May 2021 Clarke-Washington

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Stories | Recipes | Events | People | Places | Things | Local News May 2021



Delta of diversity The beauty and threat to ‘America’s Amazon’ ‘Home Town Takeover’ comes to Alabama! Sugar-free recipes

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Manager Steve Sheffield Co-op Editor Sarah Hansen 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

Literary trail

The Monroe County Courthouse, which figures prominently in Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird, is one of the locations on the Alabama portion of the Southern Literary Trail.


VOL. 74 NO. 5


MAY 2021

Look what I grew! 9 Our readers are proud of their

gardens, and their photos show it.

More than pork 24 Pruett’s Bar-B-Q has been cooking up its signature pork dishes for 45 years, but its non-barbecue items are just as popular.

Water with a purpose 34 Marquis Forge founded his water

bottling company on a promise to his Autaugaville community, and he kept his word.



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

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D E P A R T M E N T S 11 Spotlight 29 Around Alabama 40 Outdoors 41 Fish & Game Forecast 44 Cook of the Month 50 Hardy Jackson’s Alabama ONLINE: ON THE COVER

Look for this logo to see more content online!

A two-foot alligator, with only his eye visible, is poised in a clear spot of the Mobile Delta while he waits for a frog to come hopping by. Story, Page 12. PHOTO: Ben Raines


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

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Office Locations Jackson Office 9000 Highway 43 P.O. Box 398 Jackson, AL 36545 (251) 246-9081 Chatom Office 19120 Jordan Street P.O. Box 453 Chatom, AL 36518 (251) 847-2302 Toll Free Number (800) 323-9081 Office Hours 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday - Friday (Drive-thru Hours)

Payment Options Mail P.O. Box 398 Jackson, AL 36545 P.O. Box 453 Chatom, AL 36518 Office During normal office hours at our Chatom and Jackson offices. Phone (855) 870-0403 Online

Reflect and Honor:

May is Military Appreciation Month While enjoying various Memorial Day festivities this month, I hope you will join me in pausing to reflect on the sacrifices of our country’s veterans and their families. I am especially thankful for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we can enjoy the freedoms their service affords us in this great country of ours. May is Military Appreciation Month, and in the words of John F. Kennedy, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” Clarke-Washington EMC is proud to serve veterans and their families across our fourcounty service area of Clarke, Washington, Wilcox and Monroe counties. In addition to providing safe, reliable and affordable energy, we care for the veteran community and pause to show our support and appreciation through our actions and ongoing commitment to them and their families. Clarke-Washington EMC is not alone in our efforts to honor and serve veterans. We are part of a network of more than 900 electric cooperatives across the country that support and honor our nation’s veterans of all generations. As part of our national association of electric cooperatives, spanning 48 states and serving 13% of U. S. consumers, there are countless programs that our family of electric co-ops has initiated. At the national level, we support the Vets Power Us program, which is aimed at employing and honoring veterans, active military and their spouses. This effort helps veterans

understand potential career paths with electric co-ops and in turn, provides co-ops with best practices in attracting, onboarding and retaining veterans. Not only do we pause on Memorial Day to remember the sacrifice and service of those who gave all, but the month also holds several other military anniversaries and events, including Military Spouse Appreciation Day on May 8, and Armed Forces Day on May 16. Clarke-Washington EMC is proud to be a part of the electric cooperative network that honors and supports veterans of all ages, ranks and branches of the military. Please join us in taking a moment to show your appreciation to a veteran----not just this month, but every month. Our offices will be closed on Monday, May 31 in observance of Memorial Day but, as always, we will have employees on standby ready to restore power should you experience an outage. Following more than a year of limited activities due to the pandemic, I hope you have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day this year.

Steve Sheffield General Manager

Night Deposit 24/7 at Jackson & Chatom CWEMC App Available from the App Store and Google Play Bank Draft CheckOut Pay where you shop at any Dollar General, Family Dollar, CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens. 4  MAY 2021

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CWEMC offices will be closed Monday, May 31 for Memorial Day.


Clarke-Washington EMC extends our appreciation to all those who have given their lives in service to our country.

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From acco Your to ass


| Clarke-Washington EMC | | Clarke-Washington EMC | For your convenience, another payment option is now available.


PAY YOUR POWER BILL WHERE YOU SHOP Participating retailers include


Get Your Barcode

From there, enter your CWEMC account number and click “Find Your Account” (You will be asked to verify the street number associated with the account.) on browser of choice.

Your account barcode is printed on the back of your bill.

Account Number example: 123456001 (enter without a dash)


Visit CWEMC online



Find Nearest Location

Scan Barcode at Register

Participating locations are listed on the barcode website.

Have the cashier scan the barcode and tell them how much you would like to pay to the account. It’s that easy

For more information, call Clarke-Washington EMC at (800) 323-9081 or visit The store will add a $1.50 convenience fee. The payment is posted immediately to your account.

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1. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters

Outdoor outlets or those in potentially damp locations in a kitchen, bathroom or laundry room often include GFCI features. They are designed to sense abnormal current flows, breaking the circuit to prevent potential electric shocks from devices plugged into the outlets. The average GFCI outlet is designed to last about 10 years, but in areas prone to electrical storms or power surges, they can wear out in five years or less. Check them frequently by pressing the red test button. Make sure you hit the black reset button when you are done. Contact a licensed electrician to replace any failing GFCI outlets.

2. Loose or Damaged Outlets or Switches

Unstable electrical outlets or wall switches with signs of heat damage or discoloration can offer early warnings of potential shock or electrical fire hazards. Loose connections can allow electrical current arcing. If you see these warning signs, it may be time to contact an electrician.

3. Surge Protectors

Power strips with surge protectors can help safeguard expensive equipment like televisions, home entertainment systems and computer components from power spikes. Voltage spikes are measured in joules, and surge protectors are rated for the number of joules they can effectively absorb. That means if your surge protector is rated at 1,000 joules, it should be replaced when it hits or passes that limit. When the limit is reached, protection stops, and you’re left with a basic power strip. Some surge protectors include indicator lights that flicker to warn you when they’ve stopped working as designed, but many do not. If your electrical system takes a major hit, or if you don’t remember when you bought your surge protector, replacement may be the best option.

Electrical Safety Month Safety Starts with You

Electricity plays many roles in our lives, from powering baby monitors, cell phones and lighting, to running HVAC systems and appliances. No wonder we get so comfortable with its instant availability that when we flip a switch, we expect most systems or devices to do the job. May is National Electrical Safety Month, and here at ClarkeWashington EMC, we think it’s a great time to look around your home and check for potential safety hazards. Remember, every electrical device has a purpose and a service lifespan. While we can extend their operations with maintenance and care, none of them are designed to last or work forever. When electricity is involved, failures can present electrical hazards that might be avoided with periodic inspections. 6  MAY 2021

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4.Extension Cords

If you use extension cords regularly to connect devices and equipment to your wall outlets, you may live in an underwired home. With a growing number of electrical devices connecting your family to the electricity you get from Clarke-Washington EMC, having enough outlets in just the right spots can be challenging. Remember, extension cords are designed for temporary, occasional or periodic use. If an extension cord gets noticeably warm when in use, it could be undersized for the intended use. If it shows any signs of frayed, cracked or heat-damaged insulation, it should be replaced. If the grounding prong is missing, crimped or loose, a grounded cord will not provide the protection designed into its performance. And always make sure that extension cords used in outdoor or potentially damp locations are rated for exterior use. Electricity is an essential necessity for modern living, and Clarke-Washington EMC is committed to providing safe, reliable and affordable electricity to all of our members. We hope you’ll keep these electrical safety tips in mind so that you can note any potential hazards before damage occurs.

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| Clarke-Washington EMC |

Practice Safety When DIY-ing These days many of us are spending more time at home and finding new, creative ways to enhance our living space. Tackling do-it-yourself (DIY) projects for the home can be fun and cost-effective, so why not roll up those sleeves and get started! Whether you’re painting the front door with a fresh hue or finally upgrading those patio lights, successfully completing a DIY home project is incredibly satisfying. But many of these projects do not come without risks. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind as you get to work. Start by selecting a designated work area. The amount of space you’ll need will depend on the size and scope of your project, but make sure you have adequate lighting and ventilation (if necessary). Required tools and equipment should be located in your workspace and organized for easy access. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is your friend. We know you’re a pro but investing a few bucks in PPE is essential for most home projects. Stock up on safety goggles, dust masks, ear plugs (or noise reduction ear protectors), gloves and any other kind of protection you’ll need for your project. Remember to wear appropriate clothing and shoes. (Ditch the sandals for this!) Work slowly and clean as you go. When you rush through a DIY project, you’ll likely end up with less desirable results than you intended, or worse, you could make a costly or dangerous mistake. Take your time and remember that you are in control of the project. You should also clean as you go to ensure a safer workspace. Pick up any scrap materials, tools that aren’t in use Alabama Living

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and any tripping hazards. Be cautious with power tools. Annually, 8% of electrocutions in the U.S. are attributed to improper use of power tools.

The Electrical Safety Foundation International offers the following safety tips: • Use ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) with every power tool to protect against electrical shock. • Never use power tools near live electrical wires or water pipes. • Use extreme caution when cutting or drilling into walls where electrical wires or water pipes could be accidentally touched or penetrated. • If a power tool trips a safety device while in use, take the tool to a manufacturer-authorized repair center for service. • Do not use power tools without the proper guards. • When using a wet-dry vacuum cleaner or a pressure washer, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid electrical shock. Remember, you should only tackle DIY home projects within your skill and comfort level. For projects that require extensive electrical work, we strongly recommend you hire a licensed, qualified electrician for assistance. MAY 2021  7

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IS YOUR BILL COMING IN LATE IN THE MAIL? SIGN UP FOR E-BILL When you sign up for E-Bill, ClarkeWashington EMC will discontinue the monthly mailing of your paper bill. Instead, you will receive a monthly email of your bill. Contact the office 800-323-9081 to sign up today.



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| Alabama Snapshots |

Nothing beats fresh fruits and vegetables straight out of the garden. SUBMITTED BY Cory Johnson, Arab. Adell Byford, 91, with a day’s harvest from her vegetable garden. SUBMITTED by Miranda Byford, Hartselle.

I grew this! I grew this pineapple in my greenhouse from the top of another pineapple that I ate two years ago! SUBMITTED by Debby Boyd, Addison.

Melvin Cofield grew this cabbage in his garden near Repton, Alabama. SUBMITTED by Melvin Cofield, Repton. Bruce Caraway, 87 years old. SUBMITTED BY Starla Hataway, Kinston.

Submit “Enjoying ice cream” photos by May 31. Winning photos will run in July.

SUBMIT to WIN $10! Alabama Living

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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. Alabama Living is not responsible for lost or damaged photos. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope to have photos returned.

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Spotlight | May Dirt Pass Trail Crew program supports state parks trails

Help available to assist with rent, utility bills

The trails in Alabama State Parks have seen a steady growth in use, serving as a family-friendly gateway to the outdoors. Volunteer clubs support the maintenance of the trails, providing labor, expertise and skills, but not every park has a support club, and not everyone can volunteer either time or labor. The new Dirt Pass Trail Crew program allows users to make a $35 annual membership donation to help create the best trail system in the Southeast. Your money goes directly to fund this program, which supports organized trail workdays, a full-time trail crew, professional support for volunteer groups, surveying the needs of trail users, new trail building equipment and overall trail improvement. This is strictly a donation program; users can enjoy the trails regardless of membership. But it does allow those who enjoy the trails an opportunity to be part of their continued improvement. Donations may be made only online at dirt-pass-trail-crew-program. A membership wristband and trail gift will be mailed to you.

Alabamians who have experienced financial hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be able to receive help to pay their rent and utility bills through the state’s emergency rental assistance program. Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Alabama is funded entirely by a $263 million congressional grant under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (the “Act”). Administered by the Alabama Housing Finance Authority, ERA Alabama can help renters with the following costs going back as far as March 13, 2020: • Past due, current and up to 3 months of expected rent costs; • Past due, current or up to 3 months of expected utility and home energy expenses; • After the initial 3 months of forward assistance, you can apply for 3 additional months of assistance if funds are still available.

Find the hidden dingbat!

Sponsored by

Many of you, more than 700, found last month’s dingbat – a baseball bat – as one reader said, right off the bat. OK, enough of the batty puns. The bat was on Page 24 in a photo of the USS Alabama (although two readers claimed to see it in the bowl of eggs on Page 42). Seeing the battleship photo was nostalgic for Sue O’Neill of Cullman who wrote us: “My husband (deceased) and I married in 1965 and with little money chose to go see ‘The Battleship’ for a 2-3 day honeymoon. It sure brought back many memories!” Linda Martin of Enterprise had a similar reaction: “I remember some time ago visiting and touring this massive ship. I’m thankful for everyone that served on this ship.” We get entries from readers of all ages, including Jenna Kath Crutchfield, age 8, from Eutaw; Jazmine Foley, 11, from Foley; and Katie Adams and her grandfather, Robert Barrentine of Dothan, who enjoy hunting for the dingbat together each month. Kay McMullin of Geraldine was inspired to write a few lines of poetry: I am 77 years old Can’t see too good, or so I’m told. But I was sitting here in my baseball hat Looking for that ole dingbat When, lo & behold, I saw that ship, And to my surprise, I almost flipped! When I spied that old dingbat I threw my hat in the air, I hope I win, that’s only fair! Congratulations to Mildred Mills of Columbia, a member of Wiregrass Electric Cooperative, for being our randomly drawn winner! For May, we’re hiding a bicycle, so start pedaling through the magazine and maybe you’ll be next month’s winner of a $25 gift card and prize package from Alabama One Credit Union! By mail: Find the Dingbat Alabama Living PO Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 By email: 10  MAY 2021

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Separate from ERA Alabama, the Act also funds separate rental assistance programs serving residents of Baldwin, Madison, Mobile, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, and Jefferson counties, and the cities of Huntsville and Birmingham. Residents in those local areas must apply there, not with ERA Alabama. However, if the local program in your area is not yet operating, ERA Alabama might accept your application. Call (833) 620-2434 for details. There are specific eligibility requirements for the program. Full details are available on the ERA Alabama website,, or by calling the customer service center at (833) 620-2434.

Women restaurateurs are cooking up special things in Alabama The restaurant business has typically been male dominated, at least as far as ownership goes. But in the past decade or two, many women have started to make a splash on the Alabama food scene. From a story by the Alabama News Center, here are five places owned or co-owned by women you might want to try: Yo’ Mama’s, 2328 2nd Ave. North, Birmingham, co-owners (and mom and daughter) Denise and Crystal Peterson Drexel & Honeybee’s, 109 Lee St., Brewton, co-owner Lisa Thomas-McMillan (featured in Alabama Living in December 2018) Michael’s Restaurant, 1525 1st Ave. South, Birmingham, owner Bernadine Birdsong Toybox Bistro, 511 Jordan Lane Northwest, Huntsville, co-owner Michelle Tamon KBC, 151 N. Foster St., Dothan, owner Kelsey Barnard Clark (featured in Alabama Living in December 2016)

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May | 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. We’ll draw a winner for the $25 prize each month. Lynne and Duane Baxley of Clayton traveled to Granby, Colorado to visit their son, his wife and grandson. They are members of Pea River Electric Cooperative. After being stationed in Hawaii, their children were ready to see some snow, Lynne says. “I enjoyed snuggling with my grandson while reading Alabama Living,” she adds.

Four friends recently had breakfast at the Cottle House with Facebook star and cook Brenda Gantt. From left, Sally Perrin, Ellen Phillips, Brenda Gantt, Wanda Whitehead and Lisa Woodruff. The friends are from Alexander City, and are members of Tallapoosa River Electric Cooperative.

Wendy Hellend of Smiths Station took her magazine to Las Vegas last fall, when she visited the “Seven Magic Mountains.” She and her husband Frank are members of Tallapoosa River Electric Cooperative.

Mary Crawford of Dutton, a member of Sand Mountain Electric Cooperative, took her magazine to New Mexico where she saw the “World’s Largest Pistachio” in Almagordo.

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 May 7 with your name, address and the name of your rural electric cooperative. The winner and answer will be announced in the June issue. Submit by email:, or by mail: Whereville, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124. 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! April’s answer: This concrete cross on Monte Sano Mountain is 74 feet tall and 35 feet wide and can be seen from most of downtown Huntsville. In 1963, the Huntsville Ministerial Association raised the 38-ton gleaming white cross to reflect the determination to mark Huntsville as a city devoted to Jesus. (Information from (Photo contributed by Janice Sims of Pea River EC.) The randomly drawn correct guess winner is Pamela Maten of Black Warrior EMC.

Enjoys sharing articles

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

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I love Hardy Jackson’s articles. I look forward to them every month. I graduated from Jacksonville State in 1963 and now live in Orange Beach. I share your articles and have shared the article about the lady who had pins stuck in her falsie pin cushion (“The way we will beat breast cancer,” October 2017) with our sewing group at Orange Beach Methodist Church. Love the Alabama Living magazine. JoAnn Powell, Orange Beach MAY 2021  11

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Delta of d

New book highlights the beauty and thre

Lotus stands line the riverbanks in the lower Delta, bursting into bloom in July and August.

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f diversity

and threats to Alabama’s Delta wetlands

By John N. Felsher


eople frequently hear about saving the Amazon rainforests or the Florida Everglades. Those incredibly significant biological areas should receive attention, but few people hear about the Alabama Amazonia. “The Mobile-Tensaw Delta is one of the largest wetland expanses in the nation,” says Ben Raines, author of Saving America’s Amazon: The Threat to Our Nation’s Most Biodiverse River System (December 2020, NewSouth Books). “Alabama has twice as many plant and animal species per square mile as any other state. We have 450 species of freshwater fish, a third of all the freshwater fish species known in America. Alabama is the global center for diversity for things like mussels, crawfish and aquatic snails.” Born in Birmingham, Raines spent the last 20 years in the Mobile area and lives in Fairhope. He worked as the environmental reporter for the Mobile Press-Register as well as for the Weeks Bay Foundation, an environmental preservation organization in the Mobile area. In his book – beautifully illustrated with numerous photos of the flora, fauna and scenic beauty of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta – Raines not only documents the rich natural heritage and diversity found there, but also some threats to it. “When I was with the Mobile Press-Register, I wrote frequently about Mobile Bay, the Delta and the interaction between them,” he recalls. “This book is my love letter to Alabama and this landscape.”

Alabama Living

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Photos by Ben Raines

Environmental threats

The Mobile-Tensaw Delta traces its origins to the southern Appalachian Mountains in Georgia where the Tallapoosa and Coosa rivers begin. Those rivers merge north of Montgomery to form the Alabama River. Near Mount Vernon, the Alabama joins the Tombigbee River coming out of Mississippi to create the Mobile River. The Tensaw River breaks off from the Mobile to head southeastward through Baldwin County. The Mobile-Tensaw Delta covers about 250,000 acres of interconnected streams, lakes, swamps, marshes and bays north of Mobile Bay. These streams form the third largest river estuary in the country by flow, the largest inland delta and one of the most ecologically significant and biologically diverse wilderness tracts in North America. In 1974, Congress declared the entire Delta a National Natural Landmark. Two wildlife management areas preserve nearly 100,000 acres of the delta. But preserved doesn’t necessarily mean protected. “For too long, Alabama has been defined by what’s in the public mind, which are cotton fields, steel mills, civil rights protests and football,” Raines says. “What’s lost in that is this place around us, which is one of the most diverse places in North America and the most diverse state in the continental United States as far as plant and animal species go. The Delta has more species of turtles than any other river delta on earth, far more than the Amazon.” MAY 2021  13

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“Many people don’t realize that we have this incredibly unique landscape all around us.”

Lord of the Delta, the last of the ancient giant cypress trees, is 27 feet around and estimated to be as much as 500 years old. It can be reached only with a muddy hike through knee-deep swamp water.

Raines cites inadequate environmental laws as a threat to the trickle of runoff can soon turn into a muddy torrent that erodes Delta and calls for more protection of the rivers and smaller the landscape. streams. The Clean Water Act in the early 1970s and other legisla“I think the biggest threat to the Delta is mud flowing into it,” tion over the years helped fight pollution, but in Raines’ opinion, Raines says. “Mud flowing into the system smothers the creek they didn’t go far enough. bottoms. In the Delta and Mobile Bay, it smothers oyster reefs “The Clean Water Act helped a lot, but we don’t administer it and mussel banks. In Oregon, people cannot cut a tree down like other states,” he says. “We meet the fedwithin 25 feet of the high-water mark of a eral minimums, but most states go beyond stream. The leaves and sticks create a filter the minimums. We allow more pollution to that stops or slows down the mud flowing come out of factories and go into rivers than off the clear-cut, and the trees shade the waother states. To me, that’s a huge problem.” ter so it doesn’t overheat and become a fetid Industry and developments bring jobs to pool.” Alabama, but at a cost to the environment. Other projects New developments destroy wild places and Raines previously co-authored the memcritical wildlife habitat. oir of Max Cleland of Georgia, a severely “Alabama’s legacy going back 200 years wounded Vietnam veteran who became a is all about people coming here from elseU.S. senator. Raines is currently working on where to take things for industries like a book about his discovery of the Clotilda, timber, coal, iron, steel and chemicals. We the last ship to illegally smuggle African have no idea what was lost in that era, but A case can be made for the grass pink orchid, or any of the other 53 orchid species slaves into the United States. The Clotilda what’s left behind is still the most diverse in the state, to be Alabama’s state flower was burned in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta aquatic collection of species in the nation. rather than the non-native Asian camellia. shortly before the Civil War began. Unfortunately, we’ve also been the leader in Now a fulltime freelance writer and filmmaker, Raines wrote extinctions. Alabama had more than half of all extinctions in the and directed The Underwater Forest, an award-winning film continental United States since the 1850s.” about the exploration of a 70,000-year-old submerged cypress New developments replace dirt with concrete and asphalt, he forest found off the Alabama coast. In addition, the licensed charsays. When that happens, rainwater can’t soak into the ground. A 14  MAY 2021

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Top, just as birds migrate across the ocean, so do fish, congregating along the rich waters of the Alabama coast in massive numbers from spring through fall, feasting on the nutrient-rich ecosystem fed by the rivers of America’s Amazon. Cigar minnows are common baitfish. They are members of the jack family. Dr. Bob Shipp’s Guide to the Fishes of the Gulf of Mexico notes that as bait, they bring $7 a pound, one of the highest prices of all Gulf fish. Middle, a barred owl surveys the swamp floor looking for crayfish, mice, snakes, squirrels, and other prey. Bottom, waterways like this, deep in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, seldom see human visitors because fallen trees block boat traffic. The only way in, says author Ben Raines, involves a chainsaw.

ter captain leads adventure tours in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta and to barrier islands to show people the natural wonders he describes in his book. “Many people don’t realize that we have this incredibly unique landscape all around us,” he says. “I’m trying to remind people of that because that’s the first step in getting them to care about it. I’m trying to make people pay attention and understand when they see mud flowing off a parking lot or a construction site that that’s bad and we need to do something about it.” Saving America’s Amazon is available in local and national bookstores or online at Order signed copies directly from Raines by emailing him at

Alabama Living

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Text and Photographs by Scott Baker As a travel photographer, I am accustomed to being on the road, in the air, and on the trails of countries worldwide. But with the pandemic keeping me away from long-distance locales, I took the opportunity to rediscover my home state of Alabama. Fortunately my online search led me to, home of Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association. The site offers up numerous destinations and “trails” with detailed maps for guidance. For my most recent excursion, I created my own theme for a “Gospel, Grits and Greens” tour as I honed in on the Hallelujah Trail, The Barbecue Trail, and the Golf Trail. The wide array of intriguing architecture, delicious food, and beautiful landscapes was spectacular.


The “Gospel” part of my journey north offered plenty of sites to see. In north Alabama, there are more than 30 churches that have been serving their communities more than 100 years – in the same building on the same plot of land. The architecture varies from simple wood structures crafted with love to ornate gothic buildings with original stained glass windows. For this part of my trip, I navigated down narrow country roads to a simple cabin in Bankhead National Forest, then moved on to stops at stunning cathedrals in downtown settings like Florence, Decatur, and Huntsville. Some of the churches date back to 1860, and most are a National Historic Site, or if not, they’re certainly worthy of that declaration.

The Trinity Episcopal Church in Florence, Alabama features original stained glass windows dating back to 1894

St. John’s Episcopal Church in Decatur, Alabama.

16  MAY 2021 of Trinity Gothic architectural style Episcopal Church in Florence, Alabama.

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Church of the Forest in County near Houston, Alabama.

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Is there something about church that just makes you hungry? I wouldn’t be surprised if most families attending these historic houses of worship spend the first few moments after worship services asking, “Where do y’all want to eat?” North Alabama has plenty of answers to that question, and the best place for any southern meal is a family restaurant serving up food for the soul. “Grits” may be the most wellknown southern dish, but barbecue has to be a close second. No trip to north Alabama is complete without sampling the distinct barbecue flavors and subtle nuances of the homecooked fried catfish and coleslaw at the mom and pop restaurants. This area of the state is also home to countless “meat and three” restaurants that are steeped in tradition and serving recipes passed down in the family. Whatever your preference, it’s virtually impossible to pass through Decatur without savoring the fallingoff-the-bone ribs and slow pit-roasted chicken at Big Bob Gibson’s, the 2017 national award winner for best barbecue. Jason Curlee tends to the pit that his father and grandfather tended before him and serves up a belly-filling portion of sides that will leave you fully satisfied.

Jason Curlee tends the smoke pit at Big Bob Gibson’s.


Shrimp and Grits at Big Bad Breakfast, located at the Stricklin Hotel in downtown Florence, Alabama.

RTJ Golf Trail at the Shoals near Muscle Shoals, Alabama.


For more than 20 years, I’ve been hearing about how challenging and beautiful the courses are along the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, and I was intrigued to determine if all the hoopla was truth or lore. Admittedly, my golf habit never went further than a few years of hacking up courses. Thankfully for the groundskeeping crews, I threw away the clubs and picked up a camera. Yet I never lost my love and appreciation for manicured fairways, undulating hills, and challenging greens. These days what

Alabama Living

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I shoot on the course is something I’m proud to share — such as the photos I took while visiting the courses in Muscle Shoals, Hampton Cove outside of Huntsville, and Silver Lakes near Gadsden.

RTJ Golf Trail at Silver Lakes near Gadsden, Alabama.

Although many of the churches and the golf courses are a little off the beaten path, the quality of accommodations available in North Alabama rivals those of major cities. In downtown Florence, The Gunrunner Boutique Hotel, featuring 10 uniquely styled suites and the Stricklin Hotel, with the legendary Big Bad Breakfast restaurant below, are deserving destinations on their own. I’m already planning my next visit just to linger a day or two at the hotels and enjoy the local downtown restaurants and shops. North Alabama offers so many wonderful places that beg to be explored and enjoyed, and the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association is ready to help you make the most of your excursions in this area. Start planning your next adventure by visiting There you can choose from existing trails that direct you through the diverse landscape and rich cultural history – or blaze your own trail from the amazing destinations that are yours for the choosing.

Scott Baker is an internationally published photojournalist based in Alexander City, Alabama. He is a contributing photographer to The New York Times and his work has been published in The London Sunday Times Magazine, Drift Magazine and many other regional publications. You can follow his work on Instagram: @scottbakerphotos.

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Wetumpka is ready for its close up By Allison Law


mall towns are the heart and soul of our country, where neighbors, friends and people who’ve never even met can pull together and create a sense of community, one that transcends economic downturns, natural disasters and even a virus that turned into a pandemic.

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One of these small towns has been spiffed up and polished for its debut on the show “Home Town Takeover,” a spinoff of the popular “Home Town” series on HGTV that has filmed five seasons so far. Wetumpka – population about 8,000, county seat of Elmore County – beat out 2,600 other towns from around the coun-

try that applied to have their homes, businesses and historic structures revitalized and reimagined with the help of Erin and Ben Napier. The Napiers are the married couple who use their design and building skills to work together to restore and renovate historic homes and businesses in their native

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Ben and Erin Napier with Ben’s trademark Scotsman Chevy pickup in downtown Wetumpka. PHOTO COURTESY OF HGTV

‘Home Town Takeover’ wins the hearts of a community Laurel, Mississippi. (They also own Laurel Mercantile Co., which features U.S.-made heirloom wares and durable goods.) The Napiers’ warmth, chemistry and heart have endeared them to fans, and their love of small towns is evident. “It’s too bad that small towns are so often undervalued because you can live a Alabama Living

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beautiful life in them,” Erin Napier said in a news release promoting the new show. “People really want to believe in a bright future in the place where they live, but rebuilding a town is no small feat. It takes every member of that community using their gifts and skills coming together to make a difference.” Jenny Stubbs is executive director of Main Street Wetumpka, a non-profit organization that works to revitalize the downtown area of the Elmore County town, and she couldn’t agree more. She says being a part of the show has already affected the community for the good, and it hasn’t even premiered yet. “It’s taught us that our revitalization efforts haven’t been in vain, so much more can be accomplished when you work together, and to never give up,” she says. “As far as tangible effects go, our businesses have already seen an increase in sales, there’s more foot traffic downtown and our organization has enjoyed a surge in volunteers.” The show will feature 12 major renovations all over Wetumpka, including restaurants, shops, historic homes, public spaces, a new farmers’ market and even an entire downtown street. The goal is for the show to have an impact that will continue for generations.

‘Best foot forward’

The show filmed for several months in 2020, and anxious townsfolk documented the goings-on on social media channels. The homeowners, business owners and others involved in the show signed non-disclosure agreements, so they’re limited in what they can say about the show’s production. But if the social media buzz is any indication, the cast and production crew received a big helping of Southern hospitality, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic forced the crew to implement all kinds of safety protocols, including frequent testing and a masked crew behind the cameras. “The community truly put its best foot forward throughout the process,” Stubbs says. “Of course, (the pandemic) meant the interactions were more limited and everything was a bit different than it typically would be. But the film crew … had nothing but great things to say about the experience.” During the premiere, the work will start right away as a colorful mural, painted by local students, signals big changes are on the horizon for Wetumpka. The Na-

piers and Dave and Jenny Marrs, stars of HGTV’s “Fixer to Fabulous,” will complete a home renovation for a loving foster family, and the owner of a struggling fashion boutique will get a fresh design to take her business into the future. “That’s what we’re here to do with every project,” Ben Napier said in the news release. “It is a massive task and we’re so thankful our HGTV and Discovery family were so inspired by Wetumpka’s story that they wanted to come and be a part of this enormous undertaking. It’s going to be awesome.” And Stubbs believes the benefits will go far beyond Wetumpka’s historic downtown. “It’s such a remarkable opportunity to put our state in the spotlight. I know we’ll see an uptick in visitors, and I’m confident those people will want to make the most of their trips by doing as much as they can while in the area, or state, for that matter. “The possibilities are endless, and we definitely plan to make the most of it. I believe Wetumpka will do Alabama proud.”

HOW TO WATCH The premiere episode of the six-episode series “Home Town Takeover” will air at 7 p.m. Sunday, May 2 on HGTV and will be available to stream on discovery+ beginning that day. (discovery+ is a subscription streaming service on a variety of platforms and devices, including ones from Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Roku and Samsung. You can download the app to your smartphone, tablet or smart TV and pick a subscription plan.) In “Tales from the Takeover,” which will air every Monday beginning May 3, host Jason Pickens will chat with Ben and Erin Napier to get their perspective on each episode of “Home Town Takeover.” Learn more on, and follow @HGTV on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #LOVEMYHOMETOWN for additional content.

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Fans of the classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird can visit the courtroom at the Monroe County Museum, which was the model for the courtroom in the film version. PHOTO COURTESY MONROE COUNTY MUSEUM

Southern S Literary Trail highlights Alabama authors

By Pamela A. Keene tories of renowned authors with Alabama connections run deep; and in some cases, the legends are even deeper. But for people who want to learn more about writers like Truman Capote, Harper Lee or Lillian Hellman, a journey along the Southern Literary Trail through Alabama can help set the records straight. The three-state trail comprises homes, museums, writing centers and cemeteries that highlight 28 Southern 20th century authors, from Margaret Mitchell and Erskine Caldwell to Zelda Fitzgerald and Truman Capote. The brainchild of Alabama attorney William Gantt and representatives of literary sites and communities in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi, the trail was legally established with bylaws and a board of directors in April 2010. “The goal was to honor and recognize how place influenced Southern writers and to preserve their histories,” says Gantt, who serves as chairman of the trail. “Each has an intriguing story to tell and we hope that we’re able to give people further insight about them beyond the contents of the books they’ve written.”


A display about Lillian Hellman and “The Little Foxes” at the Marengo County History and Archives Museum in Demopolis. The dress, a re-creation of the lace dress worn by Bette Davis in the film, was created by Donna Meester, director of costume design and production in the Department of Theatre and Dance at The University of Alabama.

In 2004, two events took place in Alabama and Mississippi that provided the catalyst for the development of the trail. “Organizers in Demopolis had been celebrating Lillian Hellman and in Columbus, Miss., the town hosted Tennessee Williams festivals, so the two groups met that year discuss their respective programs,” Gantt says. “From that meeting, they agreed to contact other communities in the Southeast that celebrated their own authors.” Meetings were held to develop criteria for inclusion of sites and by 2008 they had created a route that traversed the three states. The next year, the first “Trailfest” included performances, tours, readings, film screenings and school programs. “The Southern Literary Trail made its debut at the 2009 Trailfest and generated a great deal of attention in all three states and regionally,” Gantt says. “With funding help from each state’s humanities councils and the


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The Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum in Montgomery contains many of Zelda’s paintings and personal items. PHOTO COURTESY FITZGERALD HOUSE MUSEUM

The Monroe County Museum houses a permanent exhibit, “Truman Capote: A Childhood in Monroeville,” which documents the writer’s connection to Alabama. PHOTO COURTESY MONROE COUNTY MUSEUM

Authors on the Alabama portion of the Southern Literary Trail

• Truman Capote, In Cold Blood, Monroe County Museum,, Monroeville. • Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man, legacy-museum, Tuskegee • Zelda Fitzgerald, Save Me the Waltz, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is The Night, The Fitzgerald House,, Montgomery • Lillian Hellman, The Little Foxes, Another Part of the Forest,, Demopolis • William Bradford Huie, Three Lives for Mississippi, Mud on the Stars,, Hartselle • Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird, Monroe County Museum, Monroeville,, Monroeville • William March, Come in at the Door, Mobile Public Library,, Mobile • Albert Murray, Stomping the Blues,, Mobile, and libraries/legacy-museum, Tuskegee • Eugene Walter, The Untidy Pilgrim, The Byzantine Riddle,, Mobile

For general information about the Southern Literary Trail:; and for the latest information about events and activities: southernliterarytrail. For further details and background:

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National Endowment for the Humanities, we had a successful launch and saw our ideas come to life.” Late in 2020, the board finalized an agreement with Mississippi State University in Starkville to provide a permanent home for the trail. Administrative support includes the services of two library staff members and website maintenance. “Having a physical location and staff support has really made a difference in our work,” Gantt says. “With a centralized website and staff assistance, we are much more able to focus on our collective goals of bringing these Southern authors the recognition they are due. I am so glad we landed there.” The trail also sponsors and/or curates various traveling exhibitions, including a recent exhibition of photography by P.H. Polk and a collection of typewriters used by famous authors.

Honoring Alabama authors

The sites that represent the authors are as diverse as the books they wrote. In some cases, their childhood homes still stand; in others, a visit reveals a peaceful gravesite and an historic marker. “Each town has represented its famous authors in their own way,” Gantt says. “For instance, in Monroeville, the homes of Capote and Lee have been torn down. The Monroeville Museum holds a collection of memorabilia, some manuscripts, newspaper clippings and photographs.” The town also honors Lee with regular productions of To Kill a Mockingbird, staged in the Old Monroe County Courthouse. “As a youngster, Lee, known by her first name Nelle in those days, would go to the courthouse to see her daddy,” says Wanda Green, executive director of the Monroeville Museum. The courthouse was used as inspiration for the set for the film starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. “When people come here, they say it’s like the story has come to life.” In Montgomery, Scott and Zelda rented a home for about a year during their turbulent marriage; at the time they were both writing prolifically—his Tender is the Night and her Save Me the Waltz. “Zelda was from Montgomery, but during her lifetime she traveled extensively with her husband, and they never owned a home,” says Alaina Doton, executive director of the Fitzgerald House Museum. “When she and Scott came back to Montgomery, they rented the home that’s now a museum, with suites that can be rented through Airbnb.” The downstairs of the Fitzgerald House contains the museum with Zelda’s paintings and personal items. Guests can stay in the upstairs apartments, named the Zelda Suite and the Scott Suite, which are separate from the museum. Other authors with Mobile ties include William March, Eugene Walter and Albert Lee Murray. March’s second novel, Come in at the Door, portrays life in small-town Alabama. Walter’s The Untidy Pilgrim was set in Mobile, where he grew up. Murray’s character Scooter in The Train Whistle Guitar, was based on his childhood. Murray met author Ralph Ellison when both attended what was then known as Tuskegee Institute. The two were friends until Ellison’s death in 1994. Although Lillian Hellman didn’t live in Demopolis, she frequently visited family there. “Her great-grandfather was the first Jewish immigrant to Demopolis and became a successful businessman,” Gantt says. “I grew up there and recall stories from people of my parents’ generation who remembered her. In 2007, I was asked to chair the town’s Lillian Hellman Festival; it was an honor.” Many of the town’s buildings, some built by her family, became part of her plays, and the Marengo County Historical Society supports the preservation of such places as Lyon Hall and the Marx Bank Building. “The Southern Literary Trail has helped bring these Southern authors to life and provide a glimpse into what influenced their writings,” Gantt says. “Whether you decide to visit a site close to home or take a journey through the entire trail, you’re sure to find an interesting story and a surprising way to connect with these storytellers.”

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| Worth the drive | Pruett’s Bar-B-Q, on busy Rainbow Drive in Gadsden, serves up barbecue as well as ribs, turkey and catfish.

There’s more to Pruett’s than barbecue Story and photos by Jennifer Kornegay


Customers love the barbecue pork at Pruett’s, but just as popular are the chicken fingers, barbecued chicken and homemade sides.

Pruett’s Bar-B-Q

1617 Rainbow Drive Gadsden, AL 35901 256-547-4118 Hours, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday 24  MAY 2021

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dining scene for decades. “I was born into this, once read that the more active and human-like and we make our own sauce and everything is the pig is on a barbecue joint’s sign, the better homemade, just like always,” Stan says. His parthe ‘cue you’ll find there. The pig helping point ents owned and operated the now-closed barbepeople to Pruett’s Bar-B-Q in Gadsden appears cue joints Touchdown in Oxford and then Goal to have just returned from catching a catfish as big as he is, while wearing cutoff Post in Anniston. Betty’s BBQ in Anniston is run overalls and smoking a pipe. If the above by Stan’s younger sister and named for his mom. assertion holds any truth, then the barFollowing in his family’s smoke trail, he opened becue at this longstanding spot frontPruett’s in 1976. ing busy Rainbow Drive should be For regulars, Pruett’s is more than a place to get delicious. fed. They sit at the red- or black-checkered tables Good news: It is. Fourteen hours in the noisy dining room they’ve been frequenting for years, where they get served their favorite cooking in the pit renders moist, dishes from friendly waitresses who are like famchopped pork infused with a modest ily. “We’ve got staff who’ve been with us for more hardwood smoke that balances nicely than 20 years, and we’ve just got a good crew here,” with Pruett’s thin, tangy and slightly Stan says. sweet sauce and ribs They keep coming to the that are “teeth-not-necessary” tender. According spot where they swap news and to owner Stan Pruett, these two jokes and stories with friends items are the best sellers. “We go between every bite. “We’re a through approximately 4,000 gathering place for the city, and pounds of pork each there’s a sense of community in week,” he says. And here,” says Christy Pruett, Stan’s Pruett’s serves beef ex-wife who still works at the and chicken barberestaurant. Stan elaborates on cue, too. this point: “There are so many But many Pruett’s Stan Pruett opened his Gadsden people who came here as kids eatery in 1976, and all the recipes loyalists are drawn come from his family. and now bring their own kids by the restaurant’s in,” he says. “We’re kinda a tradition for a lot of people.” non-barbecue items. The turkey Like restaurants of all kinds and sizes across sandwich (a thick slice of smoked the country, the Pruett’s tradition was threatened bird breast with crisp lettuce and tomato) is popular. Golden-fried fillets last year, with shutdowns and restrictions due to of flaky catfish (all farm raised) are COVID-19 making an already tough business beloved. Fat, juicy chicken fingers eneven tougher. But thanks to plenty of determinarobed in a heavy but crunchy crust get tion and a pinch of luck — like already having a high ratings too. (Insiders often indulge in well-run drive-thru called Lil’ Pruett’s right next a delight not on the menu, a grilled cheese on door — Pruett’s survived the worst of the pandemic. “It was never as bad as we first feared,” Stan Texas toast with nuggets of chopped-up chicken says, adding, “We feel real fortunate to have stayed finger studding the melty insides.) as busy as we did, but I think it because our food The sweet potato fluff (tasty tubers cooked is consistent, and people have come to rely on us down, whipped smooth and embellished with a being here.” copious amount of brown sugar) is served as a Stan may call his restaurant a tradition, but side but is also (appropriately) featured under the many Gadsden residents would tell you Pruett’s menu’s dessert section and has earned a coveted is more than that; it’s a city landmark, and that’s place on the “100 Alabama Dishes to Eat Before a designation that makes Stan smile even on the You Die” list. And most patrons can’t leave without a wide wedge of lemon icebox or rich chocohardest, longest days. “This business is a lot of late fudge pie. work, and I’ve been doing it for 45 years,” he says. All of Pruett’s recipes come from Stan’s family, “But it’s a really good feeling to know that what we which has been a fixture in Northeast Alabama’s are doing matters to so many people. I like that.”

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| Alabama People |

Catherine Coleman Flowers

Caring for ‘the least of these’ I first met Catherine Coleman Flowers when she was a high school student in Lowndes County in 1975, and I was a reporter at the Alabama Journal newspaper in Montgomery. Even then, she was working to improve the education of public school students and was recognized for her activist spirit as a teenager. Now, nearly five decades later, Flowers is still working to improve her community, documenting the inadequate septic systems in her county that cause raw sewage and toxic waste to back up into homes, resulting in exorbitant bills and creating a health hazard. Her efforts earned her the prestigious 2021 MacArthur Fellowship, which carries a $625,000 prize. She is the only member from Alabama in the current class of 21. The award announcement noted, “In the midst of civil unrest, a global pandemic, natural disasters, and conflagrations, this year’s class of 21 exceptionally creative individuals offers a moment for celebration. They are asking critical questions, developing innovative technologies and public policies, enriching our understanding of the human condition, and producing works of art that provoke and inspire.” Flowers is also the author of Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret (2020, The New Press), which details her ongoing fight to secure basic sanitation for poor, rural areas of the state. She is founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice and since 2008 has been rural development manager for the Equal Justice Initiative. Most recently, she was named by President Joe Biden to the inaugural Environmental Justice Advisory Council. Although she stays busy working with scientists and other experts to find an affordable, workable solution to wastewater issues not only in Alabama but nationwide, she was able to answer a few questions for us. – Lenore Vickrey 26  MAY 2021

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How did growing up in a rural part of Alabama influence your career path? Growing up in rural Alabama made me more appreciative of the natural world and made me community oriented. It influenced my appreciation for nature and my desire to care for the earth and for people. What motivates you to work so tirelessly on behalf of others who need help? I am inspired by the example of my parents who were servant-leaders and by my faith which instructs me to care for “the least of these.” What was your reaction when you heard you had won a MacArthur Genius Grant? I was stunned and grateful to be acknowledged. I had to put the phone down and do the holy dance in celebration and gratitude.


The grant is an honor for the state and for the work you’ve done. Have you thought about how the cash stipend could be used? I will use the grant to pursue technologies that will change the wastewater treatment paradigm. You write in your book, Waste, that the fight for adequate wastewater treatment shouldn’t be a partisan issue, and that some of your earliest help came from conservatives Bob Woodson and former Sen. Jeff Sessions. Do you think this kind of bipartisan support is still possible? I have encountered people on both sides of the aisle that have been sold failing wastewater treatment technologies. There is a desire across the board to find technologies that will work, come with a long-term service warranty, and will not fail due to weather events. When we create this technology, people will want it because it really works. What inspires you to keep speaking out and standing up for others who don’t have a voice? I am inspired by the love of justice and fairness, as well as the many examples in my life such as my parents, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Robert Kennedy and Jesus Christ.

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New fact sheets added to your online statement


our Social Security Statement tells you how much you or your family can expect to receive in disability, survivors, and retirement benefits. It also provides a record of your earnings history and other valuable information. And now it’s even better! We’ve added new fact sheets to accompany the online Statement. The fact sheets are designed to provide clear and useful information, based on your age group and earnings. They can help you better understand Social Security programs and benefits.

Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at

The new Statement fact sheets cover the following topics: • Retirement readiness for workers in four age groups. • Workers with non-covered earnings who may be subject to the Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset. • Social Security basics for new workers. • How people become eligible for benefits (for people who have not earned enough work credits). • How additional work can increase your future benefits. • Medicare readiness for workers age 62 and up. The best way to get access to your Statement and the new fact sheets is by using your personal my Social Security account. If you don’t have a personal my Social Security account, be sure to create one at To learn more, visit our Social Security Statement webpage at Please share these resources with your friends and family.

A literary puzzle for May Across 1 Author of Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man, Fannie ____ 4 Author of An Exile, ____ Jones 10 Target 11 Lao Tzu principle 12 Four Spirits, a novel by ____ Jeter Naslund 14 Author of The House Next Door by Anne ___ Siddons 15 Food fish 17 Title for a queen 19 Author of Home Fires Burning (goes with 28 across) 21 Author of Alabama, One Big Front Porch, Kathryn Tucker _____ 23 Melville novel setting 25 2002 book by Rick Bragg about the grandfather he never knew, 2 words 27 British Gothic novelist Radcliffe 28 See 19 across 31 Evelyn ____: one of the main characters in Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe 34 Wicked City based on Phenix City, Alabama, written by ____ Atkins 35 Auto insurer with roadside service 36 All Over but the Shoutin’ by Rick _____ 37 13-year-old character in Nanci Kinkaid’s As Hot As It Was You Ought to Thank Me Down 2 Iconic Alabama writer who wrote Go Set a Watchman, Harper ____ 3 Homegoing by Yaa ____ , a family saga encompassing seven generations 4 Yo-Yo, cellist 5 Broadcast 6 Key of Mozart’s “Requiem” (2 words) 7 Author of Just Mercy, Bryan _____ 8 Rowboat equipment 9 Negative answers 28  MAY 2021

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12 13 16 18 20

Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the ____” Crazy in _____ by Mark Childress Opposite of off Cocktail mix ingredient ____ Whistle Guitar by Albert Murray, born in Nokomis, Alabama 22 Insult, slangily

by Myles Mellor

24 Author of A Christmas Memory set in Alabama, Truman _____ 25 “The greatest boxer” 26 Amiable 29 Business degree, abbr. 30 Criticize a lot 32 Chevy, for one 33 Horse food

Answers on Page 49

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May | Around band Cold Front. Admission is $5; kids 5 and under are free. Search for the public group Festival at the Well on Facebook.


Auburn/Opelika, Lee County Master Gardeners Association 2021 Garden Tour. This year’s self-guided tour, Spring Stroll, will showcase 12 unique gardens from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Advance tickets are $35; children under 12 admitted free. Lunch included, as is a bonus garden at the Auburn University president’s home. Rain or shine.

21-23 Actress and storyteller Dolores Hydock has collected the stories of Ninette Griffith for the one-woman play, “In Her Own Fashion.” PHOTO COURTESY DOLORES HYDOCK



Fitzpatrick, Red Door Theatre’s production of “In Her Own Fashion,” written and told by Dolores Hydock. Hydock is a well-known actress and storyteller, and brings several funny, tender and surprising stories to life on stage as Ninette Griffith, fashion coordinator for Loveman’s Department Store in Birmingham in the 1950s and 1960s. In light of COVID-19 concerns, the Red Door Theatre has moved its productions to Dream Field Farms, 13 miles west of Union Springs on U.S. 82. 334-738-8687 or email


Foley, 17th annual Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival at the Park at OWA. More than 50 balloons from across the country are scheduled to take part. Flights and displays are weather dependent, taking place only at dusk and dawn when conditions permit. Find a complete schedule and list of activities, including live music, arts and crafts and food vendors and tethered rides, at


Decatur, Greater Morgan County Builders

Association 2021 Home and Garden Show, Ingalls Harbor Pavilion. 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. or call 256318-9161.


Arley, 47th annual Arley Day in Hamner Park, 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The day begins with a parade, followed by a car show, food, rides, games, arts and crafts and other vendors. Free admission. Search Arley Day 2021 on Facebook.


Arab, Poke Salat Festival, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. in downtown Arab. Artisans, vendors, entertainment, a food court and more at this community event where everyone gathers for a taste of poke salat, a dish discovered by German settlers and cooked from the wild poke weed plant. DowntownArab. com


Glenwood, Festival at the Well. Event begins at 9 a.m. with a parade through the downtown area that ends at the well. There will be live entertainment all day, with arts and crafts and food vendors and activities for children. A street dance that evening will feature the

Pell City, 10th annual Logan Martin LakeFest and Boat Show, Lakeside Park. Live music all weekend. For more information, follow the event’s page on Facebook.


D e c a t u r , Alabama Jubilee Hot-Air Balloon Classic, Point Mallard Park. Pilots from across the U.S. will compete in various races. In addition to balloon races, there will be live entertainment, an arts and crafts show, antique car, tractor and engine show, and food court.



Georgiana, 42nd annual Hank Williams Festival, 127 Rose St. Gates open at 2 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday. Among the musicians set to perform are T.G. Sheppard on Friday and Mark Wills on Saturday. Food and arts and crafts vendors will be on site. The museum will also be open for tours. Weekend pass is $40; Friday only is $20, and Saturday only is $30.


Cullman, 20th annual Cullman Touring Farms for Kids, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., ages 7-13. Two days of farm tours in Cullman County. Food and T-shirts will be provided. Parents are welcome to attend but may need to drive separately. $25 per person. Contact the North Alabama Agriplex at 256-297-1044 or visit



Marion, 26th annual Marion Rodeo, Perry County Cattlemen’s Ralph Eagle Memorial Arena. Gates open at 6 p.m.; children’s events begin at 6:30, with the rodeo at 7:30. Event is sanctioned by the Professional Cowboys Association and produced by the 3R Rodeo Company of Jemison. 334-4100748.


Brewton, 40th annual Alabama Blueberry Festival, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Jennings Park. Free. Arts and crafts, antique car show, children’s area, live entertainment and plenty of blueberry ice cream, cobbler and crunch. Search for the event’s page on Facebook.


Guntersv il le , Guntersville Lake Hydrofest, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days. In addition to competitive boat racing, there will be activities for children and events in surrounding towns. For tickets and more info, visit GuntersvilleLakeHydrofest. com

SUMMER Mobile, Wonderful Wednesdays at Bellingrath Gardens and Home. This weekly series will begin June 2 and continue through July 28. The series will help gardeners make the most of our extended growing season. or call 251-4598864. Statewide, “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 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. The first stop is June 26 at Oakville Indian Mounds Education Center in Danville; the second is Aug. 20 at Guntersville Museum. and

Call or verify events before you make plans to attend. Due to the changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, some events may change or be canceled after press time. To place an event, e-mail or visit You can also mail to Events Calendar, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124; Each submission must include a contact name and phone number. Deadline is two months prior to issue date. We regret that we cannot publish every event due to space limitations.

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PET HEALTH Alabama has many responsible, caring breeders. But could our society benefit from regulated, educated dog and cat breeders?

If buying from a breeder, be an educated consumer F

or months now, I have written about chronic diseases in pets. But my big interest has always been to reduce the suffering of dogs and cats. This month we will talk about some needless suffering these little ones endure. It was a busy Saturday afternoon when we got a frantic call about a puppy that had not eaten for three days. The tiny puppy was cute as a bug, weighing only four pounds. We found out that he was also throwing up and having diarrhea. The owners had bought him from a local flea market a week before. They were told that the puppy was an 8-week-old Catahoula Leopard dog and all the vaccinations were up-to-date. The puppy was gravely ill and looked more like a young smaller breed dog. He tested positive for Parvo. After a long discussion with the owners, we decided to not let the puppy suffer any longer. In my mind, this was a pure waste of life! So, what went wrong? Parvo is an easily preventable disease with proper vaccinations, and the cost is quite reasonable. On the other hand, even when treated at home, treatment costs run around $200 and hospitalization costs can be anywhere between $300 to $600, even up to $1,200 depending on how upscale the hospital is! And we are not even addressing the extreme suffering that these poor creatures go through! The vaccines for Parvo are available at many sources in our rural counties. Granted, the technology used in over-the-counter vaccines is a bit long in the tooth, and we vets have witnessed some vaccine failures, but it is still better than none! As a profession, have we failed to educate the general public that by properly vaccinating the mom, keeping premises sanitized, and vaccinating the pups in time, Parvo is an easily preventable disGoutam Mukherjee, DVM, MS, Ph.D. (Dr. G) has been a veterinarian for more than 30 years. He owns High Falls Holistic Veterinary Care near Geraldine, Alabama. To suggest topics for future discussions, email him at

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ease? I think we have. I have come across many dog owners who either experienced the dreaded disease or heard about it but do not truly understand what it takes to prevent this scourge. At this point, I should say kudos to ALL the responsible and caring breeders out there! However, in this case, it seems like this breeder was not all that forthcoming and probably was not a class act! I feel that some breeders lack the basic knowledge for proper dog breeding and care. Could this have been prevented if all the breeders were properly educated? Of course, but how to achieve that? • Proper education that can come with online courses and certification. • Some regulatory reform and willingness to enforce a minimal-care standard. Interestingly, the USDA has already set up such standards but there is a lack of enforcement. • Buyer awareness. As buyers, we could interview the seller, inspect their premises, ask for a veterinary health certificate, and do not impulse buy. Voluntary certification could work, but usually, people find a way to get around specific words like “pasture-raised” chickens. Will regulations work? Of course, but I am aware how unappetizing the word “regulations” is to us Alabamians! I do not see any rule changes in the foreseeable future. However, I am convinced that short of proper legislation and ways to enforce standards, voluntary efforts are highly likely to fail, at least in the short term. In the meantime, we can educate the buyers. The “puppy mills” will never stop selling unless we stop buying. If we can’t stop uncaring, uneducated breeders perhaps the burden lies on educating people on what to demand of breeders. Now, to be clear, I have never bought a dog in my life. I support rescues. But the reality is that people will continue to buy and sell dogs (and cats) for decades to come. So, instead of ignoring their existence, we want to make the best of the given situation.

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| Gardens |

Sun-worshiping plants for the summer garden


unlight is essential to life, espiece concept as a garden feature pecially in the plant world. using sun-loving species that can But some plants appear to be planted in-ground, in raised not just need sunlight, they seem to beds or in containers in a clockworship it. This time of year, when face or a sundial style arrangement. the sun’s rays are most abundant, is • Group a selection of heliotropic an ideal time to watch those plants and nyctinastic plants in a sunny in action. spot in the yard or mingled in with Before we talk about those other summer perennials, including daylilies. (By the way, daylilies plants, though, let’s talk a little science. As you probably know, the are not nyctinastic, they simply process of photosynthesis allows produce blooms that last a single plants to capture light and use it day, though reblooming and everblooming cultivars are available.) to turn water, carbon dioxide and Primroses are among the plants that open up as the sun goes down. • Enjoy the patterns of your own minerals into food. Because of this, den plan using plants that open or close at garden by stopping long enough to many plants grow toward a light source, a specific times of day to tell time simply by pay attention to plants at different process called positive phototropism. (By observing their activity. There’s no record times of day and night, including the the way, negative phototropism, such as that Linnaeus ever accomplished this feat, peas and beans in your vegetable garwhen plant roots grow away from light, is though several others tried with only little den. also a thing.) success because variations in temperatures, • Worship the sun by planting summer These aren’t the only ways plants rerainfall and other uncontrollable factors spond to the sun. A number of plants — and fall-producing vegetables such as affected the accuracy of these timekeeping morning glories, most daisies, tulips, magtomatoes, okra, eggplants, peppers, plants. nolias, altheas, dandelions, some lettuces melons, field peas, squash, corn, sweet We, however, can use the fascinating and many legumes like beans, peas and potatoes and pumpkins. responses plants have to sunlight as inspialfalfa — close their blooms and/or furl ration and entertainment in our own sumtheir leaves at night. Other plants such as These are just a few ideas of ways to wormer gardens — a chance to see science and ship the sun and the remarkable natural moonflowers, evening primroses, datura, beauty in action. Here are a few ideas. rhythms of the plants we adore in our own four-o’clocks and several lilies, orchids and • Plant sunflowers along fences, in landscapes. Many ideas are available in cacti open as the sun goes down. Plants in garden beds, interspersed with other books, periodicals and online and through either category are called nyctinastic and sun-loving plants in beds or a meadnearby gardening experts such as Master are responding to their innate circadian cyow setting or in small geometrical cles rather than to light as a direct stimulus. Gardeners, landscape professionals and looutlines to create a sunflower house. cal garden centers. Still others actually pivot their blooms Sunflowers are available in an array and leaves to track the sun from east to of heights, flower sizes and colors west, a reaction known as heliotropism. MAY TIPS (from bright yellow to reds, oranges This category of plants includes young • Take and begin rooting cuttings from and burgundies) and can be sown in sunflowers (once sunflowers are mature, many perennial shrubs and trees. successive plantings so something is they stop tracking the sun and orient to• Apply mulch to garden beds and newly blooming throughout the summer. ward the east), buttercups, artic poppies planted trees and shrubs to keep down They also provide food for birds and and (as their name suggests) heliotropes. weeds and help retain soil moisture. other wildlife, cut flowers for your taHeliotropism is believed to help with pho• Keep new plantings and containerized ble and hours of enjoyment. tosynthesis but also with reproduction— plants well-watered. • Create your own Linnaeus-style floral pollinators prefer warm flowers—and seed • Look out for insect and disease problems and treat as needed. clock by using a selection of nyctinasdevelopment. • Refresh water in birdbaths and tic plants that open and close at regHumankind has been fascinated with ornamental ponds to reduce mosquito ular hours such as lilies, primroses, plants’ responses to sunlight for eons. In populations. four-o’clocks, marigolds and moonfact, Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern • Choose native and heat- and droughtflowers. (Learn more at www.linnean. taxonomy, even designed a floral clock gartolerant plants whenever possible to org, The Linnean Society of London’s reduce water usage and your workload. website.) Or design a botanical timeKatie Jackson is a freelance • Wear sun protection! writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at

Mirabilis Four-O'Clocks.

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H20 with a higher purpose Autaugaville water bottler says success flows naturally

Marquis Forge founded Eleven86 water bottling on a promise to a community.

Story and photos by Jim Plott


iri, the Apple virtual assistant, might not always be good to its word, but Marquis Forge certainly is. Forge vowed during his valedictorian speech at the Autaugaville High School graduation in 1995 to one day do something to benefit his hometown. “I made a promise to that graduation audience that I would not forget where I came from … that I would try to do something to pay back the community that helped raise me,” Forge says. “I had seen too many people grow up, move off and never come back.” Fast forward 23 years. In April 2018, MRaine Industries, with Forge at the helm, began producing bottled water using the artesian waters that flow out of the ground in Autaugaville. Today, the 225,000-square-foot bottling plant has 19 employees with plans to hire more as it grows, and its product distribution area has expanded from Alabama to the Southeast and Midwest. More about Siri later. Forge, one of seven children, had a determination that enabled him to excel in the high school classroom and on the football field while also holding down a job. Rufus Pearson, who died in July 2020, said shortly after Forge opened the Autaugaville business that Forge, even in his high school days, had the drive and tenacity that many people search for all their lives. Pearson was the owner of Pearson Industries, a rope manufacturing plant 10 miles away in Prattville. “His sister worked for us, and he came here looking for a job,” Pearson said at the time. “He was working after school on our second shift, which ended at 11:30 at night, and then he had to drive home way on the other side of Autaugaville. He also worked summers with us.” After high school, Forge attended the University of Alabama where he was a walk-on on the football team and later earned a scholarship. Once he earned a college degree, Forge help found a successful company connected with Alabama’s rising automobile manufacturing industry. 34  MAY 2021

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After the death of a family friend, Forge came home to offer condolences to the family. While in Autaugaville, he paid a visit to F.B. Ward, his high school principal, who had since retired and was serving as Autaugaville mayor. “During our conversation I asked what I could do to help the town, and he told me about a water bottling plant that was sitting empty,” Forge says. “I’m in the automotive business and I know how to build a plant and make it run, but I didn’t know anything about artesian wells other than remembering them when I was growing up.”

The genesis of Eleven86

Forge said he spent nearly two years learning about water and praying for guidance. Maneuvering through business dealings was another hurdle. He and his business partners couldn’t reach an agreement on the existing building, and getting financing on a new building didn’t come until he had approached nearly 20 lenders. “Nobody wanted to lend money for a big building out in the country,” he says. Once everything was in place, Forge and his partners began searching for a product name. They consulted Siri. “We wanted something biblically based. We asked Siri (to tell us how many chapters are) in the Bible, and the answer came back 1,186,” Forge says. “We later learned the correct number was 1,189, but by that time everything was in place. That’s OK. God made man on the sixth day.” (The spelling ensures it’s pronounced “eleven eighty-six.”) Artesian wells are not uncommon in Autauga County. Numerous free-flowing wells are scattered throughout Autaugaville while Prattville gets its nickname, the Fountain City, from the number of artesian fountains found in the city. The concept of bottling the water is also hardly new in Autaugaville. At least two other vendors have tried bottling the water, but their businesses failed.

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Forge knew the odds, but he thinks the perseverance he learned as a youth and on the football field is paying off. Shortly after opening the company, he teamed up with a marketing distributor, and Forge hopes the product will key its own success. “It is a very smooth water, and it seems at least to me like it almost rejuvenates the body,” he says. “We are selling it at a mainstream cost; this is not a $4 bottle of water because we want everybody to enjoy it.”

to health officials. MRaine Industries was also granted bottled water and food permits before production began. “Eleven86 is only at the beginning of its journey,” Forge says. “The incredible feedback and support our consumers give us has been fueling our passion to continue spreading into new markets as fast as we can.” Autaugaville Mayor Curtis Stoudemire said he expects the bottling plant to have a positive impact on the town and is pleased Just the beginning that a natural resource is being used to proThe water is produced deep underduce jobs and help the economy. ground in the Eutaw aquifer. MRaine In- Eleven86 water has gradually increased its “As kids we more or less took the water dustries tapped into it by digging a well and market area since its founding in April 2018. for granted; it was just there near the playground at school,” Stoudemire says. “We pumping the water into the plant which didn’t know of its purity and probably didn’t care. We just knew has the capability to produce 14,400 16.9-ounce bottles of water we were thirsty and it was hot and the water coming out was alan hour. In 2020 the company sold more than 10 million bottles ways cool.” and has expanded the product as far as Kansas and Missouri. While Forge is hoping to see his business grow, he said he is The water was named the official bottled water of the state of Alabama and is distributed statewide by Budweiser. If you’re staying already reaping rewards. at a Retirement Systems of Alabama resort, such as the Grand Ho“After we had hired our first group of employees, the seventel or Ross Bridge, Eleven86 is the water you’ll find in your room. year-old son of one of those employees wanted to see the well,” You’ll also find it at all the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail courses Forge says. “While we were showing him the well he said, ‘My in Alabama. mother needs this job so she can be closer to home.’ I can’t tell you The water is tested twice weekly by a laboratory and submitted how that made me feel.”


Gather your best photos and get ready to enter the Alabama Living 2021 photo contest starting May 1 on Submit up to two entries per category:

• Seasons • Animals • People • Alabama travels

Entries will be accepted online only, May 1-31. All photos must have been taken in Alabama. Winning photos will be published in the August 2021 issue and periodically on our social media sites. First-place winners in each category will receive $100! 2020 first place in Rural Landscapes: Drew Senter of Oxford, Ala.

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Complete rules posted on

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| Consumer Wise |

THREE WAYS to save energy outdoors By Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen


During summertime, the deck becomes our kitchen, and my wife and I spend most of our free time in the backyard. We’ve invested a lot of time and effort making the interior of our home more energy efficient, but we’re wondering if there are ways we can save energy outdoors as well.


The most common way to save energy during summer months is lowering your cooling costs indoors. Since you and your wife are spending a lot of time outdoors, you can certainly save energy and money by reducing your air conditioning use inside. Setting the thermostat just a few degrees higher can make quite a difference. But to answer your main question, yes–– there are ways to save energy outdoors. Here are three:

1. Pumps and maintenance


Doing annual maintenance on outdoor pumps, like the swimming pool pump shown here, can make it more energy efficient. PHOTO COURTESY MICHAEL COGHLAN

Many of us have one or more pumps that service our yard or reside on our property. Pumps can supply water for a swimming pool, your lawn and garden, or your septic system or well. It’s easy to let maintenance slip, which cuts the pump’s efficiency and shortens its life. Maintaining pumps involves cleaning the filters or checking oil and belts. If you have multiple pumps and need to hire a professional for assistance, try to do all the maintenance at once to reduce the overall cost. You may also want to consider replacing older pumps with energy efficient ENERGY STAR®-rated ones before they break down. While you’re at it, check for leaks in the water lines, which make your pumps work harder and longer.

2. Outdoor lighting

If you have security lighting, there’s a good chance you can save a little energy. Some security lights can be 500 to 1000 watts. That’s the equivalent of 40 to 80 indoor LED bulbs––quite a lot of energy! Adding timers, motion sensors and light sensors can reduce your 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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bulb energy use. Plus, when you use your lights less often, your neighbors may appreciate a little less light pollution! Switching to LEDs is another great strategy. Solar lights are also a good way to light walkways, a water feature or your deck–– without having to buy any electricity at all.

Solar landscape lighting is a popular outdoor lighting option, and they use natural energy from the sun. PHOTO COURTESY CREATIVE COMMONS

3. Grilling

Using your oven can raise your kitchen’s temperature up to 10 degrees, increasing the need for running your air c o n d i t i o n e r, so grilling outdoors is a great way to save energy. If you like to barbecue Cooking all the courses on the grill eliminates the or grill most need to turn on the kitchen stove. of your meals, PHOTO COURTESY SCOTT VAN OSDOL you may want to consider the fuel you use. If natural gas is available, it’s usually much less expensive than propane. Natural gas is also convenient because you don’t have to refill any tanks like you would with propane. On the downside, if you don’t already have gas lines running to your patio or deck, the cost of installing them can be prohibitive. Other fuel types like charcoal briquettes or wood take more preparation and can be fussy to work with, and charcoal grills emit three times as much carbon as gas grills. Whichever fuel type you choose for your grill, you can save energy by barbecuing (keeping the lid closed during cooking) rather than grilling (cooking with the lid off at higher heat). Hopefully these ideas will help you enjoy your outdoor living space this summer––and help you save energy!

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Alabama Living

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| Outdoors |

Experience nature up close from canoes and kayaks


ith gasoline prices soaring dramatically, people might also fish ponds and other places where people could never launch look for more economical ways to enjoy the outdoors. a large boat. In such places, they might find giant fish that rarely With paddle-powered boats, sportsmen can fish, obsee lures. serve wildlife, shoot photos and explore nature all day without Many paddlers like to drift rivers. This involves floating with spending a penny on fuel. the current to a take-out point. Paddlers would need to prepo“A good canoe or kayak costs about $800 to $1,000,” says Wes sition a second vehicle downstream or arrange for a pick-up so Brown, president of the Huntsville Canoe Club. “We absolutely they can return to their original launching point and retrieve advocate for safety on the water. Always wear a properly fitted their vehicle. Coast Guard approved Type 3 personal flotation device, which With thousands of river and lake miles in Alabama, paddlers costs about $30 to $50.” can find unlimited places to go. Beginning paddlers should probSome “dugouts,” boats made from hollowed out logs, date back ably team up with more experienced people and start on more more than 10,000 years. Native Americans made canoes from placid streams and lakes for short trips. tree bark. In the Arctic, indigenous peoples made boats from seal “For someone who just wants to get out on the water occasionskins covering bone or ivoally, I suggest looking for ry frames. The word “kayan outfitter near home or ak” comes from the native in a place they would like word “qajaq,” meaning to paddle,” Brown says. “surface top.” Today, most “People can usually rent people use canoes or kaycanoes and all the equipaks made from aluminum ment for $50 to $60 a day.” or synthetic materials. In northern Alabama, “People can buy a twoBrown recommends the man kayak, but most are Flint River, which runs for one person,” Brown about 66 miles from Linsays. “For paddling with coln County, Tennessee more than one person, get to Madison County, Alaa large canoe. With a large bama. He also suggests the canoe, a mom, dad and Cahaba River. small child could enjoy “The Flint River has a day on the water in just several sections that peoone boat.” ple can paddle, depending Before taking to the waupon how far they want to ter, invest in a dry box to go,” Brown says. “It flows hold gear and supplies, althrough a lot of scenic unTwo kayakers ride the current in a swift Alabama river. In Alabama, paddlers can though some kayaks come developed territory. The find all types of places to explore from very placid swampy backwater creeks to with dry storage. Also buy whitewater mountain streams. Cahaba River is another a floating waterproof bag good place for beginners PHOTO COURTESY HUNTSVILLE CANOE CLUB to hold wallets, cameras, to go and not face anything phones, keys and other important items. they can’t handle. In May, people can see the Cahaba lilies bloomPaddlers can venture into the smallest places where large moing. Unless people wanted to hike along the river, they would torboats can never travel. Not confined to launch ramps, paddlers never see a Cahaba lily without a canoe or kayak.” can simply carry a light craft and drop it into any waters they The longest free-flowing river entirely within Alabama and one wish. Then, they can move along a stream slowly and quietly of the most scenic, the Cahaba River runs about 194 miles from without scaring fish or wildlife. On waters with little access or near Birmingham to its confluence with the Alabama River in those unsuitable for larger boat traffic, paddlers can fish or just Dallas County. The Cahaba is also one of the most biologically observe nature in places that few people ever see. diverse streams in the nation. Found only along the Cahaba River Often, paddlers discover outstanding fishing in virtually unor in parts of Georgia and South Carolina, Cahaba lilies normally touched waters. Sometimes, tiny ditches too narrow or shallow bloom from early May to mid-June. for larger boats lead to seldom fished “lost” lakes. Paddlers can In southern Alabama, the Bartram Canoe Trail, really a web of paddling routes, wanders through the sprawling Mobile-Tensaw Delta wetlands. Watered by the Mobile, Tensaw and several othJohn N. Felsher is a professional freelance writer who lives in er rivers, the 250,000-acre wetland wilderness includes marshes, Semmes, Ala. He also hosts an outdoors tips show for WAVH FM cypress-tupelo swamps and bottomland hardwood forests pockTalk 106.5 radio station in Mobile, Ala. Contact him at j.felsher@ or through Facebook. marked by numerous backwater lakes and streams in Mobile and Baldwin counties. 40  MAY 2021

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

The Moon Clock and resulting Moon Times were developed 40 years ago by Doug Hannon, one of America’s most trusted wildlife experts and a tireless inventor. The Moon Clock is produced by DataSport, Inc. of Atlanta, GA, a company specializing in wildlife activity time prediction. To order the 2021 Moon Clock, go to Alabama Living

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| Alabama Recipes |


Highs 'n Lows

Sugar is certainly sweet, but too much of this good thing can be a real downer for your health. By Jennifer Kornegay


lot of us enjoy treats like ice cream, cookies, donuts, candy and other sweets, but the refined sugars and high-fructose corn syrup that give these delights the taste we love have been shown by multiple studies to be addictive (some suggest as addictive as illegal drugs), meaning often, the more sugar we consume, the more we crave, creating a real sugar rush. This seems to be collectively true: The amount of sugar the average American eats annually has been steadily rising for several decades. According to the American Heart Association, adults currently take in approximately 60 pounds of added sugar every year, three times more than most nutritionists recommend for women and almost twice the amount recommended for men. This increase is a problem for a few reasons. First, indulging in too much sugar can lead to weight gain, which can bring on a host of health issues. Helen Jones, MS, LD, regional extension agent, nutrition, diet and health with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, explained how a reduction in sugar intake can result in a healthier weight and better health outcomes. “Less added sugar can help stop weight gain and fat buildup that’s linked to heart disease,” she says. “According to the American Dietary Guidelines, you need only 15 percent of your calories from added sugar.” Even if you’ve got a hummingbird’s metabolism (or some other blessing from the weight gods), and sugar doesn’t cause

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you to carry around a few extra pounds, a diet high in sugar can have other negative impacts, as it can bump up the likelihood of developing several serious conditions and diseases. “Even if you're at a healthy weight, you may be able to lower your heart disease risk when you cut back [on sugar],” Jones says. She also noted that consuming too much sugar can increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes, chronic inflammation, high blood pressure, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, high cholesterol, tooth cavities and more. On the flipside, Jones stressed that cutting down the amount of sugar you eat can bring health benefits. “Reducing the amount of sugar in the diet can help a person reduce their risk of all the health conditions that excessive sugar is linked to,” she says. “And replacing high sugar foods with healthful options can help a person get all of their essential vitamins and minerals without the added calories.”

Be aware of 'hidden' sugar

While minimizing sugar in your diet takes determination and willpower, it also takes a little work. Not only is sugar packed into the obvious items, like desserts and sugary snacks, it’s also lurking (in alarmingly high amounts) in many packaged and processed savory foods, things like pasta sauce, marinades and even canned soups. This “hidden” sugar leaves a lot of us unaware of the true level of sugar we’re ingesting, so thoroughly reading the ingredient lists and nutrition labels on all the food you buy is important.

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Jones also recommends setting realistic and attainable goals and not being too restrictive too quickly. “People wishing to adopt a no-sugar diet plan should do so gradually. Alternating the diet plan or eating sugar on special occasions may help some people cope with the loss of sweetness in the diet,” she says. And in some instances, going 100-percent sugar-free is not necessary for optimal health. In many cases, moderation is the key. “Cutting back on sugar is a good idea for many people, as it helps reduce the risk of numerous conditions and can improve a person’s overall health,” Jones says. Jones warned that simply ditching sugar doesn’t guarantee weight loss or a long, healthy life and advised talking to a doctor before making a major change to your diet. “Eliminating sugar from the diet is not a complete solution for weight loss.

Flavor-full and sugar-free recipes, Pages 44-45

It is part of a lifestyle change that should also involve regular exercise and a nutritious diet,” she says. “Anyone looking to start following a no-sugar diet should speak to a doctor, dietitian or nutritionist, especially if they have any underlying health conditions.” Whatever route is best for your personal health — less sugar or no sugar — you don’t have to live life constantly feeling deprived. Check out these sugar-free recipes on the next two pages that deliver flavor without the detrimental effects of excess sugar.

Start slow Helen Jones, a regional extension agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, offered these tips for folks looking to gradually reduce the amount of sugar they eat (and drink!). And when she says “sugar,” she’s including white and brown table sugar, syrups, molasses and honey. •Cut back on the amount of sugar added to things you eat or drink regularly, like cereal, pancakes, coffee and tea. •Try cutting the usual amount of sugar you add by half and wean from there. •Toss the soft drinks out of your diet. •When you need a little sweet in your life, opt for a sugar substitute. Try the different ones to find the one that suits your tastes.

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Homemade brownies are easier than you think! Now you can have them sugar-free! With a whole new market of great sugar substitutes that are cup for cup replacements, even those of us watching our sugar can still enjoy Brooke Burks sweets from time to time. Made with ingredients that are common in your pantry and refrigerator, you will never have to buy box brownies again! Easy and delicious, they are a real crowd pleaser. And you don’t even have to tell anyone they are sugar-free! Find more recipes at

Homemade Brownies (Sugar-free) 1 1/4 cup self-rising flour 2/3 cup cocoa 1 teaspoon salt 2 cups Swerve sugar substitute 1 cup melted butter 3 eggs, beaten 1 teaspoon vanilla Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients well with a whisk. Add wet ingredients one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan lightly with cooking spray. Spread brownie mix evenly in pan. Bake 30-40 minutes. Cool in pan for 10-15 minutes, cut and serve. Enjoy!

Photo by The Buttered Home

Cook of the Month: Robin O'Sullivan, Wiregrass EC Robin O’Sullivan admits she has a bit of a peanut butter cup problem. “They are probably my favorite food,” she says. “I could eat them all day.” But since she tries to keep her diet from getting truly overloaded with sugar and calories, she often opts for this sugar-free version of the sweet treat. “I tried several variations and think this one tastes great. There’s no aftertaste like there can be sometimes with sugar substitutes,” says Robin, a member of Wiregrass Electric Cooperative who has won our Cook of the Month honors in the past. Bonus: It’s easy. “There’s some time involved because you have to freeze them, but the steps are pretty simple,” she adds.

Sugar-Free Peanut Butter Cups 3/4 cup melted coconut oil 1/2 cup cocoa powder 3 tablespoons liquid Stevia (or your favorite liquid sweetener) 3/4 cup peanut butter Coarse sea salt Mix the coconut oil, cocoa powder and liquid Stevia in a bowl. Fill a muffin tin with paper liners. Fill each liner 1/4 full with cocoa mixture. Place 2 teaspoons of peanut butter into the center of each. Divide remaining cocoa mixture among liners, pouring over peanut butter. Sprinkle each peanut butter cup with coarse sea salt. Freeze for one hour.

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Sugar-Free Banana Muffins 3 large or 4 medium very ripe bananas 3 eggs 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 3 cups almond flour 1/4 cup granulated Swerve sweetener walnut chips, optional 12 baking cups Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place baking cups in muffin pan. With a powerful mixer, mix bananas, eggs, vanilla, baking powder, sweetener and salt until smooth. Add almond flour, and mix just enough to combine. Scrape down the sides and mix just a bit more. Using an ice cream scoop, divide the batter in to 12 muffin cups. I add walnut chips to the top and press them down. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown or a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool and enjoy! Store in a cool dry place for 5 days. They can be frozen for 3 months.

Diabetic Pound Cake

Refreshing Shake

2 cups flour ½ cup corn oil 2 eggs, beaten 1 teaspoon vanilla 3 large bananas 1 ½ tablespoons liquid sweetener 4 tablespoons buttermilk 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 ½ cups nuts (mixed or pecans) 1 cup raisins

2 tablespoons cocoa powder 2 tablespoons PB2 (powdered peanut butter) 1 banana (if no banana, use less sugar substitute) 2 tablespoons collagen powder 1 cup unsweetened almond milk 1 teaspoon Stevia

Mix together eggs, oil, vanilla, bananas and sweetener. Add flour, soda and buttermilk. Mix well. Add nuts and raisins. Bake at 350 degrees, in a tube pan, for about 1 hour. Let cool before removing from pan.

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: August: Seafood | May 7 September: My grandparent's favorite dish | June 4 October: Potatoes | July 2

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

Alabama Living

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Beth McLarty Cullman EC

Mary McGriff Cullman EC

Denise Swann Dixie EC


Add sliced banana to blender. Add all remaining ingredients and blend together. Ice can be added and blended into shake. It tastes a lot like a Reese’s Cup milk shake.

favorite recipes from Alabama’s largest lifestyle magazine

Mail order form and payment to: Best of Alabama Living Cookbook P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124-4014

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Alabama Living

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which can cause your air conditioner to run longer than necessary.

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family/parental status, income derived from a public assistance program, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity, in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA (not all bases apply to all programs). Remedies and complaint filing deadlines vary by program or incident. Person with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the responsible Agency or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202)720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877 8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English. To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD-3027, Found online at and at any USDA office or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by: Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights 400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington D.C. 20250-9410 or Fax: (202) 690-7442 or Email: USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.


CWEMC Statement of Non-Discrimination

Energy Efficiency

Tip of the Month

Energ Ene En Effici Effic Effi

Tip Tip Tip ofo

Avoid placing items like lamps and televisions near your thermostat.

Avoid Avoid Avo p like like like lam la televisi televi tele your your you th

The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause your air conditioner to run longer than necessary.

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Source: Source: Sour www.energ www.en www

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| Our Sources Say |

What people want T

wenty years ago, as electric cooperatives formed a national cooperative branding initiative that is now Touchstone Energy, extensive surveys and studies were performed to gauge people’s perceptions and values of electric service. I was surprised people assigned so little intrinsic value to a brand of electricity. The surveys indicated the only other product people associated so little value to product brand was common table salt (I always buy Morton’s, but I don’t know why). Some people place more value in driving a Mercedes than a cheaper car. Ralph Lauren has built a large business empire based upon people assigning more value to clothes with a polo player logo. Any of us would rather eat a good steak than a bad steak, and we would rather watch good movies instead of bad ones. The list goes on, but there are few products people fail to assign value based on the brand or perceived quality. There are at least two reasons why people don’t recognize the value of electric brands. One, the quality of electric service has improved in the U.S. to the degree that people expect, because of experience, that electricity is always on, and in those rare cases it is not, that it will be back on very soon. The other reason is the invisible delivery of electricity; people have mentally disconnected electricity from the comforts and efficiencies of life that totally depend on electricity. We all enjoy air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter. We spend time at work on computers managing information, responding to correspondence and writing articles like this. We spend time at home surfing the internet, watching television, reading under lamps, and playing computer games. We all like hot meals and hot showers. I enjoy sleeping with my CPAP machine. Although almost everything we do in our lives depends on electricity, there is little thought given to the electricity that makes it all possible. Reliable and affordable electricity will become even more integral in our lives over the next decade with the transportation fleet’s transition from gasoline-powered internal combustion engines to electric-powered vehicles. The movement to a more electrified society needs to be measured so that reliability and affordability are not sacrificed for other goals. That transition would feel much more logical and achievable if not for events of the past few years, with the decline of electric reliability in too many areas. California suffered rolling blackouts in August of last year with a strong heatwave across the west. The San Onofre Nuclear Station was closed a few years ago because of

public concerns about nuclear safety. The Diablo Canyon Nuclear Station is scheduled to close in 2024 or 2025. Numerous coal and natural gas-fired plants have been closed in accordance with California’s goal of 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045. Diablo Canyon currently provides 10% of California’s electricity. It is still not known from what source additional reliable and affordable electricity, even by California standards, will come. Yet, even with the blackouts, California continues a movement towards less reliable and less affordable electricity. The February rolling blackouts interrupted electric service to hundreds of thousands of Texas electric consumers for days in freezing temperatures, which caused bursting pipes and hypothermia deaths. That situation raised serious doubt about the reliability of deregulated electric markets that are largely dependent upon renewable energy resources. The winter outages considered alongside the nearly missed summer outages in Texas in two of the past three years cast a long shadow on reliable electric service in Texas for the future. Finally, the Biden Administration’s obsession with climate change and the inclusion of carbon reduction provisions in every political initiative does not bode well for future electric reliability or cost. Biden’s recently released $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan includes funding for more renewable energy projects, including an off-shore wind project that will power 10 million homes. However, renewable power is intermittent and not dependable. Wind projects only produce electricity when the wind is blowing. The wind blows a lot offshore, but storing power for when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine remains a difficult and expensive challenge. The rush to a carbon-free electric grid is reckless and dangerous. To de-carbonize the electric sector, while mandating that transportation be all-electric, will result in much less reliable electric service at a much higher price. People want to be cool when it is hot, warm when it is cold, to use their electronic devices when they need to, and to enjoy television or other entertainment when they want. They don’t want to go days without electricity in freezing weather. People want their lights on and their power bills low. I think people would likely choose reliable and affordable electricity over possibly eliminating potential climate change that might occur around the turn of the century, if at all. We may soon find out if I am right. I hope you have a good month.

Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.

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| Classifieds | GULF SHORES GULF FRONT – 1BR / 2BA and also 2BR / 2BA condo. Both are directly on the beach, great views, easy check-in – (256)3525721,

How To Place a Line Ad in Marketplace Closing Deadlines (in our office): July 2021 Issue by May 25 August 2021 Issue by June 25 September 2021 Issue by July 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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Education FREE BIBLE CORRESPONDENCE COURSE – write to P.O. Box 52, Trinity, AL, 35673

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| Hardy Jackson's Alabama |

In memory of dogs “They are good things to have, a dog.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald,

The Great Gatsby

Illustration by Dennis Auth


ecently “Bo,” our yellow Lab, died. Anyone who has ever owned a dog, or been owned by one, knows the feeling we felt. We got “Bo” as a pup. He went to Auburn with our son. “Bo Jackson,” get it? There he became a great favorite of a circle of guys who welcomed him as one of them. He lived the good life. Then my son graduated, married, and took a job far away. Bo stayed with us. Bo fit in well with our other Labs. There was Libby, the oldest, a black Lab. Willow, the youngest, a chocolate Lab. And Bo. We had the Lab-trifecta. Now we are down to two. Reflecting on this I recalled how, some years ago, the editor of a local newspaper asked distinguished members of the local religious community to comment on whether or not dogs have souls. He didn’t ask me, but if he had, I would have referred him to that great theologian, Mark Twain, who once observed, “Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.”

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

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If there is not scripture to support this, there should be. I have lived with dogs all my life and I can still call each by name. Some stand out above the rest. There was Elvis, a dalmatian, who was deaf. His constant companion was Max, a dachshund, who was his ears. They went everywhere together, until Elvis died. Max soon followed. I remain convinced that he grieved himself to death. Now I know there are some among you who will chide me for ascribing human emotions to dumb animals. Let me suggest instead, that the world would be a better place if animal emotions were mimicked by dumb humans. I could go on and on. Every time we lost one, I swore I would never get another, never give my heart so completely to someone that I would surely lose. Never . . . And every time I lied. Every time . . . . So today we are left with Libby and Willow. Both getting up in years. Both so set in their ways that bringing a new dog, especially a puppy, into the family, might be more than they can handle. On the other hand, a new member might be just what the old girls need. Someone they could teach to go through the “Doggie Door,” and into the yard. Someone they could introduce to the guy who picks up the trash. He always brings treats. Someone the neighbors could adopt, just as they adopted Bo. Maybe a “rescue,” who needs us as much as we need it. Bo would have liked that.

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