May 2023 Sand Mountain

Page 1

Montgomery Youth Tour


Mark Malone


Diane B. Hale

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

POSTMASTER send forms 3579 to:

Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, Alabama 36124-4014.


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Montgomery, Alabama 36117-6031


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Youth Tour returns

Four local students toured Montgomery in March for the first time since 2020.

Business leader

The co-op world is blessed to have the expertise of Helena Duncan, both as a board member at Dixie EC and as head of the state’s most powerful business organization.


Healthy substitutes

Recipes can be tweaked in the smallest of ways to make them more healthy for us. Our food pages have some delicious recipes and tips!


26 YY VOL. 76 NO. 5 MAY 2023 DEPARTMENTS 11 Spotlight 29 Around Alabama 34 Cook of the Month 38 Outdoors 39 Fish & Game Forecast 46 Hardy Jackson’s Alabama ONLINE: 38 MAY 2023 3 WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! ONLINE: EMAIL: MAIL: Al abama Living 340 Technacenter Drive Montgomery, AL 36117 FISHING FOR PERCH Yellow perch, a fish that’s not native to Alabama, can provide exciting sport on light tackle and exceptional table fare with light flaky flesh.
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Yates, Fallon Starkey, Caleb Mitchell and Kaden Sharp enjoy touring Montgomery during the 2023 Youth Tour.

Celebrating 83 Years

Board of Trustees

David Henderson

Larry Godwin

Randy L. Bailey

Luke Freeman

Roland Hendon

Raymond C. Long

Danny Lacey

Brad Gilbert

Terry Smith

402 Main Street West P.O. Box 277

Rainsville, AL 35986

(256) 638-4957 fax

In case of power outages, you may call us 24 hours a day:



Bryant-Higdon-Flat RockHenagar-Ider-Pisgah


Fort Payne


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Section-Langston-Marshall Co.


The most important day of the year for Sand Mountain Electric Cooperative is the annual meeting of the members. Last month, SMEC members gathered to elect trustees, discuss cooperative business and visit a little. Registered members received a $25 bill credit and were eligible to win several cash prizes. Best of all, our cooperative is healthier because of the participation of so many interested members. Thanks to you, our members, the 2023 SMEC annual meeting was a big success!

SMEC is governed by the board of trustees elected by our members at the annual meetings. Business and governance decisions are made by our board with only one thing in mind – what is best for the cooperative and its members. Unsurprisingly, the SMEC board of trustees has made sound business decisions through the years and our cooperative is strong and stable as a result.

to sustain the superior reliability, service and low cost that our members expect.

The employees of SMEC are ranked in the top 15% in efficiency nationally and statewide as measured by the number of workers per consumer/member served. It is a pleasure to work with these hardworking professionals. If you have the opportunity, thank an SMEC employee for their dedication to the ideals of the electric cooperative system.

The board of trustees and management of SMEC is dedicated to robust democratic governance, strong financial health, excellent member service and reliable, lowcost electric power. We look forward to working with you, our members, in pursuit of these goals. Have a safe and healthy month of May!

Decisions to invest adequately in the electric system, substations, engineering, computers, software, right-of-way maintenance and employees have paid off. SMEC reliability is better than the national, state and TVA averages with electric power available over 99.97% of the time. SMEC residential billing rates are lower than the national and state averages for rural electric cooperatives. Financially, the cooperative is strong and in position

4 MAY 2023
| Sand Mountain Electric | Alabama Living MAY 2023 5


Montgomery Youth Tour is a three-day, two-night tour of our capital city. Local students have the opportunity to see state government in action, learn about Alabama history and meet many new friends along the way.

This year’s top four winners of the Montgomery Youth Tour (MYT) are Caleb Mitchell & Kaden Sharp from Fyffe High School, Fallon Starkey from Pisgah High School and Caroline Yates from Cornerstone Christian Academy. Recently they joined more than 150 other students and chaperones from across Alabama as part of the MYT delegation.

Two of these four students will win a spot on the Washington Youth Tour that takes place in June.

l-r: Caleb Mitchell, Kaden Sharp, Caroline Yates & Fallon Starkey outside the State House in Montgomery last March. l-r: Caroline, Caleb, Kaden & Fallon just before entering the gallery to watch our House of Representatives in session. l-r: Caleb, Kaden, Fallon & Caroline outside the First White House of the Confederacy.
6 MAY 2023

During the tour, the four students were able to visit the State Capitol, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church and the Alabama State House where they met Speaker of the House Nathaniel Ledbetter.

| Sand Mountain Electric |
Alabama Living MAY 2023 7


May is National Electrical Safety Month! Take this quiz to test your safety skills. Check your answers in the key below.


May is National Electrical Safety Month! Take this quiz to test your safety skills. Check your answers in the key below.

1. It’s safe to plug in several devices to one electrical outlet as long as you use a power strip.

A. True B. False

1. It’s safe to plug in several devices to one electrical outlet as long as you use a power strip.

A. True B. False

2. Smoke alarms should be tested .

A. Every month B. Every other month C. Every six months

2. Smoke alarms should be tested .

3. Extension cords are safe to use year-round if the cord is not frayed or damaged.

A. Every month B. Every other month C. Every six months

3. Extension cords are safe to use year-round if the cord is not frayed or damaged.

A. True B. False

A. True B. False

4. When unplugging a device from an electrical outlet, always hold the while unplugging.

A. Cord B. Plug C. Device

4. When unplugging a device from an electrical outlet, always hold the while unplugging.

A. Cord B. Plug C. Device

5. It’s never safe to play near power lines, but it’s OK to play near pad-mounted transformers (those big green boxes you see in neighborhoods).

A. True B. False

5. It’s never safe to play near power lines, but it’s OK to play near pad-mounted transformers (those big green boxes you see in neighborhoods).

A. True B. False

6. Where is the most dangerous place to use electricity?

A. Near other electrical equipment B. Outdoors C. Near water

6. Where is the most dangerous place to use electricity?

A. Near other electrical equipment B. Outdoors C. Near water

Answer Key: 1. B 2. A 3. B 4. B 5. B 6. C
8 MAY 2023

My kid’s stuffed animals

Logan, Ella and Ava have more stuffed animals than we can find a place for. SUBMITTED by Lauren Ballard, Auburn.

Lachlan and Lincoln are enjoying their new Squishmallows birthday presents. SUBMITTED by Holly Saint, Section.

When his dad was serving in the U.S. Navy, our son, Kenneth (2) was given a stuffed Navy goat he called his “goot.” SUBMITTED by Dees Veca, Gulf Shores.

My daughter Karli Rose’s first stuffed animal from her grandmother on her birthday, December 14, 2015. SUBMITTED by Kendra Williams, Brundidge.

I made these Paddington bears for my children in 1973 with velvet scraps and herculite (canvas) for their raincoats. SUBMITTED by Mary Crawford, Dutton.

theme: “Beach

My mother’s teddy bear from Christmas 1954 has been through four generations of kids. SUBMITTED by Robert Reed, Brewton.

| Deadline: May 31

My grandson, Knox Perry, posing with his stuffed snake collection. SUBMITTED by Gena Luther, Grant.

Alabama Living MAY 2023 9
| Alabama Snapshots | Online: | Mail: Attn: Snapshots, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124
RULES: Photos submitted for publication may also be published on our website at and on our Facebook and Instagram pages. Alabama Living is
responsible for lost or damaged photos. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope to have photos returned.

The Year of Alabama Birding has begun!

Tourists have long flocked to Alabama to glimpse some of the more than 430 species of birds that can be spotted in the state. Now, the Alabama Tourism Department is enhancing this experience by launching the Year of Alabama Birding to increase awareness of this popular pastime.

There are a multitude of initiatives and promotions planned for the year, according to a story in the Alabama News Center, including:

• An eight-page section in the 2023 Alabama Vacation Guide featuring the top birding trails and events in Alabama.

• Visitors will hear birdsongs at each of the eight Alabama Welcome Centers across the state.

• A “find your flock” quiz will appear on Tourism’s website.

• Tourism is working with Alabama Audubon member Chris Oberholster to explore creating a festival event around the Coastal Bird Banding Initiative.

• Well-known artist Daniel Cosgrove has been commissioned to create a poster featuring the state bird, the Alabama yellowhammer.

But Tourism Director Lee Sentell says this is more than a 2023 project, saying that they will launch components of it during the next two years, and that its impact will carry on beyond that.

Whereville, AL

Find the hidden dingbat!

Apparently lots of magnifying glasses were put to good use last month as readers pored over the pages of Alabama Living in search of everyone’s favorite Uncle Sam. He was standing on the windowsill in the photo of Café Acadiana on Page 26. We heard from several readers who got help from family members in their search, including Wanda Mock of Vinemont, a member of Cullman EC, who writes that her “show off” husband Danny found it. “I enjoy looking even if Danny finds it,” she says. Wiregrass EC member Cheryl Steele of Ashford told us she’s just started looking for the monthly dingbat in the last six months and now has her grandchildren, Hayden, 5, and Kaylee, 11, looking along with her. This time, they beat her to it: “The minute the book came in the mail, they started looking and called me with the answer,” she says. “Thank you for having this challenge for the old and young.” Ada Mae Graham of Spruce Pine, a member of Franklin EC, and her granddaughter Peyton, age 6, looked “high and low over and over again, even using the magnifying glass until we found it. We didn’t give up. Uncle Sam [is] in the window with that money in his hand. We were so happy!”

We hope Uncle Sam had some money to return to you this tax season. Congratulations to Chesteen McWhorter of Crane Hill, a member of Cullman Electric Co-op, who wins a gift card from Alabama One Credit Union as the randomly drawn winner for April. This month, we’re hiding a red poppy, in honor of National Poppy Day May 26, the Friday before Memorial Day, when Americans are asked to wear a red poppy, a nationally recognized symbol of sacrifice to honor those who have served and died for our country. Good luck!

Sponsored by

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 with your name, address and the name of your rural electric cooperative, if applicable. The winner and answer will be announced in the June issue.

Submit by email:, or by mail: Whereville, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124.

Contribute a photo you took for an upcoming issue! Send a photo of an interesting or unusual landmark in Alabama, which must be accessible to the public. A reader whose photo is chosen will also win $25.

April’s answer: The Vine Hill Presbyterian Church, located in the Jones community in west Autauga County (almost on the Dallas County line), was built in 1887 and has a large cemetery. It has been dormant since 1990, but recently has had many renovations to the interior. The Old Autauga Historical Society has taken a lead role in helping to restore this structure and others in the county. (Photo by Jim Plott) The randomly drawn correct guess winner is Minnie Grover of Central Alabama EC. Spotlight | May
The Northern Flicker, also known as the Yellowhammer, is a member of the woodpecker family and is the Alabama state bird. PHOTO COURTESY OF ALABAMA TOURISM DEPARTMENT

Electric cooperatives present top awards

The Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives, which publishes Alabama Living, presented several awards at its 76th Annual Meeting in April. Clockwise, from top left, Terry Mitchell, CPA, a longtime friend of Alabama’s cooperatives, receives the Eminent Service Award from AREA President and CEO Karl Rayborn; Sand Mountain EC General Manager Mark Malone, second from left, and Rayborn, right, congratulate SMEC linemen Landon Green, Randy Moody, and Ricky Hill, recipients of the AREA Chairman’s Award, for performing life-saving CPR on their fellow lineman, Mason Myers, center, in sub-zero temperatures during restoration work in December 2022; Rayborn presents the Jack Jenkins Cooperative Employee Citizenship Award

Take us along!

to Southern Pine EC employees Ricky Quates and Greg Dawkins, who organized a charity softball tournament to raise money for the Fallen Linemen Organization to honor the memory of one of their own, lineman Chad Morris; incoming AREA Chairman Vince Johnson of Southern Pine EC presents the chairman’s gavel to outgoing Chairman Tommie Werneth of Baldwin EMC; longtime Baldwin EMC attorney Dan Blackburn receives the Ted Jackson Pathfinder Award for his 34 years of service to the cooperative; and Mike Simpson, who served Sand Mountain EC for 35 years, 27 as general manager, is given the Bill Nichols Award for Rural Electrification for going beyond the normal call of duty to further the principles and progress of rural electrification.

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


Barb and Joe Nenninger of Gulf Shores took Alabama Living to Girdwood, Alaska, and the top of the Alyeska Resort tram.  They are members of Baldwin EMC.

Alabama Living MAY 2023 11 May | Spotlight
Chimney Rock Park in North Carolina was the destination of Suzette Fussell of Foley, a member of Baldwin EMC. Terri Saint of Russellville, member of Franklin EC, was far from home when she and her magazine traveled to the Galapagos Islands. This photo was at the welcome point entrance at Santa Cruz. Covington EC member Jane Harper of Opp took her magazine all the way to Aberdeen, Scotland, where she was photographed in the friendly town of Keith. PHOTOS BY MARK STEPHENSON AND LENORE VICKREY

Don’t want to set up camp? Go glamping!

The word “glamping” was entered into the Oxford English Dictionary in 2016, although living in a furnished tent goes back centuries. The modern version of a “glamp” –or “glamorous camp” – consists of a fully equipped tent on a platform, allowing guests to be one with nature without the work of setting up a traditional tent campsite.

There are dozens of glamping sites across Alabama, each with different amenities. Where will your glamping experience take you?

The Cynefin at Folklore Forest

The Cynefin at Folklore Forest is located on Lookout Mountain in a pristine area next to rushing waters in northeast Alabama.

“Cynefin is a Welsh term meaning ‘place where one’s soul finds peace,’” says co-owner Kelly Daspit. “I felt this the first time we stepped foot on this land, listened to the river rippling over the rocks, and breathed in that mountain air.”

The tent is a 13-foot canvas bell tent on an elevated platform. Inside is a queen-size bed with a memory foam mattress, a wood-burning camp stove, a propane heater, and all the supplies a guest might need, including a pop-up tent, folding cot, and cooking supplies.

The tent is entirely off the grid. There’s no electricity, running water, cell service or Wi-Fi.

Kelly and her husband, Tommy, began offering glamping options recently. “There wasn’t a lot of competition for a glamping-type setup, and it’s something we enjoy doing ourselves,” she says. “So, we decided to give it a try.”

The property offers fishing and kayaking, with about 270 feet of Little River frontage access.

When renting the bell tent, specific instructions about included provisions and what guests should bring are provided.

“The thing we hear the most from guests is that if you love tent camping, but don’t want to go through the trouble of having to

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load all the supplies and gear into the car, setting it all up, and then packing it back up, then our place is perfect,” says Kelly. “All they have to do is show up with their food, and they’re good to go!”

The Destination Glamping Resort

For a top-of-the-line glamping experience, check out The Destination near Lake Martin, less than an hour from Montgomery.

Skip and Rhonda Courtney began their journey to Alabama from Nashville, where they owned short-term rentals. When it became more like “Nash-Vegas” they sold their business and started looking for land with a water feature.

“We fell in love with this property,” says Skip. “We purchased 104 acres and began making improvements like roads, power, and septic.

“We wanted creative, unique lodging,” he says of his nationally recognized property. “We built two, one-bedroom tent units and

two, two-bedroom tent units.

“They are built on decks with outdoor living space, overlooking Sandy Creek and spaced at least 80 yards apart. The one-bedroom units are 370 square feet. The two-bedroom units are 650 square feet,” Skip says.

Each features beautiful flooring, granite countertops, and tile bathrooms.

“We’re on Sandy Creek, which empties into Lake Martin,” he explains. “Guests can hike, canoe, kayak, fish, or just relax.”

Sandy Creek Lodge, on the glamping property, serves as a common area for meetings, events, and Sunday brunches with a beautiful view of the creek from the upper deck. Private dining experiences can be reserved for resort guests in the downstairs wine cellar. They plan to eventually have cooking classes, Skip says.

“Our goal is to provide an environment and activities that allow guests to explore and grow their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health,” he says. “And I think we accomplish it.”

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The glamps at Graham Farm and Nature Center are fully furnished and decorated. PHOTO COURTESY NORTH ALABAMA EC


“We found some of the most beautiful lands in Alabama and simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make our dreams of an art-inspired campground, gathering place, retreat location, you name it, come to life,” says Dana Gale, one of a small group of partners that owns Bohamia.

Located in Talladega County just east of Birmingham, Bohamia started over a year ago, and the property already has six glamping tents.

The glamping units are A-frame structures with metal roofs, canvas interiors, and decks with private wooded views, Dana says. “Each glamping site is furnished with a queen-sized bed, linens, bedside tables and an overhead light, electrical outlets, air conditioning and heat, a rug and lamp, deck chairs, and a solo stove.”

A local artist has decorated each of the glamping sites on the back exterior panel.

“We wanted to create a more boutique style campground that

exceeds most outdoor enthusiasts’ expectations. We have big plans for Bohamia in the coming months and years,” she says.

Also on site is a state-of-the-art modern bathhouse within just a few minutes’ walk from all the glamping sites. “We offer private showers and toilets with floor-to-ceiling doors, sinks, a dishwashing station, and a water bottle filler,” she says.

There are bonfires on weekend evenings (weather permitting), and the partners arrange occasional fly fishing lessons and guided nature hikes with local biologists. One weekend is devoted to herping – searching for reptiles and amphibians in their natural habitats.

There are also primitive campsites, including a fire ring with a grill grate for cooking and a picnic table.

“We have several marked hiking trails – one leading to a stunning creek and waterfall, a stocked pond for fishing, and access to both Talladega Creek and Talladega Lake. We are also close to ‘blue hole,’ a popular swimming area in the chilly waters of

The 13-foot canvas bell tent at The Cynefin at Folklore Forest features a queen-size bed with memory foam mattress, a woodburning camp stove and cooking supplies. PHOTOS BY DAVID HAYNES Bohamia’s glamping units are furnished A-frame structures. A modern bathhouse is just a short walk from each unit. The view looking out of one of the glamps at Bohamia, which feature decks overlooking private wooded views.
14 MAY 2023

Dry Creek. The hiking possibilities are endless. Our property spans 268 acres and is adjacent to the Talladega National Forest on three sides.

“Guests only need their food, a cooler, and cooking utensils,” she says. “Our camp store offers ice, firewood, snacks, drinks, and several often-forgotten items like large beach towels, blankets, coffee mugs, travel mugs, and more.”

ACES-Graham Farm and Nature Center

This unique property near the Paint Rock Valley of Jackson County offers glamping and traditional camping but also serves as an educational outreach location for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

GFNC offers a variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking, kayaking, canoeing, birding and fishing, as well unique programs, including animal science, water education, agricultural production and wildlife management. The center also hosts companies and organizations who want to hold a retreat or team-building opportunity.

For the glamps, the large canvas bell tents are heated and cooled and have beds with real mattresses and linens. They’re fully decorated inside and include lamps, string lights and an assortment of board games.

For more information, call Donna Sands at 256-453-0716.

State Parks get into glamping

Glamping experiences are coming to six of the Alabama State Parks. The first, at Wind Creek State Park on Lake Martin near Alexander City, was set to open April 21 as of press time. Other parks that will soon add glamping sites are Chewacla by midMay, Lake Guntersville by Memorial Day, and Cheaha, DeSoto and Monte Sano this summer, according to a news release from the State Parks.

The State Parks has partnered with Timberline Glamping to manage and operate the new sites. The company also offers glamping at multiple sites in Georgia and Florida.

To make glamping reservations at Wind Creek, visit And for the sites that are coming soon, visit

Want to glamp?

You may want to consider glamping if you love the great outdoors but would rather someone else takes care of your woodsy accommodations. The key to this wilderness fun is to know your budget, do a little investigating, and enjoy!

The Cynefin at Folklore Forest: $98 a night.

Located near the tiny mountain town of Mentone, there are miles of hiking trails nearby, and it is minutes from DeSoto State Park. Or you can spend the day shopping in Mentone and eating at one of the local restaurants.

For more information, email

The Destination Glamping Resort: $250 and $450 a night. The two smaller tents feature one bedroom, one bath, and a living room with complete plumbing, heat and air, a fridge, and a microwave. Outside is a propane grill and a 7-foot by 7-foot hot tub. Maximum occupancy for each tent is four guests. ($250 a night, two-night minimum).

The two larger tents have two bedrooms, one bath, and a living room with the same features as the one-bedroom tents. One of the tents is ADA-compliant. Maximum occupancy for each tent is six guests. ($450 a night, two-night minimum).

In addition to Lake Martin, nearby sites include Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail, Horseshoe Bend National Military Park, and Martin Dam Tours.

For more information, check the website at or call (615) 477-9813.

Bohamia: $99 a night

There’s plenty to do nearby, including Bryant Vineyard, Coosa River for kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and the Richard Petty Driving Experience. Nearby attractions include Talladega SuperSpeedway and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. In addition to Talladega National Forest, Cheaha State Park and DeSoto Caverns are also very close to Bohamia. For more information, check the website at or call 205-678-1283.

This 650-square-foot glamp, called the Music Loft, has more than 1,300 square feet of decking, with a covered and uncovered outdoor living space. PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE DESTINATION GLAMPING RESORT
16 MAY 2023
One of the comfy bedrooms at the Destination’s Clearwater glamp, with lovely views from the deck.

Electric bikes ‘open up possibilities’

In Austin, Texas, we pedaled a bicycle through downtown neighborhoods while listening to a songwriter-turned-tour guide spin behind-the-music-scene tales, and during a quick stop on the state’s Gulf Coast, we rented bikes to explore the island city of Galveston on our own.

These were our first experiences with electric bicycles, and my husband went along with my plans reluctantly. He wanted the outings to be exercise and didn’t like the idea of the bike doing all the work. When we discovered that each rider chooses their level of pedal assist—including none at all—it turned into a win-win. He got the workout he wanted, especially when we navigated the sandy beaches in Galveston, and I was able to see more of both cities by engaging the bike’s electric motor when I needed a boost. After these excursions, I better understood why e-bikes have been the fastest growing segment in a hot U.S. cycling market as far back as 2018.

Zipp E-bikes owner Seth Leo, who fitted us with the bikes in Galveston and took us through an introduction to riding an electric concept, said we weren’t the first to think using a motorized bicycle was “cheating.” He advised my husband to turn off the assistance completely and pedal with the e-bike’s nearly 20 extra pounds to increase his workout.

Besides the fact that the bikes are fun, those who rent or buy from his shop typically choose an e-bike so they can go faster and farther or reduce their environmental impact by riding a bicycle rather than driving a vehicle.

“E-bikes open up possibilities,” he said. “Now you can pedal up that super steep hill you couldn’t pedal up before. We also see people who have physical limitations due to injury or age who thought they’d never be able to ride a bicycle again get on an e-bike and get back to being able to do something they love.”

If you’re thinking of renting an e-bike on your next vacation or renting one closer to home to test the concept before buying one, here’s what to expect before you take your first ride:

e-bike basics: Electric bicycles don’t look much different than traditional bikes at quick glance, but look closer to see a small electric motor, battery and control panel on the frame. They can be as much as 20 pounds heavier than regular bicycles, though weights are continuing to drop as the market matures (along with entry-level prices, which still hover at $1,000 and up).

Power plants, batteries, riding ranges and features vary among the brands and models, but the industry has developed three standard classes of e-bikes: Class 1 has a motor that you can

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Alabama Living MAY 2023 19

set to gently assist you as you pedal and it maxes out at 20 miles per hour (this is the most common e-bike available for rent or bike-sharing); Class 2 also reaches 20 mph but has a throttle-powered mode that does not require pedaling; Class 3 bikes are pedal-assist only but they can reach 28 mph.

Consider your skill level: Be honest about your ability and the type of riding you’re planning (road or trail, hills or flat ground, short or long commutes); outfitters will use that information to determine which size and style of e-bike to recommend. For example, I found a step-thru design with no top tube was easier for me to balance the heavier-than-normal bike when I stopped. Rides should start with an introduction to the equipment, a proper fitting and a short practice ride in a controlled space; if your outfitter doesn’t offer this ask for it.

Find out where you can ride safely and legally: You should follow the same bicycling safety precautions as with a traditional bicycle (see the accompanying article on safety). Be considerate while riding on trails with others; riding by at 20 mph can startle a pedestrian. You’ll need to spend time researching where you’re allowed to ride an e-bike. If you’re renting, check to see if the outfitter has restrictions (for example, whether you can take the bike into sand) and ask about areas such as parks that don’t allow motorized bicycles. Regulations are different in every state and can be specific to a city or land manager. Resources, such as People For Bikes’ Ride Spot app and local bike shops, include information on where to ride but it’s best to check specifically with any park you plan to ride.

Keep in mind that the regulations are changing regularly as more e-bikes enter the market. The National Park Service announced in late 2020 that superintendents throughout the system can allow Class 1 e-bikes on roads and trails where traditional bicycles are also allowed, however NPS also states that superintendents retain the right to limit e-bike use for safety reasons.

MeLinda Schnyder is a freelance journalist based in Wichita, Kansas. She grew up in Columbia, Missouri, where her first grown-up bike was a used yellow Schwinn 10-speed that would now be considered vintage and cool.

Follow the rules of the road

The League of American Bicyclists’ five Rules of the Road prepare you for safe and fun bicycling no matter where you’re riding.

Follow the law: You have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers. Obey traffic signals and stop signs. Ride with traffic; use the rightmost lane headed in the direction you are going.

Be predictable: Make your intentions clear to everyone on the road. Ride in a straight line and don’t swerve between parked cars. Signal turns, and check behind you well before turning or changing lanes.

Be conspicuous: Ride where people can see you and wear bright clothing. Use a front white light, red rear light and reflectors when visibility is poor. Make eye contact with others and don’t ride on sidewalks.

Think ahead: Anticipate what drivers, pedestrians and other people on bikes will do next. Watch for turning vehicles and ride outside the door zone of parked cars. Look out for debris, potholes and other road hazards. Cross railroad tracks at right angles.

Ride ready: Check that your tires are sufficiently inflated, brakes are working, chain runs smoothly and quick release levers are closed. Carry tools and supplies that are appropriate for your ride. Wear a helmet.

Source: The League of American Bicyclists

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Alabama Living MAY 2023 21

Fairhope eatery is fine dining –without the big check

Bo Hamilton, owner of Ox Kitchen in Fairhope, points to the people of the quaint city by the bay when he names what he loves most about running the casual eatery he opened in 2017. “Fairhope is full of a bunch of really good, friendly people, and doing what I do, I get to interact with them every day,” he says.

His devotion to his new hometown is obvious when he talks about it, so his restaurant’s name makes for a fun story. “The Ox is for Oxford, Mississippi,” he says, “because that’s where my wife and I had planned to open our own place.” Those plans obviously changed, and the roots of the original idea run deep, back to when Hamilton was a student at Auburn University.

He spent a few of his summers during college in Wyoming and started cooking at restaurants there. “It was my first time ever being in a kitchen, and I really enjoyed it, so when I came back to Auburn, I got a job cooking at a restaurant,” he says. He and the chef of that eatery became friends and opened up a restaurant

of their own. It did well for several years and gave Hamilton a chance to hone his culinary skills further. When the prop-

erty’s owner put it up for sale, he and his chef partner decided to close, and Hamilton moved back to Birmingham where he worked construction.

During that time, he got married to a gal from Oxford, and the couple moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where he continued in construction before he realized how much he missed being in the restaurant world. He got back in the kitchen, working under a chef at the town’s famed ski resort.

Then, Hamilton and his wife began missing home. “We had always planned to come back South to start a family, so we did, and we decided to open a restaurant,” Hamilton says, “either in Oxford or Fairhope.” Initially, Oxford won out, hence the name of the restaurant. Yet when he and his wife realized that charming small town didn’t have as many outdoor recreation opportunities as Fairhope, they switched gears and headed down toward the coast. “But we liked the name, so we kept it,” Hamilton says.

Ox Kitchen began in a food hall and

| Worth the drive |
Ox Kitchen sits conveniently on one of the main drags in Fairhope. PHOTO BY JENNIFER KORNEGAY Ox Kitchen offers a selection of hearty salads. PHOTO BY ELIZABETH GELNEAU The smoked turkey sandwich on sourdough is piled high with goodness. PHOTO BY ELIZABETH GELNEAU
Alabama Living MAY 2023 23

quickly attracted loyal customers. The eatery’s popularity grew enough to justify the move to a larger, stand-alone location last year, proving that Fairhope residents don’t really care what the restaurant’s name is. They care about Hamilton’s food philosophy. “I did fine dining for a long time and got a little tired of that, but I still wanted to give people that quality yet in a more casual environment and at a lower price,” he says. “Ox Kitchen is good food in a relaxed, family friendly environment.”

Today, diners peruse the selection of burgers, tacos (like shrimp with chili-lime slaw), hefty sandwiches (the house-smoked turkey on sourdough with chipotle mayo is a hit), salads (a mix of quinoa, pickled radishes, pepitas, black beans, charred corn and avocado is filling and flavorful) and a tasty selection of starters (including roasted Brussels sprouts with a salty-citrus sauce for dipping and pecan smoked wings with Alabama white barbecue sauce). They order the item that speaks to their stomach before grabbing seats inside (with the giant ox painted on the wall watching) or at an umbrella-shaded picnic table out on the back patio. “The menu is mostly things I grew up eating and enjoying,” Hamilton says.

Simple but scrumptious

He makes some changes and additions, but most dishes, like the big, beefy burg-

ers, are always available. And all of Ox Kitchen’s food shares Hamilton’s commitment to keeping things simple but scrumptious, with a few special touches, like bringing in bread from iconic Gambino’s bakery in New Orleans for its po’ boys. Almost everything is made by the Ox Kitchen crew and prepared fresh to order.

think our diners appreciate that we use the best ingredients,” he says.

His personal favorites are Ox Kitchen’s creamy, flavorful hummus, served with grilled pita wedges and a zippy cucumber dill sauce, and the gyro, a fluffy pita rolled around blackened chicken or shrimp, feta, roasted red peppers and pickled onions. “I like anything with a Greek influence. I grew up in Birmingham where there is a lot of Greek-inspired foods thanks to a big community of restaurant owners with that heritage,” he says. Ox Kitchen diners often opt for the Ox Burger, a classic all-American cheeseburger with house-made pickles and Ox Gravy (a savory red wine and rosemary demi-glace) on a brioche bun. “It’s by far our best seller,” he says.

Ox Kitchen

365 Greeno Road South, Fairhope 251-725-9385

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Tuesday-Saturday Fairhope l

“It’s like fine dining but without the white tablecloth and the big check,” Hamilton says. “We don’t cut corners, yet we get food out quick. It’s fast, but by no means, fast food.” He notes that he’s considered knocking his prices down even more, but to do things right, he knows he can’t stray from the firm foundation he’s built his dishes on. “It’s a balance, but I

While Hamilton isn’t as hands-on in the kitchen as much as he once was, he’s relishing the rewards of being a restaurant owner. “I love food, but I really love running this place. I have a great team and great customers. I get to talk to them all day and provide them with something they want. That’s the best part.”

And he’s happy that he’s doing it where he is. “Fairhope is beautiful; it’s on the water and there are so many ways and activities to explore the outdoors here,” he says. “But it’s really about the people. They are what make this city so special.”

Ox Kitchen’s beefy burgers are among its best-sellers. PHOTO BY ELIZABETH GELNEAU The Protein Power Bowl is packed with chicken, quinoa, avocados and pepitas. PHOTO BY JENNIFER KORNEGAY Owner Bo Hamilton is often on site greeting guests. PHOTO BY ELIZABETH GELNEAU
Alabama Living MAY 2023 25

A co-op leader for business

Helena Duncan, a member of the Board of Directors at Dixie Electric Cooperative, assumed the leadership role at the state’s most influential business advocacy organization, the Business Council of Alabama, in December 2022. As its new president and CEO, she brings to the position 35 years of experience in the world of finance. She had previously been BCA’s senior vice president of operations and investor relations, and had served as regional president of Liberty Bank and Trust for five years prior. A finance graduate of Auburn University Montgomery, she built her career in the banking and mortgage world with positions at First Tuskegee Bank, American Legacy Mortgage and Colonial Bancgroup. She is active in Montgomery area community affairs, including the Committee of 100, the Board of Directors for the YMCA, Advisory Board for Synovus Bank and was former chairman of the board at Saint James School. She is passionate about ad vocating for Alabama business, as she related in a re cent Q&A with Alabama Living. – Lenore Vickrey

Tell us a little about your growing-up years and where you went to high school and college.

I am the youngest of 5 kids.  It was tough growing up behind such dy namic siblings.  Our parents put a lot of importance on education.  Their expectations were high but they were right there with us every step of the way.  I graduated from Opelika High School. I attended both Auburn Uni versity and Auburn-Montgomery where I obtained my degree in Finance.

How did you decide to go into the finan cial sector for your career?

The financial sector chose me, I like to say.  I start ed working as a teller while I was in college.  That allowed me to have my nights and weekends free.  I realized then that I liked banking and that I was actually good at it.  It was early enough in my education that I was able to de clare finance as my major and continued on that path.

How has your experience in banking and the financial world helped you in your new role at BCA?

For one, serving others and trying to do the best thing possible to help advance others.  Also, in banking, I often got to hear and witness the challenges businesses faced doing business in Alabama.  Then I couldn’t do much about it outside of being a listening ear.  Now, I’m in position to help facilitate change to make Alabama a great place to do business.  Working in finance allows me to understand both sides of the issues.

How does your role as a trustee of Dixie Electric Cooperative help you in making decisions for the larger business community? Conversely, how does your business background help u in your role as a Dixie EC trustee?

Dixie is so fortunate the have the leadership team that we have.  Being involved with this board really allows me an up close and personal view of the impact that legislation has on business decisions within rganization.  It allows me to see what’s working well and what’s not.

My background in business and finance helps me to be more of a part he solution.  We have a very smart and engaged board, all with their own set of talents to offer.  Together, we make quite the team.

I hear you love to brag on your family, so tell us about them!   Well, Clarence and I are extremely proud of our sons, CJ and Collin.  uated at Vanderbilt University and is now in government affairs in Nashville, Tennessee.  Collin just recently graduated from Mississippi ate with a degree in kinesiology.

How do you like to relax after work?

I haven’t figured that out yet!  Most days close with dinner with my husband, recapping the day.  After 32 years of rriage, I really can’t think of a better way to do

26 MAY 2023 | Alabama People | Helena Duncan

Social Security honors our military heroes

On Memorial Day, our nation honors military service members who have given their lives for our country. Families, friends and communities pause to remember the many great sacrifices of our military and ensure their legacy lives on in the freedoms we all enjoy. We recognize these heroes who, in President Lincoln’s words, “gave the last full measure of devotion.”

The benefits we provide can help the families of deceased military service members. For example, surviving spouses and their dependent children may be eligible for Social Security survivors benefits. You can learn more about those benefits at survivors

We also offer support to our wounded warriors. Social Security benefits protect veterans when an injury prevents them from returning to active duty or performing other work. Wounded military service members can receive expedited processing of

their Social Security disability claims. Are you a veteran with a 100% Permanent & Total compensation rating from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs? We will expedite your disability claim. Both the Department of Veteran Affairs and the Social Security Administration have disability programs. You may qualify for disability benefits under one program but not the other, or you may qualify for both. Depending on your situation, some of your family members, including your dependent children or spouse, may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits.

Want more information? Visit for answers to commonly asked questions or to find information about the application process.

Thinking about retirement? Military service members can receive Social Security benefits in addition to their military retirement benefits. For details, visit our webpage, You Can Get Both Military Retirement and Social Security Benefits, at planners/retire/veterans.html

Please share this information with the military families in your community. To the veterans who bravely served and died for our country, and to the military service members who serve today, we honor and thank you.

May crossword

1 Alabama State Park that could be just the place for a camping trip for mom and the family, 2 words

2 Pink flower for mom on Mother’s Day

3 Asked to come to a party, say

4 Breakfast meat for an Alabama Mother’s day

5 Suffix used in many job types

28 MAY 2023 SOCIAL SECURITY Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at
Answers on Page 29
Across 1 Family outdoor meal 4 Paprika or cayenne pepper 7 Alabama neighbor, abbr. 8 Toward the source of the Tallapoosa, for example 10 Prefix meaning “extremely” 12 Allow 13 Alabama town famous for its peach-shaped water tower 15 Third in line in the family 16 Chip sauce
7 Praise 20 Taxi 21 Brown at the beach 23 Orange ____: ideal city for a getaway for mom on Mother’s Day 26 Alabama city that boasts Spa Belle La Vie: a great gift for mom 29 Old vinyl record 31 Duck whose feathers are used in pillows 33 Taking mom to this Alabama city’s Museum of Art could be a great gift for her 34 Alabama city not far from Mobile where Mayfest is celebrated with a beautiful baby contest, a pooch parade and children’s rides and games Down
from Australia 14 Demonstrate 18 Musical scale note 19 Atlanta-based channel, abbr. 22 Jewel for a Mother’s day pendant, perhaps 24 Valuable possession 25 Does and bucks 26 Male turkey 27 Large sandwich 28 Aspiration 30 owned 32 A can __ person
6 Noted time period in the history books 9 Mother’s Day present with great cooking ideas, 2 words
Young jumper

Around Alabama



McCalla 50th annual Southern Appalachian Dulcimer Festival, Tannehill State Park. Music at the gazebo from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Friday, featuring dulcimer groups from across the Southeast. Potluck supper Friday night at the Event Center. On Saturday, dulcimer classes and music at the gazebo and open stage for dulcimers from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Kiwanis Pavilion. Old-time gospel, hymns, bluegrass and other music. No fee except for park entrance fee. and click on “50th annual SADA Festival.”

6 Pell City May Memories Golf Cart Tours through the historic residential district. Point of departure is First Baptist Church parking lot at 10 a.m. See the Pell City Historical Society’s Facebook page for details.

6-13 Montgomery the Botanical Gardens at Oak Park, 1010 Forest Ave. Celebrate National Public Gardens Week with self-guided tours of the gardens from 8 a.m. to dusk. Also planned are a birding class and walk at 10 a.m. May 6; plein air paint out at 9 a.m. May 9; and a nature photography class at 10 a.m. May 13.

8 Valley 47th annual hike/bike/run, 7 a.m. EDT. A day of events including a 1- or 5-mile hike, a children’s bike ride, a trike and stroller walk, a 10mile bike ride and a one-mile, 4K or 5k run. Can do more than one event. Participants in the events pay a small registration fee. Prizes and t-shirts to participants. Food and children’s activities available. Event begins at the school, 6345 Fairfax Bypass. Email

12 Troy Thunder on the Three Notch, Pioneer Museum of Alabama. Enjoy two days of living history as skilled artisans and craftsmen in period clothing demonstrate folk arts and crafts including blacksmithing, rope making,

spinning, weaving, and more. Event features a re-enactment of the last two battles of the Creek War of 1836 which took place at Hobdy’s Bridge on the Pea River in Pike County during February and March of 1837. Battles will occur each day at 2 p.m. Admission required. 334-566-3597.


Frisco City annual Mother’s Day plant sale, Jones Park, 4326 Bowden St. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday. All proceeds benefit Revive Frisco City, a community group. More than 2,000 plants will be for sale. 251-714-0513.

13 Pisgah first Mountain Laurel Arts Festival, Pisgah Civitan Park, CR-374. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Enjoy the majestic Pisgah Gorge by walking the mountain trails, seeing magnificent waterfalls and learning about the history, lore and native plants of the area. Artists and craftsmen will have works for purchase, plus live music, car show from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and food. Free admission, $5 parking. Email


Arley 50th annual Arley Day Festival, Car Show and Parade. Free, familyfriendly event offers arts and crafts vendors, children’s games, water slides, horseback rides, food vendors, musical entertainment and more. Parade begins at 8 a.m. and proceeds down Highway 41, ending at Hamner Park, site of the car show. Pickleball demonstration at 10 a.m. Pancake breakfast at the Arley Fire Station.

Dothan Touch a Truck and Car Show, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Landmark Park. Kids of all ages will have a chance to see 50 trucks and other equipment and learn about safety. Car show will be a cruise-in, not a juried show, beginning at 9 a.m.; $10 to enter each car. Refreshments will be available. $8 adults, $6 kids and free for children 2 and under and park members.



Scottsboro 22nd annual Catfish Festival, Jackson County Park. Car, truck and motorcycle registration opens at 8 a.m.; arts and crafts and jewelry vendors, free kids’ area, inflatables and train rides, food vendors and entertainment by the Bowmans. or call 256-609-1409.



Millbrook Hydrangea Fest, Alabama Wildlife Federation’s Pavilion on Lanark Road. Buy and see these beautiful plants, many of which will be in bloom, growing in the landscape. Maria Pacheco, grounds specialist, will present a program on growing hydrangeas at 9:30 a.m., followed by a walking tour of the property’s heirloom garden. Admission $5. Proceeds from plant sales will benefit Lanark’s gardens. calendar


Greensboro bicentennial tour. The town of Greensboro is hosting a tour of more than 20 historic sites, including museums, homes and churches, to celebrate its bicentennial. Ten private homes and five other historic places of interest are on the self-guided tour. Saturday’s tour is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday’s tour is from 1 to 5 p.m. Tickets available on Eventbrite (search Greensboro, AL) or on the day of the tours at Magnolia Grove, 1002 Hobson St. 10

Decatur Readers and Writers Jubilee. Event includes an author meet and greet and panels and workshops for readers and writers. Featured speaker is USA Today bestselling author and NAACP Image nominee Beverly Jenkins. myDPL.or/jubilee


Marion 29th annual Marion Rodeo, Perry County Cattlemen’s Ralph Eagle Memorial Arena. Co-sanctioned by the Professional Cowboys Association and the International Professional Rodeo Association and produced by the 3R Rodeo Company of Jemison, with announcer Jerry Byrd and two-time IFR barrel man Rob Gann. Gates open at 6 p.m.; mutton bustin’ at 6:30 p.m.; little wranglers at 7:15 p.m.; and the rodeo begins at 7:30 p.m. 334-410-0748.

Answers to puzzle on Page 28

Alabama Living MAY 2023 29
To place an event, e-mail or visit 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. Like Alabama Living on facebook Follow Alabama Living on Twitter @Alabama_Living
Hydrangeas will be in full bloom at Hydrangea Fest in Millbrook next month.

A look at holistic veterinary medicine

In the early 2000s when I started my practice, there were only three or four veterinarians in all of Seattle who were offering anything other than standard pharmaceutical medications. Now, there are over 10 clinics that offer some form of alternative therapies in Seattle and probably numerous other vets who offer acupuncture, etc.

In our state, I know of at least five clinics that offer holistic services. A lot more clients are asking for it. But what is it?

The terminology is confusing and has been so for decades. The history of the words (w)hole and health goes back centuries. In its purest form, it can mean that we are looking at the whole animal!

Let’s look at a few examples. A dog has dry, flaky, or moist, “yeasty” skin. There are shampoos for these conditions! It would be easy to just prescribe a shampoo. But what if we ask the question, what imbalance in the body is making the skin unhealthy? Instead of relying on shampoos, what if we try to work from inside to support the skin so that it can restore itself to its full glory?

A holistic vet doesn’t need to refrain from using pharmaceuticals or need to reach out for herbs, but they do look at all aspects of the disease. In fact, that’s just plain good medicine! In real life, however, the general perception is that a holistic vet rejects the “dangerous” pharmaceuticals and only uses herbs, homeopathy, acupuncture, chiropractic, etc. In many cases, that is not true.

Just like any other profession, holistic vets come in all flavors. Most holistic vets practice some sort of “integrative medicine” where they use herbs and natural products along with pharmaceuticals. On the other end of the spectrum, there are vets who think that all pharmaceuticals are bad and the origin of all illnesses are vaccines!

When I was in Seattle, a client came in with a small dog with cancer. He was being seen by a vet who practiced homeopathy exclusively. This dog was not on any pain medication as the vet feared that pain meds could be disturbing for the body. There are acupuncture vets who think they can cure cancer. Maybe they can, but it seems unlikely.

As you are choosing your holistic vet, choose someone who is comfortable with all modalities and uses every tool in the toolbox for the best outcome with least side effects.

Here is a brief summary of the modalities holistic vets usually use:

Acupuncture: Inserting needles at specific points of the body. Acupuncture started in ancient China and has been enjoying a resurgence all over the world in the last 3-4 decades. The most common practice is using dry needles (it implies just the needles). However, many vets use Vitamin B12 injections at the acupuncture points, and this is called aqua-puncture. When these needles are connected to a micro electric pulse-generator, it is called electro-acupuncture.

Chiropractic: Even though it is a relatively new technique, the practice of bone settings is not new. Many humans (including myself) have found relief with chiropractic medicine.

Herbs: There are two broad divisions here: Western herbs and Chinese herbs. I guess the essential oils can also be included in herbal medicine. There are a lot of multi-level marketing products for essential oils, but I prefer to buy them on open markets. Mountain Rose herb is my go-to source.

Homeopathy: This modality, also known as homeopathic medicine, was pioneered by Dr. Samuel Hanneman from Germany, and is a little trickier to explain. According to information from the National Institutes of Health, it’s based on the theories that “like cures like,” or the notion that a disease can be cured by a substance that produces similar symptoms in healthy people; and the “law of minimum dose,” the notion that the lower the dose of medication, the greater its effectiveness. Research on its effectiveness is mixed.

All modalities should be used with caution and that includes herbs! If a little bit of turmeric is good, a lot is not necessarily better!

I function within these parameters:

• Whatever modality I choose, it cannot cause harm, including delaying proven successful treatments;

• With sincere honesty and personal clarity I have to believe that it has worked well for me in the past;

• It should not cost an arm and a leg;

• Any treatment we choose should start showing some improvement within three visits. If not, find a new approach!

One last word: just because something says it is “natural” does not mean it is safe. A holistic vet told me a very long time ago that snake bites and arsenic are natural too, but we don’t reach out for them! In the end, there is no substitution for discriminative knowledge.

Goutam Mukherjee, DVM, MS, Ph.D. (Dr. G) has been a veterinarian for more than 30 years. He owns High Falls Holistic Veterinary Care near Geraldine, Alabama. To suggest topics for future discussions, email him at

Hands-on event instills life lessons in personal finance

Alabama ONE’s Mad City Money combines financial literacy, learning, and a little bit of chaos for the AREA Montgomery Youth Tour

Alabama ONE co-hosted an event for the 145 high school juniors participating in this year’s Montgomery Youth Tour. The event for the students, who represented electrical co-ops from across the state, was staffed by ten Alabama ONE employees and the almost 40 tour chaperones.

Mad City Money is an immersive and interactive budgeting simulation for high school students. During the two and a halfhour event, students are given a glimpse of adulthood as they acquire a career, children, and debt! In a swirl of activity, stu-

dents move from station to station, learning about costs, evaluating their options, and trying to balance all their goals as well as what they want. They are challenged to purchase a house, clothes, transportation, home goods, and much more. Some of those stations include a mall for “wants,” a pushy salesperson, a realtor, other merchants, a credit union and the “Fickle Finger of Fate,” who gives them unexpected windfalls or expenses. The whole event, at times, looks more like an energetic life-size game of Monopoly than a learning activity.

More than just a fun experience, the simulation is designed to help students receive a greater understanding of the challenges adulthood brings, even if it is just for a couple of hours!

Jacquie Johnson, senior director of community affairs and team development at Alabama ONE, says, “It is our desire that by the end of this event, students will walk away with a little more life experience. Par-

“My students absolutely LOVED this activity. In fact, most of them said it was their favorite part of Youth Tour! I thoroughly enjoyed my ‘job’ selling houses, too! Thank you and your team for such an amazing experience.” – CHRISTI SCRUGGS, communications director, Pioneer Electric Cooperative

ticipants realize, ‘Oh, I guess I can’t have a big house and a new truck on my salary and still pay for day care and groceries.’ They learn by seeing for themselves what works and what doesn’t.”

During the simulation, participants will learn the consequences of their decisions and share their thoughts and actions with their peers.

Through the Alabama ONE Aspire Foundation, Alabama ONE hosts Mad City Money events for schools across the state. To learn more or to support these statewide initiatives, visit the Foundation’s website, 

Alabama Living MAY 2023 31

Unearthing the earthworm’s story

As we toil away in the garden, it’s always a thrill to turn up a few wriggling earthworms. They are, after all, signs that we have helpers in our gardening efforts and we’re doing something right with our soils. So, let’s dig a little deeper into the earthworm’s story.

Earthworms — in partnership with bacteria, fungi and microorganisms — provide vital services to the soil ecosystem by helping decompose plant and animal materials turning them into nutrient-rich, moisture-retaining organic matter. As they tunnel and eat their way through the soil, earthworms also help improve soil quality and texture, which can enhance the availability of water, air and nutrients to plant roots and help reduce issues such as soil compaction and erosion and surface water runoff.

That’s a pretty remarkable list of services provided by these quiet little eyeless, earless, legless creatures that aren’t even OFNA (originally from North America). That’s right, as many of you probably already know, most earthworms found in our soils today were brought here, both accidentally and intentionally, in the 1600s by European settlers. These immigrant worms filled a gap left some 10,000 years earlier after Ice Age glacial activity wiped out the majority of our continent’s native earthworm populations.

In most cases, that’s been a good thing, says Katelyn Kesheimer, an entomologist with Auburn University’s College of Agriculture and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

“Earthworms really are great at maintaining soil health and they don’t harm or

feed on any of the other critters that we want,” she says.

There are some situations, however, when they can cause problems. One is on highly manicured turf (lawns and golf courses, for example) where earthworms may leave piles of worm castings — worm poop — at the soil surface. Another is in forest ecosystems, where researchers in some states have reported that earthworms are having negative impacts on forest health.

But here in Alabama, Kesheimer says, nonnative earthworms, like nonnative honey bees, are typically welcome immigrants. Not only do earthworms help our soils, their castings have become highly valued sources of slow-release, natural fertilizer.

“I’ve seen more and more growers, whether backyard or small farms, using worm castings as compost,” says Kesheimer, who, as the state’s Extension entomology specialist, works with everyone from homeowners and gardeners to commercial crop growers to answer their insect questions. “The castings are expensive, but the growers who use them swear by them to increase soil fertility.”

In fact, vermicomposting, which can be easily undertaken as a backyard project, allows for more rapid breakdown of kitchen food waste than traditional composting and has the added benefit of supplying fishing worms. (To learn more about it, search for vermicomposting on

Some other nonnative terrestrial worms, however, warrant concern, though at this point, not panic. One in particular is the hammerhead worm — like the shark, but with no teeth — which Kesheimer said has been here since at least the early 1900s but seems to have been rearing its head more frequently the past couple of years. It’s an entirely different animal (a flatworm rather than a segmented worm) than the

earthworm, but it’s often seen in the same environments as earthworms, such as in garden soils and pots. And while it poses no significant physical threat to humans or pets, it does exude a toxin in tiny amounts that may irritate our skin.

If you find a hammerhead worm, Kesheimer said, don’t chop it up and leave it in the soil; it will reproduce from those separate parts — an entomological horror movie come to life. Instead, use gloves or a plastic baggie to remove and dispose of it. It can also be killed by sprinkling it with small amounts of salt or vinegar.

As for earthworms, the best way to sustainably support their populations is to encourage existing populations, not introduce new ones into an ecosystem. Here are a few tips.

 Add organic material to garden soils.

 Leave organic mulch on soil surface.

 Keep soils moist.

 Till less and don’t till deeply.

 Do not use pesticides.

 Avoid introducing earthworms, including fishing worms, into sensitive areas, especially forests.


 Continue planting warm season flowers and vegetables.

 Start planting okra and southern peas.

 Keep an eye out for insect and disease problems.

 Move hardy houseplants outside for the summer.

 Keep newly planted shrubs and trees well-watered.

 Take advantage of the statewide Master Gardener Helpline (877-252-4769) for your gardening questions.

 Attend local garden tours and plant sales such as the annual Hydrangea Fest at Lanark Gardens in Millbrook on June 3 (

32 MAY 2023 | Gardens
Katie Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at
Alabama Living MAY 2023 33 Licensed and Insured New Right of Way clearing Reclaiming Existing Right of Way Forestry Mulching (334) 818-0595

Healthy substitutions for better eating

If you’re looking for some ways to substitute healthy alternatives for ingredients in your everyday eating, it’s easier than you think. Just a few simple adjustments can make a difference in the amount of fat and calories you consume, and the nutritional boost you can get in return. Brooke Burks, our partner at The Buttered Home, offers these handy tips:

• Substitute unsweetened low-fat Greek yogurt for mayo in sweet and savory dishes. You get protein and healthy fat!

• Cook with real butter. We need some fat in our diet for organ function. Butter is easy to use and of course, tasty!

• Use almond flour in place of regular white flour. This is considered a protein-packed swap with far fewer carbs and calories.

• Pay attention to what you are drinking. Most of us are drinking a lot of our calories every day, even with diet sodas. Sodium is also hidden in most drinks, which can lead to fluid retention.

• Spaghetti squash, zucchini slices and eggplant slices also can be swapped for pasta. Once you start, it will be hard to tell the difference.

• Unleash the power of cauliflower! You can mash it, rice it and with proper seasoning, you won’t miss those starchy alternatives.

• Eat fresh! Shop the outer aisles of the grocery store and look for ways to incorporate more vegetables in your diet. Adding spinach to shakes and smoothies goes undetected! Trust me!

• When you want something sweet, reach for a low-glycemic fruit like berries or even a dill pickle to curb that sweet craving. It works!

| Alabama Recipes |
Food styling and photos: Brooke Echols
34 MAY 2023

Cook of the Month:

Bobbie Canada, Tallapoosa River EC

Bobbie Canada loves a good, moist bran muffin, but finding one that’s not overly dry, especially when dining out or on a cruise ship which she and her husband enjoy, can be difficult. So, inspired by her daughter to seek out healthier dietary choices, she came up with her own recipe for “Best Raisin Bran Muffin Ever.” Instead of sugar, she uses molasses, and instead of an egg, she uses a flaxseed and water mixture: “You can actually taste the difference,” she says. For buttermilk, she did some research to see what would be a good substitute. Online searches showed using whole milk with lemon juice, “So I thought if it works with whole milk, it’s got to work with almond milk.” And it did. “I even use it in a recipe I have for pound cake and my husband likes it better,” says the retired elementary school art teacher. (Another hint: For the wheat bran cereal, she recommends the Publix brand bran flakes.) Making the substitutions might take longer in the planning and prep work, but she adds, “It’s worth it if you want a nice, moist, healthy muffin.” She usually makes two recipes and freezes one: “They freeze well and last a while.” —

Best Raisin Bran Muffin Ever (Plant-Based!)

Egg substitute:

1 tablespoon organic ground flax seed

3 tablespoons purified water

Measure 1 tablespoon ground flax seed into a glass cup. Add 3 tablespoons of purified water. Whip and set aside to allow “egg” to congeal.

Buttermilk substitute:

1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Measure 1 tablespoon of fresh squeezed lemon into a glass measuring cup. Fill with unsweetened almond milk to measure to 1 cup. Set aside and allow milk to curdle.


11/2 cups wheat bran cereal

1 cup buttermilk substitute, plant-based recipe above

1/3 cup organic grape-seed oil, or other light oil

1 egg substitute, plant-based recipe above

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 teaspoon organic vanilla extract

1 cup organic white whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon bak ing soda

1 teaspoon bak ing powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup organic raisins

¼ cup organic ground flax seed

Purified water

Muffin pan liners or bak ing spray

More upcoming themes and deadlines:

October: Pumpkin | July 7

November: Slow Cooker | August 4

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USPS mail: Attn: Recipes, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

Cook of the Month wins $50! Recipes can be developed by you or family members. You may even adapt a recipe from another source by changing as little as the amount of one ingredient. Chosen cooks may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year. 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.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Use muffin pan liners or spray muffin pan lightly with organic baking spray. Measure wheat bran cereal and place into a medium sized bowl. In a separate bowl, measure organic white whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, ground flax seed and salt. Stir with a wire whisk and set aside. Add the buttermilk mixture, which should be curdled by now, to the bowl with wheat bran and set aside to soften. Hand beat oil, flax seed egg mixture, molasses and vanilla into the buttermilk/wheat bran mixture. When blended, add the flour mixture. Stir until blended, then toss in raisins and stir again. Spoon into muffin cups and place into the oven for 30 minutes. Cool and enjoy.

Alabama Living MAY 2023 35
Coming up next... September theme: International Dishes Deadline to enter: June 2

Over the last couple of years, I have spent a lot of time trying to find a healthier alternative to some of my favorite things. Cooking is a great experiment and this challenge has been the most fun! When thinking about some pretty decadent dishes, I thought a lot about substitutions for the components that add carbs and fat to most recipes. This Banana Pudding uses a plant-based sugar substitute, low-fat options, and nuts in the place of cookies. But you get texture and all of the flavor you expect. Making dishes like these in individual portion sizes also is a great way to lighten things up! For more healthy substitution recipes and as well as great traditional ones, head over to

Lemon Garlic Butter Salmon with Zucchini Noodles

1 salmon fillet, cut in 3 or 4 chunks

4 zucchini, spiralized

3 tablespoons butter, divided

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup fresh chopped parsley, divided

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon hot sauce of your choice (recommended: Texas Pete)

Fresh chopped scallion, garnish

Season salmon fillets on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat butter in a large cast iron skillet. Add the pieces of salmon to the skillet, skin side first, and cook for 2-4 minutes on each side, depending on thickness. For best results, use a fish turner to flip salmon. Remove from the skillet and set aside. In the same skillet, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add lemon juice, hot sauce, minced garlic, half the parsley and red pepper flakes (optional). Add the zucchini noodles and cook for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring regularly to coat in the butter sauce, until zucchini noodles are done but still crisp and juices have reduced a bit, drain out water. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and garnish with more parsley. Push zucchini noodles on the side and add salmon fillets back to the pan. Reheat for a couple of minutes. Serve immediately garnished with chopped scallion and a lemon slice on the side.

Mini Skinny Banana Pudding

¼ cup almonds, chopped

2 tablespoons cornstarch

¼ teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons sugar substitute

1 egg yolk , lightly beaten

1 cup low-fat milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 sliced bananas

Preheat oven to 350. Roast chopped almonds in a baking dish for 10-12 minutes. Cool.

In a saucepan, combine salt, sugar substitute and cornstarch. Mix well.

Add in egg yolk. Set heat to medium and slowly add milk. Stir well to combine. Continue to stir until it reaches a custard or pudding consistency. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Layer in single serving dishes with sliced bananas. Top with roasted almonds. Yield: four individual servings.

Dill Chicken Salad

1 pound of cooked, cooled and shredded chicken breasts

2 eggs, boiled and chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

2/3 cup non-fat, unsweetened Greek yogurt

¼ cup dill pickle relish

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

¼ cup chopped red onion

2 tablespoons prepared mustard

Prep ingredients. Shred cooled chicken with two forks or a hand mixer. Chop eggs. Combine both in a medium bowl. Add salt, pepper, mayo, yogurt and pickle relish. Mix well. Add garlic powder, paprika, red onion and mustard. Mix again. Chill and serve.

Making just a few changes in your recipes can make a big difference. Substituting unsweetened, low-fat Greek yogurt for full fat mayonnaise, and dill pickles for sweet, really makes a big impact on this beloved southern recipe.

The Buttered Home

36 MAY 2023
Brooke Burks Photo by The Buttered Home Brooke Burks

When most Alabama fishermen talk about “going perch jerking,” they usually mean they want to catch bluegills or some other member of the sunfish family. It could also mean loading a boat with “white perch,” another member of the sunfish family that most people call crappie. However, in parts of Alabama, a real member of the perch family could give a new meaning to the phrase.

Traditionally a northern species, yellow perch range across the Midwest to the Atlantic and into Canada. Along the East Coast, they exist as far south as South Carolina. This colorful elongated green and golden-hued fish tinged with orange and sporting vertical black bars also extends partly down the Mississippi River and along the Apalachicola River into Florida. People introduced them into countless other systems. Many anglers might not realize that this species also calls parts of Alabama home.

“Yellow perch are found all over Alabama, but they are not native to the state other than some potential populations in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta,” says Keith Henderson, a biologist for the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division in Montgomery. “It’s believed that most of the populations in the Tennessee, Chattahoochee and Tallapoosa rivers are all introduced.”

A yellow perch can grow up to 20 inches long and weigh more than four pounds, but most measure less than 12 inches and weigh a little more than a pound. The world record and the oldest freshwater record in North America weighed 4 pounds, 3 ounces, a New Jersey fish caught in May 1865.

“We have some yellow perch in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, but they are not abundant at all,” says Lee Grove Jr., a state fisheries biologist in Spanish Fort. “We see them in Bay Minette Creek and Cedar Creek, but they’re pretty small. Every couple of years, someone brings in a yellow perch or sends a picture to our office wondering what it is.”

As a northern species, yellow perch prefer cooler, clear flowing waters with good vegetation coverage. They can move into a niche that native fish like crappie might avoid. In larger reser-

voirs, yellow perch tend to stay in deeper water than bluegills and favor the tributary creeks.

“Yellow perch seem to thrive where our native sport fish are not doing as well,” Henderson says. “They’re not necessarily competing with our sport fish, but they are kind of replacing them in areas with little current and clear, cold water. I’ve caught some of my biggest perch by pulling threadfin shad or small gizzard shad under planer boards when fishing for striped bass.”

Most Alabama anglers probably catch yellow perch more by accident than design. Once anglers find a place where they can catch perch more consistently, they specifically target them. Where abundant, perch regularly gather in large schools.

Perch normally eat worms, minnows, crawfish, insects, shad and other natural baits. The small scrappers might also strike crappie jigs, curled-tailed grubs, spoons, smaller in-line spinnerbaits and even some largemouth bass lures like jerkbaits fished on light line with a slow retrieval.

For the best real perch-jerking in Alabama, visit the Tallapoosa River and associated waters like Yates Reservoir, Lake Martin and Thurlow Lake. The Tallapoosa system holds a sufficiently large and widespread population for people to intentionally fish for yellow perch.

In March 2015, Grove pulled the state record from Yates Reservoir. The fish weighed 2 pounds, 2 ounces. The waterbody impounds about 1,980 acres of the Tallapoosa River near Tallassee. People might also catch perch in the Tennessee or Chattahoochee River systems, but most catches there usually occur by people fishing for bass or crappie.

“I was just at the right place at the right time when I caught that state record,” Grove recalls. “Some of us decided to go fishing on Yates Reservoir to see if we could catch a few yellow perch. When we started fishing it was just unbelievable. The first one I caught broke the state record. Another tied the record. We also caught a 1-pound, 12-ounce fish and a 1-pound, 9-ounce fish plus a couple 1-pounders, all on crappie jigs without bait. Anything that replicates a shad or a minnow might work on yellow perch.”

If you can find them, yellow perch provide exciting sport on light tackle and exceptional tablefare with light flaky flesh prepared in various ways. Many people fry the smaller ones like bluegills. Fish connoisseurs can also fillet larger specimens for baking, broiling and grilling.

38 MAY 2023 | Outdoors |
John N. Felsher is a professional freelance writer who lives in Semmes, Ala. He also hosts an outdoors tips show for WAVH FM Talk 106.5 radio station in Mobile, Ala. Contact him at j.felsher@ or through Facebook.
Non-native perch may be hard to find, but can still provide exciting sport


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Alabama Living MAY 2023 39
2023 EXCELLENT TIMES MOON STAGE GOOD TIMES MAY A.M. PM AM PM We 17 10:06 - 12:06 10:30 - 12:30 4:33 - 6:03 4:57 - 6:2 7 Th 18 10:54 - 12:54 11:18 - 1:18 5:21 - 6:51 5:45 - 7:15 Fr 19 NA 12:06 - 2:06 NEW MOON 6:09 - 7:39 6:33 - 8:03 Sa 20 12:30 - 2:30 12:54 - 2:54 6:57 - 8:2 7 7:21 - 8:51 Su 21 1:18 - 3:18 1:42 - 3:42 7:45 - 9:15 8:09 - 9:39 Mo 22 2:06 - 4:06 2:30 - 4:30 8:33 - 10:03 8:57 - 10:27 Tu 23 2:54 - 4:54 3:18 - 5:18 9:21 - 10:51 9:45 - 11:15 We 24 3:42 - 5:42 4:06 - 6:06 10:09 - 11:39 10:33 - 12:03 Th 25 4:30 - 6:30 4:54 - 6:54 10:57 - 12:27 11:21 - 12:51 Fr 26 5:18 - 7:18 5:42 - 7:42 NA 12:09 - 1:39 Sa 27 6:06 - 8:06 6:30 - 8:30 12:33 - 2:03 12:57 - 2:27 Su 28 6:54 - 8:54 7:18 - 9:18 1:21 - 2:51 1:45 - 3:15 Mo 29 8:30 - 10:30 8:54 - 10:54 2:57 - 4:2 7 3:21 - 4:51 Tu 30 9:18 - 11:18 9:42 - 11:42 3:45 - 5:15 4:09 - 5:39 We 31 10:06 - 12:06 10:30 - 12:30 4:33 - 6:03 4:57 - 6:2 7 JUNE A.M. PM AM PM Th 1 10:54 - 12:54 11:18 - 1:18 5:21 - 6:51 5:45 - 7:15 Fr 2 11:18 - 1:18 11:42 - 1:42 5:48 - 7:18 6:11 - 7:4 1 Sa 3 NA 12:06 - 2:06 FULL MOON 6:09 - 7:39 6:33 - 8:03 Su 4 12:30 - 2:30 12:54 - 2:54 6:57 - 8:2 7 7:21 - 8:51 Mo 5 1:18 - 3:18 1:42 - 3:42 7:45 - 9:15 8:09 - 9:39 Tu 6 2:06 - 4:06 2:30 - 4:30 8:33 - 10:03 8:57 - 10:27 We 7 2:54 - 4:54 3:18 - 5:18 9:21 - 10:51 9:45 - 11:15 Th 8 3:42 - 5:42 4:06 - 6:06 10:09 - 11:39 10:33 - 12:03 Fr 9 4:30 - 6:30 4:54 - 6:54 10:57 - 12:27 11:21 - 12:51 Sa 10 5:18 - 7:18 5:42 - 7:42 NA 12:09 - 1:39 Su 11 6:06 - 8:06 6:30 - 8:30 12:33 - 2:03 12:57 - 2:27 Mo 12 6:54 - 8:54 7:18 - 9:18 1:21 - 2:51 1:45 - 3:15 Tu 13 8:30 - 10:30 8:54 - 10:54 2:57 - 4:2 7 3:21 - 4:51 We 14 9:18 - 11:18 9:42 - 11:42 3:45 - 5:15 4:09 - 5:39 Th 15 10:06 - 12:06 10:30 - 12:30 4:33 - 6:03 4:57 - 6:2 7 Fr 16 10:54 - 12:54 11:18 - 1:18 5:21 - 6:51 5:45 - 7:15 Sa 17 11:18 - 1:18 11:42 - 1:42 5:48 - 7:18 6:11 - 7:4 1 Su 18 NA 12:06 - 2:06 NEW MOON 6:09 - 7:39 6:33 - 8:03 Mo 19 12:30 - 2:30 12:54 - 2:54 6:57 - 8:2 7 7:21 - 8:51 Tu 20 1:18 - 3:18 1:42 - 3:42 7:45 - 9:15 8:09 - 9:39 We 21 2:06 - 4:06 2:30 - 4:30 8:33 - 10:03 8:57 - 10:27 Th 22 2:54 - 4:54 3:18 - 5:18 9:21 - 10:51 9:45 - 11:15 Fr 23 3:42 - 5:42 4:06 - 6:06 10:09 - 11:39 10:33 - 12:03 Sa 24 4:30 - 6:30 4:54 - 6:54 10:57 - 12:27 11:21 - 12:51 Su 25 5:18 - 7:18 5:42 - 7:42 NA 12:09 - 1:39 Mo 26 6:06 - 8:06 6:30 - 8:30 12:33 - 2:03 12:57 - 2:27 Tu 27 6:54 - 8:54 7:18 - 9:18 1:21 - 2:51 1:45 - 3:15 We 28 8:30 - 10:30 8:54 - 10:54 2:57 - 4:2 7 3:21 - 4:51 Th 29 9:18 - 11:18 9:42 - 11:42 3:45 - 5:15 4:09 - 5:39 Fr 30 10:06 - 12:06 10:30 - 12:30 4:33 - 6:03 4:57 - 6:2 7

Energy savings for small businesses

Electric cooperatives are proud to serve small businesses that are essential to our local communities. As costs for pretty much everything continue to rise, small business owners are feeling strained. Luckily, there are steps Alabama’s small business owners can take to conserve energy––and save money.

Many small businesses are in commercial buildings smaller than 50,000 square feet. These buildings use 44% of the energy consumed by commercial buildings in the United States. According to the EPA’s ENERGY STAR® program, small businesses in the U.S. collectively spend a staggering $60 billion on annual energy costs. Additionally, a survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business found that energy costs are a top-three expense for more than a third of the nation’s small businesses.

Small businesses can reduce their energy costs by taking advantage of competitive rates, making upgrades to increase efficiency and making simple changes to how they do business. This can have a direct effect on a business’s bottom line and make it more competitive in the current market.

Here are a few areas small business owners can focus on saving energy and money.

Lighting: Many small businesses, like offices and retail stores, depend greatly on lighting, which can be a major expense. There are two ways to increase the efficiency of your business’s lighting system: install energy efficient equipment (bulbs and/or fixtures) and change how you use lighting.

New LED bulbs use less energy and last much longer. LEDs come in a variety of options and prices, making them great replacements for older, inefficient bulbs.

Encourage employees to turn off lights when they’re not being used. You can also install light switches with sensors so lights automatically turn off when no one is in the room.

Equipment and appliances: Turning off office equipment and appliances can help save energy and money. Computer monitors can add up to $30 to an office’s energy bill if left on during evenings and weekends.

Restaurants typically use up to 10 times more energy per square foot than other commercial buildings. To save money, it is important to have energy efficient food service equipment.

Additionally, kitchens in many other kinds of small businesses use microwaves, coffee makers and refrigerators, which should be considered when reviewing overall energy use.

Heating and cooling systems: Heating and cooling account for a large portion of a small business’s energy bills.

Tracking energy use and maintaining the heating and cooling system can help small business owners save on energy bills. The system should be inspected annually, and filters should be replaced regularly. If the system needs replacing, consider alternative options like a heat pump with a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) of 13 or higher. Your local electric co-op can offer advice on efficient heating and cooling equipment.

Air leaks and insulation: Just like our homes, small businesses have windows, walls, a roof and insulation as part of their building envelope. Air leaks can lead to higher bills.

Leaks typically are found around windows, doors, walls and the roof. Seal these areas for additional energy savings.

Water: Efficient use of energy and water go hand in hand. In most cases, gas or electricity is used to heat water, which costs money. The more heated water your business uses, the more you can save by determining how to use water most efficiently. Lowering the water temperature between 110 and 120 degrees is an easy way to save on water heating.

Transportation: Many businesses can recognize fuel savings and lower the total cost of fleet ownership and transportation networks by switching to electric vehicles (EVs).

EVs have lower maintenance costs because they are more reliable than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. This is because EVs have fewer mechanical parts that can break, and they often provide better data to allow for more proactive maintenance. Depending on your business’s transportation needs, EVs may be able to provide better energy savings for the long-term.

In conclusion, small businesses can take simple steps to better control how much energy they use and how they use it. Not sure where to start? Ask your electric co-op if they offer energy audits, which can identify areas to save the most energy.

Jennah Denney writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric coops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56% of the nation’s landscape.

40 MAY 2023 | Consumer Wise |
Electric cooperatives are proud to serve small businesses that are essential to our local communities. PHOTO COURTESY TIM MOSSHOLDER
Alabama Living MAY 2023 41

Payne Land Preparation, LLC

is a family owned and operated company. We use a John Deere 333D track loader with a 5’ wide rotating drum mulching head that has carbide teeth for mulching brush, vegetation and up to 6” diameter trees.

Our Services include but are not limited to:

• Clear ing over grown fence rows

• Pastures

• Property lines

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• Tree tops left over from property that has been previously logged

• Real estate tracks and future home sites.

Why choose Payne Land Preparation, LLC?

• We treat your land as we do our own!

Using a rotating drum mulcher benefits your land by:

• Clear ing down to surface of soil

• Leaving roots intact to hold land and soil structure minimizing ground disturbance and erosion

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• No brush piles, no burning or haul away

• Improve the value and looks of your property

We also offer stump grinding and backhoe services.

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It all started in North Alabama TVA Celebrates 90 Years

On May 18, 2023, TVA marks its 90th anniversary of serving the people of the Tennessee Valley region. It is a time to reflect on the contributions of those who built TVA for the people of the United States and acknowledge today’s employees and local power company partners as we carry the torch onward in TVA’s unchanging mission to serve the people in the region with low cost, reliable, resilient and clean power.

Ninety years ago, TVA was born as an innovation company, created as a force for good – to lift up a struggling region of our nation. Its very foundation is built on a clear mission of making life better for the people who call this area home.

TVA’s employees have served the people of this region through energy production, environmental stewardship and economic development. This three-fold mission of service has stood the test of time and is as relevant today as ever.

North Alabama has a special place in TVA’s history. In fact, it all began at Muscle Shoals after Wilson Dam was completed in 1925. For the first time in more than a century, Wilson Dam allowed steamboats

and barges to travel unhampered through the previously treacherous shoals, and it offered hydroelectric energy sorely needed in World War I weapons manufacturing. Government engineers also selected Muscle Shoals as the site to construct two nitrate plants to support the war effort.

After the war, Henry Ford tried to buy the facilities at a bargain price, but on May 18, 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the bill creating the Tennessee Valley Authority. With the signing of the TVA Act, the Muscle Shoals facilities became part of TVA. TVA employees got to work converting the idle nitrate plants to fertilizer research and production. Wilson Dam became the cornerstone in TVA’s unified plan for development of the entire Tennessee River. Thirteen generators were added to the original eight, making Wilson the largest hydroelectric installation in the TVA power system.

Today, Wilson Dam remains TVA’s largest conventional hydroelectric facility, with 21 generating units generating a summer net dependable capacity of 653 megawatts. An average of 3,700 vessels passes through its locks each year, and its reservoir provides 166 miles of shoreline and 15,500 acres of water surface for recreation.

During the past 90 years, TVA expanded its presence in Alabama, and now includes hydroelectric generation at

Guntersville and Wheeler, Browns Ferry Nuclear plant – the nation’s second largest nuclear plant – and the Colbert Combustion Turbine plant.

Our 90 successful years wouldn’t have been possible without the partnership of local power companies in Alabama, who share our commitment to the public power model, which places service to our communities as our first priority.

As part of our celebration, we plan to focus our attention on the people we serve by creating the biggest day of service in TVA history. On May 18, TVA employees from all seven states will be participating in hundreds of volunteer activities – from working in food banks to cleaning up shorelines. Our goal is to impact all 201 counties in our service region.

We also will have booths and information about TVA at festivals in the weeks and months surrounding May 18. We participated in the Panoply Arts Festival in Huntsville on April 28-30. We will be at HydroFest in Guntersville on June 24 and 25, and at the W.C. Handy Music Festival in Muscle Shoals July 21-30.

We hope you will join us in celebrating our local power companies, hard-working TVA employees, retirees, other stakeholders, and of course, the people of this region. Working together, we have helped make Alabama a great place to live, work and play.

44 MAY 2023 | Our Sources Say |
Kevin Chandler is general manager, Alabama District Customer Service, for the Tennessee Valley Authority. Wilson Dam in the 1930s became the cornerstone in TVA’s unified plan for development of the entire Tennessee River. After 90 years, Wilson Dam remains the largest conventional hydroelectric facility in the TVA system.

How To Place a Line Ad in Marketplace

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Alabama Living MAY 2023 45 | Classifieds |

The first of May, a day of liberation

Come on “oldsters,” dust off your memories and work with me now.

Remember how important May Day used to be?

That was when elementary schools around the state used to put on “May Day Programs.”

As the weather warmed, and the sap started rising, those programs gave teachers a way to control and contain all that pre-teen energy.

Recess only stirred up the juices that bubbled beneath the surface.

Back in un-air conditioned classrooms, students sweated and sweltered, dozed and drooped. Energy collected within them, looking for a way to get out.

Teachers dreaded this time of year, for student minds were on everything but their studies.

But what could teachers do?

Then someone, some hero, pointed out that right slap dab in the middle of this mess was MAY DAY.


It was the day that, historically, working folks around the world celebrated the liberation from winter’s grip and the arrival of spring.

So why not celebrate in South Alabama?

Now admittedly, in Grove Hill, by the first of May, spring had already sprung. Buds had budded, kudzu was crawling, fields were plowed, and some early crops were in the ground, waiting for the warm. No matter.

When April showers kept children indoors, teachers brought out the bright paper, colorful crayons, dangerous scissors, and other instruments they hoped would keep us quiet until the rains passed and they could send us to the playground.

We, the children, reasoned that our liberation would come on May 1.

Though few of us knew at the time, this belief was part of a long and respected tradition. In agricultural societies, the First of May was a pause before planting.

It was a signal date, telling one and all, that “lo the winter is past.” (Song of Solomon 2:11-12)

Which, in elementary schools across

the Deep South, meant only one thing.

Time to take off our shoes!!

Parents had promised us that our feet could be liberated “after the First of May.”

Anxiously, we waited.

Meanwhile, country kids who rode the bus from cross-road communities arrived shoeless. I never knew if they took off their shoes and hid them until time to ride home, or if parents saw nothing to be gained by children wearing out shoes that should be saved for colder months.

Or for Sunday.

Either way, they went without.

Town children were more closely monitored and did not enjoy such freedom.

I had the best (or worst) of both worlds.

I lived far enough out to ride the bus, but my parents worked in town. They possessed in-town sensibilities, which included wearing shoes.

So, I wore them.

When I left home.

Before the bus arrived, I took them off and hid them to be retrieved when I returned after school.

Then I wore them like the good boy I was.

Or appeared to be.

46 MAY 2023 | Hardy Jackson's Alabama |
Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University. He can be reached at Illustration by Dennis Auth

Wishes you a happy and safe Memorial Day!

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