August 2021 Central Alabama

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Central Alabama



CAEC 2020 Annual Report

Member Appreciation Day & Annual Meeting :

Friday, August 13th

CAEC’s West Operations Center And virtually at

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

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

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

More than a market

Ingram’s Farmers Market in Millbrook has more than fresh fruits and vegetables from nearby farms. Think camp stew, barbecue, burgers and desserts!

30 F E A T U R E S


VOL. 74 NO. 8


Nap time

Summer afternoons are made for curling up for a bit of shut-eye.

Sausage pride 18 Alabama’s sausage makers share a

common pride in their process and products.

Forest friend 24 Janice Barrett has been a defender of

Alabama’s forests for nearly 30 years. “The wilder, the better,” she says.



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

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

D E P A R T M E N T S 11 Spotlight 29 Around Alabama 38 Outdoors 39 Fish & Game Forecast 42 Cook of the Month 50 Hardy Jackson’s Alabama ONLINE: ON THE COVER

Look for this logo to see more content online!

Join us Friday, August 13, 2021 for Central Alabama EC’s Member Appreciation Day & Annual Meeting.


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

Get our FREE monthly email newsletter! Sign up at

Printed in America from American materials

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Executive Report

2020: Looking forward New normal. Unprecedented times. All in this together. Throughout 2020, these terms and many more like them came up in daily conversation, whether we wanted them to or not. The world was dealt a blow that won’t soon be forgotten, and that rings especially true for CAEC. Last year, we weathered storms both literal and figurative. We faced moments of uncertainty, times of confusion and seasons of loss, but through it all, we persevered. When the world turned upside down, our co-op’s resiliency and ability to adapt were tested, and while operations may have looked a little different on the surface, at the core, CAEC never changed. Soon after the outbreak of COVID-19 our lobbies were closed to the public, but even with this change, our teams continued to help members navigate and adjust to this virtual world. When you needed us most, we provided alternative methods for member interaction, all while keeping safety for members and employees top of mind. And when real storms, such as Hurricane Zeta, impacted our service area, our employees worked intensely with sister cooperatives from across the region to restore service in an unprecedented manner. The last year also reminded us of the power of planning and forward thinking. We knew how beneficial broadband would be to rural communities, but after experiencing quarantine, it solidified that the foresight of creating the broadband subsidiary, Central Access, three years ago was, indeed, the right decision for our members. Reliable internet connectivity was no longer just a desire but a necessity. With schools, workplaces, grocery stores and even family interactions all dependent on a reliable internet connection, Central Access became more vital than ever. Our employees continued to work diligently throughout health mandates and material shortages to make home-installations possible while working with community partners to increase the number of hotspots in our communities. Amidst the growth and positive change we experienced during the pandemic, we also suffered tremendous loss within the CAEC family. We said our fair share of goodbyes to treasured retirees and friends throughout the year, but the true shock came with the passing of District 1 Board Trustee C. Milton Johnson and Journeyman Lineman Boyd Hodge. We were blessed and privileged as we worked side-by-side with both Milton and Boyd at the time of their departures, which only made the situations more jarring. Dealing with these moments of unexpected loss, while tragic, reminded us of the importance of making each moment count and spending time with the ones we hold dear. When looking back over the past year, it’s tempting to believe that tragedy prevailed, but we urge you not to give in to that line of thinking. With every bump in the road we encountered, something positive showed through, and those are the moments we choose to focus on and build on going forward. In keeping with the hope that normalcy will soon return to the world, we are bringing a bit of normal back by hosting our 2021 Annual Meeting in person. That’s right, we are back and ready to see you all face-to-face! Join us on Friday, August 13, as we once again gather to show our appreciation to the ones who make this co-op exceptional: our members. Regardless of the pandemic, our goal, first and foremost, always has and always will be to enhance the lives of our members. The last year may have taken a lot from us, but in turn it gave us the opportunity to show our dedication and adaptability to put you, the member, first.

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Tom Stackhouse President/CEO

Charles Byrd Chairman, Board of Trustees

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Continuity in Community Commitment When we began the year, it seemed like business as usual as we awarded $24,000 in Bright Ideas Grants for 32 projects being implemented by teachers in our area. More than 10,000 students benefited from these grants in Autauga, Chilton, Coosa and Elmore counties. Looking back on the countless challenges we now know educators would face in the coming months, we are even more thankful to have awarded these grants at the start of the year. Keeping with our dedication to the future leaders of our area, we headed into February by participating in two career fairs at the Autauga County Technology Center (ACTC) and Prattville Junior High School. CAEC employees were able to share with students the various career opportunities offered by the co-op, as well as showcase lineman gear and drone technology. Rounding off the month, CAEC employees participated in the second annual mock interview program with students in ACTC’s Business, Information Technology and Work-Based Learning Programs. During the two-day event, Autauga County juniors discussed future workforce opportunities, had their resumes reviewed and participated in mock interviews. March proved eventful, both positively and negatively. Kicking off the month, nine high school juniors served as CAEC representatives during the Montgomery Youth Tour. There, they joined over 150 other Alabama students to learn about leadership, the political process and electric co-ops. A week after their return from Montgomery, the effects of the pandemic changed the path of the program. Travel and safety precautions led to the cancellation of the Washington D.C. Youth Tour, yet we were still able to virtually interview and award five $2,500 scholarships in lieu of a trip to the nation’s capital. As COVID-19 progressed and interacting face-to-face was no longer an option, we made the necessary changes to stay connected and engaged with our members and communities. To help members better adapt to all things virtual and socially distanced, in addition to the possibility of increased power use from spending more time at home, our Energy Service Representatives offered virtual energy audits upon request and provided step-by-step video tutorials on how members could make their homes more energy efficient. Additionally, in lieu of the Empower Energy Education Workshop for area teachers, we hosted a virtual experience for Empower alumni and would-be 2020 attendees. On July 21, over 30 teachers and CAEC employees gathered virtually. Together, they discussed how teachers could take advantage of online materials and resources provided by the National Energy Education Development project (NEED), as well as how they had used the materials and science kits provided by CAEC. The philanthropic spirit could not be hampered as we once again hosted a blood drive at the Prattville office on August 20, ensuring that COVID-19 safety and sanitation practices were in place. LifeSouth gathered 17 pints of blood, including two plasma units. With the spirit of giving still alive and thriving, we rounded off the year with another successful blood drive in December, bringing in an additional 14 pints.

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Weathering the storms of 2020 As an electric cooperative, weather is always a major concern, and by the end of 2020, we had witnessed a surplus of record-breaking occurrences. The year started with a jolt on Saturday, January 11, when severe storms impacted central Alabama with widespread wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph, causing 185 outages and leaving 8,860 CAEC members without power across all 10 counties we serve. Through a concentrated effort, all members were restored by the next day. In April, National Lineman Appreciation Day (April 18) came during an active weather week for our linemen. On Saturday, April 12, approximately 1,000 members were left without power following a round of storms, and crews quickly began restoration efforts. However, the hits kept coming. Severe thunderstorms rolled in early Sunday morning and lasted until the following Sunday, April 19. Overall, we estimated 8,000 members were without service, with more than 110 broken utility poles. Most members regained power the same day or as early as the next, but in the most devastated areas of Coosa and Chilton counties, restoration wasn’t completed until Wednesday, April 22. When hurricane season hit its peak in early September, Hurricane Laura devastated coverage areas for Beauregard Electric in southwest Louisiana, leaving 95 percent of their members without power, many for days and even weeks. In the aftermath of Hurricane Laura, 14 CAEC employees assisted Beauregard in restoring power to their 43,000 members. But just as we were finishing our work in Louisiana, Hurricane Sally was on our own horizon. Our crews came home and began restoring power to approximately 6,000 CAEC members without power on Sept. 16. After 24 hours, our members were restored, and on the morning of Sept. 18, 13 employees were sent to help Baldwin EMC recover from 95 percent of their members being without power. Our crews, along with many more from across the country, worked for over a week to help restore service. While these storms certainly made records of their own, the most impactful weather occurrence for us in 2020 came in the form of Hurricane Zeta, which made landfall as a Category 2 on October 28. Even with warnings of the impending storm, no one could have predicted the level of damage that would be inflicted. Zeta caused the most destruction our system has ever experienced and left 75 percent of our members without power during peak. Our power infrastructure was devastated, and five substations were left without power due to damage sustained on Alabama Power’s transmission lines. Along with more than 500 broken poles, Zeta left countless spans of wire down from broken trees and vegetation. With nearly 37,000 members without power at peak, we restored 24,500 of these services in three days, and by the end of the eighth day, all members were back online. With the help of more than 200 workers from fellow cooperatives and contractors, this was by far the most assistance we had ever received. Throughout an epic storm year that tested many of us, cooperation among cooperatives remained strong. Whether it was sending our employees to help those in need or being on the receiving end of the infallible aid from so many cooperatives and organizations, we remained stronger together.

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Business as (un) usual Even in the face of innumerable obstacles, cooperative employees weren’t the only ones to show resiliency during the pandemic. You, our members, also demonstrated your willingness to adapt and take advantage of our contactfree payment options at a time when paying in person was unavailable. In 2019, online and lockbox payments proved the most popular methods of payment, and 2020 was no exception. E-payments saw an increase of almost 15,000, which included payments received through text and our Interactive Voice (IVR) system, app payment, autopay and web pay. Payments via lockbox saw an increase of over 115,000 transactions.

One of the most substantial changes the co-op underwent during 2020 was the transition from hosting our Annual Meeting in person to creating a virtual experience the members would be excited to join. After months of planning and receiving over 3,700 mailin ballots, our first Virtual Annual Meeting went live on August 14 and was broadcast to nearly 400 members. Along with joining informative sessions ranging from electric vehicles to rebate and efficiency loan programs to broadband, attendees were also gifted a $10 bill credit for being part of the meeting. In the final streaming session before the business meeting began, then-senatorial candidates Doug Jones and Tommy Tuberville discussed the importance of internet connectivity in rural areas.

Continuous dedication to our members Even though the office atmosphere looked different last year, our employees still showed determination when it came to maintaining CAEC’s standards in safety, training, member satisfaction and broadband expansion. Considering that the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) scores dropped for the investor-owned utility sector, municipal utilities and TSE Services co-ops overall during 2020, we were pleased to find that, for the third consecutive quarter, CAEC scored an 87, which was four points higher than TSE Services’ benchmark of 83. Our employees’ hard work for the communities we serve was also acknowledged during the Prattville Area Chamber of Commerce’s virtual 47th Annual Meeting, where CAEC was honored to be named the 2020 Industry of the Year. This award is given annually to a company that has demonstrated commitment and investment in the community. We were very proud to earn this recognition, especially since it reflects a core cooperative principle of commitment to community.

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With safety always at the forefront of operations, CAEC started the year off on a great note by earning an impressive 1.35 on our Vehicle Accident Rate (VAR), which was our lowest score ever. Additionally, we received our lowest 2021 Worker’s Compensation Experience Modification Rate, also known as the Experience Modifier, or MOD. The MOD is used to determine the insurance

premiums for organizations based on past cost of injuries and future risk. By achieving the lowest MOD ranking, CAEC’s rate dropped to .70, earning us a credit modifier (any number lower than 1.00). Both these low scores not only mean we’re doing what we can to keep our employees safe, but it also aids in keeping expenses down, signaling good stewardship of our members’ investment in the cooperative. Regardless of whether they were in the office or working from home, our employees still participated in various training opportunities offered throughout the year, culminating in an average of 56 hours each month. These trainings ranged from CPR certifications, employee training days, wellness sessions, online safety trainings and more. Throughout the pandemic, industries across the globe struggled with employee layoffs and labor shortages, causing numerous businesses to go under. As we made our way through the year, we saw tremendous growth across multiple avenues, but one area that received the most growth was found in our staff. In total, we were fortunate enough to bring 15 new employees onto the CAEC team. Some of these new hires were technicians who worked on fiber installations and troubleshooting for Central Access customers. Through their hard work, as well as that of other CAEC employees and contractors, we had 2,502 residential and commercial customers connected to high-speed fiber internet by the year’s end.

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Statement of Financial Condition as of Dec. 31, 2020


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

$307,962,740 (67,678,484) 240,284,256 45,979,746 8,958,905 268,133 13,618,322 385,055 2,280,758 11,205 1,514,198


Liabilities & Member Equity

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

$112,027,976 158,349,574 4,703,823 25,434,077 12,262,740 522,388


Statement of Operations Revenue

Electric Revenue Other Operating Revenue Total Revenue

$90,123,991 1,942,147



Cost of Purchased Power $49,293,966 Distribution & Operation Maintenance 11,737,293 Consumer Accounting, Service & Sales 5,887,892 Administrative and General 6,475,134 Total Operations & Maintenance Expense $73,394,285 Depreciation Expense 7,288,000 Interest Expense 5,443,125 Other Deductions 16,216 $86,141,626 Total Cost of Electric Service Total Operating Income $5,924,513 Interest Income 57,707 Income from Equity Ownership (2,009,313) Capital Credits from Associated Org. 1,898,348 Patronage Capital $5,871,255 Note: The Official Audit Report for the year ending Dec. 31, 2020, will be presented at the Aug. 13, 2021 Annual Meeting. This financial report includes figures from CAEC and its subsidiaries. Cash is directly related to debt drawn on the last business day of the year and has been since utilized for plant additions.

BOARD OF TRUSTEES (Pictured from Left to Right)

Standing: Mike Lamar, Prattville; Van Smith, Vice-Chairman, Billingsley; Chase Riddle, Prattville; Mark S. Presnell Sr., Secretary/Treasurer, Wetumpka; Charles Byrd, Chairman, Deatsville; Terry Mitchell, Statesville; Jimmie Harrison Jr., Maplesville; and Mark Gray, Clanton Sitting: Patsy M. Holmes, Wetumpka; Nicole Law, Titus


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

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| Alabama Snapshots |

Nap time Cousins Maddy Gamble and Marrisa Brown. They are a bit older now but still just as cute.SUBMITTED by Dale and Debbie Brown, Hanceville.

At the playground playing with one granddaughter and turned around to find the other, Ann London Burke, napping on this wall! SUBMITTED BY Debi Green, Grady.

Sully napping with his pillow. SUBMITTED by Miranda Byford, Hartselle.

3-year-old Kaylee fell asleep in her toy basket after playing with her toys. SUBMITTED by Elizabeth Bonner, Monroeville.

Allinder Jones taking a nap with his dog, Clara. SUBMITTED BY Katie Brown, Arab.

Roy and Bradley Sturgeon napping on the porch swing one summer. SUBMITTED by Helen Sturgeon, Cullman.

Submit “Pumpkins” photos by August 31. Winning photos will run in October.

SUBMIT to WIN $10! Alabama Living

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Sarge always needs a pillow when he naps. SUBMITTED BY Vanieca Akins, Wedowee.

Online: Mail: Snapshots P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

RULES: Alabama Living will pay $10 for photos that best match our theme of the month. Photos may also be published on our website at and on our Facebook and Instagram pages. Include your social media handle so we can tag you! Alabama Living is not responsible for lost or damaged photos. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope to have photos returned. AUGUST 2021  9

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Spotlight | August AREA, Trenholm, Alabama Power to partner to train linemen

Extension system offers Live Well Alabama recipes

Electric utilities have a great demand for trained lineworkers, and a new program will allow those interested in that career path to prepare to work in the industry. The Alabama Rural Electric Association and two of its member cooperatives, Dixie EC and Central Alabama EC, and Alabama Power are partnering with Trenholm State CommuCrews set poles for the new training field at Trenholm. nity College on a new lineworker training program; candidates must be 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED, and complete an interest form at . Applications will be accepted from Aug. 18 through Sept. 17, 2021, and the class will begin at 8 a.m. Jan. 10, 2022. (The early application deadline is to allow time for testing and financial aid applications.) The training class will be at Trenholm State’s Patterson Site, 3920 Troy Highway in Montgomery. It is a nine-week course, four or five days a week, 10 hours a day. The cost is $4,150 per student, and students will be required to have steel-toed work boots, hard hat, gloves and safety glasses. See the website above for more information or to apply.

Alabama is consistently among the highest in the U.S. for adult and child obesity and their related health issues. To help combat this crisis, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System has developed Live Well Alabama, a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – education (SNAP-ed) initiative. Live Well Alabama combines innovative obesity prevention and nutrition education initiatives, as well as social media campaigns and policy, system and environmental change strategies. SNAP-ed targets food assistance participants and others with limited resources in all Alabama counties. Want to learn more, and access tasty and budget-friendly recipes? At, hover over the topics tab and choose “home and family.” Choose “nutrition” and then “Live Well Alabama.”

Stay healthy when dining out It can be difficult to stick to a healthy diet when eating out. Portion sizes are big, there are tempting high-calorie options, and numerous beverages that can have as many calories as a meal. Some tips to help you make healthy choices at restaurants, courtesy of HealthMed: • Drink water before and during your meal. It will make you feel fuller. • Order sauces and dressings on the side, so you can control the portion. • Make healthy swaps. For example, ask for a side salad rather than fries. • Split your meal with someone, or go ahead and ask for a go box and put half the meal in when the food arrives.

Archives continues Food for Thought series in person The Alabama Department of Archives and History will continue its popular Alabama history lunchtime lecture series, Food for Thought, on the third Thursday of every month at 12 p.m. in the Archives’ auditorium, 624 Washington Ave. in Montgomery. Upcoming topics: Paul Pruitt will discuss Julia Tutwiler’s life of service on Aug. 19; Andrew Frank will deliver a talk on “Food in the Native South and the Curious Case of Coontie” on Sept. 16; and Joseph Caver will present “From Marion to Montgomery: The Early Years of Alabama State University” on Oct. 21. Admission is always free. Check the Archives’ website for the latest updates or call 334-242-4364. 10  AUGUST 2021

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E-mail us at: or write us at: Letters to the editor P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

Letters to the editor Cat memories

Several readers were touched by Hardy Jackson’s column, “A cat named Rover,” in the July issue. (The column) brought back memories of my first and only cat. I rescued him or I should say, his mother left him at my house after he was weaned. He lived 22 years and is buried out back with headstone and slab over the grave. I now have two dogs - less trouble in some ways. Love your stories. I like how you fashion words together. Keep up the good work. Terry Turner, Cullman County (and Roxy and Lucy) Loved your article about Rover the cat. Had a couple of cats during my 70-year life but the best comparison about cats and dogs was: Your dog loves you more than its own life and your cat is trying to figure out how to kill you. I like cats, but there is nothing like the bond between a dog and a good owner. I enjoy your column and hope you can continue your work for a long time. Merrill Shell, Brewton I really enjoyed your piece about Rover, your cat! I laughed about Growltiger!! And sighed with a little smile and tears about Rover. I have a cattery and it was very meaningful! Laura Russell, Falkville Compliments on a very nice piece (as is usual) in Alabama Living. Sympathies on how much hate mail you’re going to get from a variety of groups for NOT NEUTERING Rover. Keep on writing those great stories. Gordon Wright, Foley Thank you for your entertaining, and sometimes emotionally moving, articles. Especially loved the ones about our beloved pets. My wife and I won’t miss your work. Dave and Pam Wootton, Ft. Morgan

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August | Spotlight

Take us along!

Whereville, AL

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

Identify and place this Alabama landmark and you could win $25! Winner is chosen at random from all correct entries. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified. Send your answer by Aug. 9 with your name, address and the name of your rural electric cooperative. The winner and answer will be announced in the September issue. Submit by email:, or by mail: Whereville, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124. Do you like finding interesting or unusual landmarks? Contribute your own photo for an upcoming issue! Remember, all readers whose photos are chosen also win $25! July’s answer: The First Universalist Church of Camp Hill, located on Alabama Highway 50 in Tallapoosa County, was established in 1846 as Liberty Universalist Church; the name was changed in 1909. This brick sanctuary was completed in 1907 and built with local labor using mostly indigenous material, according to information on the church’s historical marker. (Photo submitted by Richard Wood of Tallapoosa River EC.) The randomly drawn correct guess winner is Donna Adcock of Covington EC. (Editor’s note: Because of delays with the July issue, we accepted entries through July 9.)

Find the hidden dingbat!

Sponsored by

We love that all ages seem to enjoy finding our monthly dingbat in the pages of the magazine. This month, several of you told us that you hunt for the hidden object with your children and grandchildren. More than 200 of you correctly guessed the July dingbat, a grill, was hidden on Page 48 next to an outbuilding. Pamela Maten of Gilbertown, a member of Black Warrior EMC, wrote that it looks ready to roast hot dogs! Andrea Schulze of Central Alabama Electric Cooperative wrote that ever since her children, Erin, 9, and Adam, 7, “found the dingbat game in an issue a few months back, they pour over each magazine the minute it comes in!” Jessica Morris, a Wiregrass EC member from Coffee Springs, said her children usually find the dingbat before she does, but this time she found it while they were in bed. “It will give them a laugh that their ‘old’ mom could find the dingbat but I can’t find the TV remote. Thanks for the fun!” Alabama Living

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Jim and Lisa Binder of Gulf Shores spent time on the beach in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, with a copy of the magazine. They are members of Baldwin EMC.

Judy Mozingo of Dickinson recently visited Lake Martin with family and friends, and of course, brought her magazine along. She is a member of Clarke Washington EMC.

No place is too high to read Alabama Living, as Lisa and David Nix of Orange Beach proved when they took the magazine to the top of the Arrow Bahn lift at Beaver Creek Ski Resort in Colorado.

La Vera J. Long of Coosada enjoyed reading her magazine while in Frederiksted, St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She’s a member of Central Alabama Electric Cooperative.

Connie Boteler of Hartselle says, “I have my 7-yearold grandson involved and waiting for his magazine each month and we love searching for the dingbat together. I love the information in this magazine and I look forward to a relaxing evening to search for the dingbat each month.” On the other end of the age spectrum, Nan Morris says she and her 91-year-old mother Cauline McCain enjoy looking for the dingbat every month. They are members of Tallapoosa River EC. Congratulations to our winner, Aiden Porter, 13, of Danville, who lives with a chronic condition, CIDP, and a brain lesion, but loves spending his hours of infusion time looking for the dingbat, according to his mother Joyce. Aiden wins a $25 gift card and a prize package from Alabama One Credit Union. This month we’ve hidden a sand dollar. Good luck! Send us your guesses by Aug 6. By mail: Find the Dingbat Alabama Living PO Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 By email: AUGUST 2021  11

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2021 Alabama Living ph Each year, we look forward to seeing the photographic creativity of our readers in our annual photo contest. This year featured some outstanding entries, and though we can’t print all of them in the magazine, we hope you’ll enjoy seeing a few of the top winners. We’ll also be using some of them on our social media channels, so be sure to “like” Alabama Living on Facebook to see more! The judge selected one first-place winner in each of the four categories and several honorable mentions. Our categories were a little different this year – we made them a little more broad to allow for a wider range of subjects. In the categories of People, Seasons, Animals and Alabama Travels, we received more than 200 entries from readers in all parts of the state and even outside Alabama. Each first-place winner receives $100, but really, the winners are all of the talented photographers who contributed their creativity. Our judge, Julie Bennett, is an award-winning photojournalist based in central Alabama. She is on staff at the Media Production Group at Auburn University and teaches photojournalism in the College of Liberal Arts.

First place, People Sharon Tucker, Cullman EC “This was a BIG victory celebration for the Cullman High School Bearcats after winning the first round of the high school state baseball playoffs. Coach Brent Patterson has his team fired up and ready for round two.” Judge’s comment: “What a great moment! Super relatable and full of expression. You can feel the excitement and energy inside the huddle.” 12  AUGUST 2021

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g photo contest

Alabama Living

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First place, Animals

Robyn Choiniere, Baldwin EMC “I shot a whole series of this heron playing with this fish, but this was by far my favorite.” Judge’s comment: “I love the action in this frame. What a catch! Wow!”

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Honorable mention, Alabama Travels Larry Key, Decatur, Alabama

“This photo was taken during the Alabama Jubilee celebration. After trying all weekend, the balloons were finally able to fly at 6 p.m. on a Sunday. Lots of people and a lot of smiles.” Judge’s comment: “Pretty and unique! I love the composition and the color.”

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First place, Seasons

Gary Waters, Tallapoosa River EC “This photo was taken during a prescribed burn in a pine forest. It seemed the fit the category since there is definitely a season for burns that help the forests to grow successfully.” Judge’s comment: “Alabama has a way of showing off her unique ecosystem in so many ways. I like this (frame) because it’s not only gorgeous with the composition and contrasting colors, but it’s also interesting … there’s energy and action to it.”

Alabama Living

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First place, Alabama Travels Tom Marlo, Baldwin EMC

“This photo was taken with my drone from an altitude of about 250 feet. The water is so clear you can see the shifting sand on the bottom. Beautiful area just west of Ono Island.” Judge’s comment: “I love the composition and the deep depth of field here. Lovely shot of the Gulf Coast that showcases more than just a walk on the beach.”

Honorable mention, Animals (above)

Steven Bailey, South Alabama EC

“The first hummingbirds of the year were coming back to our feeders, and very thirsty. It’s always a treat to hear their chittering and the movement of their wings.” Judge’s comment: “I’m super impressed with the stop action here. The detail is amazing.”

Honorable mention, Animals (right)

Alicia Dodd, Tombigbee EC

“I had always wanted a horse as a kid. When I married my husband, I inherited this handsome guy, Bama. He’s always up for a photo op, but he’s exceptionally beautiful in a rare Alabama snow.” Judge’s comment: “This is so pretty it needs to be in a calendar.”

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Honorable mention, Seasons Marc Stewart, Joe Wheeler EMC

“After the great snowstorm of 2021, Doublehead Resort (on Wilson Lake) was a winter wonderland! This picture of the snow on the dock and the sun’s reflection in the water spoke to me.” Judge’s comment: “It’s sort of a juxtaposition: The summer lake scene covered in winter snow. The footprints were nice (I love how they didn’t make it all the way to the chairs – too cold?)

Honorable mention, Alabama Travels (below)

Sharon Tucker, Cullman EC

“This tribute of crosses honoring our fallen soldiers from long ago was along the roadside of Highway 31 … May they rest in peace and we shall be forever grateful.” Judge’s comment: “Nice lighting – very moving.”

Honorable mention, Animals (bottom)

Sandra Kiplinger, Arab EC

“My favorite winter destination is Joe Wheeler State Park to watch the fishing frenzy antics!” Judge’s comment: “I like the action and the lighting in the frame. There is so much energy here; it almost looks like they’re walking on water.”

Alabama Living

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Smoked in Alabama Sausage companies share a common pride in their process and products

By Jennifer Kornegay


labama boasts quite a few homegrown food brands, and among those, one has become almost synonymous with the product it produces. Conecuh Sausage company in Evergreen is so well known, many don’t even bother finishing the phrase when referencing the flavorful, meaty treat. They simply say, “Let’s grill some Conecuh.” Or, “Add Conecuh to your grocery list, hon.” There’s even a Conecuh Sausage fan page on Facebook, where more than 9,000 members swap smoked sausage photos and recipes ranging from the simple (a warmed piece wrapped in a single slice of white bread) to the sophisticated (how about a kale, mushroom and Conecuh sausage quiche?). But while it’s probably the most famous, Conecuh is by no means the only smoked sausage maker in the state. Such companies as Zeigler Meats, Snowden’s, Monroe, Hall’s, Royal Foods and Kelly Foods turn out smoked sausage, as do some other small producers and even some local butcher stores. We talked to three of them. Each has its own story, but they have a common link: a deep pride in their process and their products.

Though Conecuh makes bacon and hams, its smoked sausage is the best-seller by far, and the company makes six varieties. COURTESY CONECUH SAUSAGE

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Conecuh Sausage Company Evergreen, Alabama

When the wind is right, and you remember to roll your windows down, a trip past the Evergreen exit on Interstate 65 is an aromatherapy experience. Your nose knows you’re near the small city before you see the familiar white water tower bearing the town’s name. From the moment it relocated its processing plant from downtown to right above the interstate in 1986, the scent of seasoned pork being bathed in smoke emanating from Conecuh Sausage has been revving up appetites, whether passers-by are anywhere near actual hunger or not. The company was started in 1947 as a meat locker, a place that allowed locals to rent freezer space for putting up meat as well as veggies. Not long after, the owners began making smoked meats, including sausage, ham and bacon. “We’re now on the third generation of the founding Sessions family owning the business and working here,” says Kathy Cope, Conecuh’s customer service manager. “We still make bacon and hams, but today, our smoked sausage is the best-seller by far, and we make six varieties.” (Bacon is a distant second.) Since its humble beginnings, the popularity of the sausage has grown, leading the company to expand with a large addition in 2014. “We had to have more space to keep up with demand,” Cope says. “We are known as a premium pork sausage using the finest cuts from all American hogs, and we don’t use any liquid smoke,” she says. The smokey flavor is authentic, emanating from hickory and soaking into the meat at the company’s smokehouse in Evergreen. Cope won’t divulge how much sausage Conecuh makes each year but quips, “It’s a lot, and we always want to make more.” Last year, they had to. Pre-pandemic, the product’s reputation was on a steady incline, but Cope notes that demand boomed in 2020. “The rise was tremendous over the last year and a half,” she says. “We attribute that to people staying home and cooking more during the shutdown, and to people sharing their love of Conecuh with friends, specifically friends and family in other regions.” Conecuh has recently been getting daily calls from other areas of the country pining for its products. “We’re primarily in the Southeast and Texas with a few markets in Michigan and Ohio, even a few places in New York, but more and more people from more and more places want our sausage,” Cope says. The U.S. military knows a good thing when it tastes it and stocks Conecuh sausage in its commissary stores in about two-thirds of the country as well as some areas of Europe. While she’s been working for Conecuh for 16 years and eating its products for many more, Cope has never tired of enjoying the sausage. “My favorite way to prepare it is on the grill, just simple, so you taste it all,” she says. “But my favorite thing about the sausage is sharing it. I love watching the reaction of someone who has never had it before when they take a bite. They just love it and want to know where they can get more.”

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Alabama Living

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Monroe Sausage

Beatrice, Alabama Monroe Sausage’s story is a classic comeback tale, complete with a bit of mystery as well as hurdles eventually surmounted. It begins in the early 1940s when a now-unknown family started Monroe Meats and Cold Storage, which offered freezer space and venison processing. In 1952, it was sold to Jimmy McMillian and Bill Causey, and a bit later, they added smoked sausage, sold under the name Monroe Sausage, to the company’s offerings. Because McMillian was the one out and about hawking the company’s product, most in the area just called it “Jimmy’s sausage.” When the duo retired in the 1980s, a loyal employee name Jeff Kircharr bought the company and kept the sausage-making going. But in 2004, Hurricane Ivan destroyed the facility, and when his insurance didn’t cover all the damage, Kircharr had to close. “So, the sausage was just gone,” current managing partner David Steele says, “and it wasn’t long before those of us who’d grown up on it started missing it.” Steele and his family have been Monroe County residents since the 1800s and are in timberland management. One morning, while having coffee in the family business’ office, Steele’s dad voiced what many in the area felt. “‘Where’s that Jimmy’s sausage?’ he asked me,’” says Steele. “I told him I Monroe Sausage, based in Beatrice, made a comeback after the company’s facility was didn’t know, so he said we needed to call Jeff and destroyed in Hurricane Ivan. The first sausage was made in 2007, and the company continues see what was going on, and if he was opening to produce its Scott Hot sausage, thick-cut bacon and original rope and link sausages. COURTESY MONROE SAUSAGE again.” Steele did as his father instructed and learned 2019. The first quarter of 2021 was up about 25 percent compared that Kircharr was done but that he’d be willing to help someone to the same period in 2020. else bring the sausage back. “So, me, my brother and cousin got Yet, there are still obstacles, some related to Monroe’s size. “We some investors, built a new facility and got Jeff to run it,” he says. use higher-end pork, so we already have higher costs, and since “That was late 2005, and in 2007, we made our first sausage. We we’re smaller, we don’t have the were in the meat business.” volume buying power that some Initially, Steele and his family do,” Steele says. thought sausage making would But he believes in the product be like a hobby, one with some and its ability to hook repeat cusdelicious benefits, but it didn’t tomers. “Once people find us, they work out like that. “The business like us,” he says. Part of Monroe came with a lot of challenges, and sausage’s appeal comes via a careat times, we weren’t sure we were fully controlled smoking process. going to keep going, but we perse“We get the temperature right to vered,” Steele says. Then, Kircharr make sure the sausage really abretired. That was a blow, until ansorbs the hickory smoke,” Steele other employee stepped up. “We says. Another key is Monroe’s leangot a young guy we’d hired to work er cuts of meat, which Steele says in the venison processing side to have substantially less fat while help on the sausage side, and man, Monroe Sausage’s Original Link Sausage is smoked longer for retaining full flavor. “We also do he just had a knack for things,” better flavor, according to the company. COURTESY MONROE SAUSAGE a courser grind on our meat, so it Steele says. has a different texture,” he says. “That’s what really sets us apart. Within 90 days, he’d implemented multiple improvements that “We look at what we do as an opportunity to talk to people made the company more efficient, and its prospects turned a corabout things that matter in life,” he says. “We use it as a witness, a ner. “He paved a path for us to be really successful, and three way to spread a good word. If we can do that, the sausage selling years later, we’re doing pretty well.” From 2018 to 2019, sales tritakes care of itself.” pled. Then, in 2020, the company doubled what it had done in 20  AUGUST 2021

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Snowden’s first made and sold its sausage in the early 1930s, and it’s been in the same family ever since. COURTESY SNOWDEN SAUSAGE

Snowden’s Sausage Andalusia, Alabama

Snowden’s first made and sold its sausage in the early 1930s, and it’s been in the same family ever since. Today, Snowden Sausage president Randy Snowden has taken the reins from his dad and uncle and runs the company with his business partner, Neil Campbell. He officially acquired the family business in 2008, but he’s been in it his entire life. And long before he was born, his grandad cooked up a secret recipe and committed to a classic method, aspects Snowden hasn’t messed with. “We still make sausage the old-fashioned way, and as far as I know, ours is the only one in this area and maybe one of a few in the country that doesn’t have any water added,” he says. “We’ve not changed anything in my lifetime and don’t think it has really ever changed.” It has added to its offerings through the years and now features sausage in regular, mild, hot and Cajun flavors, as well as its Baby Link, a smaller sausage that’s become the best seller. While the company has been doing things the same way for nearly a century, last year threw it a couple curve balls. “We were doing really well in the beginning of 2020, and then our supplier shut down due to COVID,” Snowden says. Then, when that problem was solved, climbing meat prices wiped out the company’s 22  AUGUST 2021

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Snowden’s features sausage in regular, mild, hot and Cajun flavors, perfect for a bowl of gumbo or red beans and rice. COURTESY SNOWDEN SAUSAGE

early gains. Despite these struggles, Snowden knows he’s lucky and feels blessed to be moving back toward normal. “It was tough, but we survived it, and a lot of companies didn’t,” he says, “so I’m thankful for that.” Like the other two companies, Snowden doesn’t give out the particulars of its sausage seasonings or mix, but he’s happy to share his thoughts on how to eat it. “I like to grill it and tell people that’s a great way to do it,” he says.

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Alabama Living

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| Alabama People |

Janice Barrett

She speaks for the trees Most people have a soft spot for at least one tree. It might be a pine, an oak, or even a crepe myrtle. If you do, you have a lot in common with Janice Barrett – she’s just taken it a whole lot further! After becoming a mother in 1989, Janice realized how important it was to protect the world her son had been born into. In 1992, she became involved as a volunteer artist with the Bankhead Monitor, a non-profit educational conservation group, and has been working as a defender of the forests for nearly 30 years. Bankhead Monitor would become Wild Alabama (WA); Barrett became WA’s Outreach Coordinator in 2001 and has held that position for two decades. She co-created Wild Alabama’s Helping Hands program, its Hikes Program, and its Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Program. She also created the Wild Wednesday Program, which takes kids and their families on guided hikes during summer months. Like acorns planted in one of her beloved forests, all of these programs are still growing strong. At its core, her work is about forest protection by the people, for the people. – Josh Levesque Did you spend more time outside during childhood than most kids do today? Yes, a lot more! In my family, staying indoors was not an option. I am the eldest of four sisters and we were raised free-range. Is there anything that makes Alabama’s forests special? Alabama is fourth in biodiversity of all 50 states, and some of our rivers are among the oldest rivers on earth. Geology and hydrology work together to create forests that are home to ancient species of trees such as the Eastern hemlocks and sweet birches found in the sandstone canyons of the Warrior Mountains of northwest Alabama.

nated wilderness areas, Cheaha, Sipsey and Dugger Mountain, are the crown jewels of our state. How can I help my kids love the outdoors? One big thing that keeps parents from taking their children into a forest is fear. We want to keep our children safe! The antidote to fear is knowledge. Learn how to be safe on a hike, learn how to be prepared and what to take with you. Once we are liberated from fear, we are free to allow our children to have their own relationships with nature. It is the best gift we can give our children. For children who are not used to being outside much, start simply and make it fun. Take a walk on an easy trail, explore a creek. One of the purposes of Wild Alabama’s Wild Wednesday nature hikes for kids and families is to teach adults where they can take children and how to stay safe. Our children are the next generation of forest protectors. But first, they have to know them and love them. How can I help protect my forests? Protection is rooted in love, so find a forest to know and love. Learn everything you can about it and the natural history of it. Go on guided hikes or outings with a naturalist to learn more about your forest. Whatever forest you choose, pick out a single tree to visit when you go there. Forest protection starts for many of us as a personal relationship with a special place. Voting is also an extremely important part of forest protection. Know candidates’ stance on environmental protection before you go to the polls to vote and support only those who are willing to stand up for the protection of our forests for our children. You can also join Wild Alabama! We are Alabama’s only non-profit public lands forest protection organization. To learn more, visit

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Where should we go to experience the beauty of Alabama’s forests? Go to any forest you can get to, and the wilder, the better. Alabama has 21 state parks and they all have hiking trails. From Bankhead in the north to Conecuh in the south, our National Forests all are treasures with places to hike and explore. Of course, our three federally

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College Football: Finally, full schedules & full stadiums By Brad Bradford


ast fall, college football fans seemed to be in a constant state of confusion: Will there be games? How many games? Will fans be able to attend? What about masks? Will there be a playoff? Will coaches get fired during a shortened season? Thanks to SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey’s leadership, a 10game conference-only schedule proved the SEC’s slogan to be true: “It Just Means More.” Fans from schools up north that never make the playoffs claim that football in the South is a religion. Our answer: “It’s bigger than that.” ALABAMA 2020 RECAP: Death, taxes and Nick Saban’s quest for excellence all seem to be a given. Coach Nick has come close to admitting that last year’s National Championship team was his favorite. Questions about quarterback Mac Jones were answered quickly. The offense led by DeVonta Smith and Najee Harris set numerous records. Even though the defense led the SEC in points allowed, Tide fans felt as though the defense had a down year. AUBURN 2020 RECAP: Coach Gus Malzahn entered last fall on borrowed time. The administration and Tiger fans wanted to see major improvements in recruiting, physicality and a vision for the future. Losing again to rivals Georgia and Alabama was tough. Getting beat by a weak South Carolina team and Texas A&M was just too much. A change was needed at the top and was made. Auburn has too much tradition and pride to hover around #4 in the SEC West behind Bama, Texas A&M and LSU. The other three teams in the West (Ole Miss, State and Arkansas) are on an upswing also. SEC East Prediction: 1. Georgia 2. Florida 3. Kentucky 4. Missouri 5. Tennessee 6. South Carolina 7. Vanderbilt. The bottom three fired their coach last fall and hope to move up with the Big Boys. Georgia returns a defense that led the nation in rushing defense last year. The Bulldogs have finally found their quarterback in transfer J.T. Daniels. He will be on the Heisman watch. The Dogs’ crossover games are against Arkansas and Auburn, both rebuilding teams. Florida will suffer the same fate that Georgia did last fall: having to play Alabama in a crossover game. The Gators lost too much at quarterback and tight end to beat Georgia and the Crimson Tide.

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SEC West Prediction: 1. Alabama 2. Texas A&M 3. LSU 4. Ole Miss 5. Auburn 6. Mississippi State 7. Arkansas. Auburn has a new staff and has to play Georgia in its annual crossover game. Ole Miss draws Vandy and Tennessee. As long as Saban is recruiting and walking the sidelines in Tuscaloosa, it is hard to pick against them. He continues his famous “plug and play” system. Replacing coaches and NFL draft picks doesn’t seem to slow down the Crimson steamroller. Jimbo Fisher proved last year that the Aggies have closed the gap in the West. After an early season loss to Alabama, A&M finished #5 and should have been in the playoffs instead of Notre Dame. ALABAMA Prediction: the Kickoff Classic against Miami in Atlanta will be competitive. The early road game at Florida will favor the Tide against a young offensive line and a new quarterback. Bama should breeze through undefeated until the match in College Station Oct. 9. The trap game will be the previous week when Ole Miss comes to Tuscaloosa. This year’s Iron Bowl is in Auburn. Bo Nix won that home game as a freshman quarterback in 2019. Regular season record: 12-0. Playing undefeated Georgia in the SEC championship game. AUBURN Prediction: the Tigers have to travel to Penn State in the third week. It’s tough to win in Happy Valley. Most pundits have Auburn with a 7-5 record in Bryan Harsin’s first year. Probable losses in addition to Penn State would be Texas A&M on the road and at home to Georgia and Alabama. To reach seven wins, they have to win one of the “toss-up” games with LSU and Ole Miss. Look for a loss to Lane Kiffin’s imaginative offense while beating the Bayou Tigers. Bo Nix will prosper under Mike Bobo as his quarterback coach. Regular season record: 7-5. PLAYOFF Prediction: Same as always–pencil in Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State for three of the slots. Other possibilities are Georgia, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oregon, Iowa State, North Carolina and Indiana. NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Alabama 35, Georgia 31 in a repeat of the SEC championship game. Brad Bradford is a former football staff member at Alabama and Louisville. His wife Susan Moseley Bradford is a former Auburn cheerleader. His blogs can be found at Brad is also an author and motivational speaker. Contact him at

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Choose a representative payee for Social Security before you may need one


he future is uncertain. Our Advance Designation program allows you to pre-select a trusted individual if a time comes when you need a representative payee to help manage your money. Advance Designation enables you to identify up to three people, in priority order, whom you would like to serve as your potential representative payee. We recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of our Advanced Designation program. Since its launch in March 2020, more than one million eligible individuals have opted to participate. You may choose an Advance Designation if you are capable of making your own decisions and are: • An adult or emancipated minor applying for benefits and do not have a representative payee. Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at

• An adult or emancipated minor beneficiary/recipient and do not have a representative payee. You can submit your Advance Designation information when you: • File a claim for benefits online. • Use the application available in your personal my Social Security account at • Call us by telephone at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-3250778). In the event that you can no longer make your own decisions, you and your family will have peace of mind knowing you already chose someone you trust to manage your benefits. We have updated our Frequently Asked Questions to answer any questions you may have about Advance Designation at ssa. gov/faq under “Other Topics.” You may also find more information about representative payees on our blog at

August Crossword Across 1 Alabama beach where you might see pelicans trying to steal a fisherman’s catch, 2 words 6 Alabama neighbor, abbr. 8 Sacred Buddhist word 10 Mobile ___ 11 Kind of tide 12 This section of beach is home to Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge 14 Like foliage 15 Types of dive 17 Harness part 18 ____ Henry Lake 20 One of many Alabama beaches where you can see stunning sunsets 25 Skyway ___ Trail 27 Alabama coastal town known for its boutiques, cafes, art galleries, gift shops and seafood restaurants 29 Rainbow shape 30 Small round veggie 31 Unique beach which is also an old military site, 2 words 33 __ Eliot (poet) 35 Boundaries 36 Island where Fort Gaines is based Down 1 Turkey call 2 Alabama reservoir great for largemouth bass fishing, 2 words 3 Like many Alabama beaches 4 Beach city where you can enjoy dolphin tours 5 Sty female 7 Thornton Dial, e.g. 9 Idea that’s spread virally 13 “Ristorante” beverage 16 Ventilate 28  AUGUST 2021

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17 19 21 22 23 24

Railway, abbr. Dieter’s obsession, abbr. On the crest of High cliffs Hallowed Summer is one

by Myles Mellor 26 27 28 29 32 34

Moved a canoe Back again Four-footed friend The “famous” cookie maker “Aladdin” monkey Quiet!

Answers on Page 49

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August | Around Alabama

Bellingrath Gardens and Home will celebrate the birthday of Walter D. Bellingrath, founder of the gardens, with an event on Aug. 6. PHOTO COURTESY BELLINGRATH GARDENS AND HOME



Theodore Mr. Bellingrath’s Birthday Celebration at Bellingrath Gardens and Home. Walter D. Bellingrath was Mobile’s first Coca-Cola bottler and the founder of the Bellingrath Gardens and Home. In honor of his birthday, admission to the gardens is free to Mobile and Baldwin County residents on this date. Home tour tickets are $10 per person and are led by longtime guides. 251-9732217 or


Athens 29th annual Piney Chapel American Farm Heritage Days. The Piney Chapel Antique Engine and Tractor Association sponsors this family event at 20147 Elkton Road. $5 admission, 12 and under free. Friday features tractor rides and a fish fry; there will also be antique power and wheat threshing exhibits. Gates open at 7 a.m. Search for the group’s page on Facebook.


Dothan Landmark Park Education Festival, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Teachers, youth group leaders and families are invited to a showcase of the educational opportunities available at Landmark Park. Activities will include planetarium shows, live animal programs, dulcimer lessons and more. Free with paid admission. 334-794-3452 or


Frisco City Monroe County NCPRA Rodeo, Frisco City Park. This family-friendly event is sanc-

tioned by the National Cowboy Pro Rodeo Association. Tickets are $15 for ages 13 and older, $5 for ages 3-12, and children under 3 are free.

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Guntersville “Water/Ways,” a traveling exhibit that explores the role that water plays in human society and culture and the importance of protecting this critical resource. The exhibit at the Guntersville Museum is made possible by a partnership between the Alabama Humanities Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution Museum’s Museum on Main Street program, which gives access to the Smithsonian for small-town America.


Russellville 40th annual Franklin County Watermelon Festival. Music, contests and entertainment, as well as arts and crafts, 5K run, antique car and truck show, festival foods, tractor show and of course watermelon. Follow the event’s pages on Instagram and Facebook.


Ardmore 29th annual Crape Myrtle Festival, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., John Barnes Park in Ardmore, Tenn. Arts and crafts and other vendors, crape myrtle sale, food trucks, entertainment and more. Search for the event’s page on Facebook.


Decatur Riverfest 2021, Ingalls Harbor Pavilion and Event

Center. Benefits Mosaic Mentoring of North Alabama, which serves children and families in north Alabama. Music concert featuring Parmalee and Jesse Priest Music at 5 p.m. Friday; $10 admission. Saturday features an SCA sanctioned steak cookoff; visit steakcookoffs. com for information on that event. or 256-353-0157.


Foley Bacon and Brew Music Bash, Heritage Park. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Live music, food vendors, kids zone, contests with cash prizes, large variety of vendors and, of course, bacon. Live music by Almost Skynard and Wanted: The Bon Jovi Tribute Band. $5 entry fee; children 12 and under are free. Search for the event’s page on Facebook.


Montgomery fourth annual Hog Days of Summer BBQ and Music Festival, downtown at Union Station. Headliner is Robert Earl Keen, along with Cedric Burnside and Jupiter Coyote. Features barbecue from the River Region’s best restaurants. Proceeds go to help families dealing with pediatric cancer. $30 general admission, $25 for first responders and military, children 12 and under free.


Trussville Battle of the Bands at Trussville Civic Center, 5381 Trussville Clay Road. Free. Area bands compete to give everyone a good time. Food truck village and cash bar will be available. Search for the event’s page on Facebook.

SUMMER Daviston Horseshoe Bend National Military Park will hold a series of free ranger talks on Wednesdays and Saturdays through Labor Day. Topics will cover the Creek War of 1813-14, the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, Muscogee (Creek) culture

To place an event, e-mail or visit You can also mail to Events Calendar, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124; Each submission must include a contact name and phone number. Deadline is two months prior to issue date. We regret that we cannot publish every event due to space limitations. Alabama Living

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and history and more. All talks will begin at tour stop #2 and will begin at 2 p.m. Wednesdays and 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays.



Arab Sugarfest, Arab City Park on Shoal Creek Trail NE. 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. This festival is organized by volunteers who work to promote culture and community. The marketplace will have vendors and food trucks; there will also be a 5K race, Miss Sugarfest pageant, a kids’ area with rides, carnival-themed games, a petting zoo and more. The pool and splash pad will be open free of charge. In the afternoon is a cornhole tournament, classic car show and outdoor concert; local acts begin at 4 p.m. Fireworks begin at 8:15 p.m.


Cullman 25th annual Sweet Tater Festival at Smith Lake Park. 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday. Arts and crafts vendors, food vendors, car show and of course, sweet potatoes. Admission $5; armbands are good for both days. or 256-739-2916.


Fort Payne Boom Days annual festival. Downtown shopping, local artisans, family-friendly activities, gospel singing and live music acts Damon Johnson and the Get Ready as well as Aeromyth on Friday, and the Bellamy Brothers and headliner Sawyer Brown on Saturday. Free.

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

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| Worth the drive |

More than a market

Ingram’s offers camp stew, ’cue, burgers and more

Story and photos by Jennifer Kornegay


f you enjoy outfitting your yard and patio with healthy plants; But the barbecue, burgers, camp stew and long list of dessert if you value Alabama-made art and crafts; and if you prefer delights that have really put Ingram’s on the map didn’t come (and who doesn’t?) fresh fruits and veggies from nearby farms, along until 2019, a year after opening, as JoAnne explains. “When then Ingram’s Farmers Market & Garden Center should be your I met Mike when we were students at Troy, he was already getgo-to, one-stop shop for all of ting into barbecue, cooking the above. for his fraternity’s fundraisers,” But plenty of people who she says. Then, throughout his neither want nor need produce, other career, when the couple plants or pottery regularly file lived in Union Springs, he conthrough Ingram’s front doors. tinued volunteering his grill They walk right past the piles skills. “Doing barbecue to help of peaches and baskets of begogroups raise money became a nias and make a beeline for the hobby for me,” Mike says. back counter, eyes homed in on Even though he had been the chalkboard menu. They’re smoking ‘cue and cooking up here for the food, and probably big batches of camp stew for most of them, the barbecue. decades, JoAnne had to talk In Millbrook, this multi-taskhim into adding the kitchen ing market was a produce stand and opening the restaurant at in the past, but when Mike and Ingram’s. “I really had to enJoAnne Ingram bought it in courage him to do it,” she says. 2018, they gave it a facelift and Today, they’re both glad, along greatly expanded its offerings. with their loyal customers, that Mike had sold a business he he listened. “The restaurant owned and entered the corpo- JoAnne and Mike Ingram, owners of Ingram’s Farmers Market and Garden part of it has been a whirlwind rate world. But after a decade of Center, are rightfully proud of Mike’s beef brisket, shown here. success,” JoAnne says. In 2020, that work, he missed the interthey had to buy another grill action he’d had with customers when he was a business owner. “I and smoker to keep up with demand for the barbecue. It’s not hard to understand why. Almost everything on the wanted to get back into making those personal connections,” he menu is made from scratch in-house, including the divinity, key says. “And that’s what we’re doing here. I love talking to people, lime pie, red velvet cake and hummingbird cake make by bakand Millbrook has been so supportive. It’s great. I love that they er Dawn Davis. The sides, like the light-and-fluffy potato salad love our food.” 30  AUGUST 2021

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The smoked turkey breast at Ingram’s is moist and flavorful.

JoAnne and Mike Ingram, far right, praise the Ingram’s team for always giving each shopper and diner a warm welcome.

While barbecue and camp stew are favorites, Ingram’s also has a variety of ice cream.

Barbecue nachos, served with either chicken, beef or pork, are one of the best sellers.

Ingram’s Farmers Market and Garden Center 3740 Magnolia Drive Millbrook, AL 36054 334-517-4682 Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; closed on Sundays Search for the restaurant on Facebook 32  AUGUST 2021

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(almost like whipped potatoes), with just the right crunch from small-diced pickles, are recipes from JoAnne’s family. And the main attractions — the barbecue and camp stew — are made by Mike with the same ingredients and methods he’s been using for years. His pork butts (which, when done, are chopped, not pulled) are bathed in a thin seasoned liquid he calls “JuJu sauce” before being wrapped in foil and cooked for a couple of hours over local oak and hickory smoke. They’re then uncovered and cooked a few hours more. “It’s a bit unorthodox to cover it for a time, but people like the result,” Mike says. Turkey breasts are smoked for six hours, and St. Louis-style ribs get smoked little more than four hours. Beef brisket, with a superior smoke ring, and favorites like Conecuh sausage are on the menu too. Mike’s barbecue sauce is a vinegar-heavy concoction first created by his dad. Every ounce of meat on offer is meltingly tender and flavorful, even sans sauce. The barbecue nachos — tortilla chips smothered in a creamy, spicy sauce, topped with your choice of barbecue beef, chicken or pork, studded with pickled jalapenos and then sprinkled with shredded cheese — are extremely popular. So is a new item: the Big Mike Burger, a three-quarter pound beast of a beef patty that’s smoked for an hour before sliding between a bun. The camp stew is so sought after, Mike makes it in 80-quart batches, and Ingram’s sells 120-140 quarts each week. And for folks who are on the move, the barbecue, camp stew and sides are available in large quantities to go. Despite not being a certainty in the original plan, food is now an essential piece of Ingram’s business. Produce and plants are seasonal, but people come year-round for a great meal served by friendly folks. “We cook here like we’re cooking for our own family,” JoAnne says. “And we often hear, ‘I’ve not had anything here that’s not good.’ That’s a big compliment.” The warm welcome draws rave reviews and repeat customers, too. “We’ve got lots of regulars, and that’s created a real community spirit here,” says JoAnne. The couple gives their staff credit for the hospitality, praising their constant good attitude. “We have great employees,” Mike says. “We all greet every customer that comes through the door, and people like that personal attention. I think that has built our business as much as anything else.” That and Mike’s careful consideration of the details. “I see almost every piece of meat that comes in and goes out of here,” he says. So far, the love they put into the business is being returned. According to JoAnne, it’s a real pick-up on the longer days. “We get tired, but not a day goes by without at least one person telling us they appreciate us being here,” she says. “That puts the pep back in your step!”

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Alabama Living

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| Gardens |


Summer’s most coveted fruit I t’s fig season, that brief and glorious time of year when we get to enjoy one of the most local fruits of summer. Actually, figs aren’t truly “local.” They are among some 800 plant species within the genus Ficus that are found in tropical and temperate regions across the globe. Many of these species are used for landscaping and as houseplants (weeping figs, rubber trees and creeping fig vine), others for things like rubber production and still others for just plain eating. Edible figs are native to the Mediterranean and southwestern Asia where they were revered and cultivated for eons before they were introduced into other parts of the world, arriving in the U.S. as early as the 1500s. Today, edible figs are classified as four types — caprifigs, Smyrna, San Pedro and common — all of which play a part in the fig industry. Of these, it’s the common fig that grows in most backyards and gardens. That’s because common figs, unlike the other three types, don’t require pollination to set fruit, making them perfect for home production. And some 800-plus named varieties of common figs are available to home gardeners, each producing fruit with its own unique tastes, textures and colors. A fig’s fruit, known as a syconium, isn’t really a true fruit. It’s a pear- or teardrop-shaped cluster of tiny flowers and seeds wrapped snugly together within a Katie Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at

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thin outer skin. Depending on the variety, those skins may ripen into hues of greens, yellows, browns, blacks and purples, and the inner pulp may range from pale white to pink to deep tones of garnet and ruby. But getting your hands on those little jewels requires perfect timing because, unlike most fruits, figs don’t continue to ripen after they’re picked so they must be harvested at the height of their maturity, which sometimes means twice a day. Once picked, ripe figs are too soft and fragile to ship and don’t last long even under refrigeration. All that means that, to enjoy truly great fresh figs you have to get them locally and be prepared to immerse yourself in their goodness. While figs can be preserved by freezing, drying and canning, their flavor is best when eaten right off the tree or used fresh in dishes such as appetizers, salads, pizzas, main and side courses, sauces, fresh relishes and salsas and desserts. If you’re lucky enough to pick your own figs this year, go for ones that are drooping from the stem and soft to the touch, but watch out for the sap, which contains enzymes that can irritate skin and sometime causes lips and tongues to tingle. If the sap bothers you, wear gloves while picking and make sure to wash figs before eating them raw. Can’t find a source of fresh figs locally? Plant one of your own! Maybe even several different varieties. Fig trees can grow up to 30 feet high and wide but can be pruned to fit small spaces and can also be grown in containers. They need plenty of sunlight (around 8 hours a day) and prefer

a well-drained and loamy soil with a soil pH around 6.0 but can tolerate a variety of soil types. Fig trees usually take three to five years to bear fruit, and the first few crop yields may not be prolific, but it will steadily improve. Once established, figs are low maintenance. They need little pruning, are drought tolerant and have relatively few pest problems (mainly nematodes, borers and rust diseases). They appreciate a light dose of compost, manure or a balanced fertilizer a couple of times of year (though avoid doing it late in the growing season so you don’t promote new growth that can be damaged by freezing temperatures). Lots more information about figs is available online including the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s Fig Production Guide (ANR-1145; available online at Or get advice from fig-growing friends, your local Extension office and from nurseries that specialize in home fruit production.

AUGUST TIPS • Sow seed for lettuces and other leafy greens and for fall vegetable crops.

• Stay cool and hydrated in the August heat.

• Watch for insect and disease problems. • Clean out dead or fading vegetable plants.

• Harvest and preserve the last of summer’s produce and herbs.

• Water new plantings, lawns and container plants when needed.

• Keep bird feeders and baths clean and filled.

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For generations to come

The importance of creating intentional legacies for your family If asked “what are your family’s strongest traditions?” most of us could quickly list several important traditions. They may include recipes, games, repeated stories or holiday customs. Some traditions are the source of others, such as an annual trip to the grandparents, time spent at a family cabin, or hunting or working your land together. All of these provide a sense of both community and identity for family members.

How tradition becomes a legacy

The most important traditions also pass down the values of your family. These traditions are more than fun memories. They shape the lives of younger generations; they define character; they impact futures. In a word, they become legacies. A tradition of working together on the family farm becomes a legacy of a strong work ethic. A tradition of gardening, canning and cooking becomes a legacy of home-cooked family meals throughout the year, not just at holidays. Early morning fishing trips become a legacy of conservation and love for the outdoors. Your legacy will influence how your children or grandchildren live their lives and how they’ll raise their children to live theirs. Given the importance of a legacy, you should take intentional steps to encourage it.

Questions to help create an intentional legacy What are your family’s traditions? What are your family’s legacies?

Alabama Living

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What memories of your parents and grandparents do you have? What traditions did you enjoy then that you do with your family now? Also, ask your children and grandchildren what they view as traditions. Then ask, “What is the legacy my family is gaining from this tradition?” How can you encourage the traditions and legacies you have? This is the intentionality part of building an intentional legacy. Cementing a legacy requires planning for extra time together. Pass on your family’s recipes and then plan a few extra times a year to cook them together. Add another weekend or two at the cabin each year. What else do you need to do? Some legacies require more than just keeping traditions. If you have land, a lake house, or a farm that’s part of your traditions, keep it in the family by working with a financial advisor, a lawyer, and your insurance agent. They can help you address any tax or financial issues to keep them for the next generation. If you want to provide either an educational or financial legacy for your family, different financial and insurance strategies can help fund those goals while reducing tax issues. ARECU is always ready to help you accomplish your financial goals for yourself and your family, including building legacies. Call us at (800) 381-7328 to learn more.

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Bama in a Box:

Subscription service helps small businesses By Tessa Battles


hen small businesses in Alabama began closing their Bama in a Box not only includes seven items made in Alabama, doors due to the pandemic, Angi Horn Stalnaker, owner but information about each business so customers can reach out of Virtus Solutions in Troy, took notice. She and Office to them if they want to buy again. Manager Laney Kelley also noted a push for consumers to buy Jinright’s bath bomb was in the first Bama in a Box. She soon more American-made products. She combined these observabegan getting Facebook messages from all over the country. tions and by June, Bama in a Box, a subscription service filled “I met these people this weekend that were from Alaska,” says with Alabama-made items, was born. Jinright. “They’re actually from Alabama and someone had sent “We wanted to buy American, but further than that, we wantthem a Bama in a Box. She told me what was in her box and I said ed to buy local from Alabama,” says Stalnaker. “The more we re‘Well that’s my bath bomb.’” searched, the more we realized that literally almost everything Stalnaker says boxes have been sent to Connecticut, Hawaii, you use every day can be bought from a company that makes it Maine, Delaware, Michigan and Korea. in Alabama.” Johnson Labs in Troy provides dishwashing detergents, hand Amy Jinright, owner of Southern Scents and Sensations in sanitizer and disinfectants. Unlike other businesses, Johnson Troy, says that if it Labs saw sales had not been for increase during Bama in a Box, her COVID because of business might not their products. be here today. “There was a Jinright opened sudden drop off Southern Scents the next year and and Sensations 16 because we had an years ago, but has increase the previonly been in her ous year we didn’t building in Troy qualify for some for two years. She of the PPP loans,” started the busisays Karla Johnness by making son, CEO of Johncandles, but later son Labs. “Then we moved on to soaps had a sudden shutand lotions. Selfdown because of taught, she started supply issues and by selling products things like that.” out of the back of Johnson heard her car. about Bama in a “I’d go to the Box on the news different business- Bama In a Box offers treats that the whole family can enjoy. and says she es where I might doesn’t remember know one or two people that worked there,” says Jinright. “And who reached out first, but that it is a “happy marriage.” then I would go in and all of the women would come out and “It’s helping us grow that retail customer demographic that we shop at the back of my car.” have not had,” says Johnson. “It has done a lot for us to help get When she opened her business in downtown Troy two years our names out there and have a little more recognition.” ago, she had no idea that the COVID-19 pandemic would end up Soaps, snacks, sauces, syrups and much more can be found in shutting her doors. She was left with a few wholesale customers, the boxes. The only things you won’t find are perishable items, special orders and regular customers. Then Stalnaker reached like vegetables. Over 500 high-quality products from Alabama out to her about participating in Bama in a Box. are included in Stalnaker’s inventory. “Our goal was to sell 50 boxes,” Stalnaker says. “That was a year For either a month-to-month ($39.95) or three-month subago and now we have sold thousands of boxes all over the world.” scription ($104), a box of products made in Alabama will be 36  AUGUST 2021

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shipped to your doorstep monthly. The included products change each month, so you never get the same box twice. You can also order one-time specialty boxes, such as a grilling kit, breakfast in a box, ultimate Alabama gift box, coffee sampler, bath in a box, and the Bama snack pack. Boxes for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Christmas are available. “You’ve never seen Amazon on the back of your

kid’s little league jersey,” says Stalnaker. “You should buy things from inside Alabama if you can because you’re helping yourself. You’re helping your schools, textbooks, roads, bridges and community.” For more information visit Over 500 products are made in Alabama and 5-7 are included in each box.


Alabama Living

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| Outdoors |

Anglers can find more than largemouth bass in state waters


ention “bass” and most people naturally think about tack just about anything. I’ve caught them on full-size bass baits.” largemouths – perhaps smallmouth or spotted bass – but Anglers might also catch shoal bass or shadow bass. Rare in Alabama, shoal bass also like moderately swift streams, but stay in the many other fish carry the bass name, even if erroneously. Apalachicola River drainage. The Chattahoochee River forms part What many people call a spotted bass, Alabama biologists now of the Georgia-Alabama line and merges with the Flint River in call an Alabama bass. To most people, a spotted bass and an Alabama bass look identical. Lake Seminole near Chattahoochee, Fla., to form the Apalachicola “Alabama bass were formerly known as spotted bass in the MoRiver. The state record shoal bass weighed 6 pounds, 11 ounces. bile River drainage,” says Chris McKee, an Alabama Wildlife and Shadow bass live in most streams south of the Tennessee River. Freshwater Fisheries Division Fisheries biologist in Northport. They grow to about eight inches long and make great sport on “In Alabama, spotted bass are only native to the Tennessee River ultralight spinning or fly tackle. drainage, but they have been introduced into the Chattahoochee “Shoal bass have mostly been extirpated from Alabama,” McKee River drainage. The maximum size of an Alabama bass is smallsays. “The only place someone can catch shoal bass in Alabama er than a largemouth, is on the Chattahoochee River near Langdale. but they get bigger than Shadow bass are not spotted bass.” Sometimes called a uncommon to see in Kentucky spotted bass, our electrofishing surveys of streams. They the species usually tops only get to about five out around six pounds. or six inches long, but Still listed as a spotted bass, the Alabama they’ll bite anything a record for the species bluegill or a similar fish weighed 8 pounds, 15 would hit. Small jigs ounces and came from or spinners work for Smith Lake. However, them.” some Alabama bass More in common released in California with bluegills, warmouth and green sunnow hit double digits, fish both almost look including the world record 11.25-pounder. like a cross between a Shadow bass. COURTESY OF THE ALABAMA WILDLIFE AND FRESHWATER FISHERIES The list also includes bluegill and a smallmouth. Warmouth love a species formerly sluggish, weedy streams and backwaters. They occur statewide called redeye bass. In Alabama, “redeyes” split into Cahaba, Chattahoochee, Coosa, Tallapoosa and Warrior basses based on the with the highest concentrations in the lower Alabama-Tombigbee-Mobile River drainage. Warmouth won’t hesitate to grab river drainages where they live. many lures meant for a largemouth, particularly worms, small “Redeye bass were determined to be different species several crankbaits and spinnerbaits. years ago,” McKee says. “We’re doing some additional studies to Many people call both warmouth and green sunfish “gogverify that. They’re all found above the fall line in those respective drainages. There’s a small population in the Tennessee River gle-eyes” or “rock bass,” but true rock bass live in the Tennessee drainage that was probably introduced by anglers.” River system and farther north. Rock bass generally like flowing While largemouth prefer placid, weedy waters, redeyes act water. more like rainbow trout. They like small to medium-sized flowing “Many people call warmouth, rock bass, and rock bass goggle-eye,” says Taylor Beaman, a state biologist. “It’s a misconcepstreams. The state record weighed 3 pounds, 2 ounces and came tion and misnaming by the public. Warmouth and green sunfish from Choccolocco Creek. “Anything over 12 inches is a big redeye bass,” McKee says. “Relook a lot alike and their range overlaps.” deye bass are really aggressive. They eat a lot of bugs and crawfish. So far, all species mentioned belong to the Sunfish family, including largemouth. However, anglers can also catch “temperate” I’ve found lizards, mice and other things inside them. It’s odd that or “true” bass. This group includes stripers, white bass and yelthey don’t usually eat fish, but they still bite lures that imitate fish low bass, plus a hatchery hybrid between striped bass and whites. like jerkbaits and spinnerbaits. Many people fish for them with Stripers, whites and hybrids look very similar with white bodies popping bugs on fly tackle. They’re very aggressive and might atand horizontal black stripes. A yellow bass looks like a small striper painted gold. John N. Felsher is a professional freelance writer who lives in What one calls a fish only matters when conservation officers Semmes, Ala. He also hosts an outdoors tips show for WAVH FM check the limits! With apologies to the Shakespeare Fishing Tackle Talk 106.5 radio station in Mobile, Ala. Contact him at j.felsher@ company, a bass by any other name would still provide sweet or through Facebook. joyment for anyone catching them! 38  AUGUST 2021

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| Consumer Wise |

When to DIY and when to hire a pro

By Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen

Some do-it-yourselfers are comfortable tackling an attic insulation project. The steep pitch of this roof and the plywood decking this person is kneeling on makes this project appear easy, but in most homes, you’ll only be able to stand on the floor joists or rafters. PHOTO COURTESY THE ENERGYSMART ACADEMY


When it comes to home DIY projects, I recently asked myself, “Why hire someone to do a mediocre job when I can do a mediocre job myself?” That may sound odd, but I recently hired a contractor to remodel my kitchen. Needless to say, I was not happy with the quality of the work. Unfortunately, hiring a contractor based on positive online reviews and references doesn’t always guarantee quality work.


One reason to DIY (do it yourself) instead of hiring a contractor is if you’re convinced you can do a better job. Naturally, this depends on the scope of the project and how knowledgeable you are about the work. And there are additional reasons to tackle a home efficiency project yourself: • You’re unable to find a contractor that is available and reasonably priced. • You need the work completed in a tight timeframe or during odd hours. • You’re certain you can save a lot of money. • The job is one you’d really enjoy doing yourself. On the flipside, there are also several good reasons to hire a contractor (and not tackle projects yourself): • Specialized equipment is required. For example, the best wall insulators use a fill tube, which results in a higher R-value performance. Some contractors use an infrared camera to review wall framing and air leaks. • Specialized materials are needed. Attics need proper ventilation, and contractors might have easier access to attic insulation baffles or roof vents. Patrick Keegan writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives. Write to for more information.

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• There’s a safety issue. I was once moving insulation in our attic and accidentally stepped onto the sheetrock ceiling and fell through to my waist. My legs were dangling in the air and the room below was littered with broken sheetrock and insulation. I wasn’t hurt but could have been. As I repaired the damage, I regretted the decision not to hire a contractor. • Expertise is required beyond the homeowner capability, like tuning a furnace or repairing holes in a sheetrock wall to match the wall around it. • Tackling the project yourself will save little or no money. I discovered years ago that some contractors could install insulation cheaper than I could buy it. As you consider whether to do the job yourself, be sure to research the tools and supplies you’ll need. Fortunately, there are amazing resources online. When you search for information like “how to insulate an attic” or “how to air seal a home,” you’ll find fact sheets and video tutorials from contractors, home improvement shows, big box suppliers and material manufacturers. YouTube videos often show experts making the installation of anything seem simple, but beware, some of these videos are aimed at other experts and not DIY homeowners. To ensure you’re getting technically sound information, visit the ENERGY STAR® website ( Also, if you have a good energy auditor in your area, they can be another great source of information. An energy auditor can provide specifics about the materials you’ll need as well as information about local contractors and suppliers. Our advice: Don’t tackle energy efficiency projects yourself unless you’ve thoroughly researched it and have become very knowledgeable. Another benefit of doing the research upfront is that it will help you even if you decide to hire a contractor. You’ll be able to identify a knowledgeable contractor and hire one that knows you recognize a quality job. Good luck!

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| Alabama Recipes |


labamians are lucky to live in a state where the bounty of available fresh seafood is the envy of chefs and home cooks alike. “There are roughly 23 types of Alabama seafood available to consumers in our state, from oysters, shrimp and crab to fin fish of all shapes and sizes,” says Tommy Cauthen, marketing director for Alabama Gulf Seafood. Although the group hasn’t done any scientific polling, his opinion that shrimp would likely be the favorite of that group. “Nearly every restaurant has a shrimp po’boy,” says Cauthen. “I always try to make sure they are Gulf shrimp.” Alabama seafood is revered by commercial and home chefs simply because it’s harvested from waters off our state’s coast, “which means it’s a fresher product than other seafood options that might be available,” he says. “Fresher naturally tastes better! It is harvested in a sustainable manner and inspected for safety. The variety is such that everyone can find a favorite.” Many types of seafood are great candidates for cooking on the grill, according to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Among them are amberjack, bluefish, catfish, cobia, dolphin (mahi mahi), drum, grouper, king mackerel, rainbow trout, shark, snapper, Spanish mackerel, striped bass, swordfish, triggerfish and tuna. Clams, mussels, oysters and scallops can also be grilled, as can softshell crabs, lobster tails and shrimp. When cooking seafood at home, the Extension System recommends purchasing fish the day it’s going to be used. When that’s not possible, take care to appropriately refrigerate or freeze seafood until it’s ready to be cooked. Another key point to remember is not to overcook seafood, because when cooked properly, fish should be moist and flavorful. In addition to the recipes on our pages, you can find more recipes at and recipes, cooking and freezing tips at 42  AUGUST 2021

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Shrimp and Grits

Louisiana Crab Cakes are a wonderful addition to any seafood meal. Flaky crab coupled with fresh veggies keep true to the Southern favorite. The slightly spicy chili sauce is so good you’ll want to put it on everything on your plate!

Brooke Burk s

Louisiana Crab Cakes 1 pound lump crab meat (can be imitation) 2 tablespoons butter 1/2 cup chopped onion 2 tablespoons minced garlic 1/2 cup chopped celery 1 tablespoon dried parsley 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper, any color 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning 2 teaspoons dried basil 1 teaspoon dried dill 1/2 teaspoon thyme 2 eggs, beaten 10 crushed butter crackers 4 tablespoons canola oil 3 tablespoons flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper

4 1 1 1 ½ 1 ¼ 1 2 ½

strips of bacon medium yellow onion, chopped pound medium shrimp, peeled, and deveined Sea salt Black pepper tablespoon seafood seasoning (Old Bay) cup all-purpose flour, divided tablespoon garlic powder cup canola oil cup hot water cups quick-cooking grits Water to boil grits cup green onion, diced

In cast iron skillet, cook bacon until crisp, set aside bacon and drippings. Add onion to pan and cook until tender. Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with ¼ c flour, garlic powder and seafood seasoning, toss well and set aside. Meanwhile bring water to a boil, seasoning water with salt. Add grits stirring constantly, reduce heat. After 5 minutes cover and let simmer until thickened. Turn skillet up to medium high, add canola oil, when skillet is hot add ¼ cup of the flour along with onions, brown. Add shrimp and crumbled bacon. Slowly whisk in water (I sometimes add a little milk). Let come to rolling boil, stir well until gravy turns thick and brown. Serve over grits, garnish with green onions. Cook’s note: I sometimes add other veggies such as bell peppers or celery. Angela Bradley North Alabama EC

Sauce: 1 cup mayonnaise 1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce 1 teaspoon smoked paprika 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1/2 teaspoon chili powder In a large skillet, cook onion, celery and bell pepper in 2 tablespoons of butter until tender at medium heat. Add minced garlic, parsley, Creole seasoning, Old Bay seasoning, basil, salt, pepper, dill and thyme. Cook just until fragrant. About 1-2 minutes. Cool and place mixture in a large bowl. Stir in beaten eggs. Gently fold in crabmeat, flour and crushed crackers. Mix just until combined. In a small bowl, combine ingredients for sauce and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Heat canola oil in the same skillet at low to medium heat. Form cakes out of the crab mixture and place in pan or mold in pan to keep them together. Cook 3-5 minutes per side until done. Remove and drain to cool. Serve with sauce and enjoy! Alabama Living

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Cook of the Month: Becky Chappelle, Cullman EC Crab Quiche 1 deep dish pie shell 1 tablespoon butter or margarine 2 tablespoons green onion, minced 1/4 cup pimento, minced 1/2 teaspoon parsley, minced 1 6-ounce can white crabmeat 1 tablespoon flour 11/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese, divided 4 large eggs Dash of hot sauce 1 cup evaporated milk, undiluted 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper Bake crust at 400 degrees until barely tan on edges of crust, usually 10-12 minutes. Lower heat to 350 degrees. Remove crust and line with 3/4 cup shredded cheese. Over medium heat, melt butter and sauté onions for about 2 minutes until tender. In medium bowl combine flour, crabmeat, pimento, green onions, parsley, salt and pepper. Beat eggs with milk until combined, add a dash of hot sauce. Add to crabmeat mixture and pour into crust. Top with rest of cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until brown on top. Serves 6.


Crab Quiche

Southern Seafood Gumbo

Shrimp Deluxe

1 rotisserie chicken 1 8-ounce package frozen crawfish tails 1 8-ounce package frozen raw shrimp (no tail, no head and shelled) 1 package of at least 6 links Conecuh sausage 1 8-ounce package frozen cut okra 1 green bell pepper 1 medium onion 3 8-ounce cans diced tomatoes 6 8-ounce cans chicken broth Tony Chacheree Cajun Seasoning 2 whole bay leaves

6 ounces cream cheese 1 ounce blue cheese ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon pepper 6-8 drops Tabasco 3 tablespoons (or more) milk 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 pound cleaned, cooked or steamed shrimp Lemon wedges for garnish (optional)

Rue: 1 cup vegetable oil 1/4 cup plain flour Skin and debone rotisserie chicken. Set white and dark meat aside in a bowl and disscard the rest. Open Frozen shrimp and cut shrimp in half and set aside in a bowl. Open frozen Crawfish tails and set aside in a bowl. Dice up Conecuh Sausage. Set aside. Dice up Bell-pepper and set aside. Dice up Onion and set aside. Bring Chicken broth to a boil and lower heat down to medium. Add chicken, sausage, crawfish tail, frozen okra, bell pepper, onion, tomatoes and bay leaves to broth and stir. Simmer and stir for 30 minutes. In the meantime make your rue. Pour vegetable oil in skillet and heat on medium until it sizzles. Add flour a tablespoon at a time and whisk it around in the hot grease. Whisk and stir until the concoction resembles a caramel color thin gravy. Remove rue from heat. Add shrimp to gumbo and simmer until shrimp is pink. Add hot rue to gumbo and stir until the gumbo thickens. Add Cajun Season to taste and stir. Serve on a big scoop of yellow or white rice. Sharon Smith Central Alabama EC

Combine all ingredients except shrimp, and blend until smooth. Pour over shrimp and toss lightly to coat shrimp evenly. Divide into individual casseroles. Bake 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Garnish with lemon wedges if desired. Allison Law Alabama Living

Hickory Smoked Seared Scallops 1 pound large scallops 1/4 cup white wine 1/2 stick butter 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped 1 teaspoon garlic, minced 1 lemon Salt Pepper In a charcoal grill build a fire with hickory wood. Let it burn down to white hot ash. In a large iron skillet add white wine, butter, parsley, garlic. Place skillet directly on the white ash base. Once skillet is hot add scallops and sear 3 minutes a side. Remove scallops and plate them topping with squeezed lemon juice and salt , pepper to taste. Kirk Vantrease Cullman EC

Eating seafood is good for you • • • •

Wild-caught Alabama Gulf Seafood is a natural product high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help prevent heart disease. Fish and shellfish are an excellent source of protein. A 6oz serving of seafood is more than 100 percent of the protein adults need in their daily diets. All fish are great sources of Vitamin B, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, and other minerals. Fattier fish like tuna and seatrout contain lots of Vitamin D as well, and oysters are great sources of iron, zinc, copper, iodine, and magnesium. It’s also low in fat and calories!

Source: Alabama Gulf Seafood

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Shrimp and Clam Chowder 1 1 4 2 4 4 2 4 2

pound bacon onion, chopped cups potatoes, chopped cups heavy cream bottles Bumblebee brand clam juice cans Bumblebee brand chopped clams, with juice bags small frozen, uncooked shrimp tablespoons all-purpose flour cups milk Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook chowder in a stock pot. Fry bacon, crumble into pieces and set aside. Save bacon drippings. Chop onion, then saute' in drippings. Add clam juice and chopped potatoes to pot. Simmer on medium-low heat for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add clams with their juice and heavy cream to pot. In a separate bowl, whisk milk and flour until smooth as possible, adding to pot after. Stir slowly until it starts to thicken. Add bacon crumbles and shrimp last, (still frozen), and stir the pot until the shrimp turn pink, then serve. Leigh Ann Purvis

Shrimp and Clam Chowder




Holiday Cookie CONTEST

Calling all bakers! Do you have a favorite holiday cookie recipe or special cookies you take to all the holiday parties and cookie exchanges? Share your favorite holiday cookie recipes with us for a chance to win! Enter online at Each entry must include your name, address and phone number as well as the name of your electric cooperative. Entries may also be mailed to Alabama Living Cookie Contest, PO Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124. Entry deadline is September 3, 2021. Alabama Living

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to the winning

Cook of the Month!

Please send us your original recipes, developed by you or family members. You may adapt a recipe from another source by changing as little as the amount of one ingredient. Cook of the Month winners will receive $50, and may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year. To be eligible, submissions must include a name, phone number, mailing address and co-op name. Alabama Living reserves the right to reprint recipes in our other publications.

Themes and Deadlines: November: Cauliflower | August 6 December : Holiday Cookie Contest | September 3 January: Homemade Breads | October 1

3 ways to submit: Online: Email: Mail: Recipes, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 AUGUST 2021  45

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

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

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



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

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ems. A ust be erly

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

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

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

Name______________________________ Account Number_________________ Address____________________________ Phone Number___________________ E-mail_____________________________ Signature________________________


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| Our Sources Say |

Meat the enemy L

ast month I wrote about the Fourth of July, the sacrifices so many people have made to gain and keep our freedom, and the importance of the holiday other than BBQs and cookouts. This month I will continue with the Fourth of July theme but from the angle of BBQs, cookouts and hamburgers. We usually spend the Fourth of July with our girls and grandkids, but this year we weren’t able to get together. However, we kept our tradition of hamburgers and baked beans. We have had grilled hamburgers on the Fourth for years, and we enjoyed doing it again this year. However, our tradition may be in jeopardy. A recent University of Michigan study argues that to cut greenhouse emissions to the level required to control climate change, Americans will have to severely reduce consumption of red meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy and animal-based fats. I have written two articles in the past about the liberal attack on steaks and red meat – remember Big Mike’s Bean House and Big Mike’s Bean House, Revisited? I received replies that were to the effect of, “that couldn’t ever happen” and “they won’t take my steaks.” The articles were written in fun, but they were serious in the context that a growing portion of our society is really, really concerned about the potential catastrophes of carbon emissions and climate change resulting from meat consumption. I challenge you to name a recent Biden administrative action that does not reference climate change. Almost every news event is linked to climate change. One report claimed the condo building collapse in Miami was caused by the rising seas due to climate change. This week, Oregon Governor Kate Brown warned: “that events like the Pacific Northwest heatwave could be a harbinger of things to come if politicians do not urgently confront the issue of climate change.” Progressive Democrats in Congress have threatened to withhold support of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure proposals if their demands about climate policy are not addressed. A recent Wall Street Journal article cited claims from the United Nations Environmental Agency’s newsletter that “…every bite of burger boosts harmful greenhouse gases.” According to that same WSJ article, a U.N tweet from last summer warned, “The meat industry is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the world’s biggest oil companies.” Furthermore, the article also cites an assertion from Greenpeace’s website that eating meat “makes the planet sick. The live-

stock sector….generates as much greenhouse gas emissions as all cars, trucks, and automobiles combined.” (Of course, saying cars, trucks and automobiles may be redundant). The Biden administration has acknowledged that its climate targets require “the U.S. to reduce carbon emissions from agriculture.” When asked if she favored changing dietary guidelines to reduce the consumption of red meat in light of its impact on climate change, Vice President Kamala Harris stated, “The balance that we have to strike here, frankly, is about what government can and should do around creating incentives and then banning certain behaviors.” To be fair, Vice President Harris also told CNN, “I love cheeseburgers from time to time.” Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, despite declaring “Meatless Mondays” in the U.S. Department of Agriculture(USDA)’s cafeterias, said, “There is no effort designed to limit people’s intake of beef coming out of President Biden’s White House or USDA.” Big things change in little ways. Water erodes rock until it is gone. C.S. Lewis wrote, “The Devil believes the safest road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” One study is not science, but this is not the first nor only study that finds that producing and eating red meat promotes climate change. Some progressives even labeled the study fake news about evil liberals. But we have continually been told that the science is over and if the science says eating red meat causes climate change and dooms the planet, are our Fourth of July hamburgers done, too? So long as studies keep coming, as long as politicians keep stressing creating incentives and banning behaviors, as long as teen environmental activists like Sweden’s Greta Thunberg demand that immediate and radical political change be taken to save the future for children… as water erodes rock, how far behind can real political action be? Old Scranton Joe looks like he enjoys a good hamburger on the Fourth of July. A spokesperson even posted a picture of him grilling steaks on a campaign stop. But President Joe may listen to those around him too much. He may have been pumping gas when he said no more fracking on federal lands. Be careful of little changes. Be careful of the gentle slope, the soft underfoot of a gradual road to hell. Hold the Fourth of July dear. I hope you have a good month.

Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.

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| Classifieds | How To Place a Line Ad in Marketplace Closing Deadlines (in our office): October 2021 Issue by August 25 November 2021 Issue by September 25 December 2021 Issue by October 25 Ads are $1.75 per word with a 10 word minimum and are on a prepaid basis; Telephone numbers, email addresses and websites are considered 1 word each. Ads will not be taken over the phone. You may email your ad to; or call (800)410-2737 ask for Heather for pricing.; We accept checks, money orders and all major credit cards. Mail ad submission along with a check or money order made payable to ALABAMA LIVING, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124 – Attn: Classifieds.

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Answers to puzzle on Page 28


There’s a reason so many of our advertisers are still on our pages, month after month, for more than 40 years. Year after year, Alabama Living remains the best value for your dollar. Contact Jacob at


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| Hardy Jackson's Alabama |

Illustration by Dennis Auth

Save the plastic pink flamingos


n recent years a lot of attention has been paid to saving endangered species around the world. I am all for that. In fact, I will go one step farther and come out in favor of adding to the list one that hitherto was not listed. The plastic pink flamingo. Once they thrived along the Gulf Coast. It was their natural habitat. There they sat all summer in sun, wind, and rain – slowly fading until past Labor Day when – bent, battered, and bleached out – they were tossed into the trash. Come next year, a new flock appeared and the cycle began all over again. Only now, no more. The cycle has been broken, the natural order of things disrupted, and the plastic pink flamingo is threatened. As someone who tries to stay on top of what is popular down in Dixie and what isn’t, I suspect that plastic pink flamingo is falling victim to a shift in southern tastes that is marked by a rejection of the crass and tacky in favor of the tasteful and sophisticated.

Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Professor Emeritus at Jacksonville State University. He can be reached at

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The best place to test this theory is down in the condo-canyons on the Gulf Coast. In recent years the beach cottage and house trailer yards where plastic pink flamingos flourished have been slowly and steadily replaced by high rise condos and mini-mansions. Now ask yourself, when was the last time you saw a plastic pink flamingo out by the condo pool or in yards of houses behind the gates of the guarded, gated communities – assuming they would let you in to look? Not recently. Condo and community code-enforcers keep ‘em out. So, I ask you, where are the protests? Why aren’t the people who were moaning and groaning over how these developments are threatening beach mice just as upset over how these developments are destroying the plastic flamingo’s natural habitat? Where is the government when we need it? If the government, yours and mine, can regulate everything from outhouses to asphalt, why can’t those regulators tell developers that every development must have a plastic pink flamingo paddock in its plans – a prominent place where they can be seen and appreciated. By us, and our children after us. Write your representative.

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