September 2022 Arab

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Stories | Recipes | Events | People | Places | Things | Local News September 2022


The calm in the storm Alabama’s weather man James Spann

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General Manager Stacey White

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

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



The new Tropic Falls Indoor Water Park in Foley is the largest indoor water park on the Gulf Coast; the project is perhaps OWA’s most ambitious expansion to date.



VOL. 75 NO. 9


Time for football

Fall football games have started, and our readers love to capture the action with their cameras.


Old-fashioned service


Finger foods

Stepping into the Old Town Stock House in downtown Guntersville is like stepping back in time – in a good way.

Simple but delicious foods you can pick up with your fingers are what parties and tailgates are made for.



340 TechnaCenter Drive Montgomery, Alabama 36117-6031 1-800-410-2737 For advertising, email: For editorial inquiries, email: NATIONAL ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVE:

American MainStreet Publications 611 South Congress Ave., Suite 504 Austin, Texas 78704 1-800-626-1181 USPS 029-920 • ISSN 1047-0311

D E P A R T M E N T S 11 Spotlight 29 Around Alabama 34 Cook of the Month 40 Outdoors 41 Fish & Game Forecast 46 Hardy Jackson’s Alabama ONLINE: ON THE COVER Nan Roberts Lane Chapel.

Look for this logo to see more content online! Printed in America from American materials

PHOTO: Donna Prickett.


ONLINE: EMAIL: MAIL: Alabama Living 340 Technacenter Drive Montgomery, AL 36117

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The power of preparation Stacey White, General Manager

Board of Trustees Charles W. Whisenant President District 8

Dianne Prestridge Vice President District 3

Bill Stricklend Treasurer District 4

Tyler Barnes Secretary District 5

Janet Bright District 1

Jordan Stewart District 2

Jeff Warren District 6

Nathan Clark District 7

With severe weather events occurring more frequently, now more than ever, it makes sense to be prepared. During a prolonged power outage or other emergency, this means having enough food, water, and supplies to last at least a few days. In honor of National Preparedness Month in September, I want to remind members of our community about the power of preparation. While you don’t have to achieve a “doomsday prepper” level of preparedness, there are several practical steps you can take to keep you and your family safe. Even at a modest level, preparation can help reduce stress, anxiety and lessen the impact of an emergency event. We recommend starting with the basics.

Here are general guidelines recommended by the Federal Emergency Management Agency: • Assemble a grab-and-go disaster kit. Include items like nonperishable food, water (one gallon per person, per day), diapers, batteries, flashlights, prescription medications, first-aid kit, battery-powered radio, and phone chargers. • Develop a plan for communicating with family and friends (i.e., via text, social media, third party, etc.).

check in on them. If a severe weather event is expected, consider having your relative stay with you if feasible, otherwise call them daily. If you have an infant or young children, make certain that you have ample formula, diapers, medication, and other supplies on hand to weather an outage lasting several days or more.

Keeping four-legged family members safe

For families with pets, having a plan in place in the event of a prolonged outage or an emergency will help reduce worry and stress especially if you need to make a decision during an emergency. Bring pets indoors at the first sign of a storm or other emergency. Pets can become disoriented and frightened during severe weather and may wander off during an emergency. Microchip your pet and ensure the contact information is up to date. Store pet medical records on a USB drive or in an easy-to-remember location. Create an emergency kit for pets (include shelf-safe food, bottled water, medications and other supplies). At Arab Electric, we care about your safety. Planning for an emergency situation today can give you more confidence to deal with severe weather and potential outages in the future.

• Have some extra cash available; during a power outage, electronic card readers and cash machines may not work. • Store important documents (birth certificates, property deed, etc.) in safe place away from home (for example, a bank safe deposit box). • Keep neighbors and coworkers apprised of your emergency plans. • Fill your car with gas.

Ty Smith District 9

General Manager Stacey White


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• Organize your supplies so they are together in an easily accessible location that family members know about.

Caring for vulnerable family members

If you have older family members or those with special needs, make sure they have enough medication and supplies for a few days. If they don’t live with you, arrange for a neighbor to

8/17/22 1:24 PM

| Arab EC |

Employee Spotlight Dianna Walmsley, Manager of Customer & Payment Services How long have you worked at Arab Electric Cooperative? 4 years

How many different positions at AEC have you held? Manager of Customer & Payment Services

What do you love most about your job?

I love having the opportunity to help create a positive Member experience. Since I have been at the Cooperative, I have been able to be a part of so many technology improvements. These improvements give Members a better experience and help each of us do our jobs more efficiently. I am thankful for those opportunities and to see the ideas of so many come to fruition.

Where did you go to school?

I graduated from Arab High School in 1999; after high school I attended the University of Montevallo & earned a BBA in 2002.

Tell us about your family. My husband, Kevin and I have been married for 19 years. We have two children, Madison and Lily Grace.

What are your hobbies past & present?

My oldest daughter plays soccer, so most of my “hobby” time is spent at the soccer fields. When I have free time, I love to listen to audio books.

What do you plan to do after you retire? Kevin and I plan to travel after retirement.

Of all the employees at AEC past & present Who has inspired you the most in doing your job?

The employees that I manage each day inspire me the most. They go above and beyond to deliver the highest level of customer service to our Members.

Arab Electric’s office will be closed on

Monday, September 5

in observance of Labor Day.

Alabama Living

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| Arab EC |

By Paul Wesslund

A curious bear near Bradley Lake Hydro in Alaska checks in on workers during a dam inspection. Photo Source: Robert Day

Many electric co-ops across the U.S. have established pollinator gardens and habitats to help butterflies, bees and other essential pollinators thrive. Photo Source: Alexis Matsui


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| Arab EC |

ne Monday morning last summer, a young male brown bear climbed to the top of an electric co-op utility pole in Arizona—presumably to see what he could see. But when two co-op employees spotted the creature, they knew it was nothing to joke about. His arms were draped between the crosspieces, paws resting on the pole’s neutral conductor, head next to an energized 7,200-volt line. “If he touched it, he would have been dead,” said one of the workers. So, they de-energized the line and called in 18-year co-op veteran Werner Neubauer. It wasn’t his first rodeo, er, animal rescue. He’d also saved cats, raccoons and even a bobcat. A co-op bucket truck hoisted Neubauer, 8-foot-long fiberglass hot stick in hand, to meet the bear. The bear tucked his face under his front arm, covering his eyes. “Alright, little bear. Time to get off this pole,” Neubauer encouraged. The bear nipped and grabbed at the stick, but Neubauer finally nudged him down, where he ran off into the desert.

Out in the country, animals are everywhere.

Animal encounters are nothing new for electric co-ops. Getting their start in the 1930s to serve rural areas that had no electricity, they’ve always been close to the land, and its creatures. From bears to butterflies and sheep to seabirds, electric co-ops have a track record of showing they understand the importance of caring for wildlife. Janelle Lemen, regulatory director for environmental policy at the National Rural Electric Association (NRECA), describes how co-ops across the country take actions like building nesting platforms for ospreys and falcons, and modifying electrical structures to reduce potential electrocutions of birds. Co-ops coordinate those efforts nationwide though NRECA’s membership, since 1989, in an organization called the Avian Power Line Interaction Committee.

Co-ops also regularly work with other state, local and federal wildlife agencies to come up with the best ways to coexist with wildlife. Lemen says, “Electric co-ops have a long history of implementing conservation efforts to benefit America’s wildlife and other natural resources.” One part of that history is an annual week-long Pollinator Power Party. Co-ops know a lot of us love butterflies and bees, and that both are essential to the ecosystems that pollinate plants. So, several electric co-ops have become part of a group called the Pollinator Partnership to increase awareness of bee and butterfly habitats.

Grazing under solar panels

A more direct interest between co-ops and wildlife comes in the form of protecting birds from high-voltage equipment, both for the birds’ own safety and to keep animal electrocutions from causing power outages. Co-ops in several states have built platforms to keep ospreys and other birds from nesting on power lines. An electric co-op in Hawaii has even experimented with a laser fence system to keep seabirds from colliding with power lines. And it’s not always the co-ops protecting animals. Sometimes the critters help out the co-ops. As solar energy use grows across the country, some co-ops are getting the grass under photovoltaic panels trimmed by goats and sheep. Well, maybe not goats so much. With co-ops and other utilities finding economic and environmental benefits to grazing under and around solar panels, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory actually conducted a study called Solar Sheep and Voltaic Veggies: Uniting Solar Power and Agriculture. Among its conclusions: “Sheep have often proven to be the best tenants of the land. Horses can be picky about what they eat, cows are large and require a lot of space, and goats tend to chew on wires and climb on panels.”

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

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| Arab EC |

Keep food safe when the power goes out By Abby Berry Severe winds, lightning and even squirrels can temporarily cause the power to go out. We understand power outages of any length can be frustrating, especially when your fridge is stocked with perishable foods. Extended power outages are rare, but when they occur, it’s important to understand food safety measures to take to avoid illness. Here are a few food safety tips to keep in mind before, during and after a power outage.

Before an outage

A good rule of thumb is to keep an emergency supply kit on hand. Be sure to include nonperishable food items like bottled water, powdered milk, canned goods, cereal and protein bars in your emergency kit. If you have advance warning that an outage is possible, fill a cooler with ice––just in case the outage spans several hours. Having a cooler ready to go can buy extra time for your refrigerated, perishable items.

During an outage

If an outage occurs, do not open the refrigerator or freezer unless absolutely necessary. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours. A half-full freezer will keep food frozen for about 24 hours and a full freezer for about 48 hours. If it looks like the power outage will last longer than four hours, move your important perishable items to an ice-filled cooler.


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After an outage

If refrigerated foods have been exposed to temperatures higher than 40 degrees for more than two hours, the American Red Cross recommends discarding the items. If any foods have an unusual color, odor or texture, they should be thrown away. While most perishable foods should be thrown out after an extended outage, there are a few items that are safe to consume after a two-hour exposure to 40+ degrees: • hard cheeses that are properly wrapped • butter or margarine that is properly wrapped • taco, barbecue and soy sauces • peanut butter, jelly, mustard, ketchup and relish The best way to avoid illness from spoiled food during or after an outage is to follow the four-hour rule of thumb. After an outage, always smell and inspect foods before consuming and remember: when in doubt, throw it out. To learn more about food safety after an emergency, visit ready. gov/food.

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

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| Alabama Snapshots |

My grandson Zack Caldwell, number 2 plays for Randolph County Tigers. SUBMITTED by Dale Rice, Roanoke.

The 2016 annual match up of the Pisgah and Section Pee Wee (ages 9 and 10) football teams. SUBMITTED by Dale Crawford, Dutton. Jackson Suttles getting some advice from dad and coach Clifton Suttles. SUBMITTED by Alana Suttles, Somerville.

Daysen Graham, age 5, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2021. He loves Alabma football and received a Roll Tide care package from head coach Nick Saban and his wife, Terry, featuring this autographed football. SUBMITTED by June Graham, Falkville.

Harris family: Craig, Tammy, Haley, Blake, Brent, Hannah, Sophie and Corbin. SUBMITTED by Tammy Harris, Gardendale.

November theme: “Birds”

Deadline to submit: September 30 Online: Mail: Attn: Snapshots P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 Alabama Living

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LeBrian Ridley ready for football practice. SUBMITTED by Audrey Fitzpatrick, Elmore.

SUBMIT to WIN $10! RULES: Alabama Living will pay $10 for photos that best match our

theme of the month. Photos may also be published on our website at and on our Facebook and Instagram pages. Alabama Living is not responsible for lost or damaged photos. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope to have photos returned. SEPTEMBER 2022 9

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Spotlight | September Photographer of veterans named GoFundMe hero Jeff Rease, a Birmingham photographer who created the WWII Portraits of Honor project, has been named a GoFundMe hero by the crowdfunding platform. Rease created a GoFundMe fundraiser to help defray the costs of traveling to photograph as many World War II veterans as possible. Rease has toured the world and captured the stories of more than 290 veterans. He traveled to Normandy, France, with 29 WWII veterans to commemPhotographer Jeff Rease with D-Day veteran Hilman Prestridge. orate the 78th anniversary of D-Day. Rease’s project was spotlighted in the November 2020 issue of Alabama Living. To learn more, visit

State Archives debuts new website The Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) recently debuted a new website, the culmination of a multi-year project to improve and enhance the agency’s online presence. The new site ( features powerful new research tools, user-friendly databases for educators and public officials, information for planning visits to the ADAH’s Museum of Alabama, and many more opportunities for the public to connect with the ADAH and Alabama history online. Highlights of the new site include robust databases for conducting historical and genealogical research in the ADAH’s extensive archival collections; the Alabama History Hub, a onestop resource for K-12 educators classroom resources curated by ADAH staff; an events calendar for at-a-glance information about ADAH programs; and a new database of retention schedules and other helpful resources on records management for state and local government offices.

Alabama Living wins national awards

Natasha McCrary and her family founded 1818 Farms, based in Mooresville, Alabama, in 2012.

1818 Farms to start venture with BloomTV 1818 Farms, located in historic Mooresville, Alabama, celebrated its 10-year business anniversary this summer, and announced a new partnership with BloomTV, an online streaming service and network for all things floral. 1818 Farms was founded by Natasha McCrary and her family; they produce handmade products and educate the public on the value of sustainability, craftsmanship and a sense of community. Their bath and beauty line of creams, bath soaks, wax sachets and more are available in 572 stores in 45 states and online. McCrary was named Amazon’s Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year in 2019 and was featured in Alabama Living magazine in September 2021. For more, visit 10 SEPTEMBER 2022

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Alabama Living writers and staff won several awards in August at the Statewide Editors Association Annual Willies Awards competition. The awards were presented at the group’s SEA Institute in Chicago. John Felsher, outdoors writer, won a Willie Award in the category, Best Entertaining Feature, Less than 650 words, for his September 2021 story, “Serpent Saving,” about Alabama Snake Removers, a south Alabama group dedicated to removing and safely relocating snakes. The following won Awards of Excellence: Personality Profile, Allison Law, managing editor of Alabama Living, for her January 2022 story on State Rep. Jeremy Gray of Opelika; Best Entertaining Feature, More than 650 Words, writer Jennifer Kornegay for her May 2022 story, “Five Essential Dishes Every Alabamian Should Know How to Make;” and Hardy Jackson, Best Column, for “Mr. Dave and the Barbershop,” from April 2022. The Statewide Editors Association is a professional organization representing 32 statewide magazines that reach 12 million readers in 42 states served by electric cooperatives. Combined, statewide magazines are the third largest consumer publication in the United States.

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September | Spotlight

Find the hidden dingbat! Take us along! Who would expect to find a chocolate chip cookie hidden in the garden? Well, nearly 400 of our readers did when they correctly located the August dingbat in the photo on Page 22 of our gardening column. Our graphic artist decided to give our readers a break this month, after the difficult search we put you through in July! Phyllis Fenn of Dixie EC wrote to us, “Look grandma, a chocolate chip cookie hiding in the garden mulch right by your irrigation hose! Hope you’ve got more in the house!” Don and Cindy Lee of Vina in Franklin County wrote that as they were searching through the magazine, they “thought someone had eaten the August dingbat.” Cindy Ard of Orange Beach was happy to find her first dingbat after five years, and Tina Lewis, a new coop member in Hartford, was proud to find the cookie in her first magazine. Good job, readers! Congratulations to Jerry Posey of Phenix City, our randomly drawn winner who will receive a prize package from our sponsor, Alabama One Credit Union. This issue, we’ve hidden a pair of football goalposts, which we’ll be seeing a lot of this fall. Good luck! Sponsored by By mail: Find the Dingbat Alabama Living PO Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 By email:

Whereville, AL

We’ve enjoyed seeing photos from our readers on their travels with Alabama Living! Please send us a photo of you with a copy of the magazine on your travels to: mytravels@alabamaliving. coop. 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. Billy and Dolores Puckett of Foley, members of Baldwin EMC, got a frigid wake-up call when they took their magazine to celebrate a family Christmas in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where the temperature was 9 degrees!

Jimmy and Susan Deese of Elba, members of Covington EC, took their magazine on a Celebrity Southern Caribbean cruise to Kralendijk, Bonaire. Located 86 miles east of Aruba and 30 miles from Curacao, Bonaire is the second largest of the five Dutch Antillean Islands. Dr. Lisa Weeks, a trustee at Cullman EC and her daughter, Anna, took their magazine all the way to Paradise Bay, Antarctica, home to the abandoned research station Almirante Brown Antarctic Base.

Marty and Candy Williams of Wagerville, members of ClarkeWashington EMC, enjoyed a visit to Helen, Georgia, one of our favorite Alabama Living advertisers!

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 October issue. Submit by email: whereville@alabamaliving. coop, or by mail: Whereville, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124. Do you like finding interesting or unusual landmarks? Contribute a photo you took for an upcoming issue! Remember, all readers whose photos are chosen also win $25! Alabama Living

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August’s answer: We don’t know much about this sculpture near Gadsden City Hall. The director/curator of the Gadsden Museum of Art did not have much information about it, save a newspaper story from October 2008, which referred to it as the “Stars Fell on Alabama” concrete couch. (The newspaper clipping did not include the name of the newspaper). The story, which didn’t have a byline, reported that Sherry Britton, a Texas artist, and a crew of local volunteers were working on the concrete couch. Britton was primarily a stained-glass artist but branched out to try to make concrete have the appearance of fabric. The couch was intended to “display the grandeur of the Alabama night sky,” according to the article. A website listed for Britton in the story is not active, and we could find little about Britton with regular Internet searches. If you have info to share, email Allison Law at (Photo submitted by Susan Lynn Allen of North Alabama EC) The randomly drawn correct guess winner is Schaleigh Holt of Sand Mountain EC. SEPTEMBER 2022 11

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Eyes on the skies Weatherman Spann remains fascinated by the mysteries of weather

By Emmett Burnett


Birmingham meteorologist James Spann in a familiar setting at the ABC 33/40 TV studio.

n the fall of 1962, in Greenville, Alabama’s W.O. Parmer Elementary School, teacher Edna Earle Porterfield commanded the attention of first-grade students – except for one. A 6-yearold boy opted instead to gaze out the window, observing cloud formations. Suddenly, the youngster was yanked from his chair by Ms. Porterfield for a hallway conference. He feared the worst. But the teacher smiled and presented the window-gazing student with a library book. “I noticed you have been looking at clouds,” she told the youngster. “I thought you might like to know more about it.” The boy was James Spann, and the incident refocused his life. More changes were to come. When Spann was just 7, his father left the family, leaving a mother to raise her son. Young Spann and his mom moved to Tuscaloosa so she could attend the University of Alabama, earn a 12 SEPTEMBER 2022

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degree, and become a schoolteacher. As a Tuscaloosa teen, Spann loved electronic equipment and earned a ham radio license. The Tuscaloosa High School principal allowed him and some friends to build a school radio station. “It was very illegal,” Spann chuckles. “We were supposed to have a broadcast range restricted to campus. But I embellished it. You could hear us in Northport.” He turned a love of radio equipment into an interest in broadcasting. A local radio station, WTBC, called the school to ask if there was a student interested in working really bad hours for minimum wage. The school answered, “James Spann.” Spann was hired. He later covered news, sports, and his soon to be specialty, weather. He also traveled to onsite weather occurrences. Many were terrible. In 1974, his senior year, 80 people died of storm-related events.

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“I was at Peoples Hospital, in Jasper, Alabama, during a terrible tornado outbreak,” he recalls. “Many lives were lost. I saw things no 17-year-old should see.” The dark side of weather taught lessons. Forecasting is more than predicting rainy days. Spann learned, “In this business, we must do everything we can to save lives. We try to use our platform to teach. The knowledge may help you on tornado and hurricane days.” He adds, “I have always been fascinated by weather.” Spann references that childhood memory of gazing from his schoolroom window: “I would be looking out a window now if there was a window in this place.”

Working from everywhere

“This place” is WBMA – ABC 33/40 News and Weather Studio, Birmingham. Spann has worked from here for around 25 years. Actually, he works from everywhere. He also has a TV studio in his home where he starts the day around 3:30 a.m., after getting a good night’s sleep of about two and half hours. From home his duties include gathering data, writing blog posts, producing “Weather Extreme” videos, and broadcasting weather reports to 24 radio stations across America. There are also personal appearances to make. He is a frequent public speaker, including community events, charity drives, and elementary schools. Today he did all three before lunch. Back at the studios of ABC 33/40, there is the local forecast to prepare. He will be on air at 4, 5, 6, and 10 p.m., or – and this is the exciting part – when breaking news dictates. “We must be ready,” the meteorologist warns. “I monitor conditions across the state. If we are ripe for a tornado, we have got to be ready to go on air and fast. Time is of the essence and can literally be a life-or-death decision.” He has no problem interrupting newscasts. Spann’s team can be on the air within 10 seconds when he shouts, “LET’S GO! NOW!” At his control are live radar images, reconnaissance data, and 44 years of experience. He can examine aerial photographs of almost any Alabama city and identify buildings by name from memory.

“Lots of people don’t respond to radar,” he says. “They see colors like a bucket of spilled paint and shrug it off. If I say, ‘a tornado is 14 miles southwest of Clanton,’ nobody knows what that means. But if I warn, ‘a tornado is near Jim’s Pit Barbecue in Billingsley’ – everybody in Clanton knows where that is – they take action.” He speaks with authority and hands-on training. In 1973, his junior year of high school, Spann was the first on scene when a tornado ripped through Brent, Alabama, killing five people. “That was my first experience with the violent side of weather,” he recalls. “I experienced the scent of death. You can take a shower, but that scent stays with you for three days.” He was dispatched to Mobile for September 1979 Hurricane Frederic coverage. “We stayed at Azalea Middle School,” the veteran forecaster recalls. “The campus was an evacuation shelter for local nursing home patients to ride out the storm. We frantically moved the elderly to safer rooms that night when the roof blew off.” He won an Emmy Award for covering a deadly tornado that ravaged Tuscaloosa on Dec. 16, 2000. The trunk of the wind funnel could encapsulate Bryant-Denny Stadium and it almost did. He has dozens more such stories, remembering dates, damage, injuries, and death.

No shortage of weather events

Just as Alabama’s geography is diverse from mountains to beaches, so is its weather. “Typically, the more violent tornadoes, the F4s and F5, are more frequent in the northern part of the state,” he says. “South Alabama tornadoes are often short lived.” But all are dangerous. “I have covered blizzards, floods, droughts, ice storms and heat waves from that green screen,” Spann adds, pointing at the most famous TV studio weather wall in Alabama. The hardest Alabama weather phenomena to predict? Snow. “We just don’t have enough recorded data to accurately predict snow because it doesn’t occur here that often,” he notes. “School kids always ask me, ‘why can’t you get snow forecasts right?’ That’s a very good question,” the forecaster says with a smile. But that is part of the fascination of weather. The meteorolo-

Spann often speaks to elementary school students. “I want to reach kids at an early age about the importance of weather safety,” he says. And he’s found that “children ask good questions.”

Alabama Living

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Spann reflects on his nearly 45-year career in broadcasting and meteorology with writer Emmett Burnett. Even with that kind of experience, weather is still a mystery, he says, but it still fascinates him.

how good the team was but most of all, I remember the fun and gist readily admits we do not know everything. Weather is still a camaraderie we had. I miss that.” mystery. But back to the weather: “Looks like a calm day in Alabama,” “When you’re young, you think you know it all,” says Spann, the meteorologist says about today’s forecast. “Now tonight some “but there is so much we do not know. I can’t tell you on a June thunderstorms are moving in. I will study it later from the closet.” morning where the thunderstorms will hit that afternoon. Weather is a challenge. It always will That’s right, his office is a be.” closet, secluded and private. In non-weather-related ac“This job requires critical tivities, Spann is chairman of thinking which for me requires the board for Birmingham’s privacy for concentration. My Grandview Medical Center. He bosses have asked, ‘James, don’t is also children’s worship leadyou want a better office?’ I aner at Double Oak Community swer, nope.” Church, Mt. Laurel campus With the interview winding down, he conducts an imin Birmingham. In addition, promptu tour of the studio as he enjoys working with youth we walk out. In reflection he sports. notes that Alabama weather He’s in his mid-60s but works forecasting is difficult at times. out in a gym three days a week “Meteorology is a game you and plays tennis on Sundays cannot win but you try to stay with his family. Explaining his in the game,” Spann says. “We game, Spann notes, “We look don’t expect the audience to really good on a tennis court be total weather dweebs. That’s from a distance.” Spann talks with fans and employees at Carlisle Drug Co. in Alexander what we are.” He and wife Karen have City. Spann was at the store to sign copies of his memoir, Weathering Life. But he never forgets that givbeen married over 40 years. ing accurate, reliable forecasts can save lives. And Spann knows and remembers everybody. The photographer for this story, Jeff Rease, reminded Spann, “You coached my With that, the weatherman – in his crisp white shirt with trademark necktie and suspenders – returns to work. He scans weather son in baseball!” data from electronic “windows,” just as he did from a Greenville “Did he keep playing or did he stop?” Spann questioned. “Because he was good. He could have continued playing. I remember elementary school windows many years ago. 14 SEPTEMBER 2022

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Alabama Living

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Castaway Creek features a 500-foot-long lazy river. Thrillseekers can take the plunge at Tangerine Scream, a 75-foot free-fall water slide.

Expansion makes OWA a year-round destination By Emmett Burnett


ising 114 feet above Baldwin County, Rollin’ Thunder’s pasthe entire original theme park from when we first opened.” sengers can view the Gulf of Mexico all the way from Foley. She continues, “We wanted an indoor water park partly beBut not for long. cause of our weather. It was part of our overall vision when we Within seconds, roller coaster fans plunge 56 mph through first opened. It’s a great option to get out of the sun, rain, or cold. twisted paths, hairpin turns, and a harrowing straightway. PasIt is fun indoors without feeling like you are indoors.” sengers disembarking the expansive blue The mammoth undertaking is a two-phase track all agree – Tropic Falls at OWA rocks. roll out. Phase one opened June 29 with six The new Tropic Falls But Tropic Falls at OWA is no longer thrill slides, a lazy river, indoor dining, party just for attractions on land (or in the air, if rental rooms, an indoor arcade, and a chilIndoor Water Park is you’re on one of the roller coasters or othdren’s play area with five family-friendly er thrill rides). The new Tropic Falls Indoor the largest indoor water slides. Two thrill slides rise to new heights: Water Park is the largest indoor water park Tangerine Scream, a 75-foot free-fall, and on the Gulf Coast; the project is perhaps park on the Gulf Coast Piranha Plunge, also 75-feet tall with a super OWA’s most ambitious expansion to date. loop and drop floor. “From an investment standpoint, this is the biggest single atAt press time, phase two was under construction, with only traction we have had,” says Kristin Hellmich, OWA’s director of the 30,000-square-foot outdoor wave pool left to complete. Other marketing and public relations, about the $74 million project unphase two attractions include a surf simulator and additional dinder a 100,000-square-foot roof. “The waterpark costs more than ing and beverage locations.


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Tropic Falls is currently the only indoor waterpark in the U.S. with both a retractable roof and wall. The park is open year-round. Additional features include Castaway Creek/Lazy River, private party rooms, private cabanas, Grub (a quick service restaurant) and Libations, a tropical themed cocktail bar. OWA is also undertaking a $2.5 million rebranding project. Henceforth, the theme park and attractions will be known as Tropic Falls at OWA. “It includes everything behind the theme park and water park single gate,” Hellmich says, as we explore the newly named attraction.

Something for everyone

Tropic Falls, home to the largest indoor waterpark in the Southeastern U.S., is now PHOTOS COURTESY OF OWA open at OWA Parks & Resort.

For the novice, OWA has two components – Tropic Falls, which includes the theme park and water park side, and Downtown OWA, with shops, shows, restaurants, gathering spots, and more. “Most people do not realize how big OWA is,” Hellmich says as we walk around the lake. “It is much bigger than it looks from the road.” She is correct. The complex spans 520 acres. Tropic Falls is 14 acres and the lake separating the two is over a mile in diameter. Plan at least a day to see it all – and that does not include the new water park. Add another day. “I believe one of the best values we offer at OWA is something for all,” Hellmich says. “Some come for the theme park rides, including teens and spring breakers, and college kids. But others, often an older crowd, visit for a good meal and to take in a show. We are not just a theme park. We are not just a water park. We are a year-round entertainment destination for everybody.” Emphasis is on year-round. “Summer is our peak season,” she says. “But fall/autumn is moving to second place with spring. We fully embrace Halloween season here.” Halloween season features include haunted attractions, a walkthrough hay maze, weekend trick-or-treats with characters and more, every weekend during fall. Peak season starts around Memorial Day as OWA prepares for summer. The massive July Fourth fireworks presentation is one of the largest on the Gulf coast. Christmas is spectacular, starting with the lighting of the Christmas tree in November.

Eateries and shops

“Incidentally, she just added shrimp and grits to her menu,” Hellmich says, pointing to Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen restaurant, with entrees including fried chicken kissed by angels. Other culinary adventures include the Groovy Goat, Sassy Bass Amazin’ Grill, Sushi Co., Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar and Restaurant, and C’est Le Vin Wine Bar and Shop. Just as the theme park offers something for everyone, so does Downtown OWA’s


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shopping district – from fine jewelry to clothing to jelly beans. One of the newest shops, Native Treasures, offers crafts, jewelry, and clothing made from or inspired by Native Americans. Downtown also includes the Fairhope Soap Company, Alvin’s Island Tropical Department Store, the Spice and Tea Exchange and Body Tune Plus. Another new spot lifts your spirits with spirits of Alabama moonshine. Murder Creek Distillery is so named for Escambia County’s tributary with the charming name, “Murder Creek.” Sample tastings are available for brews, ranging from gentle and mild, to robust beverages, duplicating the Rollin’ Thunder roller coaster without actually riding it. OWA does not release attendance data, but Hellmich says “Our attendance is significant and has grown every year since startup.” She credits the site’s popularity to what one would expect – great value and quality attractions. But guests are also drawn here by a behind the scenes factor – cleanliness. OWA is cleaner than your living room. “We have people complimenting our cleanliness,” Hellmich says. “Our crews work nearly round the clock keeping the grounds and restrooms, all areas clean. It is a priority.” With cleanliness comes safety. All rides are checked daily and evaluated before the theme park opens and monitored closely throughout the day. In winter the park has about 100 employees, but during the peak summer months the number swells to 500 to 700. Of that, about half will work in the new water park, probably by the time you read this. As for today’s visit, Tropic Falls visitors eagerly board rides, including Aero Zoom, Crazy Mouse, Alabama Wham’a and about 20 more. Nearby, there is that Gulf Shores beach thing, down the road. But in Foley, twisting and turning above it all, Rollin’ Thunder rolls again. And so does OWA. For more information, contact In Downtown OWA, Murder Creek Distillery sells Alabama-made moonshine.

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Alabama Living

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A Century of Community Southern Union State Community College celebrating 100 years of service By Katie Jackson


hen 51 young men and women arrived in Wadley, Ala., world and often credit the school’s powerful sense of community on Sept. 12, 1923, to start classes at a brand-new Bible for their success. college, they found a single partially constructed building on a red clay hill. But they also found a five-member faculty Commitment to community Louise James Cox of LaFayette, Ala., experienced that commuand a town full of local citizens all ready and willing to create a nity commitment firsthand. “I’ve been involved with Southern learning community that would last for a century. Union since I was a child because my mother and grandmother Those students represented the first class of Bethlehem College, were Congregational Christians,” Cox says. She vividly recalls a private Bible school chartered on June 2, 1922, by the Southern attending fall Harvest Days when all the Congregational ChrisConvention of Christian Churches and charged with the mission tian churches (there were more than 30 in the area at the time) of providing two years of affordable coeducational college training took food to the college to stock the school’s larder. But Cox, a to the residents of Randolph and surrounding counties. 1964 SUSCC graduate, also credits Southern Union’s leaders for Today, that little school is known as Southern Union State encouraging her to come back to school at the age of 29 and a few Community College and though it is greatly changed — it now years later hiring her to teach at the college for another 25 years. encompasses three campuses and a faculty of more than 200 full“To me, that place is sacred,” time educators serving more she said of Southern Union, than 4,000 students — its commitment to community educaespecially of the Wadley camtion remains the same. pus. “When I walk over there, I The story of Southern feel the love of so many people Union’s century of service that made that little school and began after town leaders in made it affordable for people Wadley successfully persuaded in this area that couldn’t have Christian Church leaders to logone to school.” cate their newest rural college Desmond Nunn, a 2012 in their little town. One of the graduate, echoes Cox’s sentiment. He came to Southern many reasons Wadley was chosen was the remarkable supUnion right out of high school, port for the college exhibited unsure about his career path. by members of the community. But with the help of the school’s Not only did local citizens help performing arts faculty Nunn raise some $22,000 to launch discovered his innate talent as the college, a cashier at the a dancer and singer. He is now Bank of Wadley named John Students at what was then Southern Union College, sometime in the traveling the country as a principal in the national tour of M. Hodge donated 44-plus 1950s. Today, Southern Union State Community College celebrates 100 “Hamilton: The Musical.” acres of prime land for use as years of service in east Alabama. “Southern Union was the the school’s campus. launching pad,” he says. “If I had dreams, Southern Union was Within a few years of opening, the school had changed its name the rocket. I would never have gotten to space without this place.” to Southern Union College and was experiencing a steady growth It is that sense of community and commitment that Southern in enrollment. But it also struggled financially, even closing its Union’s current leaders plan to take forward. doors for a short time in 1933 when it faced a looming bankruptcy. But the school soon reopened with the help from local citi“Community is what drives and inspires us,” says Southern zens, some of whom even mortgaged their own farms to pay the Union President Todd Shackett. “We are committed to continuing school’s debt. that partnership to help make our communities stronger through That remarkable sense of community and ingenuity also got the education, and we look forward to the next 100 years of growing school through the Great Depression, during which time school and advancing together.” leaders developed work-study programs and took food, farm aniThat spirit of community and Southern Union’s long history in mals and other supplies in exchange for tuition. All the while, stuthe community will be celebrated from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 15 dents received an exemplary education from the college’s highly on the Wadley campus and all are invited. The free event features qualified faculty members, some of whom hailed from Ivy League food, games and alumni reunions and performances. To learn colleges and prestigious art and music schools. more visit Southern Union’s Facebook or other social media feeds Today, Southern Union alumni continue to find success in the or go to 20 SEPTEMBER 2022

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Alabama Living

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| Worth the drive |

Old Town Stock House A new approach to old-fashioned service By Mike Stedham


tepping into the Old Town Stock House restaurant in downin advertising, McKone moved to New York City to work for a town Guntersville is like stepping back in time – in a good company that specialized in renting shared office space. She loved way. the bustle of the big city but knew she would be happier with a It’s stepping back to the days when being pampered was an indifferent career. tegral part of eating at a nice local restaurant. The days when the “I had always enjoyed cooking, and I’ve always been more of staff knew your name, your likes and your dislikes. the creative type, and although I was doing well at my job, I wasn’t “I think what sets us apart is our level of service all around, feeling fulfilled.” from the way the chefs handle things in the kitchen to the way She started working as a server and bartender in New York our servers and bartenders handle restaurants and enrolled in the things out front,” says Crystal McKFrench Culinary Institute (now one, chef and owner. “It’s kind of called The International Culinary like going back in time to that nosCenter). After graduating, her first talgic era when people really cared kitchen job was at Craft in Atlanabout one another, and providing a ta working for celebrity chef Tom Colicchio, who gained fame as a memorable experience for everyjudge on TV’s “Top Chef.” one.” On visits to her father, who still The experience begins, approprilives in Guntersville, she would ately enough, by finding Old Town often eat at K.C.’s Coyote Café, the Street, just a half block west of the original name of the restaurant city’s main southbound thoroughthat moved into the old drugstore fare. Old Town Stock House is on building after it was renovated in the second floor of a building built the 1990s. in 1901 as a drugstore, and the “I always loved the building then, main entrance to the restaurant is and it’s funny because I had no idea actually at the back of the building I would ever own a restaurant, and through a covered patio. it’s funny that I would end up here Inside the dining area, exposed in a building I already loved so brick walls and hardwood floors much.” enhance the feeling of stepping back into a more relaxed time. The An expansion of clientele space was used as the stock area for She bought the business seven the drugstore, which contributed to years ago and changed its menu the name of the restaurant. from primarily steak and seafood “Plus, we make our own beef The Pork Osso Buco features all local vegetables, including creamed collards, roasted carrots and beech mushrooms. dishes to what she describes as stock and veal stock and chicken PHOTO BY CRYSTAL MCKONE Southern American cuisine. The stock in-house,” says McKone. “So constantly changing menu now features seasonal specials that the name has kind of a double meaning.” take advantage of as much locally grown produce as she can find. A native of Marshall County, McKone was born in neighborThe expansion of the menu led to an expansion of the clientele, ing Albertville and grew up in communities across Alabama and bringing in new customers from Huntsville, Birmingham, CullMississippi. Her family has a lake house in Guntersville, and she man, Gadsden, and other parts of central and north Alabama. kept returning to the area throughout the years. The pandemic hit Old Town Stock House especially hard, since After graduating from the University of Alabama with a degree its emphasis on personal service wasn’t a good fit with preparing mostly carry-out orders. Luckily, the patio out back was already Old Town Stock House l in use, and once it was covered it provided an outdoor option for 410 Old Town Street Guntersville diners to gather and enjoy the food. Guntersville, AL (256) 582-1676 As the world of indoor dining has opened back up, McKone says her restaurant has bounced back. She credits part of the reHours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. surgence on the increasing popularity of Guntersville as a recreand 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday ation and retail center. 22 SEPTEMBER 2022

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“People are coming here for short getaways,” she says. “It has that small-town feel, and it’s a nice escape.” To keep expanding her clientele, McKone says her restaurant continues to evolve by keeping the menu fresh and exciting. They have begun offering lunch on weekdays, and they’ve added a Burger Night special each Tuesday. “We prepare 24 hamburgers that night, and when they’re gone, they’re gone.” Reservations, which are always a good idea, are highly recommended on Burger Night. Although McKone has a degree in advertising and is adept at using Facebook and Twitter, she says she prefers to do her marketing the old-fashioned way as well.

“We really rely heavily on word of mouth. If people like their experience, they will tell their friends,” she says. “I think sometimes people get way too focused on social media, and they’re not taking care of the guests that are in the restaurant.”

Left to right: Crystal McKone is executive chef and owner of Old Town Stock House. PHOTO BY MIKE STEDHAM

The restaurant is actually on the second floor of a structure built in 1901 as a drug store. PHOTO BY CRYSTAL MCKONE The “lunch punch” changes weekly, and features rum or vodka with seasonal fresh juices and accoutrements. PHOTO BY CRYSTAL MCKONE

Don’t be fooled by these 5 government impostor scams By Jackie Davidson, Payments & Digital Fraud Risk Manager at Alabama ONE In 2021 we saw more government impostor scams than ever, and they are still out there trying to find new ways to trick you out of your money. How do these scams work? Scammers pretend to be calling you from government agencies like the Social Security Administration and the IRS, or say they work for Medicare. They say that if you don’t pay or you refuse to give them your personal information, something bad will happen. Or, maybe you’ll miss out on some government benefit. But it’s a scam. Here are 5 government impersonator scams to be aware of. 1. Don’t trust unsolicited calls Government agencies like the Social Security Administration, IRS or FBI do not call people with threats or promises of money according to the BBB. 2. Ignore text messages and emails Unless you’re already corresponding with a government agency that’s supposed to get back with you, be suspicious of text and email messages. Never click on links in messages from supposed government agencies, warns the BBB. 24 SEPTEMBER 2022

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3. Don’t rely on caller ID Scammers can use “spoofing” technology to fool you into answering a call because your caller ID displays the call is from the IRS, Medicare, the SSA or another government agency. 4. Know that Social Security numbers are never suspended If a purported agent from the SSA calls to tell you that your Social Security number has been “suspended” and you may be arrested, hang up immediately. That’s a government impostor trying to con you. “The Social Security Administration will never threaten to arrest you because of an identity theft problem,” says the BBB. 5. Beware of calls asking for tax information “The IRS generally makes its first contact with people by regular mail – not by phone – about taxes,” says the BBB. At Alabama ONE, we are invested in protecting our members from fraud and identity theft through education, safeguards on our credit cards and accounts, and other measures. Visit www. to learn more.

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Alabama Living

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| Alabama People |

Jonathan Harrison

Taking cooking to the next level Columbiana’s Jonathan Harrison had the opportunity to show some love for his home state as a contestant on the first season of “Next Level Chef,” a reality show that aired on the Fox network earlier this year. Hosted by famed TV chef and restaurateur Gordon Ramsay, the show looks for the country’s best line cooks, home chefs, social media stars and more to find the food world’s next superstar. Harrison didn’t make it to the finals, but the experience furthered his current career as a private chef; he creates what his neighborhood calls “driveway dinners,” inviting people via his Instagram account to come to a limited seated dinner. “It’s an excellent way to meet new people and try some new food in a laid-back environment,” he says. He plans to continue “private cheffing” and would like to produce content for food publications, as well as cook his signature Southern fusion cuisine with some of his heroes and pursue opportunities in media and TV. – Allison Law What career path did you originally want? I wanted to be all the things growing up, haha! I thought I would be a great lawyer; I loved running for SGA offices and dreamed of being in politics. My mother wanted me to be a music minister because I have always loved to sing, but when it came time to go to college, I really wanted to be able to go to culinary school – but I had a full ride that didn’t cover the culinary program where I was attending, so I decided to major in journalism. All the while, I continued to cook, read about cooking, try new foods, and explore as many new foods and ingredients as I could. I never stopped wanting to cook for people, I just didn’t know how to make it full time or what it would look like. When did you start cooking, and with whom? The first people I remember cooking with are my grandmothers. I remember rolling out sausage balls and shredding cucumbers for cucumber spread with my paternal grandmother, Dean. I remember her food as being so incredibly flavorful and she made some of the only chicken and dressing that I have ever actually enjoyed. I’m not sure if it was the fourth cup of bacon grease or the love she put into it that made it so good but it was amazing. My maternal grandparents were the ones we lived closest to and their house is where the traditional Sunday dinner after church took place. Most Sundays we had roast, mashed 26 SEPTEMBER 2022

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potatoes, green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, slaw, some sort of pound cake-esque situation for dessert and so much Red Diamond sweet tea. They had a large garden and this is where I learned to appreciate fresh produce and understand how invaluable it is. What is your favorite type of food, or cuisine, to cook? I absolutely love Southern fusion. My favorite thing to do is take the South to the world and bring the world back to the South. Combining ingredients and techniques from around the world with traditional Southern food is just exhilarating to me. Saag Paneer made with collard and mustard greens, wrapping spicy coconut infused dirty rice in motherland okra leaves and steaming them, Chilton County peach and Thai basil scones with sauterne glaze – I know that’s a lot of words but doesn’t that sound so fun and delicious? It just fires me up. Tell us about the experience with Gordon Ramsay and the other judges. My experience with each judge was so valuable and so very unique. I was being coached by Richard Blais who I knew from the upscale burger concept Flip Burger Boutique. Flip Burger was one of the first creative eating experiences I had as a kid. My experience with Nyesha Arrington was just the most incredible. To say that her presence is formidable is an understatement. She is tough, she is incredibly intelligent, immensely talented and she just exudes kindness and acceptance. My experience with Chef Ramsay was equally as wonderful. He truly believes in each contestant and wants you to be your absolute best. Do you want to stay in Alabama? I love Alabama, and I will always have a home here. I always admired how Ernest Hemingway traveled the world but always came home to Key West. I plan to travel and cook around the world, in as many places, for as many people as possible but I think I will always have a little oasis in my hometown to come back to. I want to be someone who goes into the world to show people all of the wonderful parts of our state. Follow Jonathan on Instagram @chef_jonathanharrison

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Alabama Living

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You can apply for Medicare online; note enrollment period


ou can apply for Medicare online even if you are not ready to start your retirement benefits. Applying online is quick and easy. There are no forms to sign, and we usually do not require additional documentation. We’ll process your application and contact you if we need more information. Knowing when to apply for Medicare is very important! You must apply during your limited initial enrollment period. If you’re eligible for Medicare at age 65, your initial enrollment period begins three months before your 65th birthday and ends three months after that date. If you miss your initial enrollment period, you may have to pay a higher monthly premium. Visit to apply for Medicare and find other important information. If you were unable to enroll or disenroll in Medicare because you could not reach us by phone after January 1, 2022, you will be granted additional time, through December 30, 2022. This additional time applies to the 2022 General Enrollment Period, Initial Enrollment Period, and Special Enrollment Period. Some people who receive Medicare benefits may qualify for Extra Help with their Medicare prescription drug plan costs, including the monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and co-payments. To qualify for Extra Help, you must receive Medicare, have limited resources and income, and reside in one of the 50 Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at

September Across 1 Historic African American university 5 Crafting material 9 Large shade tree 11 School’s URL ender 12 IPad pic 14 Place for a latte 16 Approve, as a plan 18 The end product of effective education 21 Managed 22 Landscaper’s grass 23 Classroom supplies 26 Important pollinator 28 Follow instructions 30 Vital food item for kids, 2 words 34 Very happy 36 Christian university in south Alabama 40 “Give ___ break!”, 2 words 42 Brain scan, abbr. 43 Great African American educator, Booker T. _______ 44 For example, briefly Answers on Page 45 28 SEPTEMBER 2022

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states or the District of Columbia. Read our publication Understanding the Extra Help with Your Medicare Prescription Drug Plan for more information at The Medicare website has answers to your questions and other helpful resources including: • What does Medicare cover? Find out at what-medicare-covers. • Where do I find forms to file a Medicare appeal? Visit for more. • How can I let someone else talk to Medicare on my behalf? Learn more at • What do Medicare health and prescription drug plans cost in my area, and what services do they offer? Check out • Which doctors, health care providers, and suppliers participate in Medicare? See for the answers. • Where can I learn more about a Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D) and enroll? Visit • Where can I find a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy in my area? Find the answers at medigap-supplemental-insurance-plans. Please share these helpful resources with friends and family today.


by Myles Mellor Down 1 University of Alabama’s campus nickname, 2 words 2 Baptist university in Birmingham 3 December 24 or 31 4 Enlighten 6 J.F.K. alternative (airport code) 7 Lady sheep 8 Short skirt 10 Young boy 13 Catch on to 15 Environmental protectors 17 Alabama neighbor, abbr. 19 Cocktail addition 20 Agreed! 24 Line made with a compass 25 Brazilian city 26 One __ one 27 __ Prado, Spanish museum 29 Student tests 31 All nations’ org. , abbr. 32 Camembert’s cousin 33 Big rig 35 Dad’s room 37 Or best offer, for short 38 “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” director 39 Breakfast staple 41 Top prosecutor, abbr.

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September | Around Alabama


Dothan Landmark Park Bluegrass Festival. Live music all day. Bring your instrument for jam sessions; there will also be instrument demos, food trucks, kids’ activities, historical interpretations, antique tractors wagon rides and arts and crafts vendors. Bring lawn chairs and 10 by 10 tents. Admission is $10 adults, $8 seniors and military, $4 for kids and free for park members and children 2 and under. Gates open at 9 a.m., and music starts at noon.


Fort Payne Boom Days Heritage Celebration. Event celebrates the city’s unique beginnings nearly 130 years ago. The Fort Payne Depot Museum will display historical Keep an eye out for osprey and other marine wildlife during a tour artifacts and clothing, and of Magnolia River and Weeks Bay, one of several excursions during a miniature railroad system the Alabama Coastal Birdfest. PHOTO BY PAULA LECHER, 2021 ALABAMA LIVING PHOTO CONTEST ENTRANT will be set up in the original office of the Coal and Iron Company. Live music from Billy Dean and Joe Nichols on Saturday night at 201 Fifth St. NE. Arab SugarFest 2022, Arab City Park. Morning begins with Sugar Rush 5K run, Hanceville Superhero Fire presented by which leads into the marketplace arts and crafts Cook Ministries, Hanceville Civic Center, juried vendors show. Food trucks on site all day. 902 Commercial St. 4 to 6 p.m. Community Cornhole tournament, Miss SugarFest Pageant, event features agencies dedicated to preventing Sweetie Pie kids’ area and more. Classic car domestic violence, human trafficking and suicide cruise-in and live music on stage begins at 4 p.m. and includes representatives of recovery centers. Night ends with fireworks show. or Free food and admission and guest speaker. see the event’s page on Facebook.






Cullman Smith Lake Park Sweet Tater Festival. 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday (Labor Day). Live entertainment, food vendors, arts and crafts vendors and of course sweet taters both days. Car show from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday. Admission $5 per person, and armband allows for entry both days. Search for Smith Lake Park or Cullman County Parks on Facebook.


Clanton Market Days on the Farm presents Fall on the Farm from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Cornelius Farms, 1981 Hopewell Drive. Vintage and vintage-inspired architectural salvage and repurposed finds, home décor, handmade jewelry and clothing, live music and food trucks. $2 parking. Search for the event’s page on Facebook.


Jasper 2022 Foothills Festival, entertainment district of downtown Jasper. 5 to 10:30 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 10:30 pm. Saturday. Live music begins at 5 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday; headliner is the Drive-By Truckers at 9:30 p.m. Saturday. Free. Alabama Living

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Elba The Blackwood Quartet in concert at Elba High School, 371 Tiger Drive. Sponsored by the Coffee County Arts Alliance. The legendary gospel quartet features Mark Blackwood, son of Cecil Blackwood of the original Blackwood Brothers Quartet. Tickets are $35.


Titus 21st annual Titus Bluegrass Festival, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Titus Community Center, 5879 Titus Road. Admission is $10; bring a lawn chair and enjoy a day of live music, barbecue and arts and crafts vendors. 334-300-4057.

Call or verify events before you make plans to attend. Due to the changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, some events may change or be canceled after press time.


Red Bay Founder’s Fest, Bay Tree Park. 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Live music begins at 9 a.m.; there will be a fried pie contest as well as quilt, coloring and photography contests, arts and crafts and an antique vehicle show. The Red Bay Museum will be open for tours, and the Weatherford Library will host a book sale. Free.


Springville Homestead Hollow Festival, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Learn about early Alabama history and pioneer living with live demonstrations about wood carving, blacksmithing, wood stove cooking, tours of original cabins and more. Plenty of children’s activities and food vendors on site.


Cullman Annual Oktoberfest German dinner, 4 to 7 p.m. at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church’s Family Life Center, 217 Second Ave. SE. Enjoy bratwurst and German-style kraut with meat by Brickyard Meats, German potato salad, green beans, applesauce, bread and dessert for $15. No children’s meal’s this year. Event is drive-through only; follow signs at the church. All proceeds go toward the Altar Society’s church projects. 256-347-3471.

28-Oct. 1

Spanish Fort 18th annual Alabama Coastal BirdFest. Attendees will take trips into the Mobile Delta, the Dauphin Island Bird Sanctuary, historic Fort Morgan and the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, among other locations, to experience the prime birdwatching opportunities on the Gulf Coast. A familyfriendly Bird and Conservation Expo will be held at the 5 Rivers Delta Resource Center on Saturday.



Calera Pumpkin Junction at the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum, 1919 Ninth St., 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. A variety of free family-friendly activities, games and seasonal crafts, as well as food trucks and sweets vendors on the grounds. The Shelby & Southern Narrow Gauge Steam Railroad will give rides before and after. Event will continue on weekends through October. Search for the event’s page on Facebook.


Eclectic 29th annual Alabama Cotton Festival, along Main Street, First Avenue and in the pecan orchard. More than 150 food and craft vendors, dog show, classic car show, art and photo contest and a free kids’ zone featuring inflatables, carnival games, face painting, the “chicken run” and more.

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


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Raising a kitten

PART ONE: Giving attention


write about dogs all the time; it is time for the cats. There are about 32 million households in the U.S. with at least one cat. Judging by the popularity of cat videos on the internet, many of us are obsessed with cats. It is said that 15% of internet content is cat related. One YouTube cat celebrity has up to 130 million followers. But did you know that people gather in large groups to watch cat videos? There have been cat video watching festivals in San Francisco, Boston and Minneapolis. If you don’t believe me, check out According to an Indiana University Media School researcher, watching cat videos can boost energy and positive emotions. If you are presently not a cat owner, imagine what a real cat can do to your life. A kitten we rescued (a full-grown cat now) is curled up on my lap as I type, making typing very difficult as my one hand is on her tummy, but when I look at her laying on me, snoozing, my heart melts and I can’t bear to move her. May to October is kitten season, and it is possible that many readers have acquired a kitten (or two). Having kittens is one of the great joys in life. Though they require less time than dogs, cats still need a good bit of attention. If you are thinking about getting a cat, please, please, do not buy; rescue or adopt! The universe will thank you, and happiness and joy will rain down on you! There is absolutely no shortage of them; in fact, bags full of them are found frequently on the country roads. Also, purebred cats may come with a host of problems. Coming home: In the beginning, we need to spend a lot of time with them. As they come to their new home, they will probably be very nervous. Settle them in a small place and offer some food. Rub their head and back like a mama cat would groom them. Kitties (and cats) like a safe hiding place. You can turn a good size cardboard box and cut an opening on one side and have several of these available in strategic places. 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


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It is best to socialize kittens before they are 12 weeks old, but that is not a written-in-stone rule. Food and water: We recommend that cats eat only wet food. We see cases of renal failure in older cats, and it is thought that this is because cats may not take in enough water if they are exclusively on dry food. Scientists believe that due to the unique structure of their tongue, they cannot lap up enough water. So, wet food is the way to go! You can even add a touch of water to their wet food. High water intake could also reduce chances of bladder problems and crystal in the urine. Generally, vets are opposed to giving milk to cats. I suggest trying goat milk or maybe even cow’s milk. Of course, stop giving milk if they tend to get soft stool. My cats never had any problem with milk (I know, as I clean the litter boxes). You could give it a try (talk to your vet). Once their growth is complete, do your best to adjust food intake to keep them skinny. Overweight cats are highly likely to get diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. Also, they have a hard time cleaning themselves. I don’t recommend water fountains anymore. I bought many over the years but keeping it clean and flowing is challenging. I just give them their liquid with their food. While choosing food and water bowls, consider going with glass, porcelain or stainless steel. Some cats are allergic to plastic. Search for small serving or dessert bowls. They are very inexpensive. Litter boxes: It is recommended to have one more litter box than you do cats; in other words, if you have 2 cats, you should have 3 litter boxes. I have a mix of covered and open litter boxes. All of them are large. I avoid any scented and clumping litters. I tried Dr. Else’s 99% dust free cat litter. I am not sure if it is much better than Frisco. I tried many other types of cat litter like yesterday’s news, wheat, pine etc. But I settled on Frisco unscented. I am comfortable putting gloves on and picking up the clumps (all clay-based litter clumps) and cleaning all the boxes into one larger plastic bag and disposing of the bag. I feel that the scoopers are messy. See what works for you. In my experience, boy cats tend to be fussier about using litter boxes. And litter additives are generally not effective. Do your best to clean them every day or two. Try out several kinds of litter to see what works for you. We’ll have more on raising kittens in the next column.

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Alabama Living

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| Gardens |

Fighting back against invasive plants O

ur yards and gardens can be sanctuaries for a wide array of interesting and important organisms that help support our natural world. Unfortunately, these spaces can also harbor harmful and seemingly indomitable invading organisms that wreak havoc on natural systems. Thankfully, though, we can defend the natural world from these intruders from the vantage point of our own yards and gardens. Invasive species are defined as non-native organisms (plants, animals, insects, fungus, bacteria and the like) that, when introduced into a new ecosystem, can soon overwhelm native species. This throws the ecosystem out of balance and that imbalance can forever change a landscape, lead to the extinction of native species and even threaten our own economic and physical health and well-being. All of us probably have some invasive plant species in our yards (English ivy, Chinese privet and wisteria, Elaegnus, popcorn trees, nandina and Bradford pears, for examples). And if you’re like me, removing them can seem a daunting task. To tackle this job, I’ve looked for help through various state, regional and national conservation and land management organizations. In the process I found a great a homeowner’s guide ( HomeownersGuide-InvasiveSpecies2. pdf) published by the University of GeorKatie Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at


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gia’s Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health and I discovered Kyle Lybarger, founder of the Native Habitat Project (visit Lybarger is a forester and conservation consultant based in Hartselle, Ala., who turned his passion for native habitats and plants into a campaign to restore native ecosystems in Alabama. He’s also a conservation “influencer” whose social media posts (especially his TikTok posts) have become go-to sources of information for landowners of all ilks. When I contacted him to ask if we as gardeners and homeowners can really make a difference in the battle against invasives, he replied with an unequivocal “Absolutely!” According to Lybarger, one big way we can help is by removing invasive species and planting more natives. And he said we can have an impact whether our “land” consists of “a few pots on your balcony or thousands of acres.” To avoid feeling overwhelmed by this task, Lybarger suggests starting small. “Find the worst spot and focus on removing invasives from that location,” he said. Once those are conquered, you can widen the effort to other areas. In addition to removing invasives, Lybarger says it’s important to plant native species, which benefit wildlife and the local ecosystem. “What we plant in our yard determines what grows in the wild around our yards,” he explains. To get started with native plants, Ly-

barger suggests dedicating a small garden area to convert to native species and adding to it each year. Replacing invasive plants with natives is also a good step. We can also help by not buying invasive species, many of which are still readily available at garden centers. And there’s nothing wrong — and a lot right — with asking garden center managers to stop carrying invasive plants and start stocking more natives. It’s also important to get to know our plants — the good guys and the bad ones. Lybarger suggests using the INaturalist app or website for this purpose. He also suggests joining the Native Habitat Managers Facebook group to get more advice and ideas. These are of course only a few ways we can wage the battle against invasive species, but each battle is a step closer to winning the war, which is a win for everyone.

SEPTEMBER TIPS • Re-seed and repair lawns. • Continue harvesting gardens and clean out dead garden material.

• Get a soil test to prepare ground for next year’s garden.

• Start buying spring-blooming bulbs. • Look for sales on summer gardening tools and equipment.

• Plant cool-season vegetables and flowers.

• Prepare bird feeders and baths for the fall migration.

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Alabama Living

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8/18/22 1:07 PM

| Alabama Recipes |

Cheese Ball

at your

Fingertips Food styling and photos: Brooke Echols

Baked Chicken Wings with Alabama (Roll Tide) White Sauce

Mama Pat's Hot Artichoke Dip with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwich Casserole


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en Wings a


all them finger foods, tailgate treats, or if you’re feeling fancy, canapes. Whatever you call them, any food that can be picked up with your hands and enjoyed at a social gathering qualifies as a finger food, and we at Alabama Living got to enjoy several different types of our reader-submitted recipes this month. Some you may recognize as familiar favorites. We hope you enjoy checking out a variety of these bite-size treats at your next football tailgate, wedding or baby shower, or just munching as you read your favorite magazine!

Cook of the Month: Pat Phillips, Arab EC

Mama Pat’s Hot Artichoke Dip with Sun-Dried Tomatoes 1 1 1 1

cup parmesan cheese cup mayonnaise teaspoon garlic powder 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained with excess juice squeezed out 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions (can substitute finely chopped onions) 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, chopped 1 teaspoon paprika (regular or smoked)

Submit to

win $50!

Coming up next... Kids Who Cook January Theme October 7 Deadline to enter

If you know or are a kid who enjoys cooking, January's theme is just for you! It's all about kids and their favorite dishes. Recipes kids love to eat, but also recipes kids can prepare themselves with or without an adult's help. No recipe is too easy or too complex. We want them all! If you have a photo of your kid cooking, send it in along with the recipe. The winning Junior Cook will receive a $50 prize check!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8x8-inch baking dish. In medium bowl, mix the cheese, mayonnaise and garlic powder. Stir in the artichokes, onions and sundried tomatoes. Mix well and transfer to prepared baking dish. Bake until lightly browned, about 25 minutes. Sprinkle with paprika and serve with Wheat Thins or baguettes.

More upcoming themes and deadlines: February: Decadent Desserts | November 4 March: Pizza | December 2

3 ways to share your recipe: Visit our website: 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. Alabama Living

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Email us: USPS mail: Attn: Recipes P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 SEPTEMBER 2022 35

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Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwich Casserole 2 24-packs King’s Hawaiian Rolls 1 pound shaved Virginia ham 24 slices Swiss cheese Sauce: 1½ sticks butter 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce 2 teaspoons dried onion 2 teaspoons poppy seeds Slice the rolls in half. Line the bottom of two 9x11-inch baking pans with the bottom halves of the rolls. They should just fit. Spread the ham over the rolls and layer the Swiss cheese on top. Place the other halves of the rolls on the top. Set aside. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, mustard, Worcestershire and dried onions. Over medium heat, stir until the butter has melted to create the sauce. Pour equal parts of the sauce over the rolls and then sprinkle with poppy seeds. Cover the pans tightly with foil and refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the covered pans in the oven for 24 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 48 mini sandwiches. Nancy Sites Sizemore Baldwin EMC

Mini Cheese Balls 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened 1 8-ounce package cheddar cheese, grated 4 ounces diced green chilies 1 teaspoon lemon juice 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce Dash cayenne pepper Dash salt Onion powder, to taste Pecans, finely chopped Cream the cream cheese; add cheddar until well blended. Add remaining ingredients. Mix until well blended. Shape into balls and roll in pecan pieces. Chill for 24 hours. Serve with fancy toothpicks and crackers. Robbie Vantrease Cullman EC 36 SEPTEMBER 2022

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Baked Chicken Wings with Alabama (Roll Tide) White Sauce Wings: 1 pound split chicken wings (cut into drumettes and flats) 2 tablespoons melted butter 2 teaspoons baking powder 2 tablespoons seasoned salt (recommended: Dixie Dirt) Alabama White Sauce: 1 cup mayonnaise 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish 2 tablespoons honey 1 teaspoon hot sauce 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 1 teaspoon black pepper Pinch of salt and cayenne pepper, to taste Garnish: sliced green onions chopped cilantro. Serve with carrot sticks and celery. For Wings: In large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients, making sure the wings are covered in the butter, seasoning and baking powder. Place wings on a parchment lined baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes in a preheated 425 degree oven. For Alabama White Sauce: Mix all ingredients together. I like to mix them in a Mason jar. Shake or stir vigorously. Drizzle sauce over hot wings and serve with extra sauce. Store remaining sauce in an airtight container. Kathy Phillips Wiregrass EC

Photo by The Buttered Home


e love appetizers and Brooke Burks finger foods any time of the year. Tailgating is a tradition, and we love to do it year-round for sports of any kind, even if it means we’re just sitting in our little old living room. These Stuffed Chicken Roll Ups are the perfect small bite that eats like a meal. We stuff these beautiful tenderloins and cook them to perfection. A touchdown every time! For more recipes like this, visit

Stuffed Chicken Roll Ups 3 large chicken breasts, butterflied, split and pounded out thin 2 Roma tomatoes ¼ cup red onion 1/8 cup chopped green pepper 2/3 cup mozzarella cheese 2 tablespoon fresh basil, cut into ribbons 2 tablespoon olive oil ¼ cup balsamic vinegar ¼ cup chicken broth 2 tablespoon honey 2 tablespoon chopped garlic 2 tablespoon Italian seasoning Salt and pepper to taste Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Split or butterfly each chicken breast into two pieces, fairly thin. Place in a zip-top bag and gently pound down and out to flatten. Prep and mix tomatoes, onion, peppers and mozzarella cheese in a medium size bowl. Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides and place a spoonful of vegetable mixture on largest part of breast. Carefully roll up and secure with one or two toothpicks. Place roll ups in an oven safe/stovetop pan that has the heated olive oil in it. Brown on all sides just to sear. Sprinkle remaining vegetable mixture on top. Meanwhile, mix balsamic vinegar, broth, honey, garlic and Italian seasoning in a small boiler. Cook for a few minutes to combine. Pour mixture over seared roll ups. Place in a preheated oven for 20 minutes. Baste halfway through cooking time. Remove from oven and turn chicken over. Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes until done. Allow to rest at room temperature for about 5 minutes.

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Alabama Living

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8/18/22 1:07 PM

| Consumer Wise |

Add removing the window AC to your fall winterizing projects. This prevents heat from escaping and wasting energy. PHOTO COURTESY MARK GILLILAND, PIONEER UTILITY RESOURCES

Easy ways to help a neighbor save energy Q:

I’m a firm believer that saving energy helps the environment as well as the pocketbook. So, how can I help others improve their energy savings at home?


Helping people feels good. Supporting community is sewn into the fabric of your electric co-op, which is guided by the Seven Cooperative Principles that put the needs of members first. On National Good Neighbor Day, which is September 28—or any day this month—join in the cooperative spirit and help your neighbors, friends and family save at home with these do-it-yourself energy-saving tips. Tips range in physicality and cost, providing options based on your ability.

Change lightbulbs

Prioritize changing lights that are used the most, such as incandescent porch lights left on all night. LEDs use about 75% less energy and last up to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Some neighbors can’t climb step stools or ladders, so help them out if you are able. Be sure to check for overhead power lines when using ladders outside.

Swap the filter

Furnace filters should be checked regularly and replaced when they are dirty. Simply writing down the dimensions of the furnace filter can help your neighbor, who can pick up a pack of new ones in the store or order online. If you find a really dirty furnace filter, don’t remove it until you have a replacement. Operating your system without a filter allows dirt and dust in the system to go directly to the heating and cooling components, which can damage the system and necessitate costly repairs. Miranda Boutelle is the vice president of operations and customer engagement at Efficiency Services Group in Oregon, a cooperatively owned energy efficiency company. She also writes on energy efficiency topics for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives.


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Open the dampers

Register dampers allow heated and cooled air to properly circulate throughout the home. If you have a central air heating or cooling system, dampers should be left open. The idea that closing registers saves energy is a common misconception. If furniture is on top of dampers, move it to a new permanent spot so it does not block air flow.

Adjust the water heater

Check the water heater and set it to 120 degrees. Use a kitchen thermometer to test the water temperature. At the faucet nearest the water heater, turn only the hot water on and wait until it gets hot. Let the hot water run into a glass and place a kitchen thermometer in it. Wait until it registers the highest temperature. If the water heater is set too high, you can save energy by lowering the setting.

Keep outdoor units clear

Clean brush and debris from around the air conditioner or heat pump. If leaves or brush pile up around the outdoor unit of a heat pump or air-conditioning system, it can reduce the airflow, making the system work harder than it should. That uses more energy and can reduce the life of the unit.

Remove the window AC

By removing the unit before wintertime, the window can close properly. This prevents heat from escaping and wasting energy. It also keeps the room more comfortable. Window AC units are heavy and awkward. This project is best done with a buddy. Get that person to commit to helping put the unit back next spring.

Share energy-saving programs

Information is a great way to help, and it’s free. Look into programs your co-op offers and share that information with your neighbor. Don’t forget to check the U.S. Department of Energy for federal tax credits for upgrades.

8/18/22 1:07 PM

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| Outdoors |

Tuscaloosa area is home to hot spots for spotted bass


nglers hoping to catch giant spotted bass traditionally head launch and fish. A spillway flows over the structure, creating a waterfall. The falling water cools and oxygenates the system. People to the Coosa River, but another Alabama stream also holds can also fish off the bank in several places. trophy spots. “Where the dams generate current is always a good place to fish “The Black Warrior River can produce some big spotted bass,” for spotted bass,” Jones says. “Early in the morning, I like to throw reports Russell Jones with Alabama Guide Services in Tuscaloosa. topwater baits around the rocks and the dam. The river is a good “Several times, I’ve caught five spotted bass totaling more than 25 place to fish spinnerbaits and crankbaits. I also like to flip a jig pounds. The biggest spot I’ve ever caught weighed 6.4 pounds.” around laydowns.” Named for a native chief called Tuskaloosa, which means “black From the Oliver spillway, people can run all the way down to warrior” in the Muskogean language, the Black Warrior River begins west of Birmingham and flows Demopolis and fish rocks, fallen 178 miles until it hits the Tombigtrees and other structures. Anybee River at Demopolis. Along thing its largemouth cousin might the way, it runs through a series hit, could tempt a spotted bass. of dams, separating the river into Spots especially relish threadfin pools. Major pools include Holt shad so lures that mimic shad work Reservoir, William Bacon Oliver best. Often, anglers catch spotted Lake and City Pool. Altogether, the bass and largemouths at the same Black Warrior system drains about time on the same baits, but they will 6,300 square miles. know when a big spot hits. “Fighting current all the time Lake Tuscaloosa, named for the gave spotted bass a vicious atticity it serves and for the native tude,” Jones says. “Many anglers chief, provides water for the city believe they hooked into a much and county of Tuscaloosa. It covers larger fish than they did, especially roughly 6,300 acres about five miles when spots get out into the current. north of Tuscaloosa. The North When feeding, spotted bass are River flows out of Lake Tuscaloosa very aggressive. After hooking one into the Black Warrior. Throughout fish, the angler might see 10 or 12 the entire system, anglers can catch other bass trying to get that bait out a variety of fish, especially big spots. of the hooked fish’s mouth.” “Where the North River hits Just upstream from the Oliver the Black Warrior, water is usually Lock and Dam and minutes from cooler because it’s coming off the downtown Tuscaloosa, the City bottom of Lake Tuscaloosa,” Jones Pool, also called Riverview, usuexplains. “Up the North River is a ally offers good spotted bass acgreat place to catch hybrids and Russell Jones with Alabama Guide Services shows off a spotted striped bass with large live baits or bass he caught on a shaky head jig tipped with a worm trailer while tion. It normally carries significant current. Farther upstream, Holt swim baits.” fishing on the Black Warrior River at the Oliver Lock and Dam in Reservoir covers roughly 3,300 When barges pass through the Tuscaloosa. PHOTO BY JOHN N. FELSHER acres about five miles northeast of locks or the dams run water, that Tuscaloosa. John P. Nichols pulled creates current throughout the the state record blue catfish from Holt Reservoir, a fish weighing Black Warrior system. Current stirs of baitfish and repositions 120.25 pounds. spotted bass behind structures. “Holt is probably the most diverse pool in Tuscaloosa County,” “For spots, current is the key,” Jones says. “Often, they’ll set up Jones says. “It has a great population of spotted bass. Holt is a behind a rockpile. I work a bait downstream to the pile and then well-rounded fishery that can hold a lot of boats for a tournastop the retrieve so it sinks behind the obstruction down to where ment. On the Black Warrior system, it’s common to catch several the fish are.” species in the same day. Besides bass, anglers might also catch The river separates the cities of Tuscaloosa and Northport. Between the cities, the Oliver Lock and Dam offers a great place to stripers, hybrid bass, catfish, drum, crappie, white bass, bream and other fish.” Visitors can find many restaurants and accommodations in the Tuscaloosa area. During University of Alabama home football John N. Felsher is a professional freelance writer who lives in Semmes, Ala. He also hosts an outdoors tips show for WAVH FM game weekends, rooms everywhere book fast. Talk 106.5 radio station in Mobile, Ala. Contact him at j.felsher@ For area information, call Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports at or through Facebook. 205-861-8563 or see 40 SEPTEMBER 2022

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| Our Sources Say |

As the new school year starts, we are helping to shape young minds


ith children heading back to school this time of year, it is the perfect opportunity for educators to apply for grants to help them create outstanding science, technology, engineering and math projects for elementary, middle or high school students. Beginning September 1 through October 17, teachers and administrators who receive their electricity from local power companies served by TVA can apply for up to $5,000 per STEM project. TVA is joining with the Bicentennial Volunteers, Inc. in offering a total of $1 million in STEM grant funding this school year. Educators should apply by visiting Preference will be given to applications that explore TVA’s primary areas of focus: environment, energy, economic development and problem-solving that helps communities prosper. The grant amount is based on the scope of the project. Smaller projects, such as the purchase of equipment related to a larger project, can receive $1,000. We hope you will share the application information with public elementary, middle and high schools in your service areas and join with us in helping to prepare young minds for great careers in high-paying STEM-related fields. Beginning at the second-grade level, teachers can also find outstanding class resources on Under the “For Teachers” tab, they can find lesson units with videos, reading materials and suggestions for daily activities. These lessons—designed by Tennessee Valley teachers for practical use in the classroom—may be formative steps of tomorrow’s doctors, civil engineers, nuclear scientists, computer programmers or robot designers. With a strong foundation in STEM learning, the potential is limitless. Lesson units range from showing second graders how humans can help remove bats from the endangered species list to high Kevin Chandler is the customer relations director, Regional Relations South, for the Tennessee Valley Authority.


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school physics lessons about the energy behind roller coasters. Another opportunity for TVA and LPCs to partner in supporting students and schools is through TVA’s School Uplift program. Piloted in 2021, the program is a 12-month behavior-based energy management training program that provides practical steps students, teachers and staff can take to save energy and reduce energy costs. Participating public schools compete to meet energy-saving milestones and become eligible for Building Energy Upgrade Grants of up to $200,000. Every participating school will receive a $10,000 Learning Environment Grant at the conclusion of the year-long program. Since the program started, participating schools reduced their annual energy bills by over 10%, which can be invested in other vital building or educational needs. In Alabama this year, W.A. Threadgill Primary School earned a $100,000 grant and L.E. Wilson Elementary School received a $200,000 grant. Both schools are served by Sheffield Utilities. Alabama schools currently participating in the program in 20222023 include Arab Elementary School, Arab Junior High School, Arab High School and Arab Primary School (served by Arab Electric Cooperative); Charles F Hard Elementary School, Bessemer City Middle School and Bessemer City High School (served by Bessemer Electric Service); Cherokee High School, Colbert County High School, and Colbert Heights High School (served by Sheffield Utilities); Harlan Elementary School, Weeden Elementary School and Handy School (served by Florence Utilities); North Jackson High School, Skyline High School and Woodville High School (served by North Alabama Electric Cooperative); and North Sand Mountain School, Pisgah High School and Section High School (served by Sand Mountain Electric Cooperative ). TVA is currently recruiting schools for the 2023-2024 school year. Please help us share information about the School Uplift program by directing teachers and administrators to visit

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| Classifieds | How To Place a Line Ad in Marketplace Closing Deadlines (in our office): November 2022 Issue by September 25 December 2022 Issue by October 25 January 2023 Issue by November 25 Ads are $1.75 per word with a 10 word minimum and are on a prepaid basis; Telephone numbers, email addresses and websites are considered 1 word each. Ads will not be taken over the phone. You may email your ad to; or call (800)410-2737 ask for Heather for pricing.; We accept checks, money orders and all major credit cards. Mail ad submission along with a check or money order made payable to ALABAMA LIVING, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124 – Attn: Classifieds.

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Answers to puzzle on Page 28

Alabama Living

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| Hardy Jackson's Alabama |

The Poutin’ House after Ivan remember back in September 2004. I was in Jacksonville, watching the Weather Channel, as Hurricane Ivan churned toward the Florida Panhandle. After landfall it was predicted to move quickly into South Alabama. So I called my Daddy down in Grove Hill, about 90 miles north of Mobile and right in the projected path. “I’m coming to get you and Mama,” I told him -- which I knew when I said it was the wrong approach to take. You didn’t tell Daddy what you will do if it involves him -- you ask if you can. “No, you’re not,” he replied. “You stay there and look after yours.” I tried to reason with him. He hemmed and hawed. Then he fessed up. “Mrs. Margaret and Aunt Stella are going to ride it out with me and Mama. We will be just fine.” There you have it. My Daddy. My hero. My role model. At age 87, fixing to have a hurricane party with three women, the youngest having just turned 80. If I can do the same when I reach his age, if I reach his age, I will have lived life to the fullest. So, we kept in touch by phone. They made it through the night but woke to find no power. Then, about mid-day, the wind hit them full force. A big oak in the backyard was uprooted. Smaller trees were snapped in two -- just snapped. However, Daddy’s Poutin’ House survived, and its survival undid my plans. In the wake of the storm, word reached me that power down there might not be restored for a week and that they would soon lose water as well. Hearing this, I called again. “Pack to leave Daddy, I’m on my way.” “We’re staying here.” (Didn’t I learn the first time? Ask.) “You won’t have power.” “We’ve been without power before.” “For a week?” Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Professor Emeritus at Jacksonville State University. He can be reached at


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Illustration by Dennis Auth


“Longer.” “What about water?” “We’ll go to the spring at Hebron. It is gushing out there and folks are lined up with buckets.” For every point I made, he had a counterpoint. So, I put my wife on the phone. Now my wife can argue the bark off a beech tree, but she was no match for the unpersuadable Jackson. Not even the lure of watching the Auburn-LSU game would get Daddy to budge.

And besides, he pointed out in closing, “Mama just fixed me a hot breakfast.” Then I knew I had lost the fight. It seems that while we were arguing, men from the Co-op worked their magic and as if someone had said “let there be light,” there was light. So mama had cooked up a mess of eggs, grits and bacon, and made a pot of coffee. Now how can you argue a man away from that? I couldn’t. I surrendered.

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Illustration by Dennis Auth

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Did you

Find the hidden dingbat! we showed you on Page 9?

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