August 2022 Central Alabama

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Central Alabama



CAEC 2021 Annual Report

Plotting a clear course

Member Appreciation Day & Annual Meeting :

Friday, August 12th

CAEC’s West Operations Center And virtually at


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Central Alabama Electric Cooperative 103 Jesse Samuel Hunt Blvd. Prattville, AL 36066

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


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

Winning photos

Drew Senter’s photo of a Baldwin County sunrise was one of several reader photos taking Honorable Mention honors in our 2022 Photo Contest.

12 F E A T U R E S


Printed in America from American materials


My boat

Summer months are perfect for getting out in our boats, as evidenced by our readers’ photos.


WWII vet honored


Primed for peppers

Romay Davis, age 102, recently received a national award at the National WWII Museum for her unique wartime service.


Red, green or yellow, cooked or raw, sweet or spicy, peppers are a nutritious snack and easy to add to any meal.

D E P A R T M E N T S 11 Spotlight 25 Around Alabama 28 Outdoors 29 Fish & Game Forecast 30 Cook of the Month 38 Hardy Jackson’s Alabama ONLINE:


ON THE COVER Look for this logo to see more content online!

VOL. 75 NO. 8




Central Alaba ma


CAEC Annual Meeting & Member Appreciation Day is Aug. 12



CAEC 202 Annual 1 Report Plot

ting a clea r course

Membe r Apprec iation & Annua l Meetin Day g: Frida y, Augu And virtual CAEC’s West Operatst 12th ly at www.c ions op/an Center nual-m eeting AUGUST







9:45 AM Alabama Living 340 Technacenter Drive Montgomery, AL 36117

Get our FREE monthly email newsletter! Sign up at AUGUST 2022 3



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Executive Report

2021: Tackling roadblocks and plotting a clear course No matter how much time passes, 2020 will always be a year we remember; it was an unprecedented storm that dealt the world a blow it never saw coming. Going into 2021, we had a general idea of what we could expect, but there was still the possibility of surprises along the way. We stand here today two years down the road, and still we’re dealing with the after effects of the pandemic in ways we never thought we would. As much as we’d like to shake off 2020 and leave it in the past, it continues to influence many things we do. The beginning of 2021 found us attempting to map a new course, and ultimately, it became somewhat of a hybrid year. The temptation to sit idly by and wait for life to return to “normal” was rampant all around us. Events and other gatherings were canceled or postponed as a resurgence of COVID-19 reared its ugly head. It was during this time that a choice had to be made to either wait and see or to move forward; we chose to move forward. Your cooperative operates on five core values: community commitment, safety, innovation, integrity and accountability. These values have served as the bedrock of our organization for many years, and because of the firm foundation they’ve established, we were better prepared to face the challenges of 2021 and those we now face in 2022. From an operational standpoint today, we find ourselves navigating the ever-increasing costs of materials, vehicles, fuel and natural gas, all of which greatly affect our everyday projects. But with every roadblock, we’ve learned to adjust, whether through hiring more employees to help with the growing needs of our organization or learning how to safely and effectively extend the life of equipment until replacements can arrive. Even in the midst of challenges and changes, the foundation of the cooperative’s business model has been unaffected. Since 1939, CAEC’s purpose has been service to the members. And while times have changed, jobs have changed, needs have changed, the business model has shown its distinguishing ability to adapt while remaining true to its roots. Co-ops continue to operate based on the cooperative principles, which allow us to address the current concerns of our communities. The introduction of our broadband subsidiary, Central Access, is a prime example of how we carry out this principle. Well before the pandemic, we saw the need in our service area for fast, reliable broadband internet. Because of Central Access, we’ve already seen fewer people leaving the more rural areas due to lack of internet access. This service has also enabled many members to work from home, saving them considerable transportation costs, including increasing gas prices. When we started this Central Access endeavor, we knew the road would be a long one, but we can say with absolute certainty that it has been well worth the journey and investment. Looking back at 2021, the same sentiment rings true for our cooperative. Our desire to continue serving members to the best of our ability is an investment we embrace. Regardless of what happens along the journey, our course is always clear: stick to our core values. And the end goal has and always will be to do what’s best for you, our members.

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Tom Stackhouse President/CEO

Van Smith Chairman, Board of Trustees

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Never yIElding on our commitment to community Not only is concern for and commitment to community a core value for CAEC, but it’s also one of the founding principles of electric cooperatives nationwide. Having started the year with intentions of returning to in-person gatherings, we were thrilled to begin preparations for Youth Tour, Empower, Annual Meeting and other events. But as the year progressed, we soon saw we would have to make a few changes to adapt to the growing concern of the COVID-19 resurgence. With the health and safety of our communities at the forefront of our thoughts, we quickly pivoted, making necessary arrangements to host these events virtually. Despite the cancellation of the 2021 state and national Youth Tour program, we moved forward in June with our own Virtual Youth Tour. Twenty high school juniors from schools within our service area participated in the program, giving them the opportunity to interact in team-building sessions and leadership lessons, as well as joining discussions with our President and CEO Tom Stackhouse and taking a virtual tour of the State Capitol Building, led by Senator Clyde Chambliss and Representative Van Smith. At the conclusion of the event, in lieu of the cancelled trip to Washington D.C., six students were awarded a scholarship of $2,500 each. July brought us the chance to host our fourth annual Empower Alumni event. The session was presented via Zoom and brought together more than 15 teachers and staff members from CAEC and the National Energy Education Development (NEED) program. While keeping health and safety in mind, we continued our other programs throughout the year. In June, September and December, we hosted three blood drives with the LifeSouth Blood Mobile, collecting a total of 40 pints for the year. Applications poured in for our Bright Ideas Grant program, which helps support innovative, interesting and effective classroom initiatives that school funding doesn’t typically cover. In total, we awarded $24,000 in grants to 26 projects across 15 different schools, benefitting over 4,600 students within several counties in CAEC’s service area. We also had the opportunity to award four graduating high school seniors within our service area the Electric Cooperative Foundation Scholarship. The applicants must be dependents of CAEC members, and each student received a $2,500 scholarship for a four-year college, junior college, a technical school or a vocational school. On July 6, eight of our linemen traveled to Central Florida Electric Cooperative in anticipation of Tropical Storm Elsa, and afterward, they made their way to Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative to help with restoration efforts. Finally, the arrival of Hurricane Ida in September had 14 CAEC linemen headed to Washington-St. Tammany Electric Cooperative (WSTE) in Marion County, Louisiana, helping restore power to the 98 percent of their membership that had been affected. Even with the added challenges of an in-person year turned hybrid, we were proud to keep the momentum going for each of these activities. Whether virtually on a screen or in-person six feet apart, we were thrilled to continue offering our members the services and programs they’ve come to know and expect from us through the years. Commitment to community always has and always will be a driving force for the co-op, regardless of what the years bring.


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Delivering on accountability Accountability is key when it comes to a thriving organization, but that attribute applies both to those within CAEC’s organization as well as the membership. Through the cooperative principle of democratic member control, CAEC’s member owners can voice their opinions. This long-term principle ensures that members truly have power and influence on the decisions that are made for the cooperative. In the cooperative world, we understand the saying, “one member, one vote.” This means that every single member of CAEC has equal voting power, which gives everyone the fundamental opportunity to select fellow members to serve on the Board of Trustees. The individuals who serve on our board are just like you. They are local business owners, fellow church members, coaches of Little League teams and much more. When they make decisions for the cooperative, they do it knowing it will affect them as well. Each year, members are called to participate in our board election either through mail-in ballots or by casting their ballots in person on the day of our Annual Meeting. While the voting process progressed per usual in 2021, our plans for how we would host Annual Meeting, unfortunately, hit a roadblock. Originally planned as an in-person event, we soon realized our 2021 Annual Meeting would, once again, need to be hosted virtually to ensure member and employee health and safety. Even with the virtual change, 300 members attended the meeting in real time, and 3,735 mail-in ballots were collected beforehand to determine the results of our Board of Trustees election. As with any organization that strives to learn and grow while improving how we serve those we impact, we want feedback from our members. Your voice matters, as it helps keep us accountable every single day.

safety never stops Training and safety are two top priorities at CAEC because without proper and effective training, optimum safety can’t be achieved. But these ideals of training and safety aren’t only for our employees. When it comes to educating our members on these topics, we take great care to ensure accurate, timely, engaging and educational information is distributed through a variety of channels, such as social media, member e-newsletters, mailers and more. For our employees, 2021 was filled with employee training opportunities from start to finish. Throughout each month, employees participated in virtual meetings covering safety and wellness topics ranging from staying properly hydrated and recognizing the signs of a stroke to co-op fitness opportunities and sessions, stretching techniques, vitamin and supplement regimens and much more. CPR refresher classes were also offered for new and current employees, ensuring up-to-date certifications. By the end of the year, our employees averaged a total of 80 training hours in both wellness and safety. Notably, in November, CAEC held an all-employee training day to discuss upcoming company news and policies, explore new and updated safety guidelines and wellness tips and enjoy a motivational speaker as well as opportunities to interact with fellow coworkers.

integrity: staying on the straight & narrow path CAEC values integrity and veracity in our work. And as is true with every successfully functioning system, checks and balances are necessary to ensure a strong operation, and your cooperative is no different. Each year, CAEC undergoes both internal and external audits that examine the financial well-being and integrity of the cooperative. External audits are scheduled and performed twice a year. Auditors examine a substantial crosssection of transactions while looking closely at how margins are allocated and whether fraudulent activities have occurred. Internal audits are conducted throughout the year to check for items such as the amount of cash in teller drawers, whether our funds are properly accounted for and if there is a clear separation of duties among employees dealing closely with financials. Another unique way CAEC demonstrates integrity among members is through the retirement (or return) of capital credits. Since the cooperative operates as a not-for-profit business, we charge just enough to cover expenses plus a small margin. The margin provides us with the necessary funds to maintain

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Charting a course for innovation For CAEC, innovation drives us in every facet of our work. Whether we’re thinking outside the box to find new solutions for old processes, exploring operational concepts to increase efficiency or seeking new opportunities to invest in and grow our surrounding communities, we are constantly moving forward in our pursuit to grow and thrive. It soon became clear that 2021 would become a year full of tremendous growth opportunities within the cooperative itself as well as our broadband subsidiary Central Access. Industries across the globe continued to struggle with employee layoffs, replacing key retirement personnel and labor shortages, but from start to finish, we were thankful to see tremendous growth in our staff. In total, we were fortunate enough to bring 22 new employees into the CAEC family, boosting our ability to service our CAEC members and Central Access customers quickly and effectively. Progress continued as we moved forward with construction and energizing our Union Grove substation, completing that project at the beginning of 2022. Our Kingston substation also underwent on-site voltage regulator maintenance, which is performed every 10 years to ensure all

systems are working properly. With innovation in mind, we utilized an additional method for trimming our Right of Way (ROW) with the help of a helicopter from the company Signature. This method significantly reduced the amount of time spent manually maintaining the ROWs, saving us weeks of labor hours and allowing us to use that time on other projects across our service area. During the summer of 2021, buildout was completed on our latest speculative building in our Interstate Business Park– a project designed to bring valuable jobs to our community. Virtual tours of the facility were offered, and the building was soon opened to potential tenants. Through our revolving loan program, we also partnered with the Autauga County Commission to invest in Central Alabama Community College. The campus, located in Prattville, will be a primary location for students from Elmore and Autauga Counties. As the year drew to a close, Central Access saw approximately 1,700 miles of fiber constructed, with our reach now extending to 17,969 members out of a total of 37,409 possible connections. The year concluded with 7,050 active fiber services, an impressive 39.2 percent connection rate. Thinking of what might be considered an obstacle and turning it into an opportunity is the key to innovation. With each new idea, we strive to discover better and more efficient ways to serve our membership.

our financial strength while meeting the financial obligations of our lenders. This revenue is reinvested in capital infrastructure, such as poles, wire, transformers, meters and other equipment. On average, the useful life of this investment is 25 to 35 years and is returned to you in the form of planned general retirements of capital credits. Your Board of Trustees has adopted an equity management plan that sets a projected equity level for the cooperative as well as a plan that continues to return member investments through retiring capital credits on an approximate 30-year cycle. Since 1994, your trustees have authorized the return of over $18.9 million in retired patronage to members, and in 2021, another $750,000 was approved for return. Financial stability is key to providing reliable power at affordable rates. In everything we do, we want you, our members, to know with certainty that we are here for you and that the funds you provide are being used ethically to serve you to the best of our ability. AUGUST 2022 7

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Statement of Financial Condition as of Dec. 31, 2021

Assets Total Utility Plant Less Accumulated Depreciation Net Utility Plant Value Equity in Associated Organizations Cash Temporary Investments Accounts Receivable Prepayments Material in Inventory Other Current and Accrued Assets Deferred Charges Total Assets

$341,054,824 (70,792,010) 270,262,814 48,733,821 (508,424) 166,415 17,113,369 440,426 1,941,377 10,077 932,207


Liabilities & Member Equity Membership, Equities and Deposits Long-term Debt Non-current Liabilities Notes and Accounts Payable Other Current & Accrued Liabilities Deferred Credits Total Liabilities and Member Equity

$114,244,274 177,283,516 4,662,817 25,854,551 16,569,248 477,676


Statement of Operations Revenue Electric Revenue Other Operating Revenue Total Revenue

$92,189,029 3,682,498


Expenses Cost of Purchased Power $54,281,752 Distribution & Operation Maintenance 12,983,336 Consumer Accounting, Service & Sales 5,961,479 Administrative and General 6,901,081 Total Operations & Maintenance Expense $80,127,648 Depreciation Expense 7,864,481 Interest Expense 6,131,831 Other Deductions 17,073 $94,141,033 Total Cost of Electric Service Total Operating Income 1,730,494 Interest Income 41,948 Income from Equity Ownership (935,370) Capital Credits from Associated Org. 2,511,701 Patronage Capital $3,348,773 Note: The Official Audit Report for the year ending Dec. 31, 2021, will be presented at the Aug. 12, 2022 Annual Meeting. This financial report includes figures from CAEC and its subsidiaries.

BOARD OF TRUSTEES (Pictured from Left to Right)

Standing: Chase Riddle, Prattville; Terry Mitchell, Stewartville; Patsy M. Holmes, Wetumpka; Charles Byrd, Deatsville; Nicole Law, Titus; James Robert Parnell, Lawley; Mike Lamar, Prattville. Sitting: Mark S. Presnell Sr., Vice Chairman, Wetumpka; Van Smith, Chairman, Billingsley; Mark Gray, Secretary/Treasurer, Clanton


Tom Stackhouse, President/CEO Julie Young, Vice President, Business and Administrative Services; Aaron Ismail, Vice President, Customer and Energy Services; Jimmy Gray, Vice President, Engineering and Operations; Damali Clark, Vice President, Corporate and Financial Services; Chris Montgomery, Vice President, Central Access

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| Alabama Snapshots |

My Boat Anchored off New Bight, Cat Island, in The Bahamas. Our boat’s name: Rainbow’s End. SUBMITTED by Alfred Coombe, Foley.

Spent many hours enjoying my boat and catching fish. SUBMITTED by Dewitt Scott, Slocomb.

Graves family enjoying Lake Martin. Krystle, Brianna, Braxton, Kenedi, Kenley, Kage, Maddox and Kenneth. SUBMITTED by Kamie Graves, Opelika.

Grandkids on the pontoon boat in the Warrior River. SUBMITTED by Tammy Collins Brand, Oak Grove.

October theme: “Cotton Fields” Deadline to submit: August 31 Online: Mail: Attn: Snapshots P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 Alabama Living

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Just my speed! SUBMITTED by Melissa Manjone, Silverhill.

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. AUGUST 2022 9

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Spotlight | August

Find the hidden dingbat!

Co-op representatives visit with lawmakers in D.C. Directors and managers of Alabama rural electric cooperatives met with members of the state’s congressional delegation, including Sen. Tommy Tuberville, in Washington, D.C., in June to discuss issues important to the electric cooperative industry.

Endangered historical sites sought for Places in Peril Each year, the Places in Peril program calls public attention to a select number of Alabama’s threatened historical and archeological sites. Places in Peril is a listing of some of these properties and seeks to raise awareness of them in an effort to create meaningful solutions and generate support for their preservation. If there’s an irreplaceable historic building or site in your area threatened by demolition or neglect, this may be your opportunity to save it. Nominations will be accepted through Sept. 30, 2022. Each submission will be evaluated for its significance and level of threat. Through a partnership, the Alabama Historical Commission and the Alabama Trust have created this program to become a catalyst for preservation. Alabama Heritage magazine publishes the Places in Peril listing each year. For more information, visit and click on “protect and serve” and click “Places in Peril.”

A good night’s rest important for job safety Sleep deprivation can be more than a nuisance during the workday. Healthy sleep patterns ensure safe practices in all aspects of daily living. The safety staff of the Alabama Rural Electric Association notes these hazards associated with sleep deprivation: Responses are delayed; higher risk of making errors; judgment can be affected; can lead to poor communication; and can affect your mood. Some tips to increase good sleep: maintain a healthy diet; exercise regularly; and limit time on electronic devices prior to going to sleep. Whether it’s driving, operating machinery or basic interactions with co-workers and consumer-members, sleeping well increases daily success. 10 AUGUST 2022

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We probably received more phone calls and emails (and even comments on our Facebook page!) about June’s hidden dingbat than any other. Several folks accused us forgetting to hide it. But we did, and we admit, it was a hard one and not easily seen without some magnification. The airplane was “flying” on the hook of the fishing lure on Page 48. Congratulations to the 55 readers who actually found it, and to the randomly drawn winners Randy and Debbie McKinley of Atmore, members of Southern Pine EC, who said they had to use a magnifying glass to spot it. At least one reader, 9-year-old Bronner Nyberg of Wetumpka, found it quickly, reports Amanda Nyberg. But several of you wrote to us about your repeated efforts to find the plane, including David L. Ihde of Opp, who thought he spotted it in a photo on page 34 in the bushes, or on the earrings on Judy Snead on Page 23. “Finally after looking at the picture of the fishing lure about 50 times, I noticed the dingbat on the left side of the metal hook at the head of the lure. A truly excellent hide and a real challenge to find!” Don Henby of Andalusia described it as “perhaps your most devious concealment to date. I usually find it soon, but this time was hard so I decided to enter for the first time.” For the July issue, we took it easier on you readers! The hotdog was in plain view in the photo of the musicians on Page 16. Congratulations to our randomly drawn winner, Jenell Fuller of Elba, a member of Covington EC. This month, we’ve hidden a chocolate chip cookie, in recognition of National Chocolate Chip Cookie Month, so get yourself one for a snack and start looking! Remember, it won’t be in an ad and it won’t be on Pages 1-8. Sponsored by

By mail: Find the Dingbat Alabama Living PO Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 By email:

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August | Spotlight

Take us along! 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.

Whereville, AL

The Gresham children of Loxley took their magazine on a short annual apple picking trip to Fort Mountain in north Georgia. They are members of Baldwin EMC.

Susan and John Rutledge of Ider, members of Sand Mountain EC, recently visited the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy and took their magazine along.

Matthew & Julie Timberlake of Enterprise carried their magazine with Buc-ee’s on the cover to a real Buc-ee’s in Terrell, Texas. They are members of Covington EC.

Russ and Phyllis Porter took their magazine on a trip to Mystic, Connecticut, where they saw the statue of John J. Kelley, US National Marathon champion, Olympian, and 2002 Hall of Fame inductee. They are members of Baldwin EMC. David Butler and Sue Suggs from Lincoln, members of Coosa Valley EC, traveled to the Dry Tortugas National Park and took Alabama Living along. The park and Fort Jefferson are 70 miles west of Key West, Florida.

Alabama Living

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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. Submit by email:, or by mail: Whereville, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124. Contribute a photo you took for an upcoming issue! Send a photo of an interesting or unusual landmark in Alabama, which must be accessible to the public. A reader whose photo is chosen will also win $25. July’s answer: The “globe,” as it’s known, sits along Highway 11 between Fort Payne and Collinsville, in the Collbran community. It’s permanently mounted in front of Little River Outfitters, owned by Kennith Wigley and his daughter. (Note: Internet searches for Little River Outfitters will direct you to an unrelated Tennessee business.) Reached by phone at his business, Wigley gave Alabama Living the background on the interesting landmark. As many readers noted, the globe is related to the Shriners organization. Lettering on one side of the globe says, “The man with the red fez is on top of the world.” Wigley says originally there was a life-size statue of a Shriner on top, but it has not been found. The globe was originally located at the Southeastern Shrine command in Florida, and “a tornado got it and sent it across Florida,” Wigley says. A collector friend of Wigley came across the globe at some point. Wigley, himself a Shriner, bought it from the friend about 20 to 25 years ago, who had it transported in pieces to northeast Alabama. He had the pieces bolted together and bolted to a concrete pad; fortunately, no tornadoes have taken it away since. “We’ve been lucky,” Wigley says with a chuckle. He’s had the map and the lettering repainted three times so far and is getting ready to have it repainted again to battle the wear and tear from the elements. He says people stop to take photos of the landmark almost daily. The winner for the June contest (the Jesse Owens sculpture) is Mardre Williams of Central Alabama EC. The randomly drawn correct guess winner for the “globe,” the July landmark, is Leslie Gibbins of Southern Pine EC. AUGUST 2022 11

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Photo conte 2022


big thank you to all the talented Alabama Living readers who entered our sixth annual photo contest this year! More than 150 photos were entered by photographers from all parts of the state, from the mountains of north Alabama to the sun-kissed Baldwin County beaches. We asked for and accepted entries on our website from May 1-31, and you answered the call. As in past years, we asked for photos in one of four categories: Alabama Travels, Animals, People and Seasons. We limited the entries to two per category, per photographer, so each photogra-

pher could enter up to eight photos total. Each first-place winner gets $100, and many of the honorable mentions are shown in the following pages. But really, the winners are all of our readers who get to see some of the photographic talents of our state’s residents. Our judge, Julie Bennett, is an award-winning photojournalist based in central Alabama. She is on staff at the Media Production Group at Auburn University and teaches photojournalism in the College of Liberal Arts.

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First place

ANIMALS Arthur Davis, Baldwin EMC Judge’s comment: The composition of this photo is spectacular, with the curve of the branch and the angle of the bird. The colors are eyecatching and the detail is sharp.

Honorable mention

PEOPLE Lindsey Green, Arab EC; photo of her grandmother, Ozell Green Judge’s comment: Super nice portrait. The honesty and detail in her face make for an interesting shot and I instantly want to know more about her.

Honorable mention

ANIMALS Susan Allison, Baldwin EMC Judge’s comment: I love the composition of this photo. It focuses on a part of the butterfly we don’t often think about because we are usually distracted by that beautiful wingspan.

Alabama Living

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First place

SEASONS Brent Eanes, Theodore, Ala. Judge’s comment: The lighting in this photo is amazing. I love that the photographer took this photo from the shadow side, giving that caterpillar a glow and providing us with a view of spring we don’t often see.

Honorable mention ALABAMA TRAVELS Arthur Davis, Baldwin EMC Judge’s comment: What a great angle! Very unique take on how to enjoy one of Alabama’s lakes. Well done.

Honorable mention

SEASONS Anjana Henry, Joe Wheeler EMC Judge’s comment: I can’t help being chilly just looking at this one. The frozen pyramid framing the blue bird is a super nice touch along with the icicles. 14 AUGUST 2022

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Alabama Living

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Honorable mention ALABAMA TRAVELS Drew Senter, Baldwin EMC Judge’s comment: This is simply beautiful. The shadows and highlights captured here really do magic hour justice. Lovely detail.

Honorable mention ALABAMA TRAVELS Kacy Sloat, Clarke-Washington EMC Gracie Sloat, 10 Judge’s comment: I feel like I’m there, or at least wishing I was. Nice work on the exposure here … that snow white sand can be difficult to work with in the midday sun.

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First place ALABAMA TRAVELS Carlee Davis, Tallapoosa River EC Chad Greene and Sarah Grace Chapman Judge’s comment: There is so much energy and action packed into this frame. Nice work stopping all that motion and I love the natural late-afternoon light filtering in behind them.

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Alabama Living

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Alabama centenarian

nationally recognized for unique WWII service By Minnie Lamberth


o say that Romay Johnson Davis has led an interesting months,” the museum’s Silver Service Medallion description notlife would be an understatement of the century – and that ed. “Davis and her 6888th Battalion colleagues sorted, repackwouldn’t even cover the amount of time she has been on aged, and redirected an average of 5.85 million pieces of correthis earth. spondence per month. In comparison, another unit processed “I enjoyed, I guess, just about everything I’ve ever done,” the only 624,000 pieces in December 1944. The 6888th’s high pro102-year-old Montgomery resident says. “I have lots of memoductivity continued in Rouen and Paris, France.” ries, lots of special memories of special people.” Davis’ primary responsibility was still as a driver, in both EnDavis is one of six surviving members of an all-Black Women gland and France. “When an officer needed to go somewhere, one Army Corps (WAC) unit, the 6888th Central Postal Directory of the drivers would take them,” she says. However, she also sortBattalion, which deployed overseas in 1945 to sort a backlog of ed mail when not on the road. “That’s what we were there for, to mail for servicemen far from home. The six are slated to receive a get the mail situated and on its way to the men.” Congressional Gold Medal, thanks to The unit was deactivated when it legislation signed by President Biden returned to the states. Yet Davis had in March 2022. many more years of accomplishments As the oldest survivor, Davis reahead of her. While in New York, ceived a Silver Service Medallion in she met and married Jerry Davis, a June from the National WWII MuseLowndes County native who was a um during a ceremony in New Orlecarpenter for the New York subway ans. According to the museum website, system. She also graduated from New the medallion is awarded to “veterans York’s Traphagen School of Fashion and those with a direct connection to and embarked on a 30-year career in World War II who have served our fashion design with Glen of Michigan, country with distinction and continue a children’s clothing manufacturer. “I to lead by example.” That’s a descriplearned a lot about fashion, how to tion that fits her well. make patterns, put them together,” she Born Oct. 29, 1919, Davis grew up in says. “I guess I had a knack for design, King George County, Virginia, as the making things. It was easy – very, very only girl among five brothers. She was interesting.” She later earned a master’s working in Washington, D.C., at the degree in education from New York U.S. Mint when World War II began, University and also worked in real esand shortly after that, all her brothers tate. had joined the military. “When I was When her husband retired in 1999, the last one left, I asked if I could go Davis moved with him back to his too,” Davis recalled. She become part home state of Alabama, and she still of the newly created Women’s Army stayed busy. She earned a TaekwonCorps, attending boot camp at Camp do black belt in her 70s, and after her Breckinridge in Kentucky. husband passed away, she went back There, she trained to become a drivto work at a Winn-Dixie grocery store er. It seemed like a better choice than when she was 80 years old and worked her other options. “I grew up in the Romay Davis, 102, was honored with the Silver Service part-time until age 101. “I enjoyed becountry, with sheep and flowers and Medallion at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans ing at the store,” she says. in June. Here she’s shown with one of the student animals and birds,” she explains. “I leadership award recipients at the ceremony. In addition to national recognitions, like the outdoors.” So when she was Davis has also been celebrated in her PHOTO COURTESY THE NATIONAL WWII MUSEUM asked what she wanted to do, she said, adopted hometown. For her 101st “I don’t want to clerk. I don’t want to cook. I don’t want to clean birthday in 2020, she was the honoree of a parade that culminata house unless I have to. So driving is the only thing left.” As a ed with the reading of commendations from Gov. Kay Ivey and result, she spent a lot of her military service outdoors. a proclamation from Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed declaring Davis was assigned to serve in a specialized unit made up of her birthday as “Romay Davis Day.” 855 African-American women who were given the task of sorting Southeastern Groceries, Inc., the parent company of Winn two years’ worth of backlogged mail. They started in February Dixie grocery stores, also named the Romay Davis Belonging, 1945 in Birmingham, England, and worked around the clock to Inclusion and Diversity Grant in her honor. The company will sort nearly 18 million pieces of mail in a record-breaking effort. announce grant recipients shortly before Oct. 29, when Davis will “The Army gave them six months, and they did it in only three turn 103.

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Alabama Living

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In 1849, French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr made a profound statement: “The more that things change, the more they stay the same.” Old Jean-Baptiste must have been watching the SEC Network. There have been three major changes in Southern college football in the last 55 years. In the late 60s, the recruitment and signing of African American athletes improved and changed the direction of college football forever. The other two changes happened in the last couple of years: the open transfer portal and the advent of N.I.L. (Name, Image and Likeness). This fall, Alabama will have four new offensive transfer starters who started last year at Georgia Tech, Vandy, Louisville and Georgia. Their best corner started last fall at LSU. The rich get richer when you mix these players with top-ranked recruiting classes. In a touch of irony, Auburn may start a transfer quarterback from Texas A&M who beat Bama after they lost Bo Nix to the transfer portal and Oregon. Game program sales are expected to be high just to keep up with the roster changes. N.I.L. has allowed the athletes to “cash in” on their social media popularity. Basically, the NCAA has taken the NASCAR approach: “Have at it boys!” Some players are legally earning hundreds of thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, in some corners, a bidding war has ensued for players. 2021 ALABAMA Recap: Nick Saban has brought the Tide program to the point that anything EXCEPT winning the National Championship is a disappointing season. Last year, for the first time in 25 tries, one of his former assistant coaches beat the former boss when Jimbo Fisher’s A&M Aggies won in College Station. Bama went on to beat Georgia for the SEC championship only to lose the Natty to former assistant Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs. Quarterback Bryce Young won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore. His Heisman moment was the final drive against Auburn in the Iron Bowl for the win. 2021 AUBURN Recap: First year coach Bryan Harsin led the Tigers to a 6-7 record that could very easily have been a 10-win season. There were only two noncompetitive games: Georgia and Texas A&M. Failure to “finish” cost the Tigers in four of the losses. A questionable failed fade pass from the 2-yard line against Penn State. Lost 28-20. Against South Carolina, going for 4th and 1 in the 2nd quarter, leading by 7. Incomplete pass. Lost 2117. Against Alabama, sacked Bryce Young 7 times but allowed him to drive the length of the field and convert 4th downs. If Auburn makes a first down on 3rd and 1 from the 37-yard line, they are rolling Toomer’s Corner. Bama wins in 4 overtimes, 24-22. Against Houston in the Birmingham Bowl, the Tigers needed just one stop for a winning season. Lost 17-13. 20 AUGUST 2022

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SEC Prediction: In the last 15 years, the gap between the favorites in each division has never been wider. Alabama in the West and Georgia in the East have distanced themselves from the rest of the pack. In the past, you could predict that one of the divisions was going to be a tossup. Not this year. SEC East Prediction: 1. Georgia 2. Kentucky 3. Tennessee 4. Florida 5. South Carolina 6. Missouri 7. Vandy. The battle is for the runner-up position. Kentucky is solid. The Vols are on the rise but have to play Bama. How long will it take Billy Napier to get the Gators on the right path? SEC West Prediction: 1. Alabama 2. Texas A&M 3. Ole Miss 4. Arkansas 5. LSU 6. Auburn 7. Mississippi State. Bama has October 8 circled, when A&M comes to town. The Aggies have recruited great but must get more consistent. Ole Miss will be the surprise team due to all the transfers. Alabama Outlook: The Tide will enter the fall as the number 1 team in every poll. Why? They have the reigning Heisman Trophy quarterback; the most dominating defensive player in Will Anderson; the Greatest Coach of All Time in Nick Saban. The schedule is favorable with A&M in Tuscaloosa. The defense has a chance to get back to the dominating days of the past. 12-0. SEC champion. Auburn Outlook: In an unusual schedule, the Tigers play their first 5 games at home. They have to be at least 4-1 when they travel the next week to Georgia. Running back Tank Bigsby is one of the best in the SEC when he stays healthy. Owen Pappoe has to step up as the defensive leader. Auburn fans are going to get more restless if programs like A&M, Arkansas, Ole Miss and LSU pass them by. 7-5 record. CFP Playoffs: Pencil in Alabama and Ohio State. The other 2 slots will be between Georgia, Clemson, Utah, and Notre Dame. Prediction: Bama beats Clemson in Peach Bowl. Ohio State beats Utah in the Fiesta Bowl. Alabama beats Ohio State for the National Championship 37-24. Rammer Jammer once again! Brad Bradford is a former football staff member at Alabama and Louisville. His wife Susan Moseley Bradford is a former Auburn cheerleader. His blogs can be found at hairinabiscuit. com. Brad is also an author and motivational speaker. Contact him at

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Alabama Living

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| Gardens |

Watering wisely will help your lawn and garden through a hot summer Water of course is essential not just for our lawns and gardens but for all life on Earth, so it’s important to use this precious natural resource in a careful, sustainable way. Judicious water usage also saves us time and money. But developing a smart, affordable irrigation plan seemed intimidating to me until I couched it in terms of plants, soils and equipment. Water requirements vary among plant species and their locations in the landscape, which means a single yard may have a variety of different irrigation needs. For example, the bank of mop-head hydrangeas planted in a sunny, dry spot along my carport and the herbs growing in pots on my patio need frequent watering to survive. In contrast, the well-established oak-leaf Well-placed drip irrigation can deposit water directly onto hydrangeas growing in a shady the roots of plants rather than on their foliage. spot near my house, my beds PHOTO COURTESY ALABAMA COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SYSTEM of native wildflowers and even ack in June when the weather was the warm-season grasses in my lawn rareespecially hot and dry and my house ly, if ever, need watering. Knowing this, was full of grandchildren, I pulled I set up hoses and sprinklers based on out an old oscillating sprinkler thinking zones, which has made watering more I’d efficiently water my plants and my much convenient and efficient. grandkids at the same time. It was soon Soil types also impact watering choices, obvious that the sprinkler was fine enterand a single yard may include an assorttainment for the children but far from adment of different soil types and condiequate for my plants. tions. My landscape has areas of clay and The device’s arching sweep of water sand but also spots naturally rich in orcertainly cooled off the kiddos but more ganic matter. By knowing which soil types droplets wafted off into the air than landare where, I adjusted the rate and pressure ed on the lawn or surrounding plants and of my irrigation equipment so water didn’t hardly any of that moisture reached the run off or run through the soils too quickplants’ roots where it was needed most. ly. I also used mulches to increase water Imagining the summer ahead would be retention around the base of some plants hot and possibly droughty, I decided it and I plan to amend my soils with organic was time to up my irrigation game. matter this fall.


Katie Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at

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Correction in July column: Endangered green pitcher plants are found only in five northeast Alabama counties (Cherokee, DeKalb, Etowah, Jackson and Marshall).

Technology, too, is important, and it has improved exponentially since I bought that old sprinkler head. These days we have access to high-tech automated systems and smart controllers that can help us time irrigation applications based on factors such as rainfall and soil moisture. And a variety of more efficient hoses and sprinklers are also available to make manual irrigation easier and more effective. I’ve been making small investments in better equipment, which I hope will provide big returns. By understanding the importance of these three factors, we can all develop wiser watering plans for the rest of this year and into the future. If you want to delve deeper into those plans, check out the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s Alabama Smart Yard Landscape page at, and click on “topics,” then “landscaping.” Also see a posting on drought tolerant landscapes. For personal advice, contact your county Extension office or Master Gardeners group or talk to someone with your local water utility office for guidance. In the meantime, here are a few simple ways to water wisely without making a huge investment of time or money. • Water in the early morning (preferably 4 to 7 a.m.). • Place irrigation hoses and sprinklers to deposit water directly onto the roots of plants rather than on their foliage. • Ensure sprinklers are watering plants (and possibly grandchildren) rather than concrete and asphalt. • Repair leaks in hoses, sprinklers and irrigation systems and around spigot connections. • Group plants with similar watering needs together whenever possible. • Replace thirsty plants, including lawn grasses, with native and drought-tolerant species. • Use natural mulches in garden beds and around newly planted trees and shrubs to retain more soil moisture.

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Alabama Living

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Social Security is ready when you’re ready to retire


hen you think you’re ready to retire, we’re here to help you make an informed decision about when to apply for benefits. You should decide based on your individual and family circumstances. Would it be better for you to start getting benefits early with a smaller monthly amount over a longer period? Or perhaps wait for a larger monthly payment over less time? The answer is personal and depends on several factors, such as your current and anticipated cash needs, health, and your family history on longevity. Most importantly, you should study your future financial needs and obligations, and estimate your future Social Security benefit. The best and easiest way to estimate your future Social Security benefits is with a personal my Social Security account. You can create your free account at Use your account to see how much you might receive each month based on the age Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at

August Across 1 Barbecue sauce popular in North Alabama (3 words) 8 “___ made some beans” 10 Goes with 5 down, 2 words 12 Loudspeaker system 14 Alabama _____, cocktail 17 Indian corn 18 Banana _____ (desserts) 21 Includes in a recipe 24 ____ ____ tomatoes, 2 words 28 Added line to a letter, abbr. 30 Barbecue offering 32 Yellowhammer drink ingredient 33 Much-used greens in Alabama dishes 34 Cake featured on our May cover 35 Cooks in a way Down 1 Creates a dish quickly, 2 words 2 Cocktail addition 3 Distinct period 4 Well-known beer, in slang 5 Iconic Southern dish, goes with 10 across 6 Not tasted yet 7 Former 9 Actor Kilmer of ‘’Top Gun’’ 11 Compass direction, abbr. 13 Sushi offerings 15 Kid’s pie stuff 16 Tractor-trailer 19 Preserved, in a way (with fruit) 20 Complain to 22 Guacamole or fondue, e.g. 23 Red wine 24 Top pick, informally 25 Water bird 24 AUGUST 2022

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at which you want to start receiving benefits. We encourage you to weigh all the factors carefully before deciding when to begin receiving Social Security benefits. This decision affects the monthly benefit amount you will receive for the rest of your life and may affect benefits for your survivors.

Social Security’s online retirement resources

Whether you’re ready to learn about, apply for, or manage your retirement benefits, our online resources make it easy for you to find the information you need. How easy? You can do it from your computer, tablet, and even smartphone! On our website, you can: • Get our publications. • Estimate your benefits with one of our many calculators. • Find your Full Retirement Age. • Learn about benefits for a spouse and family members. • Apply for benefits. • Mange your benefits once you start receiving them. You and your loved ones can discover all these resources at ssa. gov/retirement.

crossword 26 Red or black beans’ partner 27 Zero

by Myles Mellor 29 Fries, salad, etc. 31 Rich cake with rum

Answers on Page 37

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Around Alabama



Bessemer Gem and Mineral Show, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Bessemer Civic Center, 1130 Ninth Ave. SW. $5 adults, $3 teens and under 12 free. Browse through more than 100 tables of unique gem, mineral and fossil specimens from a variety of vendors. Search the event’s page on Facebook.


Arab SugarFest 2022, Arab City Park. Morning begins with Sugar Rush 5K run, which leads into the marketplace arts and crafts juried vendors show. Food trucks on site all day. Cornhole tournament, Miss SugarFest Pageant, Sweetie Pie kids’ area and more. Classic car cruise-in and live music on stage begins at 4 p.m. Night ends with fireworks show. or see the event’s page on Facebook.

The Franklin County Watermelon Festival will be Aug. 19-20.



Cullman Rock the South, York Farms, 1872 County Road 469. Known as “The Biggest Party in the South,” this two-day concert event features country music star headliners Morgan Wallen and Alabama, as well as other music acts including Hardy, Jamey Johnson, Koe Wetzel, Jimmie Allen and Colt Ford.


Athens 30th annual Piney Chapel American Farm Heritage Days, 20147 Elkton Road. Sponsored by the Piney Chapel Antique Engine and Tractor Association, this family event will include antique power exhibits, a tractor ride and fish fry on Friday and wheat threshing exhibits. $5 admission; 12 and under free. Free parking. Gates open at 7 a.m. Search for the public group on Facebook.


Killen Killen Founder’s Day at Killen Park. The town’s version of a block party has fun for the entire family, including music, food and a car show from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Search for the event’s page on Facebook.


Opelika Opelika Theatre Company’s production of Disney’s “Newsies,” Southside Center for the Arts, 1103 Glenn St. The musical is inspired by the real-life 1899 Newsboy Strike and captures the strength of young people when they join together and stand up to injustice.


Dothan Wiregrass Museum of Art’s Yard Party for Art. The museum’s annual art, music and tech festival on the museum grounds. Gates open at 6 p.m. with the first music act at 6:30 p.m.; music continues until 10:30-11 p.m. Enjoy the art installations at the museum as well as yard games and an energetic lineup of original music. Food and drink vendors will be onsite. Presale tickets are $20 until Aug. 10. Alabama Living

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Mobile USS Alabama living history crew drill, USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, 2703 Battleship Parkway. Every other month, historical re-enactors dress in WWII period uniforms to demonstrate what life aboard ship was like during wartime. Check to confirm drill date or call 800-GANGWAY.


Russellville 41st annual Franklin County Watermelon Festival. This free family event in downtown includes food, vendors, a car and truck show, 5K and one-mile fun run, tractor show and kids’ area with rides and games. Live music each evening on the main stage. And of course, plenty of watermelon to eat and associated contests. 256-332-1760 or


Troy 30th annual Pike County Cattlemen Rodeo, Cattleman Park. Gates open at 5 p.m. Friday with the rodeo at 7:30; gates open at 4 p.m. Saturday, with a family Western festival at 5 p.m. and rodeo at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $10 in advance or $12 at the door; 12 and under free with accompanying adult.


Fyffe UFO Day, Fyffe Town Park, 9 a.m. This annual event features a full day of musical entertainment, food and craft vendors, children’s activities and inflatables, antique tractors, cars and bikes and hot air balloons. Search for the event on Facebook.


Montgomery fifth annual Hog Days of Summer BBQ and Music Festival, 2 p.m. at Union Station Train Shed, sponsored by the Druids Charity Club. Music on two stages, spanning blues, country, rock and Americana influences. Barbecue from the River Region’s best restaurants. See the event’s Facebook page.


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.


Huntsville 2022 Whistlestop Festival, John Hunt Park. Festival opens at 4 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday. Multiple barbecue competitions, tastings and live music. or call 256-564-8100.


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.


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

To place an event, e-mail 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

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| Consumer Wise |

Ready, set, (your) thermostat!

The U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat to 78 degrees in the summer when you are home and awake, and warmer at night or when away.

Smart thermostats are easy to program, can learn your preferences and set a schedule that automatically adjusts the temperature. PHOTOS COURTESY MARK GILLILAND, PIONEER UTILITY Resources

Q: A:

schedule that automatically adjusts the temperature. Some have geofencing, which adjusts the temperature based on the distance your smartphone is from home.

How do I operate my thermostat to use less energy and still be comfortable?

Heating and cooling account for about half the energy used in a typical home, so it’s a great place to use less energy. When used wisely, your thermostat can help reduce wasted energy. Here’s some information on thermostat types, common operational misconceptions and best practices you can start today.

Types of thermostats

Mechanical thermostats are easy to control by adjusting a dial or sliding switch. The downfall is you must make temperature adjustments manually, which is easy to forget. They are inefficient because they typically heat or cool the home beyond the set point. If your cooling is set to 72 degrees, a mechanical thermostat may actually cool your home to 70 degrees before it turns off, wasting energy. Then it might not come on again until the home reaches 74 degrees. That four-degree temperature change is noticeable and can lead people to adjust the thermostat setting down even more, which wastes more energy. Also, some mechanical thermostats contain mercury. You can determine that by removing the front plate and looking for small glass bulbs. If your thermostat contains mercury, replace it and find a way to properly recycle it. Digital thermostats are more accurate, efficient and some are programmable, which is a great option for people who don’t have internet or don’t want their thermostat data tracked. Smart thermostats—which require an internet connection— are Wi-Fi-enabled and can be controlled using a smartphone app. Programming is easier, and you can track and manage use and temperature data. However, that data is shared with the manufacturer. Smart thermostats can learn your preferences and set a 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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Misconceptions about thermostats

A common misconception is the higher you turn your thermostat up or down, the faster your home’s temperature will change. Turning your thermostat down to 55 degrees to cool your home faster is like repeatedly pushing the elevator button and expecting it to come faster. It’s likely you will forget you adjusted it and waste energy by over heating or cooling the home. Set your desired temperature for heating and cooling or program your thermostat so you don’t make extreme adjustments. Many people believe it takes more energy to heat or cool a house instead of leaving it the same temperature. The larger the temperature variance between inside and outside, the more energy your system uses. Setting your thermostat 7 to 10 degrees from its normal setting for eight hours a day can save up to 10% a year on your energy bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Best practices

Use these heating and cooling tips from the DOE to add efficiency and savings to your home: • Set it to 78 degrees in the summer when you are home and awake, and warmer at night or when away. Set your thermostat to 68 degrees in the winter when you are home and awake, and cooler at night or when you are away. • Upgrade to a programmable or smart thermostat that automatically adjusts the temperature throughout the day and when you leave the house. • When on vacation, set your thermostat to 85 degrees in the summer and 55 degrees in the winter. • In the summer, fans allow you to set your thermostat about 4 degrees warmer without feeling it. Remember, fans cool people, not rooms, so turn them off when you leave a room. Use your thermostat to optimize energy efficiency and find a balance between comfort and affordability.

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Alabama Living

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| Outdoors |

Invasive aquatic plant can threaten waterways


he Mobile Area Water and Sewer System closed Big Creek ing all five Gulf Coast states. In Alabama, people first discovered Lake when it discovered giant salvinia growing in the 3,600giant salvinia growing in two ponds in Auburn in 1999. Soon after acre reservoir near Semmes. that, people identified it in the Tallapoosa and Chattahoochee watersheds as well as ponds in Lee, Montgomery, Greene, Pickens, MAWSS officials sprayed the lake with herbicide to kill the noxious plant and built a boat washing facility near the only landing Russell and Sumter counties. on the water-supply reservoir. The impoundment on the EscatawMore recently, researchers detected it in Gainesville Reservoir pa River watershed partially reopened to fishing and boating in and backwater sections of the Tombigbee River. A pond in Autauga County contained a bad infestation. Giant salvinia in the June 2022 after remaining closed for 10 months. People must wash Elk River, which flows into the Tennessee River, probably died out their boats and trailers before launching into Big Creek Lake to from cold. As a tropical plant, giant salvinia thrives in warm water, curtail the spread of the invasive plant. but a hard freeze could kill it. “We sprayed the giant salvinia with an EPA-approved product,” “The occurrence of giant salvinia is sporadic in Alabama,” says Bud McCrory, MAWSS director. “We’ll never get giant salvinia out of the lake completely, but we’re going to try to mitigate Armstrong says. “We eliminated it in certain areas and weather how it spreads. The boat washing will help reduce our risk at some took care of it in other places. We’ve had reports of it in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta in expercentage.” treme southern Alabama. Native to southeastern I would not be surprised if Brazil, this aquatic fern it’s in some backwater argrows extremely rapidly. eas with limited flow in the In ideal conditions, it can delta. It’s a freshwater plant double in size in less than a so it probably can’t handle week and quickly dominate too much salt like in Moportions of any freshwater bile Bay.” system. Once established, The plant probably came giant salvinia chokes out to the U.S. for aquariums native plants and reduces or water gardens. When dissolved oxygen levels in people no longer wanted the water. to maintain an aquarium, “Giant salvinia grows they probably dumped it at such a high rate that it into the nearest stream, shades out the bottom,” pond or lake. In addition, says Dave Armstrong, the flood conditions can overAquatic Nuisance Species flow ponds and water garCoordinator for the Alabama Division of Wildlife Giant salvinia is an aggressive, fast-growing exotic that chokes out native plants and dens, washing the plants and Freshwater Fisheries. can kill everything beneath it that depends on sunlight to survive. into nearby rivers. “It’s amazing how deep this Giant salvinia can surPHOTO COURTESY ALABAMA DIVISION OF WILDLIFE AND FRESHWATER FISHERIES vive out of water for up to a stuff will grow. It grows to year. In addition, the plant clings to boat hulls and trailers. When where there’s very little sunlight. It grows in layers upon itself until someone launches a boat carrying the plant into another system, it completely fills in a small pond from top to bottom.” the invader multiples prolifically in its new home. People also theOne of the most aggressive aquatic plants, this fast-growing exotic can grow so thick that boats cannot pass. It blocks the sunorize that particles can attach to the legs and feet of wading birds light, killing everything beneath it that depends upon sunlight to like herons and egrets. Once established, the plant rapidly takes survive. over portions of that waterbody. “When giant salvinia covers the surface, it kills the plankton,” “The main way this plant spreads is by sticking to boat hulls Armstrong says. “All fish require plankton, at least when they’re and trailers,” Armstrong says. “It’s so clingy it’s almost like Velcro. young. Small fish, prey for larger fish, eat plankton. If the plant Little eggbeater-like hairs on the leaves grab onto anything. Birds reduces phytoplankton and zooplankton in a system, fish won’t ingest it and spread it that way. Once it gets into a system, spraying get enough food to it.” masses of it is the only way to control it.” To help curb the spread of giant salvinia and other noxious exThis noxious invader currently exists in at least 11 states includotic plants, always wash boats and trailers or anything else before launching into another waterbody. To report giant salvinia infesJohn N. Felsher is a professional freelance writer who lives in Semmes, Ala. He also hosts an outdoors tips show for WAVH FM tations, contact Dave Armstrong at 251-331-7050 or email Dave. Talk 106.5 radio station in Mobile, Ala. Contact him at j.felsher@ See giant salvinia on or through Facebook. and other internet sources.

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

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




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

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



2:09 - 3:39 2:57 - 4:27 3:45 - 5:15 4:33 - 6:03 5:21 - 6:51 5:48 - 7:18 6:09 - 7:39 6:57 - 8:27 7:45 - 9:15 8:33 - 10:03 9:21 - 10:51

2:33 - 4:03 3:21 - 4:51 4:09 - 5:39 4:57 - 6:27 5:45 - 7:15 6:11 - 7:41 6:33 - 8:03 7:21 - 8:51 8:09 - 9:39 8:57 - 10:27 9:45 - 11:15



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

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

We apologize for the discrepancy in the calendar dates and the days of the week in the forecast charts in last month’s magazine. The dates were correct, although they did not correspond to the correct days of the week. Thanks to the readers who let us know!

The Moon Clock and resulting Moon Times were developed 40 years ago by Doug Hannon, one of America’s most trusted wildlife experts and a tireless inventor. The Moon Clock is produced by DataSport, Inc. of Atlanta, GA, a company specializing in wildlife activity time prediction. To order the 2022 Moon Clock, go to Alabama Living

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| Alabama Recipes |


Primed for


Food styling and photos: Brooke Echols

ummer and fall are the prime seasons for fresh peppers, whether you’ve grown them in your garden or picked some up at your local farmer’s market. “They are low in calories and burst in flavor,” says Sheree Taylor, Human Sciences Regional Extension Agent for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. “Peppers can be crisp, sweet or spicy.” Not to mention they come in green, red, orange or yellow colors and sometimes a bit of all four. All colors of peppers have nutritional benefits, Taylor says, but red peppers actually have higher antioxidant and phytonutrient levels, because they are riper. They also supply more potassium, Vitamin C and folate, she adds. But all peppers are nutritious and easy to add to any meal. “People can slice them, eat them raw, grilled, sauteed or roasted. When preparing foods with peppers, be mindful that boiling or cooking them may cause a loss of 50% of the nutrients,” Taylor advises. Instead of boiling or steaming, she recommends dry heat methods such as stir-frying or roasting. “Peppers can bring not only color to our plate, but flavor,” Taylor says. “They are packed with nutrients and can be incorporated in ways that can fit the desires of anyone’s tastebuds.” – Lenore Vickrey Stuffed Pepper Bowl

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t your lon Agent en, red,

t levels,

When Instead

d in ways

r Bowl

Cook of the Month: Louis Toth, Arab EC


here are many great ways to use peppers in delicious ways. My favorite way is to make Brooke Burks a dish sweet and colorful. In the summer, I like to keep things light and delicious, so using multi-colored bell peppers in dishes is a great way to do that. As pleasing to the eye as the tummy, these peppers quickly steal the show! Enjoy! Find more easy recipes like this one from Brooke at

Sheet Pan Mediterranean Chicken and Vegetables 3-4 8-ounce chicken breasts or tenderloins 1 zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces 1 yellow squash, cut into bite-sized pieces 1-2 bell peppers, sliced, any color 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon pepper ¼-½ cup crumbled feta cheese 1 teaspoon dried oregano 2 tablespoons minced garlic 2 tablespoons lemon juice Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place chicken on one end of a sheet pan (parchment paper optional). Dice and prep vegetables and place in a large bowl. Drizzle chicken and vegetables with a bit of olive oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Arrange vegetables next to chicken on the sheet pan, making sure they are in a single layer. Bake in oven for 35-40 minutes, checking often to stir vegetables or turn chicken. Chicken is done when it reaches internal temperature of 160-165 degrees. Allow to rest before serving. While chicken and vegetables are baking, assemble ingredients for dressing. In a medium bowl, combine minced garlic, lemon juice, oregano and olive oil. Whisk together well. When protein and vegetables are done, arrange as desired on a serving platter. Drizzle dressing over chicken and vegetables right before serving and garnish with feta cheese. Photo by The Buttered Home

Alabama Living

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Like many of us, Louis Toth remembers watching his mother and grandmother cook meals during Louis Toth his growing-up years. “They never wrote anything down,” he says, so using his engineering background, he recreated those favorite childhood dishes and tweaked them to his liking and those of his son’s family in Arab, where Louis moved after retiring from his job in New Jersey. His grandparents emigrated from Hungary, where dishes like stuffed peppers and stuffed cabbage rolls were staples in their diet. His winning “Stuffed Peppers” recipe calls for ground pork, which results in a sweeter flavor than the traditional ground beef. He also cooks his peppers on the stove, not the oven. “I enjoy the pork,” he says, and so do his granddaughters, who enjoy helping their granddad in the kitchen. “I also like to make meatballs with a mixture of ground beef and pork. It makes a difference in the taste.”

Stuffed Peppers 5½ quart Dutch oven or stock pot 7 medium-large, green bell peppers (other color peppers are also fine) 1 pound ground pork 1 cup raw, long grain, white rice 2 28-ounce cans tomato sauce 2 cups whole milk or half and half (or more for a creamier sauce) 2 cups water (to adjust sauce thickness) 1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika ½ teaspoon Kosher salt Parboil rice to begin. Place rice into a strainer and rinse with cold water. Bring a large pot of water (sufficient to completely cover the raw rice and allow for its expansion during cooking) to boiling. Add rinsed rice, return to boil, then reduce heat to gently parboil the rice for 10 minutes; strain rice, rinse with cold water and let cool. Cut tops off of the peppers and carefully scoop out the seeds and membranes. In a large bowl whisk together the tomato sauce, milk and water. In another large bowl gently mix the pork, cooled rice, paprika, salt and 1/2 cup of the blended sauce together. Stuff the peppers 3/4 full with the meat mixture. (Mixture will expand slightly when cooked.) Place stuffed peppers standing up in a tall pot or Dutch oven. Gently pour the remaining sauce mixture over the peppers to cover. (If you have any leftover filling, you can form them into meatballs and add to the pot.) Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes. To serve: Place a pepper in a serving bowl and ladle some sauce over the pepper. Serve with white or rye bread on the side.

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Stuffed Pepper Bowl 1 2 1 1 4 8 1

pound ground beef cups rice, cooked tablespoon olive oil onion, diced bell peppers, chopped ounces mushrooms, chopped 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, do not drain 1/2-1 cup beef broth or water 1 15-ounce can black beans (optional) 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese or more, to taste 2 teaspoons chili powder 2 teaspoons cumin 2 teaspoons smoked paprika 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1/2 teaspoon cilantro 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper Salt and pepper, to taste Cook rice according to package instructions. Brown beef in skillet until cooked. Drain and set aside. Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about five minutes. Add bell pepper and cook until almost soft, about seven minutes. Add mushrooms, tomatoes, cooked beef, broth (or water), black beans if using, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to simmer for twenty minutes, adding more broth if it begins to run dry. Remove from heat. Stir in cheddar cheese until melted. Serve immediately over rice. Note: depending on temperature of pan or other factors, you may need more or less broth.

Raspberry Cream Cheese Jalapeño Peppers 9 4 1/4 18

jalapeños ounces softened cream cheese cup raspberry preserves slices bacon

Cut the jalapeños in half, scrape the seeds and ribs from the pepper. Combine raspberry preserves and softened cream cheese. Fill each pepper boat with cream cheese and raspberry preserves. Wrap each pepper with bacon and place on a baking pan. Preheat grill to 350 degrees and place peppers on the indirect side of grill for 30 minutes until the bacon is crisp and the cheese bubbly. Kirk Vantrease Cullman EC

Peppers and Onions Skillet 1 pound ground beef or turkey 1/2 yellow green and red bell peppers, chopped 1 medium onion, chopped 1 zucchini squash, chopped 1 tablespoon cooking oil 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper 1 teaspoon garlic powder Cook meat and drain, then sauté chopped vegetables for 10-15 minutes. Add in one tablespoon oil, add meat back in with seasoning and cook for 10 minutes. Lends Dodd Joe Wheeler EMC

Be creative with your peppers:

• Chop a variety of colors and add to salads with greens, pasta salad or tuna • Saute with onions as a side dish • Add to omelets, quiche or pizza

Raspberry Cream Cheese Jalapeno Peppers

Kelsey Rumler Wiregrass EC

Holiday Cookie


Calling all bakers! Do you have a favorite holiday cookie recipe or special cookies you take to all the holiday parties and cookie exchanges? Share your favorite holiday cookie recipes with us for a chance to win! Enter online at Each entry must include your name, address and phone number as well as the name of your electric cooperative. Entries may also be mailed to Alabama Living Cookie Contest, PO Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124. Entry deadline is September 2, 2022.

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Submit to win $50!

Recipes can be developed by you or family members. You may even adapt a recipe from another source by changing as little as the amount of one ingredient. Chosen cooks may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year. To be eligible, submissions must include a name, phone number, mailing address and co-op name. Alabama Living reserves the right to reprint recipes in our other publications.

Themes and Deadlines:

November: Turkey leftovers | August 5 December: Holiday Cookie Contest | September 2 January: Kids who cook | October 7

3 ways to submit:

Online: Email: Mail: Attn: Recipes P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

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Alabama Living

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CAEC offers rebates on dual fuel and mini-split systems for both standard and manufactured homes. The minimum SEER rating allowed is 15 on standard homes. In addition, we offer rebates for new and existing manufactured homes replacing an electric furnace with a heat pump. Rebate qualifications are below. For more information, contact us at 1-800-545-5735 ext. 2118.

Standard Homes: Dual Fuel or Mini-Split Unit: • 15 SEER: $300 per ton • 16 SEER or greater: $350 per ton

Manufactured Homes: New Manufactured Homes, replacing the electric furnace with a heat pump receive the following:



• 2 to 2.5 tons: $400 • 3 to 4 tons: $600 • 5 tons: $700 Existing Manufactured Homes, converting from an electric furnace to a heat pump receive the following: • $400 per ton to the homeowner Dual Fuel or Mini-split: • 14 SEER: $250 per ton • 15 SEER: $300 per ton • 16 SEER or greater: $350 per ton Installer must have a business license for installing HVAC systems. A load calculation must be performed on the home and a copy must be turned in to CAEC (this ensures that the heat pump will be properly sized for the home). For manufactured homes, an inspection of skirting must be completed by CAEC. Proof of purchase of the unit (invoice) required.

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ems. A ust be erly

Is your voice being heard? From renewable power to the lack of broadband internet in rural America, there are a lot of issues being discussed both locally and on the national stage. Are you part of it? You can join the 30,000+ individuals already working together on the Action Committee for Rural Electrification® (ACRE). Membership in ACRE Co-op Owners for Political Action® is easy, and for a couple of dollars a month, you can have a great impact on an important dialogue. Simply give us a call at (800) 545-5735. After you join, your electric bill will display a monthly ACRE membership fee of $2.08.

Complete form and mail to: CAEC, 103 Jesse Samuel Hunt Blvd. Prattville, AL 36066

Yes! Enroll me in ACRE so that MY voice can be heard in our nation’s capital! I understand a low membership fee of $2.08 will be added to my monthly electric bill.

Name______________________________ Account Number_________________ Address____________________________ Phone Number___________________ E-mail_____________________________ Signature________________________


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| Our Sources Say |

A plan W

e’ve always heard, “You need a plan to get anything done.” That is taught in all business schools and recognized by people who don’t manage anything other than their own lives. My favorite quote about “plans” is from the noted philosopher and past world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson: “Everybody has a plan until they get hit in the mouth.” Most of us in following our plans have found Mike is right. We start with a plan, something goes sideways, and we find ourselves adrift. Climate movement plans -- whether the Paris Accord, Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050, elimination of all fossil fuels, the immediate mandate of electric vehicles, or others -- are really all different concepts promoted by different people and groups with various motives. For instance, some groups feel nuclear power is a great substitute for fossil fuels because it is carbon-free. Other groups totally reject nuclear power as too dangerous or too expensive, or those groups are concerned about nuclear waste. In addition to already disjointed directions and inconsistency of climate plans, the entire climate movement was punched in the mouth by Vladimir Putin and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Serious people are now questioning how the most basic concepts of climate plans can be achieved. I commented in an earlier article about Biden Climate Czar, John Kerry, and his comments regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine and how he hoped the invasion didn’t result in lost focus on climate change actions. The comment (while just silly as thousands of people were being killed in an invasion) demonstrates a lack of understanding of energy basics and how energy is used. For instance, how effective will an electric tank be? How could you recharge it in the middle of a battle? Gasoline or diesel fuel are much better wartime solutions. Equally so, how about electric helicopters or airplanes? And you can’t rely on systems only developed for wartime. Supply chains and delivery systems must be developed and maintained for normal commerce – not during times of war. A plan to reduce carbon emissions must meet certain parameters and have specific economic attributes to succeed against punches in the mouth from Russia, the weather, or the economy. A successful plan must recognize that success and wealth are built on readily available and affordable energy. This country was built on cheap energy, and its success will always depend on cheap energy. Some in the climate movement feel cheap energy is ruining the world and that energy must be restricted for the good of humanity. That philosophy is counter to global devel-

opment and prosperity, and it will never be embraced by the people of the world. A successful plan must also include provisions to bring affordable energy to third world countries and emerging nations. Denying developing nations access to affordable energy by restricting energy growth to only renewable sources is morally wrong. As one African leader recently said, “No country has been built on solar and wind energy.” A successful plan also must recognize the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Energy is neither created nor destroyed. It merely changes form. And each time energy changes form, some of it is lost and cannot be converted to electric energy. Current plans naively demand for curtailment of fossil fuels by a certain date not too far into the future and a switch to renewable energy sources like solar and wind. The facts of energy are enough to show that the world will never be completely powered by renewable energy. It is too intermittent. Unlike fossil-fuel fired generators, solar and wind do not have the rotating mass needed to support the stability of the electric grid. Too many in the climate movement think setting certain dates to eliminate fossil fuel use will somehow drive new technology and result in a seamless transition. That is just not the case. There needs to be a serious plan for a successful transition. Any viable path to a carbon constrained future will require “investable” technology. Business always drives transitions, and it requires long horizons to recover research and development costs and capital. Constantly changing plans and directions will not attract the long-term investments necessary to accomplish the goal. Successful plans will also have to bridge political lines and be acceptable to Democrats and Republicans. Both parties must step back from radical positions to find workable, affordable and practical compromises. The extreme “shut it down now” or “we will never change” positions will only lead to further polarization and no viable solutions. Success will never be found behind sidewalk bullhorn politics. The climate change movement has met its Mike Tyson moment. How plans are developed in the future will dictate the direction and success of global energy policy. How the movements and the counter-movements react will decide if any de-carbonization plan will be successful. The Ukraine war presents an opportunity to redesign the global energy future, but I am not optimistic. I expect most everyone will continue to double down on silly and impossible plans that keep getting hit in the mouth. I hope you have a good month.

Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.

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| Classifieds | How To Place a Line Ad in Marketplace Closing Deadlines (in our office): October 2022 Issue by August 25 November 2022 Issue by September 25 December 2022 Issue by October 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 24

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STOP THROWING GOOD MONEY AFTER BAD! There’s a reason so many of our advertisers are still on our pages, month after month, for more than 40 years. Year after year, Alabama Living remains the best value for your dollar.

Contact Jacob at


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Illustration by Dennis Auth

| Hardy Jackson's Alabama |

Precious memories, and a few surprises S

ome folks are collectors. My mother and father were accumulators. Daddy was 93 when he claimed his 50-yard-line seat in that great Jordan-Hare Stadium in the sky. Mama was 98 when she joined him. That gave them a lot of time to collect. And they did. Once, and only once, did Daddy let me organize and cull his collection. My wife helped. In his storage shed, we found jars in which he kept balls of twine, seed catalogs, and insecticide long since banned by the EPA. We also found a bunch of empty halfpint whiskey bottles, which were full when he went hunting on a cold winter morning. As we carted off “stuff ” to the dump, I heard Daddy mourn “my treasures, my treasures.” He never let us do a clean-out again. Instead, he saved what he could and told us, with unmasked glee, that we would have to deal with it after he was gone. Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Professor Emeritus at Jacksonville State University. He can be reached at

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Only we didn’t. We kept it where it was because Mama wanted it that way. As the years passed, she added to the collection. What a collection it was. Daddy’s mother loved stamps, and as her children traveled the world defeating our nation’s enemies and occupying their countries, they sent her letters – stamped. Daddy inherited that passion, so the stamps and envelopes and albums were crammed into a filing cabinet for me to sort through. Like her mother before her, Mama kept a diary – which was mostly a daily account of what they ate, the weather, and who visited. Thrown in were bits of local gossip, and an occasional reference to family doings, good and not-so-good. I found things I could not explain: two Japanese Pesos, currency Japan printed for use in the occupied Philippines. Daddy served in Europe. Who gave him these? A miniature photo of a young man in what appears to be a Confederate uniform. He is holding a wicked looking knife. Who was he? Mama’s senior high picture. Why had I never seen it before? Cute as a button, she was. I know why Daddy cut her out of

the herd. Not that I was surprised. She was Miss Grove Hill of 1934. I know – I found the sash she wore. Then there was the letter Mama wrote to Daddy just after she learned that the attack on Pearl Harbor had changed everything. And tax returns. The accountant told me to keep 7 years, so into the big black trash bags went a decade or more of cancelled checks, receipts, and “thank you for your donation” notes, records of two lives well lived. Among the things they kept was my grandmother’s 1953 application to begin collecting Social Security. The government sent her $26 a month. Not much, but with chickens, a garden in the back yard, family and friends nearby, she got along fine on that. The books my folks accumulated for no purpose other than they enjoyed them were donated to the public library. I also found a list directing me to give such-and-such to so-and-so, which I dutifully did. And I paid off Mama’s pledge to their church. Many precious memories. And even some surprises.

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