March 2024 Central Alabama

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March 2024

Central Alabama Electric Cooperative

Women at the helm Meet Alabama’s three female co-op managers

Fun on Lake Wheeler

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



Printed in America from American materials

VOL. 77 NO. 3

MARCH 2024

9 Farm life

Beloved animals and tractors are part of the landscape on many Alabama farms.

20 Wheeler Lake fun

At 68,300 acres, Wheeler Lake is the second largest lake in the state and much of its nearly 900 miles of shoreline remains wild.

34 All a-board!

The charcuterie board, that is. Mix meats, fruit, cheese, olives, nuts and your favorite munchies for an appetizing and festive snack tray.


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 Cup o’ Joe ONLINE: ON THE COVER

Look for this logo to see more content online!


A decline in turkey population in Alabama might make it harder to bag one this spring, but properties with active habitat management should offer better odds for hunters.

Alabama is privileged to have three outstanding women as managers of rural electric cooperatives. From left, Karen Moore, Baldwin EMC; Gena Hall, North Alabama EC; and Stacey White, Arab EC. Story, Page 12 PHOTO: MARK STEPHENSON


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

Get our FREE monthly email newsletter! Sign up at MARCH 2024 3

Prepping your home for Alabama spring Board of Trustees Van Smith

In the words of the late Robin Williams, “Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!’” Tuesday, March 19, is this year’s Spring Equinox, marking the

Chairman, Billingsley (205) 294-4828

first day of spring 2024. It’s a time when we all emerge from our

Mark S. Presnell, Sr.

winter slumber, get outside and visit with friends and family as

Vice Chairman, Wetumpka (334) 567-2689

Mark Gray

Secretary/Treasurer, Clanton (205) 351-1889

Mike Lamar

the outdoor fun begins. Let’s face it, springtime weather is great, but we know it won’t last long. Every Alabamian knows the summer heat is just around the corner, so when the spring party is over, we need to ensure we’re ready for temperatures to rise.

Aaron Ismail, Vice President Customer & Energy Services

As your trusted energy partner, we at CAEC truly want you, our

Prattville (334) 290-2636

valued members, to use less of what we sell, but what exactly does this mean? For most

Justin Barrett

businesses, encouraging people to use less of what you sell would be a recipe for disaster.

Wetumpka (334) 799-4929

Terry Mitchell Stewartville (256) 249-3128

Nicole Law

Titus (334) 300-2234

James Robert Parnell

However, the cooperative business model is unique in that we operate at just above cost (as required by our lenders) to provide our members with the greatest value in energy by offering a reliable product and only charging what’s necessary to provide the service. However, encouraging you to use less of what we sell does not mean we want you to be uncomfortable in your home. Our goal is to assist you with tips to help you use energy wisely so you don’t rack up high electricity bills. Spring is a time to ensure your cooling system is running at peak efficiency before the

Maplesville (334) 259-4408

summer heat rolls in by having your HVAC system serviced for routine maintenance, such

Chase Riddle

to use ceiling fans to help circulate the air when you’re in a room. This simple measure can

Prattville (334) 365-3648

Charles Byrd Deatsville (334) 361-3324

Contact Us

as changing filters and cleaning coils and ductwork. In addition to this, we encourage you make you feel cooler and help you avoid lowering your thermostat. Also, on warm days, consider cooking outside so you’re not introducing heat into your home that your HVAC system must overcome. Some other springtime projects you can consider as you begin spring cleaning are installing window treatments such as blinds, curtains or heat-rejecting film to ensure the heat stays outside. Also, check for drafts around doors and windows so your hard-earned

Toll Free: 1-800-545-5735 Outage Hotline: 1-800-619-5460

money doesn’t go to waste as conditioned air escapes to the outside or hot air creeps inside.

Prattville Office: 103 Jesse Samuel Hunt Blvd. Prattville, AL 36066-6773

insulation or leaky ductwork while it is still bearable in your attic.

Clanton Office: 1601 7th St. North Rockford Office: 9191 U.S. Hwy. 231 Wetumpka Office: 637 Coosa River Pkwy.

Combat any air leaks by adding caulk or weather stripping to help reduce the impact of air infiltration on your electricity bill. Now is also a good time to check for adequate attic You may be wondering how to find out if you have air leaks or issues with your attic insulation and ductwork. Not to worry, we can help when you schedule an appointment with one of our trained Energy and Technology Consultants (ETCs) for an in-home energy audit. Our ETCs can help you by using technology such as a blower door and an infrared camera to help you find air leaks around your home and come up with a solution. If you have any questions about what you can do to get your home ready for the summer months, then please reach out to us. We have knowledgeable and trained staff and are eager to help you use less of what we sell.

Get “smart” Understanding heat pumps and thermostats Whether it’s the frigid winter nights or the rising mercury of the summer, Alabama temperatures can cause your heating and cooling unit to work overtime. But exactly how do units, such as heat pumps, work? Heat pumps use electricity to move heat from one place to another. Just as their name implies, they pump the heat from inside to outside during those hot summer days and vice versa when temperatures drop. While conjuring heat from the outside on winter days may sound like magic, you may be surprised to know that even on extremely cold days, there’s still heat energy outside that your heat pump can access. Heat pumps can take this energy from the air or ground and use it to bring heat back into your home. In the summer, we want that hot air outside, and a heat pump does just that. But in addition to sending out the hot air, heat pumps also use the same technology as an air conditioner (a refrigerant) to cool your home. No matter what the temperature is outside, you can save your energy dollars by utilizing a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats are Wi-Fi enabled and may be controlled remotely through an app on your tablet, smartphone or through voice control using a smart speaker system. This allows you to set up routines to run your heating or cooling system when you’re home or reduce its use when you’re away. There are two types of smart thermostats: internetconnected and self-learning. “Internet-connected” thermostats will look the same on the wall as a traditional thermostat, but also have an app that can control many features, such as

changing the temperature when you are away. “Self-learning” thermostats will learn your habits and predict temperature settings automatically. When choosing, be sure to check with your HVAC installer to ensure your smart thermostat is compatible with your existing system. Regardless of which you choose, smart thermostats can prove to be a good investment that can help you save energy and money in a more convenient way.

CAEC offices will be closed on March 29 for Good Friday.

Road trip! County When traveling through Central Alabama, not only will you find pockets of rich history and various stops offering fun for the whole family, but you’ll also find breathtaking scenery and numerous rare plants and animals native only to Alabama. An ideal spot to find all of this and more lies in the second stop on our road trip across CAEC’s service area: Bibb County. Formed on Feb. 7, 1818, Bibb County was one of the first 13 counties to be added to the seven already existing when Alabama was still a part of the Mississippi Territory. Spanning almost 400,000 acres across 625 square miles, the area was first settled in the 1800’s. Originally named Cahaba, meaning “the river above,” after the Oka Aba Choctaw Native Americans, the county served as the dividing line between the Creek and Choctaw nations. The county was later renamed in 1820 after Alabama’s first Governor, William Wyatt Bibb. Bibb County served as the location for some of the earliest steel industry structures in the state and became an active part of the steel industry due to its vast deposits

Explore the remains of the West Blocton Coke Ovens, which were built in the late 1800s.

of coal. When looking at mineral supply, Bibb County ranks among the foremost Alabama counties. The county has always been rich in natural resources such as ore, coal, clay and timber and set itself apart with booms in the lumber and coal mining industries in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The city of Centreville was founded in 1823 and serves as the county seat; it is home to a historic district with restored homes and buildings such as the fifth and current courthouse for Bibb County, which was built in 1902. Running through the county, the Cahaba River is the longest free-flowing stream in Alabama winding more than 190 miles. The river currently supports 64 rare and imperiled plant and animal species (13 of which are found nowhere else in the world) and has more fish species (131) than any other river its size in North America. The Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge is one of the nation’s newest National Wildlife Refuges and sits on 3,500 acres. Located on seven miles of the Cahaba River, it is home to five federally listed species including the Cahaba

Built in 1994, the Overland Road Covered Bridge is a notable stop in Brierfield Ironworks Historical State Park.

shiner, goldmine darter, round rocksnail and the cylindrical lioplax snail. It also features the largest population of Cahaba Lilies in North America which are celebrated each May-June during the Cahaba Lily Festival. This year’s festival will take place Saturday, May 18, at the West Blocton Cahaba Lily Center and will feature presentations from various environmental groups, a complimentary lunch, a field trip to the river, the Miss Cahaba Lily pageant, a presentation on the Cahaba Lily from Dr. Larry Davenport – professor of biology at Samford University – and other family activities. "We’ve celebrated this festival for over 30 years now,” said Lisa Buck, member of the West Blocton Improvement Committee. “The West Blocton Improvement Committee was meeting one night and decided that since we have this fantastic flower to showcase, we needed to have a festival that celebrated it. So, we got in touch with Dr. Larry Davenport because he’s the foremost authority on the Cahaba Lily, and he’s been coming back every year since.” Admission to the event is free, but donations are always welcome. Buck adds that if the water is low enough this year, the Cahaba River Society will also have canoes available to rent. Arts such as woodworking, quilting, pottery and syrup making are dotted throughout Bibb County with several events and craft shows throughout the year. And for those desiring a trip to the past, visiting the Brierfield Ironworks Historic State Park, Coke Ovens Park or Heritage Park are excellent choices for learning more about the county’s history with iron forges and furnaces. Whether you’re an avid outdoors person, a lover of all things history or just an interested passerby looking for a neat way to spend time with the family, Bibb County offers plenty of opportunities you won’t want to miss.

The Cahaba Lily flourishes at the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge.

Cahaba River facts :

190 miles long rare & imperiled plant & animal species


these species are found 13 ofnowhere else in the world species of fish


The Cahaba River is the longest freeflowing river in Alabama.

Enriching education through the Bright Ideas Grants Creating a patriotic-themed school garden, establishing a rolling art cart, diving more into the world of sculptures and copper metal molding and practicing proper blood drawing techniques are just some of the many opportunities offered to area students through projects funded by CAEC’s Bright Ideas Grant Program in 2024. The Bright Ideas Grant Program was introduced more than 20 years ago with a goal of supporting innovative, interesting and effective initiatives that school funding does not usually cover. Grants help enhance teachers’ efforts and are awarded to individuals or teams in public, private and home schools within CAEC’s service area. Applications were reviewed by a panel of judges from local community associations. They awarded $24,000 in grants to projects across 21 different schools, benefiting almost 7,000 students within CAEC’s service area. “I cannot express how truly thankful we are to have such dedicated individuals instructing and influencing the future leaders and workforce of our communities,” said CAEC President and CEO Tom Stackhouse. “We are honored to provide assistance to our educators who work persistently to impact all students by providing them the tools they need to be successful as well as instilling in them the desire for a lifetime of learning. You all are heroes, and we are incredibly thankful to be able to award these funds to you." To date, CAEC has awarded $376,000 to local schools through the program, benefiting more than 130,000 students across all grade levels and content areas. The application process for 2025 Bright Ideas Grants will begin this September.

Autauga County recipients

Chilton County recipients

Elmore County recipients

Talladega County recipients

| Alabama Snapshots |

Pet bull Cloud enjoying a Alabama sunset. SUBMITTED by Fred Kostelecky, Silverhill.

Korrina Robinson loving on her goats. SUBMITTED by Donna Edwards, Cullman.

Tom and Julie Duncan’s grandkids from left: Jake, Levi, Lilly, Palmer and Tanner. SUBMITTED by Tom Duncan, Greenville.

Sophie, Heidi and Karter on a typical day at The Colquett Farm. SUBMITTED by Toyia Colquett, Opp.

Weston and Raelynn Walters - future peanut farmers on Walters Farm. SUBMITTED by Hayley Walters, Auburn.

Brothers Kole and Steele Keener with their Jersey ladies, Big Booty Judy and Chatty Cathy. SUBMITTED by Kole Keener, Arab.

May theme: “Mom’s Little Helper” | Deadline: March 29 Online: | Mail: Attn: Snapshots, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124 RULES: Photos submitted for publication may also be published on our website at and on our Facebook and Instagram pages. Alabama Living is not responsible for lost or damaged photos. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope to have photos returned. Alabama Living

MARCH 2024 9

Spotlight | March

Find the hidden dingbat!

The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, perform at the Yellowstone International Air Show in Montana. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE U.S. NAVY

Navy Week program sets sail for Montgomery Though Montgomery is known as an Air Force city, the U.S. Navy is preparing to bring a Navy Week to the Capital City during the week of April 1-7. The Navy will bring 50 to 75 sailors from across the nation to volunteer throughout the community and discuss why the Navy matters to Montgomery. This will be the first Navy Week hosted by Montgomery and its surrounding communities. The event will feature in-person demonstrations, performances and engagements all week, including: • Senior Navy leaders with ties to the Montgomery area • Namesake sailors who are serving on the USS Alabama, an Ohio-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, and the USS Montgomery, an Independence-class littoral combat ship • The Navy Southeast Band • Naval History and Heritage Command (educational presentations about the ties between Alabama and the Navy) Since 2005, the Navy Week program has served as the Navy’s flagship outreach effort to regions without a significant Navy presence. Each year, the program reaches more than 150 million people, according to the Navy. For more information, visit

Eagle statue unveiled at Lake Guntersville State Park Lake Guntersville’s newest feature is a picturesque eagle statue located at the park’s lodge, which was officially unveiled in February. The statue, created by artist Jenny Hendrix and inspired by a photo taken by noted Alabama nature photographer Beth Cowan Drake, showcases an American bald eagle with a fish clasped in its talons. Funded by a grant from the Alabama Tourism Department, the statue is the result of a team effort – a twoyear project including landscaping, lighting, signage and sidewalks that create opportunities for photos. 10 MARCH 2024

Nearly 400 of our readers correctly found the leaping frog in the February issue, on Page 16 in the right hand corner of the top photo of the Kingdom of Dragon Croft’s Yule Feast Party. The lively amphibian was jumping his way onto the table, obviously excited that 2024 is a Leap Year. Lots of you wrote about your adventures finding him, including Zelda Turner of Cullman, who had to pull out her trusty magnifying glass again, “but there he is,” she wrote. “You might say ‘froggie went a courtin’, he blends in so quite well with the greenery on that little table.” Vickie Outlaw of Midland City took it a step further, writing us that “Froggy went a hiding….and hid in the pages of Alabama Living.” She, too, had to use a magnifying glass. Henry Miller of Louisville, a member of Pea River EC, said he found it the first time going through the magazine. “Not too difficult, but a VERY CLEVER hiding place,” he wrote. “I am a new customer and I love the magazine, especially the fact that it contains a wide variety of articles. Thank you for the coverage and especially the wonderful photos throughout.” Thank you for reading, Mr. Miller! Congratulations to Tonya Weakley of Albertville, our randomly drawn winner, who will receive a gift card from Alabama One Credit Union. This month, we’ve hidden an Easter egg, so good luck! By mail: Find the Dingbat Alabama Living PO Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

Sponsored by

By email:

Landowners can fight cogongrass at no cost For the third year, financial relief will be available to assist Alabama landowners adversely affected by cogongrass, a non-native noxious weed. The application period has begun, and the portal will remain open until 5 p.m. March 29, or until a threshold of 150 applications is reached. Eligibility for the funding requires that applicants be private, non-industrial landowners. The landowner is not required to reside on the property or within the state; there is no minimum or maximum acreage ownership requirement. The goals of the Cogongrass Mitigation Program are to reduce the number of infested acres, eliminate the damaging effects of cogongrass on existing ecosystems, and improve the productivity of sites impacted by the weed. Additional objectives include slowing the spread of the current establishments and preventing introductions into new areas of the state. To apply or for more information, visit Pages/Management/Cogongrass.aspx.

March | Spotlight

Whereville, AL

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: 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. Make sure your photo is clear, in focus and not in shadow.  Avery, Norah, and Stella Barnes of Columbia and Pea River EC travelled to Point of View Alpaca Farm in Mount Sidney, Va. They were able to walk their own alpaca over a mile and get some good alpaca hugs!

Cory and Ashley Hayes of Phenix City traveled around Ireland and stood beside the Ha’Penny Bridge in Dublin. They are members of Tallapoosa River EC.

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 April issue. Submit by email:, or by mail: Whereville, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124. Contribute a photo you took for an upcoming issue! Send a photo of an interesting or unusual landmark in Alabama, which must be accessible to the public. A reader whose photo is chosen will also win $25. February’s answer: Midland City, a town northwest of Dothan, commissioned this stone sculpture around 2016 on land that was given to the city for public enjoyment. It was built by Bill Jordan Construction and is on Hinton Waters Avenue; behind it is a small pavilion with a picnic table and seating. When this photo was taken, a fountain in the middle of the sculpture was not running, but the city expects the fountain to be running again in 2024. (Photo by Allison Law of Alabama Living) The randomly drawn correct guess winner is LeAnn Price of Pea River EC. Alabama Living

 Sherri and Martin Fancher traveled to Oceanside, California, and enjoyed a beautiful afternoon walk on the pier. Members of Dixie EC, they live in Montgomery.

 Marsha Edhegard of Ozark, a member of Pea River EC, took her magazine to the Queen Anne neighborhood at Kerry Park, Seattle, Washington. The Space Needle and downtown skyline in are in the background.

 William Auld Jr. was a long way from his home in Winn, Alabama, when he went golfing in Guam with his magazine. He is a member of ClarkeWashington EMC.

MARCH 2024 11

Making history:

Women head three Alabama electric cooperatives

Karen Moore, Stacey White and Gena Hall had a chance to discuss mutual concerns PHOTO BY MARK STEPHENSON during a break at a recent AREA board meeting.

By Lenore Vickrey

ative, Gena Hall at North Alabama EC and Karen Moore at Baldwin EMC. Alabama Living recently spent some time with each manager to learn more about their career paths and the challenges they’ve faced and the accomplishments they are proudest of.

March is Women’s History Month, making it the perfect time to celebrate the women who are making history in Alabama at our electric cooperatives. Alabama is fortunate enough to have three women managers: Stacey White at Arab Electric Cooper

Stacey White, Arab EC: “Don’t let anybody ever tell you that you can’t do something” Stacey White literally hit the ground running when she was named manager at the 16,000-member co-op in northern Alabama in January 2020. “I signed the contract on Friday and Saturday we had a tornado that literally tore down one of our schools,” she recalls. “That morning I put my boots on and my raincoat and went out to the site, checked on our crews and made sure they had everything they needed. I stayed out most of the night with the crews.” Thankfully, power was restored in about 24 hours and no one was hurt at the Union Grove School. But for White, “it was a good lesson for me because I was able to see things firsthand what crews do and how they do it.” Working with the crews wasn’t exactly unfamiliar territory for White, who has worked at Arab EC for 15 years. “I have literally worked my way up,” she says. A graduate of nearby Guntersville High School, she married her high school sweetheart Tim, who is from Arab, not long after graduation. His job as a state trooper took them to some different locations until they settled in Arab, and White took a job at the co-op as a cashier. She eventually moved to customer service and then human resources, where she was working when the Arab board appointed her interim manager when the previous manager left to take another job. “I’ve done a little bit of everything,” she says, “except climb a pole. I’ve joked that I can’t climb a pole but I can provide them with the materials and the school they need to do their job to the best of their ability. That was one of my selling points during my job interview.” The Arab board conducted a national search with the help of 12 MARCH 2024

The White family gather for a portrait at the wedding of their son Colby and daughter-in-law Catherine last July. For Stacey White, it was one of three weddings for her children within 24 months after she was named manager at Arab EC. “It was a crazy time,” she remembers. Her daughters, Katie Beth and Savannah, are RNs in labor and delivery at Marshall Medical Center. Colby owns his own construction company where dad Tim, a retired state trooper, also helps out.

the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, (NRECA), and White was one of 30 people who applied for the manager’s job. After assuming the interim position, “My first reaction was, ‘I wonder who I will be working for, I wonder who he will be.’ Then I thought, ‘Wait a minute, I’m doing this job, why am I not going to put my name in the hat? The worst they can say is no.’” She made it to the final three who were interviewed by the board in the co-op’s auditorium, and they didn’t say no. White grew up in the electric business, as her father is a retired lineman with the Guntersville Electric Board. “I grew up seeing

Jerry Willis, who has worked in operations at Arab EC for more than 40 years, updates White on the cooperative’s truck fleet. “I try to see every employee PHOTO BY LENORE VICKREY daily just to say thank you, good job,” she says.

the family side of it with him getting called out in the middle of the night, coming home late, tired and all. So that has been an advantage for me.” In her tenure as manager the past four years, she has already accomplished the goals she set out in a five-year plan she presented to the board, including installing AMI metering, updating technology, and improving security. “All of this has happened because I’ve had such a supportive board,” she says. “I’ve been very blessed.” She’s also been able to hire some needed employees, including an in-house engineer and accountant. A big believer in giving back to the community, White has encouraged co-op involvement in the local area through volunteering at a community kitchen, helping local schools and food drives.

Becoming the supervisor over the 36 co-op employees she’d previously worked alongside is always a challenge for those who are promoted. “I had to prove myself early on,” she says. “I had to make some tough decisions and hard moves, but I think when I did those things, everyone saw I was here for the right reasons. I was going to do the right thing to make Arab Electric a better place.” Early on, she held one-on-one meetings with each employee to listen to their needs and anything else they wanted to talk about. She’s especially proud that in December she earned her degree in business management from Wallace State Community College, which was part of her contract with the co-op when she was hired. “It’s been a process,” she says. “But don’t let anybody ever tell you that you can’t do something.”

Gena Hall, North Alabama EC: “I want to make our system as reliable and affordable as we possibly can.” How many co-op managers started out wanting to be veterinarians? We know of one who grew up around animals, loved to ride horses, and hunt. She even raised 40,000 quail a year at her family’s hunting preserve. But that was the former life of Gena Hall, who now manages North Alabama Electric Cooperative and the 53 employees who help keep the lights on for their more than 19,000 members. Hall was born and raised in Stevenson in Jackson County, where NAEC is headquartered. Her father was a big bird hunter, and she fell in love with animals and their care. She earned a bachelor’s degree in animal and dairy science and a minor in business administration from Middle Tennessee State University; thinking she’d be a veterinarian, she headed to Auburn for more schooling. However, after working in the poultry science area at the univerAlabama Living

North Alabama EC Manager Gena Hall goes over plans for a new substation in Claysville with substation tech Adam Bass. The pink hard hat she’s wearing is part of Pink Hard Hats for Girls and Women in CTE, Construction and Manufacturing, a project of NAEC, Sand Mountain Electric Cooperative, and Scottsboro Electric in cooperation with the Mountain Lakes Chamber of Commerce. MARCH 2024 13

sity research farm, she fell in love with the research/vaccine side of that field and earned another bachelor’s degree. She worked for Auburn and even had some papers published in professional journals before being hired as a corporate lab manager for a major poultry processing plant. “So for a first job I was already supervising people,” she recalls, handling all the testing for the plant and their 7 locations, with 4 employees under her supervision. “That was my thing, I liked to research.” After getting married, she relocated to Fairhope, working in the office of a large veterinary practice as the office manager (not directly with animals), then made another move to Montgomery before her father persuaded them to come back home to Stevenson, raise quail, and run a family hunting preserve. “By then I’d had my first child,” Hall recalls. They started raising quail on 500 acres owned by her parents, and then she and her then-husband bought a larger farm near Fackler and raised 40,000 quail a year. The preserve eventually closed, and Hall found a new job at, of all places, her local cooperative. “I started out as a cashier,” she says, gradually proving herself and moving on to customer service, collections, administrative assistant, and human resources. “I worked dispatch for over 15 years,” she adds, “worked nights, and was one of the 3 on-call persons if you had an outage. Years ago, we didn’t have AMI and I have to say it has been a blessing. I’m coming up on 22 years here and never dreamed I’d be in the manager’s office.” But after the previous longtime manager left the position, the NAEC board named Hall interim manager, and in 2023, gave her the job permanently. Now, with the support of the board, Hall is leading the cooperative as it faces the challenge of providing electricity across 2,600-plus miles of line from Bridgeport at the Tennessee line

down to Gurley, much of it in mountainous terrain. “We have some great linemen,” she says. “I try to brag on them any time I can because when we have a storm, I’d put them up against anybody. All of our employees here are a great asset and have been supportive. I am truly thankful to have such a wonderful team of employees and board members that care about our customers and their needs.” Severe weather in December 2022 tested their system when the first TVA-directed rolling outages occurred. “It was a challenge for all of us,” she remembers, but thankfully the system was only affected for one day. As she looks to the future, her goals include addressing long-needed maintenance issues, revamping one substation and building another, streamlining and reducing paperwork, and helping the co-op be more community-focused and involved. NAEC recently discontinued its television service due to ever-increasing pricing from the different TV channels, but the cooperative didn’t leave its members without an alternative. “We actually have a room here at the Stevenson office to show them how to stream. We have YouTube TV, Roku, and Direct TV, which we bought to teach our members how to use them,” Hall says. The co-op, one of the first to offer fiber services almost a decade ago, now offers electricity, internet, and telephone services. “My biggest thing is to be here for our members, and do what’s best in their eyes,” she says. “I want to make our system as reliable and affordable as we possibly can.” Hall still likes to hunt turkey and duck, and ride horses, and she enjoys spending time with her two daughters, Margaret Ellen, a third-grade teacher, and Caroline, a safety consultant for TVA. She’s especially looking forward to having a grandson to hold in March of this year.

Gena Hall’s office at North Alabama Electric Cooperative includes items reflecting her love of hunting, including a hand-carved hunting dog made by her father. PHOTO BY LENORE VICKREY

14 MARCH 2024

Alabama Living

MARCH 2024 15


Karen Moore enjoys donning a hard hat and getting an up-close look when Baldwin EMC’s trucks get a preflight inspection with now-retired Charles Smith.

Karen Moore, Baldwin EMC: “I have made safety our number one focus by instilling in our employees the importance of taking the necessary time to do their jobs safely.” When she was named chief executive officer of Baldwin EMC in 2015, Karen Moore became the first woman to head an Alabama electric cooperative. She had previously spent 11 years as a vice president at the co-op, heading up energy services and public relations. A native of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, she credits her supportive and encouraging parents with laying the ground work for her strong discipline and worth ethic, and her three brothers for being responsible for her “thick skin and competitive spirit, all traits that have benefitted me both personally and professionally.” Moore’s journey to Baldwin EMC began after she earned degrees from Pearl River Community College and the University of Southern Mississippi, and her first encounter with the world of utilities came in her senior year during an internship with Mississippi Power. That opened a door to a position with Alabama Power Co. in Montgomery where she worked as an administrative assistant who had her eye on moving into the marketing department. But her husband Ken was offered a promotion that moved them to Dallas, Texas. There, she quickly found her place as a marketing representative before moving into management for Denton County Electric Cooperative (now CoServ Electric). But in 2004, when Baldwin EMC began looking for a new VP of energy services and public relations, she took advantage of the opportunity to move closer to both their families. After 11 years, she proved herself worthy of being given the responsibility of top management, and the board named her CEO, replacing the retiring E. A. “Bucky” Jakins. Heading Alabama’s largest cooperative, serving nearly 90,000 16 MARCH 2024

homes and businesses, not to mention its location on Alabama’s Gulf Coast has its own set of challenges. “But if I had to pick one, the biggest challenge during my term as CEO has been managing through a pandemic and a major hurricane at the same time,” she says. “It was the ‘perfect storm’ that came with no instructions. To help us restore power following Hurricane Sally, we brought in 1,500 additional employees from sister cooperatives across the nation, bringing the total I was responsible for to more than 1,700. In addition to the responsibility of keeping everyone safe in the most extreme circumstances, we were tasked with following the COVID-19 protocols to keep everyone healthy too.” With the help of those sister co-ops, Baldwin restored power to nearly 80,000 meters in only 10 days. “We have an awesome team here who has been able to taken those lessons learned and improved our Natural Disaster Plan,” she says. Keeping members, and employees and their board informed during weather emergencies is key, but open and transparent communications with both constituencies at all times has infused every aspect of Moore’s career at Baldwin. It’s one reason she was honored with the national 2022 CEO Outstanding Communicator award by the Cooperative Communicators Association. Besides managing through one of the worst storms ever to hit Baldwin County and navigating through a global pandemic without a playbook, Moore notes several other key initiatives during her years as CEO: Safety culture – “I have made safety our number one focus at

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Baldwin EMC by instilling in our employday of the pay period everyone gets a day ees the importance of taking the necessary off, resulting in a three-day weekend every time to do their jobs safely. When a new other week. Not only has it refreshed our employee joins our team, I meet with them employees, it has become a recruiting tool personally on day one. One of the topics in a time that everyone is competing for we discuss is the importance of safety and the best employees. Equally important, our how titles or tenure do not matter at Baldmembers are receiving the same great serwin EMC when it comes to safety. Any vice as they always have because our offices employee may stop a job whether it’s their are open earlier and later during the nine first day or 40th anniversary with the coworking days.” operative.” Moore recently announced her intent to Training/Development – “Within retire, giving the board up to a year to conmonths of becoming CEO, we developed duct a search for her successor. “When you a program we called Huddle for the sole enjoy the people you work with and enjoy what you do, it’s easy to come to work,” she purpose of developing our managers and reflects. “I love what I do and feel extremesupervisors into exceptional leaders. The ly blessed to have such a wonderful opporfoundation was built on servant leadership tunity to lead our cooperative.” and has now expanded into topics such as But while still noting that she’ll miss her time management, legal updates, safety, Baldwin EMC’s Karen Moore visits a job site with fellow employees, it’s nevertheless a reality communication, effective feedback strate- Crew Chief Gary Byrd. gies, setting expectations, etc.” that “working in the electric utility indusNew Work Schedule – “In our strategic plan, our board tasked try means your family comes second to work. Ken and I are both us with refreshing our employees following the pandemic, plus blessed to have our parents still active in our lives, as well as 20 nieces and nephews who we love spending time with. I want to two hurricanes within six weeks. It took us more than a year to put them first now.” She also said they have plans for traveling and work through but we implemented a 9/80 work schedule for all enjoying more time to play pickleball, golfing, fishing and cooking employees. Simply put, we complete 80 hours of work over nine for friends and family. business days rather than the traditional ten days. On the tenth

Women increasingly powering America’s electric co-ops By Scott Flood


generation ago, if a young woman expressed an interest in problem-solving and communication that women often bring to working in the energy industry, it’s possible her friends, leadership are particularly important to the industry’s future. family, and even prospective supervisors would have Co-ops across America are actively working to build awaresteered her away. Keeping the lights on was tradiness among young women about the opportunitionally seen as men’s work—aside from customer ties available to them. Some even host day camps service or clerical roles, that is. for teens in which they get a behind-the-scenes Yet today, women represent an increasing share look at what’s involved with delivering electric of the electric cooperative workforce, and not just power. Beyond the highly visible roles such as in traditional roles of the past. As you look around linework, participants learn about how people in Alabama’s electric co-ops, you’ll find women in areas as diverse as IT, finance and environmental every imaginable role—from lineworkers, to engicompliance are vital to co-op operations. Without neers, to financial managers, and in top leadership that exposure, those future co-op leaders probably roles. wouldn’t know those jobs exist. International Women’s Day is March 8, and Students aren’t the only target of such efforts. March is Women’s History Month. It’s a great ocDunham points to the priority the industry is casion to celebrate the accomplishments of the placing on supporting career development for many women who are transforming electric cowomen. Mentorship programs and networking ops and how they serve their local communities. opportunities create platforms through which “The competition for talent and skill shortages women can connect and share their experiences. has highlighted the need to expand recruitment The recently launched Women in Power Mentostrategies to get a more diverse range of candiring program for the electric co-op community dates,” explains Desiree Dunham, Workforce Pro- Women represent an provides mentorship and resources to support and grams manager for the National Rural Electric increasing share of the electric guide women in their careers. cooperative workforce, and Cooperative Association (NRECA). “The diverse not just in traditional roles of As nearly 20% of the nation’s co-op workforce experiences and perspectives of women contrib- the past. nears retirement age over the next five years and ute to more creative and effective problem-solvlocal cooperatives struggle with an ever-tighter PHOTO COURTESY LAURA EMERY, COOPERATIVE LIVING ing, which can be especially beneficial in navigatjob market, expanding the pool of potential working complex challenges and finding innovative ers is an effective solution. At the same time, there solutions that cater to a broad range of consumer needs.” are many reasons women who are entering (or reentering) the NRECA recently reported that nearly 90 electric co-ops are workforce should consider finding a place in the electric co-op headed by female CEOs, adding that strengths like teamwork, world. 18 MARCH 2024

Alabama Living

MARCH 2024 19

Fourth in a series on Alabama’s lakes

Wheelin’ on the River Long lake overflows with recreational activities

By John N. Felsher

The Tennessee River at Wheeler Lake offers many places where kayakers can enjoy a day on the water.



t 68,300 acres, making it the second largest lake in Alanessee River also offer hunting. bama (compared to its Tennessee Valley Authority neighAfter a short walk behind the refuge visitor center, photogbor Lake Guntersville with 69,100 surface acres), Wheeler raphers can observe and photograph numerous birds including Lake provides an abundance of recreational activities. various waterfowl, sandhill cranes and bald eagles. Birders could Named for “Fighting Joe” Wheeler, a congressman and generpossibly glimpse critically endangered whooping cranes. al who fought in the Civil War and Spanish American War, the Each year, Decatur and the refuge put on the Festival of the lake sits in northern Alabama about halfway between Nashville Cranes, which took place in January. At this festival, visitors parand Birmingham, southwest of Huntsville. Much of its nearly 900 ticipate in birding workshops, nature walks, children’s activities shoreline miles remains wild. and other events. “The Festival of the Cranes used to be just at Wheeler NWR, but it’s become a citywide festival with many “Those of us who live on the lake love it,” says Tere Richardson, events in Decatur,” says Melea Hames with the Alabama Mountain executive director of Athens Main Street. “I was born and raised Lakes Tourist Association. “Also in Decahere, but I lived away for about 20 years. tur, people can visit Point Mallard Park, Looking out from my deck, I can see two which has a water park and golf course. miles due west across Wheeler Lake. We People can also visit the Cook Museum of get some fantastic sunsets. It’s very natural Natural Science. The Sizzle and Smoke barwith a wildlife refuge and other wild lands. becue festival at Ingalls Harbor offers steak Even on July Fourth, we don’t see that cookoffs and grilling. Many major fishing much boat traffic compared to other lakes.” tournaments run out of Ingalls Harbor.” Established for wintering waterfowl and As the refuge sits on the Tennessee River other migratory birds, Wheeler Nationand a major tributary, many people enjoy al Wildlife Refuge occupies about 35,000 canoeing and kayaking the backwaters. acres just off I-65 near Decatur. The refuge provides homes for hundreds of bird speGliding along silently, paddlers can sneak cies and winters as many as 100,000 ducks up on wildlife for great photography opportunities. and 60,000 geese. Visitors enjoy such “During the spring and summer, the outdoors activities as hiking, biking, bird The second largest lake in Alabama, Wheeler Tennessee River tributaries, such as Flint watching and horseback riding through Lake runs 60 miles along the Tennessee River, Creek in Decatur and Limestone Bay in diverse habitats including reclaimed farm- providing abundant opportunities for sailing, boating and other water activities. Several Mooresville, make great places to go kayland replanted in hardwoods. aking,” Young recommends. “At Osprey “The refuge offers nearly 100 miles of marinas, such as this one, offer access to boaters. gravel roads, some only open to vehicles Point, paddlers can view nesting osprey.” People also paddle the very scenic Elk River. This major tribuduring part of the year,” explains David Young, Wheeler NWR tary flows into Wheeler Lake from the north near Rogersville. On ranger. “When closed to vehicles, these roads make great bicythe north shore, Rogersville sits close to Wheeler Dam and Joe cle-riding routes with opportunities to see wildlife. Some gravel Wheeler State Park. roads are a part of the larger regional Singing River Trail.” Since the refuge exists as a bird sanctuary, it prohibits any mi“If people enjoy watersports, this is one of the greatest places gratory bird hunting, but does offers limited small game and deer to be,” Richardson says. “This part of the Tennessee River doesn’t hunting. Several state wildlife management areas along the Tenhave as heavy boat traffic as some other lakes. The Elk River and 20 MARCH 2024

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Second Creek are great places to water ski or water board.” Hikers can use five trails on the refuge and more at Point Mallard Park. Joe Wheeler State Park covers 2,550 acres and includes 16 miles of hiking and biking trails. The resort park also offers a full-service marina, a restaurant, convention facilities, golf course, motorboat and paddle boat rentals and other amenities. Lodging accommodations range from resort hotel rooms to lakeside cottages or primitive camping. “Joe Wheeler State Park is on the water and it’s absolutely gorgeous,” Hames says. Steve A. Graham grew up in Rogersville and keeps his 36-footlong pontoon boat at the state park marina. He runs Wheeler Lake Scenic Cruises and takes people on the lake two to three times a day on weekends and holidays from late April to early November. Private parties can arrange for special excursions. “One of the greatest pleasures I get out of this business is taking people on the lake who maybe haven’t been in a long time or ever,” Graham remarks. “The lake is beautiful and I think the hospitality in this area can’t be matched anywhere.” Easily accessible by elderly people or those with mobility issues, Graham’s boat comes with a restroom and roof. Graham can con-

figure the setup with individual seats to accommodate a specific number of guests. Each cruise takes about 60 to 90 minutes. “I’ll tell them a little history about the park, Wheeler Dam, the Tennessee River and the importance of the TVA to this area,” Graham says. “We see lots of birds and pretty scenery. In the winter, we see herons, pelicans, geese, ducks and egrets. We don’t see bald eagles every time, but they are around this area.” For anglers, Wheeler Lake offers good fishing for several species. Like the rest of the Tennessee River, the system can produce trophy catfish. It once held the world record for blue catfish at 111 pounds. While in the area, visit General Wheeler’s home near Hillsboro. Several buildings sit on 50 acres. Visitors can see many items from the general’s life on display. “General Joe Wheeler’s home is a really neat place to see for anyone interested in history,” Hames says. “It still has furniture that was there when the general lived in the house.” Other area attractions include the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Muscle Shoals, the Helen Keller House and Rattlesnake Saloon in Tuscumbia, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville and the Coondog Cemetery near Cherokee.

For more information Joe Wheeler’s Home Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association 402 Sherman Street P.O. Box 2537, Decatur, AL 35602 1-800-648-5381

Alabama Music Hall of Fame

617 Highway 72 West, Tuscumbia, AL 35674 256-381-4417

Athens Main Street

Tere Richardson Executive Director 256-232-9040

Colbert County Tourism Tuscumbia, AL 256-383-0783

Cook Museum of Natural Science

133 4th Ave. NE, Decatur, AL 35601 256-351-4505

Decatur Morgan County Tourism

350 Market St. NE, Decatur, AL 35601 800-232-5449 or 256-350-2028

Festival of the Cranes

3121 Visitor Center Rd., Decatur, AL 35601 256-350-2028

22 MARCH 2024

John Griffin, Site Director 12280 Alabama Highway 20, Hillsboro, AL 35643 256-637-8513

Joe Wheeler State Park

4403 McLean Dr., Rogersville AL, 35652 1-800-544-5639

Mallard Point Park

2901 Point Mallard Circle, Decatur, AL 35601 256-341-4900

Rogersville Chamber of Commerce

36 Wheeler Street, Rogersville, AL 35652 256-247-5456

Tennessee Vtalley Authority

1010 Reservation Road (MPB), Muscle Shoals, AL 35662-1010 865-632-2101 TVAINFO@TVA.COM

U.S. Space & Rocket Center

One Tranquility Base, Huntsville, AL 35805 1-800-637-7223 or 256-837-3400

Wheeler Lake Scenic Cruises

Steve A. Graham 256-335-2187 or Facebook

Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge

David Young Park Ranger 2700 Refuge Headquarters Rd., Decatur, AL 35603 256-350-6639

Alabama Living

MARCH 2024 23

| Worth the drive |

Valentina’s in Madison offers a plentiful variety of Italian dishes including hand-crafted pizza, salads, garlic bread, bruschetta and more.

The art and science of an award-winning pizza By Scotty E. Kirkland


ou can find some of the world’s best pizza in Madison, trip to Valentina’s in advance and make a reservation. Then arrive Alabama. Go ahead and read that sentence again. From hungry. You won’t leave that way. his base of operations at Valentina’s Pizzeria & Wine Bar, The more carnivorous members of your dinner party may want chef Joe Carlucci is sharing his lifelong passion for pizza with the to try “The Godfather,” a pizza piled high with soppressata salami, two kinds of Italian sausage, charred pepperoni, bacon and world, one record at a time. meatballs in a red sauce. Lighter fare includes “The Valentina,” At last year’s International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, Carlucci made with a sweet sauce, caramelized onions, peppadew peppers, earned his sixth and seventh trophies. He is the reigning “Pizza Maker of the Year” and winner of the coveted prize for “Best heirloom cherry tomatoes and fresh basil. There are pies for the Non-Traditional Style Pizza in the World.” less adventurous, too, and for those who His victorious pie featured a mango chutappreciate the simple pleasures of a cheese ney reduction topped with crabmeat and pizza that is anything but “plain.” lobster, seasoned with Italian parsley and The appetizer of choice is called 5 Boroughs. An homage to Carlucci’s New York red pepper flakes. A non-traditional pizza, City roots, the dish is a quintet of fried goat indeed. cheese balls with peppers on a bed of aruThe awards come from the members of gula. And sweets? Get the Dessert Board the World Pizza Champions, a non-profit and try a bite of four Italian classics like organization of about 200 members devoted to promoting the craft through comcannoli and tiramisu. petitions, educational outreach and public service. Carlucci is no stranger to the Life of pie Born and raised in New York, Carlucci group. In fact, he is a founding member. has called north Alabama home for about Carlucci’s pizza-making travels have tak15 years. He got his start in an Empire en him to Germany, Italy, Spain and even State pizzeria as a teenager. “I wasn’t even China. He has appeared on more than a Chef Joe Carlucci, “Pizza Maker of the Year,” dozen television programs, including the holds two Guinness World Records. allowed to look at the sauce,” Carlucci told “Today” show.’s Matt Wake last year. He started Last fall, Carlucci relocated Valentina’s to larger quarters on as a dishwasher, then worked the service counter and as a delivery Huntsville Brownsferry Road. driver. “After all that I moved up to actually making a pizza.” The nightly window for this pizza perfection is tight as locals A few years and a few thousand pizzas later, Carlucci came under the wing of pie-spinning mentor Tony Gemignani, who runs elbow in to grab familiar favorites at the new location. Plan your more than two dozen pizzerias in California, Nevada and Idaho. The two were asked to come to Alabama to consult with the ownValentina’s Pizzeria & Wine Bar l ers of Tortora’s Wood Fired Grille in Huntsville’s Hampton Cove Madison 25783 Huntsville Brownsferry Road community. “They kept bringing me back down to help with their Madison, AL 35756 restaurant,” Carluccia recalls. “I ended up loving it down here. I 256-325-2240 moved to help run Tortora’s, then ended up branching out on my and on Facebook Hours: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday; own.” 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday In an interview on National Public Radio last summer, Carlucci 24 MARCH 2024


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Above, the Italian classic, tiramisu, is a feature of the dessert menu. Below, a mural of young Valentina, daughter of the owner, adorns the inside of the restaurant’s new location on Huntsville Brownsferry Road.

talked about the science of pizza. What’s the alchemy of a really good pie? The make-or-break ingredient? Well, that’s complicated, he says. “Everything from flour temperature to water temperature, to mix time, to the humidity outside. Everything working together makes the perfect pizza. The structure. The taste. Everything.” Carlucci thinks deeply about the “flavor profiles” his ingredients create atop his award-winning crusts. And he is serious about his dough, too, but we’re not talking about money. Valentina’s imports its flour from Naples, Italy. His passion and prior association with Tony Gemignani led Carlucci to sign on as a founding member of the World Pizza Champions. For Carlucci, the group is about more than competitions and trophies. “The team is dedicated to promoting pizza making as a respected craft and viable career choice,” he says. “The selection of new members is a process we take very seriously. Inclusion on the team is through invitation only. Each member has dedicated years of practice and entrepreneurial energy to the craft.” Members of the group work “for the common good of the craft.” One of the ways Carlucci contributes to this goal is through his competitive spirit. He holds two Guinness World Records. The first is for the highest pizza toss, coming in at 21 feet, 5 inches. The second is for the largest pizza base spun in one minute. “I love to compete,” he says. “When I had the opportunity to compete for two Guinness World Records, I had to do it.” Still, amid all his accolades, Carlucci is quick to sing the praises of his staff. “I give them all the kudos, all the respect,” he told Matt Wake. “I’m gonna be right on the line with them. I’m going to be doing the dishes tonight, I’m gonna be jumping in making pizzas…. We all work together.”

The next generation

The restaurant is named for his daughter, a budding pizza chef herself at age 11. A mural of young Valentina Carlucci in a chef ’s hat adorns the inside of the new location. Following in her father’s competitive culinary footsteps, she is a pizza magician in her own right and holds a Guinness World Kids Record for the highest pizza toss at 13 feet, 9 inches. From his restaurant’s name and his support of the World Pizza Champions to his appearance on “Master Chef Kids,” it’s obvious that Carlucci takes seriously the role of mentor. His advice for aspiring young chefs? “Never give up. Don’t listen to the negative people. Just prove them wrong.” That’s good advice from a championship chef who is doing everything right in North Alabama.

26 MARCH 2024

Alabama Living

MARCH 2024 27


How we protect you from misleading advertising and communications S ocial Security works with the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to protect you from scams that use Social Security as bait. Section 1140 of the Social Security Act allows OIG to impose severe penalties against anyone who engages in misleading Social Security-related advertising or imposter communications. For example, the OIG may impose a penalty against anyone who: • Mails misleading solicitations that appear to be from or authorized by Social Security. • Operates an imposter website or social media account designed to look like it belongs to or is authorized by Social Security. • Sends emails or text messages or Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at


makes telephone calls claiming to be from Social Security. • Sells Social Security’s free forms, applications, and publications without our written approval. • Charges a fee for a service that Social Security provides free of charge without providing a clearly visible notice that Social Security provides the service for free. If you receive a suspicious Social Security-related advertisement or imposter communication, please let us know immediately. We encourage you to report potential scams to the OIG at You can also send an email to Please try to capture as much information about the communication as you can. Here’s what you can do: • For suspicious websites or social media accounts, take a screenshot of the webpage. Note the website address or social media link – and how you came


Across Alabama Women’s Hall of 1 Alabama-born woman who was Fame, Tallulah _____ influential in the early Church of 32 Writer’s tool that’s “mightier the Nazarene, Mary Lee ____ than the sword” 4 First African American student 33 Born in Birmingham, she to graduate from Spring Hill became Secretary of State in College, Fannie ______ the 2000s, Condoleeza ____ 8 Alabama woman who inspired 34 Author of “To Kill a the Montgomery Bus Boycott Mockingbird” - last name and was a major figure in the 35 Lady referred to Civil Rights movement, 2 words 9 Third in the family Down 10 Having the same score 1 Martin Luther King’s wife 11 Grammy winning artist and lead 2 Alabama Women’s Hall of singer of the Alabama Shakes, Fame inductee and “Queen of Brittany ____ ____ Music” Vestal Goodman 16 Sodium symbol 3 Sports channel 17 Promotional piece 4 Alabama woman who invented 18 Alabama-born actress, producer the windscreen wiper, ____ and author who played Minny Anderson Jackson in “The Help,” Octavia 5 “My country, ___ of thee” _____ 6 Actress in “Traffic” and 19 Arts degree, abbr. “Flightplan,” ______ Christensen 21 Alabama Women’s Hall of 7 Alabama born writer of “13 Fame inductee, writer of “I Was Alabama Ghosts” and “Jeffery,” Born This Way”- ____ Wetherbee Kathryn Tucker _____ 22 Dawn time 12 Unified 24 Trucker’s radio 13 Singer of “Ring My Bell” Anita 27 Carly ____ Jepsen, singer of ____ “Call Me Maybe” 14 Kitchen wear 29 Plasma or flat screen 15 Stopover place 31 Prominent actress and 20 Women’s soccer great who was supporter of the Civil Rights born in Selma, ___ Hamm movement, inductee into the 21 Laverne Cox’s profession

across it. • For emails and text messages, capture the entire message and any message links. • For U.S. mail, retain the complete communication, including the outside envelope and all inserts. • For telephone calls, note the caller identification phone number and any company name or callback number that the caller or recorded message provides. This information will help OIG locate the source of the suspicious communication. You can review Section 1140 at ssa. gov/OP_Home/ssact/title11/1140.htm. You can also check out our publication, What You Need to Know About Misleading Advertising, at Please share this information with friends and family and help us spread the word on social media!

Celebrating Women’s History Month by Myles Mellor

23 First woman unrestricted line officer to achieve the rank of rear admiral in the US Navy, Fran _____ 24 First Alabama woman to fly a military aircraft, Nancy Batson _____

25 Sheep’s bleat 26 Spiritual and blues singer, born in Sumter County, Vera ____ 28 Border 30 Spelling contest 32 Desktop computer

Answers on Page 45

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Around Alabama


Prattville Easter Ornament Hunt 2024, downtown historic district. 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. or until all ornament cards are found (ornament cards are exchanged for real ornaments). Free. Sponsored by Julianne Hansen Fine Art and Pottery. See the event’s page on Facebook.


Montgomery Repticon, Alcazar Shrine, 555 East Blvd. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This animal expo features breeders, vendors and educators, and is a family-oriented event that allows everyone to learn about animals not usually seen in pet stores.

The U.S. Open Whitewater Championships will take place at Montgomery Whitewater Park March 22-24. PHOTO COURTESY MONTGOMERY WHITEWATER



Monroeville Monroeville Literary Festival at the Monroe County Museum. Event includes author readings, signings and panel discussions, walking tours, art and music, plus the presentations of the 2024 Harper Lee Award and Truman Capote Prize. Weekend also includes a gala reception with live music and lunch featuring the recipes of John T. Edge.


Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee, celebrating the 59th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the Selma to Montgomery March and the signing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. More than 40 events are scheduled, including a parade, awards gala, street festival, intergenerational hip-hop political summit, battle of the bands and more.


Greenville Alabama Medieval Fantasy Festival, 4776 Fort Dale Road, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pageantry and history come to life with hundreds of costumed characters recreating a ninth-century village. Enjoy music, comedy and theater, food and drink, handmade arts and crafts, historical artisan demonstrations and games.


Mobile Festival of Flowers in Cathedral Square. Life-sized living sculptures are created by regionally acclaimed florists, artists and garden designers. Also at the event are an exotic car show, artwalk and self-guided tours of area gardens. Donation required for entry; proceeds to benefit USA Health Providence.


Foley BBQ and Blues Cookoff, Heritage Park. Local live music, food truck and bar on Friday night; Saturday features the barbecue cookoff, with vendors, samples, live music and a kids’ zone. Fundraiser for the South Baldwin Chamber Foundation. Search the event’s page on Facebook.

Alabama Living


Orange Beach 50th anniversary of the Festival of Art, 26389 Canal Road. More than 100 fine artists, gourmet fare, live music, performing arts and a Kids Art Alley. Free. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.


Prattville fifth annual Spinners Bunny Shop Hop Craft and Vendor Show, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Spinners Park, 390 W. Sixth St. Vendors from all around the tri-county area will sell their products and services. Food vendors; Easter activity for children and quilt raffle. Search for the group’s page on Facebook.


Elberta German Sausage Festival, town park at the intersection of Main and State streets. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Entertainment for adults and children, carnival rides, more than 200 arts and crafts booths, plus lots of food – potato salad, goulash, red beans and rice, hamburgers, hot dogs, barbecue sandwiches and more. Fundraiser for Elberta Fire Department.



Ozark Ozark Crawdad and Music Festival. This free family-friendly event showcases local and regional music as well as the favorite Southern crawdad. Bring lawn chairs to downtown for food, music and activities for kids of all ages. 334-774-2618.





Opp 63rd annual Rattlesnake Rodeo, 301 Jeffcoat Ave. Featuring snake races, educational snake shows, kid-friendly activities, food vendors and arts and crafts. Live music from Mitchell Tenpenny on Saturday and Aaron Tippin on Sunday. Tickets start at $10. Search for the event’s page on Facebook for ticket information. Montgomery U.S. Open Whitewater Championships, Montgomery Whitewater Park, 1100 Maxwell Blvd. Open to anyone with intermediate to expert slalom skills, this race will be attended by the country’s top whitewater athletes. Competition is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and will feature live music.


Camden Wilcox Historical Society Tour of Homes, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Featuring houses, churches and other historic sites in Oak Hill and Camden.


Pelham Spring Market and Easter Egg Hunt, Oak Mountain State Park, 200 Terrace Drive. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. More than 24,000 filled eggs this year in the multi-use field by the Discover Shelby Pavilion. Egg hunt times begin at 10 a.m. and continue until 2:30 p.m., divided into age brackets. Easter Bunny will have meet-andgreets. The Oak Mountain Interpretive Center will have snakes, turtles and more. Marina will also be open. Regular entrance fees apply. See the event’s page on Facebook.

Prattville Wilson Pickett Music and Arts Festival, Cooters Pond Park. Art, music, vendors and children’s activities. (Location change due to construction at Pratt Park and Stanley Jensen Stadium.) 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. See the event’s page on Facebook.

Montgomery Beyond the Horizon Air and Space Show at Maxwell Air Force Base, featuring the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, a STEM expo, flying demonstrations, warbirds and static aircraft, and activities for children. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Free admission and parking.


Auburn AU Landscape and Nursery Association annual plant sale, beginning at 9 a.m. Friday and ending at 4 p.m. Sunday. See the event’s Facebook page for more information.

To place an event, e-mail events@alabamaliving. coop. 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. Alabama Living on FB

MARCH 2024 29

| Alabama People |

Gordon Telepun

Shedding light on the wonders of an eclipse On April 8, millions of Americans will don protective glasses to gaze up at the Great North American Eclipse, the first total solar eclipse to cast its otherworldly shadow on the U.S. since 2017. Among those watching will be Alabama’s own Gordon Telepun, an astronomer and eclipse expert who is on a mission to help others experience this amazing celestial event. A Decatur-area plastic surgeon by vocation, Telepun is also an eclipse chaser (“umbraphile”) by avocation, a pursuit that has taken him to Africa, Argentina, the Mediterranean Sea and Tennessee to photograph and study total solar eclipses. According to Telepun, next month’s total solar eclipse, his sixth in 23 years, is a golden eclipse-viewing opportunity for several reasons: it’s a long eclipse (over four minutes in many locations compared to 2017, which was 2 minutes, 40 seconds at maximum duration); its “path of totality”— the narrow band of deepest shadow where all the best eclipse phenomena occur—will cut across 13 U.S. states from Texas to Maine providing a great view to millions of people; and it will be the last total eclipse in the U.S. until 2045. In short, if you’ve ever dreamed of seeing an eclipse or are just curious about what weird things can happen when the Moon obscures the Sun, this is the one to see. And, as his story illustrates, it could be the first of many. — Katie Jackson You began chasing eclipses in 2001, but when did you see your very first eclipse? When I was a kid, 6 years old, I remember being on summer vacation at the New Jersey shore. My dad knew there was going to be an eclipse (likely the 1963 total solar eclipse in Canada) and we would be able to see the partial eclipse in New Jersey on our vacation, so he brought welding glasses to the beach. I remember the experience, although not the actual view through the welding glass. What keeps drawing you back to see them again and again? I love the challenge of doing the photography manually and improving my techniques and results. I love figuring out the combinations of gear to use. Each corona is different; you just don’t know what you will see. Every eclipse has a unique but subtle ambient “feeling” to it. Each eclipse has a different crowd to enjoy it with. You meet fun and interesting people who are also eclipse chasers. 30 MARCH 2024

A total eclipse is full of surprises, including a rare look at the Sun’s corona. What other phenomena can occur? I have a special interest in the phenomena that are created as the Moon passes in front of the Sun, some of which can only be witnessed at an eclipse. The temperature drops, there are interesting light effects to be enjoyed like pinhole projection of the crescents, witnessing sharp and fuzzy shadows, the eerie gray hue that overtakes the observing area due to the way our retinas perform in low light. Animals are fooled by the approaching darkness and start their nighttime behaviors, and shadow bands caused by the final slit of light penetrating the atmosphere also occur. What can an eclipse reveal about the Universe? It allows you to see the motion of the heavenly bodies in real time. Most people don’t appreciate the motion of the orbit of the Earth and the Moon because most people don’t stand outside and watch the moon move for an hour (or longer) to see it shift relative to a fixed point. But during an eclipse you are watching the orbit of the Moon and the rotation of the Earth all at once. How much of the eclipse will we see in Alabama and how can we maximize the experience here at home? Alabama is not in the path of totality so a total eclipse and corona will not be seen here. But a relatively deep partial eclipse (from 92 percent in northwestern Alabama, which is closer to the eclipse’s path, and decreasing as you move southeast) will be seen and some phenomena can still be enjoyed. You should be able to feel the temperature drop. You can see and photograph crescent-shaped shadows formed when the eclipsed Sun shines through leaves or project them through the holes in kitchen utensils, hats or anything else with small holes. You even punch holes in thin cardboard and project your name as crescents. What tools have you developed to make it easier and more fun to watch an eclipse? I developed the Solar Eclipse Timer, a “talking” phone app that guides users (and photographers) through important partial phase phenomena, things like contact times, when to put on and take off protective glasses and reminders to look for interesting eclipse phenomena). I also wrote an e-book, Eclipse Day 2024 and More! How To Enjoy, Observe, and Photograph a Total Solar Eclipse, that is organized by the progression of the eclipse and includes everything you need to know about enjoying, observing and photographing an eclipse. And the app and the book work together. To learn more about the 2024 eclipse, Telepun’s book and app and see his extensive collection of eclipse videos visit or To learn more about the 2024 eclipse, including how to safely view it, visit and go to to see local totality percentages.

Alabama Living

MARCH 2024 31


Senior dogs need a little extra TLC


t 4 months, you were cute. At 6 months, you ate most of my shoes. At 1 year, you were getting big. At 2 years, you were hyper. At 4 years, we were best friends. At 9 years, we were inseparable. At 14 years, I wish I could do it all over again.” – Anonymous A lot of folks got Christmas puppies. Many of these were wellthought-out, well-researched, and well-planned, but many others were just “cute” gifts. We sincerely hope that all these puppies have a fantastic home where they will have a glorious life and live happily until a ripe old age. We have written many articles on puppy care, but this time we will concentrate on care for senior dogs. Getting a puppy is a lifelong commitment (at least it should be). Like all relationships, the initial cuteness and glamour wear off; the intense sensation of love becomes duty and choice. Now, these all sound simply logical, but that’s not how it always goes. If you talk to shelter caretakers, you are bound to hear stories about folks who adopt (or buy) a puppy and then return it when the puppy is fully grown. It will be very safe to say that if you are reading this, you are NOT one of those folks. Now to the topic at hand. The puppy you adopted (or bought) many years ago has gone through many happy playful years with you and is now slowing down. Let’s look at caring for them in their older years. Before we start with the details, at what point do we consider them senior? It depends. It may be later for a lab and earlier for a great Dane. However, the veterinary community agrees age 7 is the line.

Comfort matters

• Cushy (not too deep) bedding: Be sure to turn the bed frequently so that it does not get crushed or lopsided. • Friction surface: Many people nowadays have hard-surface floors. As dogs age, it becomes a little harder for them to keep their legs underfoot. Carefully and tastefully placed area rugs make their life easier. 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

32 MARCH 2024

• Massage: Muscles start to feel tighter and stiff as low-grade arthritis sets in. Pelvic tightness is common in older dogs. You can ask your vet to show you how to massage the muscles, or there are plenty of YouTube videos. Just make sure that your pup is enjoying them and not being hurt. • Now and then indulge them with special meals: Almost all the people I talked to choose to give their dogs some form of meat to show love. I prefer veggies like carrots, broccoli stems, cauliflower, apples, pears, berries, etc. They get healthy fibers and numerous beneficial phytonutrients. On a side note, if you are thinking of fish oil, why not consider sardines? Many dogs may enjoy it a lot more. In our non-vegetarian days, we used to open up a can of sardines and eat them on crackers, and all the puppies and kitties used to get pieces based on their body sizes. • Keep an eye on their weight, and make sure they get regular exercise. It might not be the energetic romps they used to have, but even a leisurely stroll can do wonders for their health.

Symptoms to look out for

Each of the following symptoms could mean many things, and there is not enough space to detail them. Here is a basic list. • Excessive tiredness • Coughing that seems to get more frequent with time • Excessive thirst • Panting: Sometimes they pant more during nighttime. “Sundowner syndrome” is being slowly recognized in veterinary medicine; it refers to a set of symptoms marked by changes in awareness, increased anxiety that happens more at night, and decreased responsiveness • Slowing down on walks • Cognitive decline: Like staring at space, forgetting where they are, etc. If you notice any of these signs, it’s time for a visit to the vet. Regular check-ups become even more critical in their golden years. Remember, these senior dogs have shared a lifetime of love and loyalty; it’s our turn to reciprocate with the care and comfort they deserve. Don’t forget the power of mental stimulation! Engage them in puzzle toys, teach them new tricks, or simply let them sniff around during walks – it’s a great way to keep their minds sharp and spirits high.

Alabama Living

MARCH 2024 33

| Alabama Recipes |

Charcuterie Charcuterie tip: Utensils are your best friends when serving many guests. Make sure to have plenty of toothpicks, forks, spoons, knives and tongs available to easily pick up each item. Also, having items like grapes already removed from the stem prevents guests from using their fingers.

7. "Diamond" made of cauliflower clusters and white cheddar cheese.

1. Make roses using large slices of pepperoni and salami (rose tutorials on YouTube) and place first.

Bridal Shower Theme Robin Sellers, McCalla

3. Add the small bowl of olives and the honey pot, decorating around those.

6. Rosemary sprigs and faux leaf branches for added greenery.

"The diamond ring shape was created for a friend's bridal shower. My husband assisted in the design and wood cutting, making the diamond and ring two separate pieces so I can also use the ring, without the diamond, as a Christmas wreath!"

2. Place fruit and cheeses around each rose: pepper jack slices, Vermont white cheddar slices, smoked Gouda triangles and cheddar cubes.

5. Fill the extra spaces with small clusters of cheese and fruit so no gaps are visible.

4. Sliced ham (toothpicked into rolls), then the various salami shapes (salami chain, and salami folded in half.)

Photo provided by Robin Sellers

34 MARCH 2024

The basics:

What is charcuterie? "Charcuterie is a French term that refers to prepared meats, such as sausage, ham, bacon, and pâté. So-called charcuterie boards have become popular as appetizers or party snacks in the United States in recent years. Strictly speaking, these should contain only French meat products, but the term has broadened to include, in addition to assorted meats, a variety of cheeses, nuts, fruits, vegetables, breads, crackers, and even sauces." Charcuterie derives from the French phrase chair cuit, meaning “cooked meat.” It was originally confined to pork, for medieval guild regulations required charcuteries to sell only pork and pork fat. The term referred originally not to the meat itself but to the shops where it was sold, the venue of the charcutier, who prepared, cooked, and preserved cuts of pork and, on occasion, other foods, as during Lent when the observant ate cured fish rather than meat. (Definition courtesy

How are charcuterie served? Charcuterie are typically served on wooden cutting boards of various sizes and shapes, although any platter will work. This part of the process can be fun as you experiment with surfaces that work the best for your particular needs. For a simple charcuterie lunch or snack for 2-3 people, small rectangular or circular boards will work just fine. When planning for a large party or celebration, several larger boards may be needed. For a fun twist, roll out a large sheet of butcher paper covering the length of a table or island (as seen on the following page), then add your foods of choice in the same manner as using a board.

Boards can have many different themes and styles, only limited by imagination of its creator. For most situations though, it's helpful to begin with the basics. Begin with the accessories: anything being served in a smaller dish should be arranged on the board first. Lay out dips, jams, nuts, seeds, olives or pickles. Then begin filling in spaces with the larger items; meats, cheese, fruit and crackers, etc. Typical for most charcuterie are the selection of meats: salami, ham, pepperoni and proscuitto. A variety of hard or soft cheeses to pair with the meats is included as well and can include Brie, soft herbed cheese spreads, goat cheese, mozzarella slices or balls, Gouda, cheddar or other cubes and slices. Small pieces of fruit such as berries or sliced apple along with crackers, pretzels or other items complement your other selections.


Easy Baked Blackberry and Pecan Brie Skillet very great charcuterie board needs a main feature. We love Southern boards 8 ounces brie cheese that are full of pickles, pickled okra, 2 tablespoons avocado oil pimento cheese and, of course, peanuts and 1 tablespoon honey, divided pecans. Since this snacking phenomenon has 1 cup pecans, chopped Brooke Burks become so wildly popular, even in our own 4 ounces fresh blackberries home, we always try to include something new AND delicious. 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary This year, our main charcuterie feature has been this delicious ¼ teaspoon salt Baked Blackberry and Pecan Brie Skillet. And let me tell you, ¼ teaspoon pepper between Halloween and New Year’s Eve, I made this delicious stuff five times! It IS that good! We hope you try it for your next charcuterie board and love it as much as we do! For more recipes Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the wheel of brie like this, be sure to visit from the package. Cut the top of the brie wheel with a sharp knife, taking care not to cut all the way through. Cut over the initial cuts to cross hatch the top of the brie cheese. Brush the scored side of the brie with ½ tablespoon of honey and place face down in your cast iron skillet. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until top is browned. Remove and set aside. In the same skillet, add oil, remainder of honey, pecans, blackberries, salt, pepper and rosemary. Mix well to coat. Once berry and nut mixture is combined, clear a space in the center of the skillet, place the brie, cut side up in the middle. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes until the recipe is bubbly and browned. Serve warm and enjoy! Photo by The Buttered Home

Alabama Living

MARCH 2024 35

Photo provided by Candice Hightower

Party Boards

Locally Sourced

Candice Hightower, Coosa Valley EC

Oversized Butcher Paper 'Board'

Racheal Amaradio, Macomb, MI

Ingredients used: -Fruits and veggies: raspberries, grapes, strawberries, blackberries, mini bell peppers, cucumbers, olives -Crackers: soft pretzels, croissants, baguette, yogurt-dipped pretzels, breadsticks, oatcake crackers, crostini, cranberry hazelnut crackers, chocolate wafer cookies -Cheeses: muenster, cheddar, espresso cheese, cranberry goat cheese -Nuts: almonds, macadamia nuts, pistachios -Spreads: hummus, garlic mustard, garlic dip, chili fig spread, spiced cherry spread -Meats: soppresata, chorizo, calabrese, Genoa salami, peppered salami 36 MARCH 2024

Photo provided by Stacy Rack

Photo provided by Racheal Amaradio

The owner of a charcuterie business, Wood + Rosemary, Candice customizes each board based on a client's likes and individual preferences. She says a variety of color and flavor are key and uses locally sourced ingredients as much as possible. She recommends using several cheeses that also pair well with chocolate or wine when serving at a party.

Italian Heritage Stacy Rack, Arab EC Ingredients used: -Cheeses: Blue cheese (with hot honey and slivered almonds), pecorino romano, goat cheese (rolled in pistachio nuts and dried cranberries), Irish cheddar -Meats: pepperoni, prosciutto di Parma, dried sausage and Genoa salami -Fruit/Berries: blackberries, mandarin oranges, blueberries -Additional: pretzel thins, cashews, black olives, pepperoncini peppers, sweet gherkins

Photo provided by Carol Miller

Photo provided by April Whetstone

Holiday Boards

Halloween Theme

April Whetstone, Pioneer EC

Christmas Theme Carol Miller, Dixie EC Ingredients used: Red grape tomatoes for the garland around the tree, then quartered hard-boiled eggs for the star. Place a tea light in the center of the star. Next, add Kalamata pitted olives. Then alternate rows of salami, mozzarella cheese, cucumbers, medley tomatoes (yellow), pepper jack cheese, green grapes, cheddar cheese, pepperoni and a large variety of sliced salami. The base of the tree is Pirouline chocolate hazelnut cookies. I added fresh rosemary from my garden to give it a "real tree" look.

July theme: Summer Sandwiches Submit by: April 5 Alabama Living

Ingredients used: Brie cheese round, two Boursin cheese rounds (garlic and herb and a fig and balsamic), cheese cubes, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, veggie chips (bats and ghost shapes), blue corn tortilla chips, salami and prosciutto. My daughter, Madison (15) and I had so much fun making this char"boo"terie board for her hocus pocus-themed Halloween party. Her friends enjoyed this board, all kinds of snacks and watched the movie "Hocus Pocus", of course! Madison used food gel to make the faces for Winifred, Mary and Sarah.

August theme: Blackberries Submit by: May 3 Email us: Visit our website: USPS mail: Attn: Recipes P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 Recipes can be developed by you or family members. 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. 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. MARCH 2024 37

| Consumer Wise |

Spring cleaning tips to maximize efficiency Q:

What are some energy-saving tasks I can add to my spring cleaning list?


Spring is a great time to refresh, clean and enhance energy efficiency at home. By adopting simple yet effective energy-saving strategies during our spring-cleaning routines, we can create an efficient living environment that may also lower our utility bills and extend the life of our heavily used appliances. Be sure to include these spring cleaning tips to add some energy savings to the job. Even though it’s out of sight, don’t leave it out While cleaning light fixtures and fixture covers, check your bulbs and replace any incandescent or compact of mind. Check the filter fluorescent bulbs with energy-saving LEDs. PHOTO COURTESY MARK GILLILAND, PIONEER UTILITY RESOURCES in your HVAC system. Your furnace worked hard during the winter. Ensuring your system has a clean filter is a fore you need it in the summer. low-cost and easy way to protect your equipment and maximize Cleaning light fixtures and fixture covers can brighten your efficiency. A dirty furnace filter can cause your system to work space by removing dust and grime collected during the winter. harder than necessary, decreasing efficiency and shortening the While you are at it, be sure to check your bulbs and replace any system’s life. incandescent or compact fluorescent with energy-saving LEDs. While the filter is easy to replace yourself, you should have Although they tend to cost a little more, LEDs last longer and use your air conditioning serviced and professionally cleaned. Both less energy. the indoor and outdoor units should be cleaned. Dirty refrigerGood-quality LED light bulbs are expected to last 30,000 to ant coils reduce efficiency. This also applies to heat pumps and 50,000 hours, according to the Department of Energy. A typical ductless heat pumps, also known as mini-split systems. The techincandescent lamp lasts about 1,000 hours, and a comparable nician can check refrigerant levels and refill or repair if necessary. CFL lasts 8,000 to 10,000 hours. To put this into everyday use, if HVAC contractors get busy responding to calls for repairs you have an LED light on for 10 hours per day, it can last 13 years during the summer heat. Scheduling cleaning services for your compared to only about three months for incandescent bulbs and air conditioning in the spring—before the heat of the sumabout two-and-a-half years for CFLs. mer—can ensure the work gets done before the rush and even Don’t forget the oven. A clean oven heats more evenly and save you money. Some HVAC contractors offer special discounts quickly, providing better results and lower energy use. A clean for cleaning services in the milder months, which helps fill their oven window allows you to see the food and how it’s cooking schedules and keep their technicians working. without opening the oven door, which wastes energy. Window AC units can get dirty, too. They can be cleaned with If cleaning windows is on the list, check the seals and sash locks the proper tools, cleaning agents and know-how. Always unplug to ensure they close tightly. Check for any areas that need caulkbefore cleaning, and wait until completely dry to plug it back ing or sealing to reduce drafts. Sealing around windows contribin again. Take the time to clean it properly in the spring beutes to year-round comfort in your home. Clean windows also allow more light into the home, reducing the need to turn on lamps Miranda Boutelle is the chief operating officer at Efficiency Services and overhead fixtures. Group in Oregon, a cooperatively owned energy efficiency company. Spring is the ideal time to declutter, deep clean and implement She has more than 20 years of experience helping people save practices that not only tidy our homes but also reduce energy energy at home, and she writes on energy efficiency topics for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade consumption, contributing positively to our homes’ energy effiassociation representing nearly 900 electric co-ops. ciency and saving money on energy use. 38 MARCH 2024

Alabama Living

MARCH 2024 39


| Outdoors |

Declining turkey population could affect hunter success


labama sportsmen might need to work a little harder to bag their turkeys this spring. Populations of the magnificent birds declined for more than a decade. “Based on our 2023 annual Avid Turkey Hunter Survey and our statewide brood surveys, there isn’t much positive news about the turkey population,” says Steven Mitchell, an Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division wildlife biologist. “There was no significant increase in observations of jakes in 2023 compared to 2022.” No increase in jakes, or immature males, from 2023 means fewer adult gobblers this year. During the 2023 season, about 69,000 hunters bagged an estimated 47,000 gobblers. In the 2022 spring season, 71,000 hunters harvested about 36,000 turkeys, compared to 58,000 hunters bagging 25,300 birds in 2021. “We believe habitat loss is the number one reason for the declining turkey population,” Mitchell says. “Across Alabama, some places had good acorn crops in 2023 and some didn’t. In areas with good acorn crops, turkeys should be in good condition going into the spring. On properties with active habitat management for wild turkeys, the population should be better.” To sustain a healthy population, two adults must produce at least two offspring. For more than a decade, turkey production registered considerably less than that. In 2021, turkeys produced 1.81 poults, or young birds, per hen. In 2022, that number dropped to 1.67 poults and declined again in 2023. “All our surveys point to a decline in the Alabama turkey population,” Mitchell says. “The 2023 annual brood surveys resulted in an average of 1.26 poults observed per hen, which is terrible. Typically, a hen will nest once a year, but she could renest if the first nest gets destroyed. During the first nesting, she averages 11 to 12 eggs, but less in the second attempt.” Predators, including bobcats and coyotes, eat turkeys, but tiny poults remain most vulnerable to numerous predators including owls, hawks and foxes. Even some animals not traditionally considered predators can impact turkey populations by destroying nests and eating eggs. “Everything loves to eat a turkey,” Mitchell says. “If a raccoon John N. Felsher is a professional freelance writer who lives in Semmes, Ala. He also hosts an outdoors tips show for WAVH FM Talk 106.5 radio station in Mobile, Ala. Contact him at j. or through Facebook.

40 MARCH 2024

can catch a poult, it will eat it, but raccoons are the number one egg eaters. Armadillos, opossums and some snakes also eat eggs. We always recommend trapping with any wildlife management plans, but it’s not a silver bullet. Habitat will always be number one.” Predators and turkeys coexisted for eons. With good habitat, the species can survive the onslaught. Turkeys thrive in a mix of pine and hardwood forests. They also need weedy fields to provide cover to poults and insects to eat. “Turkeys need early successional brood habitat and weeds,” Mitchell says. “Weeds are very important to poults and young turkeys. It gives them a little protection and attracts a lot of bugs. Poults are fully dependent upon bugs for their first two weeks of life. They need that protein content.” Grassy strips called “daylighting” next to roads also help turkeys. Cut the trees back from the roads to allow more sunlight to reach the ground so native vegetation can sprout. That also helps roads dry quicker after storms. Let the strip grow fallow to provide poults with cover and food. Some people plant these strips with foods for turkeys and other animals. Many land managers plant food plots for deer. These plots can produce good turkey brood habitat if the managers allow them to become overgrown with weeds after deer season ends. Landowners can contact their local wildlife office to ask for technical assistance to better manage their properties. On most wildlife management areas, the state does extensive habitat work to manage for all species, particularly deer and turkeys. Some better public turkey hunting properties include Barbour, Black Warrior, the Geneva State Forest, James D. Martin-Skyline, Perdido River, Red Hills and Upper Delta WMAs. People who kill a wild turkey must report it to Game Check. Also, sportsmen might volunteer to participate in the Avid Turkey Hunter Surveys. For more information or to volunteer, contact Brandon Earls, the state upland game bird coordinator, at 334868-1608 or email “Information gathered from hunters in the Avid Turkey Hunter Surveys is important,” Earls says. “We collect such information as the number of gobblers hunters hear and when, number of turkeys observed and harvest information. Every piece of information we can get from hunters helps us better manage turkeys in Alabama.” For information on season dates, zone boundaries and regulations, see

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17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31


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

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

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

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




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

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 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 11:18 - 1:18 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



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

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



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

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

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 2023 Moon Clock, go to Alabama Living

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At CAEC, we offer our members numerous options to help better manage your monthly energy usage, and one of the most convenient and unique options is prepay. The prepay option is exactly what it sounds like; members who opt in for prepayment can pay for their electricity prior to consumption. Studies show that prepay customers are much more aware of their energy usage and, on average, use 10-15 percent less energy. One of the best aspects of utilizing prepay is the flexibility it offers because it puts you in control of your budget by allowing you to pay as you go. The prepay option helps you keep your home’s budget on track by enabling you to add money to your account when you can, notifying you when your balance is low and giving you the tools to help identify times of high energy use. These alerts can be sent via phone call, text message or email, and you can check your account balance anytime, anywhere online. The cost of your power consumption is deducted from your balance as you add money to the account and keeping track of everything is simple. For more information on our prepay service or any of our other convenient payment options, call us at (800) 545-5735 or scan the QR code.


SAFETY CONNECTION Stay away from downed power lines. They can still be energized. Never attempt to move or drive over them. Instead, call 911 to report fallen power lines.

Connecting you to safety! | 800-545-5735

Statement of Nondiscrimination In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees,

program information may be made available in languages other than English. To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the

and institutions participating in or administering USDA

USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD-3027,

programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race,

found online at

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program-discrimination-complaint and at any USDA office

gender expression), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital

or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter

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assistance program, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation

copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your

for prior civil rights activity, in any program or activity

completed form or letter to USDA by:

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(1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture

programs). Remedies and complaint filing deadlines vary by

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

program or incident.

1400 Independence Avenue, SW

Person with disabilities who require alternative means of

Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large

(2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or

print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should

(3) email:

contact the responsible Agency or USDA's TARGET Center

Central Alabama Electric Cooperative is an equal

at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally,

opportunity provider and employer.

| Our Sources Say |

Saturday mornings W

atching Saturday morning television was one of my favorite things to do as a kid. The 1960s were the golden years for cartoons and most of them were shown on Saturday mornings. Now, kids can see cartoons anytime they wish with Cartoon Network, numerous on-demand streaming options or YouTube, but we could only see cartoons on Saturday mornings. The cartoons in the early 60s were great. There was “Mighty Mouse” who was there to “save the day.” Every week, a young female mouse was kidnapped by different bad people, and Mighty Mouse would save her and she would show her appreciation. Another mouse-themed cartoon was “Tom and Jerry.” Tom was a house cat who was always trying to catch Jerry and eat him. At times, the two would team up to save a child in trouble. But afterward, they would get back to cat and mouse games. “Tom and Jerry” was a very violent cartoon with Tom invoking all kinds of machines and weapons to capture or kill Jerry. Jerry survived every attempt by his own cleverness or Tom’s ineptness. “Yogi Bear” was a favorite as he and his sidekick, Boo-Boo Bear, schemed weekly to steal picnic baskets from unsuspecting tourists in the fictional Jellystone National Park. Ranger Smith had to be on constant alert to keep Yogi and Boo-Boo in line, although Boo-Boo regularly had very insightful perspectives on the bears’ situation. One of the oddest cartoons of the period was “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.” It was developed as an evening or Saturday afternoon show but also aired on Saturday mornings. Its animation was pretty crude, but its plots and storylines were interesting and funny. Rocky the Flying Squirrel and his sidekick, Bullwinkle the Moose, weekly had to foil the attempts of Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale who were spies working for the Fearless Leader, the dictator of Pottsylvania, and his evil minions. Also, Sherman and Mr. Peabody and their time machine would be on the show and go back in time for Mr. Peabody to describe some important historical event in history that Sherman would invariably come close to changing, but Mr. Peabody would always save the day. Fractured Fairy Tales, Dudley DooRight, and Mr. Know-It-All were also regular features on the show. We also enjoyed “Bugs Bunny,” Foghorn Leghorn, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, “The Flintstones,” “Jonny Quest,” “Space Ghost,” “Huckleberry Hound,” “The Jetsons,” “Casper the Friendly Ghost,” “George of the Jungle,” “The Hunter,” Porky Pig, Woody Woodpecker, and last but not least, Secret Squirrel. I am sure there are others I have forgotten. Some of these car-

toons contained violent plots. In addition to Tom the cat constantly trying to eat Jerry the mouse, Wile E. Coyote was always using complicated methods to kill or catch the Road Runner to eat him. Of course, Wile E. would always fall off a cliff or get mashed by a larger rock and the Road Runner would ‘beep-beep’ and run away. Otherwise, the common theme of all of these cartoons was “good” would prevail over “evil” and no matter how bad things were, there was hope, if not an expectation, that the good guys would win in the end. I watch cartoons now with my grandkids. Their favorites seem to be “Peppa Pig” and “Paw Patrol.” Peppa explores different activities with her family and friends. The Paw Patrol deploys to solve different problems like relocating bunnies to save the carrot crop. However, the Saturday before Christmas I experienced a different kid’s cartoon. I sat down with two of my grandchildren who were watching a cartoon with typical cartoon characters. However, in this particular cartoon the mother was standing in the kitchen talking to her children about the dangers of climate change. As she explains how driving cars, flying airplanes, burning fossil fuels (or doing other things that heat up the earth and cause all types of problems, like storms and flooding) -- flood waters begin to rise in her kitchen. Her words turn into gurgles and her hair floats up as the water rises. The cartoon wasn’t as interesting as “Paw Patrol,” and my grandkids weren’t paying very good attention, so I let the moment and the message pass. Whether you are concerned about climate change or, like me, not nearly as concerned, we can all agree that regardless of the effects of climate change on sea levels, mothers will not drown in their kitchens. After all, the seas are rising about one inch per decade, not feet per second. Even a cartoon tortoise can outrun an inch a decade. I guess the climate change movement and its supporters have moved far beyond science and logic and now have resorted to scaring children into unjustified fears with Saturday morning cartoons. Maybe they think the means justify the end and anything goes to win the climate change debate. Maybe they think they are modern day Rocky’s and Bullwinkle’s fighting to defeat the evil of Boris, Natasha, and the Fearless Leader. The climate lobby and its climate change messaging have dropped to new lows. It is no longer about the science and logic, it is now about scaring children. I hope they sleep well thinking of other ways to convince kids to be terrified of climate change. I hope you have a good month. As for them…

Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.

44 MARCH 2024

| Classifieds | How To Place a Line Ad in Marketplace Closing Deadlines (in our office): May 2024 Issue by March 25 June 2024 Issue by April 25 July 2024 Issue by May 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

MARCH 2024 45

| Cup o’ Joe |

Illustration by Dennis Auth

Stop and smell the corn dogs!


drove by our local ballpark the other day and saw that little league practice was under way. It’s hard to believe that the baseball season is already upon us. Soon it will be Opening Day when parents and grandparents will crowd around the fields to encourage their future major league players. I believe that all community ballparks have one thing in common: The bigger the field is, the more serious the game becomes. That’s why one of my favorite games is the one with the smallest field - tee ball. It’s so entertaining because most kids don’t know the rules, nor do they care. It’s wonderful, organized chaos with colorful uniforms and imitation leather gloves. The coaches try their best to coach, but the parents, most of whom never played baseball in their lives, are screaming instructions at their kids like they’re managing the Yankees in the World Series. “Run, Jacob, run!” “No, no! Go back, Jacob!” “Keep your foot on the base.” “Touch him with the ball!” You don’t hear comments like that in the Major Leagues. And you certainly won’t hear: “Pull up your pants!” “Quit throwing rocks!” “Do you have to potty?” I’ve seen an umpire stop a game because players from both teams had to go to the bathroom. Forget tee ball. That was pee ball. When you watch a tee ball game, you’ll quickly notice that there are only a couple kids on each team who understand what’s going on. The rest of them would probably rather be home watching cartoons, especially if they’re playing in the outfield. Joe Hobby is a standup comedian, a syndicated columnist, and a long-time writer for Jay Leno. He’s a member of Cullman Electric Cooperative and is very happy now that he can use Sprout from his little place on Smith Lake. Contact him at

46 MARCH 2024

My three boys began their tee ball careers in right field. The old saying, “He was out in left field,” should really be, “He was out in right field.” You see, right field is tee ball purgatory. Kids play right field because balls are rarely hit in their direction, making it the perfect place for players who are too young, or just uninterested in the game. But playing right field is as boring as a lecture on micro economics. So, you’ll see kids entertaining themselves by looking for bugs, throwing dirt, and in extreme cases, lying on the ground with their glove over their faces. My youngest son Brad had a habit of trying to count all the people in the bleachers, which was quite a feat because he could only count to ten. On the rare occasion when a ball is hit into right field, the right fielder never makes the play alone. He will get help from the first baseman, second baseman, center fielder, and possibly the catcher. They usually end up fighting over the ball like dogs over hamburger meat. When one of them finally comes up with it, the runner is rounding third. It’s amazing how uninterested my son was. The only reason he was “playing” was because his friends were out there. Brad undoubtedly got more enjoyment running around the ballpark than he did standing in right purgatory. So when he was in the game, he brought his outfield shenanigans to the infield, sometimes bringing play to a complete halt. He particularly enjoyed harassing his first and second base teammates. He would duck walk between the bases, turn his hat backwards, and get right in their faces until the coaches physically put him back in his proper spot. A lot of parents would have been embarrassed by their child’s behavior, but not me. That’s because Brad was my third son to play tee ball. I’m a slow learner, but after two kids, I finally came to a realization about my boys being baseball stars. It wasn’t gonna happen. Now I see tee ball for what it’s supposed to be - a way for kids to have fun, and for parents to judge their children’s interest in the sport going forward. Hopefully, other parents can learn this lesson faster than I did. It’s just a game. Treat it that way. Take time to enjoy the moments that will vanish all too fast. It’s tee ball, a rite of childhood passage. Take time to stop and smell the corn dogs.

Alabama Living

MARCH 2024 47

July recipe theme:

Summer Sandwiches See Page 37 The Best of

Hardy Jackson’s Alabama Order form on Page 4 1

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