pumping stations and lines were designed to service the major industry and factories in north Birmingham during the height of the 20th century and aren’t connected to the southern residential areas. Jones also went back through the final months of 2016 and further detailed the drought, showing the council graphs indicating the lake levels, including when Lake Purdy got as low as 20 feet. To show what the BWWB is doing to help during the next drought, Jones walked the council through what they call the “Carson Loop,” which would bring clean drinking water south from Inland Lake via the Carson processing plant and eastern Jefferson County, eventually meeting up with the over-themountain area at the rear of Liberty Park and Alabama 119. But projects of the size of the loop, which includes multiple phases, take time and money, Jones said, so working through the red tape and costs will take time in order to keep water rates from skyrocketing. “It takes a lot just to put a pipeline in,” he said.

Today is one of those days that reminds me of what Charles Dickens described when he said, “It was one of those spring days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light and winter in the shade.” Spring is that time of year when nature comes alive and we are rewarded with new plants, new leaves on the trees and the rebirth of our yards. It is an exciting time for all things in nature. Spring is also an exciting time in our city. Many of our parks and recreation programs are underway. I was one of many residents attending opening day sports events as two of my grandchildren started playing T-ball. Incidentally, you haven’t lived until you’ve experienced the excitement of beginning T-ball. Also, I was honored to throw out the first pitch for girls’ softball. In addition to the numerous recreational leagues, the city will sponsor annual springtime events such as the Tablescapes luncheon, the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast and Art in the Hills. This spring you will be hearing more about the “Community Spaces Plan.” The Community Spaces Plan is a comprehensive plan that will result in improvements across the city that affect a broad range of activities and provide recreational opportunities for all ages. The major plan components include improvements to the Cahaba Heights ball fields; development of the old Altadena Valley Country Club; and various improvements to Wald Park, including the construction of a multi-purpose athletic facility, repositioning of and improvement to the swimming pool, ball fields and tennis courts, and the addition of premier green space and park amenities. The purchase and renovation of space for a community center is also included in the plan.

April 2017 • A9

Left: Parents and guardians dropping off and picking up children during carpool at both Liberty Park schools are required to follow the new patterns starting April 3. Graphic courtesy of city of Vestavia Hills. Right: Cars attempt to bypass the carpool line on Sicard Hollow Road. Photo by Emily Featherston.

Sicard Hollow repaving to get underway; carpool traffic addressed By EMILY FEATHERSTON For those frustrated with traffic and surface conditions on Sicard Hollow Road, relief may finally be in sight. Effective April 3, one of the more dangerous problems facing Sicard Hollow travelers — consistent carpool backups from Liberty Park Middle School and the elementary school — will be addressed by a redesign of the carpool system. During carpool hours, both in the morning and afternoon, parents have queued up in both lanes, trying to turn onto Liberty Parkway and then into the schools. Cars not wanting to wait end up driving in the opposite lane around the line, creating the possibility for head-on collisions and a significant blind spot for those trying to turn left from Liberty Parkway onto Sicard Hollow.

Complaints about the traffic caused by carpoolers have increased over the last couple of months, with some residents creating a petition to request the engineering and design of turn lanes for the intersection of Sicard Hollow and Liberty Parkway. City Manager Jeff Downes said he never received the petition formally but was aware of it, and that the issue of traffic in that area had come up before. Downes said he and Place 2 City Councilor Kimberly Cook, along with Place 1 Councilor Rusty Weaver, met with city department heads, school representatives and parents to discuss the possibility of adding a turn lane at the intersection. The results of that information gathering, he said, indicated that the project would cost somewhere between $500,000 and $1 million,

due to the significant terrain and space challenges in that spot. With the significant cost, Downes said the city decided to pursue other alternatives. Cook said that the issues with traffic in that area are not new, but this was the first time to her knowledge that the city actually came together to find a solution. “This is the first time we’ve actually tried to fix it,” she said. Starting April 3 and going forward, during carpool there will be no left turns from Liberty Parkway into the elementary school. Instead, parents will queue up along Lake Colony Lane. In addition to traffic mitigation, Sicard Hollow Road will also see its long-awaited repaving project over the next several weeks. The project is a multi-jurisdictional project with Jefferson County taking the lead.

City Engineer Christopher Brady said that Midsouth Paving would be doing the work, and that the contract, from beginning to end, is slated to be a 60-day project. The first and most arduous part of the project, which requires crews to dig into the foundations of the road to do some repairs, was taken care of in the closing weeks of March, Brady said. As of Vestavia Voice’s press date, crews were slated to begin milling the entire distance of Sicard Hollow Road from Blue Lake Drive to Grants Mill Road, starting with the right lane in that direction, and making their way back. Brady said that the work will not require a full road closure, but that during the resurfacing Sicard Hollow will be reduced to one lane. There will be a pilot truck for motorists to follow, but those who travel Sicard Hollow regularly should expect delays.

A10 • April 2017

Vestavia Voice

Superintendent presents final alignment proposal Board updated on facilities options By EMILY FEATHERSTON and ERICA TECHO

Following results from a preliminary enrollment and demographic study by Cooperative Strategies, all updated facilities options included a variation on the middle school being moved to the former Berry campus. Photos by Emily Featherston.

Facilities upgrades and middle-school alignment have been dominating the discussion at Board of Education work sessions for the last few months, and February was no different. At the Feb. 22 meeting, Assistant Superintendent Jane-Marie Marlin explained that after the last discussion, she and the rest of the team received feedback that some aspects of the middle-school alignment plan needed a deeper dive. Because of the cost, Marlin said, she and the team recognized that adding personnel is a major consideration for the board. The plan proposed at the January meeting would require 13 new faculty members at Liberty Park Middle School and six at Pizitz Middle School. “We can’t do alignment work without a personnel need,” she said. To provide the board with options, she said, they did determine that strictly course and schedule alignment could be done at the schools, requiring only six additional teachers at Liberty Park, and none at Pizitz. However, the other goals the team identified — professional development, intervention and academic strategy — wouldn’t be as fully addressed as hoped. Liberty Park Assistant Principal Roger Dobnikar further explained how professional learning communities would benefit the professional development for teachers, and Pizitz Assistant Principal Andy Carpenter went into more detail of how the Pirate/Lancer period would work.

After the team’s presentation, Superintendent Sheila Phillips presented the board with a final plan for implementing alignment in the middle schools. For the 2017-18 school year, the course offerings at both schools would be aligned; Liberty Park would be moved to an eight-period day and would receive seven additional units: an intervention unit, seventh-grade social studies, seventh-grade science, eighth-grade social studies, eighth-grade science, seventh-grade gifted and a new PE teacher. For the 2018-19 school year, homeroom would be removed from the schedule at both schools, and academic strategies units would be added as well as a Career Prep A unit. “Not only is it a financial investment, but the other piece is making sure that as we move in that direction and we have different expectations … that we provide enough time for our teachers to be prepared for that,” Phillips said on separating the implementation into two years.


Ann Hoffsis of Cooperative Strategies gave an update on the demographic study the company is conducting in order to paint the clearest picture of future enrollment numbers. Hoffsis explained the methodology of the two studies the team is conducting, which include a traditional enrollment study and a subdivision analysis to determine home yield. Among the enrollment projections, notable increase estimates included a recommended projection of 31 percent growth at Vestavia

April 2017 • A11 Ann Hoffsis of Cooperative Strategies explains the demographic study done of Vestavia’s enrollment patterns and birth data. Hoffsis said both of the studies are combined to try to give an idea of what the school district can expect over the next five to 10 years.

Hills Elementary Cahaba Heights, and a high but possibly more accurate projection of 25 percent growth at Vestavia Hills Elementary Liberty Park.


The number of facilities options presented to the board was reduced by half during a March 22 work session. “We’ve narrowed the options down to about four options that we think are still feasible, make the most sense, and we are recommending that these four options are the ones that are the main basis of the decision we’re recommending to you to use,” Brennan Bell of Hoar Project Management said. All four options presented include a plan to renovate offices in the upper floor of the BOE building to create four classrooms in time for the 2017-2018 school year, and four more on the bottom floor by Jan. 2018, with a total cost of around $9,9440,000. Doing this would provide immediate relief to Vestavia Hills Elementary West, and the four upper classrooms could be done in-house, which Phillips said means there would be no need to bid out the project. “The continuing issue is the fact that they [West] need some immediate relief if at all possible,” Phillips said. “Well, there is some space there that would provide or could provide some immediate relief for them.” If those four rooms became permanent classrooms, there would be overall savings, Bell said. The rooms are currently used for professional development space and the local rotary club, but not fulltime. Phillips said replacement spaces for those purposes would be part of the discussion. Phillips said they recognize there would be a cost to relocate the central office for the BOE, but there would be multiple options for that, including renting a space, using the Vestavia Hills Elementary Central campus or renovating a portion of the Berry campus for temporary use. Board member Jerry Dent said he would like to see more information on moving the BOE’s central office before deciding to

renovate the building. “To me, that’s a big hole in this,” Dent said. The options presented to the board were as follows: ► Option 1 Current grade alignment and feeder patterns with an academy facility for grades nine through 12 would answer growth everywhere except for the high school. VHHS would be at capacity again in five or 10 years, which would need to be answered, Bell said. Pizitz moves to Berry campus and VHEC moves to Pizitz. VHEC becomes an academies facility. Budget: $63.16 million. Proposed capacity of 8,791. This is a few hundred over the projected 2026-27 enrollment of 8,371, but the projected numbers for Vestavia Hills High School indicate the school would be over proposed capacity in both 2021-22 — 2,000 in proposed capacity versus 2,213 in projected enrollment — and 2026-27 — 2,000 versus 2,684. ► Option 2 K-5 alignment at VHEE and VHEW and an academy facility for grades nine through 12. Pizitz moves to Berry and VHEC to Pizitz, and Central would become the academies facility. The price tag for options two and one, as well as proposed capacity numbers, would be

the same. This option, however, would require rezoning, as BOE President Mark Hogewood pointed out. ► Option 3 Maintain current feeder patterns but remove ninth grade from VHHS. Pizitz moves to Berry campus and becomes a 6-9, LPMS would be converted to 6-9 and VHEC would continue to be 4-5 grade but move to Pizitz. VHEC campus taken offline. This option addresses five-year growth numbers at VHHS. The proposed capacity for this plan would be 2,000 for the high school, but by removing ninth grade from that campus, projected enrollment would be at 1,841 in 202122. Growth numbers in 10 years — projected enrollment is 2,212 — would not be addressed. Budget: $69.86 million. ► Option 4 A“hybrid” of the other three. Converts VHEE and VHEW to K-5, moves Pizitz to Berry and converts Berry to 6-9. VHEC moves to Pizitz and converts to K-5. LPMS converts to 6-9, making VHHS 10-12 and making VHEC into an academies facility. Budget: $73.96 million, and it would meet the 10-year growth of all schools. During discussions of options three and four, the issue of transportation and extra curriculars

came up. Phillips said there have been discussions on how to provide transportation to ninth-graders involved in sports or other academic teams. By transporting the students, they would all be able to act as one team. “They will still be together,” she said. Following presentation of all four options, the board opened the floor for questions. Place 2 City Councilor Kimberly Cook addressed the board on its property in Cahaba Heights, building a second high school and how realigning grades could affect students. In regard to the second high school, Phillips said cost was the main factor in that matter. By building a second high school, many of the renovations and changes to other schools would be taken off the table, Hogewood said. As for realignment, Phillips said they have considered how changes could affect students, including how ninth-graders remaining at the high school presents a “numbers issue” for capacity and projected enrollment, but having the ninth grade stand alone would also not be a good option. If a decision was made to realign to 6-9 and 10-12, Phillips said consideration would be given to what options in grade alignment and structure to teams or classes would be best for students.

A12 • April 2017

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Texas Taco is now open at 633 Montgomery Highway.


Sweet Home Vestavia is now open at 2409 Acton Road, Suite 105. Owners Cindy and Keith Trotman are pleased to carry gifts, handmade jewelry, home décor and more. 515-1053


Bates, pharmacist, announces the 3 Keri opening of Rocky Ridge Drug Co., a full-service, family-owned, independent pharmacy located at 3346 Morgan Drive, in Rocky Ridge Square next to Western Market. In addition to prescriptions, they will have a selection of over-the-counter products including vitamins, natural supplements, essential oils, medical supplies, and health and beauty products. They offer complimentary delivery, a convenient drive-thru window and personal service. 259-7100, PrecisionRx, a compounding pharmacy, is now open at 3325 Rocky Ridge Plaza, Suite 207. 823-0780



ClearView Family Eyecare, formerly located in the Vestavia City Center at 790 Montgomery Highway, Suite 110, has relocated to 500 Southland Drive, Suite 149, in Hoover, behind the Ellis Piano shopping center. 979-3937,



RE/MAX Southern Homes, 903 Montgomery Highway, recently earned the designation of being the #1 RE/ MAX office in Alabama based on volume and number of transactions. 979-8500,


Mechelle Wilder, partner and associate broker with ARC Realty, 4274 Cahaba Heights Court, Suite 200, has been appointed to serve on the board of directors of


April 2017 • A13 the Alabama Association of Realtors. 969-8910, Snapper Grabbers, 521 Montgomery Highway, has announced that it will expand and become Snapper Grabbers Land & Sea. The new business will include a butcher shop, an eat-in and take-out deli, and a larger selection of wines, and it will still include a large selection of fresh seafood. 824-9799,


Susette Clark-Walker, with RealtySouth’s office at 2409 Acton Road, Suite 137, achieved the Silver Level of the Millennium Circle for $20-40 million with the company. The Millennium Circle is RealtySouth’s highest recognition for outstanding sales performance. 370-0316,



ARC Realty, 4274 Cahaba Heights Court, Suite 200, has hired Catherine Wilkes as a Realtor. 969-8910, 10

RE/MAX Southern Homes, 903 Montgomery Highway, has hired several new Realtors, including Greg Mewbourne, Hilary Cleveland, Isaac McDow, Carlton Jones, Nick Bahos, Ted Gregg, Breanna Sexton, Seth Mercer, Carol James, Charity Blackmon and Baxter Knight. 979-8500, 11


12 Home Instead Senior Care, 2059 Columbiana Road, Suite 105, celebrated its 20th anniversary in March. 822-1915, Dry Clean City, 1008 Vestavia Park13 way, Suite 100, is celebrating its 10th anniversary in April. 823-1265, Sentry Heating, Air Conditioning, Plumbing and Electrical, 2490 Rocky Ridge Road, celebrated its 30th anniversary in March. 979-9864, 14

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

We can fix that!


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A14 • April 2017

Vestavia Voice


VHHS senior starts clothing company to benefit Cahaba River By ERICA TECHO Gage Laswell grew up on the Cahaba River, and now, as a senior at Vestavia Hills High School, he is working to give back. Laswell is the owner and co-founder of Cahaba River Clothing, a T-shirt company that gives part of its sales to the Cahaba River Society. The idea for Cahaba River Clothing was something Laswell and co-founder Alex Ferguson, who is no longer a part of Cahaba River Clothing, came up with after noticing all the litter and pollution around the river. “I realized, since we live so close, after a rain the Cahaba would rise, and it would just be all brown and muddy,” Laswell said, adding they would often see plastic or glass around the riverbanks. “We wanted to change it. I hate to see that, and I grew up there.” After a brief brainstorming session, the pair decided to start Cahaba River Clothing. They decided to use Comfort Colors shirts, something that was already popular at VHHS, and give $1 from each T-shirt sale to benefit the river and its preservation.

“The Comfort Colors shirts have always been popular at Vestavia,” Laswell said. “You see them all the time, and me and Alex were just talking and he said, ‘Why couldn’t we do this? This doesn’t seem too hard.’” When Laswell approached his parents about the idea, he said they were supportive but probably didn’t see the idea coming to fruition. “I think they just thought, ‘Eh, I don’t know if he’ll do it or not,’” Laswell said. “They were always supportive. And a month later, we have a business license; we’re starting to print, and we’ve got it going. They were really surprised.” They kicked off the company with pre-orders to help offset costs and received about 50 orders. As high school seniors whose only starting capital was from part-time, afterschool jobs, Laswell said that step was necessary and also helpful in getting the project going. A lot of the support from their preorders came from classmates. “Most of our preorders were from students because we didn’t have the money for

advertising, so that really helped us out,” Laswell said. “They were all supportive. They were blown away that just in a month, we said, ‘All right, let’s do this,’ and then we got it done.” The Vestavia Hills community and others at VHHS also have been supportive of the business. Laswell’s former environmental science teacher, Brad Waguespack, helped connect him with the Cahaba River Society for donations and volunteer opportunities, and other teachers have bought shirts. “Vestavia has always been inspiring,” Laswell said. “There’s not been anyone that has said, ‘You can’t do this,’ or ‘You shouldn’t do this.’ It really helped me.” VHHS’s co-op program, which Laswell is a part of, also helped with the busy schedule that comes along with running a business. The co-op allows Laswell to get out of school at noon in order to go to his job at Lifetime Fitness, and some afternoons he is also able to do work for Cahaba River Clothing. “Usually what I do is I’ll get home at 12; I’ll eat something, and then I’ll either start on homework and finish that, or I’ll do something for the business,” Laswell said. “Yesterday, I got home, got something to eat and went to the Cahaba River Society to make sure they got our check, and then I started looking into Google and search engines, trying to learn more about that, so we can get more page views to our website.” Without the co-op program, Laswell said he doesn’t think he’d be able to run the business. “I wouldn’t have enough time,” he said. “I would have to focus more on my classes and less on the business.” As a freshman or sophomore at VHHS, Laswell said he would never have thought he’d be running his own business. He was not applying himself as much in school — he had a 3.3 GPA — but getting a job in his junior year helped show him how much can be accomplished with hard work. “Junior and senior year, I bumped it [my GPA] up to a 4.0 after I got a job and said, ‘I can really do this. It just requires some hard work,’” he said. “That’s what really allowed me to do it, because after I got a job, I realized with hard work you can really accomplish anything.” While Laswell is looking at out-of-state colleges to attend next year, he said he does not believe that will interfere with his ability to run the company. It will stay local for the time being, and he is looking into a retail space, new designs and new products to help expand the company. The goal is to help support the river, which Laswell said most people want to do. “Everyone loves the Cahaba. It’s the main part of Birmingham,” he said. For more information about Cahaba River Clothing, go to, or @cahabariverclothing on Instagram.

April 2017 • A15 Gage Laswell, a VHHS senior, started his own clothing company with a friend. Photos by Erica Techo.

A16 • April 2017

Vestavia Voice

IV hydration, vitamin therapy franchise opens on Montgomery Highway By EMILY FEATHERSTON “Intravenous vitamin therapy” sounds like less of an elective experience, and more like what happens when you are admitted to the hospital. At Vida-Flo in Vestavia, however, the experience is meant to be more like a trip to the spa. Vida-Flo provides a range of IV hydration packages, from basic saline or lactated solutions to therapies infused with vitamins and minerals for specific ailments. Vestavia franchise owner Michael Gayle said he originally got the idea to open this kind of business when he experienced the process firsthand, once in Atlanta after battling a stomach virus, and once after coming down with the “cocktail flu” after a bachelor party. “Both of which saved me,” Gayle said with a chuckle. Gayle had been working in finance for eight years but found he had lost his love of the industry and was looking to make a change. After contacting VidaFlo CEO and founder Keith McDermott about a franchise, he was put in touch with Derick Purdy, who is involved in Birmingham’s bar scene, who had also reached out about a franchise. After six to eight months of figuring out the logistics and financing, VidaFlo opened just before the first of the year with an official ribbon-cutting opening Feb. 9.

And while he said he has personally used IV hydration for hangovers, along with 20 percent of customers, Gayle stressed the idea was about more than a cure for overindulgence. “This is not for hangovers,” he said. “This is an efficient way to get vitamins and nutrients.” The amount of water a healthy adult needs each day can be hard to achieve, he said, and for anyone who has been under the weather or overexerting during exercise, IV hydration can be a big help. There are multiple tiers of pre-packaged IV treatments, including those specially formulated for hair and skin health, a strong immune system, energy and even “holistic PMS relief.” Treatments are FDA certified, and Gayle explained the facility is highly regulated by the state. All those administering the treatments must be registered nurses, and the facility is overseen by Dr. Greg Flippo. The facility is not a medical facility, and Vida-Flo does not diagnose or prescribe, but Gayle said its mantra is to be a health facility run like a doctor’s office. Gayle said even in just the short time since opening, he has found the response to be even above his goals. “It’s been great,” he said. “We’re just really happy to be in Vestavia.” Vida-Flo is at 796 Montgomery Highway. For more information, go to

Above: VidaFlo customer Cody McBride said the process is pretty painless, and the energy is worth it. Photo by Emily Featherston. Left: Chamber representatives officially welcome Vida-Flo to Vestavia. Photo courtesy of Vida-Flo.

April 2017 • A17

Drought-friendly plants becoming landscaping staple for homeowners By SYDNEY CROMWELL At Andy’s Landscape Service, lead estimator Sean Stewart has seen an uptick in clients looking to replace dead plants at their homes. Whether newly planted flowers or decade-old shrubs, this winter’s intense drought has left its mark. Stewart, who has been in the landscaping business since 2000 and has worked at Andy’s at 3351 Morgan Drive for more than 10 years, said droughts don’t just cause plants to die due to lack of water. Droughts also make weakened plants more susceptible to disease and pest insects. With the early onset of warm temperatures, Stewart said it’s easy to tell which plants have survived enough to flourish again and which ones, even if they’re still alive, will likely need to be replaced. “If they aren’t leafing out or flowering by now, they probably aren’t coming back,” Stewart said. Yards are more likely to have fared well through the drought, as Stewart said grass can go dormant and come back. If a lawn has brown patches, he suggested mowing those areas close to the ground in late spring, to get rid of some of the old growth and make room for the new. In some cases, Stewart said other plants can be similarly trimmed back so the root system no longer has to support dead limbs or leaves. “If you can take the old, damaged growth out of the equation, it allows the resources to work for the new growth,” Stewart said. There are ways homeowners can make their landscaping more likely to survive a dry spell. Stewart said deep and proper watering techniques, including watering for a few long periods rather than several short intervals, can help a lawn or landscaping grow deeper, healthier

Loropetalum, top, and yaupon holly, above, are both drought-resistant shrubs. Multi-season azaleas are one shrub that homeowners can use to make sure their landscaping is more likely to survive a dry spell. Photos by Sydney Cromwell.

roots. Adding a layer of mulch or pine straw will help soil trap moisture rather than evaporating, and Stewart suggested drip irrigation to reduce water being wasted. Spring is also the right time to replant, as milder temperatures and more rainfall will help young plants grow proper root systems. Stewart suggested incorporating hardy,

drought-resistant species into home landscaping to prevent similar plant loss in the future. Drought-resistant species include ornamental grasses and trees such as crape myrtle, oak and maple. Some shrub options include loropetalum, yaupon holly, multi-season azaleas and knockout roses. Flowers that can withstand a drought include daylilies, black-eyed Susans,

Shasta daisies and coneflowers. However, drought’s side effects last long after rainfall returns. Stewart said when another major drought hit Birmingham in 2007, there was a higher-than-average number of plants continuing to die even a year later. Even if a plant survives the initial dry months, it can sometimes be left too weak to fully recover. “You can see drought damage effects for months and years,” Stewart said. “If it isn’t fully vigorous, it’s probably worth replacing.”

A18 • April 2017

Vestavia Voice


Stakeholders band together to fight growing drug problem By EMILY FEATHERSTON

Parents and other community stakeholders gathered at City Hall on March 20 to hear presentations from first responders, law enforcement and the Help the Hills Coalition. Photos by Emily Featherston.

About once a week. That’s how often emergency personnel in Vestavia Hills administer Narcan, a medication to try to reverse a heroin overdose. In 2016, 206 people in Jefferson County died from a heroin or fentanyl — a synthesized heroin surrogate — overdose. “It’s a very real problem,” said fire Chief Jim St. John to a crowd of parents and community members in late March. The crowd was gathered at City Hall for a town hall, hosted by Mayor Ashley Curry in lieu of a council work session. The town hall was set up to introduce a newly robust effort on the part of Help the Hills to combat drug and alcohol abuse in the city, especially with regard to teenagers. “We realized there had to be more to this,” said Julie Ellis, one of the original Leadership Vestavia Hills members who helped found Help the Hills. In 2012, Ellis and three others were tasked with evaluating drug and alcohol abuse in Vestavia, a vague assignment she said she had no idea would turn into a full-blown community coalition just a few years down the road. Findings by the 2012 group were used in 2014 when Help the Hills was officially formed, operating primarily as an effort to host speakers and forums to discuss substance abuse in the city. At the same time, the school system was forming the Drug Awareness Team (DAT) to help educate students about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. All the while, the Vestavia Hills Police Department was working with the FBI and the city’s recently formed narcotics unit to address the growing problem of drug dealers and suppliers in the area. And despite efforts by all parties, St. John told the crowd that drug overdose deaths and hospitalizations have skyrocketed over the last few years. Ellis said they realized that all groups were trying to address the problem, but doing so without communicating among themselves. It was then, she said, that they decided to take Help the Hills to the next level and form the Help the Hills Coalition. The coalition, which was first introduced in the summer of 2016 and has been working in the months since to solidify bylaws and committees, is a combination of Help the Hills and DAT, with the addition of parent and community components. “It’s bringing these different community pieces together and making them all more aware of what they have to offer,” Ellis said. The coalition now has four committees: Peer, Parent/Family, School and Community, each with a dedicated team and specific goal. The school committee, working with the board of education and school officials, will focus on drug and alcohol education, as well as life skills classes that promote healthy behaviors. Schools will also continue to offer voluntary drug testing, which allows parents to sign their child up for random drug tests and “provides an out” for them if they are offered drugs by other students, Ellis said. Superintendent Sheila Phillips said the schools will focus on supporting students and offering resources. “We look forward to serving alongside the other community stakeholders in the coalition as a more active partner,” Phillips said. The parent and family committee is designed to not only provide opportunities for families to connect and share in being proactive against substance abuse, but will also serve as a go-to for parents seeking help with issues as they arise. Ellis said that having those resources and educating parents that it can happen to them — no matter how well-behaved their children are — is one of the key steps to prevention. “No one is immune,” she said. “No one.” The peer committee will also work on promoting healthy life skills. The student portion of the committee will be made of 34 Vestavia Hills High School students who will go through a rigorous application and interview process. Those students will be responsible for the “TEAM” program, standing for train, educate, advocate and mentor. Students will work within their own peer groups as well as mentor younger students about the social implications of using drugs. The largest committee, which many presenters at the town hall meeting argued is the most important, is the community committee. “We’re going to win this back house by house and block by

April 2017 • A19

Fire chief Jim St. John offered statistics on the significant rise in heroin and fentanyl overdoses his crews have seen over the last few years.

block,” said State Rep. Jack Williams at the town hall. Much of the initial push in the community committee will be to get faith organizations across the city involved. Wade Griffith, pastor at Liberty Crossings United Methodist Church, said it astounds him that churches aren’t on the “front lines” of the fight against drugs. “Faith communities mobilize people,” he said. “The churches who are so vocal on many issues, in a positive manner, have been almost entirely silent on this issue. It’s not preached on, it’s not taught on, nor do churches lead community-wide efforts to bring awareness to the problem,” Griffith added. Griffith urged those at the town hall to confront their faith leaders about making drug and alcohol abuse a “Sunday morning issue.” “It can’t just be more of the same,” he said. In the coming months, Ellis said the coalition hopes to help community groups host awareness events and educational talks.

On April 6, the schools will be hosting a prescription drug take-back night from 4 to 7 p.m. at VHHS during the boys soccer and baseball games. The effort is designed to help households eliminate the temptation of prescription pain medicines, which St. John said cause the majority of transitions into heroin and other narcotic addictions. Those who bring drugs to be disposed of by the police will receive free admission to the Rebels’ baseball game against Tuscaloosa County and the Rebels’ soccer match against Albertville. Community members can also get involved as volunteers, by signing up for the newsletter or by simply talking about the coalition with friends and neighbors. For more information, as well as links to past Help the Hills events, a recording of the town hall and outside resources, visit

A20 • April 2017

Vestavia Voice


Community Spaces Plan presented during March chamber luncheon Tommy Dazzio presents the Community Spaces Plan to members and guests at the March chamber luncheon. Photo by Emily Featherston.

The Cahaba Ridge Retirement Community is an independent retirement resort with one-, two- and three-bedroom apartment options. Photo by Lexi Coon.

All-inclusive retirement community off Cahaba River Road planned By LEXI COON Vestavia is almost ready to welcome its newest neighborhood: Cahaba Ridge Retirement Community. Located at 3090 Healthy Way, the retirement community was started with the purpose to help seniors and their families transition into luxury retirement living in the Vestavia area, said Kelly Jo Hinrichs, marketing and preopen sales director. “Our research showed a large number of seniors wanting to stay local,” she said. “Vestavia is a tight community that embraces a family-centered life, which aligns with our cultural values.” The community will have 128 apartment homes that range from studio apartments to three-bedroom options and offers access to a Main Street shopping area, which will have

a salon, bank, fitness center and home health provider, among other amenities. Cahaba Ridge is all-inclusive, too, and is operated on a month-to-month model. “No long-term lease or buy-in,” Hinrichs said. By working similarly to an all-inclusive resort, residents will have flexible dining hours, with all meals and snacks included, live-in managers, 24-hour concierge and valet, included utilities, on-site theater and entertainment and fitness center and wellness programs. “Since we are an independent retirement resort, for [adults 55 and older], we are a great fit for any family or loved one who wants to have fun,” Hinrichs said. The Cahaba Ridge Retirement Community has a planned opening date of April 1 and is planning move-in dates. To learn more, go to

By EMILY FEATHERSTON Members and guests at the March chamber luncheon not only got to hear a presentation about the new Community Spaces Plan, but were able to participate and provide feedback on the future of the city’s parks and recreation facilities. Tommy Dazzio and City Manager Jeff Downes presented the Community Spaces Plan that was finalized in late 2016 during the March 14 luncheon. Dazzio went through the various options of the plan, which includes improvements to the Cahaba Heights ball fields and Sicard Hollow Athletic Complex, but focuses primarily on city property in west Vestavia, with Wald Park getting the most attention. Dazzio explained that when the committee was formed, they realized that the state of the facilities that are close to the largest portion of the city’s residents were not at the level the city and public deserves. The total plan, which is still in the

master-planning stage, and the presentation can still be viewed on the city’s website. The chamber presentation was similar to those given at public forums in the closing months of 2016, and like those meetings, attendees at the chamber luncheon were able to respond to a live survey about the proposal. The results of the survey showed a vast majority of those in attendance were in support of the proposed plan, and that their top priority was the construction of a multi-purpose athletic facility at Wald Park. Dazzio and Downes said the results were similar to what they had gathered at other meetings. The preliminary budget of the plan — which includes the acquisition of Gold’s Gym next door to City Hall — remains at $49,702,000. And like meetings before, the primary question posed in the live survey was about how the city plans to pay for such a large project. That, Dazzio said, is up to the City Council, which will decide which parts to fund as well as if and how phases will be utilized.

April 2017 • A21 FAMILY PROMISE

CONTINUED from page A1

Volunteers at VHUMC transform classrooms into sleeping quarters for Family Promise guests. Photos by Emily Featherston

Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church. Today, VHUMC is one of 15 host congregations that welcome families into its facilities for a week every few months. Birmingham Family Promise Executive Director and social worker Rana Cowan said she has found many people don’t think about families being homeless. “Our model is different than a typical shelter,” she said, explaining what makes Family Promise unique. “Our population tends to not be what we in the business call the ‘chronic population.’ Typically, families don’t fall into that chronic population primarily because there’s nowhere for them to go.” Rather, she said, these families find themselves “situationally” homeless, just a few steps behind due to something like a death in the family, a loss of a job or a serious tragedy. Cowan said families come to her in a variety of ways, often after reaching out to other homeless shelters or programs throughout the city, and they go through an extensive screening process before being placed in the program. At any given time, the program can care for up to four families or up to 14 people. While with Family Promise, Cowan said families are able to have enough stability to get moving in the right direction again. Children are able to continue going to school while she works with parents to secure a job, understand and form a working budget and use other support services across the city. The hope, she said, is to keep the families from falling even further behind, or “robbing Peter to pay Paul” and engaging with predatory lending agencies. “It’s a vicious cycle, so what we hope to do is provide them with a safe place where they’re not having to worry about where they’re going to sleep at night, whether they’re going to be able to feed their children. To regroup. Set some goals,” she said. But none of that would be possible without the 15 host congregations and four support congregations.

“They may not be able to fix everything that’s wrong, but they can sure make a casserole,” Cowan said, chuckling. Michelle Urban has been involved with the program off and on since the early days of the Birmingham Hospitality Network as a member of the Genesis Class. Over the years, Urban said she has been involved with everything from helping organize volunteers to just sitting and talking with mothers as they try to get laundry done in VHUMC’s Lighthouse facility. “You just take care of them, for just a few hours,” she said. Urban and volunteers across the city give their time as hosts, providing meals, packing lunches, playing with children and just being a friendly face. “It really is a very, very worthwhile program,” she said. Fellow VHUMC volunteer Rob Armstrong said he got involved when he and his late wife were looking for a way to volunteer with their two sons in an effort to give back to the community that had supported his family during his wife’s battle with cancer. “Everybody needs a hand now and then,” he said. “We’ve been blessed with being a part of this community through some difficult times,” he said, saying that he wants to pass along the message of hope and support to others he and his family received. Cowan said Family Promise volunteers always find a way to welcome guests, no matter the time of year or what is going on. “They figure it out,” she said. “The religious community in Birmingham, in my opinion, is just amazing.” Both Cowan and Urban said they think there are misconceptions about the homeless population, but that Family Promise helps both the people it serves as well as those who volunteer. “It is very important, not just to them, but to us,” Urban said. To get involved, those interested in volunteering should visit for information about host congregations and Family Promise’s two annual fundraisers.

An obvious name comes to the mind of baseball fans when considering someone similar


needed to get better at what I do and come in and control games like [ace pitcher] Caden [Lemons] has been able to do the last two years. It’s definitely been in the back of my mind that I need to step up a lot more this year.” The fact that Stevens was born without a full left arm is secondary in his quest to become one of the Rebels’ top pitchers in 2017. Before the season began, Vestavia head coach Jamie Harris put it best: “Josh is just Josh.”

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to Stevens. Despite being born without a right hand, Jim Abbott pitched in Major League Baseball for 10 years and won 87 games throughout his career. Abbott was the No. 8 overall pick in the 1988 amateur draft and is one of just a few players to go straight to the big leagues after being drafted, without any minor league action. Stevens models much of his form on the mound to how Abbott did things. “When I started playing, we watched some stuff he did and tried to modify it to how I wanted to do it,” Stevens said. “I played around with it for awhile. I definitely watched him growing up, just to see how he did things.” During his windup, Stevens tucks his glove under his left arm and goes through a standard pitching motion. He positions his glove so that






at the end of his follow-through, he can slide his right hand into his glove, ready to make a play on a ball if needed. Being a righty, anything Stevens does similar to Abbott is mirrored, as Abbott was a lefthanded pitcher. While Abbott rested his glove at the end of his arm, Stevens tucks his under his arm, compressed against his body. This fact alone makes it all the more impressive that he is able to throw with such velocity, considering that he holds his front arm close to his body while unloading a pitch. Harris is more than impressed with his ability to command pitches and throw a live fastball. “Try that,” he said. “It’s really hard. But he’s got enough arm strength to make it work.” Harris credits assistant coach Kris Thomas for working with Stevens on the intricacies of




Stevens became comfortable with the necessary mechanics of pitching and playing the game between the ages of 10 to 12, he estimated, but since that point, everything has become second nature. “Josh has learned how to work with his body,” Harris said. “He has different obstacles, but that has never stopped him.” The guys on the Rebel baseball team comprise a group that Stevens has grown up with for several years now, and he feels at peace with his teammates. They are like a second family to him, one that accepts him without batting an eye. His ability to overcome the tests life has thrown at him stands as an example in motion every day for his teammates to look toward. “He’s somebody they can look to that’s a close friend of theirs,” Harris said. “He’s a

his pitching motion, and said Thomas takes Stevens’ situation no different than any other pitcher. Every pitcher is different and has different nuances to their mechanics. The fact that Stevens’ look is so much different than most pitchers does not adversely affect how Thomas prepares the senior. Stevens knows how to handle adversity. After all, he’s had quite a bit of practice up to this point. He moved to Vestavia Hills from Huntsville when he was 5 years old, and he said that learning the game of baseball was a tall task. Things did not come as natural to him, but the baseball field was always where he wanted to hone his craft.






living testimony of hard work, perseverance and making no excuses.” Stevens has a message for anyone thinking of lowering their expectations for him compared to others. “I’m a competitor just like anyone,” he said. “I’m not trying to receive special treatment, and I want them to hold me to the same standards they have for anyone else.” There is absolutely no need to feel bad for Stevens. He’s overcome more in 18 years than the average person in a lifetime. And he’s doing just fine. “He has not let his arm affect his life and what he’s involved in,” Harris said. “He rolls with things and figures out the best way to do them. It’s not ever something we even have to think about.”




A22 • April 2017 Vestavia Voice

April 2017 • A23



Spring APRIL 2017

Home & Garden Guide special advertising section


Spring is in bloom, and it’s the perfect time to plant a garden, do some cleaning or start a home renovation. Find tips and tricks from area businesses to jump-start any project in our guide.

DSLD Land Management ...................B2 Closets by Design ............................... B3 Urban Home Market ...........................B4 Brandino Brass ....................................B6 Carbon Recall ...................................... B7 EZ Roof & EZ Restoration .................B8 Issis & Sons ..........................................B9 KADCO Homes .................................. B10 Liberty Park .........................................B11

Mantooth Interiors.............................B12 Moran’s Rocky Ridge Hardware ......B13 NextHome Southern Realty ............ B14 Phoenix Builders Group ....................B15 R&S Wood Flooring ............................B16 Sentry Heating & Air .........................B17 Woerner Landscapes ........................ B18 Wedgworth Construction .................B19 Gardner Landscaping ...................... B20

Advanced Turf Care ......................... B20 Aabco Rents........................................B21 Amy Lawson, RealtySouth ...............B21 Brewer Cabinets............................... B22 Cahaba Lawn .................................... B22 One Man and a Toolbox ....................B23 Charlie Thigpen’s Garden Gallery ..B23

B2 • April 2017

Vestavia Voice

Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section


Design your dream landscape DSLD Land Management is a full-service design/build landscape contractor firm. We are a family owned and operated company that strives to meet and exceed the expectations of our clients. During our initial consultation, all on-site factors are considered from function to form, with special emphasis given to economy and value added work. DSLD Land Management, Inc. opened its doors in 1983. Today, DSLD has built an excellent reputation in landscape construction as a prominent design/build company that services central Alabama. Over the past 30 years, DSLD has been recognized and featured multiple times in publications such as Southern Living magazine and Builder’s Architect Magazine. DSLD welcomes projects of any scope and size, and stands ready to serve our clients with a full staff of licensed and degreed designers, a full-time administrative assistant and one of the most experienced field service teams in the business.

DAVID H. SHARP Pursuing his life-long interest in horticulture and business, coupled with a background in drainage and soil erosion, David Sharp was inspired to create the ideal landscape construction company specializing in residential design and installation. This inspiration is now DSLD Land Management, a full service design/build landscape contractor firm founded in 1983. David studied geotechnical engineering

MEGAN A. MCNAIR Megan McNair is a landscape designer. She is a graduate of Auburn University with a degree in landscape horticulture with an emphasis in landscape design. While obtaining her degree from Auburn University, Megan was able to develop a strong foundation in landscape design. She has advanced training and specializes in software such as Dynascape and ProLandscape.

at the Ohio State University. While a student at OSU David was offered and accepted a scholarship to Samford University in Birmingham, where he graduated with a degree in business administration. Soon after graduating, David became interested in applying his background in geotechnical engineering and business administration to a new course of study in ornamental horticulture. In addition to learning from the environment around him, David has developed a more thorough understanding of various cultural landscape design applications from his travels throughout Europe and Asia visiting gardens and landscapes in over 20 countries. David firmly believes in the value of family. Not only does he enjoy his family, but also works to improve the lives of families with at-risk children. David sits on several national boards of directors where he volunteers on behalf of foster

and adopted children across the country.

J. COLE SHARP Growing up alongside his father, Cole Sharp learned the family business from the ground up. Cole attended Jefferson State Community College where he studied computer information systems technology and mathematics. In addition to his major courses, he took horticulture courses to enhance his knowledge of the family business. Today Cole is fully engaged in the dayto-day operations of DSLD; from sales to installation as well as providing technical support.

PEYTON MARKLE Peyton Markle is the newest DSLD team member. She is a senior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. Peyton originally joined the team as an intern, but quickly established herself as a strategic thinker and fast learner. As a result, she was offered the position of project engineer. Peyton loves the family business atmosphere at DSLD. “Everyone was so nice and welcoming when I came on,” Peyton said. “The work they do is amazing, and the people behind the work are even better.” For more information, call 437-1012 or visit

Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section


Simplify your home and get organized

Closets by Design is all about simplifying, and there’s no better time than spring to begin truly simplifying and getting your closet, house and garage organized. Let Closets by Design help you set the right tone for the year to come. “We are here to help simplify our clients’ lives by giving them a quick, hassle-free design consultation to help them maximize their space,” Aly Harris, the Closets by Design office manager, said. Closets by Design specializes in designing, building and installing custom closets, garage cabinets, home offices, laundries, pantries and much more. With a wide selection of finishes, accessories and hardware, Closets by Design makes sure that you can get the customized look you always wanted. Customers can choose from three types of closet systems. Although the styles differ, each aim to maximize space and create a closet or area that helps organize not only your clothes or supplies, but also your life. This way, you can dedicate more time to focusing on the things and people you love. “We build each closet with you in mind,” Harris said. “Our products simply offer the best value in the industry.” Closets by Design was started in California in 1982 and has since grown to be a national company with 51 locations. Even though the company is new to Alabama, they have already helped hundreds of clients design and build their dream closets and storage

spaces. With a no-obligation, inhome consultation, Closets by Design continues to create custom-tailored designs with the highest quality product construction. Simplification and ease are key. Closets by Design is also a floor-based system, unlike most of their competitors, which makes their systems stronger and more stable. “We bring a fresh perspective on getting organized to Alabama,” Harris said. Part of the appeal of Closets by Design is that they spend time understanding and prioritizing the necessity of home office space. They’ve created a line of innovative and effective office systems in a variety of styles and finishes to match your unique needs. Attractive pantries are developed to streamline cooking and cleaning with easy-to-reach and easy-to-organize shelves. They also can help customers take their garages a step further and transform it into a workshop, garden center or arts and crafts room. Closets by Design makes sure plenty of storage space is key. “At Closets by Design, we make sure that the client has a true consulting experience, giving the customer the control over the design and the cost,” Harris said. For more information about Closets by Design in Central Alabama, go to and click on “Central Alabama,” or call 777-4000 to schedule an in-home design consultation. The Birmingham office and showroom is located at 3806 First Ave. N.

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Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

Vestavia Voice

Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

April 2017 • B5


Find your vision for your home with a business that treats you like family


rban Home Market not only knows their customers, we embody them. We are known for being a vibrant home for a variety of lighting, architectural pieces, gifts, home furnishing and design services, all collected in one 17,000-square-foot space. What you’ll find inside Urban Home Market is always different. Every season offers a chance to find new and unique products to fit not only your home, but your lifestyle. Shopping at Urban Home Market is never boring or intimidating. We want to immerse our customers in a complete experience that appeals to all of the senses, while staying authentic and approachable. While Urban Home Market is often

mistaken as an upscale retail chain, we are a family owned business that was spun out of a home and family-grown passion. Therefore, we offer personalized service and products that big corporations and big box retailers cannot. There is no national sales plan provided by a corporate office in another state, it is simply Kathy McMahon and her vision. Being local allows us to focus on the “family community” and serve each customer as a friend and neighbor. These friendships tie creativity and design with authenticity because of our knowledge of our customers. “Our customers are our friends and what we do is never, ever about selling to them,” Kathy said. Urban Home Market’s core philosophy

is guided by style, design and the passion to inspire imagination throughout our store. We have a dynamic, energetic team of designers and visual merchandisers who are responsible for every aspect of the store’s look and feel. “Storytelling” is a key focus for our showroom. Each vignette serves as a series of different inspirations created to be inviting and stimulating. Our merchandising does not highlight product so much as set a mood and create a starting point to direct the customer on their own path. Every season, our team of buyers travels across the country to attend major national furniture and accessory markets to find the latest product and design trends. This, combined with our

interests and the needs of our local customers, determines our inventory. Our merchandising mix is very dynamic, layered and dense. We have many humble, recycled and natural materials. Many of the store’s most striking visual effects have been crafted out of mundane materials. This adds a rich layer of artistry and visual wit to the store experience. To learn more about the coming trends for spring 2017, please be sure to connect to our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Our social media shows how to take trends and make them unique through our product shots and style tips for customers on the go. Urban Home Market is located at 1001 Doug Baker Blvd., Suite 101. Call 980-4663 or visit

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Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

Vestavia Voice


Get just the right touch for your home Brandino Brass specializes in door and cabinetry hardware, kitchen and bath accessories, lighting, fireballs and more to meet the needs of any construction or remodeling project. The family-owned business was founded in 1948 by Tony Brandino, and “to date we still run Brandino Brass as a family business for our employees and customers,” said Tony’s son and current owner, Buster Brandino. “I wake up every morning a very lucky man to come to a wonderful place to watch everyone grow and prosper. My employees and customers are the best on the planet,” said Eric Brandino, Buster’s son and co-owner. Together they continue the Brandino Brass tradition of service for customers. The team at Brandino Brass makes sure every element is taken care of for customers. Renee Genereux and Megan Brasher both have a degree in interior design with years of experience in the building process. “We’re here to help take out all the doubt and complications for the client to find the right items for their home within their style and budget,” said Genereux. Megan Brasher added, “Design is in the details, and hardware is a detail that can be overlooked. Each client presents a new idea and we’re just one of the details to ensure the end result is what they envisioned.” Jessie Isom brings over 17 years of experience in the hardware industry and over the years has forged long-lasting relations with contractors, architects, and decorators. “It’s always satisfying to help our customers pull together all the aspects of their project to give them a finished product that they can enjoy for years to come,” said Isom. Heather Clay, a loyal Brandino Brass customer, said Brandino Brass’ customer service is second to none. “We built a house from the ground up, and Renee did all the hardware in my house without one mistake,” Clay said. Clay expressed how much Brandino was able to do for her. “I worked with Renee and with my decorator Lisa

Flake,” said Clay. “We did all of the hardware for my kitchen, all of my bathrooms, and all of my door knobs. We also did my front door hardware, I also got my gas logs from Brandino and my mailbox and all the numbers for that. Any kind of hardware we needed for my house, Brandino did it for me.” From the beginning of the project to the end, Clay said Renee was there every step of the way. “It was a wonderful experience,” said Clay. “I showed

Renee some pictures with my decorator, I told her what I liked, and she pulled about three choices for me so it made it a little bit easier. She was always easy to get in touch with by phone or by email. She has come to my house to look at things that I bought from her that had been installed.” Visit the showroom in Homewood at 2824 Central Ave., Suite 100. For more information, visit or call 978-8900.

Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

April 2017 • B7


Changing energy use benefits home, environment and wallet Making your home more energyefficient isn’t just good for the earth — it’s good for your wallet, too. Sebastien Kidd opened the Birmingham franchise of Carbon Recall after 24 years as an engineer and manager in manufacturing. Carbon Recall’s services, Kidd said, can reduce homeowners’ utility bills and increase their comfort and property value. “Carbon Recall Birmingham affords me the opportunity to go to someone’s home or business and help them, either by finding ways to improve energy efficiency or just to share or learn ways to change energy usage,” Kidd said. The company offers a wide range of energy-saving services, including building sealing and insulation, lighting, heating and cooling, air quality, plumbing and hot water heaters, electrical work and solar power. Kidd also offers a free in-home energy check-up with homeowners and a more extensive energy audit that determines the best actions to improve a home’s energy efficiency. Kidd said he also helps homeowners plan financially for energy decisions in the future, such as replacing a water heater or appliances. “We try to educate property owners on what are their big users and abusers of energy. We recommend solutions based on the property owner’s needs and wants. Our solutions are long term,” Kidd said. “For example, most homes would benefit from a programmable thermostat, but to get the most out of your thermostat and heating and cooling it is important you have good duct work. In the typical duct system, more than 20% of the air is leaking out or in to where you don’t want it. We can help you

get the most out of your investment.” Older homes can be major sources of energy waste, but Carbon Recall can also help make sure new homes are up to the latest energy standards and “future-proof” them for the next wave of improvements. Carbon Recall also offers evaluations and services for businesses looking to lower their energy bills. While Carbon Recall can help make major changes in a home’s energy efficiency, Kidd said there are little steps

homeowners can take on their own. These include closing fireplace dampers, buying Energy Star-rated appliances and equipment, lowering the hot water temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and using surge protectors or timers to turn off power to devices when not in use. “If the plug or electronic device is warm, it is using electricity,” Kidd said. Kidd holds several energy efficiency certifications, including the Building Performance Institute’s professional

building analyst, the Department of Energy’s home energy score rater, duct air tightness technician from the State of Alabama and qualified credentialed air tightness verifier from the Home Builders Association of Alabama. Kidd said he loves that his job gives him the chance to reduce waste and costs for Birmingham homeowners, plus he gets to learn from and teach others every day. For more information, call 205-719-6886 or visit

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Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

Vestavia Voice


What you need to know about roofing We asked roofing specialist Gerry Rotter of EZ Roof what homeowners should be aware of regarding roofs. Here’s what he had to say: Q: What advice would you give to homeowners thinking about replacing their roof? A: Talk to a professional. Find someone who is fully licensed and insured, with experience and a good reputation. Always use a company that is rated A+ with the Better Business Bureau. Remember, if you have any warranty issues that arise, you want a company that will be around — one that you can find years down the road. Look up the address of the business using Google Earth. Choose a company with a brick-and-mortar business versus one operating out of a basement. Find reviews and ask for references. The biggest thing is to ask questions. Your roofing contractor should be knowledgeable about products and solutions for your individual project. Also, ask about warranties. What extended warranties does the company provide? What is the warranty? Q: What are some signs that it’s time for a new roof? A: If you notice your shingles are curled, cracked or missing, or you find shingles on the ground, it’s time for an inspection. Age is also a big factor. If your roof is at least 20 years old, you may need a new roof. Are your neighbors getting new roofs? Homes built around the same time period and in the same location will experience the same types of weather conditions and natural wear. Did your neighborhood experience a hailstorm or high winds? You may have damage that is covered under your homeowner’s insurance. When in doubt, call a professional roofer for a free consultation. A professional can tell you how much life is left in your roof, if there is storm damage worthy of a filing a claim, and what action is recommended. Be careful, though. There are groups that I refer to as “storm chasers” that exclusively pursue insurance claims. These groups will encourage you to file a claim, whether there is one or not, which can increase your insurance rates. Make sure you are talking to someone

that has your best interest in mind. Q: Why should homeowners choose EZ Roof as their roofing contractor? A: EZ Roof is locally owned and operated, and has been in business for over 20 years. We are fully licensed and insured, and have worker’s compensation and general liability insurance. EZ Roof has an office and showroom located on Valleydale Road in Hoover. You can visit us in person and view real samples of the products we use. You can always put a face to the name. EZ Roof has a full-time staff, which means we do not subcontract out our work. You will always be getting someone reliable, professional and experienced on your job.

We also make payment easy. We do not collect anything up front, but rather upon completion and satisfaction of the job. Financing is also offered to help with the upfront expense of a new roof — including borrower-friendly plans like 12 months with no interest or payments*. We pride ourselves on our reputation and treating our customers like we would our own family. EZ Roof is top rated on professional roofing sites, has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and A rating with Angie’s List. I encourage you to read our reviews or even visit us in person to learn more. EZ Roof & EZ Restoration is located at 2078 Valleydale Road. For more information, call 968-1034 or visit

Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

April 2017 • B9


35 years of service and quality Issis & Sons has the furniture, flooring and more to turn your vision of your home into a reality. Owner Steve Issis began selling rugs and flooring 35 years ago. There are now two flooring stores in Greystone and Pelham and furniture galleries in Vestavia and Pelham, but Operations Manager Nancy Gowens said the mission of Issis & Sons has stayed the same. “What Issis was always focused on was service and quality,” Gowens said. In addition to home furniture, rugs and flooring, Issis & Sons also offers outdoor furniture, blinds, custom drapery and custom bedding. Gowens said most of their products are American-made by quality companies, and they choose sellers “who stand behind what they say, because that’s how Steve [Issis] built his reputation.” Issis & Sons is also committed to giving each customer a unique home, so Gowens said they don’t buy furniture pieces in bulk. “We try to carry unique pieces,” Gowens said. The company also provides design services at no cost to customers purchasing their products. Gowens said this is often the key to turning a great piece of furniture into a great room. “Most people, they know some things they like but they don’t know how to put it together,” Gowens said. “It’s hard to gauge what would look good in your home if you’re not accustomed to doing it every day.” Issis & Sons designers will make home visits to give advice on layout, color schemes, scale and more. Every designer

at Issis & Sons understands that their customers have different needs and wants, Gowens said, so the rooms they design always reflect the customer’s tastes. “It’s about the customer,” Gowens said. “Issis’ design team will help determine what your needs are.” Issis & Sons also offers many customized design services for clients looking to customize their furniture and white-glove delivery service. From in-home design to staff at their four locations, Gowens said superior service

has always set them apart. “Every job we do — it’s not a sale, it’s a relationship,” Gowens said. “We stay with you the whole way through.” After 35 years in business, Issis & Sons has developed a trustworthy reputation both in Birmingham and across the state. “You’re not going to have to worry, are they going to be there next year?” Gowens said. Gowens has been part of the business for more than 18 years, and she said her favorite part is the staff and the clients

she meets every day. In many cases, repeat clients become close friends. “Some of my best friends are my clients,” Gowens said. For homeowners ready to make a design change in their home, Gowens said to take time walking through one of the Issis & Sons stores. You can talk with designers and staff there and be confident that they will help find what you need and won’t waste your time. For more information about Issis & Sons’ locations, services and popular brands, visit

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Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

Vestavia Voice


There’s no place like KADCO Homes There’s no place like home, and KADCO Homes takes that phrase very seriously. KADCO Homes is a leader in the new construction business, and works to serve the Birmingham communities vigilantly and with detail, especially in the emerging communities in Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, Hoover and Trussville. They work to build new homes in new communities that Alabama residents can enjoy and be proud of. Custom-built, tailored homes are KADCO’s specialty. They work to provide a specialized experience for their clients and families. The staff provides a diverse selection of conveniences and features, and they aim to create the perfect environment that will lead to a lifetime of memories. KADCO first takes the budget of the prospective homeowner and then builders offer a wide variety of affordable, high-quality amenities for their home. KADCO’s knowledgeable and honest staff works to give prospective homeowners a competitively priced home, one that includes all the features that make the home comfortable and accessible. By delivering a high level of service on clients’ home projects, they have continued to serve the surrounding communities for the last three decades. KADCO Homes knows Birmingham is a fantastic and reputable community that continues to grow, and loves to share their decades of knowledge of the area with clients. They work to turn dreams into a reality. Our new homes are located in welcoming communities throughout the area, including: ► Mountain Brook: a community of 20,000 spread out over four charming villages ► Vestavia Hills: a growing city of 34,000 with a great central location ► Hoover: a sophisticated, bustling city of 84,000 with plenty to do ► Trussville: one of Alabama’s fastest-growing cities with a population of 20,000 Each community has its own fantastic identity. You can choose from a variety of lifestyles, including: ► The Cove at Overton: Homes starting in the $900s;

in Mountain Brook and Vestavia ► Calton Hill: Luxury Townhomes starting in the $450s, single family homes starting in the $800s; in Mountain Brook and Birmingham ► Rosemont: Homes starting in the $700s; in Vestavia ► Poe Drive at Overton Village: Homes starting in the high $500s; in Vestavia ► The Crossing at Deerfoot: Homes starting in the

$400s; in Trussville ► Barclay Terrace: Homes starting in the $300s; in Trussville Visit KADCO Homes at 3505 Bent River Road in Birmingham for assistance on building your dream home, or visit their website at for more information about the Birmingham communities and which one would be right for you. Call their office at 985-7171 or email them at

Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

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Who can resist a hometown story? A HOMETOWN LIKE NO OTHER Liberty Park is a familiar name among people seeking just the right place to live in Birmingham’s acclaimed suburb of Vestavia Hills. Located within 10 miles of downtown Birmingham and just 15 miles to Birmingham–Shuttlesworth International Airport, Liberty Park is an expertly designed, master-planned community spanning nearly 4,000 acres of rolling, richly wooded land graced with waterfalls, creeks and lakes.

LIBERTY PARK’S HISTORY OF HOME Since Liberty Park’s first family moved in nearly 25 years ago, Liberty Park has grown into a true hometown, with over 1,400 families now calling this amazing community home. Families from all across the country and abroad have chosen Liberty Park, not just for what is here at Liberty Park today, but also for all the promises of its very bright future.

WALKING TO SCHOOL IS BACK Liberty Park is proud to have two highly ranked Vestavia Hills schools within their community. With Liberty Park Elementary and Middle schools at home in Liberty Park, children can walk or ride their bikes to school. And because their classmates are also their neighbors, there’s a very special camaraderie to school life at Liberty Park. From special events to cheering on the sports teams, everyone at Liberty Park enjoys being involved.

A LIFESTYLE YOU’LL ALWAYS REMEMBER If there is just one thing that sets Liberty Park apart from every other community, it’s that Liberty Park is designed for friendships. From the community swim center and tennis center to the parks and playgrounds to the lakes and miles of walking trails to the sports complexes nearby, there’s always something fun to do together. And for those who love the game of golf, Old Overton Club, with its award-winning 18-hole golf course and refreshed clubhouse, is accepting full golf and social memberships.

NEIGHBORHOODS SIZED FOR HELLOS As a master-planned community, Liberty Park offers discreet and intimate neighborhoods, so you can choose your favorite style of home and setting. These smaller neighborhoods within the larger masterplanned community are designed to make it easier to meet your neighbors and enjoy the friendship of spontaneous gatherings. Liberty Park’s newest neighborhood, The Overlook, is scheduled to open this spring and will feature 52 stunning new homes from the mid $400s to $700s.

NEW HOMES TO LOVE To ensure you always find your dream home, Liberty Park presents new collections and new styles almost every year priced from the low $300s to over $600s. These always new and exciting homes feature

a variety of classically styled architecture and bright open interiors carefully planned for the way families really live. And each home is lavished with beautiful features, including the latest in energy saving features and smart home technology. So every home not only lives smarter and easier, they also live more efficiently. And that’s very good for your family and our planet.

WELCOME HOME For all the exciting news now happening at Liberty Park, the same wonderful qualities that have made it one of Birmingham’s best-selling master-planned communities are still here for everyone who believes a true hometown is still the best place to call home. For more information on Liberty Park, call 205-9456401 or visit

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Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

Vestavia Voice


Unique, specialized experience for customers Mantooth Interiors is known for providing its customers with the very best in home furnishings since 1973. Their impact, though, is hard to label. “We have been asked many times, ‘Are you a furniture store? A design store? A bed store?’ We like to say no to all that,” said Lynette Mantooth. “We are Mantooth — you have to experience us to understand.” Mantooth Interiors was originally known as The Brass Bed and opened in 1973 on Valley Avenue in Homewood. Founded by Larry Mantooth, his wife, Lynette, joined him in the business venture in 1986, 31 years ago. “We originally started as a brass bed shop and over the years have evolved into a full furniture, upholstery, linens, lamps, accessories and design services shop,” Mantooth said. Homewood has always been home for the business — but its location isn’t the only constant. “Another constant is the excitement to wake up every morning and still be energized to get into the shop,” Mantooth said. “You never know who you are going to meet or whose fabulous home you get to work with.” Built on a commitment to quality and service, Mantooth Interiors is fully staffed by interior designers who have the talent, creativity, and most importantly, the passion to create the perfect atmosphere for the perfect home. As Mantooth Interiors would say — their team has interior motives. “Working with our clients to create comfortable and inspirational environments

for living is what makes our design team excited every day,” Mantooth said. “So, when you meet us, don’t be surprised by how much we want to get to know you. Our desire to collaborate with you so your style appears in every detail of your home is what sets us apart.” Mantooth said her team values time with their clients. “We listen to them and form a plan as a team,” she said. “Listening to our clients helps us develop a design plan that is functional yet elegant and full of style with a bit of a wow factor. Our goal is that every home is a reflection of the homeowner, not the designer.” To that end, every piece of furniture or upholstery is chosen with the homeowner in mind — “every tiny detail,” Mantooth said — and Mantooth Interiors offers a multimillion dollar inventory with delivery usually occurring within a few days. “Our designers come out and help place your new purchase and incorporate your old with the new,” Mantooth said. The ultimate goal — in addition to fantastic home furnishings including fine furniture, drapery and window treatments, lighting, accessories, linens, metal beds, fine art, gifts, area rugs, and classic furniture — is friendship with customers, Mantooth said. “Some of our longest and dearest friends started out as clients,” she said. “We can’t wait to meet you.” Mantooth Interiors, 2813 18th St. S., is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 879-5474 or visit

Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

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We’ll help you shape up for spring Rocky Ridge Hardware has served their community for almost 30 years. It’s one of those rare places that still believes in the “old-fashioned” customer service more typical of days gone by. Yet they still stock everything needed for today’s home care and maintenance. “We focus on serving the homeowner, the do-ityourselfer and resolving any household issues they may be facing,” said owner Dan Moran. “We treat our customers like a member of the family. Our service is what sets us apart. Regardless of what you need, chances are we have it without the hassle of navigating a big box store.” Their plumbing and electrical sections have most anything a homeowner will need without having to wade through aisles of contractor and commercial materials. On their Facebook page, Rocky Ridge Hardware features regular tips, ideas and resources specifically for the homeowner, from creative uses for chalk paint to tips for weatherproofing. We asked Moran to share with us ways that homeowners can prepare their home for the colder months.


► Rake leaves and other debris out from around shrubs and plants. ► It’s a good time to put down a weed preventer around shrubs and in garden beds. ► Build up the grade around the foundation if anything has been washed away during the winter thaw. Sloping the grade away from the foundation can help prevent basement leaks. ► Clean out gutters of leaves and debris to ensure good water flow during spring and summer rains. A gutter wand that attaches to your hose allows you to clean gutters safely from the ground without climbing up a ladder. Also add downspout extensions to direct water from the gutter away from the foundation. ► Remove and wash screens. It’s also the best time of year to repair screens. Fix them before you need them in the summer. The last thing you want on

a hot summer night is a screen that won’t keep the mosquitoes out. ► For washing the exterior windows, homeowners can use Windex products designed to clean outdoor windows, or they can use a solution of water and dish soap. Use one tablespoon of soap per gallon of water. (Dawn tends to streak less than other brands.) Apply the solution with a long-handled sponge and then squeeze it off. ► It’s also easy to clean exterior siding. Use a siding cleaner that attaches to your garden hose. Spray the side of the house and let it soak for a little while, gently scrub and then rinse with the hose. ► Inside, spring is a great time of year to paint. It’s

cool with low humidity, and you can open the windows to get fresh air in the house.


► Rake out and re-seed dead spots. (Do not use fertilizer on new seed unless it is a labeled as a Starter Fertilizer.) ► Apply a fertilizer with crabgrass preventer to nonseeded areas. For more tips or information, call Rocky Ridge Hardware at 979-5444 or visit 3354 Morgan Drive, next to Western Supermarket. You can also find them on Facebook at

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Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

Vestavia Voice


On the cutting edge of real estate Real estate is a constantly changing world for homebuyers and sellers, so the team at NextHome Southern Realty stays on the cutting edge of technology. Jean and Ben Burford and Randy and Sharon McMichael purchased a NextHome franchise in 2016. The franchise is based out of California and this is the second Alabama NextHome firm. Ben Burford said NextHome appealed to them because it kept up with the latest in marketing tools and online information in the age of social media, mobile devices, online listing programs, electronic signatures and more. Buyers and sellers now have more information available to them online than ever before, and it can be hard to figure out how to use that data to find the perfect home or get the best price when selling your house. The NextHome team have the expertise to help their clients understand the tools they have at their fingertips. “We wanted to embrace this consumer knowledge, rather than try to deny the fact that the industry had changed drastically. We wanted to use our professional knowledge to properly assist and educate consumers and help them interpret the information they were getting properly,” Burford said. Instead of a percentage commission, NextHome works for a low fixed price and offers the experience of four professional Realtors plus marketing and professional photography. Burford added that the firm’s signage and branding, designed by the

internationally renowned Pentagram agency, helps homes listed by NextHome stand out from the crowd. “When listing their home with NextHome Southern Realty, homeowners save a substantial amount of their hard earned money, plus have all the advantages of full service professional Realtors,” Burford said. “Homeowners keep more of their money when listing with us.” Burford said NextHome combines modern tools with the high level of customer care that makes a difference in their clients’ buying or selling experience. All four Realtors are Birmingham natives and have an extensive knowledge of the area. Whether first-time or experienced homebuyers, Burford said the NextHome team is the right choice to help clients navigate the market; with negotiations, inspections, financing, mortgage rates and moving. NextHome is committed to bringing clients all the way from their initial search to happy homeowners. “NextHome Southern Realty strives to offer superior, professional service and to match a client with the perfect home for their needs,” Burford said. “Working with NextHome Southern Realty will save you money without sacrificing full service real estate service. Our agents work hard along the process to educate and guide sellers and buyers through the real estate process.” For more information, go to or call 881-1600.

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Helping to make your house a home Have you outgrown your home or are you ready to update the design? Call Phoenix Builders, and let them transform your house back into your home through small projects or extensive structural changes for a new, luxurious master bathroom or the perfect kitchen space. Stephen Boehme founded Phoenix Builders Group in 2015. He has 20 years of construction industry experience. His company works on everything from brand-new homes and additions to renovations and remodeling throughout the house. Brian Hart has recently joined the staff of Phoenix Builders. He brings many years of construction experience. Starting as a carpenter and working his way up to project manager, Hart has a wealth of experience with all phases of construction. Hart likes to say that nothing is more rewarding than giving someone the kitchen, bathroom, master addition or sometimes the complete new home they have worked so hard to achieve. Hart and Boehme have been friends since meeting in fourth grade at Hall-Kent Elementary in Homewood. With the return of warm weather, Boehme said homeowners are spending more time outdoors. His team is building new decks, screened-in porches and more across Birmingham to give homeowners the backyard space that’s perfect to relax, entertain or play. One trend this spring, Boehme said, is custom outdoor fireplaces and fire pits. “We do things right the first time. We want our customers to be satisfied with the job that we do for them and the budget,” Boehme said. There’s no need to feel like your home is dated or doesn’t fit your family’s

needs. The team at Phoenix Builders will meet with you to discuss your tastes and lifestyle to create a remodel that shows off what’s best about your house and make it fit your unique tastes. As their website says, “you can truly feel at home every time you walk in the door.” No matter the size of a project, Boehme said he enjoys working with homeowners to take their unique vision from paper to reality. “Every house is different, every homeowner is different,” he said.

Phoenix Builders Group serves all areas of greater Birmingham. Boehme’s two decades of industry experience also means he can find the best architects and sub-contractors in the area to bring a project to life. Boehme said Phoenix Builders’ experience, including in renovation or preservation of historic homes, enables them to give homeowners a cost estimate with confidence. “We give the customers one price that is realistic,” Boehme said. “We know

what we are doing, so we can give people good estimates with no surprises. We know what they need and we know what to look for when we approach a job and can assess it realistically.” He is committed to providing customers with quality work and honest communication. “We treat everyone the way we want to be treated,” Boehme said. For more information, visit or call Stephen Boehme at 966-0543.

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Vestavia Voice


Over 25 years of flooring expertise R&S Flooring has been in business since 1991. Birmingham is the second location for the company, the original being located in Nashville, Tennessee. We offer expert advice and analysis on all types of flooring projects. Our goal is simple: Provide the best service and selection of any flooring company in the area. Our continued growth has been a testament to our customer service and satisfaction. At R&S Flooring, we believe it should be all about you. Our main goal is to do everything possible to meet your flooring needs. With a vast selection of styles, we carry a complete line of products from the world’s leading manufacturers. We have experienced, quality-minded professionals in both residential and commercial markets. We install all types of hardwood floors and laminates for your home or office. Real estate agents agree that a nice hardwood floor does wonders to the value and appeal of a home on the market. Bring your home to life with hardwood floors and look no further than R&S Flooring. Our hardwood floor installation services include: ► solid and engineered pre-finished hardwood ► site finished hardwood ► custom stairs ► laminates ► luxury vinyl tile ► carpet ► tile Other services we offer include new installation of handrails, new installation of wooden newel posts and new

installation of iron and wooden spindles. All of our work has a limited warranty on all craftsmanship, in addition to the manufacturer’s warranty. With a new season upon us, customers tend to use the term “spring cleaning.” We recommend not using any products to clean your flooring that include wax-

based finishes. Over time, these products leave a residue film on your flooring and will eventually build up on your flooring’s finish. Simply be cautious with the products you use to clean your hardwood flooring. We would love to come look at any project and provide you with a free,

no hassle, in-home estimate. We offer interest-free financing for up to 12 months with approved credit. R&S Flooring is located at 4421 Creekside Ave., Suite 101, Hoover, Alabama, in Patton Creek Shopping Center. For more information, call 8813800.

Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

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Offering fast, reliable, experienced service For all your HVAC, plumbing and generator needs, Sentry Heating and Air Conditioning is committed to a simple policy: solutions, not excuses. Charlie Conklin founded Sentry in 1987 with a vision of providing fast, reliable service from qualified technicians any time of day or night. Sentry added plumbing services in 2003 with Michael Tortomase bringing 30 years of plumbing and management expertise to the company. Sentry offers sales and service work for a variety of heating, cooling, plumbing and electrical needs, both for residential and commercial properties. Sentry can also perform historic building restoration, light industrial HVAC service or replacement and design/build installations for commercial and light industrial properties. Lauren Conklin Trim, who works with her father at Sentry as the chief information officer, said their technicians can solve a variety of problems. They can help reduce homeowners’ energy bills with proper maintenance or updating inefficient equipment, as well as offer zone systems and variable capacity systems to customize the temperature in each room of the house. Sentry can also prevent small problems from becoming major hassles by finding and treating the source of water leaks, bad wiring and more. “By having proper maintenance done on your HVAC system, you can avoid costly and untimely breakdowns,” Lauren Conklin Trim said. On the side of each Sentry technician’s truck is the “Comfort Guard” shield, a symbol of the company’s commitment to

their customers’ quality of life. Lauren Conklin Trim said each client is part of the Sentry family. “Sentry prides itself in taking the time to do every job the right way the first time and going the extra mile to ensure every customer is happy with the work that was performed. You will always encounter clean, friendly and well-trained technicians when you call Sentry,” she said.

Just like a car, the HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems in your home need regular maintenance and service work. Lauren Conklin Trim recommended service calls twice a year to solve problems before they become serious. With spring in full swing, she also recommended that homeowners change their air filters monthly and make sure their HVAC systems are clean and

functioning at full force to help combat pollen and allergy season. “Regular maintenance can extend the life, warranty and efficiency of equipment,” Lauren Conklin Trim said. Sentry Heating, Air Conditioning, Plumbing and Electrical is located at 2490 Rocky Ridge Road. Visit or call 979-9864 for more information.

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Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

Vestavia Voice


Woerner Landscape introduces Palisades Zoysia, maintains quality standards Woerner Landscape is a company dedicated to its mission: To sell premium lawn grasses and landscaping products. Only the best will do for Woerner’s customers, and the company sets itself apart as a family-owned business committed to excellent customer service. “We pride ourselves on being able to provide the kind, personal attention you can expect from a family-owned business, while also being able to operate as a professional corporation that stands behind the quality of the products we offer,” said April Funk, president of Woerner Landscape. “Our company has multiple farms in multiple states which are still owned and operated by the Woerner family. Each year, the Woerner Companies research new and improved varieties of grasses that are being brought to the market so that we can offer our customers unique products not found elsewhere.” Woerner recently has retained licenses to grow and sell two new varieties of Zoysia — Palisades Zoysia and Toccoa Green® (‘BA-305’ Zoysia)*. “We are really impressed and excited about the Palisades Zoysia,” Funk said. Palisades Zoysia is a medium to coarse textured turf noted for its shade tolerance and comparably low water requirements. It is a high-density turf that is especially suited for home lawns. It known as a “friendly” grass due to its impressive establishment rate, and it has proven itself to be an excellent choice for lowmaintenance landscapes. Due to its low light requirements, it has become useful when there is a need to address shady

areas in the landscape. It has reasonably good salt tolerance and is best known for its low water use, low light conditions and rapid recuperative ability. Newly planted Palisades Zoysia should be watered daily and soaked thoroughly to a depth of 3 inches for the first two weeks to avoid dry-out. Then, the amount of water should be reduced but the daily frequency should be maintained for the

following two weeks or until the lawn is established. Once the lawn is established, watering needs will vary based upon the type of soil present. It is always best to mimic the environment by watering heavier every few days rather than watering lightly every day. Established Palisades Zoysia is considered to be a drought-tolerant grass. Established Palisades Zoysia lawns

should be mowed every week during the growing season with optimum mowing height of 1.5 to 2 inches with a rotary mower or half-inch to 1.5 inch with a reel mower. When maintained as a golf course fairway or sports field, Palisades Zoysia will require mowing approximately twice per week with a reel mower at heights ranging from half-inch to 7/8 inches. An established Palisades Zoysia lawn should be fertilized with 3 to 4 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet for a high-quality maintained turf, to a more modest 1.5 to 3 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet for a high-quality, lowmaintenance turf per year. Woerner is also known as a premium supplier of landscape material such as sod, natural stone, pavers, plants, mulches, bulk material and pinestraw; they also deliver anywhere in the Birmingham area. Their aim, as it always has been, is to provide the best customer service possible. “Woerner Landscape Source strives to provide the best service, products and expert knowledge to both retail and wholesale consumers,” Funk said. “With the help of our customers’ feedback, we can and will continue to improve and innovate our business to better serve our customers and help them succeed at building stunning outdoor spaces.” Woerner Landscape, 10 Greenhill Parkway, is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call 981-4496 or visit

Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section


Build your dream home in one stop with Wedgworth’s expertise

Mike Wedgworth started Wedgworth Construction Company Inc. in 1979 doing remodeling and single-family homes. In the mid-1980s, it moved from remodeling to single-family-home custom construction exclusively. It added a land development and real estate company during the 1980s and became a one-stop shop to develop the land, build the home and market the home. In the 1990s, the company began doing the design build on its own lots, as well as continuing custom building on owner sites throughout the Over the Mountain area. The company’s main emphasis is design-building on its own lots, marketed by Wedgworth Realty and other real estate companies. Its neighborhoods include Viridian in Vestavia Hills; Glen Manor in Jefferson County surrounded by Vestavia Hills and Rocky Ridge Village; and Village Place in Mountain Brook near Crestline Village. “We work with clients to design and build their custom home,” said office manager/marketing director Patty Leeming, who has been with the company for 14 years. “First, we help them select their lot from one of our subdivisions, then we work with them to design their custom plan. Finally, we walk them though the building process with one of the Wedgworth team at each meeting to help them with their selections.” Wedgworth’s architect is semi-retired and designs home plans for the company and one other builder, she said. He has a history of designing homes in the Birmingham area and has been published in Southern Living and many other publications. Honey Miller is Wedgworth’s designer, and she has worked with the company for more than 20 years, Leeming said.

She knows the process and helps clients with all their decorative finishes and space planning. “She is very good at making sure their existing furniture does not look out of place in their new home,” Leeming said. All Wedgworth employees are involved during the home building process in sync as a team. The company has built more than 400 custom homes in Birmingham’s Over the Mountain area. Leeming assists the decorator helping with selections and keeps clients on their target budget. Patrick Gilbert, vice president of operations, oversees the aspect of implementing all the products chosen for the new home. Dillon Watts, superintendent, is on site managing the building of the homes. Wedgworth Corporation works hard when they give a client pricing on a home to have all possible items included. Doing few allowances, most products are listed, but the ones that are not, figures from previous houses are used to get a realistic allowance. “We are, to my knowledge, the only company that offers the entire building package in one package,” Mike Wedgworth said. “Our package includes the lot, the interim financing, the architect, the engineering, surveying, the landscape architect and the interior designer all in one lock-and-key package. All you have to do is pay.” Mike Wedgworth said he believes satisfaction is finding raw land and having a vision of a community, developing the raw land into lots and designing homes for each lot and buyer, then going back at the end seeing the final developed and occupied community. For more information, visit

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Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section


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Landscaping with attention to detail Gardner Landscaping, serving Birmingham, is focused on providing homeowners and businesses with quality service. The professionals at Gardner Landscaping remember the details and how you want it done. “You can count on us to have the job done to your specifications,” owner Grant Gardner said. “Gardner Landscaping’s ultimate goal is to ensure your satisfaction. Each job is uniquely designed to suit the individual customer’s needs.” Gardner Landscaping employees are experienced and motivated to make sure their customers are satisfied. They have the ability to make any landscape look better and are very creative in their landscape design. All of Gardner Landscaping services are performed with the personalized attention to detail you deserve. The company is a full-service landscape company, and they are licensed and insured. They strive to

provide you with landscaping that you will be proud of and will increase your property value. “We work with all types of budgets and landscapes,” Gardner said. “Whether your landscaping needs are in Birmingham, or the surrounding area, we can meet those needs.” Spring 2017 is especially important for landscaping. “We want to be able to focus on replacing things that were lost in the drought at an affordable rate,” said Gardner. “We provide hardscape, drainage and landscape expertise. We can also do sprinkler system repair to make sure it is ready for spring.” Gardner Landscaping provides a number of other services as well to keep the landscaping process as low maintenance as possible for their customers. For more information, call Gardner Landscaping at 401-3347 or visit their website at

Eager to meet your yard’s needs Advanced Turf Care provides services in Birmingham and the surrounding area. Advanced Turf Care is a full service lawn care company that can provide all of your lawn needs. They care about the local community and they are “here to serve you.” Advanced Turf Care provides the highest quality lawn care. “We do this by having some of the best employees in the industry,” said Grant Gardner, owner of Advanced Turf Care. Advanced Turf Care will work with you to develop the type of lawn you expect. They will keep your landscape in excellent condition because they know how important curb appeal is to you and the value of your property. “Just as your lawn needs fertilization and protection from pests, so do

your shrubs and trees,” Gardner said. “Losing a tree or shrub can be a big loss and change the whole look to your landscaping. Protect your investment by letting us take care of your trees and shrubs.” Gardner said that turf maintenance is especially important this spring. “This spring we are really trying to take care of the turf that went through the fall without water,” Gardner said. “We are encouraging core aeration to get the nutrients back into the soil after the nutrients were dried up during the drought. Core Aeration drills holes in the turf, which allows water and nutrients to get directly to the root systems.” For more information, please call 3057949 or visit the Advanced Turf website at

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Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section



Rent for events to save money and lower stress Planning any event can be expensive (and stressful); however, there are ways to alleviate some of that. Renting items you need for your event can save you money, and by working with an event professional, their knowledge and experience will lower your stress level as well. That is where Aabco Rents Party & Event Division can help. With more than 30 years’ experience, their staff can help make your event spectacular. Renting also helps you stretch your budget. Aabco Rents has the equipment and experience necessary to assist in planning your event from start to finish — plus working with a rental professional can help you with ideas and trends. Their inventory is impressive. They have a large inventory of tables, chairs, linens, dishes, flatware, stemware, chafers, food service equipment, BBQ grills, tents, dance floors, staging, concession items such as popcorn, sno-cone and cotton candy machines, and much more. It is easy to see why their client list includes some of Birmingham’s top caterers, event planners, wedding planners, schools, churches, universities and businesses. Even though they supply equipment for many of Birmingham’s largest events, they also work with individuals on private events, large or small. The staff at Aabco Rents can assist with room layout, table sizes, linen choices, tent sizes and much more. Mike Nelson and his professional staff can do CAD layouts for your venue or

Find your dream home with an agent with years of experience event site to help determine your guest capacity and layout options. When lack of space is an issue, they have a full line of tents available that can turn unusable space to usable. If you think you may need a tent, they can come to your site free of charge to determine feasibility and size. Delivery and pickup of your items is available, plus an optional afterhours service for those circumstances when timing is critical. To save money and reduce your stress on your next event, contact one of the event consultants at Aabco Rents and let them assist in planning your perfect event. Aabco Rents Party and Event Division is located at 201 Industrial Drive. For more information, visit or call 942-4950.

Amy Owen Lawson grew up around real estate her whole life. Selling homes is just a way of life for this yearly Top Producer for RealtySouth. “Personally, I feel like I specialize in contract negotiations,” she said, adding that knowing the market on the level she does goes a long way in helping clients. “Also, thinking outside the box when an issue arises, that’s another strength I incorporate into my business. I think my law degree and prior experience has really helped with that. I am also very accessible to my clients, which they always say they appreciate.” Her dad, grandfather, aunts and uncles all worked in the business, and her family owned Owen Realty. Even though she promised herself that she would never sell real estate after watching her whole family’s time-consuming work schedule, she couldn’t help but get caught up in

the excitement of assisting people in landing their dream homes. She graduated from the business school at the University of Alabama and proceeded to get her JD from the university as well. Lawson was also an in-house attorney for the University of Alabama and now volunteers as an advisor for AGD. Lawson first got started selling vacation homes after building a lake house on Smith Lake. Clients started asking her to list their homes in Birmingham, so she eventually started predominantly listing and selling in the Birmingham area. “My biggest homeowner tip for my Birmingham clients is to prioritize maintaining your property,” she said. “The Birmingham market is booming, and you will see the return.” For more information, call 215-0284 or email

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Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section



Family-owned, experienced and personal service Jason Brewer, owner of Brewer Cabinets, has been in the business, well, as long as he can remember. “I literally grew up in a cabinet shop,” he said. His parents opened Brewer Cabinets in 1982, and the company is proud to be family owned and operated. But Jason Brewer isn’t the only one with ample experience in the field — his other two designers, Jerry Romano and Mark Gore, have been in the business for 40 and 20 years, respectively, and his installers, Tim McLeroy and Harold Hanks, have 35 and 30 years of experience, respectively. They also recently brought in a designer in training, Katlyn Blankenship. “Versus the big box stores, we have far more experience in design and installation and are still less expensive and offer more personal attention,” Jason Brewer said. “Versus a custom shop, we offer a more durable finish that is more consistent with a better warranty. All of our cabinets are made to order.” Brewer Cabinets designs, sells and

Vestavia Voice

installs kitchen and bath cabinets and countertops and provides a quality product at a fair price. Brewer said one of his frequent challenges is creating his clients’ dream look within their budget. Finding the right people to do the job can make a world of difference in how the project turns out. “Hire a good contractor. It will make the project go quicker. If you contract it yourself, one mistake could cost as much as you would have paid a contractor,” Brewer said. The team at Brewer cabinets takes pride in what they are able to offer their clients. “I enjoy creating and designing something beautiful and functional, then seeing the finished product, especially when the customer is so proud of their new kitchen that they send me pictures or brag to their friends,” he said. Brewer Cabinets, 1553 Montgomery Highway, is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.5 p.m. For more information, call 942-4000 or visit

Over 30 years of quality service Joe Brocato, the owner of Cahaba Lawn, is proud to say his customer base has grown from first generation to servicing their third generation families in Birmingham. “We never sell anything from a box, we always assemble it ourselves and start it up before you walk out the door with it,” he said. Cahaba Lawn has been open for over 30 years in the same location, selling everything from handheld blowers and chainsaws to trimmers and backpack blowers. They repair and stock parts for almost all equipment brands, even if not sold in their store. Springtime is when Cahaba Lawn gets their rush of business, so they make sure to start out the sunny season fully stocked with parts, equipment and engines and have early sales specials. They recommend bringing your equipment in early for your annual tune up, even before spring actually starts, so your equipment will be in top condition to begin the season and to avoid the spring rush. “I like the feeling of helping the

community. Advice is free here, and we will always guide you in the right direction,” Brocato said. The entire Cahaha Lawn team annually attend service schools and hold certifications for engine and equipment repair, which keeps their knowledge base fresh and up to date. “Buy quality, it pays off in the long run,” Brocato said, referring to ECHO and Snapper. A major advantage to buying ECHO or Snapper products — besides their great performance and durability — is they have some of the best equipment warranties in the industry. Snapper has a 3-year warranty and ECHO has a 5-year warranty. These products are work horses, and once you use them, you’ll find you won’t look back. Cahaba Lawn also takes special care to make sure everything is easy to crank for all their customers with varying strengths. Cahaba Lawn, 3940 Cypress Dr., is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to noon. For more information, call 967-7091.

Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

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Unlock your gardening potential

Committed to quality home improvement Since 1997, One Man & a Tool Box has been helping people with a variety of home improvement projects and repairs. “The company was started to fill a void in the market to provide professional contracting services for jobs too small for a general contractor to do. In many cases, small handymantype projects are done by unskilled, unlicensed, uninsured people working out of their trucks going from job to job — many times not completing jobs as they go, or not standing behind jobs after they are complete,” said Jay Moss, owner. One Man & a Tool Box is insured and bonded to further protect customers. “We offer carpentry, painting, minor plumbing, electrical, pressure washing, roof and gutter repair, appliance installation, drywall repair, door and

window repair and more,” he said. Spring is the perfect time to take care of home maintenance issues. One Man & a Tool Box’s affordable hourly rates can fit any budget. “We are a 19-year-old company,” said Moss. “We have invested in technology and skill enhancement of our technicians to ensure jobs are done timely and professionally.” Their technicians are skilled and professional. They pride themselves on getting the job done well and on time. “We have multiple technicians, so if you think a job is too large for one man and a toolbox, you can have two men and more if the job requires it,” he said. They service not only Birmingham, but Montgomery, Tuscaloosa and Gadsden as well. For information, call 823-2111 or visit

Some people feel limited in their gardening ability due to limitations in their space, but Charlie Thigpen’s Garden Gallery is working to show everyone their gardening potential. Located in Pepper Place, this garden gallery sells more than plants — “We want to sell success,” said owner Charlie Thigpen. “We want to help people purchase plants that will successfully grow in their environment.” A great way to incorporate plants, even without a yard, is through container gardening. “Container gardening is the easiest way to add a punch of color to your landscape,” he said. “In sun or shade, you can incorporate colorful combinations of flowers, foliage or both to make your home more inviting.” Containers can be placed around entryways or other areas where you and guests can enjoy them, Thigpen said. They are also a simple way to start gardening — just choose the right planter to fit your space, select a quality potting soil and pick out the right plants for the right areas. “Even if you don’t have a yard and live in a loft or an apartment, you still can garden if you have a patio or balcony,” Thigpen said. “It might be a small window box attached to a railing, but if you have enough room for a planter you have enough room to grow plants.” Charlie Thigpen’s aims to help novice

gardeners learn and work with more seasoned gardeners, providing new and improved selections of plants each year. These plants can help even experienced gardeners expand their pallet, Thigpen said. The shop also carries a large selection of planters, annuals, perennials, shrubs and other items. “People always come in the shop looking for ideas, and we love helping them come up with creative solutions to their gardening and landscape needs,” Thigpen said. The shop also sells non-garden options, which Thigpen said attracts individuals looking for present ideas. “The name of our shop is Charlie Thigpen’s Garden Gallery, so besides plants, we have lots of art objects, and most of it is locally created,” Thigpen said. “Our shop has also become a source for gifts. Each week we have customers who come in looking for a special gift, and we wrap it for free.” For more information, visit or call 328-1000.


C APRIL 2017

Sports C4 Events C9 Community C15 Real Estate C17 Calendar C18

GIRL-POWERED Amrita Arora, Becca Maddox, Nancy Chen, Madison Johnson and coach Dena Moncrief stand with their trophy at the state level of the VEX robotics competition. Photo courtesy of Dena Moncrief.

By ERICA TECHO This month, Pizitz Middle School will send its first team to VEX Worlds, an international robotics competition. The Stargazers, made up of sixth-graders Nancy Chen and Becca Maddox and seventh-graders Amrita Arora and Madison Johnson, are in their first year of competition. “It was a bit shocking because, at the beginning, I didn’t even really expect to be able to do this, seeing that it was our first year,” Maddox said. Even though the Stargazers might stand out in their robotics class and at competitions as an all girls team, Arora said they did not start the season hoping to be treated differently. As the season has progressed, however, she hopes other girls are encouraged by their progress. “I feel like, being an all girls team isn’t different from being on an all guys team or being on a girls-and-guys team,” Arora said, “but I feel like if we go to Worlds and we get noticed, it will help draw more girls into engineering and robotics and these kinds of fields.” When the four girls started in her robotics class, career and technology teacher Dena Moncrief said she made sure to put them on the same team, so they didn’t get lost in the shuffle with the boys. Having them progress to Worlds, she said, shows a strong message. “To me, it’s very powerful. It lets the boys know that, ‘Hey, girls can do the exact same thing. We can actually do the same thing and do it better,’” Moncrief said. “At the state

competition, another all girls team, but they were high schoolers, they won the excellence award at the high school level. So, I mean it’s girl power.” Pizitz had three teams make it to state-level competition, where they competed against high school teams. In addition to completing tasks with their robots, the students complete a notebook that explains their work and an in-person interview with judges. Teams are judged on all of those tasks combined, so it takes more than a good robot to succeed.

“They’re using all the skills they learn in their core classes in robotics,” Moncrief said. “They use math because they have to figure out exact measurements, angles and all kinds of things. They’re using their science for gear ratios and their writing skills.” The Stargazers’ notebook helped them advance to the next level, Moncrief said, and the girls are continuing to work on improving their robot. After each level of competition, Arora said they have worked to change something in their coding or construction.

All-girl Pizitz Middle School robotics team traveling to Worlds “We want to have something new and unexpected every time,” Arora said. “Because a lot of times, the robots we compete with, they’re awesome — they have powerhouse robots in the matches — but they don’t really change. I feel like that’s one of the things that holds a lot of teams back; they want to stick to the standard design. So we want to try to come out of our comfort zones.” At Worlds, most teams will try to be twice as good, Arora said, so the Stargazers aim to be four times as good. Their team aims to have a robot that is outside of the norm, Chen said, differentiating how components like their catapult operates. “And not only in the way the catapult works, but the way that the robot looks,” Maddox said. “Some of their things, their wires are everywhere, but we try to keep ours clean. We also call it ‘bedazzling’ our robot; we put a little license plate thing on the front of it just for fun.” VEX Worlds 2017 is April 19-22 in Lexington, Kentucky. While they hope to return to Pizitz with a trophy, Arora said they also serve as an example to other girls seeking to join the world of robotics. “I feel like a lot of people have this misconception that you have to be a genius to be in robotics, but here we are in our first year, going from nothing to going to Worlds,” Arora said. “I think how far we’ve come would be something that would make girls less reluctant to join because they don’t feel like they can measure up.”

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Vestavia Voice

April 2017 • C3

C4 • April 2017

Vestavia Voice

Sports Rebel wrestlers notch state title with 1st-year coach Rebel wrestlers are shown with the Class 7A state trophy. The championship marked the second consecutive one for Vestavia. Photo courtesy of Racheal Noland.

By KYLE PARMLEY The Vestavia Hills High School wrestling team was not satisfied with just sending former coach Steven Gaydosh out with a championship in 2016. The Rebels backed up the feat in 2017 with a second consecutive Class 7A state championship, this one under first-year coach Tee Adams. The title, notched on Feb. 18 at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, marked the 15th for Vestavia, the most in AHSAA history. Adams led the Rebels to 131.5 points in the tournament Feb. 16-18. Vestavia Hills’ output was enough to edge crosstown rival Hoover, who finished second with 107.5 points. Thompson finished third with 97 and Hewitt-Trussville came home fourth in 7A with 94 points. James Edwards reeled in the state title in the 220-pound division, as he finished off a perfect 41-0 season with a win over Sparkman’s Branden Moore in the final. Edwards defeated Spain Park’s Jaxon Bast in the quarterfinals before notching a win over Bob Jones’ Seth Dupree to reach the final. Edwards’ twin brother, Jacob, competed in the heavyweight division, and nearly came away with a title as well. Jacob Edwards won by fall over Prattville’s Connor Knight and won by decision over Zackary Cangelosi from Sparkman to reach the final against a familiar foe: Hoover’s Austin Carter. Both have faced off on the football field many times throughout their high school days, as the Edwards twins — who will both walk on to play football at Clemson — played on the defensive line opposite Carter on the offensive line at Hoover. On the wrestling mat, Carter took home the title in a 5-2 decision to win the heavyweight

crown and deny the twins the double dip. Jacob Edwards was one of four Vestavia wrestlers to finish second in their respective weight divisions. Alex Thomas came home as the runner-up in the 120-pound division; Jack Stoves came home second in the 145-pound division, and Bowman Hill achieved the same result in the 160-pound category. Thomas won by fall over Tyler Tanaka of Auburn and won a 7-1 decision over

Thompson’s Emmanuel Oliver in the semifinals. Hewitt-Trussville’s Stone Barden knocked him off in the final in a tight 6-4 decision. Stoves beat Hoover’s Jacob Brady in the quarterfi nals and Grissom’s Jonathan Handy in the semifinals but fell to another Hewitt-Trussville wrestler, Conner Smith, in the final. Hill pinned Hoover’s Robert Rudolph and Prattville’s Jeffery Mooney to reach the final,

where he was defeated by Oak Mountain’s Barrett Blakely in the 160-pound championship. Spencer Haddock (152-pound division) and Zachary Nelson (170) each fell in the semifinals but rebounded to win the consolation semifinal and third-place match. Peter Dazzio (138) and Rob Barrentine (182) placed fourth, while Nathaniel Nailen (126) and Murphy McCallum (132) also contributed to the state title.

April 2017 • C5

Perseverance and improvement key to Rebel Final Four run By KYLE PARMLEY

Vestavia High School boys basketball takes on Auburn during an AHSAA Class 7A State Finals match on March 2 at the Legacy Arena of the BJCC. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.

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In the moment, the Rebels were disappointed. After narrowly falling short against Auburn, 44-37, in the Class 7A State Semifinals on March 2 at the BJCC’s Legacy Arena, the Vestavia Hills High School boys basketball team was not happy, but it could appreciate the journey the Rebels took in Patrick Davis’ first year at the helm of the program. “It’s been a great ride. It was awesome,” said Mac Smith, a senior who finished his Vestavia career with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Vestavia Hills was a team that, early in the season, did well to cut a double-digit lead against Auburn at the Steel City Invitational to just a few points. But after a great deal of improvement throughout the year, that result left the Rebels feeling like they should have done more. “As the year went on, coach Davis made us believe we could do it,” Mitchell Langley said. From where they started to where they finished, the Rebels’ run was truly something to celebrate. “I could not be more proud of this group,” Davis said. “When we started, it was bad. But the guys came to work and were committed each day.” In the game, Auburn and Vestavia went back-and-forth for much of the first half as Langley converted a 3-pointer to tie the game at 16 before Auburn took a 19-16 halftime edge. Auburn took control of the game with a strong third quarter and led 34-28 heading into the final period. But the Rebels responded by starting the quarter with seven straight points, and even took a brief lead with four minutes

to play. But Auburn executed down the stretch and held on with free throws. Scott Morrison said this year’s team will be remembered for its bond on and off the court. “The best thing about this team is that we were best friends. We fought for each other,” he said. Vestavia graduates seven seniors in Smith, Tucker Queen, Conner Rohling, Langley, David Wood, Grant Belcher and Jake Awbrey. The Rebels’ road to get to the Final Four featured a run through the Northwest Regional not many could have predicted. Vestavia faced Bob Jones in the regional semifinal Feb. 16, the winner of the Class 7A, Area 8 tournament. Vestavia jumped out of the gate hot in that contest, knocking down six 3s in an impressive first-half performance, and held on to win the game, 58-43. Bob Jones threatened a few times in the second half, but the Rebels held the Patriots at bay each time and maintained a comfortable lead. The win set up a fourth matchup with Area 5 rival Hoover in the regional final. Vestavia Hills led for the majority of the first matchup between the two teams, ultimately falling victim to a poor final quarter, but Hoover won the second and third games comfortably. The Rebels came out Feb. 21 and completely turned the tables, using a 50-percent shooting performance coupled with strong defense to win 58-47, to win the Northwest Regional. The game was tight most of the way, but a big opening to the fourth quarter gave the Rebs a lead they would cling tightly to until the final horn. The season marked the Rebels’ first trip to the Final Four since 2011.

C6 • April 2017

Vestavia Voice


By KYLE PARMLEY Versatility is one of the most important parts of a player’s skill set for Vestavia Hills High School softball coach Lissa Walker. Instead of having nine players on the field at once who can each play one position and one position only, she wants multiple players who can move around at a moment’s notice should the need arise. This year’s Rebel team is no different and has a number of prime examples that can attest to her insistence on having contributing pieces capable of shuffling the deck. RaeAnn King and Kate Meloun were starting infielders on last year’s Vestavia Hills team that advanced to the state tournament and went home with a third-place finish in Class 7A. Both were more than adequate at third base and second base, respectively, but this year has brought change. In the early stages of this season, neither King nor Meloun could be found in the same spots. The emergence of freshman Mary Claire Wilson prompted a shuffle in the lineup. With Wilson logging the majority of the innings at third base, King moved over to second base, a new position for her at the high school level. Meloun has found herself in left field quite a bit, which is not nearly as drastic of an adjustment, as she played outfield during her summers playing travel ball. Her move to second base last year actually came as a way to help the team, so the concept is not foreign to her. One other player adjusting to a new position this season is Addie Bean, who has played in the middle infield her entire softball career until

Walker sent her to right field the first day of practice. After splitting time with the junior varsity and varsity teams a season ago, with her varsity action primarily coming as a pinch runner, Bean saw the move as a way to get on the field and increase her value to the team. “I knew there weren’t that many positions on the infield that I could fill, and I wanted to play on varsity, so I had to adapt to what the team needed and where I could help the team,” she said. As far as adjusting to the outfield, Meloun noted the differences between fielding the ball on the dirt as opposed to in the grass, but has found the transition fairly comfortable. Bean has had to learn a completely new set of fundamentals on the green expanse. “It’s all different,” she said. “The way you approach the ball, the way you throw the ball, the way you have to go throughout playing the game and knowing where to go in each situation.” Senior center fielder Ashley Dieguez aids Bean by being right beside her when Bean is in right field, something that King also benefits from in the infield. Although she played on the same side of the infield as shortstop Merritt Cahoon, King now relies on Cahoon greatly with the two now being double-play partners. “That’s perfect, since we’ve played together since middle school,” King said. “With me being put at second, everyone likes me there. We’ve always worked together.” All three have embraced their position changes and have increased their value to the team in the process, allowing Walker the roster

RaeAnn King is shown in a game against Sumiton Christian on March 14. She is one of a few Rebels adjusting to new positions this season. Photo by Kyle Parmley.

flexibility in the event of needed or forced change. “She throws us into a position, that way we can get comfortable in case later on in the

season, something happens,” Meloun said. “That way you’re not like, ‘Oh my gosh, the season’s ruined, we don’t have anyone there.’”

April 2017 • C7

Left: Taylor Korn is shown in a game against Hoover on March 10. She is one of the Rebels' top goal scorers. Right: Midfielder Kathryn Brakefield is one of the Rebels’ senior leaders this spring. Photos by Todd Lester.

Goals achievable for Rebel soccer team


Last season was all Vestavia Hills High School girls soccer coach Brigid Littleton could ask for. A team loaded with motivation, talent and potential put all three of those factors together and barreled through the competition to earn the Class 7A state championship. Littleton’s crew went 23-2 over the 2016 campaign, defeating Auburn 3-0 in the state final and holding the opposition to just one shot on goal while earning the program’s fourth state title and third under Littleton (2005 and 2007). “That was one of the most rewarding seasons I’ve ever been a part of,” Littleton said, who won a handful of coach of the year awards as leader of a team that was ranked No. 1 nationally by MaxPreps at season’s end.

Littleton said the 2016 group would have “torn down a brick wall to win” after how the 2015 season concluded. In the second round of the 2015 postseason, Oak Mountain defeated the Rebels in a 13-round shootout. “Their determination after we lost in 13 penalty kicks the year before, they wanted it so bad,” Littleton said. In August, the senior leaders approached Littleton and wanted to lay down the team’s goals immediately. “They got the team together and gave them their expectations before I even got a chance to give them mine. I didn’t have to do a whole lot of pushing for workouts,” she said. “I never had to count reps. The effort was high, and it always met my expectations.” That drive is all part of the culture Littleton has built at Vestavia Hills. “This is my 13th year at Vestavia. Building

a program over the years, you put in guidelines and a belief system and principles. To see all that come to fruition last year was awesome.” This year’s elder statesmen saw the determination from last year’s crew and have attempted to do the same so far. “They’re ready to play and all working together as a team, and our leadership is very strong and very demanding,” Littleton said. “They hold everybody accountable, and it takes a lot of weight off my shoulders.” Despite losing a large portion of last year’s team, those principles have carried over into the 2017 season, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Vestavia lost its entire back line of defense and goalkeeper. While it has been a bit of an adjustment for Littleton to train some new players who had yet to play her style of defense before this season, she is encouraged by what she has.

“They’re coachable,” she said. “I can do anything with a player that has a good attitude, and everyone has that. It’s going well right now. We’re not where we want to be, but we’ll get there.” Anna Hogewood and Kathryn Brakefield have begun the season controlling the midfield for the Rebels. Cambree Kennedy, Taylor Korn (who scored eight goals in the first four games) and Faith Hauberg were also among Vestavia’s top performers early in the season. “I think this team can meet all of its goals,” Littleton said. “But you know how it goes late in the season. Who’s healthy; who’s hot? We’ll see.” The Rebels got off to a hot start, starting 10-1-2 in their first 13 games, with eight of those wins coming in shutout fashion, and Hewitt-Trussville the only setback.

C8 • April 2017

Vestavia Voice

Next stage of library’s makerspace construction nears By SYDNEY CROMWELL The Library in the Forest is continuing to work toward making its “makerspace” goal a reality, with the next phase of the project set to begin this spring. The Library Foundation began fundraising in December 2015 to build a makerspace, which would be a section of the library for people to learn about and use equipment for 3-D printing, vinyl or laser cutting, photography and audio work and other crafting tools. It also could include technology for virtual reality, programming and simple circuitry. In place of the library cafe, the makerspace will offer classes in using the equipment as well as open times for members to work on their own creative projects. Library Foundation Executive Director Cinnamon McCulley said the makerspace could be something small and simple or large and include expansion and exterior changes, depending on fundraising and patron interest. The cost for “everything under the sun,” including remodeling part of the building and relocating the study rooms to make room for the makerspace, would be about $400,000. While they haven’t reached that benchmark, McCulley said that doesn’t stop the library from making improvements along the way. Library Director Taneisha Tucker recently received a $20,000 grant to purchase two 3-D printers, a vinyl cutter and some photography and audio equipment, adding to some tools that the library already had. “You can’t have a class of 15 people and have one 3-D printer,” Tucker said. The foundation has nearly reached the $25,000 in funding needed to construct glass walls inside the library to enclose the makerspace area. This will separate the quieter areas of the library from activity in the makerspace, as well as provide multipurpose rooms for other groups outside of maker classes. Tucker said the library is getting bids from

The Library in the Forest’s 3-D printer in action. Photo by Sydney Cromwell.

construction companies to start the project this spring. Tucker said they are moving “one project at a time” and the next step, when fundraising has reached the right level, will likely be creation of a photography and audio studio. While donations have come in slower than she and McCulley had initially hoped in 2016, Tucker said she thinks visible signs of the makerspace project will help remind people.

“I think the patrons will like it once they see it,” Tucker said. “We’ve had some great support. We just need a great deal more,” McCulley said. Right now, the library is not planning an increase in technology and maker-related programs until they see if patron demand rises, as Tucker said that would require hiring more staff. However, the Library in the Forest is always trying to offer something new for

its patrons, Tucker said. With more than 600 programs a year, there’s always plenty going on. “The question is: Where will you find the space?” Tucker said. The calendar of maker and tech classes is available at tech-calendar. Find out more about the Library Foundation’s fundraising efforts at

April 2017 • C9


Rotary picnic to bring first responders, community together By EMILY FEATHERSTON Sunrise Rotary members and Vestavia’s first responders are hoping the weather April 22 will be clear and sunny for the 2017 America’s First Vestavia First Responders Celebration. The event, at City Hall from 3 to 6 p.m., is a time not only for the Rotary to reach out and thank Vestavia’s police, fire and other emergency personnel, but VHFD Lt. Ryan Farrell said it’s also a time for those personnel to meet with the community at a time other than an emergency. “It’s something we look forward to every year,” Farrell said. Rotary President Andy Tunnell said this year’s event will be similar to previous years, and America’s First Federal Credit Union is again sponsoring the event. The afternoon will consist of a low-country boil, prepared by Rotary volunteers, as well as a chance for families to explore first responder team equipment, such as a VHFD ladder truck and an ambulance. Farrell said the event is also a good time for the different emergency teams to spend a few hours together outside of work, which is important for team building. “We’re really a big family,” he said. “It gives us an opportunity to be with the law enforcement folks outside of responding to emergency calls.” In addition to the trucks and emergency vehicles, there also will be plenty of activities for kids and the young at heart to enjoy, including corn hole, inflatables, clowns, basketball and a video-game truck. A live band will perform during the low-country boil. Tunnell said the event also allows the Rotary and greater community to provide for Vestavia’s first responders in a tangible way.

Rotary members will prepare a low-country boil as part of the annual first-responders celebration at City Hall. Photos by Emily Featherston.

Each year, the group donates a piece of equipment the teams might not be able to get otherwise, which last year included a set of state-of-the-art quad-copter drones. This year, Tunnell said VHFD would like

a roller for a large-diameter hose and some night-vision equipment. Farrell said the city’s first responders were grateful to the Rotary for providing both the equipment and an afternoon of fun.

The celebration is at Vestavia Hills City Hall, 1032 Montgomery Highway. For information about sponsorship opportunities or tickets, contact a Vestavia Hills Sunrise Rotary member.

C10 • April 2017

Vestavia Voice

Curry to host 1st prayer breakfast as mayor By GRACE THORNTON

Keynote speaker and attorney Liz Huntley addresses the audience at the 2016 Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast. This year’s event is scheduled for April 18. Photo by Frank Couch.

A longstanding Vestavia Hills tradition will ring in its 27th year as Mayor Ashley Curry and others gather to observe the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast on April 18 at 7:30 a.m. at the Vestavia Country Club. The breakfast program will feature Alabama native Edie Hand as speaker. Hand, founder of the Genuine Pearl Girl Society and the Edie Hand Foundation, is a businesswoman, media personality, author and mother who focuses on making people’s lives better. “She will speak about how her faith gave her

strength during all the ordeals that she’s been through,” said Curry, noting that Hand lost her three young brothers to cancer and has battled cancer several times. “Her story would be one of sticking to it and having perseverance.” Reigning Miss Alabama Hayley Barber will also participate in the prayer breakfast program. “Her prayer will be for the youth,” Curry said. Other speakers and local chaplains will offer prayers for the city, nation and world, he said. Limited tickets are available. For more information, contact the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce at 823-5011.

Golf tournament to benefit medical mission trip to Haiti By GRACE THORNTON The Paul Meyers Foundation Golf Tournament fits its namesake to a tee, said his sister, Julia Meyers, one of the foundation’s chairpersons. “It’s not too serious,” she said, “but there are many bragging rights to be won — including the ‘worst scoring team’ and the ‘best dressed team.’” The tournament is intended for people who take the costume contest more seriously than the golf, she said. And friends and family can come out to the night golf tournament April 8 to support a medical mission trip to Haiti “knowing that Paul would be proud to know that his legacy is making a difference in the lives of people who need help so very badly,” Julia Meyers said. The tournament, started in 2013, has

sold out for the past three years and has raised more than $40,000 to fund medical missions in Haiti. Registration starts at 3 p.m. that day, followed by a putting contest at 4 p.m. and tee off at 4:30. A barbecue dinner and silent auction is at 6:30 p.m. after the first nine holes, followed by more golf afterward. Winners will be announced at 10 p.m. The event and foundation is named after Paul Meyers, who died at age 33. He played basketball for Vestavia Hills High School and went on to play for Rhodes College, where he graduated cum laude with a degree in business administration. He went on to law school and practiced as an assistant public defender in Jackson, Tennessee, prior to his death. For more information or to register, go to

The winners of “Best Dressed Team” at last year’s Paul Meyers Foundation Golf Tournament. Photo courtesy of Julia Meyers.

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Another big year expected for Relay for Life By EMILY FEATHERSTON Vestavia Hills High School is known for being the top in many fields, but what some may not know is the school also hosts the largest student-led Relay for Life event in the country. “Which is a huge accomplishment, especially being from small-town Alabama,” said Malinda Shackleford, who is Vestavia’s community manager for the American Cancer Society. Last year, the event and associated fundraising efforts raised more than $275,000, a total Shackleford said she expects will be easily matched this year, and between 500 and 1,000 people are expected to attend the April 22 Relay event. As of early March, Shackleford said there were more than 80 teams registered to participate in the event, and dozens of groups and sponsors are planning booths and tents. Throughout the year, students and volunteers have been working and hosting various fundraising events including T-shirt sales, a princess breakfast, bake sales, concerts, a Sadie Hawkins dance and more to add to the money raised at the actual event. VHHS also won an inflatable arch for being one of the top 10 events to have the most growth in registrations between Jan. 16 and Jan. 22. Like all Relay for Life events, VHHS’s night and associated fundraising efforts will benefit cancer services and programs both locally and across the country. “Research is a huge component of that,” Shackleford said. Much of what VHHS raises goes to research efforts just down the street at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Additionally, local Relay for Life efforts also benefit the society’s Joe Lee Griffin Hope Lodge. The lodge, named in memory of a longtime society volunteer and cancer patient whose children go to VHHS, gives patients going through treatment a “home away from home” in downtown Birmingham, providing housing

Relay for Life is set for April 22. Photo courtesy of Emily Erwood.

and support throughout their time in treatment. The VHHS Relay for Life event is at the school on April 22, with events beginning in the afternoon and continuing throughout the evening. Teams will have different fundraisers with games and activities. More activities for

children, food, live bands and a three-on-three basketball tournament also are planned. A traditional luminaria ceremony is scheduled to remember those lost and those still fighting cancer. The survivor dinner is at 5 p.m., and all cancers survivors are invited for a free meal

to get to know other survivors, fellowship and celebrate with one another. For more information, contact Shackleford at, or go to the VHHS Relay for Life webpage at main.

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Vestavia Voice

Dogwood Festival set to host annual luncheon, arts fair By LEXI COON As a part of the Vestavia Hills Beautification Board’s annual Dogwood Festival, the board will be hosting their Dogwood Luncheon on April 6 in the Dogwood Room of the Civic Center. The speaker this year is Kari Kampakis, a local Birmingham blogger and author. She has published two books, “Liked: Whose Approval Are You Living For?” and “10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know.” She will discuss adult girlfriends and the importance of girls having girlfriends, said event Chairwoman Gina Henley. Henley said Cafe Iz will again be providing food for the luncheon. “They’ve been really wonderful to work with,” Henley said. “They go above and beyond trying to be accommodating.” In lieu of providing individual tablescapes for the luncheon, this year the Beautification Board has opted to decorate the tables in a more traditional fashion, she said. “We’re going to have someone come in and just set the tables for us with fresh flowers,” Henley said. The luncheon will be bringing back its

Left: Vestavia Belles pose during the 2016 Dogwood Festival, put on by the Vestavia Hills Beautification Board. Photo courtesy of the Dogwood Festival. Right: Art in the Hills will be returning this year with the Dogwood Luncheon as a part of the Beautification Board’s annual Dogwood Festival. Staff photo.

former fashion show element, however. “It’s just being brought back for no other reason than the community asked for it.” While the show will not have a runway or a formal structure to it, Henley said the models, Vestavia Belles and younger Vestavia residents will walk throughout the luncheon and wear selections from Gigi’s and The Lili Pad in Cahaba Heights. The following weekend, the Dogwood Festival will continue with Art in the Hills April 15 from 10 a.m. to

4 p.m. at City Hall. Initially created to revive and add to the Dogwood Festival, Art in the Hills was founded by Cindy Bartlett, who is the chairwoman for the art show this year, and Ashley Nance. “They both worked really hard in growing that event, and it’s grown in leaps and bounds every year,” Henley said. She is also the children’s art co-chairwoman. “They’ve done a wonderful job with it.” In addition to a variety of vendors, the event also includes food vendors and entertainment. Henley said this

year the event will have all types of artworks for visitors, including pottery, metal, stones and jewelry. “It’s not limited to just fine art,” she said. “It might be more craft than art, but there’s definitely a good mixture of both.” She added this year the Beautification Board will include an interactive area children’s art area, and artwork from Vestavia students will be on display in City Hall. Prizes will be given to the top three artworks of each grade, and the top art pieces from elementary, middle and

high school grades will also earn the Chairs Choice award. “I think an art show for citizens to come together to enjoy an outdoor event that also includes all types of art … it’s a great way for all ages of our community to be involved,” Henley said. Luncheon tickets are $20 each and should be purchased in advance online at or by emailing ghenley401@charter. net. For more information on Art in the Hills, go to

April 2017 • C13

Decorators’ ShowHouse returns to Mountain Brook By ERICA TECHO

The Johnston-Clark Estate on East Briarcliff Road in Mountain Brook will be open for tours from April 29 through May 14. Photo courtesy of the Alabama Symphony Volunteers Council.

Designers from the Greater Birmingham area are once again putting their heads together for the Decorators’ ShowHouse, hosted by the Alabama Symphony Volunteers Council. The Johnstone-Clark Estate on East Briarcliff Road in Mountain Brook will be open for tours from April 29 through May 14. The show house features rooms decorated by multiple designers, and all items in the home will be for sale. “Personally, I think [guests] get to see the newest in décor and designs,” said Betsy Cooper, a member of the Symphony Volunteers Council. “They give you ideas that you can then take and use at home.” Designers also will be present at the show house, so visitors can have one-on-one contact with them and discuss any ideas they have.

Ticket sales go toward supporting the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, its programs and educational efforts. Urban Market and Four Corners Gallery, from the 280 corridor, will help design portions of the house, and tickets will be available at English Ivy on Doug Baker Boulevard, Greystone Antiques and Chelsea Lane starting March 22. Pre-sale tickets, which cost $15, will be available through April 28. Tickets at the door will be $20. The house will be open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. There is no parking at the house. Visitors should park at Mountain Brook Presbyterian Church, where a shuttle will transport them to and from the house. For more information, go to svcalabama. com/decorators-show-house.

Taste of the Heights to showcase student art, local food scene By EMILY FEATHERSTON The teachers and PTO at Vestavia Hills Elementary Cahaba Heights have invited the community to enjoy a night of student art and local food at this year’s Taste of the Heights. The event, in its third year, allows the community to spend the evening enjoying the creative work of VHECH students as well as a sampling of the community’s favorite restaurants. Taste of the Heights is April 18 and will feature a silent auction and the ability for parents to purchase framed works. “It’s really just an opportunity to just showcase kids’ work and have a community event with that,” said VHECH Principal Alicia Hunsberger.

Hunsberger said she is looking forward to getting to experience the event for the first time as the school’s new principal. “It’s a fun family evening,” she said. While the crowd is usually made up of parents, Hunsberger said the entire community is invited to see the works of art from K-5 students and the chance to meet representatives from local food establishments. Silent auction items, she said, are generally from local merchants, and the money raised goes a long way for the school’s programs. No registration is required, and guests can drop in and out from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the school. For more information, contact the school at 402-5480.

Taste of the Heights is set for April 18. Photo courtesy of Alicia Hunsberger.

C14 • April 2017

Vestavia Voice

Vestavia and Hoover communities to pack 300,000 meals for Rise Against Hunger In the time it takes you to read this sentence, about 16 people will die of hunger. The majority will be children. It’s a heartbreaking statistic, but it’s one that each of us has the power to change, for less than the cost of a cup of coffee. Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church is hosting a Rise Against Hunger event — formerly Stop Hunger Now — April 23-25. Members of VHUMC, Bluff Park United Methodist and other Hoover and Vestavia churches as well as individuals from all over the Birmingham metro area will join forces to

pack 300,000 meals in a three-day period. Rise Against Hunger, an international hunger relief agency, has coordinated the distribution of food and other lifesaving aid to children and families in countries all over the world for more than 15 years. Its meal packaging program allows hundreds of volunteers to quickly package rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and a flavoring mix containing 23 vitamins and minerals into small packets. Each meal costs only $0.29. The food stores easily, has a shelf life of two years, transports

quickly and saves lives. Once packaged, the food is sent to schools, orphanages and crisis relief agencies all over the world. Rise Against Hunger has provided more than 180 million meals to people in 65 countries. “This is our third time to host this meal packaging event, and lots of people from the Vestavia and Hoover communities have been working all year to prepare for it,” said Bo Porter, team leader for the event. “It is a fun way for each and every person ages 4 and up to be in service.”

Hundreds of volunteers will package the meals in assembly-line fashion during the high-energy, fast-paced shifts. A gong will sound each time a certain number of meals is packaged. The event is open to the public. Packaging shifts start at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 23, and continue through 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 25. For more information or to register, visit – Submitted by Scottie Vickery.

Recycling brought to Cahaba Heights fields By LEXI COON

The freshman baseball team stands with recycling containers that were brought to the Cahaba Heights ball fields in early March by Leadership Vestavia Hills. Photo courtesy of Kate Watkins.

As of opening day on March 4, Leadership Vestavia Hills has introduced a recycling program for the patrons of Cahaba Heights baseball fields. The containers, similar to the containers added to Wald Park by Leadership Vestavia Hills, offer an alternative to trash cans throughout the park. “One of the main drivers for the program is that our city’s residents have indicated a desire to be a ‘green’ community,” said project member Jeff Florio. “Given the timing of our Leadership Vestavia Hills program, Cahaba Heights was an ideal candidate with the upcoming baseball season.” Other project members include

Danny Gantzhorn and Jason Williams. As of March, Florio said ideally there would be one recycling container paired with every trash can as an option. Patrons would be able to place standard recyclable items in the containers, such as newspaper, aluminum cans, bulk mail and plastic bottles. So far, Florio said the response has been positive, and the bins are being used throughout the ball field as a way to continue the mentality of “leave it better than we found it.” “It’s important for everyone visiting and living in our community to do their part to leave it better than we found it,” he said. “These containers offer an alternative to trashing hundreds if not thousands of sports drinks and other recyclable items into our landfills.”

April 2017 • C15


Zaragoza, Throwers honored with Leadership Vestavia Hills awards

By EMILY FEATHERSTON The list of things that define a city can be long, but in Vestavia Hills, it’s the residents who go above and beyond. That’s the message that speakers at the recent Leadership Vestavia Hills annual awards banquet reiterated over and over again. Since 1996, when the group began, over 250 Vestavians have participated in Leadership Vestavia Hills, and each year the group recognizes a resident or group of residents for their work that goes even above what most do. “This is what we’re all about,” said LVH founding coordinator Dennis Anderson, who is also the administrative pastor at Vestavia Hills Baptist Church. As he got the March 3 event going by recognizing the distinguished guests in attendance, Anderson mused that it’s usually those who don’t want recognition who are the ones who deserve it most. “I’ve never been to one of these events where the recipients felt they deserved anything,” he said, adding that those recognized were the same. “We had to get them to come.” Mayor Ashley Curry echoed his thoughts, pointing out that Vestavia is full of volunteers, a trait he said is the major reason the slogan “A Life Above” holds true. “It takes that to make a city what it is,” Curry said. Alberto “Butch” Zaragoza, former mayor and fire chief, was presented with the Lifetime

Pictured left to right: Jan Thrower, Andy Thrower, Butch Zaragoza and Diane Zaragoza at the 2017 Leadership Vestavia Hills awards banquet. Photo by Emily Featherston.

Achievement Award for his nearly five decades of service to the city of Vestavia Hills. Former council member John Henley introduced Zaragoza, walking through his notable accomplishments, including the change in form of government he said the then-mayor pushed for, despite the fact it would mean a

$50,000-per-year pay cut for himself. Zaragoza accepted his award by reflecting on his career with the fire service, the mentorship of former Mayor Scotty McCallum, the things he was able to do as mayor and by thanking all of those who had worked with him over the years. He also thanked his family, particularly

his wife, Diane, and said the Zaragozas aren’t going anywhere and will continue to serve Vestavia Hills in different ways. Jan and Andy Thrower, co-founders and administrators of aTeam Ministries, were presented with the 2017 Distinguished Citizen Award. In 2009, the Thrower’s then-16-month-old son Anderson was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and the family began a multi-year battle with pediatric cancer. While they were in the hospital with their son, Andy Thrower said their family received an immense outpouring of support from friends, neighbors and family but realized many families on the pediatric oncology floor were not receiving that support. Despite still going through their own pediatric cancer journey, Andy Thrower said they realized the time was right to start reaching out to other families in need, providing housing and financial support, among other things, to those facing the disease. Andy Thrower shared several stories of what aTeam Ministries has been able to do and hopes to do before accepting the award with his wife and children, including Anderson, who is now a third-grader at Vestavia Hills Elementary West. LVH President Pauline Parker thanked sponsors and guests for their support of the event and the organization, and encouraged the audience to take inspiration from the honorees and continue making Vestavia Hills a better place to live and work.

C16 • April 2017

Vestavia Voice

John Mattioli has owned Dry Clean City for 10 years. Photo by Emily Featherston.

Dry Clean City collecting canned goods for Easter and beyond Photo courtesy of Rebekah Fountain.


Troop 5320 kicks off 1st cookie sale Vestavia Hills Girl Scout Troop 5320, a Daisy troop serving kindergarten and first grades, kicked off their first year selling cookies at booth sale at Brookwood Village on Feb. 11. The troop held a meeting to decide how they would use their proceeds from the Girl Scout Cookie Program. “We talked at our last meeting about the differences between the things that we need and the things that we wanted,” said Melissa Howell, troop leader. “The girls decided they would like to find a

charity or somebody who is in need of something,” she said. “We’re going to donate part of the money for that, then use the other part for something they want, and they’re going to have a party!” When asked what her favorite part of selling cookies is, Girl Scout Charlotte Stamper replied, “Because we get to do fun things.” The girls also received the CEO Cookie Patch from Karen Peterlin, chief executive officer of the Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama. – Submitted by Rebekah Fountain.

The spring food drive has been a staple of Dry Clean City for years. Owner John Mattioli started the canned food drive several years ago as an opportunity to give back to the community and encourage customers to come in. The first drive was focused on collecting food for the Jimmie Hale Mission for Easter, and customers who brought in five or more cans received a credit to their account. Easter came and went, but Mattioli said people continued to bring in food. “It gets bigger every year,” he said. Mattioli celebrates 10 years of operating Dry Clean City this year. He and his wife purchased Dry Clean City, which is located

in the lower U.S. 31 area, in 2007 after his long career with Parisian department store. With a focus on quick service and low prices, Mattioli said they wanted to make the store a one-stop-shop for dry cleaning needs. And by eliminating some of the “frills” other dry cleaners have, he said he can save customers money. This year’s drive began in March and will continue through June, benefiting Jimmie Hale and other food pantries around the Birmingham area. Customers who bring in five cans will receive $5 off their dry cleaning service. “We think it’s going to a good cause,” Mattioli said. Dry Clean City is located at 1008 Vestavia Parkway.

April 2017 • C17

Vestavia Hills Real Estate Listings MLS #







1960 Southwood Road





4296 Ashwood Cove





2109 Vestavia Drive





2302 Old Rocky Ridge Road





2329 Hunters Cove





1712 Ridgewood Place





2105 Ridgeview Drive





3038 Massey Road #A402





3109 Huntington Way





2832 Vestavia Forest Place





2232 Montreat Drive





1773 Old Creek Trail





424 Ves Trace Circle





4328 Ashwood Cove





2808 Vestavia Forest Drive





2150 Cedar Bark Lane





1634 Crossgate Drive





2683 Watkins Glen Drive





1104 Forest View Lane





724 Canyon Creek Lane #724



Real estate listings provided by the Birmingham Association of Realtors on March 20. Visit

1960 Southwood Road

424 Ves Trace Circle

C18 • April 2017

Vestavia Voice

Calendar Vestavia Hills Events April 3: Vulcan Voices Toastmasters. 6 p.m. Vestavia Hills Board of Education. Learn confidence as a public speaker and strong leader. Visit

April 17: Vulcan Voices Toastmasters. 6 p.m. Vestavia Hills Board of Education. Learn confidence as a public speaker and strong leader. Visit

April 4: VH Toastmaster Club. 6 p.m. Vestavia Hills Board of Education, Room 204. Strengthen and improve communication and leadership skills. Visit

April 18: VH Toastmaster Club. 6 p.m. Vestavia Hills Board of Education, Room 204. Strengthen and improve communication and leadership skills. Visit

April 6: Vestavia Hills Dogwood Luncheon 11:30 a.m. Vestavia Hills Civic Center. $20. Speaker Kari Kampakis, author and blogger. Visit

April 22: VHHS Relay for Life. 8 a.m. Vestavia Hills High School. Visit

April 7: Artists Incorporated First Friday Reception. 4:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Artists Incorporated. Visit April 8: Easter Egg Hunt. 9 a.m. Southminster Presbyterian Church. Crafts, snacks, bouncy houses and pictures with the Easter Bunny. Visit April 10: Vulcan Voices Toastmasters. 6 p.m. Vestavia Hills Board of Education. Learn confidence as a public speaker and strong leader. Visit April 11: Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce Monthly Luncheon. 11:30 a.m. Vestavia Country Club. $20. Visit April 15: Chick-fil-A Birmingham 10K, 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run. Railroad Park. $25-$35. Benefiting Make a Wish Alabama.

April 22: Vestavia Hills Garden Club Annual Yard Sale to raise funds for Sibyl Temple. 9 a.m.- 12 p.m. Scout Square. April 22: Vestavia Hills First Responders Celebration. Vestavia Hills City Hall. 3 p.m. $10. Free for First Responders and their families. Visit April 24 & May 1: Board of Equalization protest discussion. 2:30 p.m. Vestavia Hills City Hall Executive Conference Room. Resident Jack Norris will be available to discuss the process for protesting home values through the Jefferson County Board of Equalization. April 24: VH Toastmaster Club. 6 p.m. Vestavia Hills Board of Education, Room 204. Strengthen and improve communication and leadership skills. Visit April 25: VHHS Jazz Band Concert. 6:30 p.m. Vestavia Hills High School. Visit

Vestavia Hills Library Events Children Mondays: Maker Mondays. 3:30 p.m. Something for everyone, but adults must accompany children. Tuesdays: Together with Twos. 9:30 a.m. & 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. Thursdays: Book Babies. 10 a.m. Treehouse. Ms. Lisa’s story time for babies up to18 mos. Registration required. April 1 & 15: Family Yoga. 10:30 a.m. Children’s Program Room. An easy yoga class the whole family can enjoy. April 8 & 29: 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 keep little ones engaged. Primarily for kids 6 and under. April 14: Easter Egg-stravaganza! 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Children’s Program Room and Rooftop Garden. Visit the baby animal petting playground, have your picture taken with the Easter Bunny, make an Easter craft, find a prize egg and eat a snack. Ages 6 and under. April 18: Schaeffer Eye Center Family Night: Tom Foolery. 6 p.m. (meal) 6:30 p.m. (show). Community Room. Be entertained with juggling, magic, comedy and unicycle routine. All ages. April 22: Lego Wars. 11 a.m. Children’s Program Room. Bring your imagination and come build with Legos. First grade and up. Teens (Grades 6-12) April 4: The Playlist. 4-5:30 p.m. Community Room. Submit clips and share your favorite channels as we search for the best videos on the internet. Snacks served. April 5: Teen Art Group. 4-5:30 p.m. Treehouse. Make and share your work while celebrating your artistic talents with fellow teens. Snacks served. April 7, 14 & 21: Open Gaming. 4–5:30 p.m. Community Room. Enjoy awesome video games on the Wii U and PS4. We’ll also have board games

to play and our Playstation VR to try out! Snacks served. April 11: April Foolishness. 4–6 p.m. Community Room. Join us to watch shows and video clips featuring practical jokes on both the deserving and the innocent. April 12 & 26: Writing Group. 4–5:30 p.m. Historical Room. A writing group where teens can build writing skills and provide feedback to one another. Snacks served. April 18: Otaku Time! 4:30–5:30 p.m. Historical Room. Join fellow otaku as they read, discuss and exchange manga! Also, play anime-based games and visual novels. Snacks served. April 19: Earth Day Crafts. 4–5:30 p.m. Treehouse. Hug the earth and show that you love it! We’ll take recyclable materials and turn them into crafts. Snacks served. April 25: Anime Night. 4–6 p.m. Community Room. Engage with fellow otaku as they watch the anime of their choice. Japanese treats served. April 28: Mario Kart Tournament. 4–5:30 p.m. Community Room. Test your Wii U skill in our Mario Kart 8 tournament. Snacks served. Adults April 6: OLLI Presents: Nordic Walking. 1:30-3 p.m. Community Room and Nature Trail. Walk the library trail with

April 2017 • C19

Instructor Leroy Hurt.

4679 to register)

April 6: Read and Feed Book Group. 6:30-8 p.m. Taziki’s Restaurant in Liberty Park. Eat, drink and discuss “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult.

April 3: Mac 101. 4-5:30 p.m. Electronic Classroom. Learn how to personalize the computer, use the finder, change system preferences and more.

April 7: First Friday Fiber Arts. 10 a.m.-noon. Treehouse. Join us on the first Friday of each month for knitting, crochet, cross-stitch, crewel, embroidery and smocking. All skill levels are welcome.

April 5: Facebook 101. 2-3:30 p.m. Electronic Classroom. Have questions about Facebook? Come get answers and learn great tips on navigating the social networking site.

April 11: Ms. Olivia’s Evening Reads Book Group. 6-7:30 p.m. Historical Room. Discuss “At the Edge of the Orchard” by Tracy Chevalier.

April 10: Intro to 3D printing. 4-5:30 p.m. Electronic Classroom.

April 12: ABCs of Medicare. 1-2 p.m. Treehouse. Independent Benefits Advisor Karen Haiflich provides simple, straightforward answers to help you better understand Medicare and all of the options available to you. Free and open to everyone. April 13 & 27: Adult Tai Chi. 2 p.m. Community Room. Ages 18 and up. April 14: Upcycle City: Spring Into Art. 7-9 p.m. Community Room. Canvas, paint, wine and light snacks provided. Free event for ages 21 and up. Email to register.

April 11: Apple Mobile Devices with Tech Ease. 2-3:30 p.m. Children’s Program Room. A Certified Apple Consultant answers your questions about Apple mobile products including iPhones, iPads and Macbooks. Registration is not required and everyone is welcome. April 13: 3D Printing Open Lab. 4-6 p.m. Creative Café. See the 3D printers in action and get your printing questions answered. April 18: Pinterest Basics. 10-11:30 a.m. Electronic Classroom. Learn how to “pin” pictures, videos and other items to your customized boards.

April 20: Living History Tour: European Trip with Jack and Anne Norris. 1:30-3 p.m. Community Room.

April 24: Vinyl Cutting. 4–5:30 p.m. Electronic Classroom. Learn how to make your own custom vinyl decals using our vinyl cutter.

April 27: Friends of the Library: Anita Smith. 1011:30 a.m. Community Room. Discussing her book “Lloyd Noland Story.”

April 27: Beginner Blogging. 6-7:30 p.m. Electronic Classroom. Have you thought about creating a blog? Learn how to get started using Blogger.  We’ll discuss content ideas, how to post pictures and more.

Technology (Call Bethany at 205-978-

Area Events April 1: Pepper Place Winter Market. 8 a.m.-12 p.m. Visit April 1: 2017 Alabama Asian Cultures & Food Festival. 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Zamora Shrine Temple. Food tokens $4, drink tickets $2. Visit facebook. com/alabamafestival. April 1: Alabama Symphony Orchestra EBSCO Masterworks Series. 7:30 p.m. $25-$74. Visit April 3: BAO Bingo. 7 p.m. Birmingham AIDS Outreach. $15-$25. Visit April 5-9: A Little Night Music. Alys Stephens Center. 7:30 p.m. nightly, 2 p.m. Sunday. Presented by Theatre UAB. $15-$20, $6 students, $10 UAB employees and senior citizens. Visit alysstephens. org. April 5-16: The Phantom of the Opera. BJCC Concert Hall. $35-$146. Visit Birmingham. April 6: Birmingham Art Crawl. 5 p.m.-9 p.m. 113 22nd St. N. Meet local artists and performers and buy their work. Visit April 6: Live at the Lyric- Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors. 8 p.m. Lyric Theatre. $20-$39.50. Visit April 7: Chamber Music @ AEIVA. Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts. 5 p.m. gallery viewing and reception, 5:30 p.m. concert. Free. events.

Visit April 11: UAB Piano Recital/Ensembles. 7:30 p.m. Mary Culp Hulsey Recital Hall. Free. Visit news. April 13: Lalah Hathaway. Alys Stephens Center. 7 p.m. $39-$59. Visit Visit April 19: Birmingham Revealed- A Talk with Frank Stitt and Friends. 5:30 p.m. Vulcan Park & Museum. Chefs Frank Stitt, George Reis, Jerry Hartley and Harinam Khalsa. Members $8, non-members, $10. Visit April 21: Enchantment Theatre Company’s Peter Rabbit Tales. 7 p.m. Alys Stephens Center. Visit April 21: Live at the Lyric: The Story Tour- An Acoustic Evening with Brandi Carlile. 8 p.m. Lyric Theatre. Tickets $39.50-$59.50. Visit lyricbham. com. April 21-22: 19th Annual Lebanese Food & Cultural Festival. St. Elias Maronite Church. Featuring food, self-guided tours, silent auctions and 5K and fun run. Visit April 21-23: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Barber Motorsports Park. Tickets $15-$39, three-day general admission $69. Visit April 21-30: School of Rock. RMTC Cabaret Theatre. Tickets start at $19. 7:30 p.m. Thurs-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Visit

April 8: Spring Walking Tour: First Avenue South/ Rotary Trail. 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Registration required. $10 members, $12 non-members.

April 22: 12th Annual Gumbo Gala. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sloss Furnaces. Food, music, kid’s activities and more. Benefiting Episcopal Place. Visit

April 8: Walk MS Birmingham. 9 a.m. Regions Field. Free. Visit

April 22: 11th Annual Crawfish Boil Benefiting a Cure for Clara. 2-10 p.m. Oak Mountain Amphitheatre.

April 8: Cajun Cook-off. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Railroad Park. $25 adults, children 12 and under, free. Visit April 8: CahabaQue BBQ Cook-off. 12 p.m.-5 p.m. Cahaba Brewing Company. Supporting breast cancer research in Alabama. $20 general admission 21 an dup, $15 under 21, $5 ages 12 and under, kids under 6 are free. Visit April 9: Spring Food Truck Rally. More than 20 trucks, live entertainment, kids activities and more. $5 advance, $10 at gate, $2 kids, under 5 are free.

April 24: Alton Brown Live: Eat Your Science. 7:30 p.m. BJCC Concert Hall. Tickets $27-$102. Visit April 29: Spring Walking Tour: Crestline Village, Walkable Town Center. Vulcan Park and Museum. 9 a.m.-12 p.m. $10 members, $12 non-members Visit April 29: Feast of St. Mark Italian Festival. 3 p.m. St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church. $25 adults, $10 children. Visit

Vestavia Voice April 2017  
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