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Stories | Recipes | Events | People | Places | Things | Local News February 2021

Electric

COOPERATIVES of ALABAMA

Chocolate makers of Alabama

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Big fun with small plants

Electric

Microgreens, those tiny delicate plants that often adorn upscale restaurant dishes, are hugely popular in culinary circles and can also be an enormously fun crop to grow at home.

COOPERATIVES of ALABAMA

ALABAMA LIVING is delivered to some 420,000 Alabama families and businesses, which are members of 22 not-for-profit, consumer-owned, locally directed and taxpaying electric cooperatives. Subscriptions are $12 a year for individuals not subscribing through participating Alabama electric cooperatives. Alabama Living (USPS 029-920) is published monthly by the Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives. Periodicals postage paid at Montgomery, Alabama, and at additional mailing office. POSTMASTER send forms 3579 to: Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, Alabama 36124-4014. ALABAMA RURAL ELECTRIC ASSOCIATION

AREA President Fred Braswell Editor Lenore Vickrey Managing Editor Allison Law Creative Director Mark Stephenson Art Director Danny Weston Advertising Director Jacob Johnson Graphic Designer/Ad Coordinator Brooke Echols

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340 TechnaCenter Drive Montgomery, Alabama 36117-6031 1-800-410-2737 For advertising, email: advertising@areapower.com For editorial inquiries, email: contact@alabamaliving.coop NATIONAL ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVE:

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30 F E A T U R E S kid’s art 9 My Our children’s creative artwork is off the refrigerator and into our pages!

treats 34 Chocolate Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to present your special someone with a delectable gift made from chocolate. Check out our reader recipes!

Upgrading appliances 40 If you’re looking at replacing some of your kitchen appliances, it pays to know which ones are the most energy efficient.

Printed in America from American materials

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D E P A R T M E N T S 11 Spotlight 29 Around Alabama 34 Cook of the Month 38 Outdoors 39 Fish & Game Forecast 46 Hardy Jackson’s Alabama ONLINE: alabamaliving.coop ON THE COVER

Look for this logo to see more content online!

VOL. 74 NO. 2  February 2021

Alabama’s chocolatiers, like Todd Nelson of Chocolate Corner in Gulf Shores, are extra busy this month crafting treats made with everyone’s favorite Valentine ingredient: chocolate. PHOTO: Colette Boehm

40 WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

ONLINE: EMAIL: MAIL:

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This image shows a completed floating solar PV array on a Walden water retention pond at the city’s water treatment facility in Walden, CO. Photo Credit: Dennis Schroeder, NREL 54004

Current and future solar tech By Maria Kanevsky

Solar energy is one of the fastest-growing forms of energy in the country. You can see it on your neighbor’s rooftops or in acres of fields, but how did solar energy begin? And where is the technology headed? Using power from the sun is an ancient practice. However, harnessing solar power in the form of photovoltaics to produce electricity is a relatively recent discovery. Throughout the 1800s, various scientists worked to improve the basic photovoltaic cell that created the basis for the modern photovoltaics that we use. At a basic level, when semiconductors are exposed to light, they can emit electrons which create an electric current. These first solar cells used selenium to create the “photovoltaic effect,” which is the generation With solar energy becoming more mainstream, there of electricity from light exposure, but are other emerging technologies beyond the traditional today we use silicon. solar photovoltaic cell that could play a role in coming Although solar photovoltaic technoldecades. Photo Credit: Dennis Gainer, NRECA ogy was developed in the 1800s, it took more than a century for the technology to become more commonplace. The space age in the 1950s and an efficiency of around 15 to 20%. 1960s saw a slight increase in production of solar photovoltaics to With solar energy becoming more mainstream, there are other power spacecrafts, and an oil shortage in the 1970s brought more emerging technologies beyond the traditional solar photovoltaic awareness to alternative energies. The technology has evolved cell that could play a role in coming decades. Although photoover time since its discovery. voltaics are currently the most popular form of solar technology, Over the last century, the efficiency of solar cells’ ability to there are a couple other developed forms of solar technology also generate electricity has been improving, from the first solar cells in use. One is concentrating solar power (CSP) technology, which having an efficiency of about 4% in the late 1800s, advancing to uses thousands of mirrors to concentrate solar energy to tradiapproximately 11% in the 1950s, and now modern solar cells have tional steam turbines or engines to generate electricity. This type 4  FEBRUARY 2021

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of technology needs to be located on about 500 acres of land to be cost-effective. Another existing type of solar technology is solar heating & cooling (SHC), which collects thermal energy to be directly used for water heating, space heating and space cooling across many applications. There are several forms of experimental solar technology that are relatively less developed, such as floating solar arrays, also called floating photovoltaic (FPV). This technology uses solar panels that are fixed on top of a buoyant structure in a body of water. Most FPV arrays are located on inland bodies of water, like lakes or reservoirs, because the calmer waters allow for easier installation and less degradation of the technology over time. The water also helps to cool down the solar panel which increases the efficiency of electricity generation. While not all environmental effects are known, in certain habitats having FPV can provide shade to reduce evaporation and the growth of algae blooms. A huge benefit of FPV is freeing up valuable land for other uses and reducing the need to remove forests for large solar arrays. While there also may be a huge potential to expand FPV out into the open ocean, the costs of these projects are much higher to install and maintain. Another relatively new form of solar technology is printable solar cells––photovoltaic cells that are paper thin and can be used almost anywhere. Instead of silicon that is used in conventional photovoltaic cells, these printable cells break down organic semiconductor polymers into “solar ink” on a plastic film, which can then generate electricity from light. Although the technology has been proven to work, there are still some major issues to solve before the technology can be commercialized. The printable solar

cells last only a short six months and only have an efficiency of 10%, but researchers are currently working to solve these challenges. Once brought into market, the printable cells will be flexible and portable enough to be placed on the sides of buildings, not just rooftops, and a variety of other applications. As these newer forms of solar technology develop and become commercially available, we will likely see many more kinds of solar technology around us. Solar technology has come a long way over the last century and won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Maria Kanevsky is a program analyst for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric coops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56% of the nation’s landscape.

Solar photovoltaic technology was first developed in the 1800s, but it took more than a century for the technology to become more commonplace like it is today. Photo Credit: Dennis Gainer, NRECA Alabama Living

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Avoid solar energy scams By Abby Berry

Solar energy is booming, and the future is brighter than ever. Through the use of rooftop solar panels, many homeowners can now harness the sun’s natural rays to produce their own electricity that’s environmentally friendly and cost effective. But with the increasing popularity of solar, unfortunately, some businesses are taking advantage of consumers who are interested in generating their own energy through rooftop panels. While many solar companies are genuine and truly want to help consumers with a successful solar installation, there are the occasional bad apples. You’ve likely heard a story or two about solar vendors that promised rooftop panels that would generate enough electricity to power the entire home. Then, after the homeowner has paid thousands of dollars for the installation, the solar panels aren’t working, and the vendor is nowhere to be found. Sadly, this story has been the reality for many consumers.

If you’re interested in solar panels for your home, consider these tips before installation:

• Talk to an energy advisor at your local electric co-op first. We want you to feel confident about any decisions you make about your home energy use, especially decisions about generating energy at home. • Collect at least three quotes from different solar companies to ensure you’re getting a competitive deal. As with any major purchase, research is key, so thoroughly read customer reviews for each of the three solar vendors.

• If you speak to a solar vendor and they use high-pressure tactics, like an offer that’s only good for 24 hours, run! Any reputable solar company will recognize that you need time to review a proposal and thoroughly weigh your decision. • You know if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So, if a solar company is making promises that sound unachievable and outlandish, they probably are. Remember, if you have any questions, you can always count on your electric co-op for advice. • Finally, when it’s time to review and sign a solar contract, make sure the language is clear and easy to understand. Ensure any prior verbal (or emailed) promises are also included in the contract. Going solar is a major decision, so you’ll want to conduct a good bit of research first. If you’re looking for a general starting point, check out the Department of Energy’s Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar here energy.gov/eere/solar/homeowner-s-guide-going-solar. Abby Berry is a program analyst for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric coops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56% of the nation’s landscape.

TIPS FOR AVOIDING SOLAR SCAMS

As the popularity of rooftop solar panels increases, so do solar scams. Here are a TIPS TIPSFOR FORAVOIDING AVOIDINGSOLAR SOLARSCAMS SCAMS few tips to consider before you install a solar PV system for your home. As the As the popularity popularity of rooftop of rooftop solar solar panels panels increases, increases, so do so solar do solar scams. scams. Here Here are are a a few tipstips to to consider before before youyou install install a solar a solar PV PV system system for for your your home. home. • few Talk toconsider your electric co-op first.

• Talk • Talk to your to your electric electric co-op co-op first. first.

• Get at least three quotes from solar companies, and thoroughly read • Get • Get at least at least three three quotes quotes from from solar solar companies, companies, andand thoroughly thoroughly read read their reviews. their their reviews. reviews.

• Avoid solar companies that • Avoid • Avoid solar solar companies companies thatthat use high-pressure tactics. useuse high-pressure high-pressure tactics. tactics.

• Don’t believe • Don’t • Don’t believe believe unrealistic promises. unrealistic unrealistic promises. promises. Only sign clear, ••Only • Only sign sign clear, clear, easy-to-understand easy-to-understand easy-to-understand contracts. contracts. contracts.

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Please move over for roadside crews It’s polite, and it’s the law. By Paul Wesslund

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Every year, workers along the sides of roads are injured or killed when a car crashes into the crew’s site, even though it’s marked with bright cones and warning signs. There’s an easy way to reduce those incidents that harm police officers and other first responders, road construction workers and utility crews. There’s a slogan to help remind drivers. There’s even a law. The slogan is “slow down or move over.” It’s good advice and a decent thing to do to keep people safe. It’s also a requirement in all 50 states. Legislatures first started passing Move Over laws about 25 years ago to reduce the year-after-year statistics of harm to roadside emergency workers. In the past five years, states have started to specifically add electric and other utility projects to their Move Over or Slow Down laws. It’s an addition that’s welcomed by your local electric cooperative because they were part of the effort to expand the law to help protect line crews. Protecting line crews is a top priority for Alabama’s electric cooperatives, and it’s a safety measure everyone can help with, says Jeff Whatley, safety specialist for Alabama’s electric cooperatives. “Move Over is not only a good law, it’s also the courteous thing to do,” he adds. “Our crews already perform dangerous work to keep the lights on every day. They deserve a work environment that’s as safe as possible.” There are slight differences in each state’s Move Over laws, but not so much that you can’t figure out the right thing to do, even if you’re traveling from state to state.

• Penalties for violating those requirements range from $100 to $2,000, or loss of your driver’s license. A list summarizing each state’s law can be found on the AAA web site at drivinglaws.aaa.com/tag/move-over-law/. Electric utility crews are special cases to watch out for. A study of utility worksite accidents found that the relatively temporary nature of power line repairs could surprise motorists. A roadside construction operation might close a lane for days or weeks, giving time for people familiar with the area to anticipate the changed traffic pattern. Utility work, however, can start and finish in a few hours, possibly raising risks with drivers who might think they know the road ahead. Another risk to watch for is when worksites are being put up or taken down. Roadside accidents can happen as crews are setting up signs and traffic cones. My father-in-law used to tell his daughter every time they parted, “Drive all the time.” What he meant was that she should pay attention, and it’s good advice for all of us. Don’t drive distracted. Drive according to the conditions of the road. Be courteous to roadside work crews. Watch the signs and obey them. And certainly, follow laws like Move Over or Slow Down. It’s good advice that could save a life. Paul Wesslund writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56% of the nation’s landscape.

Here are the basic requirements:

• Within 200 feet before and after a work zone, which will be marked with bright signs and marker cones, and often flashing lights, change lanes if there’s more than one lane on your side of road so that there is an empty lane between your vehicle and the roadside crew. • If it’s not possible or safe to change lanes, slow down. Many states specify slowing down to 20 mph below the posted speed limit if it’s 25 mph or more. Yes, that means if the posted speed limit is 25 mph, slow down to 5 mph. • Drivers must obey all traffic directions posted as part of the worksite. • Keep control of your car—yes, that’s a requirement in many Move Over laws. And yes, it is more of a general guidance than a rule for a specific speed. It means you need to pay attention and respond to weather conditions— heavy rain or a slick road might mean you’re required to slow down even more than 20 mph. And no texting, fiddling with the radio or other distractions.

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PLEASE MOVE OVER FOR ROADSIDE CREWS If you see police, firefighters, utility crews or other emergency personnel on the side of the road, please slow down and move over when possible. Together, we can keep our crews safe.

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WINTER ENERGY-SAVINGS WORD SEARCH

This winter, you can pitch in at home to help save energy! Read the energy-saving tips below, then find and circle the bolded words in the puzzle.

M B B T K V S N Z G G H B H C

U E M D V Y P J K N I M C N U

S T H G I L N C M I Z J Q E J

WORD BANK:

F M F G K X P I C H C W K W M

A I R F I L T E R T I O I X Q

K V R W B W K T H O F V N V S

S L H E L K Q G A L J D W R C

• Open curtains and blinds during the day to allow sunlight in to warm your home. • Instead of turning up the thermostat, add more layers of clothing to keep your body warm. • If you have a fireplace, ask an adult to close the flue when a fire is not burning.

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E R Q D P S I V N C B B L I Y

R J E G X L F O U R P L I D M

U C Q G N H A S O U I Y N V P

A K M U R Y E C V S N V E C Q

Z M S N V A Z P E D L I N B D

T T K M L S H S R M G E B B Q

H J V J T L H C Y A F J N T K

H L W L Z P K W O F P V T G T

• Unplug chargers when they’re not in use. They consume energy even when they’re not charging phones and other devices. • Ask an adult to check the air filter for your home’s heating and cooling system. Filters should be replaced regularly to help the system run more efficiently. • Always turn off lights when you leave a room.

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| Alabama Snapshots |

My kid’s art

This scene of our Cairn terrier, after giving birth to her puppies, was painted by Bradley, at age 12, on an old t-shirt. It was so unique we had it framed. SUBMITTED by Helen Sturgeon, Cullman.

Charlotte Blencowe (16), a student at Chilton County High School, with two of her recent drawings. SUBMITTED BY Jennifer Blencowe, Clanton. Colton was proud to show off his fall artwork made with the help of his wonderful daycare teachers. SUBMITTED by Michael Mann, Auburn.

My daughter (Campbell Mead, age 15) drew this picture of Stoddard Bait & Tackle in Wetumpka. SUBMITTED BY Kelly Roberts, Wetumpka.

Submit “I met a celebrity!” photos by February 28. Winning photos will run in the April issue.

SUBMIT and WIN $10!

Alabama Living

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Online: alabamaliving.coop Mail: Snapshots P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

My grandson, Samson, drew this lion for me. SUBMITTED by Vickie Naylor, Boaz.

RULES: Alabama Living will pay $10 for photos that best match our theme of the month. Photos may also be published on our website at alabamaliving.coop and on our Facebook page. Alabama Living is not responsible for lost or damaged photos. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope to have photos returned.

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Spotlight | February Sales tax holiday for storm supplies is Feb. 26-28 With the spring storm season approaching, this is a great time to take stock of your emergency supplies at home. And, during the last weekend of February, you can stock up on supplies free of state sales tax. Alabama will hold its 10th annual Severe Weather Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday, beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 26, and ending at 12 midnight on Sunday, Feb. 28. Alabama has two sales tax holidays each year; the other, for back-to-school supplies, is in July. Note that covered items will be free of state sales tax, but local sales tax may apply. Covered items, priced at $60 or less per item, include household batteries (but not coin or auto/boat batteries); cellular phone batteries and chargers; portable and weatherband radios; portable self-powered light sources; tarps and plastic sheeting; duct tape; plywood, window film or other materials designed to protect windows; non-electric food and water storage containers; first-aid kits; fire extinguishers; reusable ice; smoke detectors; and gas or diesel fuel tanks. Also, generators with a sales price of $1,000 or less are exempt from the state sales tax. This is not an exhaustive list; for more information, visit revenue.alabama.gov and click on “services” and then “sales and use tax division.” Scroll down to the “sales tax holidays” button.

Letters to the editor

E-mail us at: letters@alabamaliving.coop or write us at: Letters to the editor P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

Readers shared their thoughts on some of Hardy Jackson’s recent columns.

Enjoyed anchovy column

Enjoyed your anchovy experience (November 2020). We share the same history. In my early age and annual duck hunting in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (Munoscong Bay) with my pappy, I was introduced to, confronted with, and learned to share the sardine and anchovy from the open-top tin containers you mentioned. They could only be found in the essential duck hunting gear and duck camp, and age didn’t seem to affect their quality. They were never to be found at home on the shelf or with any of the siblings or friends’ residences, or ever with my wife, my children, their friends or my associates. Use was forbidden. Today, and for the last 65 years, I still enjoy alone the critters on my salads and pizza, and on the side and frowned on. Being “snowbirds” in Orange Beach, raw oysters and double row sardines in olive oil fall in the same category, “best fish from the sea.” Jim McCready, Orange Beach and Indian Lake, Michigan

Another snow story

Great story about the New Year snow (December 2020). I had a college roommate who went to the Sugar Bowl (it snowed at the game) with friends that year and was stranded in Mississippi on the return trip. They went to the RR station. They and some others were allowed to ride in the baggage car to Tuscaloosa. He looked on it as an adventure. I don’t know how they retrieved their car. John Atkins, Valley Head 10  FEBRUARY 2021

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Judson College surpasses fundraising goal

Judson College's Jewett Hall.

After Judson College, a private, Baptist-affiliated women’s college in Marion, Alabama, announced on Dec. 15 that the school would need $1.5 million in cash and commitments to continue operating, donors stepped forward, and the school’s board of trustees approved moving forward with the spring semester. The college had announced that it would need $500,000 in unrestricted cash donations and $1 million in unrestricted commitments to reopen in 2021. As of Jan. 12, alumnae and friends of Judson have donated, or committed to give before May 31, more than $1,462,868. In its initial announcement, the school acknowledged the financial effects of declining enrollment and the COVID-19 pandemic. Its spring semester began Jan. 20, and as of press time, the college is planning for a fall session.

Memories of vaccines

Your article on polio pioneers was great, but there’s more... some of us were “guinea pigs” for Salk’s vaccine. The Mobile County School System, and a system in Ohio (I think) were chosen for the test of the new vaccine. Some received the vaccine, while others received a placebo. (We were not told who got what, and later we also received the Sabin vaccine. (My recollection is foggy, as I was only in the second or third grade). Please do your due diligence in verifying my info, and I apologize in advance for any errors in my recollection. I do not recall that our parents were asked to sign waivers or anything. Imagine if today, a kid came home from school and announced that “Hey, Mom, we all got polio shots in school today! Keep up the good work, and stay safe. Terry Niblett, W.P. Davidson HS ’63, JSU ’68, Rainsville (Ed. note: While we weren’t able to verify that the Mobile County schools were part of the 1954 Salk vaccine field trials, we did learn that 1.3 million children across the country, Canada and Finland participated in the randomized double-blind test. A year later, the vaccine was declared safe and made a part of standard childhood immunizations. If anyone can provide more information about Alabama schoolchildren who were part of the vaccine trials, please let us know.) We just read your article about vaccines. I’m an Argentinian national; I live in Auburn now after taking a wild leap around the globe for a decade and a half. My husband is as American as they come. We are also raising an amazing little girl who has lots of energy, great hopes and dreams and we couldn’t agree more with you. She probably wouldn’t be here if it (weren’t for) science and our ancestors following the advice of scientists. We became scientists ... believing we can make a better world. Hopefully a lot more people will read your article, reflect on it and act accordingly so we can beat this pandemic as a civilized and united society. Maria Soledad Peresin Assistant Professor, Forest Products Development Center School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University www.alabamaliving.coop

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February | Spotlight

Find the hidden dingbat!

Take us along!

Nearly 500 of our readers correctly found our January dingbat, a gray scarf tucked into the corner of an air filter on Page 24. Thanks to those who wrote of their find in poetry, including Gayle Ashworth of Guntersville, a member of Arab Electric Cooperative.

We’ve enjoyed seeing photos from our readers on their travels with Alabama Living! Please send us a photo of you with a copy of the magazine on your travels to: mytravels@alabamaliving.coop. Please include your name, hometown and electric cooperative, and the location of your photo. We’ll draw a winner for the $25 prize each month.

I was looking for something to keep me warm ‘Cause I have to get out and work on the farm. A big heavy coat will be real nice But won’t be enough to really suffice. I donned the coat and looked once more. Then what do you know? On page twenty-four In the lower right corner of the filter so clean Was the scarf I was searching for and now have seen. Congratulations to our winner, Charles Fox of Clanton, a member of Central Alabama Electric Cooperative. This month, in recognition of Groundhog Day, we’ve hidden a cartoon version of a groundhog (though in Alabama, we generally call them “woodchucks.”) Though Groundhog Day is Feb. 2, you have until Feb. 6 to send us your answer. Good luck! By mail: Find the Dingbat Alabama Living PO Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 By email: dingbat@alabamaliving.com

Whereville, AL Identify and place this Alabama landmark and you could win $25! Winner is chosen at random from all correct entries. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified. Send your answer by Feb. 8 with your name, address and the name of your rural electric cooperative. The winner and answer will be announced in the March issue. Submit by email: whereville@alabamaliving.coop, or by mail: Whereville, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124. Contribute your own photo for an upcoming issue! Send a photo of an interesting or unusual landmark in Alabama, which must be accessible to the public. A reader whose photo is chosen will also win $25. January’s answer: Padlocks adorn the fence along the Creekwalk in downtown Prattville, near the intersection of Bridge and Main streets. The locks have been there for several years, and locals believe they represent romantic gestures – couples place the locks on the fence and then toss the keys into the water to symbolize everlasting love. Some are etched or inscribed with names and dates. (photo by Mark Stephenson of Alabama Living). The randomly drawn correct guess winner is Jackie Henley of Central Alabama EC. Alabama Living

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Found each other after 34 years We wanted to share photos of Ian MacLean of Cheshire, England, and Melissa Locher of Foley, a member of Baldwin EMC, this month in honor of Valentine’s Day. The two met in 1986 in Scotland, then lost touch due to moves and email changes. As Ian puts it, “My search for her became what I thought would be a ‘mission impossible,’ but after years of searching and with the aid of the internet, mutual friends and ‘one click of a mouse’ we eventually re-established contact in August (2020). To say it was a joy for me would be an understatement.” Melissa agrees, adding they’ve been in touch every day since August, and “now I have this wonderful man that’s been in love and searching for me all these years back in my life and I’m not losing him again.” Ian is looking forward to visiting Alabama once the virus restrictions are lifted, and until then, he’s enjoying reading Alabama Living and wearing the Alabama shirt Melissa sent him. Thanks for sharing your love story with our readers!  Our own Fred Braswell, president and CEO of the Alabama Rural Electric Association, took his magazine to the ski slopes at Crested Butte, Colorado, last year. Fred is retiring this month after 22 years of serving the rural electric cooperatives of Alabama. We wish him more time on the slopes and continued good reading!

Mary Ellen Pinion from Bremen, a member of Cullman Electric Co-op, took her magazine to the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, South Dakota, where her son-inlaw is a music professor. She is pictured by the welcome sign at USD. FEBRUARY 2021  11

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Dark chocolates from Chocolate Corner and Ice Cream in Gulf Shores.

Sweet spots

PHOTO BY EMMETT BURNETT

Alabama chocolatiers put their hearts into Valentine’s confections Chocolate Corner & Ice Cream Gulf Shores

By Emmett Burnett

Who among us has not presented or received Valentine’s Day chocolates? We’re talking real chocolate – Alabama made, not some Hershey hearsay. Here are five of the state’s best, from the shores of Coastal ’Bama to the rockets of Huntsville. How sweet it is. Chef Jule Roach, owner of Fairhope Chocolates, displays Valentine’s Day chocolates. PHOTO BY EMMETT BURNETT

“There is too much to choose from,” a visiting beach-goer says while surveying the display case at Chocolate Corner. Other patrons smile, offering little sympathy to the customer’s confectionary indecisiveness. For there are worse problems than a day at Gulf Shores with unresolved chocolate decisions. Chocolate Corner owner Todd Nelson reassures the visitor who walks out with mix and match goodies, freshly made hours earlier. “Making the decision is the hardest part,” he tells her. Again, another good problem to have. Choices include over 15 flavors of chocolate barks. Molded candies with caramel and sea salt, chocolate starfish, gourmet truffles, peanut clusters, and decadent brownies  are also a good start. But check in regularly because Todd and company are always researching and coming up with new innovations in chocolate offerings. Like everything in Gulf Shores, summer is the busiest time for Chocolate Corner, but year-round customers – tourists and locals – frequent daily. And Valentine’s Day? “You call it Valentine’s,” laughs Todd. “We call it ‘Chocolate Week.’” His hand dipped strawberries have customers waitChocolate Corner ing in line and Ice Cream and calling 200 W. Fort Morgan Rd ahead, and Gulf Shores, AL are worth the 251-948-2462 wait. Chocolatecorner.online.com

Fairhope Chocolate

Since opening in 2013, Chef Jule Roach’s candy go-to has doubled its floor space. “People are impressed until I tell them we’ve gone from 200 to 400 square feet,” she smiles. But what Fairhope Chocolate lacks in size it makes up for in quality, both store-made and from Belgium with love. For in-house: “We have our own line of FC chocolates,” says Chef Jule. “It is a high-end Swiss chocolate, and we make our own caramel in house.” Her creations come in many

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Left, just a few of Pizzelle’s Confections hand-crafted chocolates; Right, Michelle Novosel, co-owner of Pizzelle’s, prepares a batch of chocolate. PHOTOS COURTESY OF PIZZELLE’S

Pizzelle’s Confections Huntsville

In Pizzelle’s, chocolate is not just made. It is sculpted, painted, and molded by artisans. Customers often ponder: Do I eat Pizzelle’s chocolates or display it in the living room? The self-argument is settled after one bite. Art becomes a delectable memory. “We are very much into art and chocolate is our medium,” says co-owner, executive chocolatier and pastry chef Michelle Novosel. “Our chocolates are beautiful edible pieces but also taste amazing. We use very fine chocolate imported from Switzerland and we add local ingredients whenever possible.” Located in Huntsville’s Lowe Mill District, Pizzelle’s serves many customers who are patrons of the arts with a sweet tooth. But regardless one’s art expertise – from consumers of Picasso to lovers of the Poker Playing Dogs – all love Pizzelle’s. Chef Michelle and her co-owner – her sister, Caitlin Lyon, who’s Pizzelle’s Confections also the general manager – work 2211 Seminole Dr. with a small group of artists, cu- Railroad Room #4 Huntsville, AL linary experts and chocolatiers. 256-513-9745 They make magic happen. Pizzellesconfections.com Fairhope Chocolate 42 1/2 S Section St Fairhope, AL 251-928-7750 Fairhopechocolate.com

forms: dark and milk chocolates, white couvertures, sea salt, chocolate dipped, caramel drizzled, and with locally harvested pecans, caramel apples, Southern

pralines and more. But save room for dessert. They make onsite gelato – one scoop of Fairhope’s dark mocha will amaze. Two scoops and you’ll move to Baldwin County. Fairhope Chocolate also carries Neuhaus of Belgium, the chocolate choice of Belgian royalty and the Kingdom of South Alabama. “It is so delicious,” adds Jule, “and only offered by a few of us in the U.S.” Here’s a Valentine’s Day pro tip: Be there early. “Valentine’s Day is the single busiest day in our business,” Jule says. “We sell a lot of chocolate dipped strawberries but also a huge selection of boxed chocolates – store made or custom made to your order.” Though always busy, Chef Jule acknowledges that being busy is a good thing in the business that is her passion. “I have always loved chocolate and the chocolate business.” She adds, “I love watching children’s eyes widen as they enter my chocolate shop. I also like watching adults’ eyes widen as they enter my chocolate shop.” Alabama Living

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“I can’t really tell you a customer favorite,” Michelle says. “Everyone has favorites. Yes, our chocolates are beautiful pieces of art, but the taste is amazing too.” Pizzelle’s website and store currently feature 20 varieties of edible art – not to be confused with jewelry, which it resembles. Valentine’s Day offerings under consideration at press time include various chocolate varieties mixed and matched with passion fruit, strawberry, champagne and other flavors.

Peterbrooke Chocolatier Tuscaloosa

When they moved to Tuscaloosa from Jacksonville, Florida, in 2003, Heather and husband Travis Reier learned the chocolate business, bought a franchise, and opened Peterbrooke Chocolatier in September 2007. But don’t let the word “franchise” fool you. As Heather says, “This isn’t a large corporate factory. We are a small shop, with much of our chocolate made in-house.” It does not stay in-house long. “Our chocolate covered popcorn is the best seller,” adds T-Town’s chocolatier, discussing the only Peterbrooke store in Alabama. “The popcorn is yellow-buttery-salty with milk chocolate dripped over it. People always ask what makes it so good.” On average, they sell about 250 bags of chocolate-bathed popcorn a week. Other favorites include the couple’s chocolate-covered potato chips, custom made cookies, pretzel rods, molded items and of course, Valentine’s treats for the sweet. Feb. 14 starts early. “We begin dipping strawberries at about 4 a.m.,” Heather explains about Cupid’s little helpers. “We do not dip it earlier and we do not ship it,” she continues. “We never sell chocolate covered strawberries over a day old.” Nor do they have to. On Valentine’s Day, customers are waiting at the door before the shop opens. Acknowledging the busy day ahead, Heather smiles. “It’s a super fun business. I like to think we are small town chocPeterbrooke Chocolatier olatiers with fine chocolates, 1530 McFarland Blvd. European with an American Tuscaloosa, AL flair. We make people happy 205 - 752-0211 Peterbrookeindianhills.com with chocolate.”

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Three Georges Fine Southern Chocolates Mobile

The 1866 building that now houses Three Georges Fine Southern Chocolates was originally Harris’ Grocery. Three Georges opened later. It has only been in the chocolate business for 104 years. In 1917 three Greek Mobilians – coincidentally, all named George – bought the building, transforming it into a candy store-soda fountain. Scott Gonzalez bought it in 1992. “I wanted to preserve the old recipes. Our old safe still has their small handwritten book, where original recipes came from.” Original recipes are still served along with the new. “We constantly come up with new stuff,” says Scott, “and it’s all made here. We make most everything, like our own centers – the gels, nuts, and creams stuffed into bonbons and other candies.” Three Georges has employees with 25-plus years’ experience. To answer the eternal question, how can you work in a chocolate shop and not eat everything in the store, Scott says, “I tell employees, it’s OK to occasionally taste, just don’t make a meal of it.” Easier said than done. Valentine’s Day is huge for walk-ins and pre-orders. Every day favorites include pecan concoctions, chocolate covered cherries, chocolate bark, and heavenly hash consisting of marshmallows and pecans smothered in rich milk chocolate kissed by angels. One of the oldest candy stores in Alabama, Three Georges lives by a creed Three Georges Fine that allowed it to survive Southern Chocolates hurricanes, two world wars, and COVID shutdowns: 226 Dauphin St. Mobile, AL “Chocolate is essential.” 251-433-6725 Indeed it is. 3georges.com

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Clockwise from top, White Chocolate Pillows, Milk Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter, and Mill Chocolate Bark; Scott Gonzalez is the owner of Three Georges Fine Southern Chocolates, which has served Mobile for more than a century. PHOTOS BY EMMETT BURNETT

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Rural broadband access among top legislative issues

The Alabama Legislature convenes its 2021 session on Feb. 2, having adjourned last year after the pandemic interrupted business for lawmakers and much of the rest of the country. There had been talk of a special session, but that didn’t materialize, and both the House and Senate head to the state capital this month to tackle a number of important issues. The landscape inside the State House will be different this year, with lawmakers, staff and the public social distancing and observing other safety protocols. AREA’s Vice President for Public Affairs Sean Strickler and Alabama Living Editor Lenore Vickrey talked with incoming Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Greg Reed, R-Jasper, in December for his thoughts on this year’s session.

What do you foresee for the protocols for the Senate as the session opens?

We have a lot to do for the people of the state of Alabama. We had a lot of challenges in the last session in being able to navigate through the coronavirus. We know so much more now about dealing with and managing the virus. At the same time, we all recognize that things are really difficult in the state of Alabama. Our thoughts and prayers are with those dealing with coronavirus and the difficulties it has presented.

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Being transparent with what we do for the people is of utmost importance. The general public is going to be allowed to be in our building while we’re doing our work. The media is going to be here, they’re going to be stationed in different locations, in galleries and different places where we’re trying to keep folks safe. The House of Representatives is adopting some new technology to allow them to vote electronically, a requirement for them, and they’re expanding their chamber area. All those things are positives. There will be things specifically for House employees so they will stay in close communication with their supervisors so they are monitoring their health. You’re going to have temperature checks, screenings, different tools available at entrances to the State House at different levels, like on the seventh floor, recognizing that a lot of work is being done now to make provisions for that. For the public to be able to access the building is going to be very important, so that everyone is as safe as we can make it during this time. Also, we move forward, based on what I’m hearing from (State Health Officer) Dr. (Scott) Harris and the Department of Public Health and based on how the vaccines are going to roll out, the situation on Feb. 1 versus the situation on April 1 may be very different. We have to be very cognizant that we are putting together plans that can be modified or strengthened or maneuvered in a different way that allows this to be handled the best way it can be. It’s an attitude of all hands on deck looking for a way to be as responsive to members, staff and the public as we can be, while keeping in mind having folks safe is a top priority.

With this pandemic, has it shown the glaring deficiencies of the building the legislature meets in?

I don’t think there’s any doubt the building itself is not structured to be able to manage things with the pandemic. The House chamber is a perfect example of those challenges. At the same time, that’s a challenge at church, at school. It’s not ideal, and we’re in uncharted territory. One good thing is that innovation many times is born out of crisis. As we move to the end of this very difficult time, it will be incumbent on all of us to find a very specific methodology as we look backwards, to find what did we do right, what are the things we need to learn. It’s incumbent upon us as time moves forward to be better prepared. Learning from this situation is going to be important for Alabama, period, and certainly for state government.

This pandemic has proved us with our siren call for the need for broadband in rural areas. You’ve been a great proponent of rural broadband, so what do you see for the future as to how we can get more broadband to rural areas? If you had to categorize the top 5 important issues for the people of Alabama, broadband internet access across our state has to

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be in that top five list. I think it’s a very important issue as you well know, whether it’s (involving) health care, economic development, industrial growth, manufacturing, or whatever on the economic side, or whether it’s education, our students, whether they’re working on their MBA or they’re in second grade. Having access to the internet and an opportunity to have broadband access that promotes education opportunities is just a huge thing. It impacts every area of our life. I think we’ve made some strong steps in changing legislation, doing some things statutorily, some things related to grant programs. Because I represent a rural district, I have been focused on how to find ways how public utilities, cooperatives, suppliers of internet service, the Alabama supercomputer system, all hands on deck, how we can work together to find ways to do this. I agree with you we’ve made tremendous progress, but we have a long way to go. What’s happened in the pandemic has done nothing but magnify the needs we have across our state. As far as the legislative focus here, you will see and hear that it will continue to be one of the number one topics of interest for the legislature. It’s high on the priority list for Senator (Del) Marsh, who has made it clear it’s a big topic for him. We’ve had great engagement from Senator (Clay) Scofield, who’s going to be the majority leader moving forward. It’s been a priority for him as well as many (other) members. Will it continue to be a big deal? You better know it! Whatever topics that are helping promote better internet access I’m interested in talking with you about it. As I’ve said before, I’m willing to talk, support and collaborate. If you’re bringing internet access to people in my district, I’m for you.

What are the other main issues the legislature will be dealing with?

There are five big issues: How does Alabama solve the prison problem; health care delivery; broadband internet access; obviously education, from pre-K to institutions of higher education; and industrial growth, innovation growth, and economic development bringing high-paying jobs for Alabamians. Rep. Bill Poole and I have been appointed by the governor to the Innovation Commission. The number one goal is finding ways that startups and high tech can find Alabama as a great place to start and grow a business. We have so many opportunities in Alabama with our automotive industry, our aerospace industry with Redstone Arsenal, Marshall Space Flight Center, going to the moon, going to Mars – all that for the northern part of the state. These types of things, incentive packages, and how do we attract jobs has to be at the top of the list.

With the new Mercedes battery facility being built in Bibb County, that will have a big impact on electric utility industry as we start having electric vehicles out there. What are your thoughts on electric cars and that new industry in Alabama? A big deal moving forward in innovation and thought in the automotive industry falls into two categories. One, the idea of

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electric cars, and supporting that moving forward, and two, artificial intelligence, and how that’s going to interact with automotive industry. Auburn University says in 10 to 12 years half of us will not need a driver’s license because our cars will be driving themselves. I find that hard to believe but much of the technology in artificial intelligence and automobiles already exists in cars we drive today. I’m excited about Mercedes, and building those vehicles, powering those vehicles, charging stations. Sen. Gerald Allen is a big proponent of some of the ongoing work being done to promote electric cars and charging stations; there’s going to be federal grants and resources available to allow those charging stations to be located in Alabama and across the country.

What are your goals for the session?

Moving forward, we have to manage some of the challenges as result of coronavirus. As we look at all the different issues, not only must we focus on issues that affect all of Alabama, but we also must offer opportunities to senators to focus on things important in their own district and to engage on issues important to them. To be honest, we’ve not had a lot of time to do that. We had little opportunity in second quadrennium to do anything but budgets and a few other things. As a result, it’s important we prioritize issues important to all of us. We’ve got a couple pieces like incentive packages we’re working on with Commerce Department Director (Greg) Canfield and Chairman Poole. Senator Orr’s legislation on liability protection as a result of the coronavirus will be something important. Several senators are focused on making sure we eliminate state taxes from the stimulus resources. I want to be sensitive to all members of the Senate so their voices are heard. Keeping in mind prioritization especially in this session is going to be important, so that we get things done quickly, recognizing that the landscape, hopefully as relates to the virus, gets better and better, week by week.

Talk about the relationship between majority and minority leaders in the Senate. People don’t realize how well you get along.

I have a very good relationship with Sen. Bobby Singleton. We communicate often during the session, many times a day, trying to understand the priorities of his caucus and of my caucus and how we navigate forward. Of course, there’s going to be philosophical differences, vigorous debate, and issues we do not agree on. That’s healthy. Alabama gets a good product as a result of that kind of the debate. That open debate allows us to work well together because everybody’s voice is able to be heard. I’ve got strong relationships with the minority members. These are quality individuals who make a sacrifice to serve in public life, just like everybody else engaged in public service. They have constituents to represent just like everybody else, whether Republican or Democrat. In the end, we’re going to make good decisions on what is best for Alabama. I know Sen. Marsh and Sen. Singleton feel the same way. We’re going to continue to work together for what’s best for Alabama. I don’t see that changing. We’ve been able to do that based on one thing and that’s relationships. You get to know folks, get to be friends with them, and what’s going on with them and interact with their lives. That’s true no matter where you are. Those attitudes are able to be seen in the Alabama Senate. We’re going to work hard to maintain those relationships in every direction. FEBRUARY 2021  17

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Advertisement

Serenity North Alabama Discover the of

Text and Photographs by Scott Baker

The beauty in north Alabama runs deep – literally. From the depths of Cathedral Caverns to the mountaintop vistas at Lake Guntersville State Park, the landscape diversity and natural beauty are world-class. As if that weren’t enough to enjoy, nationally recognized artisans, award-winning local wineries, and mouth-watering local eateries satisfy every appetite for a multiday vacation. My work as a travel photographer has allowed me to trek through five continents, 30-plus countries, and visit more than half of the United States. I’ve seen thousand-year-old archeological sites in Cambodia and rugged beauty in Patagonia. I’ve felt the frigid cold of a mountaintop blast of air and the enveloping humidity of the jungle. Too bad it took a pandemic to discover the enchanting travel experiences in my own backyard. But I’m sure glad it did. When I was young, I was eager to leave Alabama behind for brighter horizons. From an early age, I had wanderlust in my eyes. Curtailed travel since March, however, left me in my hometown of Alexander City, with excess free time and nowhere to go. Or so I thought. I regret to say that I had never been to north Alabama, even though I grew up a stone’s throw away. But now the areas I had overlooked were calling, and the wide open landscape, fortu-

Renowned glass artist, Cal Breed, demonstrates the art of glass blowing at Orbix Hot Glass.

nately, allowed me to properly social distance and travel responsibly.

The adventure begins

My adventure began in DeSoto State Park, near Ft. Payne, Alabama. The gorgeous mountain scenery and a walk in the woods were just what I needed to escape the daily grind of uncertainty. After a short hike to soak up the solitude, I blissfully cast stones in a small lake as a couple of kayakers paddled in the still waters. The worry and stress began melting away as I listened to the rhythmic slap of the paddles on the water and the thunk of rocks splashing down. With peace of mind restored, I ventured a short drive to Little River Canyon National Preserve. Here erosion is a work of art, and I could see how Little River has taken its time – some say millions of years – to craft a 600-foot limestone cavern into Lookout Mountain. The cavern is visible from numerous viewpoints along the Canyon Rim Drive, and the lookout points along the rim are undeniably beautiful. However, venturing below the rim reveals the cascading Little River Falls and the small reflecting pools formed at the top. These pools stirred my own reflections amid the lush green forest and blue skies, and it was life imitating art as my

Patrons drive from far and near to Wildflower Café in Mentone for a slice of their signature dish - tomato pie.

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The zipline glides through the forest canopy thrilling the adventure seekers with birds-eye views of Lake Guntersville.

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amount of time to admire the dramatically lit stalactites and stalagmites. Although the journey to the destination was relaxing on its own, the tucked away cavern was a happily discovered gem.

Fun for the entire family

Lake Guntersville State Park was the final destination of my three-night odyssey through north Alabama. I overnighted in the park lodge with a lovely patio overlooking the lake. As tempting as it was to

spirits continued to rise. Refreshed and enthusiastic, I was off to my next destination, Cathedral Caverns State Park, located off the beaten path near Woodville, Alabama. Because of its rural location, this park is one of those places that require effort and desire to visit. After passing verdant farms, grazing cows, and an occasional tractor on the road, I arrived to a near-empty parking lot. My concern about social distancing in an enclosed environment was quickly put to rest. The cavern is well-kept and offers guided tours several times daily. The 90-minute tour was just the perfect

Cathedral Caverns offers 90-minute guided tours several times daily.

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sit back and enjoy the view, I didn’t linger; I had to explore. I decided against the zipline through the forest; instead, I rode past the 18-hole golf course on the way to the lake below. My goal was to arrive at the water’s edge before sunset; however, there were too many pleasant distractions along the way including a family of deer and other animals enjoying their late evening dinner on the roadside. After meandering through the campground and boat launch area, I arrived at a remote spot on the lake just in time to catch a beautiful sunset. In this exquisite moment, my quest for serenity was complete.

A National Park Service ranger casts a gaze from one of the many viewpoints overlooking Little River Canyon.

Three state parks and a national preserve in four days is a lot to see. I could have easily stayed four days in a single location. There’s so much to enjoy for the entire family in such a small region. With easy access from two major interstates, well-maintained lodges and plenty of campgrounds, plus an abundance of diverse natural beauty, it’s as worthy as any global destination I’ve visited. I’m thankful I had time and space to enjoy it for myself.

www.northalabama.org

Scott Baker is an internationally published photojournalist based in Alexander City, Alabama. He is a contributing photographer to The New York Times and his work has been published in The London Sunday Times Magazine, Drift Magazine and other regional publications. You can follow his work on Instagram: @scottbakerphotos.

DeSoto State Park has hiking trails with ADA access.

The Jules J Berta Vineyard produces many varieties of wine served up under the grape vine canopy.

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| Worth the drive |

Customers continue to show love for Lucy’s By Allison Law

I

n February 2020, Lucy’s – a modern, upscale casual eatery in window for walk-up customers. south Auburn – enjoyed its best month financially. Its menu of “God knew exactly what we needed, because we opened that sharable plates and classic entrees, familiar but elevated (their window,” van der Reijden says.  best-selling Juicy Lucy burger features bacon and onion marmaThen the staff added a pre-order Sunday family supper, which lade, poblano aioli and sharp white cheddar), along with artisanal serves 6-8 people and is picked up in the late afternoon. The takecocktails and comfortable atmosphere kept the dining room and away service was so popular that it continues today, even now outdoor spaces filled. that the dining room has reopened. (A Then, COVID-19.  recent Sunday offering was Penne a la   Owner Lisa van der Reijden and her Carbonara, served with local artisan staff continued to operate as long as they greens salad and rosemary Parmesan focould, but with mandated public health caccia.)    The customer base largely continued to restrictions and wary diners, van der Reijden and manager Nicholas Kellard knew support the restaurant, which took advantage of its Southern-style patios and porch their service perspective had to change. “Not just our service perspective, but swings to allow waiting patrons to enjoy our whole mentality,” van der Reijden the spring weather. But Kellard thinks the says. “I was terrified that I was going to atmosphere they’d cultivated in the prelose the business. I just thought, I can’t COVID era – one of coming home and think like this. I have to adopt a service being welcomed – also played a part. “It wasn’t, here’s your food, have a nice mentality. What can we do to serve evday,” Kellard says. “While waiting for erybody, and hopefully still keep as your food, we can serve you a cocktail, many jobs as we possibly can?” you can sit on the porch, they’d bring They had to pare back most of the front their friends and sit in their distanced of house staff, but kept the kitchen team groups, but still be able to have that Luand started an adopt-a-doctor, adopt-a- The bar area at Lucy’s. Head barman Neil Cooper was nurse program, which allowed compa- recently named Alabama’s 2020 Bartender of the Year. cy’s atmosphere, just slightly changed and slightly adjusted.” nies and individuals to purchase meals PHOTOS BY GREG DUPREE for hospital and health care workers. It First steps was one small way people could give back to those on the front Van der Reijden is originally from St. Louis; she and her huslines of the COVID crisis, while helping to keep Lucy’s afloat. band, who is in the hotel business, moved to Auburn 18 years ago. Kellard also engineered a curbside takeout menu, which took When he started his own company and their future in Auburn advantage of a double window in a corner of the restaurant. That seemed secure, she knew it was time to sink her teeth into a new window spot never caught on with diners, who complained that venture. it was either too cold or too hot. But it became a perfect service 20  FEBRUARY 2021

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At the time, she had an interior design firm, but had several years of restaurant experience in larger cities. She’d long admired the building that now houses Lucy’s. Her now-business partner, Austin Singleton, called one day to ask for her help in the design of the restaurant he wanted to open in the space. “I said, no, I don’t want to talk about the design! That’s my building. I want to open a restaurant there!” They met to talk, and decided to open the restaurant together that day. Lucy’s – the name is a tribute to her dad, who always called her “Lucy” and who died 10 years ago – opened in June 2018. “I was like, I just want to build the place that I want to go with my friends. A place that loves people, and that when they come in we recognize them, and they feel that they’ve come home.”

The sous vide Berkshire pork chop is served with a roasted garlic potato puree and fried brussels sprouts.

Moving forward

From the beginning, an important component of Lucy’s has been its bar, and it’s only grown more popular in the 2 ½ years Lucy’s has been open. “We have, by far I think, the best cocktail menu in the state,” van der Reijden says. In November, the restaurant’s head barman, Neil Cooper, was named Alabama’s 2020 Bartender of the Year in a competition held by the Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association. His cocktail creations change seasonally and, like the menu, feature some classics with twists. Lucy’s also has wine on tap, as well as a wine bottle list curated by a master sommelier.  Cooper has his own following, and the attention from his recent award has only increased the interest in the bar area. But due to public health restrictions, they’ve had to limit the seating there, so Kellard and van der Reijden both talk about expanding the area and/or making it more efficient.  Another COVID casualty is Larder at Lucy’s, the private event space adjacent to the restaurant. Corporate lunches, rehearsal dinners, bridal lunches and other events were either canceled or postponed, creating yet another hurdle for the business. But there are other bright spots. In December, Lucy’s won the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama’s Gold Award in the emerging business category. And, as van der Reijden says, “We’re doing good, we’re coming back. We’ve had very strong months” since COVID. Looking ahead, van der Reijden thinks about another location, but industry uncertainty and staffing issues are always a concern. “Finding the right people – that’s just the heart of this industry.” It is hoped that the $94.5 million Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center at Auburn University, anticipated to be completed in early 2022, will help meet the demand for trained professionals in the hospitality and culinary industries. Lucy’s will be a part of that new venture; van der Reijden says Lucy’s will be going into the food hall planned for the center in downtown Auburn.

The Ahi Tuna Burger is served with Asian Slaw and ginger Wasabi mayo and is one of Lucy’s best sellers.

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Louisiana Gulf fresh oysters are served with the traditional accompaniments.

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Lucy’s

2300 Moores Mill Road Auburn, AL 36830 334-521-0391 Hours: Closed Mondays; 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, with supper pickup from 3 to 5 p.m. Website: lucysauburn.com 22  FEBRUARY 2021

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Auburn

Lemon ricotta hotcakes with a wild blueberry compote are a popular item on the weekend brunch menu. www.alabamaliving.coop

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89

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84

87

89

79

37

85

84

80

84

88

78

69

76

74

78 77 76

75

Emails via legislature.state.al.us

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75 84

Montgomery River Region

To contact Representatives: (334) 261-0500

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STATE SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES BY COOPERATIVE Arab Electric Cooperative Inc Senator Garlan Gudger

District

Covington EC District

4

Clay Scofield

9

Will Barfoot Donnie Chesteen

9 11 22

Tommy Hanes, Jr. Kerry Rich Wesley Kitchens

23 26 27

Representative

Representative Scott Stadthagen Randall Shedd Ritchie Whorton

Senator

Jeff Sorrells Chris Sells

Baldwin EMC

Cullman EC

Senator

Senator

Greg Albritton

22

Chris Elliott

32

Representative Harry Shiver Brett Easterbrook Alan Baker Thomas Jackson

64 65 66 68

Joe Faust Steve McMillan Matt Simpson Napoleon Bracy, Jr.

94 95 96 98

Arthur Orr Garlan Gudger Proncey Robertson Scott Stadthagen Randall Shedd

Dixie EC

Senator

Senator 21 22

Malika Sanders Fortier 23 Bobby Singleton 24

61 62 65 67

Thomas Jackson Kelvin J. Lawrence A J McCampbell Ralph Howard

68 69 71 72

Tom Whatley Clyde Chambliss

27 30

Kelvin J. Lawrence Ralph Howard Reed Ingram Ed Oliver Wil Dismukes

69 72 75 81 88

Representative Rodney Sullivan Rich Wingo Brett Easterbrook Prince Chestnut

Central Alabama EC Senator Vacant 14 Malika Sanders Fortier 23

Representative Mike Holmes Vacant Van Smith Russell Bedsole Prince Chestnut

31 33 42 49 67

Cherokee EC

25 29

Jimmy Holley

31

87 90

Rhett Marques Mike Jones

91 92

Randy Price Malika Sanders-Fortier Will Barfoot Vacant

Greg Reed

7 9 11

Corey Harbison Tim Wadsworth

9 10

Del Marsh

12

Kerry Rich 26 Nathaniel Ledbetter 24

Becky Nordgren Ginny Shaver

29 39

Tom Whatley Billy Beasley Clyde Chambliss Jimmy Holley

27 28 30 31

69 74 75 76 77 78

Joe Lovvorn Chris Blackshear Pebblin Warren Jeremy Gray Berry Forte Wes Allen

79 80 82 83 84 89

7

64 65

Thomas Jackson Kelvin J. Lawrence

68 69

18

3 4

Larry Stutts

6

11 12

Shay Shelnutt

17

3 7 8

Scott Stadthagen Randall Shedd

9 11

8

Clay Scofield

9

11 26 27

Becky Nordgren David Standridge

29 34

8

Clay Scofield

9

22 23

Kerry Rich Wesley Kitchens

26 27

Representative

Representative 29 30 32 33 35

Randy Wood K. L. Brown Corley Ellis Jim Hill

36 40 41 50

Ritchie Whorton Tommy Hanes, Jr.

TO CONTACT LEGISLATORS Email via www.legislature.state.al.us | House: (334) 261-0500 | Senate: (334) 261-0800 26  FEBRUARY 2021

AL STATE FEB21.indd 26

Prince Chestnut Thomas Jackson Kelvin J. Lawrence

25

Chris Sells Mike Jones

90 92

Clay Scofield

9

Wesley Kitchens Ginny Shaver

27 39

27 28

Jimmy Holley

31

84 89

Chris Sells Rhett Marques

90 91

67 68 69

8

Representative Tommy Hanes, Jr. 23 Nathaniel Ledbetter 24 Kerry Rich 26

South Alabama EC Senator Tom Whatley Billy Beasley

Representative Berry Forte Wes Allen

22

Malika Sanders Fortier 23

64 66 68

Chris Sells Mike Jones

90 92

13 27

Billy Beasley

28

35 37 38 79 80

Ed Oliver Pebblin Warren Jeremy Gray Berry Forte

81 82 83 84

4 5

Larry Stutts Gerald Allen

6 21

14 16

Tracy Estes

17

31

Donnie Chesteen

29

85 86 87

Rhett Marques Mike Jones Steve Clouse

91 92 93

Representative Harry Shiver Alan Baker Thomas Jackson

Tallapoosa River EC Randy Price Tom Whatley

Representative Steve Hurst Bob Fincher Debbie Wood Joe Lovvorn Chris Blackshear

Tombigbee EC Senator Garlan Grudger Greg Reed

Senator Steve Livingston

Will Barfoot

Senator

North Alabama EC

Senator

Becky Nordgren Craig Lipscomb Barbara Boyd Vacant Steve Hurst

Randall Shedd Kerry Rich Wesley Kitchens

89 93

Malika Sanders-Fortier 23

Greg Albritton

Representative

Coosa Valley EC Jim McClendon Del Marsh

Steve Livingston

Wes Allen Steve Clouse

Senator Jamie Glenn Kiel

Senator

Representative

84 85

Southern Pine EC

6

Senator Malika Sanders Fortier 23

Berry Forte Dexter Grimsley

Steve Livingston 13 23 25 26

Marshall DeKalb EC

22

31

Sand Mountain EC

Joe Wheeler EMC

Andrew Sorrell Proncey Robertson Terri Collins

Jimmy Holley

Senator

Clarke-Washington EMC

Harry Shiver Brett Easterbrook

12 14

Representative

Arthur Orr Garlan Gudger

District

28 29

Representative

Representative

Representative

Greg Albritton

5

Senator

Proncey Robertson

District

Senator 3 4

Franklin Electric Cooperative Larry Stutts

Billy Beasley Donnie Chesteen

Pioneer EC

Representative Kelvin J. Lawrence Charlotte Meadows Reed Ingram Thad McClammy Tashina Morris Kirk Hatcher

Senator

Representative

Senator

Senator Clay Scofield Andrew Jones

District

Representative

Black Warrior EMC Gerald Allen Greg Albritton

Pea River EC District

Representative Tim Wadsworth Kyle South

Wiregrass EC Senator Jimmy Holley

Representative Dexter Grimsley Paul Lee Jeff Sorrells

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VE District

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89 93

25 90 92

9 27 39

31

90 91

r 23 90 92

28

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6 21 17

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| Alabama People |

Dr. Don Williamson

Advocating for healthy hospitals Dr. Don Williamson has been the president/CEO of the Alabama Hospital Association since November 2015. Previously, he was well known to Alabamians for his work in the Alabama Department of Public Health for 29 years, serving as State Health Officer and director of the Department for the last 23 years. A native of rural Mississippi, he received his medical degree from the University of Mississippi and completed training in internal medicine at the University of Virginia. Since the pandemic, he and his staff have been working remotely, but he continues to be a familiar face on newscasts advocating on behalf of Alabama’s 114 hospitals and 300,000 healthcare workers. He spoke to us in December when the pandemic was surging and pushing hospitals nationwide to the brink. – Lenore Vickrey How did you end up in the field of medicine? My mom taught freshman English and my dad taught science. I love literature, but I figured out, you are really never going to be hugely financially successful as a literature professor if you aren’t also a creative writer. I’m not a particularly creative writer, and I didn’t see the great American novel in my future, so I looked at my skill set. I had the good fortune to enjoy math and sciences. And I really enjoyed physiology and biochemistry. The place where those really come together is in medicine. I found I really like taking care of sick people, so I ended up in internal medicine. Through a weird set of circumstances, I then ended up in public health. A physician has a patient, and in my role, my patient was the state of Alabama. You spent 23 years as the state’s health officer. What were some of the biggest challenges during those years? Obviously the huge challenge in public health is always funding. There’s never enough money to do public health the way you want. Our payment system is geared to treating individuals who are ill, and not geared to preventing individuals from becoming ill. We did do a couple things that I hope will stand the test of time, such as the Child Health Insurance Program (now known as All Kids). At the time we had over 20 percent of children who were uninsured. We got that down to three percent. We were also able to build 50 county health departments. We created an infrastructure for those counties to have health departments without putting a burden on the state. I also got to help out with Medicaid. In between, we did H1N1 in 2008-2009.

How has your present job been different? It’s given me an opportunity to see the healthcare system from a different perspective. It’s allowed me to be more vocal on issues. Medicaid expansion is a classic example. Clearly Medicaid expansion is the right thing to do. It’s financially the right thing to do. When you expand Medicaid, credit scores go up. I will continue to advocate for that. Unfortunately, COVID came along and took over all the conversations. How has the pandemic affected our rural hospitals? Before the pandemic, our rural hospitals were losing 12.6% per year. Eighty-seven percent were operating in the red. We are very grateful for CARES money, but that money has not made up any losses. COVID could be a crisis that leads to closure of a number of our rural hospitals. Are we going to see universal health care coverage? If so, they may do better. Are we going to see a consolidation of health care systems? If so, some of those hospitals may transform into something else other than a hospital. We don’t know at this point. This is going to evolve over the next year. If we expand Medicaid, that would really help. Because we didn’t expand Medicaid, roughly 15% of 19- to 64-year-olds are uninsured. Uninsured populations are higher in rural areas. Rural populations are older. Because of that, they have a higher Medicare payer rate. Medicare reimburses less in rural Alabama than anywhere else in the country. On top of that, in rural Alabama, you have more Medicaid, more Medicare, more uninsured, less third-party payers like Blue Cross Blue Shield. Did any of those challenges prepare you for dealing with what has become the most significant health crisis in our lifetimes? It’s clearly the defining moment for healthcare in this country. We are likely to deal with the consequences of COVID well into late spring. Whether you’re dealing with hospitals or as a state health officer, it’s all about reducing transmission. Understanding that helps immensely. We don’t need more patients in the hospital with COVID. By reinforcing the public health message, we can keep hospitals from being overwhelmed, so it’s a very nice marriage of my previous experience with my current responsibilities. How do you envision Alabama’s hospitals a year from now? We don’t know how the health care system is going to look. COVID is one of those watershed events in American history. We will retrospectively date a lot of changes that occur in society to COVID. It has fundamentally taken people who were economically comfortable and taken away their livelihood. It has stressed our healthcare system in ways it has never been stressed before. The problem with our uninsured has been heightened. I do think you can predict we are going to see greater emphasis on eliminating the problem of uninsurance. How have you and your family been coping during the pandemic? We are hard believers in forced quarantine. We don’t go out unless we absolutely have to. We wear masks. We minimize any interaction in public. While 6 feet is a minimum safe distance, I prefer 20 feet. 

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PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MEDICAL ASSOCIATION OF THE STATE OF ALABAMA

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Al

February | Around they compete for the people’s choice award. Proceeds will be used to purchase critical care monitors for the cardiac care unit at Providence Hospital. FestivalOfFlowers. com.

13

Foley, BBQ & Blues Cook-off, downtown Foley’s Heritage Park. This cook-off attracts corporate and individual teams competing in several categories. Food, The Foley BBQ and Blues Cookoff attracts teams competing for awards in several music, children’s CONTRIBUTED PHOTO categories, including chicken and Boston butts. activities and a raffle. Fundraiser FEBRUARY for the South Baldwin Chamber Orange Beach, Orange Foundation. Gates open at 11 a.m. Beach Seafood Festival Mobile, Living history crew FoleyBBQandBlues.net, or call and Car Show, Main Street at the drill, USS Alabama Battleship 251-943-5590. Wharf, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Features Memorial Park. 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. live music from two stages, 120 See history come to life during this Odenville, The vendors, a large kids’ zone, seafood WWII historical re-enactment. Learn Cozy Nest Rustik and specialty food booths, large car about life aboard the USS Alabama Bucket Vintage Market. This vintage show and more. GulfShores.com. and USS Drum during wartime. inspired biannual event is held in the Included in price of admission. spring and fall and features more MARCH Search for the park on Facebook, or than 50 artisans and food vendors. visit ussalabama.com. St. Clair County Arena, 1050 Blair Monroeville, Farm Road. 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., $5 Monroeville Literary Millbrook, Millbrook Revelers admission. Search for the event on Festival. Registration was scheduled Mardi Gras Festival and Parade, Facebook or call 256-504-6144. to begin in January, after organizers at the Village Green. The festival determine if the festival will be grounds open at 9 a.m., with the Dothan, Spring Farm held in person or virtually, based parade at noon. The festival will Day at Landmark Park. on CDC recommendations. Visit have food vendors from across the Experience life on a Wiregrass farm MonroevilleLiteraryFestival. Southeast and children’s activities. in the 1890s. Watch plowing with com for updates. MillbrookRevelers.org. horses and mules, spring planting, arts and crafts, pottery, textile work Selma, 56th annual Union Springs, The and more. $8 adults; $6 for seniors Bridge Crossing Jubilee. Red Door Theatre’s and military; $4 for children; free For the first time, this event, a production of “Hank Williams – The for park members and children celebration of the victories of Lonesome Tour,” starring Jason Petty 2 and under. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the voting rights movement, will as Hank in this one-man show. For LandmarkParkDothan.com. be hosted virtually. There will be this and all 2021 productions, the interactive workshops, storytelling venue will be Dream Field Farms, Opp, The 60th by foot soldiers of the movement, about 13 miles west of Union annual Opp awards ceremonies, a virtual expo Springs on U.S. 82, to comply with Rattlesnake Rodeo, Channelfloor and a concert. Selma50.com. COVID-19 guidelines. On Thursday, Lee Stadium. Arts and crafts Friday and Saturday, play is at 7:30 and concessions vendors, snake Mobile, Festival p.m., with optional preshow catered handling and demonstrations, of Flowers, LoDa dinner at 6:30 p.m.; reservations are children’s rides, a 5K run/walk, Style in Cathedral Square, is a required. The Sunday show is at 2:30 pageant and more. The featured community event presented by the p.m., with no meal. Play is $20, and entertainers are Shane Owens Providence Hospital Foundation. dinner is $15. For more information, and The Oak Ridge Boys. Tickets Eight to ten teams will create living call 334-738-8687 or email info@ are $10 in advance, and $15 at sculptures representing the theme. reddoortheatre.org. the gate; children 6 and under Teams will go head-to-head as

27

6

19-20

4-6

6

20

18-21

5-7

are free. RattlesnakeRodeo. com or search for the event on Facebook.

APRIL

3

Prattville, Wilson Pickett Music and Arts Festival, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Pratt Park, with a concert at 5 p.m. This is a free family festival featuring art, entertainment, demonstrations, kids’ activities, food vendors and more. 334-5950850 or visit PrattvilleAl.gov.

10-11

Fort Deposit, 50th annual Calico Fort Arts and Crafts Fair. This outdoor show features more than 100 exhibitors on six acres, along with children’s activities and entertainment. Visit CalicoFort. com for more information.

22-24

Orange Beach, Bama Coast Cruisin’. This annual event will return to The Wharf, with vendors, a swap meet and a show and shine, among other family-friendly activities. Free. (The 2020 event was postponed until September due to COVID, and then canceled due to Hurricane Sally.) BamaCoastCruisin.com

MAY

7-8

Decatur, Greater Morgan County Builders Association 2021 Home and Garden Show, Ingalls Harbor Pavilion. 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Gmcba.org or call 256318-9161.

27-28

12-13

The 60th annual Opp Rattlesnake Rodeo will be March 27-28. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Call or verify events before you make plans to attend. Due to the changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, some events may change or be canceled after press time. To place an event, e-mail events@alabamaliving.coop. or visit www.alabamaliving.coop. You can also mail to Events Calendar, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124; Each submission must include a contact name and phone number. Deadline is two months prior to issue date. We regret that we cannot publish every event due to space limitations.

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| Gardens |

How to grow nutritious, delicious microgreens M

icrogreens, those tiny their stems right above the soil delicate plants that level. Harvested microgreens often adorn upscale can be kept in the refrigerator restaurant dishes, are hugely for several days but are at their popular in culinary circles and best when snipped and rinsed can also be an enormously fun just before use. crop to grow at home. Once a crop is harvested, Though microgreens may another crop can often be replanted into the existing soil or look like exotic lilliputian growing medium, though if the plant species, they are actually medium has become moldy it’s nothing more than seedlings better to start fresh. Planting of everyday edible plants such successive crops, you can have as lettuces and leafy greens, a steady supply of microgreens vegetables, herbs, flowers, A microgreen garden can be grown easily on a kitchen window sill. every couple of weeks, and once grasses and grains. However, very little space, microgreens are ideal for you get the hang of it, you can because they are harvested at apartment dwellers or anyone with limited experiment with different kinds of plants tender ages (often within a week or two gardening space. to find ones that fit your skills and tastes. after planting) microgreens possess unique A wide selection of microgreen starter characteristics that set them apart from kits (complete with seed, growing media their elders. and growing trays) is available online and First embraced in the 1980s by San Microgreens can be grown from the in many garden stores and centers. But a Francisco-area chefs, they were used to seeds of many different kinds of edible microgreen garden is easy to create from add color, flavor, texture and charm to a plants, but make sure to use organic and/ scratch, too, using almost any kind of shalwide variety of dishes — from appetizers or untreated seed; larger seeds may need low container, including upcycled plastic and main courses to desserts and even to be soaked for better germination. take-out containers, aluminum pie plates smoothies. Turns out, these darling little and the like. Fill the container with an inch garnishes were not just pretty, they were Lettuces and Greens: Arugula, Chard, or so of high-quality potting soil or a sterhealthful and nutritious. In fact, some speCollards, Kale, Spinach ile soilless growing medium, sprinkle seeds cies contain 40 times the concentration of Herbs: Basil, Cilantro, Dill, Mints, Oregano, (see a plant list below for ideas) evenly vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than Sage, Thyme across the growing medium’s surface, cover their mature relatives. with a thin (1/8-inch or so) layer of soil or Today, microgreens are increasingly easy Vegetables: Beets, Beans, Broccoli, Cabmedium and press the surface lightly to seto find at retail groceries, farmers markets bage, Cauliflower, Peas, Radishes cure the seeds in place. and specialty food stores, and Alabama has Water gently but thoroughly and place Flowers: Chrysanthemum, Sunflower, at least two small-scale commercial microNasturtium the container in a warm (preferably 65green growers who ship trays of ready-to75 degrees) location with access to sufharvest microgreens straight to your door. Grasses and Grains: Alfalfa, Barley, Buckficient light — typically four to six hours However, microgreens are also perfect wheat, Flax, Wheatgrass each day for most species though this may for home gardening. They can be grown vary depending on the type of green you’re outside in garden beds (just make sure FEBRUARY TIPS growing. Keep the soil or growing medium the area can be protected from extreme • Plant new roses and prune existing ones. moist, but not wet, by misting the surface temperatures, strong winds and hungry • Sow seed for early spring vegetables and once or twice each day (more frequently if critters) or can be grown inside or out in flowers. soil shows signs of drying out) and watch containers. They are easy enough for chil• Make plans for the coming gardening as your microgreens emerge. dren and beginning gardeners to grow season. As they germinate, the seeds will first with great success but intriguing enough • Start preparing garden tools and develop cotyledons (seed leaves), followed to make them fun for more experienced equipment for spring activities. by a second set of “true” leaves, a process gardeners, too. And because they require • Clean and refill bird feeders and baths. that can take a week or two depending • Test soils in lawns and garden beds and on growing conditions and plant species. Katie Jackson is a freelance amend based on results. writer and editor based in When the second set of leaves develops, Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at • Pamper houseplants as they get ready for the plant should be an inch or two in katielamarjackson@gmail.com. spring. height and ready for harvest — simply snip

Microgreen plant list

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Alabama Living

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SOCIAL SECURITY

Get your Social Security benefit statement (SSA-1099/SSA-1042S)

T

ax season is approaching, and replacing your annual Benefit Statement has never been easier. The Benefit Statement, also known as the SSA-1099 or the SSA-1042S, is a tax form we mail each year in January to people who receive Social Security benefits. It shows the total amount of benefits you received from us in the previous year so you know how much Social Security income to report to the Internal Revenue Service on your tax return. If you live in the United States and you need a replacement form SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S, simply go online and get an instant, printable replacement form using your personal my Social Security account at ssa.gov/myaccount. A replacement SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S is available for the previous tax year after February 1. If you don’t have access to a printer, you can save the document to your computer or email it to yourself. If you don’t have a my

Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at kylle.mckinney@ssa.gov.

Valentine Across 1 Country singer married to former University of Alabama quarterback, 2 words 6 Hollywood union, for short 8 “The Name of the Rose” author Umberto 9 She met Murphy in church in Huntsville; now married, they are viral internet stars 12 Exclamation of surprise 13 Paul of St. Paul and the Broken Bones and his true love Caroline’s last name 15 Gwyneth Paltrow role of 1996 19 Cat or dog, for example 21 Her network produces Love and Marriage: Huntsville 22 Family girl, for short 23 Shower with flowers 25 Romantic escape, Fort ___ Inn, in Mobile 27 Shimmery fabric 30 Kind of camera, abbr. 31 Aquarius, for one 33 “Two ____, believing in just one mind....” Phil Collins 34 Country star whose 2014 debut album was “Montevallo” 35 Popular sauce (UK usage)

Social Security account, creating one is very easy to do and usually takes less than 10 minutes. With a personal my Social Security account, you can do much of your business with us online. If you receive benefits or have Medicare, your personal my Social Security account is also the best way to: • Request a replacement Social Security number card (in most states and the District of Columbia). • Get your benefit verification letter. • Check your benefit and payment information. • Change your address and phone number. • Change your direct deposit information. • Request a replacement Medicare card. • Report your wages if you work and receive Social Security disability insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits. If you’re a non-citizen who lives outside of the United States and you received or repaid Social Security benefits last year, we will send you form SSA-1042S in the mail. The forms SSA-1099 and SSA-1042S are not available for people who receive Supplemental Security Income benefits. Visit ssa.gov to find more about our online services.

crossword 11 12 14 16

Lady deer Radio band Light and delicate Nick Saban’s love for nearly 50 years, 2 words 17 Prone 18 “It’s a Love Thing” sung by The ___

Answers on Page 41

by Myles Mellor

20 It takes __ to tango 24 Broadcasting 26 Sang “Don’t Go Breaking my Heart” with Kiki Dee, first name 28 Bird sanctuary 29 Requests 32 Diamond, e.g.

Down 1 Dates 2 Spanish wine 3 Birmingham-born lady who wed singer and actor Jordan Fisher, who also grew up in the Magic City, 2 words 4 Rainbow shape 5 “Here Comes the ___,” The Beatles 6 Resort for romantic escapes 7 Romantic Alabama getaway, ___ Bluff overlooking the Tennessee River 10 Wall creeper 32  FEBRUARY 2021

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Alabama Living

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| Alabama Recipes |

Chocolate

A treat for Valentine’s Day and beyond

D

epending on which source you read, the history of chocolate can be traced back to ancient Mexico, where it is believed the Olmecs made a ceremonial drink from the pods of cacao trees. The beans from those pods were dried and roasted into cocoa beans. The Mayans and Aztecs also grew cacao and consumed chocolate as a beverage, believing it to be the “food of the gods” and an aphrodisiac. It’s unclear how chocolate made its way to Europe, but over hundreds of years, the Europeans developed a sweeter version of the Aztec hot chocolate, and then the first chocolate bars were made using milk, sugar, chocolate liquor and cocoa butter. By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the now-famous chocolate companies of Nestle, Lindt, Cadbury, Mars and Hershey had refined and marketed chocolate into the treats we know today. Richard Cadbury, according to Smithsonian Magazine, is said to have designed decorative boxes with roses and Cupids in the Victorian 19th century to hold his British family’s chocolate candies. Candy-making giant Russell Stover is credited with making the first heartshaped box for chocolates in America in 1923, thus setting in motion a Valentine’s Day gift-giving tradition still popular a century later. Whether your favorite form of chocolate comes in a fancy heart-shaped box, or is made at home using one of these delicious reader-submitted recipes, we’re hoping it makes this year’s Valentine’s Day just one more reason to celebrate the loved ones in your life.

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Photo by The Buttered Home

This Chocolate Southern Pecan Pie takes a great Southern recipe and dresses it up with everyone’s favorite indulgence - chocolate! We love to Brooke Burks love on people with food all year long but somehow, Valentine’s Day is even more perfect to take that to another level. This pie can be made with or without chocolate so it is a very versatile recipe you can keep in your recipe box all year long! For more recipes, visit thebutteredhome.com.

Chocolate Southern Pecan Pie 1 cup light corn syrup 1 9-inch unbaked pie crust 1 cup pecan halves (rough chop optional) 3 eggs 11/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips 2/3 cup sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/3 cup melted butter Preheat oven to 375. Beat eggs, sugar, salt, butter and corn syrup. Fold in pecans and chocolate chips. Pour into pie shell. Place on a sheet pan and bake 45-50 minutes until set. Cool, slice and serve.

Linda's Homemade Chocolate Fudge

Chocolate Pudding Cake

3 cups sugar 2/3 cup cocoa powder Pinch of salt 11/2 cup whole milk 1/4 cup butter (not margarine) 1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups self-rising flour 1½ cups sugar ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1 cup fat-free milk ½ cup unsweetened applesauce 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Line an 8-inch square pan with buttered parchment paper. In a heavy saucepan, stir in the sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Add milk and cook on medium heat until it comes to a boil for about 15 minutes, stirring constantly. Turn heat down to low and continue stirring until it reaches a temperature of at least 234 degrees with a candy thermometer. This is approximately 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add butter and vanilla. Don't stir. Let it sit until it reaches room temperature (around 30 minutes). Beat the fudge with a wooden spoon for 8 minutes. Pour fudge into your lined pan and let cool completely. The fudge may be stored at room temperature in an airtight container.

Pudding: 2 cups boiling water 1½ cups firmly packed light brown sugar ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Jenny Russell Joe Wheeler EMC

Nutty Chocolate Pie 2 sticks butter 21/2 cups milk chocolate chips, divided 4 eggs 2½ cups toasted coconut, divided 1 cup pecans, chopped 1¾ cup sugar 2 teaspoons cocoa powder 2 Oreo pie crusts 1-2 cans Redi-whip Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter and 1 cup chocolate chips, stir together. In a separate bowl, beat eggs until foamy. Add 1½ cups coconut, pecans and sugar. Pour butter mixture into egg mixture. Add 1½ cups chocolate chips and cocoa powder and stir until well mixed. Pour mixture into pie crusts and bake 35-45 minutes or until set. Let cool, pie will harden while cooling. Make a boarder around edge of pie with the Redi-whip and sprinkle with remaining cup of coconut. Angeline Cox Central Alabama EC

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13x2-inch pan with vegetable oil spray, set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and cocoa. Whisk in remaining cake ingredients, blend thoroughly. Pour into baking pan and spread evenly. In a large bowl, whisk together pudding ingredients until sugar and cocoa are dissolved. Pour carefully over batter. (Pudding layer will be thin and runny.) Bake for 35-40 minutes or until top is firm to touch. Let cake rest for 15 minutes before cutting. A toothpick inserted in center of cake won’t be an accurate test for the cake being done. Beth McLarty Cullman EC

Baby Ruth Bars 1 cup sugar 1 cup light corn syrup 1¾ cups smooth or crunchy peanut butter 5 cups Special K cereal 1 6-ounce package milk chocolate chips ¾ cup peanut butter Bring sugar and syrup to a boil in a large pan. Remove from heat; add peanut butter and blend well. Add cereal, stirring to coat. Pour into 9x13-inch pan that has been sprayed with vegetable spray. Melt chocolate chips and ¾ cup peanut butter together until smooth. Spread over cereal mixture. Cool and cut into squares. Peggy Key North AL EC

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Cook of the Month Helen Johnson, Pioneer EC

H

elen Johnson named her prize-winning recipe, “Better Than Anything Chocolate Cupcakes” because it’s accurate. “With a cup of coffee, it’s like a bit of heaven,” says the Fort Deposit cook who recently retired from Sejong Alabama LLC, a supplier for Hyundai Motors Manufacturing Alabama. Twenty years ago, a friend passed down a similar recipe, but Helen found it too sweet. So she cut down the amount of sugar and increased the dark cocoa powder from 5 to 6 tablespoons. The result was a hit with her family and friends. The recipe makes cupcakes or a layer cake or a 9-by-13 pan cake, “but my grandkids like the cupcakes better,” she says. Using hot water and buttermilk also makes the batter extra-delicious. “When I first made it, the batter was too thin, but I went ahead and baked it and it really did turn out good.” It’s also tasty with any kind of frosting, and she recommends Oreo cream frosting as an alternative. For a sweet-salty taste, you could even top the frosting with salted cashews or some Priester’s pecans, also from Fort Deposit. “This is the only chocolate recipe I use,” she says. – Lenore Vickrey

Better Than Anything Chocolate Cupcakes 1 1 6 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½

cup all-purpose flour cup sugar tablespoons Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder teaspoon baking powder teaspoon salt large egg cup buttermilk cup vegetable oil teaspoon real vanilla extract cup boiling water

Frosting: 1¼ cups real butter, room temperature (I use salted butter) 12 ounces Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted 3 tablespoons Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder 5 cups powdered sugar 4-5 tablespoons heavy whipping cream Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line cupcake pan with cupcake liners. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another medium size bowl combine the egg, vegetable oil and buttermilk. Add wet ingredient mixture to dry ingredients and mix well. Add the vanilla into the ½ cup of hot water and stir well. Add to the batter and mix well. Batter will be thin. Fill cupcake liners halfway and bake for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out with only a few moist crumbs. Remove cupcakes from oven and cool 1 minute before removing them to a rack to finish cooling. Frosting: Beat the butter in a large mixer bowl until smooth. Add the melted chocolate to butter and mix well. Add the cocoa powder and mix well. Add half of powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream and mix. Add remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add remaining heavy cream as needed to get desired consistency. Heap the frosting on the cupcakes with a spoon or decorating tool. Makes 14-16 cupcakes. 36  FEBRUARY 2021

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50

$

awarded to the chosen

Cook of the Month!

Themes and Deadlines: May: Sugar-free/diabetic friendly | Feb. 5 June: Blueberries | March 5 July : Cucumber | April 2

3 ways to submit:

Online: alabamaliving.coop Email: recipes@alabamaliving.coop Mail: Recipes, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 Please send us your original recipes (developed or adapted by you or family members.) Cook of the Month winners will receive $50, and may win “Cook of the Month” once per calendar year.

www.alabamaliving.coop

1/14/21 8:49 AM


Chocolate Peanut Butter Breakfast Cookies 2 eggs 3 tablespoons butter 2½ cups coconut milk ½ cup cocoa 3 cups self-rising flour 1 cup quick-cooking oats 11/2 cups peanut butter 2 cups sugar 1/2 cup raisins 1/2 cup dried cranberries Add 2 eggs, 3 tablespoons of butter, 21/2 cups of coconut milk, and 1/2 cup cocoa into a mixing bowl and mix well. Into a separate bowl add 3 cups self-rising flour, 1 cup quick-cooking oats, 11/2 cups peanut butter, 2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup raisins and 1/2 cup dried cranberries. Add the cocoa mixture into the flour mixture and beat with a mixer for 5 minutes or until the mixture is well combined, should be the consistency of paste. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add wax paper sheet to cookie sheet. Using a large spoon, add about 2 tablespoons of the mix to the cookie sheet. Spaced evenly you should be able to get a dozen large cookies on a standard sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Cookies will be dark in color. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Jason French South Alabama EC

Chex and Chocolate Party Mix

Chocolate Gravy

8 cups cereal (wheat, rice or corn) 2 cups shredded coconut, optional 1 cup peanuts 1 cup packed light brown sugar ½ cup butter (1 stick) ½ cup light corn syrup 1 teaspoon vanilla extract ½ teaspoon baking soda 1 12-ounce (2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate morsels 1½ cups raisins or ½ cup raisins and 1 cup craisins

1 1 2 1/2 1 1/4

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Combine cereal, coconut and peanuts in large roasting pan. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat brown sugar, butter and syrup to boiling while stirring. Boil 5 minutes without stirring. Stir in vanilla and baking soda. Pour over cereal mixture, stir until evenly coated. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool, stirring often. Stir in morsels and raisins. Cool completely. Store in airtight containers. Makes about 16 cups. Melinda S. Cole Central Alabama EC

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.” -- Charles M. Schulz

cup sugar tablespoon cocoa tablespoon flour cup water teaspoon vanilla stick butter

Bring first four ingredients to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, add vanilla and butter, stirring to combine. Serve over hot buttered biscuits. Vickie Shockley Tallapoosa River EC

Granny's Chocolate Cobbler 3/4 cup margarine 1 cup self-rising flour 3/4 cup sugar 11/2 tablespoons cocoa 1/2 cup milk 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 cup sugar 1/4 cup cocoa Melt margarine, pour into 13x9-inch baking dish. In a medium bowl mix flour, sugar, cocoa, milk and vanilla together, then spoon over margarine. Mix the last cup of sugar with 1/4 cup of cocoa. Sprinkle that mixture over batter. Pour 11/2 cups boiling water over it all. Don't stir. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Stella Douglas Joe Wheeler EMC

cipes favorite reba ma’s from Alalifestyle largest e magazin

Mail order form and payment to: Best of Alabama Living Cookbook P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124-4014 COOKBOOKS @ $19.95 EACH:

Cookbook

TOTAL ENCLOSED: $

Name: Address: City:

State:

Zip:

Phone Number: Alabama Living

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| Outdoors |

Archers aren’t limited to hunting seasons

John N. Felsher is a professional freelance writer who lives in Semmes, Ala. He also hosts an outdoors tips show for WAVH FM Talk 106.5 radio station in Mobile, Ala. Contact him at j.felsher@ hotmail.com or through Facebook.

38  FEBRUARY 2021

AL STATE FEB21.indd 38

bowhunters periodically visit local archery ranges to shoot for fun and to hone their skills. “I’m not an avid hunter,” Nichols says. “I’ve been in the club and shooting my traditional recurve bow for a couple years. What really impressed me is the fact that a husband, wife and the kids can show up to participate in this kind of event as a family outing. It warms my heart to see that fellowship in an outdoor sport that the whole family can enjoy. Archery is something that anybody can do.” Some people shoot simple recurve bows or longbows. Other archers prefer compound bows with optical sights and other high-tech accessories. Some people like to shoot crossbows. Once archers purchase their equipment, they can practice nearly anywhere at any time for almost no cost. Hundreds of teens across Alabama participate in high school archery programs. The best ones can earn scholarships to shoot for university teams. Besides encouraging archers of all ages to take up the sport, BHA also helped get laws passed to allow special archery seasons and designated areas for bowhunting. They also lobbied for the legalization of equipment such as tree stands, which many deer hunters commonly use. “When we first started Bowhunters of Alabama in 1965, our main mission was to organize bowhunters,” recalls Larry McAfee, a founding member of the 700-member organization. “At that time, we asked the state for either-sex deer seasons and to allow the use of tree stands for deer. We also wanted special bowhunting opportunities on public lands.” Many sportsmen start bowhunting because they want a bigger challenge or more days afield. In addition, archers can hunt many places where people would never think to fire a high-powered rifle because of safety concerns. On many small suburban wood lots or other tiny patches of wilderness, large bucks might go their entire lives without ever seeing a hunter. And some public lands only allow archery or very limited gun hunting. “For the past decade or so, we’ve been able to hunt deer with bows on Oak Mountain State Park to trim the herd,” McAfee says. “Gun hunters can’t get in there. We’re quiet and efficient. We’re very safe.”

PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE BOWHUNTERS OF ALABAMA, INC.

T

he Alabama deer season ends Feb. 10 or sooner, depending where one hunts and how, but that doesn’t mean that bowhunters must put down their equipment until next fall. After deer season ends, archers can still hunt hogs and coyotes on private lands all year long or hunt small game until March 7. Archers can also participate in competitive events using life-size three-dimensional targets shaped like deer, bears, cougars, pigs, alligators and other animals. From February through October, the Bowhunters of Alabama hold periodic archery shoots for prizes and bragging rights. A two-day shoot will take place Feb. 20-21 at 318 County Road 214 near Maplesville close to the Chilton-Bibb county line. Run by the Chilton County chapter of BHA, registration begins at 8 a.m. Shooting will continue through about 5 p.m. each day. Competitors pay an entry fee, but spectators can watch for free. “We will have three scheduled shoots this year,” says Hugh Nichols with the Chilton County chapter of BHA. “We anticipate hosting about 80 shooters. Shoots are open to all ages for anyone who wants to come out and participate. We’ll have different classes for different skill levels.” Registered shooters run through the course in groups of four. At each station, competitors shoot one arrow at the target. Where the arrow hits determines the score for that station. Different classes of skill levels shoot from varied distances. “When a shooter registers for the course, that archer is given a scorecard similar to a golfing card,” Nichols says. “Everybody in that class has to shoot from the same spot, but novice and youth divisions shoot closer to the target. People can participate in shoots throughout the season and elevate to higher levels of competition. Competitive tournament shooting has a following. We have shooters coming in from Tennessee and other states and throughout Alabama to participate.” BHA chapters in three zones will hold similar shoots throughout the state in coming months. Such 3D shoots simulate hunting and can give archers great off-season practice. Even when not competing in tournaments, many

For more information about BHA and archery tournaments, visit bowhuntersofalabama.org. For more information on the Chilton County event, call 334-407-1630. www.alabamaliving.coop

1/14/21 8:49 AM


PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE BOWHUNTERS OF ALABAMA, INC.

DOUG HANNON’S FISH & GAME FORECAST

2021

FEBRUARY

Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su

15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28

MARCH

Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

EXCELLENT TIMES A.M.

1:54 - 3:54 2:42 - 4:42 3:30 - 5:30 4:18 - 6:18 5:06 - 7:06 5:54 - 7:54 6:42 - 8:42 7:30 - 9:30 8:18 - 10:18 9:06 - 11:06 9:54 - 11:54 10:08 - 12:08 10:42 - 12:42 11:30 - 1:30 A.M.

NA 1:06 - 3:06 1:54 - 3:54 2:42 - 4:42 3:30 - 5:30 4:18 - 6:18 5:06 - 7:06 5:54 - 7:54 6:42 - 8:42 7:30 - 9:30 8:18 - 10:18 9:06 - 11:06 10:42 - 12:42 12:30 - 2:30 1:18 - 3:18 2:06 - 4:06 2:54 - 4:54 3:42 - 5:42 4:30 - 6:30 5:18 - 7:18 6:06 - 8:06 6:54 - 8:54 7:42 - 9:42 8:30 - 10:30 9:18 - 11:18 10:06 - 12:06 10:54 - 12:54 NA 12:30 - 2:30 1:18 - 3:18 2:06 - 4:06

MOON STAGE

PM

2:18 - 4:18 3:06 - 5:06 3:54 - 5:54 4:42 - 6:42 5:30 - 7:30 6:18 - 8:18 7:06 - 9:06 7:54 - 9:54 8:42 - 10:42 9:30 - 11:30 10:18 - 12:18 10:30 - 12:30 11:06 - 1:06 FULL MOON 11:54 - 1:54 PM

12:42 - 2:42 1:30 - 3:30 2:18 - 4:18 3:06 - 5:06 3:54 - 5:54 4:42 - 6:42 5:30 - 7:30 6:18 - 8:18 7:06 - 9:06 7:54 - 9:54 8:42 - 10:42 9:30 - 11:30 11:06 - 1:06 NEW MOON 12:54 - 2:54 DST 1:42 - 3:42 2:30 - 4:30 3:18 - 5:18 4:06 - 6:06 4:54 - 6:54 5:42 - 7:42 6:30 - 8:30 7:18 - 9:18 8:06 - 10:06 8:54 - 10:54 9:42 - 11:42 10:30 - 12:30 11:18 - 1:18 12:06 - 2:06 FULL MOON 12:54 - 2:54 1:42 - 3:42 2:30 - 4:30

GOOD TIMES AM

8:21 - 9:51 9:09 - 10:39 9:57 - 11:27 10:45 - 12:15 11:33 - 1:03 NA 1:09 - 2:39 1:57 - 3:27 2:45 - 4:15 3:33 - 5:03 4:21 - 5:51 4:33 - 6:03 5:09 - 6:39 5:57 - 7:27 AM

6:45 - 8:15 7:33 - 9:03 8:21 - 9:51 9:09 - 10:39 9:57 - 11:27 10:45 - 12:15 11:33 - 1:03 NA 1:09 - 2:39 1:57 - 3:27 2:45 - 4:15 3:33 - 5:03 5:09 - 6:39 6:57 - 8:27 7:45 - 9:15 8:33 - 10:03 9:21 - 10:51 10:09 - 11:39 10:57 - 12:27 NA 12:33 - 2:03 1:21 - 2:51 2:09 - 3:39 2:57 - 4:27 3:45 - 5:15 4:33 - 6:03 5:21 - 6:51 6:09 - 7:39 6:57 - 8:27 7:45 - 9:15 8:33 - 10:03

PM

8:45 - 10:15 9:33 - 11:03 10:21 - 11:51 11:09 - 12:39 11:57 - 1:27 12:45 - 2:15 1:33 - 3:03 2:21 - 3:51 3:09 - 4:39 3:57 - 5:27 4:45 - 6 ;15 4:57 - 6:27 5:33 - 7:03 6:21 - 7:51 PM

7:09 - 8:39 7:57 - 9:27 8:45 - 10:15 9:33 - 11:03 10:21 - 11:51 11:09 - 12:39 11:57 - 1:27 12:45 - 2:15 1:33 - 3:03 2:21 - 3:51 3:09 - 4:39 3:57 - 5:27 5:33 - 7:03 7:21 - 8:51 8:09 - 9:39 8:57 - 10:27 9:45 - 11:15 10:33 - 12:03 11:21 - 12:51 12:09 - 1:39 12:57 - 2:27 1:45 - 3:15 2:33 - 4:03 3:21 - 4:51 4:09 - 5:39 4:57 - 6:27 5:45 - 7:15 6:33 - 8:03 7:21 - 8:51 8:09 - 9:39 8:57 - 10:27

The Moon Clock and resulting Moon Times were developed 40 years ago by Doug Hannon, one of America’s most trusted wildlife experts and a tireless inventor. The Moon Clock is produced by DataSport, Inc. of Atlanta, GA, a company specializing in wildlife activity time prediction. To order the 2021 Moon Clock, go to www.moontimes.com. Alabama Living

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| Consumer Wise |

Which kitchen appliance should I upgrade? By Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen

Q:

My husband and I just bought a home that was built in the 1970s. The kitchen appliances are so old that they may be originals, but we only have enough money for one appliance upgrade. Which appliance replacement will help reduce our energy bills the most?

A:

You’re smart to consider energy use as you look at replacing appliances because most new appliances use much less energy than they did in the past. Manufacturers have found innovative ways to reduce appliance energy use without sacrificing performance. The federal government began tightening appliance standards in the 1980s and has continued as techno- Upgrading your old dishwasher with an ENERGY STAR®-rated model is logical innovations became another potential area for energy savings. more cost-effective. PHOTO COURTESY KITCHENAID It may seem like the oldest offers medium savings, and a appliance should go first. That may make sense if you want the side-by-side style is the least looks and features of a newer oven or dishwasher. But with most energy efficient. appliances, the energy savings you get from a new one will take If your goal is to save monseveral years to pay for itself with the energy saved. ey on your energy bill, reThe appliance replacement most likely to produce the greatsist the urge to keep the old est energy savings is your refrigerator. An older fridge can cost fridge in the basement or about $20 to run every month. Replacing an old fridge with a new garage––that won’t help you ENERGY STAR®-rated model can cut that down to less than $5 reduce your energy use. An a month. The ENERGY STAR® label certifies that the appliance old fridge in an uninsulated saves energy. New refrigerators will include an additional label, The Energy Guide label provides garage on a hot summer day the Energy Guide label, which shows how much energy it uses important information for can use a lot of energy. Mayannually and compares that to the most and least efficient modcomparing the annual energy use of be you just need more freezer els available. It’s also possible to measure how much energy your appliances. space. If so, we recommend fridge is using with a kWh meter. Energy auditors use these mePHOTO COURTESY COLLABORATIVE EFFICIENCY the most efficient freezer you ters to measure energy use for common household appliances. can find. You can find recommendations on www.energystar.gov. Sometimes the energy use of an older fridge can be reduced by If your current fridge is in good condition, another appliance replacing the seal around the door. you may want to consider upgrading is the dishwasher. With most When you’re looking to replace an old fridge, style counts. A of us spending more time at home these days, chances are you’re top-freezer setup is the most efficient, while a lower-freezer unit using your dishwasher more than you used to. Patrick Keegan writes on consumer and cooperative affairs As with any major purchase, be sure to read customer reviews for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the for any brands and models you’re considering, and look for addiArlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus tional opportunities to save money, like an upcoming Presidents’ consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives. Write to energytips@collaborativeefficiency.com for more information. Day appliance sale. 40  FEBRUARY 2021

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| Classifieds | How To Place a Line Ad in Marketplace Closing Deadlines (in our office): April 2021 Issue by February 25 May 2021 Issue by March 25 June 2021 Issue by April 25 Ads are $1.75 per word with a 10 word minimum and are on a prepaid basis; Telephone numbers, email addresses and websites are considered 1 word each. Ads will not be taken over the phone. You may email your ad to hdutton@areapower.com; or call (800)410-2737 ask for Heather for pricing.; We accept checks, money orders and all major credit cards. Mail ad submission along with a check or money order made payable to ALABAMA LIVING, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124 – Attn: Classifieds.

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FEBRUARY 2021  41

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| Our Sources Say |

els. He nd the

els and

path to deliver

A transition away from fossil fuels

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sector. own to t until

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uring the second and last Presidential Debate, President-Elect Joe Biden said if elected he would transition the U.S. away from fossil fuels. He pledged on the first day of his administration he “would sign a series of Executive Orders with unprecedented reach that go well beyond the Obama-Biden Administration platform and will put us on the right track on climate change.” By the time you read this article, we will know at least the initial steps of what President Biden will truly do about climate change, fossil fuels and the U.S. economy. He promises to invest $1.7 trillion over ten years to build a more resilient, sustainable economy that will put the U.S. on an irreversible path to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by no later than 2050. He promises his plan will build modern, sustainable infrastructure now and deliver an equitable clean energy future. President Biden promises to create millions of good jobs that will: re-configure public infrastructure, re-position the automobile industry to win the 21st century with American technology, achieve a pollution-free power sector by 2035, make dramatic investments in energy efficiency buildings, pursue a historic investment in clean energy innovation, advance sustainable agriculture and conservation, and secure environmental justice and equitable economic opportunity. Biden promises the movement from fossil fuels will be the largest job creation and economic opportunity of the 21st century. Jobs will be available in engineering, welding, iron casting, steel fabrication, and many other areas. Investment will be made in battery storage and transmission infrastructure, to address reliability and relieve bottlenecks to unlock America’s clean energy potential. Those goals present a tremendous challenge and, if successful, will truly transform the U.S. economy. I have limited knowledge of many of the initiatives, but I do know a few things about the energy sector. De-carbonizing the U.S. electric sector by 2035 will be a monumental task and will require much more than the $400 billion allocated to the sector. The industry has invested trillions of dollars in electric infrastructure over the decades to build arguably the most reliable industrial system known to man. To transition to renewable generation resources located in remote areas, move

the power to population centers where it is needed, store it until it is needed, and do so safely, affordably, and reliably will be the greatest industrial challenge ever attempted. President Biden also promises to rally the rest of the world to make changes to meet the threat of climate change. He promises to make commitments beyond those required by the Paris Agreement and will lead an effort to get every country to ramp up the ambition of their domestic targets. He will require the commitments to be transparent and enforceable and will use America’s economic leverage and power of example to keep other countries from cheating. The promises are obviously political promises. The ability to actually deliver those promises will depend upon the amount of investment available and the ultimate cost of electricity produced from the new electric economy. However, the Biden Administration feels more empowered than previous administrations to follow this path. It will be interesting to see how much of the plan is actually implemented and how successful it can be. I am, as usual about promises like these, skeptical. People of all economic standing, color, and political affiliation are accustomed to reliable and affordable electric power. Regression in either measure will not be accepted well by anyone. Without large government subsidies that totally distort the price and disguise who pays for electricity, sustainable renewable electricity with battery storage will not be as affordable or reliable for the public as what we now enjoy -- and will not be for the foreseeable future. Rallying the rest of the world to increase Paris climate goals will be daunting. Only two very small and minor countries are currently compliant with Paris Agreement commitments. China and India will not risk their growing economies to follow President Biden’s path to more expensive energy resources. To the contrary, privately they will likely laugh at our efforts. I am not sure about many things in life, but I am sure about the reliability and affordability of electricity generated by fossil fuels. It would be smarter to take the investment and use it to learn to live with any repercussions of climate change, assuming there will be any. The future is always challenging. We will certainly be challenged for the next four years. I hope you have a good month and a better 2021.

Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.

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| Our Sources Say |

Election, new administration’s impact on Valley issues T

he 2020 election was truly an election like no other. With a politically divided country facing severe economic strain amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, forecasting and polling fell short on delivering accurate projections. Pollsters predicted a “blue wave” of record turnout and support for the Democratic Party, but they underestimated the breadth of support for President Trump and the unprecedented turnout in Republicans’ favor. After a runoff election in Georgia and months of legal battles over votes, President Biden and his administration are now settling into power and the Democratic Party has established a narrow majority in both the House and the Senate. Still, the Tennessee Valley delegation representing parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia will continue to be mostly Republican due to Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-AL) defeat of Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), and remains influential on key issues. When taking a closer look at the impact of the election on issues affecting energy in Alabama and other states in the Tennessee Valley region, a few key themes emerge.

Sen. Lamar Alexander leaves big shoes to fill

After a quarter century in elected office, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) retired last year leaving an open seat that has been filled by former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty (R-TN). Alexander, former chair of the Energy & Water Subcommittee, has long been viewed as the preeminent expert on issues related to TVA and the public power model in the Tennessee Valley. While Hagerty and other members of 117th Congress will continue to represent the interests of communities served by electric cooperatives and other public power providers across their state, Alexander’s departure leaves a notable gap in leadership on key issues affecting TVA and the broader region. In an effort to fill that gap, the Tennessee Valley Public Power Association (TVPPA), and its membership of 153 local power companies, will play a key role in educating members of Congress about important topics related to the Valley’s unique public power model, TVA, and power distributors and the consumers they serve.

Biden administration’s position open

Despite TVA and local power companies’ tireless work to develop the economy, build communities and improve the quality of life in the Tennessee Valley, the issue of privatization of TVA’s transmission assets remains a key topic in Washington, D.C. The idea, which has been floated for decades, was most recently re-introduced by both the Obama and Trump administrations, and was strongly opposed by Congress. TVPPA believes TVA’s generation and transmission assets are rightly owned by the company and the 153 local power companies it serves. This year, TVPPA and its members aim to inform the position of the Biden administration on this issue.

Climate bills may gain traction

Throughout his campaign, President Biden promised a number of ambitious climate change actions, including a promise to achieve clean energy and net-zero emissions by 2050, immediate re-entry into the Paris Climate Agreement, and large amounts of funding for clean energy and environmental mitigation efforts. The chances of Biden’s larger agenda items passing increase now that the balance of power between Republicans and Democrats has shifted, albeit narrowly, to the Democrats. Legislative proposals like the Green New Deal or Clean Energy Standard, which will likely face deep opposition from Republicans in the Senate, now have a higher likelihood of advancement. Regardless, Democrats would have to first prioritize those debates and then find ways to overcome concerns from both Republicans and moderates in their own party. Politics, particularly at the federal level, play a key role in shaping environment and energy issues and determining the future of electric power in our communities. Since the late 1940s, TVPPA has served as an advocate for our members, including municipal and cooperative-owned power companies, in the political process. That tradition continues this spring as we join Alabama’s cooperatives and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in a virtual rally to educate new and incumbent lawmakers on the issues most of interest in northern Alabama and across the Valley.

Nathalie Strickland, APR, is vice president of communications for the Tennessee Valley Public Power Association, Inc.

44  FEBRUARY 2021

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1/12/21 11:47 AM


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1/14/21 8:53 AM


| Hardy Jackson's Alabama |

I am not making this up

Illustration by Dennis Auth

Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Professor Emeritus at Jacksonville State University and a columnist for Alabama Living. He can be reached at hhjackson43@gmail.com.

46  FEBRUARY 2021

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R

oy Blount Jr. tells the story. There was a kitchen fire. The lady of the house called the fire department. “Hello, I’ve got a fire out here in my house.” “Okay, where is it?” “It’s in the kitchen.” “I mean, how do we get to it?” “Well, you come in off the back porch or through the living room, either one.” “No, I mean, how do we get from where we are to where you are?” “Ain’t you got one of them big red trucks?” Well, I can do Blount one better. A while back, while living in a different state, we discovered our phone (now it would be called a landline) was full of static. So my wife called the phone company and talked to a computer that asked a lot of questions, then told her they would fix it by Thursday. Thursday came and the phone was still full of static. She called again and talked to a computer that told her that a technician would come out on Saturday. On Saturday no technician appeared. So, she handed me the phone. And being a dutiful husband, I called the phone company and talked to a computer that told me they would have it fixed by Tuesday. And I hung up. It was then that a voice within me said, “fight back.” And I did. I called the phone company. The computer came on the line and asked: “What is the nature of your problem?” I did not answer. Then the computer said: “I did not understand your answer.” I did not respond. Then the computer said: “Would you speak more slowly?” I did not speak at all. I could tell the computer was getting frustrated. It is pretty hard on a voice-activated machine when there is no voice to activate it. Then, as if by magic, a REAL PERSON came on the line. I explained the static and that a technician was supposed to have come, but didn’t. Then I asked, polite as could be, “Could you give me the number of the technical center in my area so I can talk with someone, close by, who can send someone out to fix my phone?” And the real person replied: “There is no one in your area you can talk with.” And I asked: “Isn’t there someone who sends out the technicians?” And the real person replied: “I send the work order to the technicians.” And innocently I asked: “Will you please tell the technician who is supposed to fix my phone to call me?” Phone company lady: “The technicians have no way to call you.” And today, somewhere in the files of one of our great public utilities, among the conversations we are told were being “recorded for quality assurance and control,” is my voice saying: “No way to call me? Ain’t they got one of them little telephony things?” They next day a technician appeared and when he left, he took the static with him. www.alabamaliving.coop

1/14/21 8:53 AM


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Profile for Alabama Living

Alabama Living February 2021  

Alabama Living February 2021