Vestavia Voice April 2024

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By LOYD McINTOSH Two decades since its debut, the Vestavia Hills City Center is on the rebound. Opened in 2003, the City Center’s mixture of high-end retail and restaurants offered a radical new vision to the aging Vestavia Shopping Center. However, the center’s two anchor restaurants, Nonna Rose and Brazil, failed within the first three years, followed by high turnover rates, an uninspired mix of tenants and bankruptcy by 2010, putting its future on shaky ground. In 2017, the Vestavia City Center was sold to KPR (Katz Property Retail), a New York-based firm that specializes in acquiring retail shopping centers in the eastern United States, in a deal worth $60.3 million.
help revitalize the City Center and recruit new businesses, KPR turned to Birmingham-based Crawford Square Management. Mary Beyer Lell, the head of leasing for Crawford Square, led the project and early on saw the City Center’s potential, comparing it to neighborhood spaces in other cities.
think they had an idea of what they wanted to do there, but I also knew that Vestavia did not have a gathering space,” Lell said. Vestavia firefighter rebuilds after losing house to blaze HIGHEST PRICES FOR GOLD EVER! $10,000 paid All Types of Gold & Silver Coins Cummings JEWELRY DESIGN 205-298-9144 3166 Heights Village, 35243 Vestavia Hills Cahaba Heights Now is the time to sell! Sponsors A4 News A6 Business A10 Community A14 Schoolhouse A15 Events B6 Sports B8 Opinion B12 Real Estate B14 INSIDE See which Vestavia Hills High players were named to the All-South Metro Basketball Team. See page B8 See page B1 Home & Garden All-South Metro Find tips and tricks from area businesses to jump-start any project in our guide. BROOK HIGHLAND PLAZA • VESTAVIA CITY CENTER Extra 20% off in Store only. Valid only in Vestavia and Birmingham Shoe Station stores. Cannot be combined with additional discounts or coupons or used on prior purchases, refunds or exchanges. Excludes Doorbusters, Accessories, Apparel, Socks and Gift Cards. Excluded Brands: Crocs, Asics, Reef, Nike, Under Armour, New Balance, Sperry, Chaco, Birkenstock, Timberland, Timberland PRO, KEEN, OOFOS, HEYDUDE, Guess, Frye, Jack Rogers, Seychelles, Antelope, Chocolat Blu, Dolce Vita, Rainbow, Hoka One, Brooks, Dansko, Alegria, Naked Feet, Steve Madden, Koolaburra by UGG and UGG. Other exclusions may apply. To redeem present coupon at checkout. One coupon per transaction. Offer subject to change without notice. Valid 04/01/2024-05/07/2024 11:59 pm EST. IN STORE ONLY 20%OFF April 2024 | Volume 11 | Issue 12 VESTAVIA HILLS’ COMMUNITY NEWS SOURCE VESTAVIAVOICE.COM | STARNESMEDIA.COM BROUGHT TO YOU BY SERVING VESTAVIA HILLS, THE 280 CORRIDOR, HOMEWOOD, HOOVER, MOUNTAIN BROOK AND TRUSSVILLE By LOYD McINTOSH
ife for Vestavia Hills Fire Department firefighter Jonathan Vickery is almost back to normal. Almost. Seventeen months after losing his own house in a fire, Vickery and his wife, LaVonda, are in the final stages of getting ready to move into their newly built home. It’s been an exhausting year and a half for the McCalla couple, but they can see the finish line approaching. Life for the Vickerys changed around 2 a.m. on Oct. 19, 2022. The fan keeping their bedroom cool suddenly shut off, and Jonathan Vickery said he quickly realized the power was out throughout the house. Building back See CITY CENTER | page A16 See VICKERY | page A18
Hills firefighter Jonathan Vickery talks about the addition of the upstairs with the rebuild of his home in McCalla on March 14. Vickery’s home burned
house fire in October 2022.
Buying into the vision: Vestavia Hills City Center blossoms after early struggles Restaurants such as Great Greek Grill and Taco Mama help make up the Vestavia Hills City Center.
by Erin Nelson Sweeney.
in a
Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.
A2 • April 2024 Vestavia Voice THE WAX EXPERTS COMING SOON VESTAVIA CITY CENTER & HOOVER TRACE CROSSINGS Join our Grand Opening Guest list and receive a FREE WAX during our preview week. VESTAVIA CITY CENTER 790 Montgomery Hwy Suite 116 (205) 745-6065 HOOVER TRACE CROSSINGS 2539 John Hawkins Pkwy Suite 125 (205) 745-6066 Hoover, AL 35244 Vestavia Hills, AL 35216 WAX FREE NEUROPATHY SEMINAR & FREE SCREENING Learn the latest about reversing Neuropathy without the use of dangerous drugs and surgery. If you have any of these symptoms, you are welcome to attend: Pain and Burning • Numbness and Tingling • Pins and Needles Muscle Cramping • Balance Issues PRESENTED BY Dr. Stan Stubbs, DC CALL NOW TO RESERVE YOUR SEAT! 205-600-0805 *You must call and confirm to attend - Seating is limited. Or schedule an in-person visit in our clinic. Tuesday April 9th or 23rd at 1:30pm or Schedule an In-Person Visit Here’s what patients have to say... I had no idea nerves can heal. The tingling in my hands is 95% better. I was told it would only get worse.” - Beau T. “I’m now off all my neuropathy meds. And I can feel my gas and brake pedals now! - Benny H. Shelby Neuropathy & Laser Center | 2969 Pelham Pkwy, Pelham, AL 35124 205-600-0805 |


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About Us

It’s always fun to put together the spring issues of the paper.

With the return of warm weather, everyone is generally in a good mood, and there is plenty to talk about. Many local businesses — including those who advertise in this paper — are experiencing a busy season, and we usually have several events to inform readers about.

You’ll find our Spring Home and Garden Guide on page B1. Hopefully, you’ll find something you need for your next home project within its pages.

It has been eleven years since the Vestavia Voice started in the spring of 2013. A lot has changed, but one

thing that remains the same is that there is plenty going on in the community this time of year. Another thing that hasn’t changed is that

we love to hear from community members with ideas.

Several of your suggestions were included this month, and we received several more for future months.

Thank you, and please keep them coming.

As always, I welcome your feedback. You can reach me by email at or by text at 205-370-0732.



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Sports Editor: Design Editor:

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Page Designer:

Production Assistant:

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Dan Starnes

Jon Anderson Leah Ingram Eagle

Kyle Parmley

Melanie Viering

Erin Nelson Sweeney

Ted Perry

Simeon Delante

Sarah Villar

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A4 • April 2024 Vestavia Voice
Publisher’s Note By Dan Starnes PHOTO OF THE MONTH Vestavia Hills High School senior Henry Smith challenges a Huntsville defender in a lacrosse game at Thompson Reynolds Stadium at Vestavia Hills High on March 3. Photo by David Leong. Legals: Vestavia Voice is published monthly. Reproduction or use of editorial or graphic content without prior permission is prohibited. Vestavia Voice is designed to inform the Vestavia community of area school, family and community events. Information in Vestavia Voice is gathered from sources considered reliable but the accuracy cannot be guaranteed. All articles/photos submitted become the property of 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. Published by: Starnes Publishing LLC P.O. Box 530341 Birmingham, AL 35253 (205) 313-1780 For advertising, contact: Please submit all articles, information and photos to: Join the conversation. Scan the QR code to read us online, join our newsletter and follow us at Get Vestavia Voice in your mailbox, inbox and online. Find Us Vestavia Voice is distributed through direct mail to Vestavia Hills residents. You can also find copies at a variety of locations throughout the community. For a list of pick up locations, scan the QR code below or go to vestaviavoice. com/about-us. Carmen Shea Brown Sean Dietrich Kari Kampakis Loyd McIntosh Warren Caldwell Don Harris Contributing Writers: Client Success Specialist: Business Development Exec: PLEASE RECYCLE THIS PAPER
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Burglaries hit record low again in 2023

Vestavia Hills in 2023 experienced declines in many crimes, including murder, drug offenses, weapons offenses and a record low number of burglaries, according to statistics provided by the city’s police department.

However, there were more vehicle breakins and thefts of vehicles in 2023 than the year before, police said.

After experiencing one murder in 2022, the city saw none in 2023. Other violent crimes either stayed flat, such as the 114 assaults the city experienced in both 2022 and 2023 and only three robberies per year, or reduced sharply. The number of weapons offenses, for instance, fell from 122 in 2022 to 40 in 2023, a reduction of 67%.

Vestavia Hills police Chief Shane Ware, who was officially tapped for the top position following the death of longtime police Chief Danny Rary in August 2023, said the crime data exemplifies the department’s dedication.

“We are very proud of our crime data,” Ware said. “It’s the culmination of a lot of good work from the 110 men and women of the Vestavia Hills Police Department.”

City Manager Jeff Downes said low crime is a significant factor in the city’s economic growth and quality of life, and he said the police department has played a major role in the city’s fortunes.

“If you want to have a vibrant community with lots of great restaurants, interesting places and great events, public safety is a must,” Downes said. “Our Police Department is doing a great job not only keeping our citizens safe, but also helping us establish an exceptional quality of life. We’re very proud of our police force.”


The number of burglaries in Vestavia Hills, which had already hit a historic low in 2022, fell 50% in 2023.

“The 32 burglaries in 2022 was the lowest recorded number ever in the city’s history, since we have record-keeping,” Ware said. “So in 2023, when it reduced to 16, that is again an alltime low. … We’ve had a series of years where it’s just getting lower and lower, and we’re very

proud of that number. But we also understand that that could uptick very easily.”

Ware said much of the success in preventing burglaries is due to the department’s patrol visibility and its investigations and follow-up into the burglaries that do take place within Vestavia Hills. Ware also pointed out the city’s Flock Safety camera systems.

Installed in 2019, Ware said the more than 200 cameras have assisted the department in solving many crimes, including burglaries, and are also a

valuable deterrent to would-be criminals.

“They are a very good after-the-fact investigative tool,” he said. “We’ve had those in the city for several years now, and they’ve been very beneficial after an event in investigating it and getting successful prosecution.”


There were a handful of crime categories that experienced an increase in 2023, including one instance of kidnapping that occurred in late July.

City A6 • April 2024 Vestavia Voice
One of several flock safety cameras in Vestavia Hills is seen on Columbiana Road on March 13. Photos by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

Ware said the case involved a custody dispute that was resolved quickly and safely.

“I remember it vividly. It was on a Sunday afternoon at around 6 p.m., and it had domestic overtones,” Ware said. “It was an infant baby kidnapped by the non-custodial father. We were able to recover the child within an hour and a half, and he was in custody within an hour and a half. We had the child recovered before the state was able to issue the Amber Alert.”


Another crime statistic that saw an increase was theft from vehicles, which grew from 32 in 2022 to 60 in 2023. Ware said crimes like these typically occur in clusters and are largely due to the lack of basic prevention methods.

“Most of the car break-ins were people stealing items from the inside of a car left unlocked

with valuables in plain sight, and that’s why we’re always reminding people to, number one, lock their cars and, number two, prior to locking them, remove all the valuables from the car,”

Ware said.

Vehicle break-ins can happen anywhere — including residential neighborhoods, shopping centers and office building complexes — but Ware said gyms are common targets.

“Generally, we have increased patrols in the areas with gyms because people might have left a purse inside while they’ve gone inside to work out,” Ware said. “When someone goes into a gym, they’re typically in there for about an hour, so that’s a good time for a thief to break into a car.”

Car thefts also rose in 2023, climbing 122% from 23 to 51. However, nine of those were related to leasing agreements at the U-Haul

facility on U.S. 31, Ware said.

“We have one of the largest U-Haul facilities in the Southeast, and those are more along the lines of a civil matter, but they’re still by national standards reported as a theft of a vehicle,” he said.

The remaining 41 car thefts were mostly crimes of opportunity and, again, can be prevented by basic vigilance, Ware said. Additionally, he said many of the thefts involve certain car brands, mostly Hyundais and Kias, that are targeted by thieves.

“Many of those represent vehicles that had the keys in the car and the car was unlocked, he said.


Vestavia Hills also saw a slight increase in reported vandalism cases in 2023, with 55 cases

compared to 42 in 2022.

“Still, when you consider that we’re a city of about 40,000 people, all of these numbers are relatively low,” Ware said.

Vestavia Hills experienced a 16% decrease in drug offenses, from 861 in 2022 to 721 in 2023, and a 67% decrease in weapons offenses in 2023, with only 40 cases compared to 122 in 2022.

“These two offenses, drug and weapon, are generally officer-initiated,” Ware said. “Those are due to very proactive police work.”

However, last year, the major drop in weapons cases was driven by the change in Alabama law that made it no longer a crime to carry a gun without a permit. That change took effect Jan. 1, 2023.

One of the factors contributing to crime in Vestavia Hills is the transient nature of those committing the crimes, Ware said. Additionally, the demolition of the old Days Inn on U.S. 31, near the border with Hoover, could be helping to reduce certain crime statistics in the city, he said.

“The vast majority of the people that we arrest don’t reside within the city. They’re traveling through and passing through,” Ware said.


The Vestavia Hills Police Department continues to improve and develop strategies to combat criminal behavior wherever it crops up within the city, Ware said.

“Our patrol division is very proactive, but not only that, they’re strategic,” Ware said. “They are aware of what’s going on in the community and adjust their patrol techniques to accommodate shifts in the crime that’s actually taking place here. So they’re very strategic in what they’re doing.

“The bottom line is we are here to enforce the law, whatever that law is, and we will adjust our tactics as needed. If we see any shifts in crime that is occurring in the city, we’ll maintain our proactive nature and our vigilance,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of good people here that are doing very good police work, and we don’t anticipate that changing.” April 2024 • A7
The 2024 Vestavia Hills city budget has allocated funds for the department to purchase four new patrol vehicles to complete the one-to-one vehicle initiative.


Jerry Hughes, a corporal with the Vestavia Hills Police Department, spent two years on dialysis due to renal failure.

But then a fellow law enforcement officer stepped in to help save his life. Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Mike House donated a kidney to Hughes in December, and now Hughes is back at work in the VHPD.

Vestavia Hills city officials in March took time to thank House for helping deliver a “miracle,” honoring him at the March 11 City Council meeting.

“Thank you for allowing us the opportunity tonight to celebrate such a unique event in the history of our department, one that I am beyond thankful for,” police Chief Shane Ware said. “Tonight, we are truly celebrating something, and something that has been such a series of miracles in our eyes.”

Vestavia Hills City Manager Jeff Downes said House had long felt the calling to be an organ donor and said city officials are in awe of his faith in God and his selfless dedication to others.

“The city council and mayor join in commending Lt. House for his valor and personal sacrifice, which resulted in saving the life of a fellow law enforcement officer,” House said.

Ware then presented House with a Lifesaving Award, thanking him for his willingness to help a stranger.

“This department and the Hughes family will be forever grateful,” Ware said. “May God bless you.”

House, a devoted Christian, said he felt led by God to be an organ donor.

“If people will just listen to God, He will put you where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there,” House said.

Hughes, also a man of strong faith, said he is thankful not only to House but also to the support he and his family received during his illness.

“The only thing that I’d say during the journey that I went through, it just goes to prove that if God is standing with you, then nobody or nothing can stand against you,” Hughes said. “We have just an amazing community here coming together and supporting me and my family. … He [House] gave me a second chance at life with his selfless act. I’m just a new man.”

In other business on March 11, the Vestavia Hills City Council unanimously approved the annexation of a portion of 1051 Highfield Drive in The Bray at Liberty Park. The

Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department

Lt. Mike House, center (in tan uniform), embraces Vestavia Hills police Cpl.

Jerry Hughes as Vestavia Hills Mayor Ashley Curry and members of the Vestavia Hills City Council honor House for his lifesaving kidney donation to Hughes during the Vestavia Hills City Council meeting on March 11.

annexation essentially allows Vestavia Hills and Birmingham to swap equal 25-foot strips of land, allowing the Liberty Park Joint Venture to build an office building within The Bray at Liberty Park.

Additionally, the City Council approved an alcohol license for Sefer Dika, owner of Napoli Italian Restaurant and Pizza in the Rocky Ridge community.

Downes also updated the council that efforts to come to an agreement with Amason & Associates, the general contractor for the city’s Civic Center, regarding a chiller that failed in

December 2022, have failed and that this dispute is now headed to mandatory third-party arbitration.

“We stand behind the fact that this was a contractor and or contractor’s subs issue, and we hope it will be resolved by at least the arbitration date, if not before, if the parties see this is in the best interest to remedy the situation,” Downes said.

Downes said he and city attorney Patrick Boone are considering all avenues to reach an agreement with Amason & Associates but will pull the company’s bond if necessary.

A8 • April 2024 Vestavia Voice
deputy gives Vestavia officer kidney, 2nd chance at life
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Would you think that it’s an April Fool’s Day prank if I told you the pedestrian bridge from Wald Park to the Library in the Forest was going to happen?

Well, there’s no “April fooling” about the fact that construction bids were solicited and a low bid has been accepted for the construction. You could see construction underway within the next few months. What started as a dream during Mayor Scotty McCallums’s tenure will finally come to fruition this year.

The long-desired walkability from Wald Park to the library and the hiking trails behind it will now be available. Coupled with the success of the renovated Wald Park and the Vestavia Hills Aquatic Center, the pedestrian bridge will wrap up the vision we have had for a long time.

The April Fool’s opportunities also include new businesses on south U.S. 31, near the old Days Inn property that the city purchased over a year ago. Again, you may think that I was pulling a prank if I told you that construction has started for a retail center anchored by Waldo’s Chicken and Beer on one end and Big Bad Breakfast on the other end.

This, too, is the culmination of a vision our city has had to enhance its southern entrance. There will be much more to come with the redevelopment in this area.

Also, you will see construction underway at The Bray in Liberty Park. What will be the largest commercial development in our city’s history will come to fruition during this year and into next year.

There is no “April fooling” about the great things going on in our city. I wish you an early spring and a happy April with no pranks.

/ Resins (caulk, glue)

Paint (latex, acrylic, oil, and spray)

Stains / Sealants

Varnishes / Shellacs

Strippers / Removers Thinners / Solvents


Wallpaper Cement Stripper / Adhesive

Asphalt Sealers

Roof Cements

Machinery / Lawn Equipment (compressor, generators, lawnmowers)

Pool Chemicals (algaecides, chlorine)

Insect Sprays and Powders / Fumigants (ant, flea, rat, roach, wasp)

Septic Tank Additives


Yard Chemicals (fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides)

Batteries (car, truck motorcycle, marine)

Cleaners / Degreasers

Rust Removers (carburetor, polish, soaps, solvents)

Filters and Fuel Additives

Fluids (antifreeze, brake, transmission)

*GALMLS data for 2023

Jana Hanna

RealtySouth Top Producer 205-835-6188

Gas / Oil Gas and Oil Mixture

Tires (without rims, limit 8)

Aerosols (disinfectants, hair products)

Batteries (alkaline, lead, lithium, rechargeable or NiCad)

Chemicals (acids, ammonia, bleach, drain openers)

Cleaners / Degreasers (bath, kitchen, rug, outdoor)

First Aid and Sunscreen (antiseptics, burn and wound care, sanitizers)

Light Bulbs / Tubes / Ballasts (CFL, fluorescent, sodium)

Appliances (air conditioners, freezers, refrigerators, stoves)


Cooking Oil and Grease

Electronics (computers, cell phones, televisions, security equipment, small appliances)

Fire Extinguishers

Smoke Alarms

Gas Cylinders / Flammables (carbon dioxide, gasoline, kerosene, oxygen, propane)

Mercury and Mercury Containing Items (thermometers, thermostats) Ammunition /

Medical Waste

Radioactive Materials

Unidentified Materials April 2024 • A9 Mayor’s Minute
2024 Hazardous Waste Day Spring Collection Event April 13, 2024 @ 8:00am—11:30am For more information visit or call 205-325-8741 This event is funded by the City of Bessemer, Je erson County Department of Health, and the Je erson County Commission in partnership with the Cities of Gardendale and Irondale. Place items in trunk or bed of your vehicle - Remain in Vehicle (WILL ACCEPT) (WILL NOT ACCEPT)
Adhesives / Epoxies
Asbestos /

Business Happenings


Amanda Smith has relocated her gym, The Heights

Fitness, from 4232 Dolly Ridge Road to another spot about a mile away at 3100 Sunview Drive, still in Cahaba Heights.



RealtySouth has added Linda Ponder, Lindsey Lester and Suzanne Jones to its Over-the-Mountain office at 2409 Acton Road, Suite 137.

Linda Ponder: 205-777-1906, Lindsey Lester: 601-201-8068, Suzanne Jones: 205-492-0598;


Warren Averett, an accounting firm with an office at 2500 Acton Road, Suite 200, has received

ClearlyRated’s Best of Accounting Award. This award is based exclusively on client ratings, citing the firm’s excellent level of customer service.


Elliott Pike, founder of Vestavia’s ELM Construction, LLC, was recently named 2023’s Remodeler of the Year by the National Association of Home Builders. He was recognized at the NAHB’s International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas. Builders who were nominated have been recognized as the ones moving the remodeling industry forward with their excellence and attention to skill and creativity.



The B. Happy gift boutique has been open for one year. Located at 3124 Heights Village, this store offers items that range from clothing and accessories to bath and body products and jewelry. The shop is open Monday through Saturday beginning at 10 a.m.


River Bank and Trust has been at the Vestavia Hills location, 1425 Montgomery Highway, for one year. The bank offers personal and business banking solutions, loans, mortgages, and wealth management services.


For one year, HaMi Boutique has provided Vestavia Hills shoppers with hand-picked fashion options and gifts. The store is open at 3215 Endeavor Lane, Suite 215, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.


Business News to Share?

Do you have news to share with the community about a business in Vestavia Hills or the greater Birmingham area?

Let us know at business-happenings

Business A10 • April 2024 Vestavia Voice
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Helical Piers

Patience key for Vestavia speech therapist

“Push. Up, down. Beep beep.”

A young boy plays with a couple toy cars and a dump truck. These aren’t his words, however—not yet.

These are the words of Amanda Mavrakos doing play-based speech therapy. As a certified speech-language pathologist, she repeats these words like these thousands of times in a day.

“I model language by narrating as they play, and I get them to associate the word with that action,” Mavrakos said. “It takes a lot of patience.”

Now with her own private practice in Vestavia Hills, Salt & Light Speech-Language Resources, Mavrakos works one-on-one with clients of all ages, who have speech and language disorders ranging from developmental delays and stuttering to myofunctional (muscle movement) problems of the face, tongue and mouth.

“There aren’t a lot of us in Birmingham who do myofunctional therapy,” Mavrakos said. “I have 50 hours of continuing education classes in this field.”

Mavrakos, who opened her office in May 2023, previously worked as a physical therapy assistant at nursing homes and home health care agencies for 15 years, working closely with speech-language pathologists. She decided to go back to school and earned her master’s in speech-language pathology and audiology from the University of Montevallo in 2018.

“I saw what they were doing, and I was intrigued. I thought, this is something I would love to do,” Mavrakos said.

In addition to treating language delays, speech sound disorders and myofunctional issues, Mavrakos works with clients who want to improve their voices.

“There are a few things I don’t do. For instance, I don’t work with singers. I can’t carry a note in a bucket,” Mavrakos joked. “And I’ve never worked with anyone who is nonverbal.

But if there’s something I can’t help with, I can

refer you to someone who can.”

Patience and fortitude are qualities that Mavrakos has strengthened not only throughout her career but also in her personal life. Three months into her master’s program, her marriage ended — a curveball that blindsided her during what was already a stressful time.

“I didn’t see it coming at all,” Mavrakos said. “It totally caught me off-guard.”

One year later, Mavrakos, who had lost her father in a car accident when she was 15, also lost her mother in a car accident. Her stepfather,


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who was seriously injured in the wreck, passed away due to complications two years ago.

“My professors and the staff at St. Vincent’s Home Health were so gracious and loving,” Mavrakos said. “It’s a testament to God’s mercy and presence in my life.”

Mavrakos credits God for the name she chose for her company as well.

“I had been praying and I did some Googling on speech language pathology offices, and I saw names like Sugar and Pepper. I asked God to give me the name and He gave it to

me,” she said.

Mavrakos said her aim is to serve her community through education and training on speech and language. Her website includes a blog, free resources and “homework” assignments that parents can use to help their children.

“My goal is to get one or two more therapists here,” Makravos said. “I also want to start an educational program for new mothers.”

Salt & Light Speech-Language Resources is located at 400 Vestavia Parkway, Suite 135. For more information, visit

A12 • April 2024 Vestavia Voice
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Speech therapist Amanda Makravos works with a client at Salt & Light Speech-Language Resources. Photos courtesy of Amanda Makravos.

The Birmingham metro area has lost a lot of Italian restaurants over the years, but a new one in Rocky Ridge is conjuring up memories of long-gone places such as LaVoy’s in Homewood, Romeo’s on Southside or Sal’s Italian across town in Roebuck.

Napoli Italian Restaurant & Pizza opened its doors in October in the former location of Johnny Brusco’s New York Style Pizza, between IZ Cafe and Alabama Biscuit Co., and already has developed a loyal following.

The interior is all rustic Italian elegance, with white tablecloths on every table and empty wine bottles used as decorations throughout the restaurant. Additionally, the lighting is low in an effort to create a warm and intimate dining experience where customers can enjoy a conversation.

Owner and operator Sefer Dika said it’s common to see the same faces multiple times per week.

“I have a lot who come around two and three times a week. A lot of people are supporting me and want me to be successful,” he said.

“It’s very comfortable here. They feel like when they come in here, they feel like they’re coming home,” Dika added. “If their reservations are for 5 o’clock, they’re still here til 9 o’clock or 10, til we close. At the same time, it makes me very happy.”

The food at Napoli is classic Northern Italian, with the occasional twist thrown in. The menu features traditional pasta dishes such as baked ziti, lasagna and fettuccine pesto. Other

fare includes marsala, piccata and scarpariello with either chicken or veal. Seafood dishes on the menu include shrimp scampi, lobster ravioli and zuppa di pesce, a traditional fish soup with clams, mussels, salmon, shrimp and calamari in garlic and a red or white sauce.

Diners will also find strombolis, calzones and pizzas with fresh toppings. The pizza menu features traditional options, such as the margherita with mozzarella, fresh basil and crushed tomato sauce, or the Mediterranean with a garlicky white sauce, onions, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, feta and mozzarella cheese.

But Dika isn’t afraid to experiment with his pizzas, offering several specialty pies that may

raise an eyebrow from purists. For instance, there is the Buffalo chicken pizza or the cheese fry pizza, topped with French fries, cheddar cheese sauce and mozzarella.

Dika, a native of Albania, emigrated to the United States 30 years ago amid the political turmoil in his home country in the mid-1990s. He found his way to Connecticut with no money, no papers and few prospects.

He got his first job washing dishes in an Italian restaurant, learning to cook over time and making a living in the restaurant business, eventually owning a restaurant in Austin, Texas. Dika and his wife raised three sons, all college graduates and successful business

owners in the Northeast.

Napoli Italian Restaurant & Pizza is Dika’s third restaurant and, he says, his last. Now in his 60s, Dika and his wife ended up in Vestavia Hills after compromising on where to live after returning to the South, following several years back in Connecticut.

“My wife, she wanted to go back to Texas. I wanted Florida, but this was in between,” Dika said. “The people are very happy here. I think we made a good decision.”

Napoli Italian Restaurant & Pizza is located at 2516 Rocky Ridge Road and is open by reservation only from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. seven days a week. For reservations, call 205-326-7478. April 2024 • A13
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Pizza opens in Rocky Ridge Plaza
Napoli Pizza opened in Rocky Ridge in October 2023. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.
A little bit of Italy in Rocky Ridge Napoli


Have a community announcement? Email Sarah Villar at to be considered for inclusion in an upcoming issue.

Work has begun on the Girl Scouts of North Central Alabama’s new DreamLab in the Vestavia Hills City Center.

The DreamLab is going into an 11,300-square-foot space formerly occupied by Redstone Church. It’s designed to be a cutting-edge, program-oriented center meant to provide specialized programming and to enhance the Girl Scouts’ community impact within their communities.

The DreamLab will feature an auditorium with seating for 175 girls when configured as a classroom setting, but it will accommodate up to 325 people when converted to an event space, said Karen Peterlin, executive director for the Girl Scouts of North Central Alabama.

The DreamLab will give girls access to professional audio/visual equipment in a media center, STEM labs, art labs, a climbing tower and private spaces to hang out and talk. The concept is to provide a safe and immersive experience where girls can form bonds, explore new interests and challenge themselves, Peterlin said.

“In this state-of-the-art media center, the girls will be able to go in there where it’s totally soundproof, and they’ll be able to do podcasts, they’ll be able to do webinars and college applications, since some college applications now want a video or an audio,” Peterlin said.

“We’ll have five mini-STEM labs that are fully equipped for the girls to work on any kind of the science, technology, engineering and math badges that we have,” she said. “Girls also wanted spaces that we refer to as ‘huddle spaces,’ where they can just hang out with their friends and talk.”

The first Girl Scout DreamLab debuted in Colorado in March 2023, and this will be the fourth or fifth one in the country, depending on when it’s finished. It’s scheduled to open in June and will be the largest DreamLab so far.

Peterlin said the DreamLab will reflect the wants that girls expressed in a series of surveys.

“When we had focus groups with girls and did surveys with girls, what resonated with us was girls, loud and clear, said to us, ‘I don’t want my grandmother’s Girl Scout experience,

and I don’t want my mother’s Girl Scouts experience. I want my Girl Scout experience,’” Peterlin said.

To make the DreamLab a reality, the Girls Scouts of North Central Alabama’s board evaluated its current physical spaces and realized it didn’t need office buildings it owned in Hoover’s Inverness community and Huntsville.

“Workplace and work environments have changed,” Peterlin said.

The DreamLab will have café-style

workspaces for staff but will otherwise be devoted to girls’ programming and experiences for individuals and single or multiple troops.

The auditorium will feature a stage and state-of-the-art audio-visual system, Peterlin said. The space also solves a problem many troops have experienced when attempting to find affordable event space.

“For instance, we have troops looking for space to do a father-daughter dance, and renting a facility that they wanted to rent was going to be $2,500,” Peterlin said. Now, they can use the DreamLab.

Additionally, the auditorium will provide opportunities for greater community outreach and partnerships with other organizations.

The Girl Scouts of the USA has provided models for spaces between 3,000 and 5,000 square feet, allowing member organizations to save time and money on their final designs. However, at more than 11,000 square feet, the DreamLab in Vestavia Hills required additional design assistance from Nelson Worldwide to bring it to life. The project is being managed by Newmark Group, the developer of the DreamLab concept for the Girls Scouts of the USA.

Peterlin said the location at 600 Montgomery Highway, Suite 208, is an ideal location for Girl Scout troops around the state and is accessible for people with disabilities.

“About 53% of our membership is about an hour and a half away, so it can be a destination for girls from outside of even the local areas to come to the DreamLab and spend the day,” she said. “And there are so many other things that they can experience right there or in downtown Birmingham.”

For more information about the DreamLab, visit

A14 • April 2024 Vestavia Voice
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Representatives from the Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama participate in a “groundbreaking” ceremony in February 2024 for a Girl Scouts DreamLab in the Vestavia Hills City Center. Photo courtesy of Girl Scouts of North Central Alabama. (205) 967-8189 3800 Colonnade Parkway, Suite 200, Birmingham Have you had two or more pregnancies? OR a blood transfusion? OR told you have an antibody? To find out more information CALL US TODAY. Do you have a negative blood type? Mothers Needed You may qualify to produce life-saving medicine and be compensated $700+ per month (205) 942-9460 | 212 41st St S., Birmingham, AL 35222 Local pickup and drop off is available Serving Birmingham since 1984 From dusty to digital. Let Image Hive convert and restore your old media (pictures, slides, film, video and audio cassettes) into digital files, preserving and protecting your memories for generations to come. We are Birmingham’s trusted media conversion experts, using the latest technology on-site for reliable and timely work.
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Have a schoolhouse announcement? Email Sarah Villar at to be considered for inclusion in an upcoming issue.

3 principals to retire in July

A principal shakeup is underway in the Vestavia Hills school system.

Vestavia Hills High School Principal Tonya Rozell, Vestavia Hills Elementary West Principal Kim Hauser and Vestavia Hills Elementary East Principal Mark Richardson all plan to retire effective July 1, Superintendent Todd Freeman said.

The school board on Feb. 26 approved Blair Inabinet, the current principal at Liberty Park Middle School, as the replacement for Rozell at the high school, and then on March 18 promoted two assistant principals to take the elementary principal jobs.

Cindy Echols, who has been an assistant principal at Vestavia Hills Elementary East since 2012, will replace Richardson, and Susan McCall, who has been an assistant principal at Vestavia Hills Elementary West since 2016, will replace Hauser.

Freeman praised the work done by Rozell, Hauser and Richardson, saying they have provided stellar leadership for the Vestavia Hills school system, with a combined 43 years as principals.

Richardson has been principal at Vestavia Hills Elementary East since 1999, following the retirement of Vestavia Hills City Schools Hall of Fame member Jim Williams. Richardson previously served as an assistant principal in Shelby County Schools and as a fifth grade teacher at Vestavia Hills Elementary Central. VHEE was named a National School of Character twice during his tenure, first in 2013 and again in 2022.

Hauser has been principal of Vestavia Hills Elementary West since 2013. She previously

served as the school’s assistant principal for 12 years and as a fifth grade teacher at Vestavia Hills Elementary Central from 1996 to 2005. Under her leadership, VHEW was named a National Blue Ribbon School in 2016 and a National School of Character in 2021.

Rozell became principal of VHHS in 2020. She previously served as principal of Liberty Park Middle School and as an assistant principal in Hoover City Schools. Rozell’s experience as an educator spans more than 30 years at schools in Vestavia Hills, Hoover, Mountain

Brook, Shelby County and Birmingham. During her principalship, VHHS students achieved the school’s highest Advanced Placement scores in more than five years and the highest number of National Merit semifinalists and finalists in nearly 20 years, school officials said.

“They have shepherded their schools really well,” Freeman said.

While the three principals have about the same amount of experience as Freeman does, he has learned from them and is grateful for them, he said.

They’re all leaving in good standing, happy and making good decisions, Freeman said, and they announced their retirement plans early enough to give the school system plenty of time to make new hires.

Inabinet, who will be moving into the principal role at the high school, has 19 years of experience in education. She previously served as principal of Vestavia Hills Elementary Liberty Park and has worked at schools in Mountain Brook and Georgia as an elementary and high school assistant principal, teacher leader, gifted coordinator and science and history teacher.

Echols previously served as an assistant principal and principal of Edgewood Elementary School in Homewood, as an assistant principal at Hewitt-Trussville Middle School and as a teacher at the former Cahaba Heights Community School.

McCall previously served as a reading coach at Cherokee Bend Elementary in Mountain Brook, as an instructional coach and teacher at Deer Valley Elementary in Hoover, and as an instructional coach and teacher in Gwinnett County, Georgia. She also worked on the collegiate level as an adjunct professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham from 2015 to 2018.

Additionally, Tiffany Marron, who has been serving as interim principal at VHELP this year, was officially named the new principal on Feb. 26.

Before being named interim principal at Vestavia Hills Elementary Liberty Park, Marron served as assistant principal there for two years. She worked for a combined 20 years as a teacher at Vestavia Hills Elementary Cahaba Heights as well as schools in Mountain Brook and Auburn. April 2024 • A15
Rozell Inabinet Hauser McCall Richardson
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“Mountain Brook has these villages, and Homewood has Edgewood and SoHo. Where in Vestavia did you go that had a gathering space? So the vision was ‘Let’s create a gathering space here.’”

Lell envisioned a green space where families could gather and their kids could play and hang out while enjoying fast-casual food from local restaurants, as well as a central location for live music and special community events. The KPR leadership agreed, but getting the local business community on board wasn’t so easy.

“I thought it needed to be focused on food and beverage, and it needed to be around a gathering space, and I knew it needed to be something local and popular that people would be excited about,” Lell said. “People had a terrible time envisioning what this was going to look like. It looked terrible. It had raised flower beds that had dead plants all in them. It was in disrepair. It didn’t look good.”

While Lell was excited about the future of the Vestavia City Center, some of her friends and colleagues in the commercial real estate business cautioned her about her enthusiasm for the project. One of her good friends brought up the failure of Dale’s Southern Grill, which operated a location briefly in the City Center.

Undaunted, Lell believed that the right mix of restaurants and retail would appeal to Vestavia Hills residents and surrounding areas.

“I’m sorry, but Vestavia residents didn’t want to go to Dale’s. It wasn’t the right thing,” she said.

“I listened to what the residents wanted. They wanted someplace to bring their kids,” she added. “They want to be able to sit outside and have a margarita and let their children run around and feel like they’re safe.”

Mama to The Summit and strongly believed a new location in the City Center would be a hit.

One of the first local restaurants Lell considered was Taco Mama. She developed a relationship with Taco Mama’s founder, Will Haver, while working for Bayer Properties with a focus on The Summit. She was instrumental in bringing Taco

Her first conversation with Haver was met with resistance. Haver said that while he was interested in opening a Taco Mama in Vestavia Hills, the City Center was out of the question. However, Lell asked for an opportunity to share her vision for the development and eventually earned Haver’s support.

Haver said that initially there was

“zero way” he’d open a location at the center. “She told me they had redeveloped it and added a cool green space. She then asked me to ‘just do her a favor and come by and look at it.’”

Haver said he “begrudgingly” agreed to meet with Lell to discuss the project. Lell prepared herself with renderings of what the final renovations would look like. Haver liked what he saw but still had some reservations, especially about

being the first new restaurant in the yet-to-be-redeveloped City Center.

Lell said she knew that Taco Mama would be well received in Vestavia Hills and convinced Haver that other local businesses would follow his lead.

“When Will said ‘Thanks but no thanks,’ I really had to work with him on understanding the vision of what it was going to be, and that was hard to do because we hadn’t put a shovel in the ground when I got Will

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The turf green space at Vestavia Hills City Center provides outdoor seating and a space for families and their children to gather. Photos by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

on board with it,” she said. “He had to kind of buy into my vision.

“Some people just weren’t visionaries. They couldn’t picture it, but Will bought in,” Lell added. “He did want to be in Vestavia, and so he bought into it. He was my first guy that jumped in with me into the development.”

“Once we opened, we had a line out the door, and other restaurateurs started calling me soon after to see if they should come join us. It worked

out great,” Haver said. Haver signed a lease in March 2020, just before the lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic began. The Vestavia Hills Taco Mama officially opened in early 2021 and has steadily grown into one of the company’s best-performing locations.

“I am ‘knocking on wood,’ but it has been awesome to be there. We love the Vestavia community and that restaurant. The community thanks us all the time for being there,

and we can’t thank them enough for supporting us every day,” Haver said. “I have a great appreciation for how Crawford Square thinks about the vibrancy of the center. They are great at what they do. We knew we were going to add energy to that development. It’s one of our top restaurants.”

Just as Lell predicted, Taco Mama’s success and the City Center’s new vibe have brought a wave of local and national businesses to

the development, such as Crumbl Cookies, Chopt, The Standard, Pigtails & Crewcuts and the second location of Davenport’s Pizza Palace.

“I got Davenport’s on board with it because I had Taco Mama, and then because of that, we got The Standard, and Pigtails and Crewcuts came along at that time, too,” Lell said. “It just built on each other.”

Established by brothers Rex and Ardyce Holli in 1964, Davenport’s

has been a Mountain Brook restaurant for 60 years. Ardyce Holli’s grandchildren, Amanda Thames and Yates Norris, now run the family business and decided to open a second restaurant in the City Center after investigating possible locations in Homewood and Trussville, among others.

While Davenport’s operated a restaurant in Vestavia Hills for about 10 years in the 1970s and 1980s, Thames said she and Norris, a Vestavia Hills resident, couldn’t find an ideal place for a new location until the redeveloped City Center caught their attention.

“We already knew about it, but we just started looking at it and loved what they did with outdoor space and just being so family-friendly and kind of a little gathering center for families,” Thames said. “We loved that idea, and that provided some things that our Mountain Brook location doesn’t have, like outdoor seating.”

Thames said that as attractive as the City Center was on its own, she was happy to see Taco Mama already in the process of opening by the time she and Norris signed their lease.

“I have to admit that because Taco Mama was right next door, that definitely helped. I probably wouldn’t have wanted to be the first tenant,” Thames added. “That gave us a lot of confidence that it might be a great fit for us.

“It’s been great. We had a lot of positive responses when we announced we were moving in, and a lot more people than I expected to remember the old Vestavia location,” Thames said. “Without the changes that Lell made, we most likely wouldn’t have wanted to move into that space.”

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Davenport’s Pizza Palace is one of the newer restaurants to open at Vestavia Hills City Center.


CONTINUED from page A1

After a quick inspection, Vickery’s firefighter instincts kicked in, and he knew exactly what the problem was — their house was on fire.

“It sounded like rain on a tin roof, but I recognized it because of doing what I do for a living. It sounded like crackling to me,” Vickery said. “I said, ‘I think the house is on fire,’ and about that time I got out of bed, and the smoke alarms started going off.”

Many months after the fire, Vickery can still recall his actions over the next few hours, as he relied on his training to guide him through the process. Realizing the fire was in the attic, he instructed his wife to grab some clothes and start making calls while he ran around to the back of the house to start spraying the upper portion of the house with water.

“I told my wife, ‘Tell them we’re going to need this fire department, that fire department,’ because I knew it was going to be a big fire once I knew it was in the attic,” he said. “We had a big attic at that point, and knowing fire behavior, if it gets in that big open space, it’s just going to run.”

About 10 minutes later, the McCalla Fire Department arrived.

Vickery explained he was a firefighter himself and instructed them where the fire was and how to approach it, while also helping to fight the blaze.

Soon, other trucks arrived and more personnel worked to control the fire. However, it soon became evident to Vickery that they were fighting a losing battle and that he had to break the news to his wife.

“We gave it a valiant effort.

They came back outside and said, ‘We can’t get to it. We can’t put a stop to it,’” he said. “By that point, it had run the whole top of the attic and was shooting out the top of the roof, which was 25 to 30 feet in the air. That’s around the time I realized they’re not going to save our house.

“I had to tell her, ‘We’re fixing to lose it all,’ which was really

heart-wrenching. I knew they were doing everything they could,” Vickery said. “You really don’t know what to do at that point, so it’s really just looking at it and having our moment with each other and being thankful that we still have each other.”

Vickery joined the VHFD in 2015, after several years working in other departments throughout

the state. He started his career in Vestavia

at Station 1 on Montgomery Highway near the Chick-fil-A, eventually transferring to Station 4 in Liberty Park not long after the fire that destroyed his home.

Also an emergency medical technician, Vickery is accustomed to being on the other end of a call, whether it’s controlling a house

fire or attending to a medical emergency. However, once news spread throughout the department that his house had caught fire and was a total loss, Vickery learned that being a firefighter isn’t just a career — it’s a brotherhood.

By 7:30 that same morning, Vickery said the city “shut his crew down” and allowed them to help him and his wife sift through the

Hills Vestavia Hills firefighter Jonathan Vickery cuts trim on the back porch of his home as he continues to work on the rebuild in McCalla on March 14.
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Vickery’s home burned in a house fire in October 2022. Photos by Erin Nelson Sweeney.
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My guys are still supportive of me as far as checking on anything I need. We all have some kind of trade. I got guys that know how to do certain things, and they’ll say, ‘Hey, I’ll come help you do that if you’re doing it yourself.’

“ ”debris for any salvageable items.

“They just got the ball rolling and getting us situated,” he said.

The rebuilding process has been a challenge due to the rapid increase in the cost of construction materials, equipment and labor over the last three years, Vickery said. While he is content with the fact that their new house won’t quite be as nice as the original, he has been able to stretch the insurance dollars by doing much of the work himself and relying on his fellow Vestavia Hills firefighters, who have been at his side and offered as much help as possible.

“The process to get us started was very difficult,” he said. “To save money, I tore the whole house down myself. Luckily, I knew how to run heavy equipment, so I just rented an excavator and found a company to line up dumpsters for me, and I spent about a week running that sunup to sundown, filling dumpsters. You never imagine that your whole life fit in six dumpsters, but it does.

“My guys are still supportive of me as far as checking on anything I need, “Vickery said. “We all have some kind of trade. I got guys that know how to do certain

things, and they’ll say, ‘Hey, I’ll come help you do that if you’re doing it yourself.’”

Vickery said one colleague in particular, Mike Kelly, helped make rebuilding a reality. A general contractor in addition to his work as a firefighter, Kelly agreed to oversee the project for nominal fees, allowing the Vickerys to focus on healing from the trauma as well as getting the construction process off the ground in August 2023.

“He was our saving grace,” Vickery said. “He stepped up and said, ‘I can do this for you and help you out.’”

Now, with the house almost ready for occupancy, Vickery said he is eager for him and his wife to put the fire behind them and move on with their lives. He said LaVonda still finds it difficult to talk about, while he tends to be more pragmatic about the events, especially considering his line of work. However, even he admits that it’s hard at times for him as well.

“I’m a shoot-straight kind of guy,” he said. “It’s like I told my

Vestavia Hills firefighter Jonathan Vickery talks about the vaulted ceiling in the rebuild of his home.
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and entertainment areas,” Grant says.



“Fall is considered the best time of year to plant new trees and shrubs,” Grant says.

However, you need help picking the perfect plants for you.

Many factors come into play, Grant says — sun exposure, soil type, landscape slope and your own preferences.

“We enjoy creating a plan that meets the needs of each customer and landscape,” he says.

The company staff specializes in beautiful landscapes but they’re also “very good at developing outdoor play

The team stays abreast of the latest design trends and can satisfy any client’s taste with either traditional or unusual plant materials.

“More customers are spending more time around their homes,” Grant says. “We have the best prices locally on large and small trees and shrubs to create privacy screens, shade and curb appeal.”

Gardner Landscaping also does clean ups, drainage projects and landscape borders.

“We can get your property where it’s managed correctly,” Grant says.

Gardner Landscaping works with all types of budgets and projects in Birmingham, Auburn, Dadeville, Alexander City or Lake Martin.

For details, call 205-401-3347 or go to

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. Home & Garden Guide 2024 Spring We’re committed to surpassing your expectations for your beautiful outdoor spaces by creating and maintaining landscaping, hardscape installation and effectively minimizing drainage and erosion issues. BEST PRICE for Trees, Shrubs, Privacy Screens & Astroturf Gardner has the Call to schedule your landscaping plan 205-401-3347 Your Large and Small Tree, Shrub and Drainage Experts High Quality Service and Customer Satisfaction is our priority Spring is a perfect time to beautify your yard Gardner Landscaping • 205-401-3347 •
lots of landscapers in the Birmingham area, but few measure up to Gardner Landscaping in Hoover.
talented Gardner
experts, all of whom are licensed and insured, have provided top-quality residential and commercial service since 2006.
have the people and resources to get your project done in a timely manner,” owner Grant Gardner says.
company also seeks to provide clients with project quotes within 24 hours.
is a perfect season to have
B SECTION AprIl 2024 Events B6 Sports B8 Opinion B12 Real Estate B14 TAX REFUND TAX REFUND SAVE UP TO $1,000 STOREWIDE

For a huge selection of top-quality decorative and architectural hardware, as well as interior and exterior lighting, look no farther than Brandino Brass in Homewood.

The experts at Brandino Brass also design such items as custom brass shelving, gate hardware, mailboxes, fireballs and barn-door hardware.

Brandino Brass is the go-to place for homeowners, architects and designers who are updating, renovating or building a home.

The team at Brandino Brass helps guide customers through an array of options to find the perfect items for their space.

David and Nancy Wright are among the latest customers to enjoy the company’s selection and service. The couple built a new Country French house measuring about 5,000 square feet in Liberty Park in 2022.

During construction, they worked with Brandino Brass — mainly with Jessie Isom and Renee Genereux, two of the store’s co-owners.

“We worked with Brandino for all of our cabinet and door hardware and our outdoor gas lighting,” Nancy said.

“We loved working with Brandino,” she said. “The quality and selections of their products made it easy to find exactly what I needed.”

“They probably carry the best quality

product lines in Birmingham,” David said. “Whatever you do, you know you’re going to get a good product.”

“Jessie and Renee were the best to work with,” Nancy said. “They were very patient with me, as building a new house can be very overwhelming. They made great suggestions and helped me when I needed to move into a specific price range.”

“We felt at home with those guys,” David said. “We felt like they had our interests at heart.”

The couple were impressed by the team at Brandino Brass in all aspects of customer service.

“They always answered our phone calls when we had questions, and our orders came exactly when we needed

them,” Nancy said.

This is keeping with the company’s philosophy, Isom said.

“Customer service is always our top priority,” he said. “I feel my job is to educate each client as to what is offered to meet their needs and then allow them to make the best choice for their project. I’m always happy to offer guidance as needed.”

Isom was a big help to Nancy in picking out her hardware, she said.

“Going in and picking our hardware is very overwhelming, and I didn’t want anything trendy,” she said. “The things Jessie help me pick are just perfect.”

He helped her capture the simple, classic vibe she wanted, Nancy said.

“I’m very happy with my kitchen hardware,” she said. “It’s timeless unlacquered brass that will age beautifully.”

The one area where the couple “went outside the box” in terms of design was in the bar.

“We have a cabinet in the bar area where we got some pulls that were made in the shape of really elegant woodpeckers,” David said. “We love them. It’s our favorite purchase.”

“The detail and workmanship are amazing,” Nancy said

“It was a real pleasure working with Brandino Brass,” she said. “I will again in the future.”

B2 • April 2024 Vestavia Voice Spring Home & Garden • Special Advertising Section
Door Hardware Cabinet Hardware Decorative Interior Lighting Brass & Copper Lanterns Mailboxes & Posts FireBalls & Logs Gate & Barn Door Hardware M o n d a y - T h u r s d a y : 8 a m - 5 p m F r i d a y : 8 a m - 1 p m Appoi ntments Preferred. 205.978.8900 2824 Central Avenue #100 Homewood, AL It’s all in the Details... 2824 Central Ave., Homewood, AL Brandino Brass is the go-to place for hardware, lighting and more for homeowners and professionals Brandino Brass • 205-978-8900 •

Shop local at Budget Blinds for great service and window covering selection

Many people like to shop local as much as they can to support the locally owned businesses in their communities.

One of those businesses in Vestavia Hills is Budget Blinds of Birmingham.

The company is owned and operated by Steve and Michelle Thackerson who live and work in Vestavia Hills and support the community, including youth programs.

They also offer all types of custom window coverings, and their highly trained personnel take the time to understand their customers and provide them with top-quality window coverings designed for their lifestyles.

Customers can also take advantage of the buying power of Budget Blinds, the world’s largest retailer of custom window coverings.

And when you call the Budget Blinds location in Vestavia Hills to get information or to schedule an appointment, you speak to someone in the local office, not a call center or remote person.

“All of our staff is employed with us and has been with us at least 10 years,” Thackerson said. “We don’t subcontract any workers out. All scheduling is done by us — not remotely or by a third party. We have total control over the scheduling.”

All window coverings are custom made to fit to each home, and all in-home measuring and installation is taken care of by Budget Blinds local employees.

“We install them, so anything that’s purchased from us, we’ll custom measure your windows and professionally install them,” Thackerson said. “We

control everything from setting up the appointment to the final installation.”

You can request a free in-home consultation or visit the showroom.

Some of the top sellers at Budget Blinds are shutters, solar shades and woven wood products.

Motorization and cordless options

for window coverings remain popular. Motorized options allow you to control blinds, shutters, solar shades and draperies from anywhere, and can be used with your home’s automation system.

“We can usually tie our product into any system you might have,” Thackerson said.

The store now carries Zebra Shades,

originally in Australia and now available in the United States. It is a unique product with both beauty and function. By combining roller shades and horizontal blinds, Zebra Shades allow you both privacy and great light control.

Budget Blinds also sells blinds with traditional cords. Due to changing national safety standards, these products are no longer available at the big-box retail stores. Budget Blinds sells the products and educates customers about using the blinds safely.

Customers at Budget Blinds of Birmingham take advantage of the long relationships Thackerson and his wife, Michelle, have built in more than 30 years in the business, as well as the national presence of Budget Blinds.

“Because of the nationwide volume of Budget Blinds, we get exclusive warranties others cannot offer,” Thackerson said. “Our manufacturers may also sell to our competitors, but they don’t give them the same warranties they give us. That sets us apart. We get the same products but better pricing and better warranties because we are the largest retailer of custom window coverings in the world.”

Budget Blinds of Birmingham is also consistently in the Top 20 Budget Blinds franchises for volume.

You can visit the showroom at 2130 Columbiana Road anytime Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, go to or call 205-824-3300. April 2024 • B3 Spring Home & Garden • Special Advertising Section 30% OFF SELECTED SIGNATURE SERIES WINDOW TREATMENTS Excluding Plantation Shutters. 205-824-3300 | 2130 Columbiana Road, Vestavia AL 35216 Schedule your FREE in-home consultation today! BUDGET BLINDS OFFERS A WIDE VARIETY OF ENERGY-SAVING WINDOW TREATMENTS BEST WARRANTIES IN THE INDUSTRY
Budget Blinds • 205-824-3300 •


Are you a homeowner who is sick and tired of your grass not growing?

Would you like to stop spending thousands of dollars sodding your lawn over and over again?

Are you tired of incurring all of the expenses in mowing, watering and fertilizing your grass?

If so, you should call the skilled professionals at Gardner Astroturf and have Astroturf installed at your home.

You’ll be joining a growing trend, because the popularity of artificial grass has grown tremendously in the past decade.

Artificial turf has even attracted positive attention recently from such trendy media outlets as House Beautiful and Architectural Digest.

Consumers should be aware that artificial grass looks and feels much closer to real grass than it did in the past, thanks to improvements in technology and


They can save lots of money on maintenance of their lawns if they choose Astroturf.

Astroturf is also very versatile and is often used not just for whole lawns, but for children’s play areas, decks, patios, putting greens and other spaces.

The skilled professionals at Gardner Astroturf deliver top-quality service to homeowners with a friendly, personal touch.

“We give individualized attention to our customers the big companies can’t,” owner Grant Gardner says.

The company’s employees are “some of the best in the business,” Gardner says, with knowledge, experience, attention to detail and a passion for customer service.

“We want our customers to have an enjoyable experience,” he says.

For details, call 205-401-3347 or go to


and building from the ground up, I realized that kitchens and bathrooms are my passion. They’re the most difficult areas in the home, and the challenge is exciting. Getting lighting, plumbing, tile, countertops, cabinets, hardware, appliances and paint to all work in harmony is extremely rewarding.

What sets Ambrose Kitchen & Bath apart? We started as a design and remodeling company, so we can take your project from design to finish, including

space reimagination. We also stand out by carrying six distinct cabinet lines to meet the design and budget needs of anyone looking to elevate their home’s value. We can usually produce 3-D renderings of your vision after only one design appointment.

What’s your favorite cabinet line? I love working with any cabinet that meets a customer’s needs, but my personal favorite is Mouser — a true luxury brand with lots of custom options. Mouser is still made in Kentucky bourbon country with the same quality and craftsmanship found nearly 70 years ago in Mr. Mouser’s tiny shop. It’s a brand that gets even architects excited — with luxury inset, trend right faceframe, chic custom veneers and modern frameless laminates. If you dream it, we can do it with Mouser.

For more information, call 205-510-6961 or visit

B4 • April 2024 Vestavia Voice Spring Home & Garden • Special Advertising Section Tired of maintaining your lawn? Try astroturf
Landscaping • 205-401-3347 • Call Gardner Landscaping Today 205-401-3347 •Spring Clean Ups • Mowing • Pruning • Mulch • Straw • Seasonal Color • Weed Control and Fertilization to Lawn Areas • Tree and Shrub Care • Fire Ant Application • Weed Control in Natural Areas • Aeration Leave the landscaping maintenance to Gardner. John Ambrose has a ‘passion’ for building great kitchens and baths Ambrose Kitchen & Bath • 205-510-6961 • John Ambrose is a Birmingham designbuild expert with years of experience in top-quality remodels and new construction. He recently rebranded his business and, in this Q&A, discusses his exciting new venture — Ambrose Kitchen & Bath.
the focus on kitchens and baths? After undertaking full remodels
205-510-6961 creating & transforming spaces for better living AKB AMBROSE KITCHEN & BATH

living with a campus connection

Capstone Village • 800-799-5099 •

Tuscaloosa’s Capstone Village is a luxury retirement community for active retirees.

Capstone Village offers worry-free living while encouraging lifelong learning and healthy activities.

Located on the historic campus of The University of Alabama — the vitality of collegiate life is brought right to your doorstep.

“We take full advantage of our location at UA. Residents are provided with many opportunities to pursue fun, vibrant, active lifestyles.” said Jana Smith, Director of Sales and Marketing for Capstone Village.

The residents at Capstone Village enjoy university amenities — athletic and cultural events, access to campus libraries, auditing of classes and access to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). Many Capstone Village residents are volunteer instructors and OLLI members.

Capstone Village emphasizes health and wellness for residents by offering onsite fitness classes, including yoga, dance and strength training. Residents also receive memberships to the well-equipped student recreation center located directly across the street. “The special relationship between the University and Capstone Village is something our residents cherish. Most of them worked on campus, attended school here or are huge Alabama fans,” Smith said. Residents enjoy having UA students from various departments and sports teams volunteer at Capstone Village. Students present musical concerts, host health clinics, facilitate special events, socialize with the residents and even work on research projects.

For more information or to request a tour, call 855-406-8242 or go to

Shunnarah Flooring offers great selection, top-quality service

Shunnarah Flooring • 205-518-6423 •

Shunnarah Flooring, formerly Homewood Carpet & Flooring, recently changed its name.

But long-time owner Foo Shunnarah hasn’t changed any of the great things that customers love about the store, including the best selection of flooring in Birmingham.

Located at 813 Green Springs Highway, Shunnarah Flooring is the go-to place for designer carpets, hardwood, tile and luxury vinyl plank. The company also offers custom rugs and runners, as well as wall-to-wall carpet.

Shunnarah Flooring carries numerous top-quality designer brands. Crescent Carpet makes many wool rugs and runners. Stanton Carpet and Anderson Tuftex are preferred by many interior designers and decorators. Anderson Hardwood Flooring offers a beautiful selection and excellent quality.

The store also carries gorgeous tile for your floors, walls, and backsplash, with

brands such as Daltile and Stonepeak, and a wide variety of durable, luxurious countertops for kitchens and bathrooms, including brands like Cambria, Enigma and Valiant.

In addition to marvelous products, Foo Shunnarah has offered great service for 17 years and helps customers pick the perfect flooring for their lifestyle and budget.

Shunnarah’s motto is “Foo And You: We Are One!”

“When I say ‘Foo and You,’ it’s really like 90% of the time you’ll see me if I’m there, and if you have any issues, you’ll talk directly to me,” he says.

Shunnarah Flooring offers free measurements, and you can look at products in the showroom or have them brought to your home. The store also offers expert installation.

Shunnarah Flooring is located at 813 Green Springs Highway. For more information, call 205-518-6423 or go to April 2024 • B5 Spring Home & Garden • Special Advertising Section
Foo Shunnarah Special financing available with a minimum purchase of $2500 Entire Showroom Included, with Approved Credit, See store for details. New Floors Can Be Yours with Special Financing! CARPET, HARDWOOD, TILE & MORE (205) 518-6423 | 813 Green Springs Hwy Call Who? Call Foo! Follow us on social media! Locally Owned & Operated THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA® 601 Peter Bryce Boulevard | Tuscaloosa, AL 35401 The Capstone Village lifestyle is open to everyone regardless of University affiliation. As The University of Alabama’s retirement living community, Capstone Village provides residents the freedom to enjoy active living and easy access to lifelong learning at its finest. Our caring staff, lifestyle amenities and commitment to safety are unmatched. You don’t have to be an Alabama fan to join our community, but you may become one! apartments communityengagement campus resources garden homes Meaningfulfriendships active living fun events & celebrations SCHEDULE A GARDEN HOME OR APARTMENT TOUR TODAY! Visit or call 855-406-8242
Capstone Village:

Vestavia Hills events guide

April 4: Washington

Update with Gary Palmer. 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Hyatt Regency Birmingham-The Wynfrey Hotel, 1000 Riverchase Galleria, Hoover. $35 for investors/members of any of the host organizations; $45 for future investors.

April 9: Vestavia Hills Chamber Monthly

Luncheon. 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Vestavia Country Club, 400 Beaumont Drive. Network with other chamber members and hear speakers on a variety of topics. Reservations $25.

April 16: 33rd Annual Dogwood Prayer Breakfast. 7:30-9 a.m. Vestavia Country Club, 400 Beaumont Drive. Dignitaries and local citizens will come together to pray for the city, state and country. The keynote speaker is Anna Curry Gualano. Tickets $25.

April 19-20: Shades Mountain Baptist Church — Full Circle Parenting Conference. Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at noon. Shades Mountain Baptist Church, 2017 Columbiana Road. Jimmy and Kristin Scroggins guide the audience through having those tough conversations from a biblical perspective and distinctly Christian worldview. $20 for one parent; $30 for both parents. Childcare is available, but space is limited. full-circle-parenting-conference.

April 27: Wing Ding 2024. 4-7 p.m. Vestavia City Hall front lawn. Sponsored by Leadership Vestavia Hills, guests can enjoy all-you-can-eat wings, live music, food and drinks, kids’ activities and more. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the gate, or $10 at the gate with a food donation. Children under 10 are free.

April 28: KICK UP for Down Syndrome. Noon to 4 p.m. Wald Park baseball fields,1973 Merryvale Road. The third annual KICK UP for Down Syndrome is a family-friendly event composed of both a competitive division, for those serious about their kickball, and a leisure division, for those of mixed ages and abilities. Both divisions offer a day of clean competition and camaraderie in support of a great cause. In addition to kickball games, there will be a DJ with dancing, games and concessions available. Teams should be composed of eight to 10 players, and the cost is $250 per team.

Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest CHILDREN

Tuesdays: Toddler-a-Go-Go. 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Community Room. Ages 18-36 months.

Tuesdays: After-School Adventures. 3:30 p.m. Children’s Program Room. Grades K-2.

Wednesdays: Story Friends. 10:30 a.m. Children’s Program Room.

Wednesdays: Twelve Below. 3:30 p.m. Children’s Program Room. Grades 3-6.

Thursdays: Book Babies — Treehouse. 10 a.m. Ages birth to 18 months.

April 6 and 20: Ms. Courtney’s Library Stop. 10:30 a.m. Community Room. All ages.

April 9: Family Night — Drummer Mark Seymour Dinner. 6 p.m. arrival, 6:30 p.m. show. Community Room. All ages welcome.

April 13 and 27: Kreate with Kelly. 10:30-11:30 a.m. Children’s Program Room.


Fridays: Open Gaming. 4 p.m. Community Room.

April 3: Writing Group. 4 p.m. Historical Room.

April 9: Tabletop Gaming Group. 4 p.m. Community Room.

April 10: Art Group — Blob Monsters. 4 p.m. Makerspace.

April 17: Game Party. 4 p.m. Makerspace.

April 20: Dungeons and Dragons — One-Shot, “The Spring Hare.” 10 a.m. Historical Room. Registration required.

April 23: Earth Day Craft — Terrariums. 4 p.m. Amphitheater.

April 23: A Berry Happy Earth Day. 4 p.m. Amphitheater. Planting and painting.

April 26: Super Smash Bros Tournament. 4 p.m. Community Room.

April 27: Weekend Craft — Watercolor Bookmarks. 4 p.m.


All month: National Poetry Month. Help us fill up our Poet-Tree! We’re creating haiku poetry this month and invite you to stop by the Adult Services desk and submit your poem, adding a “leaf” to our tree. All entries will qualify for our prize drawing! Ages 18+.

Thursdays: Beginner Yoga Series with Kathy. 2 p.m. Community Room.

April 3: Crafters, Inc. — Yarn Bird. 11a.m. Community Room. Registration required.

April 10: Read & Feed Book Group — “Weyward” by Emilia Hart. 6 p.m. Community Room.

April 12: Craft Lab — Book Page Abstracts. 7 p.m. Community Room.

April 23: The Sisterhood Circle Series. 5:30 p.m. Treehouse. Refreshments served.

April 25: Friends of the Library — All About Beekeeping. 10 p.m. Community Room.

April 30: Finance Strategies for Small Business Owners. 6 p.m. Community Room.


Thursdays: Open Maker Lab. 3-6 p.m. Bring your 3D printing, vinyl cutting and art projects to work on.

April 8: Intro to 3D Printing. 4:30 p.m. Makerspace.

April 22: Vinyl Cutting 101. 4:30 p.m. Makerspace.


April 11: Advanced Excel — Pivot Tables and Dashboards. 4-5:30 p.m. Technology Classroom.

April 18: Apple’s Photos. 4-5:30 p.m. Technology Classroom. Bring your own iPhone or iPad.

April 23: Welcome to the Web — Internet Basics. 4-5:30 p.m. Technology Classroom.

April 30: Canva — Designing Made Easy. 4-5:30 p.m. Technology Classroom.

B6 • April 2024 Vestavia Voice
Events April 2024 • B7 Annual Open House Dermatology Skin Care Center of Birmingham 205-978-3336 | 2470 Rocky Ridge Road Join us April 25 for our Join us to learn about all of our products & services April 25 Cosmetic Reps will be available to answer questions you may have about our products & services. Visit our website now to see some of the great specials we will be offering. THIS EVENT IS OUR Biggest Sale of The Year April EVENTS 6: Dogwood Dink: Cahaba Heights Vestavia Hills Civic Center 8am 6: Dogwood Days: Cahaba Heights 10am-8pm 6: Battle of the Bands Rocky Ridge Plaza 5-9pm Rain date: April 7 7: Spring Yard Judging Concludes! 12: Spring Fling Family Day Wald Park 4pm 13: VHHS RISE Day VHHS 4-10pm 15: Historical Society Presentation: Vestavia Hills Methodist Church Vestavia Hills City Hall 2pm 16: Dogwood Prayer Breakfast Vestavia Country Club 7-9am 18: Dogwood Days Farmer’s Market: Liberty Park 4-7pm 20: Yard Sale: Vestavia Hills Garden Club Scout Square (Highway 31 North) 7am-1pm Rain date: April 27 21: Library in the Forest Concert: Miles College Golden Voices Choir Vestavia Hills Civic Center 3pm 27: Wing Ding Vestavia Hills City Hall Lawn 4-7pm 28: Heights Hangout The Heights Village 2-7pm Want to include your Vestavia Hills event in the Dogwood Festival? Contact Cinnamon McCulley at 205.978.0143 or Spring into Fun! The Vestavia Hills Dogwood Festival is a celebration all of the incredible things Vestavia Hills has to offer! There is something for everyone during the Dogwood Festival! VHDogwoodFestival Scan for detailed event info or visit Dogwood_Fest Connect on social! vh_dogwood_ festival Dogwood Festival AD VV 9.75x7.59 04.2024.indd 1 3/8/24 1:10 PM

All-South Metro Basketball

Sarah Gordon named 1st team

The 2023-24 high school basketball season has been completed, which means it’s time to recognize those with standout seasons on the annual Starnes Media All-South Metro basketball team.

Mountain Brook’s Ty Davis and Hewitt-Trussville’s Jordan Hunter are Players of the Year, as each capped off incredible careers. Both were coached by their parents and led their teams to state runner-up finishes this year.

Homewood’s Tim Shepler is the boys Coach of the Year, after leading Homewood back to the regional final for the first time since 2016. Tonya Hunter and Krystle Johnson met up in the Class 7A girls state championship game and both share Coach of the Year honors due to their stellar leadership.


► Player of the Year: Ty Davis, Mountain Brook

► Coach of the Year: Tim Shepler, Homewood


► Player of the Year: Jordan Hunter, Hewitt-Trussville

► Coaches of the Year: Krystle Johnson, Hoover, and Tonya Hunter, Hewitt-Trussville


► Salim London, Hoover: One of the top guards in the state, averaging 17.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4 assists for the state champs.

► DeWayne Brown, Hoover: Nearly averaged a double-double, with 15.1 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.

► Avery Futch, Chelsea: Helped the Hornets to regionals by averaging 12.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.

► Ty Davis, Mountain Brook: Capped off a brilliant career with 17.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists per contest for the state runner-up.

► Drew Mears, Briarwood: Led the area in scoring, with 23.6 points per game this season.


► Jackson Weaver, Vestavia Hills: Went for 13 points per game for the Rebels.

► Korbin Long, Spain Park: Led the Jags with 14 points and 4 rebounds and assists per game.

► Devon McKinnon, Clay-Chalkville: Surpassed 1,000 career points and drained 75 3-pointers.

► Victor Odiari, Clay-Chalkville: Won area tournament MVP for a strong Cougars squad.

► Reid Stodghill, Hewitt-Trussville: Accepted a preferred walk-on offer to Alabama and eclipsed 1,000 points and 500 rebounds for his career.


► Jarett Fairley, Hoover: Went for 14 points per game for the state champion Bucs.

► Adam Barksdale, Vestavia Hills: One of the Rebels’ top options, scoring 12.3 points per game.

► TJ Lamar, Spain Park: A solid physical presence, averaging 13 points and nearly 7 rebounds a game.

► David Stone, Homewood: The only double-digit scorer for a balanced Patriots team.

► Grey Williams, Oak Mountain: Averaged 12.5 points per game.



► Haley Trotter, Chelsea: One of two players in the area to average a double-double, with 18.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.

► Jordan Hunter, Hewitt-Trussville: The Auburn signee helped the Lady Huskies to a state runner-up finish, going for 19.9 points per

► Seneca Robinson, Hoover; Gavin Collett, Chelsea; Aiden Owens, Chelsea; Christen Whetstone, Chelsea; Ben Evans, Vestavia Hills; Carson Romero, Mountain Brook; John Carwie, Mountain Brook; Jack Bakken, Mountain Brook; KJ Kirk, Clay-Chalkville; Kaleb Carson, Homewood; Aden Malpass, John Carroll; Braylon Bernard, John Carroll; Kevin Jasinski, Oak Mountain; Emanuel Johnson, Oak Mountain

Sports B8 • April 2024 Vestavia Voice
game. Vestavia Hills' Sarah Gordon (33) dribbles to the basket during an AHSAA Class 7A girls Northwest Regional semifinal game between the Vestavia Hills Rebels and Bob Jones Patriots on Feb. 14. Photo by David Leong. Left: Vestavia Hills’ Jackson Weaver (3) drives the ball toward the goal guarded by Hoover’s Seneca Robinson (4) during a game at Hoover High School on Jan. 23. Above: Vestavia Hills’ Jill Gaylard (2) shoots a 3-pointer in a game against the Bucs at Hoover High School on Jan. 23. Photos by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

► Sarah Gordon, Vestavia Hills: Led the area in scoring, with 20.3 points per game.

► Khloe Ford, Hoover: Burst onto the scene as a sophomore, finishing with 12.8 points and 7.8 rebounds for the four-time state champs.

► Kameron Sanders, Clay-Chalkville: Led the Lady Cougars with 12.3 points a game.


► Emma Kerley, Briarwood: Has become one of the most versatile players in the area, going for 11.9 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.

► Jill Gaylard, Vestavia Hills: All-around

solid point guard, posting nearly 10 points per game as well.

► Brooklyn Phillips, Clay-Chalkville: One of the top 3-point shooters in the area, making 72 of them.

► Raegan Whitaker, Oak Mountain: Averaged a double-double in her final season.

► Maddie Walter, Mountain Brook: Went for 10 points and 8 rebounds a game.


► Caroline Brown, Chelsea: The versatile forward averaged nearly 10 points per game.

► Ryleigh Martin, Hewitt-Trussville: Had plenty of flashes in her freshman season, including a 27-point outing late in the season.

► Kayla Warren, Homewood: Led a balanced team, with 9.8 points a game.

► Kaitlyn Gipson, Hoover: Surpassed 1,000 career points for the state champs.

► Ann Tatum Baker, Briarwood: The fourth-leading scorer in the area, with 13.4 points per game.


► Emily Williams, John Carroll; Sadie Schwallie, Chelsea; Olivia Pryor, Chelsea;

Mallory Ogle, John Carroll; Ashlyn Howard, Hewitt-Trussville; Ellis McCool, Homewood; Ava Robinson, Homewood; Mira McCool, Homewood; Savannah McDonald, Homewood; Lane Crowe, Homewood; Laine April 2024 • B9
Litton, Homewood; Grayson Hudgens, Vestavia Hills; Ariana Peagler, Hoover; Aaliyah Blanchard, Hoover; Layla Cannon, Hoover; Kamryn Lee, Hoover; Kamoriah Gaines, Clay-Chalkville; Ava Leonard, Spain Park; Tori Flournoy, Spain Park; Teagan Huey, Spain Park; Caroline Kester, Oak Mountain; Emma Stearns, Mountain Brook; Libby Geisler, Mountain Brook; Sarah Passink, Mountain Brook; Mary Beth Dicen, Briarwood Above: Vestavia Hills' Grayson Hudgens (12) is guarded by Bob Jones' Alana Obianozie (22) during an AHSAA Class 7A girls regional semifinal game between the Vestavia Hills Rebels and Bob Jones Patriots on Feb. 14.
If you don’t have an answer to that question, we’d love to meet you We believe that just as you benefit by making regular visits to your doctor and your dentist, you can also live a more full life by seeing YOUR physical therapist regularly t herapySouth, we build relationships with our patients that last a lifetime We can assess pain obstacles to help you meet goals and return to your favorite activities! So, when you are making your plans for annual medical appointments, don’t forget physical therapy! Scan this code to schedule an appointment today WHO IS YOUR PT? WHO IS YOUR PT? www therapysouth com 1944 Canyon Road Suite 100 205.822.7607 Vestavia
Photo by David Leong. Right: Vestavia Hills’ Adam Barksdale (13) shoots the ball guarded by Hoover’s Messiah Millin (20) during a game at Hoover High School on Jan. 23. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

Sports Editor’s Note

2 winners?

We’ve officially put another winter sports season in the books, my ninth at Starnes Media.

I remember being thrown into the fire just a few months after I started, with Homewood High School’s boys basketball team putting together a run to the state championship.

There have been several state championship games and teams in the years since, but this year, I experienced something I had not previously.

Following the Class 7A girls state final, in which Hoover knocked off Hewitt-Trussville 58-56 in a highly entertaining game, both sides expressed jubilation and the satisfaction of a job well done.

Hoover won its fourth straight state title, but this one was different. The star power of alums Reniya Kelly and Aniya Hubbard had come and gone, but the Lady Bucs were on a mission to prove the program had staying power at the top of the heap. They did just that.

The emotion from head coach Krystle Johnson and her players after the game stemmed from the joy of achieving something many thought was not possible.

On the Hewitt-Trussville side, there were no sad or disappointed tears after the Lady Huskies lost in the state championship game for the third time in the last six years. In fact, Hewitt-Trussville’s fourth quarter rally made the game tight at the end and made an impression on everyone in the building.

Head coach Tonya Hunter beamed with pride while recounting the last six years coaching her daughter Jordan and realizing the other young stars ready to bloom in her program.

Johnson and Hunter are two of the best basketball coaches in Alabama, and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to cover their programs in recent years. They are intentional leaders and constantly seek ways to grow and improve in their own craft.

They both had plenty to be proud of following this season, and that showed in their ear-to-ear grins following their teams’ stellar performances in the final.

It was as if they had both won. And in many ways, they had.

Kyle Parmley is the sports editor at Starnes Media.

Varsity Sports Calendar


April 2: vs. Thompson. 6 p.m.

April 4: Doubleheader @ Thompson. 4:30 p.m.

April 5: vs. Briarwood. 4 p.m.

April 9: @ Hoover. 6 p.m.

April 11: Doubleheader vs. Hoover. 4 p.m.

April 16: @ Tuscaloosa County. 6 p.m.

April 18: Doubleheader vs. Tuscaloosa County. 4 p.m.


April 2: vs. Prattville. 4:30 p.m.

April 9: @ Thompson. 4:30 p.m.

April 11: vs. Hoover. 4:30 p.m.

April 16: @ Tuscaloosa County. 4:30 p.m.

April 18: vs. Chelsea. 4:30 p.m.

April 19-20: Hoover Classic. Hoover Met Complex.


April 2: vs. Tuscaloosa County. Girls at 5 p.m., boys at 7 p.m.

April 3: Boys vs. Spain Park. 7 p.m.

April 5: Girls @ Chelsea. 6 p.m.

April 5: Boys @ Hoover. 7:30 p.m.

April 9: Girls vs. Hoover. 6:30 p.m.

April 9: Boys @ Homewood. 7 p.m.

April 10: Boys @ John Carroll. 7 p.m.

April 12: Boys vs. Baylor (Tenn.). Fort Payne High School. 5:30 p.m.

April 13: Boys @ Fort Payne. 1:30 p.m.

April 16: Girls @ Thompson. 7 p.m.

April 16: Boys vs. Thompson. 7 p.m.

April 19: Girls vs. Bob Jones. 6:30 p.m.

April 22: Girls vs. Pike Road. 6 p.m.

April 23: Boys @ Huntsville. 6:30 p.m.

B10 • April 2024 Vestavia Voice
presented by Birmingham Museum of Art February 17–August 18, 2024 Tickets: now open! Presented by PNC, with generous support from the Alabama Power Foundation, EBSCO Industries, Protective Life Foundation, Vulcan Materials Company and the Warner Foundation; as well as the patronage of the Marian and Albert Oberman Fund and CraneWorks. We also gratefully acknowledge the significant support of Sallie and Jim Johnson, as well as the contributions of Gail Andrews and Richard Marchase, Graham Boettcher, Lydia Cheney and Jim Sokol, and Dora and Sanjay Singh. Heroes & Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume is curated by the Walt Disney Archives.


April 27 & 28, 2024

Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark 12-3pm each day

Restaurants & Chefs, Wine, Cocktails & Spirits, Craft Beer, Seated Tasting Seminars & Demos, plus a Commemorative Stemless Wine Glass

the 41st Magic City Art Connection

Life Actually By Kari Kampakis To the girl who just had a hard breakup

Let me begin by saying, I’m sorry you are hurting. I wish there was a shortcut through the pain you feel now.

I don’t know your story — whether he broke up with you or you broke up with him because you felt like you had to — but I can guess this: You liked that boy. When things were good, when you hit that magical peak, you felt happier than ever before.

Looking back, the good memories may flood your mind. They play on repeat like a movie trailer, cinematic highlights that make you ache for what you had and fear that you’ll never experience that level of joy again.

But you will, my friend. You now have a better idea of what you need and who you want to be. If you reflect on the lessons from this relationship, you’ll gain self-awareness and wisdom.

It’s difficult to think straight when your emotions are tangled, so here are a few truths to help you navigate your breakup.

You are a gift. The end of any relationship can make you doubt yourself and question your worth. When someone changes their mind about you, loses interest, gets bored, betrays you or starts taking you for granted, it can lead to a grueling self-critique where you ultimately conclude that you must be the problem, because if you were prettier/skinnier/funnier/smarter/more exciting, this wouldn’t have happened.

But remember: The same God who made the stars and the moon and raised Jesus from the dead also created you. You are His masterpiece, loved passionately and unconditionally. Many people in this world won’t treat you like a gift or see you through God’s eyes, but that doesn’t change your value. Know your worth and treat

others like a gift as well, because that’s where healthy relationships begin.

Boys will come and go — but God is forever. A boy will never be the solution to all your problems. Why? Because boys are humans, not saviors. They’re meant to be a part of your life, but not the center of your universe.

Girls often put boys on pedestals they don’t deserve to be on. They mistake infatuation for real love, pouring their heart and soul into relationships that devastate them in the end.

The upside of a breakup is that it interrupts any spell. It reminds you why God wants to be your #1: Because if you don’t worship Him, you’ll worship something or someone else. A boy can say “I love you” on Monday and then break up with you on Tuesday, but God never leaves. By putting your trust in Him, by letting this breakup inspire a deeper and richer faith, you’ll find the security you’re looking for and be better positioned to find real joy.

The first cut is the deepest. With your first real boyfriend comes your first real breakup — and many real emotions.

You can feel more saddened by a relationship that lasted six weeks versus two years if your connection was really special. Even if the parting was mutual, even if you’re at peace with your decision, you may feel pangs when you see him move on.

These pangs are not a sign that you need to get back together. Instead, accept them as part of the process and keep people around you who remind you of why you broke up.

It’s possible to be a good ex. Girls handle breakups in vastly different ways.

While some girls act mature, others get bitter.

They beat the dead horse into the ground, even losing friends who get tired of the rants.

Be sad at home, cry your eyes out with friends, but in public and at school, hold your head up high. Don’t burst into tears at the sight of your ex. Don’t glare or key his car. Don’t exact revenge or make him extra-certain that cutting ties with you was the best move he ever made.

If you handle your breakup maturely, you may be friends one day. Be the girl he remembers fondly as the one who got away.

Dating is about rejection. A priest once told me that dating is about rejection, and the purpose of dating is to find the one person you’re meant to marry.

This eases the sting of rejection. It’s a great reminder to keep your relationships innocent, because it’s 99.99% guaranteed that any boy you date won’t be your husband.

With some boys, you’ll know immediately if you’re compatible. There may be one date, and that’s it. With others, you’ll want to dig deeper. It may take months to get to the hidden qualities that aren’t readily apparent, like how he won’t hold your hand in public, makes no effort to know your family, etc.

Through innocent dating and friendships with boys, you discern what you like and don’t like. You build a radar for the protectors and the predators. You get to know yourself so that when your husband comes along (if marriage is in God’s plan for you), you know he’s the right match.

Healthy relationships are blessings, bad relationships are lessons. As you reflect on your time with your ex, ask yourself, “Did he make me a

better person? Do I regret dating him, or was he good for me?”

If he impacted you positively, then you didn’t waste your time. If he impacted you negatively, then you can chalk him up to experience and promise to never repeat that mistake.

Friends and faith make breakups bearable. When a boy has been a main character in your life, his absence leaves a void. You may feel lost suddenly having extra time and energy.

Invest that time in your faith, your friends and yourself. Especially if you sacrificed your friends while dating, reach out, reconnect and apologize for dropping them.

Dating or not, you need good friends. You need friends more than you need a boyfriend because 20 years from now, time spent with friends will be your best memories. These are the relationships that last a lifetime.

C.S. Lewis said, “Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose.” This is a solid motto for dating. Your worth is not determined by a boy’s acceptance or rejection, and while it’s thrilling to feel chosen, you can find peace in any season knowing that you are chosen by God.

Today marks a new chapter, so make it good. Protect your heart, have fun and build a life you love. If you’re on the right track, you’ll cross paths with good people — people you want in your life, whether through friendship or dating.

Kari Kubiszyn Kampakis is a Mountain Brook mom of four girls, author, speaker, and blogger. Her bestselling books are available everywhere books are sold. Join Kari on the Girl Mom Podcast as well as Instagram and Facebook.

Opinion B12 • April 2024 Vestavia Voice
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Sean of the South By Sean Dietrich Make Mama proud

I’d like to make my mama proud. That’s one of my main goals in this world. If I’ve made her proud, well, then I’ve really done something.

My mother, you see, is the kind of woman who taught me how to be nice, and how to have manners.

Long ago, she would make me sit with my cousin, Myrtle, at covered dish socials, so Myrtle wouldn’t be sitting alone. Mama would say things like: “Be polite, and make sure you ask your cousin how her baton twirling is coming along.”

Admittedly, Myrtle was about as interesting as watching ditchwater evaporate. But, like I said, I want my mama to be proud.

Maybe I should back up and tell you where all this is coming from.

Earlier this week, I spent some time with people who were — how do I put this — not very nice. Now, they weren’t “mean” people, per se, but you don’t have to be “mean” to be un-nice.

I hope I am never an un-nice person. What would Mama think?

Mama is a woman who says things like: “Don’t talk about yourself too much. It’s like passing gas in an elevator; people will smile, but they don’t mean it.”

And: “Be a good listener, your ears will never get you in trouble.”

I don’t aspire to much in this life, but I know that I want to be the kind of man who listens.

Also, I want to be the kind of man who dogs follow for no reason. I want to be the guy who does magic tricks for toddlers.

I want to go around reminding teenagers how important they are. I want to listen to the jokes old men tell when their wives aren’t around.

I want to hear long stories on porches, and I want to be the first to respond: “Well, I Suwannee.”

A good Suwannee is hard to find.

I want the “little guys” to be famous. I want the overlooked to be looked at. I want to clap for the kid who dreams of singing on the Opry stage one day — like Mama clapped for me. I’ve never been on the Opry stage and never will, either. But Mama really believed I could have been.

I want to believe in people like she does. I want to watch sunsets with friends and convince them that they are the most “specialist” people in the world. And I want to use words like “specialest,” even though that word is English blasphemy.

I want cheap beer in the bottle. I don’t need a New York strip, just give me a hamburger and onion rings as big as hula hoops. Then, I want you to know that you can hug me whenever you want and get a hug in return. A good hug is harder to find than a good Suwannee.

And if I live long enough to see my own white hair, I want to be a man who is proud of people who don’t have someone to be proud of them. I want my friends to succeed and surpass me. I want to be the one cheering for them in the bleachers. I want my funeral to be filled with people who say things like, “Sean Dietrich, wasn’t he a mess?”

And I want you to know you are magnificent. Everyone and anyone. Landscapers, meter-readers, garbage men, abused spouses, ex-convicts, divorcees, jewelry artists, single mothers, lonely fathers, Mexican immigrants, nurses, attorneys, Waffle House waitresses, concrete layers, Baptists, insurance salesmen.

I hope I am the sort of guy who is kind.

But most of all, I hope to make my mother proud.

Sean Dietrich is a columnist and novelist known for his commentary on life in the American South. He has authored nine books and is the creator of the “Sean of the South” blog and podcast. April 2024 • B13
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