Stories | Recipes | Events | People | Places | Things | Local News April 2018
South Alabama Electric Cooperative
Power transformation How power is distributed to SAEC members
Manager David Bailey Produced by the staff of South Alabama Electric Cooperative 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.
Bears on the move Alabama’s bear population is around 400 and growing, state biologists say. Bears are naturally shy and can even live near a residential area without being seen. Read more about these powerful predators beginning on Page 40.
VOL. 71 NO. 4 n APRIL 2018
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Learn how SAEC steps down the voltage of the electricity so it can be used in residential homes.
Doing it all
Alabama’s Jordan Fisher, winner of “Dancing with the Stars,” has been singing, dancing and acting most of his life.
A still-warm slice of homemade bread is worth the effort it takes to make it. Check out our reader recipes.
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In this issue: Page 9 Page 28
9 Spotlight 30 Gardens 29 Around Alabama 40 Outdoors 43 Fish & Game Forecast 44 Cook of the Month 54 Hardy Jackson’s Alabama ONLINE: alabamaliving.coop ON THE COVER:
Meet the new boss. Dewayne McGee settles in as construction foreman after a year on the job.
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A new season David Bailey, General Manager
Board of Trustees James Shaver President District 2
Delaney Kervin Vice President District 5
Douglas Green Secretary/Treasurer District 6
Bill Hixon District 1
James May At Large
Ben Norman District 4
April is a time when we see change almost everywhere. With so much farming in our area, the sowing of new crops is always an important event. I’ve always enjoyed participating in that by planting my own garden, even if my wife and I have had to scale back our botanical ambitions over the years. This is also the time of year when teachers and students can see the end of their school term, and when they can start making plans for the summer. And, of course, everyone can shed their winter coats to enjoy a short-lived Southern spring. The warm weather will be more welcome this year than most, as we have all just come through a particularly chilling early winter. For many of our members, cold weather has meant surprisingly high energy bills. That’s why at South Alabama Electric Cooperative, we want to encourage our members to conserve energy at all times. But I also know firsthand that conservation can be easier said than done. In my own home, I have tried to tell my girls that keeping the electric bill consistent means turning the thermostat down, not up, when it gets cold outside. They don’t always find that argument especially convincing. Of course, not all of the season’s changes are welcome. This time of year often means the arrival of inclement weather, so I want to remind all of our members how important it is to have a plan. Make sure everyone in your family knows where to go and what to do in the event of a tornado warning. In the coming months, SAEC will face its own set of challenges — albeit very positive ones. Two months ago we shared a story with you about Angela Dykes, a cooperative employee retiring after 35 years. In the coming year, several more may join her.
As a result, we want to create opportunities for longtime employees to shine, like Dewayne McGee, whose promotion you can read about in this issue. It also means welcoming new faces into our SAEC family and teaching them the cooperative way. In addition, our area has experienced a great deal of economic growth. We’ve seen an economy that struggled in recent years pick up steam, and we have watched as local businesses benefited. With its $105 million expansion, Wayne Farms has become the largest employer in Coffee County. The recent announcements of a Conecuh Ridge Distillery and Kimber Manufacturing gun production facility in Troy only give our area more to look forward to. I’m also pleased to welcome our new industrial member Rex Lumber. They announced plans to build a state-of-the-art lumber manufacturing facility in Pike County just last month. The sawmill is a $110 million investment in the local economy and is expected to create more than 110 high-quality jobs. We’re proud to be an economic partner in Coffee, Crenshaw and Pike counties where we serve. None of that growth would be possible without a robust and reliable electric system, but the work that goes into building and maintaining that system doesn’t often get the spotlight. That’s why we’re proud to present the second part of our feature series on the journey of electric power in this month’s issue. It picks up after power has been generated and transmitted to take a look at what goes into distributing it to our members. I’m proud to be part of a cooperative that does so much for the growth of our community, and I am excited to see what the new season holds. l
Glenn Reeder District 7
Trap cool air inside Raymond Trotter District 3
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When temperatures dip at night, consider shutting off your cooling system and opening the windows. After the sun rises, close the windows, as well as the curtains or blinds, to trap cooler air inside.
McGee thrives in first year as construction foreman
Mailing address P.O. Box 449 Troy, AL 36081 Phone 334-566-2060 800-556-2060 Website www.southaec.com Find us here:
Tf Payment Options SAEC App Available from the App Store and Google Play
When the job of construction foreman came open more than a year ago, Dewayne McGee was the obvious choice. McGee has been a South Alabama Electric Cooperative employee for nearly 30 years, and few other linemen were as equipped to lead their own crew. “When Dewayne was promoted, I told him that this is an extremely important position,” says SAEC General Manager David Bailey. “Not only is a construction foreman responsible for building quality electric lines for our members, but he also teaches his crew what it means to serve the cooperative.” McGee’s career could serve as an example for any young lineman. He joined the cooperative in May 1990 as groundman, digging holes and lifting poles before moving on to a service team. He then spent several years on different crews learning how different parts of the electric system worked until joining the construction team. McGee started out as a groundman, learning the ropes from those around him. Eventually, he worked his way up to A-Class lineman in 2000. A-Class linemen not only have the skills to work out of and operate a bucket truck, but they’re also responsible for managing their crew when the foreman is out. Years later, that experience helped McGee transition smoothly into the role of foreman. “His calm demeanor going about his job and managing folks was already evident prior to becoming the construction foreman,” says Ronald Wade, SAEC’s manager of engineering and operations. “But he also had the experience of running the crew on occasion.” Alabama Living
Being able to tackle different challenges on a daily basis is one of the aspects of his job that McGee loves most. He’s also motivated knowing that the effort he puts in at the cooperative won’t go unnoticed. “When I arrived here, I knew I had the potential to move my way up if I worked hard,” he says. “Once I started, I knew I wasn’t going to stop until I made it to the top. It’s great knowing that all of my hard work has paid off.” A little over a year into the job, McGee has found that being the foreman full time comes with new responsibilities. He needs to manage his crew’s work, but he must always ensure they are working safely and with the proper personal protective equipment. He also coordinates with the construction superintendent on big projects requiring more than a single crew. “He’s stepped right in and is doing a good job of managing his crew,” says Wade. “He’s very knowledgeable and a very sharp individual when it comes to our distribution system.” As busy as he is, McGee still can’t seem to get enough of his job. In fact, he has often volunteered to assist other utilities, both in state and out of state, in recovering from major storms. He even spends many of his off hours doing electrical work on the side, such as wiring houses or businesses and installing water heaters. “When he’s off, he’s still doing electrical work,” says Wade. “He works even when he’s not at work.” l
BY MAIL P.O. Box 449 Troy, AL 36081 WEBSITE www.southaec.com PHONE PAYMENTS 877-566-0611, credit cards accepted NIGHT DEPOSITORY Available at our Highway 231 office, day or night PAYMENT POINTS Regions Bank - Troy branch Troy Bank and Trust - all branch locations 1st National Bank of Brundidge and Troy First Citizens - Luverne branch Banks Buy Rite - Banks Country 1 Stop - Honoraville IN PERSON 13192 US-231, Troy, AL 36081 Office Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Questions? For questions concerning Capital Credits, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org For questions concerning Billing, contact: email@example.com For questions concerning Construction, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org APRIL 2018 5
How SAEC delivers electricity to members This story is Part 2 of a threepart series tracking the journey of electricity from generation to distribution and outage restoration. To read Part 1, see the March issue of Alabama Living, or visit www.southaec.com. For all the effort that goes into generating electricity, getting it to a local system like South Alabama Electric Cooperative’s is only half the battle. When it comes to local utilities, the hard work begins at the substation, where high voltage electricity is made usable for their members.
After electricity has been generated and transmitted over long distances, it first 6 APRIL 2018
arrives on SAEC’s system at one of several substations. You’ve probably seen one of these substations before and wondered why so much equipment is needed just to move electricity from one set of power lines to another. Electricity transmitted over long distances has to be at a higher voltage than what is used in the home. When our wholesale energy provider, PowerSouth, transmits electricity, it is at a higher voltage than SAEC’s distribution system can use — generally 115 kV or 44 kV. The large transformers at a substation convert that electricity down to 25 kV or 12.5 kV, which can be delivered by SAEC’s system. The electricity is then able
to travel over the smaller distribution lines that run along roadsides to specific neighborhoods and coverage areas. But before electricity can be delivered to individual homes and businesses, it has to be stepped down once again. Smaller transformers mounted on power poles take the voltage down to 120 volts or 240 volts, which can be used to power your lights and electric appliances. For larger commercial members — like department stores, grocery stores or gas stations — more transformers might be necessary. Known as three-phase service, up to three transformers can be used to step the higher distribution voltage down to a 480-volt or
240-volt level suitable for powering motors and other large equipment. Once electricity has made it to your home, SAEC uses meters to determine how much power your household has used. This technology has evolved over time, with members originally reading their own meters and sending those readings to the cooperative with their bill payment. Today, SAEC is installing new meters that not only send readings automatically, but also collect information useful for helping members understand their energy habits. The new meters record readings every 15 minutes, providing a clear picture of what times members use www.alabamaliving.coop
Dylan Mobley, lineman, examines three transformers, which step down electricity from a higher voltage for distribution to a lower voltage that can be used by homes and businesses.
the most electricity and how weather affects their usage. The meters even track the average voltage level at each location, helping the cooperative ensure it provides enough electricity in the future.
Planning for growth
Keeping a distribution system on the scale of SAEC’s running reliably calls for more than just fixing problems when they arise. The first step is a four-year construction work plan. Engineers for the cooperative study the system at the beginning of each cycle and project anticipated growth, as well as the key areas where improvements will be needed to make that growth possible. The coopAlabama Living
erative is currently halfway through its four-year cycle. Improvements might include upgrading a section of line to three-phase service to support increased load for a certain area. It could even be as simple as replacing old copper conductor lines with an aluminum conductor to improve reliability or adding new lines for new accounts. Routine maintenance is a very important part of SAEC’s commitment to providing reliable electric service to its members. Pole inspection is an example of this routine maintenance. SAEC works through a pole inspection program where a certain portion of the system's poles are examined and replaced, if needed.
Of course, all plans are met by surprises, so cooperative employees are always prepared to meet unexpected needs. A new large industrial load, such as a large poultry house, not only requires adjustments to provide for that member but also measures to maintain the same quality of service for other members in the area.
Money in the bank
Paying for system expansions requires just as much planning as system design. While SAEC’s construction teams figure out how to build new additions, the cooperative’s leadership works to get those plans approved. The first step goes through the board of trustees. Once
the board signs off, the construction work plan has to be approved by the Rural Utilities Service, a wing of the USDA’s Office of Rural Development. Once cleared by the RUS, SAEC can then make a decision on how to pay for the work. Budgeting for new projects is always a balancing act between necessary improvements to the system and keeping rates affordable. Since electric rates are the only source available to SAEC for funding maintenance and paying off loans, the effect of new expenses on members is always important in budgeting decisions. To keep rates as affordable as possible, SAEC will often APRIL 2018 7
utilize RUS’s loans to fund larger projects such as three-phase distribution lines or large transformers. The agency reviews the application and a 10-year financial forecast, which shows SAEC can repay the loan and pay for the work outlined in the four-year construction work plan. When that loan application has been approved, the cooperative’s own legal counsel must review it and shepherd it through a review by Alabama’s finance director in Montgomery. Once state approval is granted, SAEC can obtain the funds, provided through The RUS and third-party lenders, to pay for the four-year construction work plan approved earlier. The process can take as many as 18 months, making long-term planning a key to any new construction.
All of SAEC’s construction is done with the safety of both its members and employees in mind. All new additions to the distribution system are built to Rural
Utilities Services specifications and are designed in accordance with the latest National Electric Safety Code standards. When cooperative employees perform work on the system, they must also meet OSHA standards, including the use of fire retardant personal protective equipment and proper training for working on energized conductors. SAEC trucks are even built to meet dielectric specifications that keep employees safe if a vehicle makes contact with an energized conductor pole. The Department of Transportation also requires any employee driving a construction vehicle for work to have a commercial drivers license. The cooperative’s dedication to safety doesn’t end at construction. Every time a new line is built or requested, SAEC obtains a 30-foot right of way providing 15 feet of clearance on each side of the line. Right-of-way crews clear this space of tree limbs and any other vegetation,
including chemically treating undergrowth every two years. This work helps to prevent accidents that could be caused by people touching trees in contact with a live power line. Maintaining right of way is also an important part of ensuring SAEC’s electric service is reliable. When high winds and storms come through, a well-maintained right of way lowers the risk of trees or branches falling on a line and interrupting service. SAEC trims the entire 2,750-mile system every four years. Not all outages can be prevented, however. When they do occur, SAEC dispatchers often know about them even before members thanks to the cooperative’s supervisory control and data acquisition system. The SCADA system even makes it possible for cooperative employees to quickly solve some problems — without dispatching a crew. l v Find out how next month when the final part of our feature series explores how SAEC restores power after a storm.
Dylan Mobley, lineman, visits a substation, where electricity first enters the cooperative system.
SAEC crews go through miles of wire to repair broken lines and install service for new members.
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Heath Bozeman (on truck), and Dalton St. Cin operate a digger truck which is used to install new power poles that extend service in new areas.
April | Spotlight
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 April 9 with your name, address and the name of your rural electric cooperative. The winner and answer will be announced in the May issue. 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 used will also win $25.
Event reminds drivers to be safe around work zones Those who work in roadway construction zones face dangers every day they’re on the job, and Alabama will continue to support a national effort to make drivers aware of these dangers. Alabama will again participate in the National Work Zone Awareness Week, April 9-13. The annual spring campaign is traditionally held at the start of the highway construction season to encourage safe driving. In Alabama, the effort is coordinated by the Struck-By Alliance, a voluntary group of businesses and agencies that have an interest in promoting safety along the state’s highways. The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) takes a lead role in the group; others involved include the Alabama Associated General Contractors of America, Alabama Power Company and the Alabama Rural Electric Association, which publishes Alabama Living. (Utility crews do much of their work on road rights-of-way.) This year’s theme is “Work Zone Safety: Everybody’s Responsibility.” For more information, visit workzonesafety.org.
This Month In
Submit: By email: email@example.com By mail: Whereville P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124
MARCH’S ANSWER The tiny town of Mooresville in Limestone County, population 58, is home to the Old Brick Church of Mooresville, completed in 1839, according to the historical marker next to the church. A popular wedding venue, its most interesting feature may be the sculpture of a hand pointing toward heaven atop the steeple. The property on which the church stands was donated by Gov. Thomas Bibb and his wife, Parmelia, to be used for a community church. The Cumberland Presbyterian denomination owned the building until the Methodists bought it in 1898. It has also served as a Baptist mission. In 1994, the United Methodist Church conducted a deconsecration service, and passed ownership to the town. (Photos submitted by Cynthia Salyer, Central Alabama EC) The random guess winner for March is Ted Thies of Arab EC.
ALABAMA HISTORY Honoring Our People
April 21, 1924
Ira Louvin of the Louvin Brothers country music duo was born in Section, Alabama. Known for their intricate harmonies and excellent musicianship on the mandolin and guitar, Ira and his younger brother Charlie Louvin produced some of the most influential gospel and secular music of the 1950s. Over a short 16-year career, the brothers released ten top-20 Billboard hits, including “I Don’t Believe You’ve Met My Baby” and “The Knoxville Girl.” The Louvin Brothers joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1955 and were inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame. encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-1493 APRIL 2018 9
| News you can use | SOCIAL SECURITY
Connect with Social Security via automated services
Stigma is an unnecessary barrier to mental health care
very day thousands use it to do business with Social Security. We strive to offer the kind of services that meet people’s needs. And sometimes you want fast and direct answers over the phone. We have that option. You can call us toll free at 1-800-7721213. Our automated services are available 24 hours a day and include some of the most popular services that people need. With automated services, you can request a benefit verification (proof of income) letter, replace a lost SSA-1099 (tax summary needed for taxes), request a replacement Medicare card, ask for form SSA-1020 to apply for help with Medicare prescription drug costs, or request an SS-5 application for a Social Security card. When our automated services ask such things as, “How can I help you?” Just say, “Get a proof of income letter” or “Replace Medicare card.” Next, you will be asked for some personal information to identify yourself, then we will respond to your request. We will mail you the document or form you requested. It takes less time to use automated services than to reach a representative by phone on a busy day. Sometimes, you just need Social Security information such as, “What date will my check arrive?” or “What is the SSI program?” Automated services feature messages about these popular topics. If payment delivery date is the type of info you need, when asked “How can I help you?” just reply “Payment delivery date.” You will hear a recorded message stating the current month and the future month’s payment dates. Other topics include direct deposit, SSI messages, the cost-ofliving adjustment, Medicare prescription drug program, tax information, representative payee, and fraud. Dial, and listen — what a simple way to stay informed. To connect with us through our automated services, visit socialsecurity.gov/ agency/contact/phone.html. Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
10 APRIL 2018
everal years back, I was conducting a community health assessment of a small, rural community in South Alabama to identify its greatest health issues and needs. My first job after finishing college was with the Alabama Department of Mental Health. Because of this experience, mental health care and needs have always been of special concern to me. As a part of this health assessment, I visited the local outpatient mental health center to meet with the clinical director to discuss mental health-related issues, trends, and needs in the community. I was surprised when he refused to discuss such general topics until I received permission from his supervisor. This experience started me thinking about the stigma attached to certain mental health and other sensitive health conditions as a very real barrier to health care. Keeping health conditions and issues in the closet is greatly contributing to establishing and increasing stigmas that are actually creating barriers to health care. The question must be asked: Could this unnecessary stigma be a contributing factor in the horrible school violence in this country? This director should have been required to get out and speak with civic organizations, churches, etc. to inform the community about local mental health. A large portion of our population does not understand mental health. What is depression? What are the symptoms of depression? What is schizophrenia? What treatments and other options are available for persons with mental health needs? Bringing such conditions out of
Letters to the editor
E-mail us at: email@example.com or write us at: Letters to the editor P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124
Generational Alabama Living Whenever I read through the magazine, I really enjoy it. I like how Alabama Living includes a wide variety of topics, from current events to recipes to short
the closet and openly discussing them may help identify many of the undiagnosed who need assistance. It may also increase local awareness and concern to the point of producing more local buy-in and support for mental health care. Such open and public conversation can also remove much of the stigma associated with sensitive health conditions, like mental health, HIV/AIDS, and drug abuse or dependency. Open discussion can enable many sensitive health conditions to become recognized as normal conditions that involve normal people and for which successful treatments are available. Attempts are being made to care for patients with more sensitive conditions together with other general health care, rather than having such care provided in separate facilities. Seeing someone walking into a mental health clinic or a facility dedicated to the treatment of other sensitive conditions would virtually be an announcement that they have that condition. This integrative care model holds promise in decreasing the stigma attached to certain health conditions. If you are a member of a civic organization, church, or other source that provides programs, I encourage you to have programs on topics that can diminish the stigmas attached to sensitive health conditions to enhance access to such health care.
Dale Quinney is executive director of the Alabama Rural Health Association, 1414 Elba Highway, Troy, 36081.
stories. Occasionally, we have come across a picture of, or a name of, someone my family knows from the various places we have lived in Alabama, and it makes the state feel that much more homey and familiar. Seeing how Alabama Living involves readers in the stories is also neat to me. I am 18, and reading the stories of people who have been on the earth longer than I have really gives me a picture of how life used to be in Alabama, and I really enjoy that. Thank you for the work that you put into the magazine! Cara Brown, Troy www.alabamaliving.coop
| Alabama Snapshots |
Country Roads Country road on our cattle ranch. SUBMITTED BY Caroline Mann, Double Springs.
Pinewood Road, Andalusia, AL SUBMITTED BY Tina Boles, Andalusia.
North Baldwin County, January 2018. SUBMITTED BY Deborah Walters, Fairhope. Horton Covered Bridge located off Highway 75 between Oneonta and the town of Susan Moore. SUBMITTED BY Sheila Edwards, Cullman
Country road in Elberta. SUBMITTED BY Patti Pursley, Robertsdale.
Doug and Becky Martin, taken on County Road 832 in Wadley. SUBMITTED BY Becky Martin, Wadley.
Submit Your Images! June Theme: “Gone Fishing” Deadline for June: April 30
SUBMIT PHOTOS ONLINE: www.alabamaliving.coop/submit-photo/ or send color photos with a self-addressed stamped envelope to: Photos, Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 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 www.alabamaliving.coop and on our Facebook page. Alabama Living is not responsible for lost or damaged photos. Alabama Living
APRIL 2018 11
Tying the knot in the country Rural wedding venues growing in appeal
By Lori M. Quiller
Stone Bridge Farms in Cullman hosts more than 80 weddings a year. PHOTO BY SMITH SQUARED PHOTOGRAPHY
ould the days of black-tie weddings be numbered? Probably of other places in the city, but they just didn’t seem to be the right not, but the number of weddings hosted in more casual, rusfit. The farm was far more laid back, and that’s more our style. The tic settings are certainly on the rise farm had housing for our family to stay in Alabama. all week and have plenty of space, and According to TheKnot.com, an online there was a playground for the kids, too. wedding resource, ranch or farm-style All these things fit into our budget niceweddings have been on the rise since ly, and it just felt like the right spot for 2012. Nuptials in the country can prous.” All kinds of venues vide a rustic and memorable event for Alabama has a variety of locations the bridal party and their family and for couples looking for the perfect rural friends, and Alabama has plenty of spacwedding spot. es to host your special day with a counThe Hitching Post Farms is 30 acres try flair. of land in Eclectic, Ala., owned by DiLisa Woodham, owner of Woodham ane and Robert Crosby. While it may not Farms in Dothan, Ala., agreed that rural have started off as the couple’s dream to weddings have become much more pophost weddings on the property, now it’s ular in recent years and is a trend that’s truly a labor of love. here to stay. “A lot of our clients want that outside, “Oh, absolutely! It’s more than just rustic look for their wedding,” Diane country chic, I think. These types of Crosby says. “They want their wedding wedding have a certain type of unmisto be different and special. We work very takable charm and sweetness about hard to make that happen for them. Evthem. We want people who come here ery wedding is always something speto feel special.” cial, not just for the couple, but for us, Newlywed Christina Clark Okarmus too. I feel like it’s my responsibility to said she and her husband chose a Lee Christina and Matt Okarmus were married last fall at a farm in Lee County. Christina says the relaxed setting fulfill these dreams of these brides who County farm for their outdoor wedding was a perfect fit for them. come here and have been planning their in September 2017 for several reasons, PHOTO BY ROB SMITH, FLIPFLOPFOTO weddings their entire lives. It’s an honor but it was the laid back atmosphere that to help fulfill those dreams for them.” sealed the deal. However, The Hitching Post Farms was almost lost before it be“It was a perfect fit for us,” Okarmus says. “We visited a couple
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it back until he could restore the family’s 75-acre estate so he could carry on his family’s tradition of hosting weddings on the property. According to event coordinator Janet Fortner, Stone Bridge Farms handles catering and flowers, as well as photography, for their clients. There’s even a baker on staff, although it’s not mandatory to use the staff baker. “Sometimes it’s just easier to do everything at one place. We would like the event to be a one-stop-shop so it’s less stressful for our clients,” Fortner says. “We have a design team meeting with our brides on day one, [so they can] get to know them from three to four months out from the wedding. Then we’re there with them to help get them down the aisle as stress-free as possible. Our goal is to make each event as stress-less as possible.” The outdoor space at Hitching Post Farms offers plenty of room for a reception. PHOTO BY ALEX & DYLAN PHOTO AND VIDEO Stone Bridge Farms, a customer of Cullman EC, offers lodging with five cabins and three homes on property for rent to out-of-town guests. The locagan. The Crosbys had rented the property for a time before evention doesn’t host only weddings, but also corporate retreats, meettually purchasing it for themselves. Their dream was to build their ings, birthday parties, showers and other events. perfect home, but they decided to build a barn instead to use for family camping events. Then tragedy struck. Beyond the farm “When the tornadoes came through in 2011, it took out our If the rustic charm of a barn or farmland isn’t quite what you’re home. So we started building on to the property to what we have looking for, did you know there’s a vineyard in North Alabama at now. It took 18 months to rebuild. Out of that destruction we were the foothills of the Appalachian mountains? able to make something very special and beautiful that we can Wills Creek Vineyards and Winery in Attalla, Ala., is a working share with others,” she says. vineyard — and not what you might expect from an outdoor wedFor couples looking for an all-inclusive, but still farm-style locading venue. tion, Stone Bridge Farms in Cullman, Ala., has been hosting wed“When I think of Napa Valley and I see pictures of weddings in dings since 2010 and does more than 80 each year. It’s an old family Napa, I’m reminded of our wedding space next to our vineyards tradition that owner Ron Foust has been working to bring back to where it’s lush and green — it’s just such a different setting than life. a rural barn setting,” says owner Janie Coppey. “Our location is As a young boy, Foust remembers his grandfather, a minister special because you can see the Appalachian foothills that run on for more than 50 years in Cullman County, performing marriages, the other side of the road, and depending on the focal point of the baptisms and other ceremonies on the family property. Slowly over photographer, some of those mountains will be in your photos. In the years, parcels of the family land were sold. Foust began buying
Hitching Post Farms offers a rural setting for weddings and receptions in Eclectic. PHOTO BY ALEX & DYLAN PHOTO AND VIDEO
APRIL 2018 13
The 75-acre estate at Stone Bridge Farms offers ten venues for ceremonies. PHOTO BY SMITH SQUARED PHOTOGRAPHY
Wills Creek Vineyards at the Windmill in Attalla.
the spring, summer and fall, everything is so colorful and makes a beautiful setting for a wedding.” Wills Creek Vineyards and Winery and the event space is two miles away from the six-acre vineyard. The vineyard is a popular destination for bridal showers, brunches, proms, class reunions and other events, thanks to the location’s covered event space. With an on-site coordinator to help pull details together, Coppey says the goal is always to take as much stress off the client as possible. “Brides, grooms and their families have enough stress, so we want to take as much of that off them to help make their day as special and memorable as possible. We want them to enjoy their day, have Tips for finding b e a u t i ful a rural wedding space memories, Ask questions. If you’re on a budget and and enjoy using an outdoor space, you should know up the vinefront if there are set-up and cleaning fees, what yard while decorations are provided, and whether it’s mandatory they’re to use the venue’s caterer and florist. h e r e ,” Have an idea of how many guests plan to attend. Coppey Your quote will be based on this number. says. says. Do your research. It’s fine if you haven’t settled on your wedding style when you meet with your venue representative, but your meeting will go much better if you have some ideas. The venue will most likely have an event planner on staff to help you along in the process.
PHOTO BY JANIE COPPEY
Kendra and Hunter Townson after their wedding at Stone Bridge Farms. PHOTO BY SMITH SQUARED PHOTOGRAPHY
A panoramic view of Stone Bridge Farms.
14 APRIL 2018
The focal point of the reception at Kendra and Hunter Townson’s wedding at Stone Bridge Farms. PHOTO BY SMITH SQUARED PHOTOGRAPHY www.alabamaliving.coop
APRIL 2018â€ƒ 15
ALABAMA AND THE STORIES BEHIND THEM
By Emmett Burnett
Nashville recording artist Allison Moorer explains the popularity of Alabama namesake songs: “The word sings well. It flows,” she instructs and offers proof. “Try it. Say ‘Alaaaa Bamaaaa.’ See? It flows. You can’t do that with Rhode Island.” Raised in Washington County, the younger sister of country star Shelby Lynne is well qualified to speak of flowing words. Allison has written over 200 songs, released 7 albums and 11 singles, including “Alabama Song.” From her debut album of the same name, the lyrics speak of home “where the trees grow tall and green… where the skies shine bright and blue…if you’re going, I’m going with you.” “I wrote it 20 years ago, a time when I was away from home,” she recalls. “I felt a little marooned and was thinking how special it is returning to the Deep South.”
It came from outer space
We all love “Stars Fell on Alabama,” but beware. It has a dark side. The tale of starry-eyed sweethearts was inspired by a night of terror. On Nov. 12, 1833, the greatest meteor sighting in recorded history ignited southern skies like a nuclear bomb. There were estimates of 200,000 shooting stars per hour. And on a clear moonless night, Alabama was Ground Zero. “In 1833 there was no news and no warnings,” notes Bill Cooke of the Meteoroid Environment Office at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. “Terrified, many thought it was the End Times.” 16 APRIL 2018
Frightened masses shivered under wagons and in shelters – impromptu shields from heaven’s wrath. A horrified cotton planter noted, “My God, the world is on fire.” In 1934, Carl Carmer wrote a book of essays titled “Stars Fell on Alabama,” acknowledging 1833’s spectacle. Inspired by the book, music composer Frank Perkins and lyricist Mitchell Parish realized the potential for a song of the same name. But how does one create music based on a stellar holocaust? Easy: Love conquers all, even flying space rocks. Hence the lyrics:
“We lived our little drama We kissed in a field of white And Stars Fell On Alabama Last night...” “Little drama,” perhaps the biggest understatement in music history, alludes to the fear-frozen night, when stars fell on Alabama.
Turn it up
The words “Sweet Home Alabama” have been embossed on automobile tags, served as an unofficial motto, and been licensed by the State Department of Tourism. And the Lynyrd Skynyrd song that made it popular? Wow. “It has been used in various facets, from political campaigns to countless movies,” says Rachel Morris, archivist and coordinator at
Illustration by Nalin Crocker
ongs of Alabama have enriched lives since the state was a state of mind. But our songs in the heart, notes in the head, and lyrics in memory are more than meets the ear. How many tunes about the Heart of Dixie can you name? (And by the way, “Heart of Dixie” is the title of the 2013 debut single of country singer Danielle Bradbery – though it isn’t actually about Alabama.)
the Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University. “It is perhaps the most recognized song about Alabama.” Ironically, “Sweet Home Alabama” was written by two Floridians and a Californian, and recorded in Georgia. It is basically a protest song of a protest song. “Lynyrd Skynyrd responded to Neil Young’s ‘Southern Man’ and ‘Alabama,’ which dealt with racism and slavery in the American South,” notes Alabama Tourism Department publications director Rick Harmon. But there was never a feud between the band and the artist. The lyrics cover a broad range of mid-1970s issues, including Watergate, Gov. George Wallace, and prevailing music trends. Many ponder the song’s famous first words, “turn it up.” Hidden message? Secret code? Buried treasure map? After years of research, the true meaning of “turn it up” is revealed: Turn it up means turn it up. During recording, lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant asked someone to increase the volume in his headphones. Unaware the microphone was live, Van Zant’s request was immortalized.
That old college try
You don’t know Ethelred Lundy Sykes. But if you’ve ever watched an Alabama football game, you know his work. In the early 1920s, the Birmingham native competed for a University of Alabama scholarship and lost. But Ethelred enrolled anyway, becoming active in student life and continuing his unwavering passion for contests. In 1926 he submitted an entry in the school’s Rammer-Jammer humor magazine’s quest for best new battle march. Sykes’ musical offering was a little ditty he called, “Yea Alabama!” Perhaps you’ve heard it: “Yea Alabama! Drown ‘em Tide! Every Bama Man’s Behind You, Hit your stride.” Yep, Ethelred wrote that, and won $50. “Yea Alabama!” became the University of Alabama fight song, typically sung by a choir of 150,000 at the top of their collective lungs at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The late Ethelred Lundy Sykes never wrote another song, opting instead to join the military, where he served in the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command, and retired as a brigadier general.
The ghost who sang “Your Cheating HearT”
Music is often described as hauntingly beautiful, but “Midnight in Montgomery” is beautifully haunted. With close to 3 million YouTube hits, the video rivals the song in popularity. Lyrics unfold a story at Hank Williams’ Oakwood Annex Cemetery gravesite. Singer Alan Jackson, en route to a gig, steps off a Montgomery bus to pay respects to country music’s king. But the late Hank Williams is no longer late. Jackson sees a ghost. “I don’t know if the video and song increased visits to Williams’ burial site,” says Oakwood’s spokesman, Phillip Taunton. “People have visited the grave almost daily since Williams died (Jan. 1, 1953).” They often leave memen-
Visitors enjoy a tour of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Tuscumbia. PHOTO BY MARILYN JONES
tos like flowers, guitar picks, and bottles of beer. Which perhaps Hank Williams appreciates, because as Alan Jackson croons, “Oh Hank’s always singing there.”
Alabama, our official song
In the mid-1860s, Tuscaloosa’s Julia S. Tutwiler, educator, humanitarian, and women’s rights advocate, completed her European studies and returned to Alabama. The state of the state left her heartbroken. Tutwiler felt we could do better. Documents provided by Courtney Pinkard, reference archivist at the Alabama Department of Archives and History, noted Tutwiler’s thoughts: “Never for a moment doubt the outcome of struggle if maintained with courage and devotion to principle.” Around 1868, she wrote a poem, which later became “Alabama,” a rallying cry set to music by Birmingham composer and organist Edna Cockel-Gussen in 1917. It became our official song by a vote of the Legislature on March 9, 1931. Several attempts have been made to replace it. “It has an elementary school auditorium assembly feel to it, but you aren’t going to please everyone,” says Kevin Nutt, folk life archivist at the Archives. “’Sweet Home Alabama’ was floated as a replacement. Who can sing that?” For now, Tutwiler’s classic rules. Each stanza ends with “Alabama, Alabama, We will aye be true to thee!” May it be said by us all, in music, lyrics, and song. APRIL 2018 17
Edward Hopper (American, 1882–1967), New York Office, 1962, oil on canvas, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama, The Blount Collection
Famous art is right at home in Alabama By Marilyn Jones
labama may not be synonymous with fine art, but our museums are home to some truly world-class collections and pieces. You can appreciate their beauty or perhaps their emotional power; some offer glimpses into our history, telling us about our culture and where we came from. Whatever the purpose, you can make new discoveries with a short drive to one of Alabama’s fine art museums. Birmingham Museum of Art
The museum has an impressive collection of more than 27,000 objects representing cultures from around the world including Asian, European, American, African, Pre-Columbian and Native American art. The museum also houses the largest collection of Wedgwood ceramics in North America, and its holdings of Asian art are the most extensive in the Southeast. Katelyn Crawford, The William Cary Hulsey Curator of American Art, says one of her favorite exhibits in the American galleries is Magic City Realism: Richard Coe’s Birmingham, an exhibition featuring detailed etchings of Birmingham during The Great Depression. “In celebrating industrial Birmingham, Coe joined fellow Alabama artists in creating a body of American scene images of the South,” says Crawford. Admission is free; artsbma.org, (205) 254-2565.
Richard B. Coe, American 1904–1978, Down Town Birmingham, about 1935, etching on paper. PHOTO COURTESY BIRMINGHAM MUSEUM OF ART
18 APRIL 2018
Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University
“We value all artwork in our collection, not because of their individual monetary value, but the value in what the piece can teach us about the time and culture in which it was made,” says Museum Director Marilyn Laufer. “Our Advancing American Art collection … (was) acquired by the university in 1948. Looking at those pieces, we get a real sense of the issues and ideas that concerned Americans during that World War II period,” says Laufer. “It is amazing to see how many of those concerns are still prevalent today.” The university often hosts special exhibitions. Audubon’s Last Wilderness Journey: The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America is currently on view with a comparison exhibition on the seldom reproduced four-footed mammals. “We’ve exhibited Rubens and Rembrandt, prints by Edvard Munch and sculptures by August Rodin. In our own collection, we have works by such renowned artists as Georgia O’Keeffe, Rufino Tamayo and Jacob Lawrence,” says Laufer, reminding everyone that each “visit to the museum will provide a new discovery.” Admission is free; jcsm.auburn.edu.
Mobile Museum of Fine Art
“Grey Fox,” 1843, Hand-colored lithograph, The Louise Hauss and David Brent Miller Audubon Collection. PHOTO COURTESY JULE COLLINS SMITH MUSEUM OF FINE ART, AUBURN UNIVERSITY
“Like most art museums, we view our collection less in terms of monetary value and more in terms of its place in the history of art,” says Museum Director Deborah Velders. “We are most proud of our community’s support … the vast majority of our collection of nearly 11,000 objects were gifts from this community, as is the financial support for the majority of our exhibitions and programs. “We own artworks and crafts by many of the ‘canonical’ names in the history of art, such as Pierre-August Renoir, Thomas Moran, Louis Comfort Tiffany glass, Frederick Remington, Salvator Rosa, Robert Rauschenberg and many others,” Velders says. “While our collection is not comprehensive nor
represents fully ‘the history of art,’ it includes significant works that help students and adults alike learn more of our world’s cultures through its art,” says Velders. Admission is charged; mobilemuseumofart.com
With a collection of nearly 11,000 objects, guests can spend hours enjoying the many galleries of the Mobile Museum of Art. PHOTO COURTESY
MOBILE MUSEUM OF ART
APRIL 2018 19
Huntsville Museum of Art
According to Samantha Nielsen, director of communications, the museum is extremely proud of its exhibit Buccellati: A Silver Menagerie. The silver creations were designed and fabricated in Milan, Italy, by the luxury jewelry firm of Buccellati. Betty Grisham of Huntsville donated the works of art to the museum. “We have the world’s largest (Buccellati) public collection,” Nielsen says. The artists combined Renaissance period techniques, luxury materials and the extensive use of texture engraving to create objects of great beauty. Buccellati clientele included the Vatican as well as the Royal Houses of Italy, Spain, Belgium, England and Egypt. Highlights of the museum’s collection include a four-foot tall flamingo, a reclining giraffe and a marine centerpiece consisting of Mediterranean Sea creatures arranged around a natural amethyst geode. “The latest addition is a family of deer commissioned by the museum to honor Betty Grisham.” One of the museum’s most famous pieces is Luigi Lucioni’s Ethel
Buccellati: A Silver Menagerie features a four-foot tall flamingo and a reclining giraffe. PHOTO COURTESY HUNTSVILLE MUSEUM OF ART
Waters. “The official unveiling of the painting was held at the museum on Feb. 1 during the opening celebration of African American History Month,” Nielsen says. “This historical painting was thought to be lost and hadn’t been seen by the public since 1942.” Admission is charged; hsvmuseum.org.
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts
The museum collections “feature primarily American art, and particularly that of the Southeast and Alabama,” says Senior Curator Margaret Lynne Ausfeld. It has grown to represent 200 years of our country’s history. “One of the earliest works … in the American paintings collection was made by an anonymous artist around the 1870s right here in Alabama and most likely in Montgomery,” she says. It depicts Montgomery in “an earlier frontier era, most likely during the very early 19th century when Alabama was a territory or during early statehood.” The museum also features William Merritt Chase and Frank Duveneck. “Chase’s Woman in a Chinese Robe is an excellent example of this artist’s skill as a portraitist and still-life painter,” Ausfeld says. Other outstanding works include Georgia O’Keeffe’s Hills Before Taos and John Singer Sargent’s Mrs. Louis Raphael. Other notable pieces include Mary Cassatt’s Francois in Green, Sewing and an example of 19th century marble sculpture by Edmonia Lewis, Hiawatha’s Marriage. “The museum’s best-known painting is by the American 20th century painter Edward Hopper, New York Office,” but Ausfeld stresses there are many collections in the museum as well as programs designed to educate the public about art and this museum’s collection. Admission is free; mmfa.org.
John Singer Sargent (American, 1856–1925), Mrs. Louis E. Raphael, ca. 1906, oil on canvas, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama, The Blount Collection
20 APRIL 2018
APRIL 2018â€ƒ 21
Avoiding the ‘grandparent scam’ By Richard Bauman
answered the phone one morning and heard someone who sounded like our grandson, Edward, say, “Hi grandpa, it’s your favorite grandson.” And that’s how the “grandparent scam” usually starts. That jovial greeting is usually followed by a tale of woe. In this instance, Edward was supposedly in New York for a buddy’s bachelor party. He had wrecked a rental car and been arrested for DUI. Then comes the plea for money. He needed $8,000 to pay his fine and to fix the car. “Please help me out, grandpa,” that’s followed by another plea: “Please don’t tell my parents. I’ll explain it to them when I get home.” My response to the fake Edward: “You’re a fraud,” and I hung up on him. I knew that Ed wasn’t at a bachelor party in New York. He lives in California, and is a 14-year old high school freshman. What should you do if you get a phone call supposedly from one of your grandchildren claiming to be in another state, or even a foreign country, and desperately needs several thousand dollars to get out of a jam? First, be careful. Our natural inclination is to jump in and help but that could be the worst thing to do. Instead of reacting quickly: Take a deep breath or two, relax and be noncommittal Ask for a phone number where you can later reach him/her Contact the supposed grandchild’s parents, siblings and others who would know if he or she is away from home as claimed. If you know your grandchild’s cell phone, call him/her and leave a voicemail if need be, or text asking him/her to call you. Be wary if the caller doesn’t sound like your grandchild; ask about it. Scammers usually will say it’s a bad connection or he/she has a cold or make some other vague explanation for their odd sounding voice.
Typically, grandparents are asked to wire the money to some out of state or out of the country location. Sometimes grandparents are told to buy several thousand dollars in prepaid debit cards and then phone the “grandchild” with the scratch-off numbers on the back of the cards. They can then use those numbers to get the money. According to the National Council on Aging, the grandparent scam is successful because it is so simple, and devious, and it uses one of older adults’ most reliable assets – their hearts. 22 APRIL 2018
Older people are often easy targets for such cons, according to the AARP, because: They’re more likely to be home during the day They expect people to be honest They are less likely to act when defrauded. Further, the National Council on Aging estimated that senior citizens are robbed of about $3 billion annually via various financial scams. Scamming grandparents can be lucrative for well-practiced criminals. Especially since the odds of being caught and prosecuted are slim. One incarcerated scammer told journalist Carter Evans: “You can make $10,000 … in a day if you do it properly. Once you get them emotionally involved, then they’ll do anything for you, basically.” “The effect (of the scam) on the victims is so great. It’s not simply the loss of the money. They feel stupid, they feel gullible, and they have nightmares about it and anxiety and depression,” says former Assistant U.S. Attorney Ellyn Lindsey, who successfully prosecuted the scammer that Carter Evans interviewed. There are also email versions of this swindle. You receive an email supposedly from a friend who is in a foreign country, and has been robbed and needs money to pay for a new passport, his/her hotel and airfare home. I received such an email from my friend Connie, who said she was stuck in London. I knew it was a scam since Connie had died six months before the email arrived. Recently, my wife received an email plea for help from a nun she knows who was ostensibly stranded in the Philippines. She called the nun’s cell phone and learned she was not stranded in the Philippines or anywhere else. She told Donna she had received numerous calls from people concerned about her well-being. If a supposed grandchild, relative or friend either calls or emails and claims to be in dire need of money, after having had some devastating experience in either another state or a foreign country, fight the urge to react quickly to the request. Take the time to verify his or her story. It might truly be someone in need of help, but the call or email is more likely just an attempt to separate you from your money. Lastly, when you receive a call from a number you don’t recognize, let your voicemail answer the call. Scammers don’t usually leave messages. www.alabamaliving.coop
APRIL 2018â€ƒ 23
| Worth the drive |
Union Springs cook bakes up an unplanned success Story and photos by Jennifer Kornegay
ome say anything tastes better served on fine china and scooped up with a silver fork or spoon. At FPH Bakery in downtown Union Springs, you’ll find both fancy flatware and elegant plates in use, but the cakes, pies, soups, sandwiches and salads served here don’t need the aesthetic boost. Judging by the packed dining room and a bakery counter that almost empties every day, owner and baker Amber Anderson could probably send out her kitchen creations on paper towels, and folks would still rave. Anderson opened French Pressed Home (FPH) Bakery in February 2017, and its quick rise to success came as a sweet surprise, especially since owning a bakery and café was never really in her plans. Always interested in cooking, she taught herself to bake and a few years ago, made a few cakes at a friend’s request. The friend liked them and spread the word. Soon, Anderson was taking orders for her cakes weekly and then moved into wedding cakes. Demand for her desserts ballooned into more than she could handle, and with twin boys also in need of her time, she was close to calling it quits. “I realized I had to expand or fold,” she says. “So I grew and opened the bakery.” She’s been thrilled by the support of her community, a hometown she and her family adopted only a few years ago. “The people here have been so great,” she says. “I knew they would be. I fell in love with this area and its people the first time I came.” Born, raised and living in San Diego, Calif., until 2013, Anderson and her family made their way South after the recession in 2008 decimated her husband’s contracting business and left them looking for a fresh start. “I didn’t know where we wanted to go, but I knew it was time to leave California,” she says. “I never really thought about the South, but I was looking at houses all over online, and the affordability of properties 24 APRIL 2018
down here piqued my interest.” At the time, Anderson was running a vintage goods business and blogging about it (her blog’s name was French Pressed Home) while dreaming of running a bed and breakfast, and a historic house in Union Springs caught her eye. “I came down to look at the house, and I liked it, but I also liked the town,” she says. She didn’t get that first house and realized it wasn’t the right time for her to pursue a B&B, but she and her husband were still smitten with Union Springs, so they stayed (and bought a new house in
Amber Anderson displays a freshly iced red velvet cake from her business, French Pressed Home (FPH) Bakery.
Take a look inside FPH Bakery at alabamaliving.coop!
APRIL 2018â€ƒ 25
(Right) Chocolate-drizzled Napoleons are ready for customers; (Below, top to bottom) FPH Bakery is located in a renovated downtown building that housed Holmes Café for 55 years; Kacee Green holds a chocolate cake with chocolate ganache icing; FPH’s chicken salad is made with pecans, grapes, celery, poppy seeds and steak seasoning.
108 Conecuh Ave. Union Springs, AL 334-738-2017 Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Follow FPH Bakery (@FPHBakery) on Facebook to see daily lunch specials and more.
26 APRIL 2018
the old town). The move shocks some. all things French, baking is associated with “People ask me all the time about how France, and I do want this place to feel like a different it must be here compared to San home, to be comfortable,” she says. Diego, but it’s really not,” she says. “The San Friendly staff, Anderson included, roll Diego I grew up in in the 1970s had this real out the welcome, and exposed brick lit by neighborhood feel and culture, kinda like a glittering chandeliers provides some oldsmall town. That’s not how it is today, but world flair. The china and silver are charmthat’s how it was for a lot of my time there.” ing but not pretentious: All mismatched, Union Springs’ leisurely pace and genuine they’re from the collection Anderson people reminded her of that childhood and amassed in her previous business. Delights instantly pulled her in. like cakes topped with bright berries and Now, she’s bringing others to the town. delicate napoleons glistening with drizzled Lunchtime at FPH stays busy; locals come chocolate perch on pedestals of varying in for a box lunch (a sandwich, chips and heights on a worn wooden counter, “icing” choice of dessert) or maybe a bowl of chili on the spot’s appeal and hospitality. or chicken and rice soup with a cup of cofThe vibe is all Anderson, but she’s also fee. Early afternoon sees a steady stream embracing the property’s past. “It was a of people sating a sugar fix, getting a sweet restaurant called Holmes Cafe, run by two snack or an entire cake or pie to go. brothers, for 55 years, and there were a lot Others drive over from Montgomery, of happy eating memories made here,” AnAuburn and Troy. Many come for a bite of derson says. She’s hoping to continue the her claim to fame: salted caramel cake, her legacy. riff on a Southern She’s also hoping staple that eschews her presence downThink your dietary restrictions town helps other the traditional cooked icing for mean FPH Bakery is off limits? businesses and enrich buttercream Maybe not! Anderson often courages new ones with her homemade to locate in the city’s “secret recipe” car- whips up a couple of gluten- center too. “I love amel (with a hint free and sugar-free baked good this place and want of salt) stirred in. options for those who can’t to do all I can to “The usual caramel promote this comicing down here is indulge in the others. munity and be a actually hard to get part of the positive right,” she says. “I decided not to even try change already happening,” she says. “It’s exand compete with everybody’s Nana.” citing to see new business open in this area.” And while Anderson’s baked goods – butShe’s equally excited by her first year’s tery croissants, fudgy brownies, fancifully accomplishments and looking forward to festooned cupcakes, cookies, pies and more a prosperous 2018, but putting satisfied – take the front seat, driving a lot of the baksmiles on her customer’s faces is the sweet ery’s traffic, a savory dish is not far behind reward that turns her lips up. “This is hard in popularity. Whether it’s between two work, but it’s really fun too, and for me, it’s pieces of bread or mounded on the aforenot about making a ton of money,” she says. mentioned pretty plates with pickles and “It’s about making people leave here happier crackers on the side, FPH’s chicken salad is than they were when they came in.” giving the pastries and other confections a run for their money. Combining both fine, While you’re there soft shreds and meatier chunks of roasted The town of Union Springs is a popular day chicken, sliced red grapes, chopped pecans, trip for groups. If you visit, be sure to check pureed celery, a dash of steak seasoning and out the Josephine Art Center, 126 Prairie St. poppy seeds with a just enough silky mayo N., where you can visit the local historical to hold things together, it’s creamy, crunchy, museum, view Alabama artwork, create your tart, peppery and salty all at once. own work of art, host a private party, book Housed in an old building on the edge of an historic tour of Bullock County, or even downtown that Anderson’s husband Bruce check out a ghost tour! More at artatjosecarefully renovated, FPH has a convivial phine.com, email promiseland@ustconline. atmosphere that’s a draw too. She used her net or (334)703-0098. blog’s name for the bakery, and it fits. “I love www.alabamaliving.coop
APRIL 2018â€ƒ 27
Alabama motorists can now choose a license plate design that commemorates the stateâ€™s bicentennial.
For more information, call your local tag office or visit our website at www.Alabama200.org
28 APRIL 2018
April | Around Alabama
Photo courtesy of the Piney Woods Arts Festival.
Sylacauga, Sylacauga’s ninth annual “Magic of Marble” Festival showcasing Sylacauga’s beautiful white marble will feature sculptors in action at the city’s Blue Bell Park. Visiting Italian master sculptor will teach on site and conduct a symposium for visiting sculptors at the Comer Library. Tours offered to the marble quarries that manufacture calcium carbonate and those that lift dimensional stone. Marble sculptures from seven previous festivals and marble products will be on display at the Comer Library, and the Gantts/IMERYS Observation Point overlooking an historic quarry will be open to the public. Festival activities are free. For more information, visit www.bbcomerlibrary.net/marblefestival or call Ted Spears, 256-267-6655.
Enterprise, 3rd Annual Mitchell Automotive Chick-Fil-A 5K and 1-mile fun run at Enterprise High School to benefit WinShape Summer Camp scholarships. Register at itsyourrace.com. $25 for 5K, $15 for 1-mile fun run. 5K begins at 8 a.m. Registration includes t-shirt and family fun zone activities. See the Enterprise CFA Facebook page for more information.
Millbrook, Hike some of Lanark’s 5 miles of trails with an experienced ANC naturalist during the Tour of Lanark Hike. Activities are from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., but guests are encouraged to arrive by 10 a.m. to enjoy all the activities. For times and more information, visit alabamawildlife.org.
Ozark, 12th annual Ozark Crawdad and Music Festival. Food and craft vendors, live music and children’s activities. 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. downtown on the Court Square. Free. 334-774-2618.
Enterprise, Piney Woods Arts Festival at Enterprise State Community College. 9 a.m.5 p.m. Saturday and 12-4 p.m. Sunday. The 44th annual Piney Woods Arts Festival is one of the oldest juried arts and craft shows in the area. Featuring original works by 100 artists, a children’s fun center, food and entertainment. Special events include a Civil War living display and Weevil City Cruisers Car and Truck Show. Free. Coffeecountyartsalliance.com
Monroeville, “To Kill a Mockingbird” at the Monroe County Heritage Museum, 31 N. Alabama Ave. The Mockingbird Company presents “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The play features two acts at the old courthouse. For show times and ticket information, visit tokillamockingbird.com.
More than 100 artists will be featured at the Piney Woods Arts Festival April 7-8 in Enterprise.
LaFayette, 21st Annual LaFayette Day for Valley Haven School, on the Courthouse Square. 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Arts and crafts, antique cars, children’s activities, entertainment, food and more. Free. For more information, contact Craig Brown, 334 7562868 or Lynn Oliver, 334 219-1890.
Demopolis, Rooster Day, sponsored by the Marengo County Historical Society. 9 a.m.-11 p.m. This event celebrates the rooster auction of 1919, which raised funds to build a bridge over the Tombigbee River connecting Marengo and Sumter counties. Cock’s Crow 5K; arts, crafts and food at the Rooster Fair in public square; live entertainment; and kids’ activities. Free; the rooster auction at Lyon Hall is $20. Roosterdaydemopolis.com
tors and thousands of vendors. Proceeds benefit community projects. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. $5 adults, $2 ages 2-12. Calicofort.com
Guntersville, Art on the Lake 2018 features more than 120 booths with original arts and crafts. Includes games for kids, food trucks, BBQ and sweet treats. $2 admission for ages 13 and up. Rain or shine. Guntersville Recreation Center, 1500 Sunset Drive. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. artonthelake-guntersville.com
Fort Mitchell, Pioneer Day Quilt and Art Contest, 561 Alabama Highway 165. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. EDT. Art contest and quilt show, blacksmith demonstrations, wagon rides, re-enactors, music, entertainment and more. Visit the reconstructed 1813 Fort, the Tavern and the Carriage House. $5. For more information and entry forms, visit visitfortmitchell.org.
Fairhope, Bald Eagle Bash. This annual fundraiser for the Weeks Bay Foundation is held at the waterfront Tonsmeire Weeks Bay Resource Center on U.S. Highway 98. Enjoy fresh shrimp prepared by top local restaurants and live music. 4-7 p.m. $40 in advance, $45 at the gate, free for children 10 and under. BaldEagleBash.com or 251-990-5004.
Boaz, The Alabama Farm & Poultry Expo and Spring Outdoor Show featuring Farm & Poultry vendors. Arts & crafts, food court, children’s area and entertainment. Farm sessions and demonstrations by the AL Farm Extension Service. 256-593-8154.
Hokes Bluff, 3rd Annual “Booking it Through the Bluff ” Triathlon. 22.6-mile bike ride through Eastern Etowah County ending at the Hokes Bluff Ferry, 3 mile Coosa River Adventure and 4.5 mile run through Hokes Bluff, ending at the Hokes Bluff Community Center. Compete in each event or put a team of three together to compete. Kayaks available for rent on race day. Must have your own bike. Register at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Alex Sims at 256-492-9846.
Loxley, 31st Annual Baldwin County Strawberry Festival, Loxley Municipal Park. Arts and crafts, food vendors, carnival, children’s games, antique car show, exhibits and live entertainment. Proceeds benefit Loxley Elementary School and ARC Baldwin County. baldwincountystrawberryfestival.org
Fort Deposit, Calico Fort Arts and Crafts Fair. More than 100 exhibi-
Montgomery, A former Auburn football player, a death row exoneree, a coloring book designer and an award-winning food blogger are part of the diverse lineup for the 2018 Alabama Book Festival. They join a long list of best-selling authors taking part in the annual event at Montgomery’s historic Old Alabama Town from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Books by festival authors will be available for purchase and authors will be signing their books following their presentations. alabamabookfestival.org.
To place an event, e-mail email@example.com. 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.
Geneva, Festival on the Rivers, Robert Fowler Memorial Park. This family festival features arts and crafts, specialty items and food vendors; entertainment at food court begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, with a parade at 5:30 p.m. GenevaRiverFestival.com
Decatur, Morgan County Master Gardener Association Plant Sale at the Morgan County Fairgrounds, 2919 Fairground Road. The plant sale features unusual plants, houseplants, succulents, annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs, wildflowers, mixed containers, and some of the south’s top passalong plants. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
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| Gardens |
Spring planting time:
Picking the perfect plants I f, like me, you’re looking forward to home-grown summer vegetables, herbs and flowers, it’s time to get planting. Those of you who thought ahead and started seeds inside or in a cold frame or greenhouse already have a great source of plant material ready to go in the ground. But don’t forget to harden them off first. “Hardening off ” is a process that gradually transitions young, tender plants from their sheltered indoor life to the more extreme world of the great outdoors. Start the process by putting seedlings outside during the day in a shaded, protected area for a couple of hours, then bring them back inside. Gradually lengthen the amount of time they spend outside and the amount of sun exposure they receive on each consecutive day and, in about a week, they should be ready to go out into the world. (The length of time for hardening off varies depending on weather conditions and plant type, so check seed packages for recommendations.) If you haven’t thought ahead, though, transplants (ready-to-plant seedlings) are abundantly available at retail outlets throughout the state, and they make growing all kinds of annual plants pretty darn easy, especially if you follow these tips. • Pick smaller plants. Avoid extra-large plants and look for smaller, more compact plants that are about as wide as they are tall. Beware of plants that are overcrowded. If there are several plants in a single pot or seedling cell, it may seem like you’re getting more plants for your money, but they may be less healthy or stunted. • Pick quality plants. Buy only healthy plants that exhibit good color in their leaves and stems and show no signs of Katie Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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yellowing, wilting or damage. Make sure their growing media is moist and the transplants are not root-bound. Try to avoid buying vegetable, fruit or herb plants that are already flowering, and look for flowering plants that have buds, not blossoms, so you’ll ensure a longer blooming period.
• Plant quickly. Try to avoid buying transplants more than two days before planting. If you have to wait longer than that to get them in the ground, store them in a warm, sunny, but protected spot and keep them well watered. • Plant properly. Gently remove transplants from their containers so you don’t damage their tops or roots, and plant them deep enough so the soil can support them as their root systems develop. Water them well immediately after planting, and water them frequently for several days after planting. Hold off on applying fertilizer, which can burn tender leaves and stimulate excessive foliage growth. Mulch around the plants to keep moisture near their roots and suppress weeds. When buying transplants, quality is important, and one way to ensure good quality plants is to buy “local.” Look for plants that were produced in Alabama or the Southeast — that means they didn’t have far to travel to get to your garden, so they should be less stressed. If the source
of the plant is not listed on the label, ask the store’s staff or manager where they came from. In addition to transplants, many annual seeds can now be sown directly into the garden. If you collected seed from last year’s plants or know a gardener who is willing to share ones they collected, that’s ideal. But if you need to buy seed, go for quality. A great source of fresh seed — and seed that is tried-and-true in your area — is a store that sells bulk, loose seed (farmer cooperatives and feed-and-seed stores, for example). If you can’t find the seed or plants you’re looking for at a local store, catalogues provide exceptional choices, especially for less common selections such as non-GMO, organic, heirloom or newly released varieties and cultivars. Just make sure you’re ordering from a reputable company by checking consumer reviews and reviewing their guarantee and return policies. Oh, and if in your excitement you overbuy seeds or transplants, don’t toss them out. Donate them to a community or school garden and share the wealth. That way you and others can look forward to all kinds of gardening rewards in the months to come.
APRIL TIPS Plant peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, eggplants and parsley. Sow seed for corn, squash, cucumbers and various beans and melons. Apply fertilizer to warm-season lawns. Prepare summer gardening and irrigation equipment. Plant summer annual flowers and summer-blooming bulbs. Keep an eye out for weed, insect and disease problems and treat as needed. Keep bird feeders and birdbaths full for spring migrators and nesters. Turn compost piles or start new ones.
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Birders take flight and travel the globe By Gayle Gresham
ooking for your travel to take flight this year? Become a birder and enjoy all kinds of new places to visit while adding bird species to your list and enjoying time spent wherever this activity takes you. Birdwatching is rising in popularity in the United States and throughout the world. Anyone can do it, whether you live in the city, the suburbs or the country. You can set up your own feeders in your own backyard and keep a list of the species that visit you. Or, if you love to travel and you enjoy birdwatching, you can visit wilderness refuges, travel to bird festivals, and take guided tours of bird habitats anywhere in the world.
It’s great to start bird watching by simply looking out your window and seeing the birds that congregate in your yard or on your patio. Is that a bluebird? What type of bluebird? An eastern, western, or mountain bluebird? You can go old school by checking a field guide like Peterson’s or Sibley’s or you can look up bluebirds on http://allaboutbirds.org (Cornell Lab of Ornithology). Check the range map and see which is common in your region. Look at the markings and distinctive features. Many birds show enough variation to make an ID with ease. The All About Birds website also contains recordings of each bird’s song so identification can also be made by the birdsong. Going high-tech with your identification tools can make it easier to take them along when you travel. Download the Merlin Bird ID app (Cornell Lab of Ornithology) to your cell phone. The app asks five questions to help identify a bird. It then pulls up bird photos matching the description that have been seen in your region. Or, take a photo of the bird, upload it to Merlin and it will identify the bird for you. Those who catch birdwatching fever often keep a list of the birds they have seen or heard. A life list consists of all of the bird species seen in your lifetime while a yearly list tics off every bird species seen in a year. A list can be kept in a simple notebook, in 32 APRIL 2018
a special birding notebook, or it can be a simple notation of date and place beside the picture in a guide book. Computer list options include Birder’s Diary software, which also allows photos, or use the eBird mobile app for cell phones, which uses GPS coordinates for bird species sightings. As you become familiar with the birds in your backyard, you will be able to recognize when a bird not common to your area appears. When you see a rare bird, you can report it through eBird or the American Birding Society so other birders can visit your backyard and add it to their lists.
If birdwatching has captured your attention and your curiosity has grown beyond the birds showing up in your backyard, then what? It’s time for some birding excursions. First, call someone you know who is a birdwatcher. Don’t know anyone? Start asking around. You might be surprised by which of your friends are birders. Ask at your library about birdwatching clubs or search the internet for local and state birding clubs and chapters of the Audubon Society for programs, events and field trips. You can go out on your own, but it’s helpful to have someone teach you how to locate and identify the birds. Grab your binoculars, camera and cell phone and head to the wilderness or city park. One way to learn from an experienced watcher is to join the Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count, which allows beginner birders to take part. Participants count every bird seen or heard in a 15-mile diameter designated circle over a 24hour period of time between Dec. 14 and A pair of tree swallows get into a tiff in a backyard tree. PHOTO BY KEN CHRISTISON
Jan. 5. The count acts as an annual census of birds across the world.
Your interest in birds has been piqued and now you’d like to see species of birds that are not local to your area. It’s time to travel! You can either travel to see birds in a certain locale or go on vacation and see what interesting birds are in your planned location. Once again, the internet can help you identify places to see birds. There are more than 562 National Wildlife Refuges and 38 wetland management districts in the United States. Visit the www.fws.gov/ refuges website for locations and information. There are also 10,234 state parks and 58 national parks, giving you plenty of opportunity to travel and find birds. At least 38 states have American Birding Association Birding Trails. A designated Birding Trail system links wildlife refuges, state parks and national parks in a state, along with noted habitats found along the route. The trails may be hiking trails or highways to drive. Information on state birding trails can be found on the internet. The World Birding Center in the Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas features nine locations with more than 500 species of birds at the convergence of two major migration flyways. Bird festivals are another great way to see specific birds and take part in workshops and tours. Many festivals coincide with migration to see the greatest number of species in a set place.
You’ve learned to identify birds, enjoy the challenge and you’re ready to dive further into birding, perhaps on a competitive level. There are various events for all ages sponsored by bird organizations. Join The Big Sit! hosted by Bird Watcher’s Digest — 24 hours of sitting in a 17-foot diameter circle with a team counting every birds species seen. “Big Day” events or birdathons are sponsored by bird associations and often raise pledges for their societies and conservation by counting how many species of birds can be seen in 24 hours. They can be www.alabamaliving.coop
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done individually or in teams. The Global Big Day is sponsored by eBird and on May 13, 2017, almost 20,000 birders from 150 countries turned in 50,000 checklists with 6,564 species of birds spotted in one day. That is more than 60 percent of all of the species of birds in the world. Stretching that day to a year, The Big Year is the ultimate challenge in birding. It is a competition to see who can see the most birds in one year in a specific geographical area. A little curiosity and a greater awareness of birds can take you in many directions. Travel, see the country, see the world, and see the birds as you go! Maybe a Big Year is in your future. Gayle Gresham writes from her electricco-op powered home in Elbert, Colorado. She now has Merlin Bird ID on her phone and is ready to go watch some birds.
Alabama’s trails offer an abundance of bird-watching locations Alabama has an abundance of bird species – 430 at last count – to watch, from the Tennessee border to the Gulf Coast. The Alabama Birding Trails is a system of eight trails highlighting the best public locations available to watch birds yearround. According to its website, alabamabirdingtrails.com, our state provides a critical habitat for hundreds of bird species, from the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker to the now flourishing bald eagle. As interest in wildlife observation grows, more people want to explore our amazing biodiversity, which makes Alabama second only to Florida in the Eastern U.S. in total number of species of plants and animals. The eight Alabama Birding Trails unify existing and potential birding sites into a series of cohesive trails and loops that are collectively marketed as part of a statewide system. Many of the sites along the various trails are already being used by thousands of birders and other visitors annually. The Alabama Birding Trails program recently announced the addition of 10 new birding trail sites, bringing the total number of locations to 280 in 65 counties. Two of the new sites are on Forever
Wild properties: the Wehle Forever Wild Tract near Midway, and the Yates Lake Forever Wild Tract near Tallassee. The eight other sites are: Heflin’s Cahulga Creek Park; Coosa County’s Flagg Mountain, near Weogufka; the Lee County Public Fishing Lake, near Opelika; the Louise Kreher Forest Ecology Preserve and Nature Center, in Auburn; Minooka Park, in Jemison; the Moss Rock Preserve, in Hoover; Shades Creek Greenway, in Homewood; and the Smith Mountain Fire Tower, near Dadeville. Alabama’s Birding Trails offer the public a chain of eight geographic regions: North Alabama, West Alabama, Appalachian Highlands, Piedmont Plateau, Black Belt Nature and Heritage, Pineywoods, Wiregrass, and Alabama Coastal Birding Trail. Specific information on each region is available at the alabamabirdingtrails. com website. This project is a collaborative effort by the Alabama Tourism Department, University of Alabama Center for Economic Development, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Birmingham Audubon Society, chambers of commerce across the state, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Forest Service and others.
A killdeer, which often performs a “broken wing” routine to draw a predator away PHOTO BY KEN CHRISTISON
Red-tailed hawk watches a squirrel PHOTO BY DAVID MORRIS ON UNSPLASH
White egret near San Francisco Bay
Brown-headed nuthatch in Alabama PHOTO BY MARK LANGSTON
PHOTO BY ALFRED LEUNG ON UNSPLASH
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| Alabama People |
Singer, actor, dancer … doing it all Alabama’s Jordan Fisher came to national TV prominence in November when he won the 25th season of “Dancing With the Stars” with his professional dancing partner, Lindsay Arnold. But some fans may not realize that Fisher has been acting, dancing and singing more than half his life. Born and raised in Birmingham, Fisher caught the performing bug early. His fifth-grade crush asked him to join the drama club with her, and he started acting, singing and dancing that first day. That summer, he joined the Red Mountain Theatre Company, one of the South’s premier fine arts education centers. He went from his first school play to community theater to regional theater to joining a professional theater company in a short amount of time. He wants to do it all – music, theater, as well as acting. He released an EP of pop-soul-R&B music in August 2016, and was featured on the soundtrack of the Disney hit “Moana.” He’s set to release a full album of R&B music this year. He’s had recurring roles on multiple TV series, including “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” and of course the big win on DWTS. He made his Broadway debut in the megahit “Hamilton,” playing the roles of John Laurens/ Phillip Hamilton. And he turns 24 in April. – Allison Law You were born and raised in Alabama. Talk about your upbringing here. It’s kind of incredible, when I say that I’m from Alabama. I don’t really have much of an accent, and people are like, for real? ... I can’t think of a better place to spend the majority of my childhood. Standards and morals and all of these things, growing up in the South, that’s something in my opinion that’s priceless. Very proud to be an Alabamian and very proud to have spent a majority of my childhood there. (As a teenager, he traveled back and forth between Alabama and Los Angeles for four years before moving to LA permanently.) How quickly time passes. Growing up such a fan of sports and people and a love for my family and all of these things, I feel like the root of all of that started with my environment growing up, and that’s Birmingham, and I couldn’t be more proud of the growth of that city.
You acted in the Broadway smash “Hamilton” (from November 2016 through March 2017). Talk about that. I love it, I miss it to death. It’s kind of hard, when you want to do everything, which is what I do. I wear all the hats, and do TV and film and Broadway, and I’m a recording artist and a writer and a producer and an author, it’s hard to just be able to do one thing for a long period of time. You kind of have to alternate all these things. Eventually, the end goal is that I can pick and choose whatever I want, whenever I want, and right now it’s a matter of having to continue to strike while the iron is hot, which keeps me super busy. It keeps me constantly honing and learning and building my craft and my world as an artist. That will eventually get me back to Broadway, the same way it will always take me back to TV and film and music and touring. But Broadway, I love it just a little bit more than everything else. I have to ask about “Dancing With the Stars.” How was that experience? Unbelievable. I learned a lot about myself, and Lindsay, she cracked the whip in all the right ways. It resulted in an amazing friendship. Really more of a family. That’s my favorite memory, taking away from all of this, is the family I got to build on that show, with Lindsay, with the other pros on the show. … We really put in a lot of time and energy and effort, and I’m just very grateful that America saw that and put in the votes. Do you get back to Alabama very often? I get back more frequently now. Ellie Woods is the love of my life. We actually grew up together at the Red Mountain Theatre Company. She is in school for clinical dietetics at the University of Alabama. We see each other every three weeks. That’s the bottom line, period, the end. Whether I go to Birmingham quietly and spend time with her in Tuscaloosa, or she comes to LA or meets me in whatever city I’m in, we see each other every three weeks. When you make the choice and you make the commitment, you make it work, period. We make it work. work. PHOTO BY ANDREW ROSE
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| Consumer Wise |
Aim for quality when managing a renovation contractor By Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen
We followed your advice last month and hired a contractor we think will give us an energy efficient renovation. How do we manage the job to make sure the project turns out right?
Last month, I offered tips on how to hire a good contractor, but it’s smart to realize that after the hiring is complete, contractors need to be managed. First, you should decide who will be the main contact with your contractor. Clear communication is critical because a renovation that includes energy efficiency improvements comes with extra challenges. A single point of contact will help avoid confusion, conflicts and cost overruns. Before the work starts, have a discussion with your contractor about quality. You want the contractor to know you’ll be carefully overseeing the work and that there may be others involved in this oversight, such as building inspectors, your electric cooperative or an independent energy auditor. You can discuss the standards of a professional, high-quality job. And you can agree on the points at which the contractor will pause so you or someone you designate can review the work. At a minimum, an inspection should take place before you make an interim payment. Here are a few examples of interim review points: • The building envelope should be properly sealed before insulation is installed because air leaks increase energy use and reduce comfort. • Replacement windows should be properly flashed and sealed before siding and trim are installed, which prevents moisture problems and air leaks. • Some insulation measures can be inspected before they are sealed up behind walls or ceilings. • Almost all efficiency measures require some kind of final inspection. For example, infrared thermometers can show voids in blown insulation, and fiberglass batts can be visually inspected to ensure there are no air gaps and the batts are not compressed. HVAC measures require special attention. Nearly half of all HVAC systems are not installed correctly, which often causes uneven temperature distribution throughout the home, along with higher energy bills. ENERGYSTAR® has a special program to ensure quality HVAC installation. Forced air systems typically have poorly balanced supply and return air delivery that can often be improved. Air flow can be measured at each register, and a duct blaster test can identify and quantify duct leakage. When you review the work, it may be helpful to take photos or to bring in an energy auditor. Be sure to have these inspections outlined in the contract and discussed beforehand so the contractor is comfortable.
It will be tempting to add “just one more thing” along the way, and the contractor may agree a change is simple and possible within the timeframes. Contractors and customers often miscommunicate about change orders and end up disagreeing about a additional costs when the project is completed. Before you make any changes, be sure to get a written cost quote. If it’s significant, you can then weigh the cost against the benefit of the change. It’s a good idea to maintain good records as the project progresses. These records could be helpful for building inspectors or to qualify for rebates or tax credits. When the renovation is complete, it may be tempting to sign the check, shake hands and breathe a sigh of relief that it’s all over. Depending on the size and complexity of the project, it may be worth the extra step of having a final audit by a licensed energy auditor. My neighbors were saved from a home renovation disaster when an energy audit discovered the energy efficiency contractor had failed to produce the promised efficiencies. The contractor had to perform thousands of dollars’ worth of improvements to fulfill the contract before my neighbors made the final payment. Once you confirm that the work is 100 percent complete, you can write a check for the final payment, then sit back and enjoy your revitalized, more energy-efficient home! This column was co-written by Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen of Collaborative Efficiency. For more information on managing a home renovation contractor, please visit: www.collaborativeefficiency. com/energytips. HVAC technicians or energy auditors can use diagnostic equipment to measure air leakage and air flow.
Patrick Keegan writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives. Write to email@example.com for more information.
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| Outdoors |
PHOTOS COURTESY OF ALABAMA DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION AND NATURAL RESOURCES
Bears on the move
As bear and human populations increase, so do contacts
s weather improves, more Alabamians venture outdoors to enjoy hiking, picnicking, turkey hunting, fishing and other activities, but they are not alone! Another very large, toothy Alabama resident could watch their every move. “Historically, black bears lived throughout the entire state,” says Thomas Harms, the top large carnivore biologist for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “The population in Alabama is expanding.” Harms estimates that 400 or so black bears live in the state. Probably about 300 bears live in Baldwin, Mobile, Washington and Monroe counties. Another 50 to 100 live in the Little River Canyon area of northeastern Alabama. Others may wander through just about any county at times. John N. Felsher lives in Semmes, Ala. Contact him through Facebook.
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Most Alabama male bears weigh about 300 to 350 pounds and females about 100 pounds less. Compare that to grizzlies, which could exceed 1,500 pounds and stand more than nine feet tall. While not as big as their giant cousins, black bears still pose a serious danger to anyone who crosses their paths. Incredibly powerful predators with big claws and teeth, black bears can kill people and cause extensive property damage if they wish. Fortunately, attacks rarely happen. Actually quite shy, the official Alabama state mammal characteristically tries to avoid people. A bear could live near a residential area and no one will see it. “The last thing a bear wants to see is a human,” Harms says. “We haven’t had any bear attacks in Alabama in modern times. Like most animals, bears have a natural fear of people. It’s surprising how well such a large animal can remain hidden. People can go in the woods every day and not see a bear, but the bear probably sees the per-
son every time. They know when a person is in the woods and they want to get away as quickly as they can.” Some hikers carry whistles or horns with them to frighten off any bears they might see. Others carry pepper spray as a last resort. Anyone who does spot a bear in the forests should just leave it alone and go somewhere else. “A bear is not out to eat a human,” Harms says. “If you stumble upon a bear in the woods, let it know you are there so it can get away. Give the bear space. Back away from it. Don’t turn and run away from it because that could trigger a predatory instinct in the bear.” However, as the bear and human populations continue to grow, the two species might bump into each other more frequently, particularly in places like Mobile County with large human and bear populations. Most bear-human encounters typically involve food. An omnivore, a bear will eat practically anything. www.alabamaliving.coop
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Don’t give bears any reason to come around a house. Never intentionally feed a bear or put out food to attract one. In bear country, put refuse in bear-proof trashcans. At night, bring in pets and pet food. Never leave any food or food residue where a bear can find it. A bear could smell an old sandwich wrapper and tear anything apart looking for food. “Bears can be dangerous, but they don’t have to be,” Harms says. “If bears begin to associate humans with food, that causes problems. Some people put out corn feeders, whether to hunt deer or just draw animals to the property. Bears find that corn. Bears are also looking for fruit or mast-producing trees.” Young male bears probably cause the most problems. When young bears reach a certain age, their mother pushes them away as she prepares to breed again. On their own for the first time, these strong youngsters wander long distances looking for food, a mate and territory to call home, one not already occupied by larger bears. “Young male bears start moving about in May,” Harms says. “They are young and dumb. Up until that time, momma has been telling them what to do. They don’t show any fear of humans and sometimes walk through the middle of big towns. That’s when we get a lot of calls about people seeing bears.” When a female black bear reaches about two years old, she starts to breed. In Alabama, bears normally breed in July or August. About every two to three years, a female will deliver one to four cubs in January or February. She will likely live about 10 to 20 years and might produce 10 to 15 offspring in her lifetime. In the spring, hikers, hunters or other outdoor enthusiasts might spot a mother with one or more cubs or possibly just a cub by itself. Never attempt to catch or approach a bear cub. Cubs may look like cute and cuddly fuzzballs, but they are not pets and probably not alone or lost. Momma is likely not far away. Get away from the cub and stay out of that area. If you see a bear in Alabama, please report it to the ALDCNR at game.dcnr. alabama.gov/BlackBear or call the nearest ALDCNR office. For more information, call Harms in Spanish Fort at 251-626-5153. Wildlife researchers weigh a black bear they captured in Washington County and check its health before releasing it. About 400 to 500 black bears live in Alabama, mostly in the southwestern and northeastern parts of the state. PHOTO BY KARIN HARMS
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Tables indicate peak fish and game feeding and migration times. Major periods can bracket the peak by an hour before and an hour after. Minor peaks, half-hour before and after. Adjusted for daylight savings time. Minor
APR. 15 -16 12:16 17 12:46 18 01:31 19 02:16 20 03:01 21 04:31 22 10:01 23 08:31 24 09:16 25 09:46 26 04:01 27 04:31 28 05:01 29 -30 12:01
05:31 06:01 06:16 06:46 07:16 07:46 08:16 01:16 02:31 03:01 03:46 10:31 11:01 11:31 05:16 05:46
06:31 07:16 08:01 09:01 10:01 11:46 --12:46 02:16 03:31 04:31 11:01 11:31 06:46 07:16
12:01 12:31 01:01 01:46 02:31 03:31 04:46 06:16 07:46 08:46 09:46 10:31 05:16 06:01 12:01 12:31
06:52 07:07 07:37 07:52 08:07 01:22 02:22 03:07 03:22 03:52 10:52 11:22 11:52 05:37 06:07 06:37 07:07 07:37 08:22 09:22 01:22 02:22 03:07 10:22 10:52 11:22 04:52 05:22 05:52 06:07 06:37
08:52 09:37 10:37 11:52 ---12:52 02:52 04:07 05:07 11:22 12:07 07:22 08:07 09:07 09:52 11:07 12:07 --01:37 03:22 04:22 10:37 11:22 06:52 07:37 08:07 08:52 09:37
01:52 02:22 02:52 03:37 04:22 05:22 06:37 07:52 08:52 09:52 10:37 05:52 06:37 12:22 01:07 01:37 02:22 03:22 04:22 05:22 06:37 07:52 09:07 09:52 05:22 06:07 12:07 12:37 01:07 01:37 02:07
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
01:22 01:52 02:22 03:07 03:52 08:07 -09:52 10:07 10:22 04:22 04:37 05:07 -12:52 01:22 02:07 03:07 04:07 05:37 11:07 08:52 09:37 03:37 04:07 04:37 ---01:07 01:37
PM Minor Major
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| Alabama Recipes | It’s Alive!
Thanks to its short list of fairly accessible ingredients, bread, in its many forms, is the world’s most-eaten food. Most leavened bread gets its rise from yeast, and the way this little organism works is pretty interesting. Yeast is alive, and each individual yeast cell must eat to continue living. Yeasts’ favorite food is sugar, and when they’re added to bread dough, the yeasts feast on the sugars, breaking them down and emitting carbon dioxide and alcohol. As a gas, the carbon dioxide forms bubbles, which grow and expand, “plumping up” the dough. This process intensiﬁes in the heat of the oven, as does the evaporation of the alcohol.
Garlic Rosemary Bread recipe on page 46.
44 APRIL 2018
A warm-from-the-oven slice of freshly baked homemade bread is worth its weight in gold and deﬁnitely worth the effort required to make and bake it.
read has long been associated with money. The person bringing home the majority of a family or household’s income is the breadwinner. We often say someone doing well financially is “raking in the dough.” The link has its origins in the important role bread has played in the welfare of cultures around the world since man first started farming. As one of the oldest “prepared foods,” daily bread was essential for life, and thus, it attained high value. In places like ancient Egypt and middle-ages France, bread was used as credit and currency. Today, most of us no longer live by bread alone, and as some of us try to watch our waistlines, bread — with its high calorie and carb count — has been given a lesser place of prominence in many modern diets. But this just puts it on a pedestal again, giving it a new kind of value as something some deem a splurge or a luxury. Our access to all kinds of bread makes it even more special. We can easily get our hands on bread types from all over the globe: flat but pillowy Indian naan; a skinny, crusty French baguette; or a round of chewy Italian ciabatta. If you prefer to go all-American, you’ve still got lots of options: a soft loaf of tangy sourdough, a slice studded with raisins and swirled with cinnamon, a beer-boosted bread or just a plain piece of basic white. And if you want to stay true to our region, cornbread is certainly the South’s favorite bread. Or is it the biscuit? (It’s definitely risen beyond the realm of bread but is still bread nonetheless.) That’s a debate with no wrong answer. Wherever your bread cravings take your taste buds, set aside some time to try out a few of this month’s reader submitted recipes. BY JENNIFER KORNEGAY | FOOD/PHOTOGRAPHY BY BROOKE ECHOLS
APRIL 2018 45
Garlic Rosemary Bread 2 cups lukewarm water (105 degrees Fahrenheit) 1 package active dry yeast (21/4 teaspoons) 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt 41/3 cups all-purpose flour, divided 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves 2 garlic cloves, minced 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided Sea salt In a large mixing bowl, combine water and yeast. Add 1 cup of flour and salt; stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Stir in rosemary leaves and minced garlic. Add remaining flour, one cup at a time, stirring until thoroughly combined. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot to rise for 1 hour. Add one tablespoon of olive oil in an 8 or 10-inch cast iron skillet; using a napkin or your fingers, coat bottom and sides of skillet with the olive oil. Flour your hands; remove plastic wrap and using your hands, transfer dough to prepared skillet and shape into a disk. Cover with a kitchen towel and let stand for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle remaining olive oil over the top and sprinkle with sea salt. Score the top of the loaf with some shallow knife cuts. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until top is nicely browned. Remove from oven and turn the bread out onto a wire cooling rack. Leave to cool for a few minutes and serve. (If you do not have an iron skillet, you can use a stoneware baking dish). NOTE: Remove bread from pan as soon as it comes out of the oven because bread left in the pan will become moist and soggy. Mary Rich North Alabama EC
Mayonnaise Biscuits 1 cup self-rising flour 3 tablespoons mayonnaise 2/3 cup milk Combine all ingredients and spoon into greased muffin tins. Bake at 425 degrees until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Yield: 6 biscuits. Easily doubled or tripled for more biscuits. Sherry Phillips Central Alabama EC 46 APRIL 2018
No Corn Jalapeno "Cornbread" 1 cup almond flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1 egg, beaten 1/2-3/4 cup milk 1/2 cup pickled (not hot) jalapenos dried on a paper towel 3/4 cup grated cheddar or Fontina cheese 1 tablespoon cooking oil Place an 8-inch cast iron skillet into the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a bowl. Add in egg and milk; mix lightly until smooth and fluid. (Add more milk if necessary so that batter is loose enough to spread evenly into bottom of skillet). Remove hot skillet from the oven and add 1 tablespoon oil. Spread oil over bottom. Place back in oven and heat for 5 minutes. Remove skillet again and pour in half the batter. Spread into a layer over the bottom. Place the dry jalapenos over the batter and then add the cheese over the top. Pour the rest of the batter over the jalapenos and cheese. Spread with spoon to cover evenly. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until top is golden. Serves 2 to 4. Delicious, Paleo and gluten free. Gay Cotton Baldwin EMC
Spoon Bread Muffins (Rolls) 1 egg, beaten 1½ sticks margarine, melted ¼ cup sugar 4 cups self-rising flour 1 package yeast 2 cups warm water Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in flour, beaten egg, sugar and melted margarine. Stir until mixed well. Can use immediately or will keep well in a covered bowl that is refrigerated for one week. To bake: spoon mix into greased muffin tins and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown. LaCretia Bevel North Alabama EC
Easy Popovers 1 1/4 cups milk 11/4 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 3 large eggs Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 6-cup popover pan. Pour milk into mixing bowl, add flour and salt and use a hand mixer to blend well, making sure not to over-mix the batter. Add eggs one at a time, beating each until completely blended. Pour batter evenly into popover cups, filling will be about 3/4 full. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and continue baking 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately. Shari Lowery Pioneer EC
Easy Beer Bread 3 1 1 1/4 1 4 1/4
cups all-purpose flour tablespoon baking powder teaspoon salt cup honey bottle of beer tablespoons butter cup optional ingredients: shredded cheese, olives, jalapenos and 1 teaspoon (or more if you like) Italian seasoning blend
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x5x3-inch bread loaf pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt until combined. Slowly pour the beer and honey into the flour mixture, add optional ingredients if you desire and stir until combined. Pour half of the melted butter into the bottom of the loaf pan and spread it around evenly. Then add the batter to the pan in an even layer and brush the rest of the butter around evenly on top of the batter. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the top of the bread is golden brown and a toothpick or knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Shari Lowery Pioneer EC
Coming up in May... Junior Cooks! www.alabamaliving.coop
Cook of the Month:
Robin O'Sullivan, Wiregrass EC Robin O’Sullivan loves fresh, local strawberries, and when they’re in season each spring, she’s always looking for ways to incorporate them into her cooking. She’d made chocolate-banana bread for years, and then one day, decided to branch out and try chocolate-strawberry bread instead. “It was really just an experiment,” she said. “I love the flavor combo of chocolate and strawberry, so I figured it would work.” It did. It’s become a regular in her baking rotation, and while it is technically bread, she admits it’s flirting with being a dessert. “It’s sweet and a bit rich, but like a banana bread, you can still eat it for breakfast,” she said.
Chocolate-Strawberry Bread 1 pound whole strawberries 2 cups sugar 11/4 cups vegetable oil 4 eggs 3 cups all-purpose flour 3 teaspoons cinnamon 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottoms of two 9x5-inch or 8x4-inch loaf pans. Lightly flour. Slightly mash strawberries; set aside. In a large bowl, mix sugar and oil. Stir in eggs until well blended. Stir in strawberries until well mixed. Stir in remaining ingredients, except chocolate chips, just until moistened. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into pans. Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire rack. Cool completely before slicing.
the best of
Traci McKelvy, Joe Wheeler EMC customer service director, left, presents March's prize pack to 15-year-old Carissa Pittman of Hartselle.
more than 250 delicious recipes, from appetizers to soups to breakfast, desserts and more!
Mail order form and payment to: Best of Alabama Living Cookbook P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124-4014 Name: Address:
This month's prize pack winner is Jamie Petterson of Tallapoosa River EC!
Send us your recipes for a chance to win!
Online: alabamaliving.coop Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Mail: Recipes, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124
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June: Heirloom Recipes | April 8 July: Frozen Treats | May 8 August: Corn | June 8 Cook of the Month winners will receive $50, and may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year. One gift basket winner will be drawn monthly at random and each name will be entered only once. Items in basket may vary each month. To be eligible, submissions must include a name, phone number, mailing address and co-op name. Alabama Living reserves the right to reprint recipes in our other publications.
Editor’s Note: Alabama Living’s recipes are submitted by our readers. They are not kitchen-tested by a professional cook or registered dietician. If you have special dietary needs, please check with your doctor or nutritionist before preparing any recipe. Alabama Living
APRIL 2018 47
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ContactDixieShehaneat334-735-9191|www.brundidgealabama.com 50 APRIL 2018
Starting early Worlds of Work educates students on careers and safety
have available to them. What we are trying to do is just let them see what we do and also educate them on the dangers of power lines.”
The Southeast Alabama Worlds of Work Career Expo began with humble ambitions three years ago by a few business and industry leaders hoping to energize the Southeast Alabama economy. That expo has grown into an event that welcomes thousands of eighth-grade students from Alabama, Georgia and Florida. As they gather at the National Peanut Festival grounds, students are introduced to high-demand and high-paying jobs in the area. Students get a firsthand look at 10 worlds of work, including agriculture, automotive technology, aviation, construction, health care, manufacturing, public service and military, transportation, utilities and media. South Alabama Electric Cooperative has participated in the career expo each year to give students a glimpse into what it’s like to work as a lineman.
SAEC brought a safety demonstration trailer, which includes poles and power lines, to show students how a lineman’s job is done, as well as the potential dangers of the job. Students, wearing gloves and hard hats, even opened and closed switches. “What we are trying to do is make this interactive so that they can see what we have to do,” says SAEC Systems Engineer Mike Chirico. “We also let them put on the real gloves because it gives them a taste of what the linemen go through every day.” Chris Sanders has worked at SAEC for 33 years. He started at an entry-level position and worked his way to being a construction foreman. He loves his job, and he says it’s important for students to understand the careers open to them. “A teacher was asking us questions to try and get the kids interested,” he says. “A lot of them don’t know the opportunities they
Teaching students about the possible careers as a lineman is important, but teaching them about safety is also a top priority for SAEC. “I want to make sure these kids understand what they need to do and what can happen if they have a car wreck and a pole falls on their car,” Chirico says. “We actually are going to go to every school in our service territory and make sure they know the dangers.” Sanders says it’s surprising how many students and adults don’t know the dangers associated with downed power lines. “We try to ask them a lot of questions, and we tell them that if you see anything that looks like a wire on the ground to not touch it,” Sanders says. “It can happen during a storm, or it could happen on a beautiful day. Also, some wires may look dead just lying on the ground, but they aren’t. These are all things that students need to know, and this is a great way for us to be able to educate them.” l
At the Southeast Worlds of Work Career Expo, SAEC lineman Jonathan Isaac gave students a firsthand look at how he performs his job as a lineman.
MARCH APRIL 2017 2018 43 51
| Our Sources Say |
The solar revolution
work in the electric utility industry and am drawn to issues associated with the industry. Recently, a number of cities and states have declared a goal of a 100% renewable electric supply. Most often, the cornerstone of the renewable movement is solar energy. Some people have declared we are in a solar revolution. I view the goals of total renewable cities and states as impossible without great advancements in energy production and storage. I wrote about “Renewable Lies” last September. This month I visit solar power more closely. The price of solar panels has declined exponentially and the cost of solar power has also declined. Solar technology works in producing electricity at least when the sun is shining. Solar advocates point out that enough solar energy hits the earth in a single day to power the planet for a full year. Solar generation can be installed by individuals and scaled up by utilities. Solar power is the hottest, coolest thing in electricity. However, a recently released book by Varun Sivaram, Taming the Sun: Innovations to Harness Solar Energy and Power the Planet, lays out the case that solar power will need much more policy support and innovation to reach the heights predicted. Dr. Sivaram holds a Ph.D. in physics, and is a solar expert and energy advisor. He favors alternative energy sources and supports solar power, but finds the limitations of solar power must be recognized to truly break through. I haven’t ready his book yet, but I have read three reviews and Dr. Sivaram’s synopsis. First, silicon technologies dominate the solar generation market today. However, Dr. Sivaram believes silicon technologies have plateaued. Manufacturing techniques are still improving but are leveling off. Solar panel manufacturers spend only 1% of revenue in research and development, a level well below the average for a major, evolving industry. That will have to increase if more efficient solar technologies in organic and quantum dot panels are developed. Second, Dr. Sivaram states that solar development has leveled at a range of 5% to 10% of total electric usage in Greece, Germany, Italy and Spain, four of the countries with leading solar deployment. He believes additional development in those countries will
require additional breakthrough in solar technologies. The leveling of solar deployment will reduce the demand for solar panels and reduce manufacturing efficiency. Third, Germany and California have experienced operational problems in integrating solar power into the grid, which needs reliable generation sources. He finds intermittent solar power creates additional operational expenses for the grid, even as the cost of solar power falls. Solar-induced grid costs will inhibit additional solar development. Fourth, Dr. Sivaram notes that lithium-ion batteries are not well-suited for days or weeks of electric storage. Additional development in battery storage is necessary for efficient electric storage required for wide-scale solar generation deployment. Fifth, Dr. Sivaram notes, in addition to additional expenses for the electric grid, deployment of localized solar power shifts costs among retail customers. Utilities can’t effectively collect the fixed costs required to maintain reliable generation resources to backup solar generation; collection of those fixed costs are shifted to non-solar customers. The shifting of costs among customers will result in disruption of efficient operation of the electric grid, which is necessary to support the intermittent nature of solar power. Dr. Sivaram’s conclusion is that marginal improvements in silicon panel technology alone will not be enough to drive a solar revolution. He calls for systemic innovation, including restructuring the entire energy infrastructure, economic markets and energy policies to allow for high penetration of solar generation. He believes that a series of integrated energy breakthroughs are required to move closer to a solar energy future. He believes additional government investment in energy research and additional subsidies for solar generation will be necessary to drive additional solar innovation. I assume that means Dr. Sivaram believes the 30% federal tax credit for solar generation is not enough. Taxpayers apparently need to kick in even more to chase the promise of a successful solar revolution. I am in agreement with at least one renewable power advocate that we aren’t close yet. I hope you have a good month.
Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative
52 APRIL 2018
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| Hardy Jackson's Alabama |
The discovery of the Orline St. John illiam Harris was deadheading when he saw the hog chains. That was what he told me back in 1991 when I interviewed him in his store at ‘Possum Bend, west of Camden and not far from the Alabama River. “Deadheads” were sunken logs that had lain long in the water and had taken on the tea-color that was highly prized by furniture makers. “Hog chains” were the rods used to stabilize steamboats that once plied the waters. Moving closer, Harris could see the outline of the hull. It was 1954. Harris was a riverman. All his life he had heard stories of steamboat wrecks. Now he had found one. Getting some friends to help him, they began free diving and soon their efforts brought results. Out of the mud and silt came twisted metal, nails, buttons, bits of copper and scraps of leather and cloth. Then one of them recovered a piece of broken dinnerware, with something written on it. As they washed away the muck, the bright blue words came clear: “Orline St. John Tim Meaher.” The names recalled one of the era’s great steamboat captains, Tim Meaher, and one of the era’s great tragedies. In March of 1850, the steamboat Orline St. John caught fire and burned. Nearly 40 passengers and crew perished, including all the women and children on board. With the wreck identified, Harris wanted to know more. So he began digging into old courthouse records and there he found mention of a strongbox and its treasure. The news could not be
Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Professor Emeritus at Jacksonville State University and a regular contributor to Alabama Living. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
54 APRIL 2018
contained and soon the local press reported that “Wilcox Gold Hunters” were at work on the river. Fearing for the future of their find, Harris and his friends obtained salvage Then rights. they brought in a “centrifugal pump” to blow away the silt. Up came an impressive array of artifacts – dishes, razors, knives, forks, needles, thimbles, buttons, shoes, blots of cloth, barrels, kegs, and thousands of nails. Once they found a box intact. On its way to the surface it broke apart and what they thought were coins spilled out – but they were only brass-collar buttons. Also brought up were items that personalized the tragedy: “a miniature locket” with a “blue and pink enameled design” that was likely worn by one of the women, and a “dainty baby dress” that had survived the fire and almost a century under water, but fell to pieces when it dried. They did not find any gold. There were lumps of coins which have been melted together by the intense heat, but there was no treasure. Harris took what he found home and displayed it at his store. Meanwhile, in 1969, the U.S. Corps of Engineers built a dam at Miller’s Ferry, about 20 miles below the wreck. Soon the Orline St. John was under 40 feet of water. But river rumors die hard and even today it is told around of how after the lake was full, divers went down, found the gold – bars about the size of “cakes of Octagon Soap” according to one report -- and spirited it away. Maybe they did. Or maybe there was never any treasure. Or maybe it is still there. William Harris died in 2008 at the age of 98. Illustration by Dennis Auth