Vestavia Voice February 2023

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Vestavia Hills City Schools honors teachers of the year

Nine Vestavia Hills City Schools teachers have been honored as representing the best at their respective campuses and named the 2022-23 “Teachers of the Year” throughout the district.

In addition, Amanda Jordan, a teacher at Vestavia Hills High School, was named the secondary teacher of the year, while Megan Humphries at Vestavia Hills Elementary West was named the elementary teacher of the year.

The other teachers of the year include:

► Carmen Sullivan, Vestavia Hills Elementary Cahaba Heights

► Kellie Miller, Vestavia Hills Elementary Dolly Ridge

► Meg Walker, Vestavia Hills Elementary East

► Kalyn Randolph, Vestavia Hills Liberty Park

► Amy Woodard, Liberty Park Middle School

► Michaela Spence, Pizitz Middle School

► Emily Hall, Vestavia Hills High School Freshman Campus

In recent years, the community at the Shallowford Circle neighborhood in Vestavia Hills has been struggling with the impacts of flooding from Little Shades Creek, which runs parallel to Shallowford Circle.

Excessive stormwater has damaged the neighborhood’s homes and eroded the surrounding land.

But with the creek being located on private land and the identity of its owner unknown, city leaders have said they are unable to alleviate all of the problems.

Danny Barrett has been a resident of Shallowford Circle for 13 years. He said that stormwater rising from the creek accumulates to the point that the creek’s 18-inch drainage pipes cannot keep up.

“It backs up because down on Rocky Ridge Road, there is a wall there and big round pipes that go under

Rocky Ridge Road that will not handle the flow of the water,” Barrett said. “So, the water hits it, backs up, floods the park, floods the neighborhood, floods the streets, backs up inside of cars and inside of houses.”

Although flooding has affected the Shallowford community for the past 15 years, Barrett notes that it has gotten significantly worse since 2021.

The major storm that hit Vestavia on Oct. 6, 2021, commonly referred to as “the rain of the century,” hit Shallowford Circle particularly hard, damaging several homes. About 6 inches of water seeped into Barrett’s home, causing an estimated $61,000 worth of property damage. Although Barrett was able to afford flood insurance, other residents were not as lucky.

Barbara Sloan,
Vestavia Hills
is My Life!” Get to know some of the health and wellness providers in the Vestavia Hills area. Sponsors A4 News A6 Business A9 Community A10 Schoolhouse A12 Events A14 Opinion A16 Sports B10 INSIDE See page A10 See page B1 ‘Theatre is My Life!’ Medical Guide PREMIUM ALABAMA KILN-DRIED FIREWOOD Campfi m LIGHTS EASILY COMPLIMENTARY DELIVERY SCAN TO ORDE R or v isi t: February 2023 | Volume 10 | Issue 10 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 See SHALLOWFORD | page A19 See TEACHERS | page A18 Shallowford Circle creek faces long-term stormwater threat as identity of
resident and former theater professor, releases
owner remains
Trees that are in danger of falling on homes line a creek at the corner of Shallowford Drive and Shallowford Circle in Vestavia Hills on Jan. 5. Photo by Erin Nelson. Photos by Erin Nelson. Megan Humphries Elementary Teacher of the Year Amanda Jordan Secondary Teacher of the Year

From Arkansas with Love

This Valentine’s season, we’re celebrating a couple with a whole lot of love and the XL SUV that brought them to us!

Justin and Blakely drove down from Arkansas to take home their perfect new 2022 GMC Yukon XL. Marriage may be about the journey, but when it comes to finding a new ride, you’ve got to have a destination in mind; we’re honored the Weatherfords chose us! For every love story, there’s Royal!

More about the GMC Yukon

The 2022 GMC Yukon XL excels in both form and function. Tow up to 8,400 lbs. with the available Max Trailering Package. Enjoy Google Built-In services in a 10.2” Premium GMC Infotainment System. Plus, the XL adds extra third-row legroom and 16 cubic feet more cargo space. Explore it all today at Royal Buick GMC.

For every ride there’s Royal.

Royal Buick GMC (205) 778-3721 At the Corner of I-65 and Highway 31 | 3010 Columbiana Road, Vestavia Hills

A2 • February 2023 Vestavia Voice
Justin and Blakely Weatherford with their GMC Yukon XL.


At Alabama Power, we work hard to provide the dependable service our customers expect and deserve. We give 100% to achieve 99.98% dependability. That means regularly inspecting and trimming trees as a way of preventing potential outages.

About 45% of outages experienced by Alabama Power customers are due to trees and plant life.

Overgrown branches can brush against power lines and cause outages. They also make power lines more accessible to wildlife.

We use technology and data analytics to help identify areas in need of tree trimming to protect the electrical system.

Keeping you aware of upcoming work is a priority to us. Scan the QR code to see the neighborhoods tree crews will be working in.

If you have any questions, please call Alabama Power at 205-257-2155 and request to speak with a member of our utility tree care team.

To learn more about how we safely maintain our system or for recommendations on planting the right trees in the right place, visit February 2023 • A3 © 2023 Alabama Power Company.

Editor’s Note By Neal Embry

Laissez les bons temps rouler.

About Us Please Support Our Sponsors

You need not travel far for Mardi Gras this year. The city of Vestavia Hills has announced plans to celebrate Mardi Gras in the city.

While remaining family-friendly, the city wants to welcome in a wide variety of visitors, City Manager Jeff Downes said, and this Mardi Gras celebration is one way to do that.

A progressive dinner will take place in Cahaba Heights, involving multiple area restaurants and ending with a party at Cajun Steamer. Be sure to read the story about the event and the Dogwood Festival in this month’s paper.

We also honor the teachers of the year on this month’s cover. Congratulations to this year’s honorees! I always enjoy talking to the people who help

make Vestavia Hills City Schools a better school system and help students achieve their goals.

We also have a feature on Vestavia Hills resident Barbara Sloan, a former

theater professor at Samford University, who recently wrote a book about theater.

While football season is over, read about some of Vestavia’s basketball players. And in some very exciting news, Twisted Root Burger Company is re-opening sometime this year in Rocky Ridge, along with a new Mexican restaurant in the same building, Taqueria La Ventana. Taqueria La Ventana, a concept from Texas, specializes in tacos with corn tortillas, while Twisted Root, one of my favorite restaurants, specializes in unique burgers with exotic meats.

As always, thank you for reading!


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Faculty and staff perform for students during the kickoff event for the fifth annual Rebels Impact through Service and Engagement (RISE) campaign at the school’s gymnasium Jan. 12. Money raised by the student body benefits the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB. This year’s theme is A Million Reasons, with a goal to raise $1 million to support cancer research. Photo by Erin Nelson.


Due to an editor’s error, there was an error in the cover photo in the January 2023 story, “A look ahead at 2023: Park improvements, more events and possible school

upgrades on horizon.” The photo mistakenly referred to a park at Altadena Valley Presbyterian Church as Altadena Valley Park. The Vestavia Voice regrets the error.

Publisher: Community Editors:

Sports Editor: Design Editor: Photo Editor: Page Designer: Production Assistant: Contributing Writers: Graphic Designer: Client Success Specialist: Business Development Exec: Business Development Rep: Operations Specialist:

Dan Starnes

Neal Embry

Jon Anderson

Leah Ingram Eagle

Kyle Parmley

Melanie Viering

Erin Nelson

Ted Perry

Simeon Delante

Sean Dietrich

Kari Kampakis

Daniel Pinheiro

Emily VanderMey

Warren Caldwell

Don Harris

Madison Gaines

Sarah Villar

For advertising contact:

Contact Information: Vestavia Voice P.O. Box 530341 Birmingham, AL 35253 (205) 313-1780

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

Published by: Starnes Publishing LLC

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.

Please recycle this paper.

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Find Us

Pick up the latest issue of Vestavia Voice at the following locations:

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Catholic Church

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Want to join this list or get Vestavia Voice mailed to your home? Contact Dan Starnes at dan@

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City hosting Mardi Gras party, Dogwood Festival starting this month

Those looking to celebrate Mardi Gras won’t have to travel outside of Vestavia Hills.

On Feb. 18, the city will host a progressive dinner beginning at 4 p.m., taking guests through different Cahaba Heights restaurants and ending with the after party at Cajun Steamer.

Guests have multiple ways to participate in the dinner. They can pedal their way, purchasing seats on one of two pedal carts, each of which comes with a driver and seats 14 people. The carts will be decorated for Mardi Gras and also come equipped with a Bluetooth speaker to play music. Guests can bring their own beverages.

Trolleys will also be available. Guests can purchase a ticket for one of 30 seats on a trolley bus and leave the driving to someone else. A self-guided tour is also available.

Tickets for the dinner can be purchased at

At Cajun Steamer, an after party will include the Admiral Phunk Brass Band, an indoor and outdoor bar, food and Mardi Gras giveaways. Jenna Hosemann, marketing and branding manager for the restaurant, said there will be Fat Tuesday drink specials, crawfish and more. It will be a true celebration of Mardi Gras, a “big party where everyone is welcome,” Hosemann said.

After the Feb. 18 celebration, Hosemann said the celebration will continue at Cajun Steamer through Fat Tuesday, set for Feb. 21.

Assistant City Manager Cinnamon McCulley said the city wanted to have a parade, but due to the need for further planning, that will tentatively take place next February. Still, the event is an effort by the city to reach more visitors and give residents something fun to do within city limits.

“We want them [residents] to think of Vestavia Hills as the destination,” McCulley said.

The event is a lead-in to the state’s longest-running Dogwood Festival, held each year in Vestavia Hills. Beginning with the 2022 iteration, the city rebranded the festival to bring in other already-happening events and provide opportunities for residents to enjoy something in every part of Vestavia.

Events include the Dogwood Dink pickleball tournament, Wing Ding and more. Last year’s festival was very popular, with close to 25 events, McCulley said.

“We knew we needed to grow and hope to have more brand recognition,” she said.

The Dogwood Dink guarantees participants at least three games of pickleball, according to the city’s website. It also makes use of the city’s new Civic Center, McCulley said.

Children move through a bounce house during the Vestavia Hills Spring Sports Celebration event, part of this year’s Dogwood Festival, held at Wald Park in March 2022.

Early bird registration for Vestavia Hills residents will be available through Feb. 1; registration will then open to the public through Tuesday, Feb. 14. Registration will be online at selectactivity_t2.wcs.

For those looking to give back, the Superhero Fun Run, a fun run for children, will benefit the Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Program at UAB Hospital’s O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center. The event will be held March 4 at 8 a.m. at Buddy Anderson Field. Superheroes will come to run, walk or maybe even skip alongside children, according to the city’s website. Students in first through fifth grades are eligible to participate, with a cost of $20 per person, including a T-shirt. The race begins at 8:30 a.m. Register no later than Feb. 21 at

On March 10, the spring sports kick-off and

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a free concert will be held at Wald Park, beginning at 5 p.m. There will be music, food, games, a parade and crafts, along with a performance.

The signature event of the festival is the annual Dogwood luncheon, set for April 4 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Vestavia Country Club. The event will feature a silent auction and special guest speaker Heidi Elnora, an Alabama-based female entrepreneur.

On April 8, the fourth annual “Battle of the Bands,” featuring bands composed of area middle and high school students, will return to the Rocky Ridge Entertainment District from 5-9 p.m. Prize money is awarded to the winning bands, and guests can enjoy food and beverages from nearby restaurants and browse retail shops, all within walking distance. Bands perform three- to four-song sets and winners will be announced at the conclusion of the event.

On April 21, a family-friendly concert will be held at Wald Park beginning at 7 p.m. All ages are welcome to the event, sponsored by the Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest.

The next day, Wing Ding, the annual wings competition, will take place at City Hall from 4 to 7 p.m. Visitors will “enjoy great chicken wings, live music and a children’s area full of games and activities,” according to the city’s website. Tickets are $10 at the gate, $8 in advance and $5 at the gate with a donation to the Leadership Vestavia Hills Hunger Project. Children 10 years old and younger can attend for free.

Heights Hangout will return to The Heights Village on April 30 from 2 to 7 p.m. Visitors can enjoy live music, a kid’s zone, pop-up shops, sponsor booths and more. Tickets are $10 at the gate and proceeds benefit the ongoing beautification of Cahaba Heights through the Cahaba Heights Merchants Association. For a full list of events, visit community/dogwood-festival.


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A6 • February 2023 Vestavia Voice City
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Photo by Erin Nelson.

Wald Park to be completed early summer, consultant says

Raynor Boles with TCU Consulting said the final phase of renovations to Wald Park should be complete sometime early this summer.

Boles gave an update to the Vestavia Hills City Council on Jan. 9. Pipes were installed in early January and other work is progressing on building retaining walls and preparing for the final components of the plan, which includes the addition of six tennis courts, six pickleball courts, more than 100 parking spaces, a dog park and a walking trail.

Also at the meeting, council members Kimberly Cook and Rusty Weaver spoke about the threat to Vestavia Hills residents from the landfill fire in Moody, located in St. Clair County. Cook said she is following reports about air quality and water quality, which could make its way down to Vestavia, most notably Liberty Park residents. Cook said her understanding is that officials are testing for chemicals and more possible effects to the area’s water supply.

Weaver said while residents can rest assured that the city is doing everything they can to mitigate any impact from the fire on the city of Vestavia, they should continue contacting other leaders.

“The citizens of Vestavia, especially the Liberty Park area, need to know we’re aware of it; we’re doing everything we can. But don’t stop contacting Montgomery,” Weaver said.

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) visited the site in November and December of last year, according to reporting from WBRC. According to WBRC, experts are still unsure what is burning underground, but an ADEM report “shows they found debris, scrap metal, rubbish residue and solid waste ash.”

The fire has been burning since late November and has caused concerns about air and water quality. It prompted Trussville City Schools to cancel outdoor activities due to their proximity to the fire.

Weaver said his understanding is that there will be some need for federal help to mitigate the effects of the fire and to clean up the landfill. He said he has heard it could cost between $3 and $4 million to clean up the site.

In other news, the council approved the refunding of about $27,000 in sales taxes to Jefferson County that were remitted to the city in error. The money was collected from a Subway restaurant in Hoover but was erroneously sent to Vestavia instead of Hoover, City Manager Jeff Downes said.

The city also approved a sewer easement at Altadena Valley Park, allowing a sanitary sewer to be connected on site to serve future bathrooms. The bathrooms are part of a longer-range plan to revitalize the area by building the park, creating a “passive park” for area residents.

In his report to the council, Downes said work on Crosshaven Drive should be completed by March. He also told the council about the numbers coming in from use of the new Vestavia Hills Civic Center.

Workers dig at the site across from Vestavia Hills Elementary West and Wald Park on Waldridge Road on Dec. 15

Downes said as of early January, 115 family memberships have been sold, along with 175 individual memberships, 104 senior memberships, 29 senior track-only memberships, 14 non-senior track-only memberships and nine city employee memberships. The city has hosted 13 non-programmed events as well as senior luncheons, senior dance, bridge, daily Jazzercise and tai chi, Downes said. The city is also averaging 12 to 14 pickleball players daily and about 25 to 30 people playing basketball each day, he said. February 2023 • A7 $19 99* FIRST TREATMENT Long Lasting Green Lawn GREET SPRING WITH A | 205-305-7949 *Terms And Conditions Apply - Please Call For Details a division of Gardner Landscaping LLC 205.835.6188 | Jana HANNA Call Jana to find your place in VESTAVIA HILLS Specializing in Vestavia Hills Real Estate
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Two new veterinarians & a groomer join the team!

Animal Hospital of the Hills is proud to announce the addition of two new veterinarians to the team. Both Alabama natives, Drs. Mandy Norris and Kylie Harmon are excited to provide care to the pets of the Vestavia Hills Community.

Mayor’s Minute By Ashley Curry

I hope that all of you had a great holiday season and that the New Year is going well for you. Hopefully, your New Year’s resolutions are still intact.

I remember mentioning in my newsletter from a year ago that our city had several New Year’s resolutions for 2022. In no particular order we wanted to finish the renovations to the New Merkel House and the Cahaba Heights Park, the renovations at Wald Park, the infrastructure project (streets and sidewalks) in Cahaba Heights and the completion of the new Civic Center. I am thrilled that those resolutions have come to fruition with just a few items remaining to be done.

Dr. Mandy Norris grew up in North Alabama and received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Auburn University. Although she’s passionate about all aspects of being a veterinarian, Dr. Norris maintains a particular interest in dentistry and internal medicine. When not at work, she enjoys outdoor activities, traveling, and being active in her church. She loves being a veterinarian and looks forward to serving the pets of Vestavia Hills.

In determining future priorities for our city, we rely on the results of our citizen survey. We just received the results of the most recent survey conducted by ETC Institute, a national marketing research and statistical applications firm. I am proud to say that Vestavia Hills was one of the “Leading the Way” winners for 2022. ETC established this award to recognize local governments for outstanding achievement in the delivery of services to residents. Recipients of this award rank in the top 10% of all governments in the United States with regard to their composite performance in three core areas that are assessed by the survey:

► Satisfaction with the quality of services

► Satisfaction with customer service provided by employees

► Satisfaction with the value residents think they receive for local taxes and fees. The citizen responses to the survey will be used in our strategic planning sessions which be held in mid-February.

Dr. Kylie Harmon was raised in Mathews, AL, and also received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Auburn University. Following her graduation, Dr. Harmon relocated to the Birmingham area and has worked as a veterinarian in the community for over eight years. Her clinical interests include surgery and internal medicine. In her free time, she enjoys playing sports, being outdoors, visiting Universal Studios, and spending time with her three-legged cat, Olive.

One of our initiatives for this year include the completion of the “passive park” at Altadena Valley Park. These park improvements include connecting walking trails, building a parking area, pavilion and other amenities such as a canoe launch for the Cahaba River, playgrounds and a disc golf course.

Another initiative for this year is the revitalization of all arts activities in the city. With the formation of an Arts Council, we will draw on the traditional arts events in our city such as the Dogwood Festival, art shows and concert series at Wald Park. Our Arts Council will explore other ways to promote and encourage the arts and humanities in the city. We want to promote cultural events to include the visual arts, the performing arts, the education community and other organizations that promote arts events. You will be hearing more about this in the near future.

We also have planned to house the Vestavia Hills Sports Hall of Fame in our new Civic Center. It was established in 2010 to preserve the city’s sports history for future generations by honoring Vestavia sports heroes that created exposure, awareness and pride for Vestavia Hills on a statewide, regional or national basis. There will be future updates as this project gets underway.

This past month we experienced wide swings in temperature. We had record low temperatures with wind chill temperatures near zero degrees. A week later we had sunny days with a temperature in the 70s. It reminded me of the old adage that if you didn’t like the weather in Alabama, stick around a day or two and it will change.

Well, we will have to see what happens on “Groundhog Day” which is Feb. 2. Maybe “Punxsutawney Phil” will give us some indication of what to expect. We will wait to see if he sees his shadow.

Regardless of the weather, it is nice to know that Valentine’s Day is Feb. 14. While it’s certainly one holiday that’s sure to warm hearts, take time to show some love to others in addition to your “significant other.”

A8 • February 2023 Vestavia Voice | 205-824-2077 1360 Montgomery Hwy Suite 114 Vestavia Hills, AL 35216
Dr. Mandy Norris
Call today to schedule your pet. 205-824-2077 Please join us in welcoming both veterinarians to Animal Hospital of the Hills! Now Offering Full-Service Grooming! isn’t for everyone. Because Doing it Yourself Residential Commercial Special Projects 205-823-2111 • One Man & a Toolbox Handyman Services
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Business Happenings


Santos Coffee recently opened its third Birmingham area location at the corner of Cahaba River Road and Acton Road. Featuring coffee grown on family farms in Guatemala and roasted in Alabama, the new location is open every day from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.


The Golffice recently opened at 1442 Montgomery Highway. The event venue offers hourly rentals of an indoor golf simulator and a poker/office/conference room, along with a refrigerator and serving area that can be used. 205-229-2267,

Highlands Dental Arts is now open at 1360 Montgomery Highway and is seeing patients. The clinic offers general dentistry, Invisalign services, family dentistry and more. 205-740-9465,


Regions, with offices at 529 Montgomery Highway, 3172 Heights Village and 3390 Morgan Drive, has been designated as a 2023 Military Friendly Employer and 2023 Military Spouse Friendly Employer by Military Friendly, an organization that measures the commitment of companies to create professional opportunities that leverage military experience. Regions

established a career transition program called BRAVE — Building Regions Associate Veteran Experience — specifically for the purpose of supporting veterans and military spouses during their transitions to the civilian workforce. The bank is also a member of the Military Spouse Employment Partnership, a Department of Defense career program connecting military spouses with hundreds of member employers who commit to recruit, hire, promote and retain military spouses.

Warren Averett CPAs and Advisors was recently named as one of the Best Companies to Work for in Alabama. This annual program is in its 13th year, and it was created by Business Alabama magazine and Best Companies Group. This survey and awards program was designed to identify, recognize and honor the best employers in Alabama that benefit the economy, workforce and businesses. The list is made up of more than 30 companies. Warren Averett was ranked second in the Large Companies category. 205-979-4100,

Waverly Advisors, formerly WA Asset Management, recently announced the acquisition of Sandifer Wealth Management of Mobile, marking its fourth location in the state. This will be Waverly’s ninth office in the southeast, as the firm looks to continue its expansion moving into the new year. Waverly Advisors Birmingham firm serves Vestavia Hills, Mountain Brook, Hoover, and other surrounding areas. 205-871-3334,

Twisted Root to reopen, along with new restaurant

A new Mexican restaurant will open sometime this year in the Rocky Ridge area, accompanied by the reopening of Twisted Root Burger Company.

Local Favorite Restaurants have acquired the property and plan to open Taqueria La Ventana, an 11-year-old concept popular in Texas, adjacent to Twisted Root.

Nico Sanchez, who serves as the company’s executive chef, said Taqueria La Ventana will operate like a traditional Mexican taqueria, or taco bar. The restaurant focuses on traditional tacos with fresh, made-in-house corn tortillas, Sanchez said. There will be seven different proteins with a variety of toppings. Other menu items will include burritos, quesadillas and more, along with churros for dessert, he said.

There will also be a small bar menu that features margaritas, along with draft and bottled beer, Sanchez said. The restaurant will be counter-style, allowing customers to order their food and sit down, while their food and drinks will be brought to their table, Sanchez said.

The restaurant concept is family-friendly and “approachable,” Sanchez said, and will be affordable as well. Two tacos and a margarita will be less than $10 during happy

hour, he said.

Taqueria La Ventana currently has six locations throughout Texas and is a “funky place,” said Liz Ruiz with Local Favorite.

“It makes you feel like you’re in a Mexican taqueria,” she said.

The artwork features the restaurant’s iconic skull and the decor includes vintage tables from Mexico. Ruiz said the taqueria will have a “lot of personality.”

Twisted Root closed earlier this year but will reopen under Local Favorite’s ownership. Local Favorite bought the Twisted Root brand several years ago and wants to refresh the building, Ruiz said. There will be a small bar, new furniture and a change of color and wall decorations. The food will be consistent with the Twisted Root brand, which features unique burgers with options for exotic meats, along with fries, milkshakes and more.

The restaurants will open at the same time, Ruiz said, and will share the building, which will see an addition built for the taqueria.

The two restaurants will have about 20 jobs available each, with that amount adjusted based on customer volume, Ruiz said.

While a specific timeline is not known, the expectation is to have the restaurants open by late March, Ruiz said. February 2023 • A9 Business Visit our showroom at 288 Oxmoor Ct. Ste. A 205-943-0060
The future home of Taqueria La Ventana and the reborn Twisted Root Burger Co. along Rocky Ridge Road in Vestavia Hills. Rendering courtesy of Liz Ruiz.

Vestavia Hills resident, professor releases book

Former Samford University theater professor Barbara Sloan has recently released a book, “Theatre is My Life!”

The book is meant to be read daily, with each of the 366 entries featuring quotes or passages from plays, along with Sloan’s thoughts.

Sloan, a Vestavia Hills resident, said she loves day books and has read one every year for the past 12 years. She realized, however, that one did not exist for theater lovers, so she wrote it herself.

“It’s somewhat spiritual in nature,” Sloan said of the book.

Much like day books involving scripture or inspirational words, theater, too, can be “holy,” Sloan said. While it takes place in the present as the viewer sees the play unfold before them, plays can transport the viewer to different times and places, introducing them to people they might otherwise not meet, Sloan said.

Readers of the book will get some theater history, some personal memoir, some philosophy and more as they interact with the different play quotes and writings, Sloan said.

Many of the writings came from Sloan’s extensive theater calendar, which she uses to track the days plays debuted, the births and deaths of famous playwrights and more. Putting the book together involved a good bit of research, she said.

“It really made my memory a lot stronger,” Sloan said.

Sloan’s path to theater started while she was a student at the University of Montevallo. She earned a degree in English but was a part of multiple productions, beginning with “Of Thee I Sing.” Sloan also served as a College Night

leader, helping produce a play entirely written, composed and performed by students, along with overseeing other parts of the university’s intracampus competition.

Sloan fell in love with theater and spent her career designing costumes, building sets and more.

“It probably really saved me,” Sloan said. “If I had stayed just being a writer, I would have been isolated.”

Theater brings people together, Sloan said, across many differences.

“I think it’s the camaraderie,” Sloan said. “If you’re working in theater, you’re an honored individual.”

From 1976 to 2001, Sloan taught at Samford, teaching others the joy of theater, hoping to inspire that love for them. One of her favorite classes to teach was outside the theater major, teaching theater appreciation, which included many non-majors.

Being a costume designer also provided her with a different perspective, one she was able to pass on to students.

“As a costume designer, you have to walk in the shoes of every single character,” Sloan said. “You honor the playwright and the playwright’s vision.”

Sloan said when she reads a play, she’s looking for clues as to what a character might wear,

things that other readers and performers might not pick up on. Anything that might reveal a character’s personality should also come across in what they wear, she said.

Sloan has also worked at American Village, creating costumes and training interpreters as the village’s creative director. She has also served as the executive director of the Seasoned Performers, the state of Alabama’s only senior adult theater group.

She also still volunteers locally at different theaters and is currently working on finishing a children’s book on theater etiquette.

“Theatre is My Life!” can be purchased on Amazon.

A10 • February 2023 Vestavia Voice Community Have a community announcement? Email Neal Embry at to be considered for inclusion in an upcoming issue.
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Students and faculty participated in the fifth annual Rebels Impact through Service and Engagement (RISE) kickoff campaign at Vestavia Hills High School on Jan. 12. Money raised by the student body benefits the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB. This year’s theme is “A Million Reasons” with a goal to raise $1 million to support cancer research. Photos by Erin Nelson.

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Kindergarten enrollment taking place this month

Those wishing to enroll their child in Vestavia Hills City Schools for kindergarten can do so this month.

Enrollment opens up for new kindergarten students Feb. 1 and will operate the same as it has in past years. The process can be done entirely at home, though many parents bring certain documentation into their child’s school, said Whit McGhee, director of public relations for Vestavia Hills City Schools.

Students must be 5 years old on or before Sept. 2 to enroll in kindergarten, McGhee said.

Enrollment is a separate process from registration, which is what parents of returning students complete. McGhee said parents enrolling their children should set aside about an hour to complete the process. Parents will enter in contact information and student information, review policies and procedures and more.

Parents must provide the Alabama Certificate of Immunization and proof of their child’s age, as well as multiple documents proving they live in city limits. More information on documents that are sufficient can be found at vhcs. us/enrollment.

The school system sees about 500 new kindergarten students each year, McGhee said, and he advised parents to complete that process early.

At the same enrollment website, there is a school locator map, provided by the city of Vestavia Hills. Parents can type in their address and the map will show them which elementary school they are zoned for, McGhee said.

After enrollment, schools will hold orientation events, meet the teacher events and more, McGhee said.

The frequently asked questions portion of the website should address most concerns, McGhee said, but parents can also reach out to their child’s school and talk to leaders there. February 2023 • A13
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to speak at Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest

Acclaimed author and storyteller Sean Dietrich, also known as “Sean of the South,” will share stories at the Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest later this month.

Dietrich will speak Feb. 23 at 10 a.m. in the community room. Tickets are $15 or free for members of the Friends of the Library group.

Dietrich is known for his podcast, books and columns, which are featured monthly in the Vestavia Voice and other Starnes Media papers, as well as on his website, Dietrich is the author of several books, including “Stars of Alabama,” “The Incredible Winston Browne” and his latest work, “You Are My Sunshine.”

Also in the adult department this month, guests can discuss Emily St. John Mandel’s latest novel, “Sea of Tranquility,” during the Read and Feed Book Group, which meets at 6 p.m. in the community room on Feb. 2.

Guests can also learn to line dance with Tiffany on Jan. 6 at 6:30 p.m. in the community room. Guests must be 18 years old to participate.

In the Makerspace area, the library is hosting a 3D modeling class with Tinkercad, a 3D-modeling platform created by Autodesk. The event will be held Feb. 28 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

In the children’s department, the library is hosting a family night, “Bubble Mania!”, on Feb. 14 at 6 p.m. Kit Killingsworth will bring her magical bubble show to the library.

Also for children, from Feb. 12 to 14, the library is hosting all-day “do-it-yourself” Valentines stations, allowing children to make Valentines for friends and family.

On Feb. 14 at 4 p.m. in the community room, teens can create their favorite characters or Valentine’s Daythemed designs with perler beads.

Teens can also compete in a Mario Kart 8 tournament on Feb. 24 at 4 p.m. in the community room, a test of their Nintendo Switch skills. The winner will receive an Amazon gift card.

Whale of a Sale set for later this month

The annual spring Whale of a Sale consignment sale and fundraiser for Vestavia Day School is set for later this month.

The event is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 23, and Friday, Feb. 24. Volunteers can shop at 10 a.m. on Thursday, with sellers able to join them at noon. Guests can purchase early passes for $5 to shop beginning at 4 p.m. The public sale is from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday night, and everything is half-off from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday.

Whale of a Sale is held at the Lighthouse on the campus of Vestavia Hills Methodist Church in February and September. The spring sale features spring and summer clothes, bathing suits and July 4 and Easter outfits, said organizer Kristen Honeycutt. The sale benefits the day school, an auxiliary ministry of the church.

The day school has used the money to purchase flooring, iPads for students, a playground cover and teacher appreciation gifts, she said. Whale of a Sale is the day school’s only fundraiser. Honeycutt said the event also brings community members together.

The twice-annual sale, which also takes place in the fall, usually features 150 to 180 sellers at each sale, Honeycutt

said. The clothes and other items sold are “great deals” for shoppers, she said, often featuring high-value brands at a discounted price. The sale returned to in-person

shopping with the fall 2022 sale, following years of virtual shopping due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To purchase tickets, visit woas.

Bids and Bites moves to new venue

After several years at the Hoover Country Club, the annual Bids and Bites fundraiser is moving to the Park Crest event facility.

The 18th iteration of the fundraiser, which benefits Vestavia Hills Elementary West, is set for Feb. 3 from 6 to 9 p.m., said Erin Lambert, an auction chair at the event. The event includes a silent auction, with items benefiting the school.

In past years, more than $18,000 has been raised, Lambert said.

Flynt Connor, president of VHEW’s PTO, said profits have allowed the PTO to grant new technology in classrooms, books for the library, speech-language therapy supplies, classroom books and outdoor equipment like basketball goals and a Gaga pit, which allows kids to play a “softer” version of dodgeball.

Guests can win jewelry and other prizes during the auction, along with enjoying a carving station and hors d'oeuvres, part of an expanded menu.

Each class at West has a theme basket they have donated for the auction as well,

Connor said. Bedzzz Express has donated a Tempur-Pedic mattress. All the bidding is done online, though the auction is in-person, Connor said.

The PTO has tried to ramp up their marketing to improve attendance at the event,

Connor said, and they are excited about moving to the new facility. Connor said they felt like a move was necessary to give the event new life.

Tickets are $30 per person or $50 per couple at the door on the day of the event.

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‘Sean of the South’
Author and storyteller Sean Dietrich, also known as “Sean of the South,” will speak at the Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest on Feb. 23. Photo courtesy of Sean Dietrich.
Ashley Burson, left, holds up an outfit to show her friend Kathleen Millsap as they shop at the annual Whale of a Sale fundraiser for the Vestavia Hills Methodist day school program in September 2022. Photo by Erin Nelson. Guests peruse auction items at the 2022 Bids and Bites fundraiser for Vestavia Hills Elementary West. Photo courtesy of Flynt Connor. February 2023 • A15 205-900-ROOF CARDINALROOF.COM YOUR LOCAL RESIDENTIAL & COMMERCIAL ROOFERS 3291 US Hwy 280 (205) 582-1202 The Power of Personal Annual Percentage Yield (APY) accurate as of 01/06/23. Minimum balance to open and earn disclosed APY is $500 for 14-month and 25-month CDs. Minimum balance to open and earn disclosed APY for 37-month CD is $10,000; must be opened with new money and not transferred from existing First US Bank account; $500,000 maximum per customer. Minimum balance to open and earn disclosed APY for 35-month CD is $100,000; must be opened with new money and not transferred from existing First US Bank account; $1,000,000 maximum per customer. Penalty imposed for early withdrawal. Limited time offer. 25 MONTH CD Minimum of $500 to Open 4.16 *APY % Minimum $10,000 Maximum $500,000 37 MONTH CD NEW MONEY ONLY 3.80*APY % Minimum $100,000 Maximum $1,000,000 35 MONTH CD NEW MONEY ONLY 4.06*APY % 14 MONTH CD Minimum of $500 to Open 4.01 *APY %

We were newlyweds, living in a grungy apartment.

Each morning, I would wake before her. I would pass my morning hours writing poetry on a yellow legal pad, sipping coffee.

Mostly, I’d write the kinds of god-awful things you’d expect newlyweds to write. I’m talking painfully corny stuff. I’d leave these poems on slips of paper scattered throughout our apartment for her to find.

One such poem read:

Together, the two of us, In thought, and deed, and breath, and heart, Shall never be lacerated apart.

Gag me with number-two pencil. “Lacerated?” What kind of a dork uses that word? In fact, I’m not certain this verb works in this particular case.

LACERATE [verb: las-uh-reyt]

lac·er·at·ed, lac·er·at·ing

1. to tear; mangle; rip. Example: Hey dude, that poem you wrote really freakin’ lacerated.

My wife saved all my crummy poems in a shoebox, and today they reside in a storage closet.

Anyway, when we first married, we lived in an apartment that smelled like dead squirrels. I am not being figurative. I mean our apartment actually had a nest of decomposing squirrels in the attic above our master bedroom.

Sean of the South By Sean Dietrich For my Valentine

The place was tiny, and about as ugly as homemade soap. The tenant before us had painted the walls black and greenish-gray. Sherwin Williams officially titled this color

“Seasick Granite.”

When we moved in, we made the place our own. We painted the walls brown and khaki. We bought a used coffee table and some scented candles.

My friend, Chubbs, found an old console television on the side of the road. I was lucky enough to claim the TV before the garbage man came.

The thing was heavier than a dead preacher, but we got it up the stairs. Chubbs, however, would suffer from severe disc degenerative problems for the rest of his life.

Our building sat across the street from a Waffle House, a Chick-fil-A and an ice cream shop. And this is why we gained nearly fifty pounds within our first year of marriage.

We never went to the movies because we didn’t have the money. We ate Hamburger Helper without hamburger sometimes.

We saved our cash for a new window unit AC — our air conditioner was on the fritz. The thing would only work on days of the week beginning with “R.”

On weekends, every weekend, we ate donuts. It was our simple ritual, and I loved it. Krispy Kreme was only a stone’s throw from us, and when the hot-and-ready light would

Life Actually

glow, by God, we were there.

Over donuts, we would talk for hours about nothing. Heavy doses of sugar can do things to the human mind. It can make a person honest.

She told me all her stories. I told her mine. You can do a lot of soul-searching over crullers.

My professional life was non-existent, I took whatever jobs I could get. I spent days crawling rooflines, swinging a hammer, or operating a commercial lawn mower. She worked as a preschool teacher at church, or in a kitchen.

For extra income, I played piano at a Baptist church on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, Wednesday nights, Thursday night choir practices and Saturday night prayer meetings.

We learned things about each other. We learned important things.

We learned how to argue in the middle of a Winn-Dixie, and how to attend two Thanksgivings in one day. How to share a sunset, seated on the hood of a truck. How to read in bed with a flimsy battery-powered book light.

We learned how to travel together with paper maps. And after years of practice, we finally learned how to make a bed together without me getting murdered.

We learned how to hold each other when loved ones die. We learned how to sit together — me reading a magazine, her playing a crossword puzzle.

We learned how to wring our hands in hospital waiting rooms. We learned how bury dogs with a shovel and a burial sheet. We learned how to make a life together. A lot has changed since those days, but I still wake early in the mornings to write. I don’t use a legal pad anymore, I use a laptop. This morning, however, I did not write. Instead, I sifted through our storage closet. I found things. An old coffee-tin sewing kit, some scented candles, love poems and the picture of a young man and his new wife in their first apartment.

In the picture, the place had ugly gray walls, but that’s the only ugly thing about this photo. He’s holding her. She’s holding him. They are young. Their skin is smooth. I wish I could tell you how much I love these two people in the picture.

I wish you could see their faces, and their punch-drunk smiles. You can tell they belong together by looking at them. You simply know that their names should never be said apart. It’s as though nothing bad in this life can ever touch them. As though the two of them, in thought, and deed, and breath, and heart, shall never be lacerated apart.

I suppose that word is growing on me.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Jamie.

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.

Fighting the epidemic of burned-out moms

My friend’s teenage daughter and her friends have a weekend routine.

While Saturday night is friend night, Friday night is self-care night. When possible, they stay home to rest and decompress after a stressful week.

These girls are high school juniors, and given the demands of junior year, I like this habit they’ve adopted. I think it’s a good example of how the next generation values self-care.

The mothers raising them, on the other hand, are still playing catch-up. Unlike our children, we didn’t grow up hearing buzzwords like self-care, self-love, and self-compassion. To no surprise, it left us a little confused. While some moms eagerly embrace self-care, others roll their eyes and see it as vanity or self-indulgence.

Maybe it's because we associate self-care with two opposing extremes. We feel like we must choose one:

The spa day mentality (a constant mindset of “I’ll treat myself because I deserve it”), or

The mommy martyrdom mentality (a mindset of “my kids are my world, and I can’t do anything for myself”).

Neither extreme is healthy because real health means moderation. Overdoing it in either direction can lead to self-worship or self-neglect, both of which hurt a mother and her family.

Am I saying it is wrong to visit a spa, and that motherhood does not require a lot of sacrifice? Absolutely not. Most of us enjoy a good massage and would sacrifice anything for the good of our family.

But after parenting for two decades, I’ve

learned there must be a middle ground. There must be self-care that strengthens us — and expands our bandwidth — so we can thrive and handle life trials.

I used to think that self-care meant bubble baths and fancy vacations. It was the “reward” earned by hard work. Today I see self-care as habits, mindsets, and choices that build wellness from the inside out. It’s whatever keeps us healthy in mind, body, and spirit.

I have a counselor friend who coaches moms on improving their mental health. Her clients often tell her, “I know what I need to do, but how?” They feel overwhelmed and crave practical tips on how to fight burnout.

They're not alone, for we're all exhausted on some level. While each mom is unique, there are ways to replenish your reserves and counter feelings of depletion. These thoughts can get you started:

► Real self-care brings you back to your family as a healthier, stronger, better version of you. Think about what energizes you. What recharges your battery and makes you feel more like yourself? Maybe it’s tennis lessons, running, or growing a garden. If you’re an introvert you may want to paint alone, and if you’re an extrovert you may prefer coffee with friends. Whatever rejuvenates you is worth your time and energy.

► Baby steps are key. Trying to rehaul your whole life at once will make you want to quit. Instead, focus on one habit at a time. Spend a week improving your thought life. A week eating a healthier breakfast. A week controlling your temper or a bad habit you're trying to break. Keeping it simple and taking it slowly makes it easier to sustain new habits.

► A motivating motto helps. During one super-stressful year, my friend gained 30 pounds. After much frustration, she told herself: Today is the day. She started with one small change – wearing tennis shoes to work – and began by walking 15 minutes during her break. Gradually, she added in other 15-minute walks and worked up to an hour daily. Finding an anthem that speaks to you may inspire action.

► Your kids like to see you in your element. So let them see you laughing with your friends, dreaming up a new business, planning the church chili cook-off, setting a gorgeous table, or performing your high school routine to “Ice Ice Baby” to get the party started. What makes you you and gives you life may one day be some of their favorite childhood memories.

► You thrive by living out of your strengths. Are you a glue mom or a glitter mom? Do you create order or creative messes? Do you give great advice or a great listening ear? While it's good to grow in your areas of weakness, don't forget to embrace the gifts you bring to the table. Work with your personality, not against it.

► Negativity that seeps into your heart will eventually seep into your home. It will steal your joy, peace, and ability to love. So set boundaries with toxic people and don’t engage in debates online that keep you angry all day. Instead spend time with uplifting people who keep you in a positive headspace for yourself and your family.

► The perfect mom in your head doesn’t exist. And mom guilt keeps you stuck in shame. God created you to parent with a spirit of strength, not defeat, so give yourself grace

and space to be human. Aim for progress, not perfection.

► Knowing what your “feel good” is leads to deeper fulfillment. Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive or excessive. In fact, the best way to fight burnout is through small routines that calm your soul. A cup of coffee on your porch after dropping kids off at school. Cuddling with your child or dog. Calling a friend instead of texting. A date night with your husband. Devotional time in the morning. Five minutes of prayer or meditation. A job or calling that elevates your joy and taps into your mother’s heart.

Being a mom is important, but you’re more than just a mom. You’re also a child of God with legitimate human needs in mind, body, and soul. You can only take your children as far as you’ve come, and as you grow your wellness, you teach your kids to do the same. You give them a vision of a healthy adult.

My prayer for my girls is that they become better, stronger, and smarter than me. I want them to learn from my mistakes and build on what I started. While I’m aware they’re learning from me, I’m also constantly learning from them. I’m taking notes from them and their generation — especially as I broaden my view of self-care.

Kari Kubiszyn Kampakis is a Mountain Brook mom of four girls, author, speaker, and blogger. Kari’s newest book, “More Than a Mom,” and other bestselling books are available everywhere books are sold. Join Kari on Facebook and Instagram, visit her blog at, or find her on the Girl Mom Podcast.

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, Jordan noticed a creeping sense of burnout impacting her and her fellow teachers.

So, the Spanish teacher at VHHS decided to create ways for teachers to connect, both virtually and in-person, as the pandemic waned. Jordan began sending a simple email three days a week, one teaching a “word of the day,” another including a quote to improve morale and another with fun trivia.

It led to other opportunities, including book studies, shared lunch times, social gatherings and more.

Her concern and care for others is part of why Jordan was named not only the high school’s teacher of the year, but also the district’s secondary teacher of the year.

“It’s an honor,” Jordan said. “I am so blessed to teach at such an amazing school.”

Jordan grew up in Peru and in Spanish culture, and she knew she didn’t want to lose those Spanish skills. So, when she moved into education, she began teaching Spanish.

“I think it’s so valuable when you can communicate with somebody else in their own language,” Jordan said.

Students learn not just how to conjugate verbs but how to speak Spanish in real-life situations, listening to speeches and watching Spanish commercials.

Jordan said she’s glad to be in Vestavia, a school she called a “special place.”

“I love our spirit,” Jordan said. “I’m so proud of who we are.”


Working with “so many amazing teachers” at Vestavia Hills Elementary West, Humphries said she is “humbled” to be named the school’s teacher of the year, as well as the district’s elementary teacher of the year.

“I’m just completely honored,” Humphries said.

Humphries worked to create a co-taught classroom at West. She said it benefited students and teachers, allowing teachers to collaborate to improve their student’s education, bringing their skills together. It allowed students to receive much more individual instruction time, Humphries said.

“It’s really changed me as a teacher,” Humphries said.

After working as a student teacher at West, Humphries has now spent 10 years teaching at the school. Her favorite part of the job is her students, who she said are “funny, kind and thoughtful.”

“I try to create a classroom environment where students feel heard,” Humphries said.

Doing so creates a lot of engagement and makes her students excited to learn because “it matters to them.” Seeing her students overcome obstacles or a child expressing that he feels like part of a family make the job even sweeter, Humphries said.


Just before the winter break, district leaders popped into Sullivan’s room at Vestavia Hills Elementary Cahaba Heights and surprised her with flowers and balloons, congratulating her for being named the school’s teacher of the year.

“It feels wonderful to know that my peers think that of me,” Sullivan said. “With education, you give your heart and soul to something. You can’t shut it off when you care about these kids.”

Sullivan said as a high school student, she was an elementary assistant. Guided by great mentors, Sullivan eventually interned at her

elementary school and then attended Auburn University.

Vestavia is the “best of the best,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said it means a lot to her to know she is making a difference in the lives of her students, and the Vestavia community has always helped her do that, meeting every need she has.

“It’s just exciting to see the support,” Sullivan said.


Miller is now in her 23rd year teaching and her fourth year at Dolly Ridge.

“I always knew I wanted to pursue something where children were involved,” Miller said.

Miller is a gifted specialist at the school and is the district’s lead gifted specialist. Being at Dolly Ridge has been the “best four years of my career,” Miller said.

“You see the love all the people have for our kids,” Miller said.

Gifted students often come with “quirky” tendencies and can struggle with anxiety, perfectionism and social isolation. Miller tries to help them think outside the box, to represent the community well and to grow emotionally and socially.

In an example of their abilities, Miller said her students made communication boards with push buttons for students with special needs.

“It was really heartfelt,” Miller said.

Miller said she plans to retire at some point from Dolly Ridge before moving to teach in another state.

“It’s just been a wonderful experience,” Miller said. “This has been the best blessing of my life.”


Randolph said while she may have been named teacher of the year at Vestavia Hills Elementary Liberty Park, it is an award “we all take ownership of.”

“It is very surreal,” Randolph said. “It’s such an honor.”

Randolph transferred to UAB after she married, relocating to Birmingham in 2012. After interning at VHELP, she was hired in May 2015 and now teaches first grade across the hall from where she interned.

The school is a “phenomenal place” because of the people who encourage others, she said.

“Everyone is willing to listen and help you,” Randolph said.

Randolph said she focuses on having a relationship with her students.

“Without a relationship with my students, I’m never going to meet their educational needs,” Randolph said.

Connecting with her students outside of class allows her to further enrich both the students and herself, Randolph said.

“The connections … with families have been so meaningful to me,” Randolph said.


Walker said it was “quite a shock” when she was named Vestavia Hills Elementary East’s teacher of the year.

years in education at Pizitz Middle School. Being named the school’s teacher of the year is an “incredible honor,” she said.

Education is in Spence’s blood. Her mother made a career out of teaching, and Spence said she initially wanted to go in a different direction.

“I ran from education as hard as I could,” Spence said. “I wanted to be anything but [a teacher].”

But at Auburn, she found herself involved with student government leadership and teaching, and she felt the call to go into education. After spending one year at Auburn High School, her family moved to the Birmingham area and she landed at Pizitz.

She instantly felt at home.

“Pizitz does a really good job of empowering teachers to do things in their own classroom and have autonomy,” Spence said.

Being at Pizitz has allowed her to grow as a teacher and has allowed her to learn from her colleagues, Spence said.

Spence teaches science, including chemistry and some physics. She tries to ensure kids are having fun in class.

“If they aren’t enjoying it, they’re not going to learn,” Spence said.

Spence, who also serves as the head volleyball and girls’ basketball coach, said she wants to give her students “bumpers,” allowing them to make mistakes while still learning.


Being named teacher of the year at Liberty Park Middle School was a “big surprise” to Woodard, who is in her 15th year at LPMS.

“I teach with so many phenomenal teachers,” Woodard said.

Woodard teaches sixth grade English, born out of a love for literature.

“There are so many opportunities to talk about life and lessons, [and how to] apply them to their lives,” Woodard said.

Vestavia is a special place because of the students, she said.

“They genuinely want to learn,” Woodard said.

“Our school is just a super special place,” Walker said.

Vestavia is home for Walker, a graduate of Vestavia Hills High School. She always knew she wanted to come back and teach. She’s now in her 15th year at East.

She said she’s seen a lot of change over those years and learned it would take more than a love for children to grow a successful classroom.

“There’s more to the classroom than just the academics,” Walker said.

She’s spent time building relationships with families and still keeps up with students who have been in her class. She also became a mom during her time at East, with three children all coming through her school.

“It really softened my heart for all the ways children learn,” Walker said.

When the pandemic forced school to move to remote learning, Walker remembered crying for her students, mourning the loss of the school year.

“It taught me to not take the time we have for granted,” Walker said. “Walking into East is a gift I don’t take for granted at all.”

The Vestavia community is all about relationships, Walker said, always supporting the school, which also sees many friendships formed.

“East is not a small place, but when you walk in it feels small because of the relationships that are formed there,” Walker said.

Spence has spent five of her six

Woodard said she strives to give students choices, allowing them to shine and achieve the standards that are set.

She also said she makes sure her team of teachers knows each other and celebrates each other’s accomplishments.

“To be selected by people who are so great, who see similar things in me, is so humbling,” Woodard said.


Hall said it has been a “huge honor” to be the freshman campus’s teacher of the year.

“No name that would’ve been called out would have surprised me except my own,” she said.

Hall served one year as a floater teacher at the high school before moving to the freshman campus three years ago

Hall said she knew she wanted to go into education when she helped a friend learn math. She loves the connection with students and being able to help them.

“I do anything and everything I can to make it fun,” Hall said.

Hall said she tries to teach students to be problem solvers and to work with others. While students might not remember geometry, they might remember how to problem solve, she said.

Working at the freshman campus has been a pleasure, she said.

“It is the best place that I’ve ever worked,” Hall said.

Hall praised the “culture of collaboration” at the school. She also said she enjoys helping freshmen find their “people” so they aren’t lost when they move to the main campus.

A18 • February 2023 Vestavia Voice
Top: Megan Humphries, a third grade teacher at Vestavia Hills Elementary West, speaks with Brekynn Fritz, left, and Asa Barnes as they play Tick-Tac-Tock during math Jan. 5. Humphries was named the elementary teacher of the year for the Vestavia Hills City Schools. Above: Amanda Jordan, a Spanish teacher at Vestavia Hills High School, speaks with her students about their goals for the new year in her Honors Spanish 4 class Jan. 5. Jordan was named the secondary teacher of the year for Vestavia Hills City Schools. Photos by Erin Nelson.


CONTINUED from page A1

Further complicating residents’ efforts to cover the storm’s costs is that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has not designated Shallowford Circle as a flood zone.

Zhaleh McCullers is the former director of the Stormwater Management Division in Jefferson County. She noted that multiple factors go into a drainage system’s ability to contain stormwater. One such factor is that the architects who built the drainage system cannot fully account for years of storms and changing climate.

“We cannot design pipes big enough to plan for a hundred years of storms, especially in a subdivision,” McCullers said. “Because the economy of it is impractical.”

Additionally, the construction of roads and other impervious surfaces surrounding the drainage system leaves less room for the stormwater to be absorbed. All of this in addition to other factors such as littering can lead to drainage pipes becoming more easily overwhelmed.

“What at one time was [the] right design, it may not be today,” McCullers said.

Nancy Foreman has been living in Shallowford Circle for longer than Barrett has. She worries that the sheer ferocity of the stormwater racing down the creek can pose a significant environmental and safety risk.

“I have seen huge trees go down this creek. I have seen lawn furniture, trash cans, and they go down like Dixie cups,” Foreman said. “Because this water is raging so fast, it’s horrifying.”

Foreman said much of the bank bordering the creek has been washed away by this rushing stormwater over the past 15 years. This rapid land erosion has exposed the roots of multiple trees surrounding the neighborhood, leaving them in danger of toppling over. So far, two trees have already fallen. One tree fell onto a resident’s truck, while the other damaged the front of a house.

“It’s not a matter of … if they fall, it’s a matter of when they fall,” Barrett said. “And right now, every one of them are tall enough to come over across Shallowford Circle and go into a house, a car, or God forbid, a person.”

Throughout much of the past year, Barrett has

reached out to multiple city officials in Vestavia in the hopes that they address the issue. Both he and Foreman were aiming to have the city come up with a solution before a major accident occurs.

“That’s what I’m afraid of, is they’re not going to do anything until somebody gets hurt,” Foreman said.

However, the city has repeatedly stated that its ability to do so is limited, as they do not own the creek.

On Nov. 3, 2022, City Attorney Patrick Boone, Director of Public Services Brian Davis and multiple Shallowford residents held a meeting at Vestavia Hills City Hall. There, Boone emphasized that Alabama law, specifically Section 94 of the state constitution, prohibits the city from spending public or state funds to maintain private property, such as the creek.

“We can’t spend public dollars on private property,” Boone said. “We go to jail for that.”

Additionally, the Alabama Supreme Court decided in two separate cases that cities are not liable for errors made when inspecting drainage systems.

“We want cities to have a general set of rules to go by,” Boone said. “And the purpose of the rules [is] not for the city to guarantee that all the nails are driven straight.”


points to a marker that indicates where the right of way owned by the city of Vestavia Hills stops as he talks about the trees that line a creek that are in danger of falling on homes Jan. 5.

Currently, the city of Vestavia owns Shallowford Circle, the bridge connecting to Shallowford Circle and the right of way. The creek, on the other hand, is privately owned, city leaders said, which means the city cannot devote resources to fixing the drainage systems or anything else on the property.

But no one, including the city, has been able to identify the owner of the creek.

Barrett and Foreman have both received conflicting information when looking into the matter. Before the November meeting, Barrett was informed that, as of 1962, the creek was owned by a company called the Birmingham Housing Corporation. However, he found that the company was dissolved in 1992, seemingly leaving the creek with no owner.

On the other hand, according to Foreman, city officials told her that the creek was owned by a nonprofit organization called the Cahaba River Society. As of today, the city maintains that its hands are tied because the owner of the creek remains unknown. Although Boone did speculate that the creek may be owned by the Shallowford neighborhood, he did not officially determine this.

Even if the city cannot switch out the drainage pipes, both Barrett and Foreman have suggested other fixes. Simply cutting down the tallest trees

or placing rocks in front of them, they suggest, could make a big difference. Rocks could also have the added benefit of protecting the bank from further erosion.

However, Boone stated that the city is unable to implement even these solutions in privately owned property under Alabama law. The city has already had surveyors determine which trees are within the city-owned right of way, and only one of the trees with exposed roots lay within that boundary.

Vestavia Hills Mayor Ashley Curry, City Engineer Christopher Brady and Davis were asked to comment, but ultimately, the city emphasized that it had nothing more to add to what Boone had shared in the November meeting.

McCullers emphasized that although cities cannot operate within private property, nothing legally prevents the neighborhood’s homeowner association (HOA) from devoting resources toward projects within that property, regardless of who owns it. The HOA could allocate costs among the residents or even ask for advice from the city without directly involving it.

“They still have to work with the city to make sure what they’re designing is within their property and not creating problems downstream,” McCullers said.

Such efforts would not come cheap, as cutting down even one of the trees bordering the creek would, according to Barrett, cost between $2,000 to $3,000. However, McCullers noted that an HOA could start a fundraiser or request the help of a non-rofit organization to accrue the necessary funding.

A major obstacle remains: Shallowford Circle does not currently have an HOA. Barrett said although an HOA did exist for a time, the community eventually disbanded it due to a lack of interest.

Part of Barrett’s efforts to solve the flooding problem involve convincing homeowners that storms will continue to pose risks down the road, even if some seasons are drier than others.

For now, Barrett feels that he has done all he can to help the community with this issue. He is leaving it up to the homeowners to decide whether to take action.

“Now it is up to them to react, or not react,” Barrett said.

February 2023 • A19 3850 Galleria Woods Dr • Birmingham, AL 35244 • • 205-994-8677 EXPERIENCE SENIOR LIVING
A Life Plan Community offers a unique opportunity for residents and their families to experience peace of mind through access to a full continuum of high-quality care for life. It’s the promise that even if your needs change, you’ll always be able to live in the community you call home. A New Way of Living Join a community of people who love to celebrate the everyday joys of living while also having the assurance that Life Care provides. Learn more about the best retirement lifestyle Birmingham has to offer! Contact us today. Call 205-994-8677 or email
Danny Barrett, a resident at Shallowford Town Homes in Vestavia Hills, Photo by Erin Nelson.


Offering world-class eye care for everyone in the family


When you look ahead to the future, you try to prepare for the moments you don’t see coming. But how can you do that without the best possible eye care? Whether you need a routine eye exam, glaucoma screening, ongoing care for a serious eye condition or even surgery, you can access premium care, knowledge and skill to help repair and restore your vision at UAB Callahan Eye in the blink of an eye.

UAB Callahan Eye is committed to delivering eye care everyone can access. With 20 locations across central Alabama and counting — including new locations in Tuscaloosa and Homewood — getting first-rate treatment is easier than ever.

UAB Callahan Eye takes pride in caring for people of all ages, with all locations specializing in diagnosing and treating our youngest family members, starting at birth.

Whatever your needs are, you’ll find the care you need at one of UAB Callahan Eye’s locations, including the only 24/7 eye emergency department of its kind in the country. What does that mean for you? Personalized care, excellent eye care professionals, shorter wait times and clearer vision. Making an appointment is easy, just call or text 844-UAB-EYES to request an appointment today. Same-day appointments and walk-ins

► WHERE: 1720 University Blvd.


► WEB:

are also welcome.

Patients never have to leave UAB Callahan Eye’s care — or Alabama — for the treatment they need to see the future more clearly.

B SECTION FEBruary 2023 Sports B10
At UAB Callahan Eye, we’re focused on providing vision-saving care at every level — from the only 24/7 eye emergency room in Alabama to daily eye care from expert physicians. 24/ 7 EYE EMERGENCY ROOM See the di erence at
spectrum of eye care.
B2 • February 2023 Vestavia Voice 2023 SPRING MEDICAL GUIDE SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION Clare Bridge Crossings to foster positive environment for dementia care BROOKDALE UNIVERSITY PARK Brookdale University Park is an upscale continuing care retirement community in Birmingham that offers its residents an enjoyable lifestyle with a wide selection of care options to meet their changing needs. residents and their families to feel a strong lighted to help you plan your personal visit, ► WHERE: 400 University Park Drive ► CALL: 205-870-0786 ► WEB: (205) 870-0786 Brookdale University Park, a CCRC Birmingham, AL 35209 Independent Living | Rehabilitation & Skilled Nursing Assisted Living | Alzheimer's & Dementia Care 400 University Park Drive Brookdale University Park is pleased to introduce Clare Bridge Crossings Our Clare Bridge Crossings program builds on the growing body of aging research that shows well designed programs can help sustain mental functions often impacted in the early to early-middle stages of Alzheimer’s and related dementias. For more information, please call Brookdale today at 205-870-0786

Fentanyl Overdoses in Jefferson County

As a public health professional working in overdose prevention tasked with writing an article about fentanyl overdose, I would like to ask you to walk through a visualization exercise. I would like you to close your eyes and imagine someone you think would be at risk of an overdose. What do they look like? How old are they? How are they dressed? Where are they? What environment are they in? What type of people or things are around them? Where are you in relation to them, close by or far away?

Now, I want you to wipe that image clean completely. In place of that image, I want you to imagine your grandmother suffering chronic back pain from years of hard work. She has prescribed pain medication but does not have enough to get her through an entire month and borrows pain medications from others. Imagine your teenager who is very active on a popular social media app and is approached through that app with an offer to purchase an anxiety medication. It will be conveniently delivered to their home as you order a pizza or takeout. Imagine your college student in the campus library studying for finals with friends, and someone offers them medication for attention deficit disorder to help them stay awake to study. Imagine your 25-year-old sibling, a young professional, attending a party where cocaine is available. Imagine your long-time neighbor, your favorite high school teacher, yourself, or anyone else you admire or care about instead. An accidental fentanyl overdose can happen to anyone from any community, socioeconomic status, age, race, ethnicity, religion, or gender who ingests a drug obtained outside of a pharmacy or healthcare provider’s office.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid available in prescription and illicitly manufactured forms. It is highly potent at tiny doses – fifty times more powerful than heroin and one hundred times more potent than morphine. An amount as small as a few grains of table salt can cause a fatal overdose. The risk of overdose from illicitly manufactured fentanyl is growing in our community. Jefferson County fentanyl overdose deaths were up 233% between 2019 and 2021, rising from 95 to 316. In 2022, through September, we have already lost 230 individuals in Jefferson County to a fentanyl overdose. Overdose is killing our friends, family members, and neighbors full of promise and ability to make a lifetime of positive contributions to our world.

Illicitly manufactured fentanyl is in the heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine supply in Jefferson County, and users of those substances are at high risk of a fentanyl overdose. There are even reports of fentanyl contamination of the marijuana supply. Most people do not realize that illicitly manufactured fentanyl is also in counterfeit pills that are indistinguishable from legitimate prescription medications. Today’s overdose crisis is not the overdose crisis of five years ago when overdoses mainly occurred in injection drug users. Fentanyl overdoses are now happening in unsuspecting individuals who believe they are purchasing or borrowing legitimate prescription medications. Instead, they receive counterfeit medicines contaminated with fatal doses of illicitly manufactured fentanyl.

We must raise awareness about this public health crisis. Parents should discuss overdose risks with their middle-school, high school, and college students. Every household must be familiar with naloxone (an opioid overdose reversal drug) and have it available in their home.

There is hope for those using substances and resources available to guide these conversations. Parents may find resources on the Addiction Prevention Coalition website at, or the DEA One Pill Can Kill website at Free naloxone and fentanyl test strips are available to anyone in the State of Alabama and may be obtained through the Jefferson County Department of Health website

at Alabama’s 24/7 substance use helpline, answered by individuals in recovery from substance use disorder, can be reached at 1-844-307-1760. Those in Birmingham and the surrounding areas can contact the Recovery Resource Center at 205-4583377. A treatment locator can be found on the Connect Alabama app at connect-alabama-app/ or on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website at

The Jefferson County Department of Health staff cares about you and your family. Our mission is for everyone in Jefferson County to live a long and healthy life. We are available to spread awareness by speaking to community groups, being present at community events, and working alongside you to reduce overdoses in your community. Our overdose prevention and response team can be reached at 205-930-1065 or Let’s all work together to END OVERDOSE!

Sexual Health Clinic Services Have Expanded

The Jefferson County Department of Health (JCDH) Specialty Clinic is excited to announce multiple expansions to our existing services. The JCDH Sexual Health Clinic now offers services at our Central Health Center (1400 6th Ave South, Birmingham AL, 35202), our Eastern Health Center (601 West Blvd Roebuck, Birmingham, AL 35233), and our Western Health Center (631 Bessemer Super Hwy., Midfield, AL 35228).

The JCDH Sexual Health Clinic has also launched self-scheduling options for our Fast Track Visits. Fast Track Visits are intended for persons who wish to have comprehensive sexual health testing if they do not currently have any symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection. The self-scheduling portal can be found at under the “Self-Scheduling” tab.

The JCDH Specialty Clinic also offers the following services: Adult Vaccinations Clinic, Hepatitis C Treatment Clinic, PrEP and PEP Clinics (for HIV prevention), and Travel Clinic.

Appointments for any of these clinics can be made by calling 205-588-5234. February 2023 • B3

Delivering high-quality skincare, cosmetic care at 2 ‘family-friendly’ locations


An accredited, board-certified dermatologist with 15 years of experience, Dr. Holly Gunn opened her own practice — Gunn Dermatology — in Crestline Village in August 2020.

Dr. Gunn has sought to create a friendly, neighborhood facility serving all ages, people and skin types, and she says that caring for her patients is very gratifying.

“The best feeling in the world for me is feeling like I’m helping people,” she says. “When people come to me with a problem that I know how to fix or improve, it brings me so much joy. It’s one of the best parts of life.”

Since Gunn Dermatology opened, Dr. Gunn has become known for her one-on-one consultations in which she creates personalized cosmetic treatment plans that allow each patient to achieve his or her healthiest, strongest skin.

In fact, things have gone so well that Dr. Gunn opened a second location of her practice in November at the new, expanded Lane Parke in Mountain Brook Village.

“We had a beautiful grand

► WHERE: 32 Church St. and 391 Rele St. in Lane Parke

► CALL: 205-415-7536

► WEB:

opening soiree with a red carpet, champagne and the best crew of our closest friends, family and patients,” Dr. Gunn says. “It was absolutely magical to see it all come to life.”

Dr. Gunn and her staff have received positive feedback regarding the new facility. Patients say they love the new location describing it as beautiful, open, inviting and therapeutic.

“It’s a little getaway in the middle of Mountain Brook. It’s so luxurious and filled with happiness right when you step in the door,” Gunn’s staff says. “It’s fun to see people’s faces when they walk in.”

Gunn Dermatology offers pediatric, medical, surgical, cosmetic and aesthetic services. Gunn and her staff help patients with all types of skin issues, such as acne, scarring, rashes and infections, as well as wrinkles, sun spots and other signs of aging.

Dr. Gunn is also passionate about skin cancer prevention and has published articles in dermatology and psychology journals drawing on her extensive research and experience in dermatologic diseases.

Gunn Dermatology offers most of the same services at the new location as it does in Crestline, but the practice has added more.

“We are now offering cryotherapy, infrared sauna sessions and spray tans,” Dr. Gunn says.

“We strive to be a full-service wellness center to serve our current patients and members. We are also now offering non-surgical, safe and effective treatment to basal cell and skin cancers.”

Dr. Gunn says that it has been rewarding to watch her practice grow.

“It's been scary and takes time from my family, but I love what I do and I love that we had the need to grow to fulfill a commu-

nity need,” she says.

The practice now has 23 employees at the Crestline and Lane Parke locations and is continuing to hire, Dr. Gunn says.

Gunn Dermatology continues to set a high standard for patient care and service.

“Through our most cut-

ting-edge technologies and individualized approach, we are able to consistently deliver high-quality skincare,” Dr. Gunn says.

At both locations, Dr. Gunn and her staff seek to provide what she calls “not just good medical care, but great medical care, in a luxurious environment.”

Schedule a medical or cosme�c consult with us to see what all we can do for you! SECOND LOCATION NOW OPEN IN Mountain Brook Village SCAN TO FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM! @gunndermatology 205.415.7536 | 32 Church Street, Mountain Brook, AL 35213 | 391 Rele Street, Mountain Brook, AL 35213

journey to mend his The

Meet Jaquavion ‘Qua’ Johnson


Jaquavion “Qua” Johnson was born in September 2006. As a doctor was checking on the infants in the local hospital nursery, his attention quickly turned to Qua as he was turning blue. He was stabilized then airlifted to Children’s of Alabama. Doctors there determined he had a congenital heart defect called tricuspid atresia, a surprise to mom Marquitta Rivers.

“No one had a clue he was sick at birth,” Marquitta said.

At five days old, Qua had the first of a series of open-heart surgeries that are customary for his diagnosis. Tricuspid atresia happens when the heart’s tricuspid valve does not develop, therefore blood can’t flow from the heart’s right atrium (upper receiving chamber) to the right ventricle (lower pumping chamber) as it should. Marquitta recalls her “tough cookie” of a son riding around the hospital at age 2-1/2 in a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe, recovering quickly after his last surgery.

He played a variety of sports throughout childhood, but when Qua reached middle school, mom Marquitta noticed her son just wasn’t himself. “He is my child, and I knew something was wrong.”

In early March 2021, a series of visits to his hometown pediatrician, emergency departments and cardiologists provided some clues. Marquitta came home one afternoon to find him crying. “Mom, I can hardly breathe,” he said. She booked an appointment with his pediatrician for the following day, but by that evening, Qua’s symptoms worsened, and Marquitta took him to an emergency department in Columbus, Georgia, a 45-minute ride from home. They did a CT scan, an X-ray and EKG. He needed oxygen. “That’s when I knew something was wrong.”

The pediatrician urged Qua and Marquitta to return to Columbus where many of the previous tests were repeated. Still without answers, they drove back home, when that evening, Marquitta noticed a missed call on her cell phone. It was from a cardiologist at the Columbus hospital. In his voicemail, he explained that Qua’s case caught his eye. As Marquitta listened to the message, Qua was lethargic on the sofa. The doctor advised them to go back to the hospital so that Qua could have an echocardiogram.

By the next morning, Qua’s bloodwork

► WHERE: 1600 7th Ave. S., Birmingham, AL 35233

► CALL: 205-638-9100

► WEB:

and tests indicated that he needed more than just tests. “The doctors said they didn’t understand how Qua was up and walking around. Something wasn’t right with his heart,” Marquitta said. The doctors requested that Qua be transported to Children’s of Alabama for evaluation and treatment. She went back home long enough to gather up essentials for what she thought would be a few days in Birmingham and began the three-hour drive as Qua was flown to Children’s.

His heart wasn’t pumping well. The medications weren’t helping. All that was left was a heart transplant. “He was worried and scared about the idea of a heart transplant,” Marquitta said. “I needed him to know exactly what was going on. I didn’t sugarcoat it, didn’t want him to be worried. He had a big smile on his face once he realized a new heart would give him a better life.”

He joined the transplant list April 3, 2021. While many patients wait months or even years for a new heart, Qua’s critical condition helped the team at Children’s of Alabama find a heart for him less than two weeks later. Before Marquitta told Qua, she went to the gift shop and bought some heart-shaped balloons. When she got back to Qua’s room, he had his back to the door. When he turned around, she said to him, “Qua, are you ready for your life to start? You’re getting your new heart today.”

Marquitta got updates from the transplant team over the next eight hours. By the time she saw him in recovery, he was connected to multiple IVs and machines. “He looked at me as if to ask if all was OK. He grabbed my hand and nodded his head to tell me he was OK. Then he did the same with his dad. And then he went back to sleep,” Marquitta recalled. And just one month later, Qua was discharged ready to take on life with his new, healthy heart.

“I don’t know what the good Lord has in store for him, but I know it’s something,” Marquitta said.

Qua was born with tricuspid atresia that required a series of open heart surgeries as an infant. But as a teen, his health took a dramatic turn. Qua’s pediatrician and cardiologist recognized something wasn’t right with his heart and sent him to Children’s of Alabama. Our team was standing by when he arrived by helicopter, and within two weeks he received a new heart. He rebounded quickly and was back at home a few weeks later, thanks to the expert heart team here at Children’s of Alabama.

Qua Heart Transplant Survivor
heart led CV-0007_Heart_Month-Qua-Feb-Paper-Medical-Guide-Newsprint_4.79x15.57-PROD.indd 1 1/5/23 3:15 PM

Medicare doesn’t have to be stressful — let Medicare Advisors of Alabama help


Q: Who is Medicare Advisors of Alabama?

A: We are a locally owned insurance agency that specializes in helping Alabamians better understand Medicare.

Medicare is overwhelming, but once someone with patience and knowledge teaches you the questions to ask and then guides you through the process, the whole thing becomes much less stressful. That’s what we provide: a stressfree Medicare experience.

Q: What does your service cost?

A: Our service is absolutely free. We’re only paid by insurance companies if we help you enroll in a plan. Our reputation has been built on word of mouth and living the Golden Rule. Let us prove it to you.

Q: Why does someone need a broker/adviser?

A: There are so many advertisements and plans available that it’s becoming almost impossible to sort everything out on your own. A good broker will help you see the positives and negatives of the plans and will work to find the best solution for their client and not the insurance company.

► WHERE: 2116 Columbiana Road, Birmingham

► CALL: 205-704-9020

► WEB: medicareadvisors

Q: When does someone need to help me with Medicare?

A: If you’re turning 65 years of age, you have a seven-month window to enroll in Medicare. It’s also when our team can really help you understand your options. However, if you are still working, you may not want or need to enroll. Deciding when to enroll and what to enroll in are our two most asked questions, and our team can help you make an informed decision.

Q: What if I keep working past age 65?

A: Many people think they’ll face penalties if they don’t sign up for Medicare at 65. That can be true, but not always. You can postpone enrollment beyond age 65 if you or your spouse are still working and you have health insurance under an employer plan.

Q: The Annual Enrollment Period ended Dec. 7. Is it too late to make changes?

A: There are several different enrollment periods throughout the year. One overlooked enrollment period (Open Enrollment Period) runs from Jan. 1 through March 31. This period is for a person who needs to change their Medicare Advantage Plan or someone on a Medicare Advantage Plan but would like to return to Original Medicare. There are also many Special Enrollment Periods (SEP) throughout the year as well.

Q: Where can I get help with Medicare?

A: You can schedule a consultation with someone on our team. We can talk over the phone, meet virtually via Zoom, in-person at our local office, at your home, your business or even out at a coffee shop.

Once a month we teach a class called “Prepare for Medicare” at our local office. We have lots of fun, and it’s very educational. No specific products are discussed, but it’s a great way to learn the basics of Medicare and get your questions answered.

MEDICARE PREPARE FOR RIGHT HERE IN TOWN VIEW MORE @ MEDICAREADVICE.ORG/SERVICES/PRODUCTS 2116 Columbiana Road Birmingham, AL 35216 ·Fun and educational “Prepare for Medicare” classes ·One-on-one Medicare consultations ·Help people in need apply for nancial assistance ·Free drug plan reviews  EDUCATE Learn how to make an educated Medicare decision.  ADVISE Unbiased free advice based on years of experience.  ENROLL Meet with a local licensed agent who can help you enroll.  SUPPORT Ongoing support regardless of enrollment. MAA is an insurance agency and not part of the federal government. We do not represent every plan available in Alabama and information provided is limited to the plans we do offer. Contact or 1-800-Medicare to get information on all options.
Eric Smith

‘Always listen to your body’


Q: You have been in medicine for over 40 years. Is there one thing that has remained consistent when it comes to quality patient care?

A: The goal remains the proper care of the patients. That includes timely triage, listening to the patients, using anxillary studies like Xray, CTs, MRIs and arriving at a proper diagnosis and then explaining options for treatment based on age and lifestyle requirements. Then, you go over the risks, benefits, possible complications from the agreed upon surgical or non-surgical solutions. Finally, you work with the patient on the proper recovery options that may include some type of physical rehabilitation and therapy.

Q: What led you to be a hand surgeon?

A: My granddad and my dad were orthopedics so I knew I wanted to be one myself. I made good grades in school and became interested in high school.

Q: What “off the field” injuries do you see?

A: Other than injuries where you fall or have some type of traumatic event, there are degenerative conditions like trigger finger and carpal tunnel, tennis elbow and similar overuse problems. Just because someone doesn’t play a sport doesn’t mean the everyday

► WHERE: 200 U.S. 31, Suite 125, Vestavia Hills

► CALL: 205-822-4357

► WEB: precisionsports

person doesn’t have “sports-like” injuries.

Q: Do you work with specific teams on specific injuries?

A: I have been a hand consultant through the years for different area professional teams, college teams and high school teams in the state. More recently, I have been the hand consultant for UAB sports programs and their affiliated high school and college relationships.

Q: What are the symptoms and sensations patients need to watch out for that determine problems with your hands?

A: Always listen to your body. When it doesn’t feel okay, it’s not okay. If you feel pain in the elbow playing tennis or cramps in the hand using clippers in the yard, your instinct is to stop immediately or decrease that activity over time. Often, that’s not enough. That’s when you should start to consider speaking to a provider who can give you a proper examination and determine a proper plan of action for recovery.

Take a stand against vein disease.

Your Leg Pain Can’t Wait

How do you know if you are suffering from vein disease? Answer these questions:

„ Do you have ankle and/or leg swelling?

„ Do you have a dull ache or heaviness in the legs after standing or sitting for long periods of time?

„ Do you have tired legs?

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TherapySouth providing ‘Hands On Care, Close to Home — and Work!’


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Q: Why should someone see a physical therapist?

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mobility and causing pain. When patients come to physical therapy first, they can often avoid unnecessary surgery and medication. Through intentional exercises and hands-on treatment, patients can get back to their hobbies, everyday tasks and more.

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Creating a ‘friendly, relaxing’ atmosphere for patients


Family dentists play an important role in people’s lives, according to Dr. Franklin “Frankie” Jones, who opened his new practice, Highland Dental Arts, in Vestavia Hills in January.

“We want to care for the entire family regardless of age,” says Dr. Frankie, as he is usually called.

“We want to form meaningful, trusting relationships with our patients that will keep them coming back to see us for their dental needs for life.”

Being a dentist is also very rewarding.

“Not only do we help relieve immediate pain and maintain oral health, but we give people a new smile and confidence,” Dr. Frankie says. “It’s gratifying to know we can help improve someone’s quality of life.”

A native of Starkville, Mississippi, Dr. Frankie completed his Doctorate of Dental Medicine at The University of Mississippi Medical Center in 2020.

He moved to Birmingham with his wife, Elizabeth, and says he’s “honored” to open his practice in Vestavia Hills.

He wants his patients to know he listens and puts their goals first.

“We want to create an atmosphere where patients feel that any issues they have are heard, and that we’ve taken the time to fully explain all of their treatment options,” he says.

“Going to the dentist can be scary for many people, but we try to maintain a friendly, relaxing environment,” he says.

Using the latest technology to help improve patients’ lives


Alabama Vision Center, with locations in Mountain Brook and Hoover, offers world-class eye care with the most advanced technologies, delivered by a committed, caring group of expert doctors and staff.

The latest expert to join the team is Dr. Jessica Duddleston, an ophthalmologist, who began working at AVC in August 2022.

Dr. Duddleston’s specialities include cataract surgery; laser eye procedures, including Lasik; medical and surgical glaucoma; and Botox treatments.

She’s very happy to be a part of AVC.

“The culture is centered around excellent patient care which, to me, is the most important,” Dr. Duddleston says. “I believe it is obvious to our patients as well. Their visit is made more enjoyable as they get to experience how well our staff gets along with each other and how much they truly care.”

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He goes by Dr. Frankie to help foster that welcoming, informal atmosphere.

“I think it creates more of a friendly relationship with patients, where they can feel comfortable asking any questions they have,” he says.

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A Mississippi native, Dr. Duddleston earned her medical degree from The University of Mississippi Medical Center and completed her ophthalmology residency at The University of North Carolina.

She says that many technological advancements have occurred in ophthalmology in the last decade, and she strives to stay informed.

“It’s extremely important to continue researching and incorporating advancing technology into my skill set in order to offer patients a tailored treatment plan that fits their lifestyle,” she says.

Examples include the introduction of microinvasive glaucoma surgery and

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“The most rewarding part of my job is being able to improve someone’s vision through cataract surgery or LASIK and, therefore, improve their quality of life,” she says.

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Dr. Frankie listens to his patients and puts their goals first. Patient education is essential to being confortable with your dentist.

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Lady Rebels ready to make another run

The Vestavia Hills High School girls basketball team has seemingly picked up where it left off last year.

After reaching the Class 7A state championship last March, the Lady Rebels hit the ground running once again.

Vestavia Hills won its first 21 games of the season, many of them in convincing fashion. That includes victories over Chelsea, Pelham, Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa, Mortimer Jordan, Homewood, Mountain Brook and Foley.

The key to the great start? Shooting and selflessness.

“They’re understanding how to play the game,” Vestavia Hills head coach John David Smelser said. “When you play unselfish and move the ball and hit shots, you’ve got a good

chance to win most of the games that you play.”

Emma Smith was Vestavia’s unquestioned leader on and off the floor last year, but the likes of Sarah Gordon and Anna Towry have taken the baton and run with it.

Towry is the team’s lone senior and has been a cornerstone for the team on and off the floor.

“She knows everything. She’s a great leader and a great example for everybody,” Gordon said.

Towry said the team’s confidence was high entering area play, even though the Lady Rebels suffered their first loss of the season to Hoover, the team that beat them in the previous state championship game, on Jan. 10.

“Throughout the first 20 games, we’ve learned how to play with each other and how each other plays,” Towry said. “That’s what’s worked really well, is learning how each other plays and playing to each other’s strengths. That’s led to a lot

of success.”

Even in the midst of the season-opening winning streak, the Lady Rebels showed their mettle in tough stretches, in close- and late-game opportunities.

“You learn what your team is made of in those situations. We’ve continued to make a big shot or make a big play. That’s who we are. We know how to win and expect to win and I haven’t seen any panic in those situations,” Smelser said.

Although she’s just a sophomore, Gordon has taken on the mantle of the team’s leading scorer most games, displaying a combination of smooth shooting and playmaking.

“It’s been awesome,” Towry said of Gordon’s development. “When she first came up, she was nervous. We just encouraged her and watched her develop into what she is. It’s because of how hard she works and how much time she puts in.”

Point guard Jill Gaylard and several others were also key contributors to last year’s successful postseason run. The hope for the Lady Rebels is to be able to do that again.

With Vestavia now in Hoover’s area this year and both teams still two of the best in the state, they could meet up to four times (twice in the regular season, once in the area tournament and potentially in the regional final).

Add in the fact that Bob Jones would also be in the Northwest Regional should all three teams make it there, things certainly won’t be easy down the stretch for a team with high aspirations.

But Smelser believes in his team and its potential to make another run.

“It’s a grind, it always has been,” he said. “It’s never easy, but I think our girls understand that and they know how hard it is. They’re battle tested.”

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Right: Vestavia Hills’ Sarah Gordon (33) shoots a 3-pointer guarded by Oak Mountain’s Ella Holt (4) at Oak Mountain High School on Dec. 9. Far right: Vestavia Hills’ Anna Towry (5) shoots a layup in a game against the Eagles. Photos by Erin Nelson.

Rebels reaping benefits of early schedule

There was no easing into this season for the Vestavia Hills High School boys basketball team.

Whether the Rebels hoped to do so or not, head coach Patrick Davis put together a schedule that was not going to allow for that.

In the season’s first six games, the Rebels picked up a one-point win against Chelsea and suffered losses to Spain Park, Hartselle and Sparkman, three teams that will likely be playing deep into the playoffs this year.

While a loss is never the desired outcome, Davis liked what he saw from his guys in response to them.

“It sounds really cliché, but this group really realized that we needed to get a lot better. We had so many guys that had such little

experience, that they knew we were nowhere near where we can be,” Davis said.

Davis said this group ranks at or near the top of any that he has coached in its commitment to improvement throughout the season.

“This group knew this was going to be a work in progress,” he said.

It’s safe to say the progress has been encouraging.

After the 3-3 start, the Rebels ripped off 13 consecutive wins. The likes of Homewood (twice), Mountain Brook, Oak Mountain, Cullman and Tuscaloosa County were all handed losses by the Rebels. They also won a tournament in Kentucky just before Christmas.

“That December stretch was really good for us,” Davis said. “This group plays with an edge that’s hard to put your finger on.”

The team is led by Win Miller, a senior guard

who recently became the program’s all-time leading scorer. Miller passed Wade Kaiser, who played on the Vestavia Hills 1992 state championship team.

Miller has starred on the varsity team for four years, bursting onto the scene as a freshman. The thing Davis admires about Miller is his willingness to do whatever it takes to win and his work ethic to continue improving facets of his game.

“He just wants to win; he couldn’t care less what his point total was,” Davis said. “He’s just added something specific to his game every year. He has toughness and understands the work you’ve got to put in on your own.”

Jackson Weaver has come into his own this season as well, proving to be a consistent scoring option in addition to his defensive abilities.

“He’s an elite defender. He loves to guard;

he’s just absolutely high level there and it doesn’t necessarily show up in stats,” Davis said.

Jordan Ross also gives the Rebels something they haven’t had in recent years: elite athleticism near the basket. He joined the basketball team after starring as a defensive end for the football team and is a force to be reckoned with.

Those three have gotten the headlines, but the entire team has a cohesion that will likely prove beneficial down the stretch.

“Those three guys, combined with a bunch of dudes that want to guard, want to win, want to move the ball and aren’t selfish, have put us in the spot we’re in,” Davis said.

As of press time, the Rebels were in the middle of area play. Should they advance past the Class 7A, Area 6 tournament, the Northwest Regional awaits in mid-February. February 2023 • B11
Left: Vestavia Hills’ Jordan Ross (5) dribbles the ball downcourt in a game at Oak Mountain High School on Dec. 9. Right: Vestavia Hills’ Win Miller (0) dribbles the ball guarded by Oak Mountain’s Kevin Jasinski (2). Photos by Erin Nelson.

Metro South middle school football players of year named

The 2022 Metro South Players of the Year were recently announced, recognizing players across the area for standout seasons. In seventh grade, Hewitt-Trussville Middle School and coach Terry Gillespie defeated Berry in the championship game. In eighth grade, Berry Middle and coach Matt Bowden knocked off Pizitz to win the title.

Here are the players named among the best in the Metro South.

► From Berry: Seventh graders Nicolas McKissic, Wyatt Baty, J.D. Thompson and Anderson Walker; eighth graders CJ Cowley, Evan Taylor, Houston Holmes and Connor Greb.

► From Bragg: Seventh graders Urijah Casey, Mark Moody, Chauncey Goodwin and Cohen Corbell; eighth graders Jude Wright, Michael Shelly, Josh Bailey and Reece Kelly.

► From Bumpus: Seventh graders Aiden Callins, Kamryn Foster, Mario Gibbs and Paxton Weatherly; eighth graders Judson Harris, Darion Moseley, Anquan Allen and Andrew Renfroe.

► From Chelsea: Seventh graders Noah Lee, Travion Spell, Hudson Picklesimer and Riaden Sanchez; eighth graders Briston Hardy, Israel Rodriguez, Jaiden Balint and Christian Madrid.

► From Clay-Chalkville: Seventh graders Christian Bennett Richardson, Markell Stephens, Trey Kennedy and Elijah Menyweather; eighth graders Carson Kimbrough, Josh Ivy, Tavaris Powell and Riley Cornutt.

► From Helena: Seventh graders Maddox Johnson, Brayden Jackson, Judorien Sanders and Barack Djalo; eighth graders Jacoby Studmire, Johnathan Roberto, Cole Davis and Reid Lucas.

► From Hewitt-Trussville: Seventh graders Chris Davis, Tyler Wilson, Antonio Wynn and Braxton Wallace; eighth graders Harrison Malone, Riley O’Neill, Jayden Berry and

Cason Cornwell.

► From Homewood: Seventh graders Timothy Roshell, Quincy McGhee, Reid Goldstein and Marcus McGee; eighth graders Jack Myers, Davis Lee, Bryon Long and Landon Pettus.

► From Liberty Park: Seventh graders Braxton Hunt, Powell Curry, Clayton Cox and Nick Smith; eighth graders Zachary Laws, Charles Taaffe, Luke Stubbs and Jackson Deal.

► From Mountain Brook: Seventh

graders Jack DeMedicis, Ryder McMakin, Gray Anderson and Joshua Holloway; eighth graders Luke Waldrop, Miller Crumpton, Graham Smith and Oliver Browning.

► From Oak Mountain: Seventh graders Cooper Campbell, Clayton Cherry, Eli Ervin and Keenan Wolf; eighth graders Luke Kelly, James McCallister, Baroc Willis and William Yoder.

► From Pizitz: Seventh graders Hudson Mote, Ethan Taylor, Daniel Holmes and Cooper

Cherry; eighth graders Noah Boylan, Jackson Martin, Price LaMaster and Nic Williams.

► From Simmons: Seventh graders Jamal Jones, Jordon Ward, Knox Tyson and Jack Thomason; eighth graders Jovon Pulliam, Joe Johnson, Ashtyn King and Matthew Threatt.

► From Thompson: Seventh graders Boomer Larson, Maleek Billingsley, Dominic Pitts and Mehkii Billingsley; eighth graders Trent McCorvey, Kevin Davis, Cam Pritchett and Ashton Smith.

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State baseball, softball finals to remain in Oxford, Jacksonville

Rebels recognized by ASWA on all-state team

The Vestavia Hills High School football team put together a solid season in 2022, posting a 7-5 mark and reaching the second round of the Class 7A playoffs. The team showed great progress under first-year head coach Robert Evans, nearly achieving a few wins over the likes of Hoover and Thompson that would have been a big boon to the program.

As a result of the season, three Rebels were recognized by the Alabama Sports Writers Association as part of the Class 7A all-state football team.

Quarterback John Paul Head put together an outstanding season leading the newlook Vestavia Hills offense. He was named a first-team athlete due to racking up 38

total touchdowns on the season. He threw for 1,871 yards and 14 touchdowns, while rushing for 1,152 more yards and 24 scores.

Defensive end Jordan Ross has begun to collect offers from SEC schools and beyond after the season he put together. The junior was named to the second team after wreaking havoc on opposing offenses all fall. Out of his 49 total tackles, 16 of them were tackles for loss, and he also recorded 2.5 sacks. Ross forced several fumbles and scored a pair of defensive touchdowns as well.

Grant Downey was named honorable mention by the ASWA after a season in which he contributed to the Rebels in multiple ways. Downey was one of the top defensive backs in 7A, intercepting eight passes. He made 29 tackles and also served as the team’s punter throughout the season.

The Alabama High School Athletic Association announced in early December an agreement to keep the state baseball and softball championships in the same place for at least the next five years.

The AHSAA’s agreement with the city of Oxford and Jacksonville State University will keep the baseball and softball championships in Calhoun County through 2027, with the same setup that was used for the first time in 2022.

Oxford’s Choccolocco Park hosted the state softball tournament for the first time in 2021 and returned in 2022 to complete a two-year contract, after the tournament was held at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park since its inception in 1986.

Moving the softball tournament to Oxford has allowed the state tournament finals in all seven AHSAA classifications to be held at the Signature Field, a stadium designed specifically for softball.

Baseball’s state final series for each of the seven classifications was previously held in

Montgomery, but a scheduling conflict forced the state to relocate those championships last spring.

That led to holding the first game of each classification’s final series at Choccolocco Park, with the second and third games the following day at Jacksonville State University’s Rudy Abbott Field at Jim Case Stadium.

“We are excited to have our state championships in both sports locked in for the next five years and hopefully for many years to come,” said Alvin Briggs, AHSAA executive director. “Our experience with softball at Choccolocco Park and baseball last spring at Choccolocco Park and JSU was incredible. We had packed crowds for most of our games. Both sites provided real championship experiences and lifelong memories for our teams, schools and communities that traveled to attend.”

Choccolocco Park in Oxford has signature fields for baseball and softball, in addition to a multi-field complex that is utilized for the softball tournament games leading up to each classification’s championship game. The park has hosted many regional and national events throughout the last several years.

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The AHSAA state softball tournament will remain in Oxford through 2027. Photo by Kyle Parmley. Vestavia Hills quarterback John Paul Head (13) passes the ball in a game at HewittTrussville Stadium on Oct. 7. Photo by Erin Nelson.

Varsity Sports Calendar


Feb. 17: vs. Stanhope Elmore. 4 p.m.

Feb. 18: Doubleheader vs. Gardendale, Helena. 9 a.m., 4:30 p.m.

Feb. 23: @ Oak Mountain. 4 p.m.

Feb. 24: @ Chelsea. 6:30 p.m.

Feb. 25: Doubleheader vs. Madison Academy. Noon.

Feb. 28: @ Cullman. 4:30 p.m.


Feb. 3: @ Mountain Brook. Girls at 6 p.m., boys at 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 4-11: Area tournaments. TBD.

Feb. 15-23: Regional tournaments. TBD.


Feb. 4: State meet. Birmingham CrossPlex.


Feb. 2-4: Boys at Lakeshore Shootout.

Feb. 2: Girls vs. Chelsea. 6 p.m.

Feb. 9-11: Girls at Southern Shootout.

Foley Sports Complex.

Feb. 10-11. Boys at Rick Grammer Invitational. Sicard Hollow Athletic Complex.

Feb. 14: Girls @ Huntsville. 6:30 p.m.

Feb. 17-18: Girls at Falcon Fest. Merrimack Soccer Complex.

Feb. 17: Boys @ Gadsden City 7 p.m.

Feb. 23: Boys vs. Hewitt-Trussville. 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 28: Girls vs. Sparkman. 6 p.m.


Feb. 17-18: Red & Blue Classic. Liberty Park.

Feb. 21: vs. Moody. 4:30 p.m.

Feb. 23: @ Oak Mountain. 4:30 p.m.

Feb. 24-25: Hillcrest Tournament. Bowers Park.

Feb. 28: @ Prattville. 4:30 p.m.


Feb. 2: vs. McAdory. 5 p.m.

Feb. 10-11: Sectional Tournament. TBD.

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Articles from Vestavia Voice February 2023