April 2021 Clarke-Washington

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



Backyard birding Taking to the trails

Carving custom baits Eggs-cellent recipes www.cwemc.com



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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.


18 F E A T U R E S

VOL. 74 NO. 4

APRIL 2021

who I met! 9 It’sLook a thrill when you meet a celebrity you admire. Our readers share their favorite photos.


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

Colette Boehm and Rick Wiley walk his dogs Bart and Marley in the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail area of Gulf State Park, one of hundreds of trails in Alabama ideal for walking, hiking and cycling.


Tackle treasures Brandon Betterton, a former lineman who teaches safety skills at our electric cooperatives, hand carves his own brand of fishing lures.


Eggs for everyone Eggs are among the most versatile, nutritious and easiest to cook items in our kitchens.



340 TechnaCenter Drive Montgomery, Alabama 36117-6031 1-800-410-2737 For advertising, email: advertising@areapower.com For editorial inquiries, email: contact@alabamaliving.coop NATIONAL ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVE:

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

D E P A R T M E N T S 11 Spotlight 29 Around Alabama 38 Outdoors 39 Fish & Game Forecast 50 Hardy Jackson’s Alabama ONLINE: alabamaliving.coop

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

An Eastern towhee is captured in mid-song. Birds like this and many others are abundant in Alabama this spring. Read more about backyard birdwatching on Page 12. PHOTO: Joe Watts



www.alabamaliving.coop letters@alabamaliving.coop Alabama Living 340 Technacenter Drive Montgomery, AL 36117

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Printed in America from American materials

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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 www.cwemc.com 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  APRIL 2021

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Linemen: Servant Heroes Serving through hurricanes, ice storms and pandemics. If you were asked to associate an image or a person with Clarke-Washington EMC, I bet you would picture a lineworker. One of the most visible employees of the co-op, lineworkers work tirelessly to ensure our community receives power 24//7. “Lineworker” is listed as one of the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the U. S. This is understandable as they perform detailed tasks near high-voltage power lines. Regardless of the time of day, having to brave stormy weather and other challenging conditions, lineworkers must climb 40 feet in the air, often carrying heaving equipment to get the job done. Being a lineworker is not a glamorous or easy profession. I often tell people seeking a job with Clarke-Washington EMC that if we wrote an accurate job description it would probably say something along the lines of “Wanted: Somebody willing to work nights, weekends and holidays”. Being a lineman is not for everybody. It takes a special kind of person. It also takes specialized training, ongoing education, dedication and equally important, a sense of service and commitment. How else can you explain the willingness to leave the comfort of your home to tackle a challenging job in difficult conditions, when most are sheltering comfortably at home? This dedication and sense of service to the community is truly what sets them apart. That’s why we set aside April 12th to celebrate and recognize the men and

women who work around the clock to keep the lights on. While lineworkers may be the most visible employees at Clarke-Washington EMC, it’s important to note that there is a team of highly skilled professionals working behind the scenes. Engineers provide ongoing expertise and guidance on the operations side of the co-op. Member service representatives are always standing by to take your calls and questions. Our information technology (IT) experts are continuously monitoring our system to help safeguard sensitive data. And these are just a few of the folks who work together to ensure we can deliver the service and reliability you expect and deserve. Without them, our lineworkers wouldn’t be able to “bring the light” to our community. Our hard working and dedicated lineworkers are proud to represent Clarke-Washington EMC, and our exceptional service. I also hope you’ll remember that you have a dedicated team of professionals working behind the scenes at the co-op whose commitment to service runs just as deep.


Me W

co n me info a eve in 2

Steve Sheffield General Manager





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WE ARE NOW ON FACEBOOK Members of ClarkeWashington EMC and the local communities can now utilize social media to find helpful information, updates and important events taking place in the cooperative 24-hours-a-day.



Alabama Living

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Slow down, look around Although road maintenance crews come to mind when thinking of orange directional signs and work zones, other workers perform job duties near the road as well, including utility and tree-trimming crews. Streets and highways are lined with power poles and electrical equipment, and narrow roadways often require crews like ours to place their equipment in traffic lanes. Their work is often taken for granted but benefits us all; and, like everyone, they deserve a safe workplace. Be alert to utility crews and other work zone workers for their safety as well as yours. According to the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse, 762 fatal crashes and 842 deaths occurred in work zone crashes in 2019 (at the writing of this article, data was not available for 2020). Of those fatalities, 135 were workers. To help keep roadside crews safe: • Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and traffic barriers, trucks, construction equipment, and workers.

• Be patient. Traffic delays are sometimes unavoidable, so allow time for unexpected setbacks in your schedule. • Obey all signs and road crew flag instructions. • Merge early and be courteous to other drivers. • Use your headlights at dusk and during inclement weather. • Minimize distractions. Avoid activities such as operating a radio, applying makeup and eating while driving. Don’t make the jobs of road workers, utility crews, tree trimmers and others who work near traffic more dangerous. Slow down when approaching a work zone and move over for first responders and work crews on the side of the road. This helps keep you safe as well. Drive safely.

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CALL Thank A Lineworker Lineworker Appreciation Day is Monday, April 12

The National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association has designated the second Monday of April as National Lineworker Appreciation Day. On April 12, 2021, Clarke-Washington EMC, along with cooperatives across the country, will honor the hardworking men who often endure challenging conditions to keep the lights on. Everything revolves around power. Line work is a difficult and dangerous career. There can be no slip-ups, or careless moves. Working with thousands of volts of electricity each day, ClarkeWashington EMC crews are dedicated to keeping the lights on for the communities and members we serve. Being a lineworker is not a glamorous profession. When there is a power outage, there are no holidays or weekends for them. When a storm rolls 6  APRIL 2021

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| Clarke-Washington EMC | through, there is no hunkering down in their house. Times when most of us want to stay inside is when they are putting on their boots and walking out into the weather, so that we can all enjoy all the conveniences of electricity. They are not the only ones who make sacrifices. Their families also give time they could be spending with their loved ones missing out on Christmas Eve dinner or that weekend activity may be put on hold. Clarke-Washington EMC celebrates the great employees of our cooperative every day. The next time your power goes out, remember there are highly skilled heroes out there who are working hard to get your power back on as quickly and as safely as possible. Our dedicated and beloved lineworkers are proud to represent ClarkeWashington EMC, and they deserve all the appreciation and accolades that come their way on Lineworker Appreciation Day. On Monday, April 12, we invite you to take a moment and extend a special thank you to our lineworkers for the important work they do in powering our lives.

#ThankALineworker Alabama Living

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This month, we’re recognizing lineworkers for the amazing job they do to make sure we have electricity! Think about all the ways you use electricity every day. Do you use a phone, watch TV, play video games or turn on lights? You’re able to do all of these things because of lineworkers. Below is space to write a short thank you note to your local lineworkers. Write your note, then ask an adult to help you send it back to us so we can share it with our crews.


WE OUR LINEWORKERS Send your note to the mailing address below, or you can drop it off at the office.

Clarke-Washington EMC P.O. Box 398 Jackson, AL 36545 8  APRIL 2021

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| Alabama Snapshots |

I met a

celebrity Patsy Shipman with John Trav olta. He and w days on my m ife Kelly Presto om and dad’s n spent severa property while ing Paint.” SUBM l he was filming ITTED BY Bobb the movie “Tra y Shipman, Mar dion. h Dolly Backstage wit nsacola Pe a at Parton . SUBMITconcert in 2016 lman, Bu na TED by Jean h. ac Be Orange

I met Roy Rogers at the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in Victorby ville, California, 1992. SUBMITTED ey. Amy Mosley, Loxl

When “Mississippi Burning” was filming in LaFayette, my aunt Linda Davis and my mother Brenda Potts met Gene Hackman during one of his breaks from filming. SUBMITTED by Regina Sanders, Lanett.

Submit “At the pool” photos by April 30. Winning photos will run in the June issue.

SUBMIT to WIN $10! Alabama Living

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

Judge Tammy J. Montgomery and singer/ actor Mary J. Blige during her 2019 Royalty Tour in Nashville, TN. SUBMIT TED BY Tammy J. Montgomery, Coatop a.

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 alabamaliving.coop 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 | April Academy of Honor seeks nominations

Civil Rights Trail app redesigned

The Alabama Academy of Honor is accepting nominations for inductees into the Class of 2021. The Legislature created the Alabama Academy of Honor on Oct. 29, 1965, to bestow honor and recognition upon living Alabamians whose outstanding accomplishments and service have significantly benefitted or reflected great credit on the state of Alabama. Cynthia Tucker Haynes was inducted in Recent inductees inthe Alabama Academy of Honor in 2017. clude Tim Cook, Nick Saban, Condoleezza Rice, Randy Owen, Cynthia Tucker Haynes and Bryan Stevenson. Current members of the Academy will elect new members in a ceremony to be held later in 2021. Additional details will be released in the coming months. The Academy is accepting nominations until April 12, 2021. Nomination forms are available online at AlabamaAcademyofHonor.org or by calling the Academy’s office at 334-242-4441.

Whereville, AL

The Alabama Civil Rights Trail mobile app has been redesigned and provides a better user experience to explore the history of Alabama’s role in the civil rights movement. Originally released in 2014, the updated app allows for exploration of key landmarks, museums, trails, and public spaces to assist those planning a visit across the state or anyone wishing to learn more from afar. Users who share their location can learn more about nearby destinations to visit and explore more about civil rights history; bookmarking favorite destinations, media and people offers the ability to continue visits at a later time. The app features a media library and an interactive timeline to explore the events of the era. The free app is available in the App Store and Google Play Store.

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 April 7 with your name, address and the name of your rural electric cooperative. The winner and answer will be announced in the May issue. Submit by email: whereville@alabamaliving.coop, or by mail: Whereville, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124. Contribute your own photo for an upcoming issue! Send a photo of an interesting or unusual landmark in Alabama, which must be accessible to the public. A reader whose photo is chosen will also win $25. March’s answer: After multiple reports of sightings of Bigfoot, the Evergreen City Council in 2017 voted unanimously to designate their town, population 3,800, as the Official Bigfoot Capital of Alabama. This statue dedicated to Sasquatch is just off Interstate 65 at the Evergreen exit 96. (Photo contributed by Lloyd Gallman) The randomly drawn correct guess winner is Cathy Little of Pioneer EC. 10  APRIL 2021

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Jack Fisher, 9, and his dad, Doug Fisher, of Pike Road spotted the Sasquatch statue on their way home from a hunting trip! www.alabamaliving.coop

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April | Spotlight Find the hidden dingbat! Judging from the Sponsored by more than 700 correct entries in our March contest, we might have made finding that leprechaun a bit too easy. But maybe that was just our way of spreading some good luck around for St. Patrick’s Day! The little green guy was hiding on a green recycling bin on Page 42. (One reader claimed to see him in a photo on Page 14, in the woods behind the gardener cutting broccoli, but he’d apparently already headed over to join the recycling crew.) Some of our readers, including Anna Bonds of Horton, wanted to know where the pot of gold was. Let us know if you find it, Anna! Sharon Ashley of Grant liked that we hid the dingbat on a recycling bin, because she’s an avid recycler “with only a handful of trash on pickup days. Save the landfills!” she says. Our youngest entrant, Reid Guess, age 5, got help from his Uncle Vern in Stevenson to submit his entry. Congratulations to our randomly drawn winner, Andy Kennedy of Jackson, a member of Clarke-Washington EMC. This month we’re hiding a baseball bat with every hope we’ll all be able to enjoy some baseball games together soon! Send your entries to us by April 7 and you could win 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: dingbat@alabamaliving.com

Letters to the editor

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

The kid in the illustration

I’ve been enjoying Hardy Jackson's articles in Alabama Living for the longest time. It is the first thing I do when I get the magazine. Next thing is the recipe section. January’s column ("Roll up your sleeves"), was awesome. I laughed out loud. I remember those days. I was the kid in the illustration that made a fast exit through the door. I hid in the lunchroom until my mother was called to the school to get me. Seems that I put quite a panic in the other kids. They scattered, too. I embarrassed my parents, especially my father, who was a doctor. I hope that doesn’t happen when I’m old enough to get the COVID vaccine. Keep writing! Debbie Coe, Dothan

Enjoyed coot fishing article

I enjoyed the article (“Coots make good sport for novice waterfowl hunters,” December 2020) but noticed that it was missing a recipe for cooking them. Thought I would add an old family recipe that I got from my grandfather who took me coot hunting in Mobile Bay many times. After plucking and gutting the birds, you fill a black kettle with bay water. When it comes to a rolling boil you throw in a piece of wet driftwood and the birds. After another 15 minutes, you drain the water, throw away the birds and eat the driftwood. Really enjoyed the article. Brought back many old happy memories. Jerry David Grizzle, Beatrice

Take us along!

Rufus Mitchell of Pittsview took his magazine along on a recent ski trip to the Eldora Ski Resort in Nederland, Colorado, just north of Boulder. He’s a member of Tallapoosa River Electric Cooperative.

Alabama Living

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Kimberly Ramsey, a member of Baldwin EMC, braved the winds at Jolly Beach, outside Georgetown in Exuma, the Bahamas. “It was an extremely windy day with gusts up to 45 mph,” she wrote. “I was trying to read my magazine and saw the part about taking a picture of it on your vacation.”

Excellent publication

Having been a Baldwin EMC customer for twenty years now, this letter is long overdue. I want to compliment you on Alabama Living. It is an excellent publication offering much interesting information about Alabama and its residents. From scenic destinations thru historical anecdotes and current events to technical assistance and savory recipes, I have read and saved many of the features. Being something of a news junkie, I particularly appreciate your annual publication of the list of Alabama State Senators and House of Representatives and the accompanying map with telephone numbers and email addresses. Party affiliation would be an interesting addition. I would like to belatedly compliment Gary Smith on his tribute to John Lewis in the October issue, especially his choice of quotes from Mr. Lewis. Now more than ever we must be guided by “the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love.” And “Hardy Jackson’s Alabama” provides a charming light epilogue to each issue. So, thank you for not only providing us with top-notch electric service, community services such as Operation Round Up, semi-annual blood drives and shredding services, recognition of students and educators, but also a truly superior monthly magazine, Alabama Living. Right now, the pictures of Valentine chocolates has my mouth watering. Chocolate Corner in Gulf Shores seems like a good destination to satisfy my chocolate craving! Jane Tyler, Foley

We’ve enjoyed seeing photos from our readers on their travels with Alabama Living! Please send us a photo of you with a copy of the magazine on your travels to: mytravels@alabamaliving.coop. 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.

With so many beautiful places right here in Alabama to enjoy, Brad and Sandra Peppers of Cullman say they often come to relax in the Bankhead National Forest and to catch up on reading Alabama Living! They are members of Cullman Electric Cooperative.

Bob Watkins, a member of Cullman Electric Cooperative from Hanceville, brought his magazine when he visited the Wright Brothers Memorial on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

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Backyard birding

“You put up one little feeder and next thing you know, you can’t wait to get up in the morning and see what’s out there.” PHOTO BY GREG HARBER

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Interest in birdwatching takes wing By Katie Jackson


“big year” in serious birding circles typically entails traveling across an entire continent trying to spot as many different bird species as possible in a calendar year. Last year, though, the inability to travel made 2020 a big year for birding close to home, which should be good news for us and for the birds.

Interest in birdwatching and backyard bird feeding, like numerous other outdoor and nature-based activities, began to rise during the early stay-at-home days of the pandemic, a trend evidenced by the significant uptick in online bird-related searches and sales of bird feeding equipment and supplies that occurred last year in the U.S. and worldwide. That trend “took wing” here in Alabama, too, says Christopher Joe, owner of Connecting with Birds and Nature Tours in Hale County. Not only did the popularity of his socially distanced outdoor excursions rise in 2020, so did questions about backyard birding. “A lot of people who weren’t comfortable traveling or being around other folks turned to backyard birding as a way to get outdoors, get some fresh air and relax,” he says. In the process those folks learned what Joe already knew: “You don’t have to go around the world to see something amazing.” According to Sarah Randolph, Alabama Audubon’s outreach and communications director, Alabama is an excellent place to experience birds. The state is rich in biodiversity, which provides abundant habitat for birds, and it’s located along the Mississippi Flyway, a vital flight path for many migratory neotropical bird species. “We see over 400 species of birds in our state, whether they are year-round residents, breeders, winter visitors or passing through during spring or fall migration,” she says. Because of this, bird-

Christopher Joe, owner of Connecting with Birds and Nature Tours.

Cardinals are year-round residents of Alabama that bring vivid color to feeders, tree limbs or anywhere they perch. PHOTO BY KATIE JACKSON

Binoculars aren’t required for birdwatching, but they do help bring the details and beauty of birds into sharper focus for birders of all ages, including Summer Grace Joe, daughter of Connecting with Birds and Nature Tours’ owner Christopher Joe. PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER JOE Alabama Living

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Among the most entertaining backyard birds are hummingbirds, which migrate through Alabama from spring through late fall and happily stop to enjoy nectar feeders. PHOTO BY JOE WATTS

watching can be a year-round activity everywhere in Alabama, from bustling cities to remote backroads. Birdwatching is also a calming, healthful pastime that allows us to connect with nature and with other nature-loving folks, all of which have been especially important during the stressful, isolating days of the pandemic. And it’s affordable. While it helps to invest in a good pair of binoculars and a basic bird guidebook (recommendations for both are available at the Alabama Audubon site, alaudubon.org), they are not necessary. “All you need is an interest and a desire to learn more,” Randolph says. Birdwatching isn’t just good for people, either. It’s a hobby that benefits the avian world by raising awareness of the important role birds play in our lives and the environment, which in turn increases interest in protecting birds, populations of which are declining at disturbing rates.

Seeing birds, saving birds

According to a study published in 2019, the population of breeding adult birds in North America (including the U.S. and Canada) dropped by 2.9 billion from 1970, a loss that scientists call “staggering.” Habitat loss is a major cause of these declines, exacerbated further by climate change and numerous other natural and human-caused threats. But these threats can be mitigated, and knowledge is key to doing so, which is why Alabama Audubon, the Alabama Ornithological Society (aosbirds.org) and other conservation organizations offer myriad public education and outreach programs. “Once you know something, you can’t ‘un-know’ it,” Randolph says. “Now that birds have gotten so much attention, we hope

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Cousins Grayson Phillips, left, and Norah Jackson couldn’t go to school last spring, but they learned a lot about birds and nature just by looking out the back window. With the help of binoculars, the two spent the spring and early summer watching a pair of bluebirds build a nest and raise a clutch of babies. PHOTO BY KATIE JACKSON

people will want to continue learning more about them and caring about how to help our avian friends thrive with the many obstacles they face.” According to AOS president Geoff Hill, saving birds is all about seeing birds. “If you don’t see birds, you won’t care about them,” he says. “If we lose an interest in birds, we lose public support and that will be really bad for birds.” AOS and Alabama Audubon offer lots of ways to connect with birds and fellow bird enthusiasts including birding walks and tours, classes, conferences and a wide range of educational resources. They also work with other organizations to support bird-related research and birding opportunities, such as the Alabama Birding Trails system, which Randolph said includes some 300 sites across the state, and the Black Belt Birding Initiative, a project aimed at developing bird-based ecotourism in Black Belt counties. Volunteer opportunities and “citizen science” projects also www.alabamaliving.coop

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Alabama Living

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Backyard bird feeding basics Feeding birds is a fun, rewarding and educational activity for people of all ages. Here are a few tips to get you started, but you can learn more about best practices for maintaining feeders and a bird-friendly yard at allaboutbirds.org. • Locate feeders at least 25 feet away from or within three feet of windows to avoid collision issues. • Site feeders near bushes, trees or a brush pile where birds can take cover from predators. • Use fresh, high quality seed to avoid waste and possible contamination issues. • Store seed in clean, dry, air-tight containers. • Clean feeders regularly (at least every month) using a mild unscented dish soap or a disinfecting solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts hot water. Allow feeders to dry completely before refilling. • Keep areas beneath feeders clean by raking up old seed, shells and droppings. • Use a variety of feeder styles and food stuffs to draw in a more diverse array of birds. Pine siskins, members of the finch family that are typically found in Canada and the northern U.S., can often be seen at feeders in Alabama during the PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER JOE winter months.

abound including SwiftWatch, which monitors Alabama’s chimney swift populations, and Green Team, which monitors the state’s declining green heron populations. In addition, citizens can venture out to participate in the National Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count or semi-annual Coastal Bird Surveys. Those wishing to birdwatch from home can also contribute through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s annual Great Backyard Bird Count (held each February) and by entering their feeder and neighborhood bird sightings into eBird (ebird.org), a database used to monitor bird populations worldwide. One of the best ways to aid and enjoy birds, however, is to create bird-friendly yards, which is as easy as providing basic food, water and shelter to year-round and visiting bird species and eliminating threats such as pesticides, invasive species, free-roaming cats and large reflective windows. Hill, an ornithology professor at Auburn University who hosts the Birding Better YouTube channel, believes feeding birds is an ideal way to connect with our fine feathered friends. “Birds A prothonotary warbler, which migrates each year to and from the U.S. and Canada to South and Central America, feeds on a bottlebrush tree flower on Dauphin Island. PHOTO BY KATIE JACKSON

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get really habituated to people, so if you set up feeding stations close to where you sit, you can be two arm-lengths away and they will come right in.” While there’s some evidence that feeding wild birds can affect their feeding and migration habits and spread disease, Hill and many other experts contend feeding birds is an ethical and beneficial pastime. “Wild birds don’t seem to become overly dependent on feeders,” Hill says, adding that feeders are especially beneficial during periods of extremely cold temperatures, such as this year’s winter weather, and natural food shortages. And, while overcrowding at feeders can expose birds to diseases, Hill said proper cleaning and management of feeders and feeding areas will mitigate those problems (see bird feeding basics sidebar). One warning, though: feeding birds can be addictive. “You put up one little feeder and next thing you know, you can’t wait to get up in the morning and see what’s out there,” Joe says. And what’s out there may very well be a “spark bird,” that one bird species that ignites your inner birder and may someday lead you off on your very own big year.


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Alabama Living

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Taking to the


Multi-use trails attract walkers, cyclists out for health, recreation and the chance to get outside By Miriam Davis


wo or three times a week, John Cassell straps on a helmet, Carolyn Buck, director of the Red Rock Trail System who overjumps on his bike, and cycles 10 or 15 miles on the Chief sees a network of 125 miles of walking trails, bike lanes and parks Ladiga Trail that runs near his home in Jacksonville. “I do in Jefferson County, agrees that the pandemic has increased use it for recreation, relaxation, and fellowship,” says the Jacksonville of the trails. “Anecdotally, we’ve seen a huge jump in numbers retiree. since COVID-19. People are looking for places to get outside.” Bo Batey, who’s also retired, walks the trail for health reasons. The leafy three-mile High Ore Line Trail in Midfield, a suburb But the asphalt trail, with its woods, open farmland, creeks, birds, of Birmingham, offers just such a spot. Allowing walkers to acrabbits, deer, and occasional coyote, also relaxes him. “It’s recess nature in a way they normally couldn’t in an urban area, the freshing to walk,” he says of the 33-mile trail that starts in Weaver trail crosses over the picturesque Valley Creek on its way to Red and runs through Jacksonville and Piedmont before reaching the Mountain Park, which includes another 15 miles of trail. Georgia state line. The Chief Ladiga, High Ore Line and In the last year, Cassell has observed proposed Singing River trails are part more people out on the trail. He thinks of the nationwide movement to create it’s because of the pandemic: “People more greenways — multi-use trails are so tired of staying inside.” for non-motorized recreational use or They have a lot of company. Alabamtransportation. ians are taking to trails, and more trails “They’re linear parks,” says Will are popping up in urban and rural arO’Connor, executive director of River eas to accommodate them. In 2020, Region Trails in Montgomery. “Long, Alabama’s state parks saw an increase skinny parks with trails in them that are of visitors of more than 1.5 million designed to connect places people want or about 32 percent, and it’s a good to go.” Supported by both public and bet many of those visitors were using private funds, they aim to encourage the park system’s 250 miles of trails to Alabamians to get outside to experience the benefits of exercise and nature. walk, run or cycle (See related story, The Jefferson County Department Page 20). John Kvach, executive director of the of Health is one of the Red Rock Trail Singing River Trail in north Alabama, System’s greatest supporters, Buck says. believes that the premium on alternaThe High Ore Line Trail is attached to tive forms of recreation will increase one of the county’s health clinics so support for the projected 140-mile hikthat patients will be more likely to use ing, biking, and birding trail, stretchit. The UAB Minorities and Health Disparities Group encourages trail use by ing from South Pittsburg, Tennessee, having doctors write prescriptions for to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, that will exercise. “They found that people are link Jackson, Madison, Marshall, Mor- A walker enjoys the view of a waterfall in Bankhead more likely to exercise if they think it’s gan, Limestone, Lawrence, Colbert, National Forest. PHOTO BY EVAN LANIER a medical recommendation,” says Buck. and Lauderdale counties. The Rails to Trails Conservancy movement contributes to this “With COVID-19, people look at the outdoors differently,” he campaign. It’s a push to re-purpose abandoned railroad lines into says. “That’s what I’m trying to tap into.” recreational and nature trails. The High Ore Line Trail, for exPaved in urban and suburban areas, the proposed trail will be ample, was built on an old railway used by Birmingham’s mining composed of hard-packed gravel in rural areas. “We’re hoping we industry. In the late 1990s, the city of Jacksonville acquired 8.2 can make it as natural a part of the landscape as possible,” says miles of the Norfolk Railroad bed that became part of the Chief Kvach. While the trail will include a cross-section of north AlaLadiga Trail. One advantage of former railways is that the uphill bama’s terrain as it traverses the state, he also plans to minimize grade is limited, opening the trails, like the Singing River Trail, to its uphill grade. “I want it to be a universal trail,” he says, “and a range of users. open to people of all abilities.” 18  APRIL 2021

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Trails help improve health of communities

developed for tourism. “Alabama is one of the most biologically diverse states in the lower forty-eight,” Mayor Johnny Smith believes Rushing points out. “We’ve got a lot of really good opportunities to the trail has improved Jacksonville’s develop outdoor recreations in our quality of life: “I’m convinced it’s rural communities.” improving the health of our comAccording to Rushing, studies of munity because I see people I know the Chief Ladiga Trail suggest that out there, and I’m pretty certain it attracts at least 100,000 visitors a they wouldn’t be out getting that exyear, resulting in an estimated $1.5 ercise without having the trail right million of direct annual economic here.” impact. River Region Trails has acquired O’Connor hopes that one day the several abandoned rail corridors in trail system will link the urban and Montgomery. O’Connor says that rural regions of the state so that the one of their first projects is building This photo shows land that will be a part of the proposed Singing trails will not only bring economa trail from downtown Montgom- River Trail, a 140-mile hiking, biking and birding trail that will link ic benefits by bringing people into ery to Cypress Park, 260 undevel- eight north Alabama counties. PHOTO COURTESY OF JOHN KVACH rural areas, but help unify town and oped acres of land 1.2 miles from country. “There is evidence that trails help the social fabric of a downtown. The park “has a fantastic diversity of plants and wild community because we start to see each other as humans in a diflife,” says O’Connor. “The park has the potential to serve as a mini– ferent way,” he says. “That has been an unexpected benefit of trails.” Central Park for Montgomery.” More projects are in the works. The Red Rock Trail System exRecreational trails appeal not only in Alabama’s metropolitan pects to expand to 750 miles throughout Jefferson County. The citareas but in its countryside, too. Buck says that especially in the ies of Andalusia and Opp are spearheading a plan to acquire a rail rural areas of Jefferson County, she’s seen a push from commucorridor between Andalusia and Geneva to create a 44-mile rail nities “trying to redefine themselves … (and) really investing in trail through the Wiregrass Region, which would be the longest green spaces.” in the state. Brian Rushing, director of Economic Development Initiatives at the University of Alabama’s Center for Economic Development, For more information on the Rails to Trails conservancy and a listing agrees that multi-use trails often produce economic benefits beof rails to trails in Alabama, visit traillink.com/state/al-trails/ cause rural parts of Alabama offer natural resources that can be A young walker along the Alum Hollow Trail in Green Mountain Nature Preserve near Huntsville, part of the Land Trust of North Alabama. PHOTO BY DAVID PARHAM

Prepare before you walk or cycle Before setting out to walk or cycle one of Alabama’s many trails, be prepared. • Longer trails have—or will have—places along the trail to pick up water, but it’s always smart to bring water along. • Hiking or biking with a buddy is encouraged. • If you’re alone on a trail, the biggest risk is a medical emergency. Take a cell phone and a trail whistle. • Before you leave, tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll return. Alabama Living

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Happy trails State parks offer trails for beginners to experienced hikers and cyclers By Lenore Vickrey


f you’re looking for a trail to walk, hike or cycle, Alabama’s state Gulf State Park, including seven trails of the Hugh S. Branyon parks offer the largest variety to choose from, with 21 state Backcountry Trail complex, featuring nine distinct ecosystems. parks and 48,000 acres of land, which includes 250 miles of “When the pandemic hit, the parks were one of the few outlets trails. that were open to people, to get out in nature,” Pendergrass says. Usage of the parks jumped 32 percent in 2020, with 1.5 mil“Our trail system interconnects, and you can turn a one and a lion more visitors than the year before, mainly due to the panhalf-mile walk into a three-mile walk if you want. Not only are demic. “We made the active decision to keep our parks open for these trails accessible to walking, but also to bicycles.” Raney reports she saw a lot our guests and the state of Alof “newbies,” first-time visitors abama,” says Jerry Weisenfeld, to Cheaha State Park who’d director of advertising and never thought about visiting marketing for the state parks a state park before. “But with system. “We were pleasantly COVID and feeling safer outsurprised that the parks were side, now they’re hooked!” viewed as safe, reliable healthy she says. For many, it was the alternative to staying indoors. first time they’d ever hiked or It shows that people wanted to camped. The park saw a lot of get outside.” visitors from Atlanta, BirmingAt Cheaha State Park in ham and other urban areas, northeast Alabama, superinfrom families to couples to solo tendent Renee Rainey estihikers. mates there was at least a 60 “The main thing,” Raney percent increase in use of its 17 says, “is for anyone who hadn’t different trails in 2020. “Our visited a state park, there is highest increase was in day vissomething for everyone, and itors, but we also saw increases Gulf State Park has 28 miles of trails or boardwalks for walkers and hikers. it’s not a difficult journey from in camping,” she says. “People PHOTO COURTESY GULF SHORES AND ORANGE BEACH TOURISM anywhere in the state. It will realized it was safer to be outbe a memory-making experience and so good for you! Whether side, where they were in charge and bringing their own supplies.” you’re walking or hiking, it decreases depression, reduces your “People felt safe in the outdoors and really hit the rails and blood pressure and boosts your immune system.” campgrounds all over north Alabama,” agrees Tami Reist, presiAs the highest point in Alabama at 2,407 feet above sea level, dent and CEO of the Alabama Mountain Lakes Association. “Our Cheaha is famous for its scenic views, especially on Bald Rock areas where there are more opportunities for outdoor recreation Nature Trail. The trail itself is only .3 miles long, “but winds its like hiking and camping have definitely seen an uptick in visitors way to one of the most beautiful outlooks in the park,” says Raney. since (the pandemic).” “You can see all the way to Flagg Mountain, the sister mountain Lamar Pendergrass, operations supervisor for the parks’ South to Cheaha.” region, reports similar increased activity in that area, which inThe park is called an “island in the sky,” she adds, “because we are cludes all state parks south of Montgomery from Chewacla near consistently surrounded by clouds and the sunsets are incredible.” Auburn, known for its For more information: diverse mountain bike • On Alabama’s state parks, alapark.com and go to the specific trail system, to Gulf State park you’re interested in. Park on the coastline. • On trails in Alabama’s state parks, alapark.com/trails/trailsTrail walkers, hikers alabama-state-parks. Each park also has its own Facebook and cyclers have 28 miles page. of paved trails or boardThe view from Pulpit Rock • On Trails in north Alabama, northalabama.org/trails/ walks to choose from at at Cheaha State Park. • Trails for walking and hiking are also plentiful in Alabama’s four national forests, Bankhead, Conecuh, Talladega and Tuskegee. See fs.usda.gov/main/alabama/home

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Russia with love USS Alabama sailors honored by Russia for WWII service By Emmett Burnett

Former USS Alabama crewman Wilbert Rozum displays his Medal of Ushakov. Rozum, age 99, is wearing the Navy uniform he wore during World War II.



here was a time when Russia and America’s military were Tunnell, chairman of the USS Alabama Battleship Commission. comrades-in-arms. The time was World War II and one “It surprises many today, learning the United States and Russia example is the Battleship USS Alabama (BB-60). Recentfought on the same side during World War II. Quite possibly, the ly, Moscow said “thank you for helping” to five of the sailors of American fleet’s protection of those supply ships may have saved the “Mighty A,” who 75 years ago never dreamed they would be Russia and kept her in the war, eventually allowing the Allies to awarded medals with the Kremlin’s defeat Germany and the Axis powers.” blessing. Baltimore native William Hahn was The five are William Hahn, Wilbert one of the five. “Never did I expect Rozum, Raymond E. Weigand Jr., Walrecognition from the Soviet Union,” lace L. Orsund, and Leo J. Goulet. Sadthe now 98-year-old chuckles. Hahn ly, Goulet died shortly before receiving modestly adds, “I was just a gunner,” the award, the Medal of Ushakov. as if “just a gunner” was a day at the Named for a Russian naval war beach. It was not. hero, Admiral Fyodor Ushakov, Russia He recalls a night when chilling uses the honor to recognize soldiers news blared aboard the USS Alabama’s and sailors who assisted the Soviets in speakers. “The captain told us tomorWorld War II, regardless of nationality. row we will be off the coast of Norway However, qualifications for the prize and expect an air attack. I manned are significant. an anti-aircraft gun, which meant I One: The recipient must be living. would be a key target.” Hahn added, The Medal of Ushakov, owned by former USS Alabama Two: The person must have actually gunner, William Hahn. “I thought to myself, this could be my participated in the Arctic Northern last night on earth.” PHOTO COURTESY OF BRUCE HAHN Convoys. About 7,000 men staffed the Wilbert Rozum was just 20 when USS Alabama; not all served when the vessel assisted the Soviets. first boarding the USS Alabama. Today he is 99. “I was very excitThe five Americans – now four after Goulet’s death – are the ed to receive the Ushakov,” the Highland, Illinois, resident recalls. only known living of the ship’s crew who participated. His medal hangs by his fireplace beside his World War II Navy “Back in 1943, these young crewmen went to the North Sea uniform, which still fits. “I feel good about what we did.” He reto give protection to ships supplying our ally, Russia,” says Bill members, “It was a touchy situation. We worried about Germans

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to Ushakov’s honor roll. They also thanked the ship’s crewmen no longer living who participated in the World War II Soviet escort. Bill Tunnell notes, “Although the Russian government changed dramatically in the past 75 years, I’m very proud the current Russian government chose this wonderful act of international goodwill to honor and remember those USS Alabama sailors who helped then Russia says ‘thank you’ during this crucial time in world history.” The Ushakov-USS Alabama quest began USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park in August 2019 when the ship’s curator, director, retired Army Reserve Maj. Gen. Shea McLean, read a story about British Janet L. Cobb, echoes Tunnell’s sentiments: sailors receiving Russian medals. “Now “This award reflects one of the untold stothat’s something you don’t see every day,” ries about the USS Alabama’s North AtlanMcLean thought, and pursued further. The tic campaign. How wonderful that this recBritish received the Ushakov for service at ognition comes in time to honor our living the Arctic Circle. McLean thought, “Our crewmen!” guys were in that convoy too! Where are Last year, in recognition of the 75th antheir medals?” niversary of ending the Great Patriotic War A two-year process of documentation, – also known as World War II – Moscow’s applications, and statistics finally yielded Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces results. On Aug. 24, 2020, the verdict was opened a special exhibit, titled “Road of in. Marina Lyukmanova, first secretary Memory.” Displays included photographs William Hahn received several medals for of the Russian Federation in the U.S., inand stories of veterans who served. Among World War II service, including the 70th formed Todd Kreamer, USS Alabama his- year Anniversary Victory Medal of the Great those in the museum are Hahn, Rozum, torian, “We have good news for you.” Weigand, Orsund, and Goulet. Patriotic War. Hahn had applied for the medal years On the other side of world, the USS AlPHOTO COURTESY OF BRUCE HAHN earlier and already received it; the addiabama is forever moored in Mobile and is tional four crew members were accepted for the Ushakov. one of the top tourist destinations in the state. The five men repThe Russian government thanked the USS Alabama’s research resent many sailors on that ship who assisted a grateful nation a team for devotion and diligence in adding the five American sailors world away. attacking, stealing our supplies, and shooting us.” Rozum and Hahn both noted that British vessels also helped but were not enough. If the German battleship Tirpitz – sister ship of the Bismarck – attacked, Russia would need help. The USS Alabama was dispatched. Fast-forward to 2021.

The USS Battleship Alabama assisted the Soviets in the Arctic Northern Convoys in World War II. It’s now the centerpiece of Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile. PHOTO BY EMMETT BURNETT

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Prepare and make a plan By Derrill Holly


amilies always need to be prepared for emergencies, and ongoing concerns triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic have prompted several new recommendations for evacuation planning, emergency supply kits and community shelter operations. “We did a lot of work in 2020 to update our guidance for hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters to include COVID-19 guidance,” said Capt. Renee Funk, DVM of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the U.S. Public Health Service veterinarian, many of the precautions and revisions implemented as part of the pandemic response are expected to be among the CDC’s recommendations in place for 2021. Some are likely to remain in place permanently. Funk, who serves as the CDC’s associate director of emergency management, said personal protective gear, hygiene items and cleaning products are among the most prominent additions to every family’s emergency supply preparation lists. “We recommended a hand sanitizer that’s at least 60% alcohol, disinfectant wipes and two masks for each person,” said Funk. “Those things should be considered permanently added to your go kit, and you need to regularly check for expiration dates for these products.” Funk recommends that those items be included in both personal go kits and in the family’s cache of emergency supplies. She also suggests that when you review the expiration dates of perishables, like canned goods, other foods and medications, you also replace any cleaning items or protective gear that might also be out-of-date. The CDC is stressing the importance of early preparation. Checking and updating supplies before they are needed can prevent the need for shopping trips during the runup to threatening storms or other emergencies. If shopping excursions are needed, officials recommend that a limited number—one or two people, considered low risk—be designated to make all necessary shopping runs. Fresh approaches to community shelters implemented and refined in 2020 are 26  APRIL 2021

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also expected to remain in place indefinitely. Instead of large, centralized shelters in schools or other community buildings, the CDC, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and their state and community partners have turned to dispersed sheltering, which is more conducive to social distancing. “That means putting more people into hotel rooms, instead of into group or congregate shelters,” said Funk. “It costs a lot more money for FEMA to pay for all those hotel rooms, but American Red Cross generally coordinates sheltering, and they shifted really well.” Last year, Red Cross developed and deployed smart phone apps that helped keep track of shelter evacuees, allowing them to advise shelter coordinators about health concerns, shelter conditions and other issues. Remember, in the event of any emergency or natural disaster, you’ll want to

be prepared to shelter in place for several days if necessary. FEMA recommends having an emergency kit stocked with all important supplies in one or two containers that are easy to access. Visit ready.gov/ kit for a full checklist of disaster kit items and additional recommendations. While we certainly hope disaster doesn’t strike, it’s never a bad idea to be prepared. Spring and summer often bring severe storms, so now is the time to make a kit, make a plan and stay informed. That’s the best way to care for yourself and your family. Derrill Holly writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56% of the nation’s landscape.


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Apply for Medicare online with Social Security


id you know that you can apply for Medicare online even if you are not ready to retire? Applying online can take less than 10 minutes. There are no forms to sign and usually no required documentation. We’ll process your application and contact you if we need more information. Visit ssa.gov/benefits/medicare to begin. There, you can apply for Medicare and find other important information. People are usually eligible for Medicare at age 65. If you want to start receiving Medicare at age 65, your initial enrollment period begins three months before your 65th birthday and ends three months Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at kylle.mckinney@ssa.gov.


after that birthday. Some Medicare beneficiaries may qualify for Extra Help to pay for the monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and co-payments related to the Medicare Prescription Drug program. You must be receiving Medicare, have limited resources and income, and reside in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia to qualify for the Extra Help. More information on Extra Help is available at ssa.gov/benefits/medicare/prescriptionhelp. You may also be interested in reading these publications: • Apply Online for Medicare — Even if You Are Not Ready to Retire ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10530.pdf. • When to Start Receiving Retirement Benefits ssa.gov/pubs/ EN-05-10147.pdf. Help a friend or family member by sharing this information. It can improve the quality of their life.


Across 1 River that enters Alabama at Weiss Lake 4 State park where you can seek adventure and solitude on the highest point of Alabama 8 Doctrine 9 Sunflower relative 10 White birds with long necks 12 “Rainbow” fish 14 Include 15 Color 17 Lister’s abbreviation 18 Psychic power, briefly 19 Equine animal 21 Large water birds that migrate to Alabama in winter 23 Quiet! 24 Double __ Mountain, near Birmingham 26 Lake in Florence, Al 28 ____ Creek Reservoir in Franklin County 30 __ and behold 31 Rock fissure 35 Antlered animal 38 Very wet 40 Sharp-eyed high fliers 41 Everyday article

32 33 34 36 37 39

by Myles Mellor

Answers on Page 41

Wheel track Big wine holder Adequate grade Musical note Kilogram, for short Top grades

Down 1 River that forms part of the Alabama border 2 Campers’ area 3 It’s usually fresh outside 4 Alabama lake that’s perfect for reeling in bream, bass, crappie and catfish 5 Type of seal 6 Connections on vehicles to their loads 7 Stubborn animal 11 Moved a shrub to another area of the yard 13 Golf driving locale 16 “I’ll stay on the bus, forget about __ “ lyrics 20 Lots of fish 22 Reservoir south of the Goat Rock Dam 25 Emerged 27 At 264 feet, the deepest lake in Alabama 29 Play the part 28  APRIL 2021

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April | Around


Orange Beach, Interstate Mullet Toss, Flora-Bama Lounge. Proceeds from this beach party event, with categories for adults and kids, go to local charities. For a schedule of events and registration information, visit florabama.com

The Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic hosts about 60 local and PHOTO BY MICHAEL CORNELISON national hot-air balloons in Decatur.


3 Prattville,

Wilson Pickett Music and Arts Festival. In this all virtual event, you can shop online for original creations from local and regional artists; there will also be virtual workshops for music, visual art and cookie decorating. Enjoy performances by the Bama Sound, Cameron DuBois, a concert featuring Pickett’s hits and more. WilsonPickettFestival.com.

3 and 24-25

Maplesville, outdoor 3D archery tournament, hosted by the Chilton County Bowhunters. No admission charge, $15 to compete. All ages welcome. 317 Co Road 214, Maplesville. Follow the group on Facebook or call 334-407-1630.


Sylacauga, Magic of Marble Festival. This 12day event is a showcase for the area’s famous white marble. Sculptors will be working daily at Blue Bell Park, with an awards ceremony at 10 a.m. April 17. Also scheduled: A scavenger hunt, a 5K run, tours of the marble quarries and teaching by a visiting master sculptor. Sculptures from previous festivals will be on display at the Comer Library. Search Facebook for Sylacauga Marble Festival.


virtual, Food Entrepreneur Conference 2021, sponsored by the Alabama Extension Service. $50 for this two-day conference. Topics include: how food entrepreneurs became successful, rules from the state Department of Public Health, and financial information. Aces. edu/event/food-entrepreneur/ conference/fecf2021

15-May 20

Guntersville, Mountain Valley Arts Council’s free spring concert series at Errol Allan Park. 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. for six Thursdays. Food vendors on site. Bring lawn chairs. Search Mountain Valley Arts Council on Facebook or visit mvacarts.org/ events.


Guntersv ille, 60th annual Art on the Lake. Features more than 120 booths with fine arts and craftsmen from across the Southeast and beyond. Food vendors, outdoor games and rides and a bake shop. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. $2 ages 13 and older; event is rain or shine. 1500 Sunset Drive, Guntersville. ArtonthelakeGuntersville.com


Orange Beach, Bama Coast Cruisin’. This annual event will return to The Wharf, with vendors, a swap meet and a show and shine, among other family-friendly activities. Free. (The 2020 event was postponed until September due to COVID, and then canceled due to Hurricane Sally.) BamaCoastCruisin.com


J e m i so n , Antiques in the Garden, Petals From the Past, 16034 County Road 29. 9 a.m. to 5 pm. Variety of vendors selling antiques, crafts and collectibles. Food vendors will be available. PetalsFromthePast.com


Troy, TroyFest Art Festival, on the square in downtown. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Find TroyFest Artfestival on Facebook.


Calera, 10th annual Strawberry Festival, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Oliver Park, 9758 AL-25, Calera. Caleraparkandrec.com


Mobile, Hope for Healing celebration dinner, Mobile Convention Center. NFL quarterback Drew Brees is the guest speaker at this fundraiser for Victory Health Partners, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit health-care organization that serves the medically underserved. In-person and virtual tickets are available; visit VictoryHealth.org



Fitzpatrick, Red Door Theatre’s production of “In Her Own Fashion,” written and told by Dolores Hydock. 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. 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. 334-738-8687 or email info@reddoortheatre. org


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. Gmcba.org or call 256318-9161.



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 GulfCoastBalloonFestival.com


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


Auburn/Opelika, Lee County Master Gardeners Association 2021 Garden Tour. This year’s 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 $30; children under 12 admitted free. Lunch included, as is a bonus garden at the Auburn University president’s home. Rain or shine. Leemg.org


Pell City, 10th annual Logan Martin LakeFest and Boat Show, Lakeside Park. Live music all weekend. LoganMartinLakeFest. com.


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. AlabamaJubilee.net

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 events@alabamaliving.coop. or visit www.alabamaliving.coop. 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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| Alabama People |

Nelson Wells

On a mission to improve Alabama’s health

Talk about the genesis of the Lifetime Natural Organic Farm (LNOF). My family had a prison ministry in Verbena, Alabama, and I said we should do something to bring some money into the ministry. I decided to pitch an organic farm. I put together a team, and some of that team is still part of the LNOF. We put together about a 10acre farm, with 80 varieties of fruit trees. We were a biointensive farm – basically a high-yield farm, where you’re growing your plants closer together to get that higher yield. We had to sell the produce, and I didn’t know what to do. We had this beautiful product that was organic. I went to Whole Foods one day, said a prayer, and asked, “is the produce manager in?” (No, but a Whole Foods executive was; the relationships built then carried over to LNOF.) That farm, Verbena Hills Farm, was successful, but they chose not to pursue it. Being a non-profit, it wasn’t in their vision. So we moved on, and looked for property to start a commercial farm. And you landed in Macon County. Our adviser shared that we should go down to Tuskegee University, and go to the Carver Museum. I felt like the Lord wanted us to be in Tuskegee. Truly, it’s been a blessing. We felt this would be a great place to lay our heads, not only because we 30  APRIL 2021

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believed there would be a labor pool that wants to work, but (because of) the rich heritage of (famous scientist and inventor) George Washington Carver and (Tuskegee University founder) Booker T. Washington. There are so many people who believe there’s going to be a revival (here). It would be amazing if we could be a part of that history and reviving Tuskegee and Macon County, where people all over the world would know about Tuskegee through LNFO. That would be pretty cool in my book! Eating organic foods – why is that important to you? What you eat becomes part of you. If you eat something healthy, your body becomes healthy. When your body is healthy, the mind becomes clearer and healthier. Once the mind is clear, you’re able to discern, and become wise, and it affects you in your professional life and your growth. I’ve been a vegetarian almost all my life. Eating right and living right – I work out almost every day. And working out in the field, you stay healthy. If you live right, you eat right, age is nothing. Life is good! You want it to be a part of your business model as well? Part of my vision is to bring the health message – even before I thought about the organic farm, I’ve always thought about health. I was thinking about starting a TV show, or maybe a cooking show, or a blog about (healthy) cooking. We still plan on doing that. We (could) go out in the field, discuss what we’re picking, have a professor talk about the antioxidants of a plant-based meal, go into the kitchen, and create an amazing organic vegetarian and vegan meal. We’re working on that, but you can’t do everything at the same time. (Among the other ideas he and Joan want to pursue: Teaching people how to cook with fresh, healthy produce; opening a community center to provide classes for the community; and showing folks how to grow their own food.) You just have to keep that vision. You build the foundation, and then when the Lord sees fit, it comes to fruition. PHOTO BY ALLISON LAW

Standing 6-foot 5-inches tall with a football player’s physique, only the gray in his beard gives away Nelson Wells’ age. At 58, he says his good health is a reflection of his healthy lifestyle – and he wants all Alabamians to share in that mindset of wellness. He and his wife, Joan, own Lifetime Natural Organic Farm in Macon County, which grows, harvests and sells USDA-certified organic seasonal produce. The farm is already a supplier to Whole Foods, Publix and a school system in Alabama, but Wells has an ambitious vision to expand the farm’s economic base – and be a catalyst for change in the health of people in the Black Belt. He still talks a bit like the surfer dude he was growing up in San Diego – friends often call him “Kahuna” – before he went on to play football at the University of Southern California. He went on to work as a project manager for Fortune 500 companies and has traveled the world, but now he’s a farmer, and he’s proud to call Macon County home. – Allison Law

Editor’s note: To learn more about the farm, its goals and how you can be a part of its growth, visit LifetimeNaturalOrganicFarm.com www.alabamaliving.coop

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Alabama Living

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| Gardens |

Seed sourcing

The many benefits of seed saving and swapping B eginning this month, gardeners will be doing a whole lot of planting, which means we’ll all be looking for seeds and transplants of our favorite varieties. But what if we can’t find them? That happened in 2020 when demand for seed, spurred by the pandemic-inspired surge in gardening, outpaced supply, especially among heirloom varieties. According to Ira Wallace, co-owner and manager of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange — the go-to source for heirloom and opensource seeds adapted to the South — the cause of that shortage was two-fold. In some cases, not enough seed of some varieties had been produced the previous season to meet demand and new supplies couldn’t be produced overnight. In many cases, however, the seed supplies were there but the personnel to fulfill orders and slow shipping times hindered the process. While SESE and other seed suppliers are better prepared this year, Wallace encourages patience with the process, and she suggests it’s an opportunity to branch out. Of the 700-plus varieties on SESE’s website, less than 10 percent are in short supply or unavailable. That leaves many other choices to try and maybe find a new favorite in the process. Another solution is to use local seed banks, libraries and exchanges. A number of public libraries here in Alabama, including the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, have seed repositories; there are other seed sources here in the state, such as the Sand Mountain Seed Bank, that offer

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

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locally adapted seeds and participate in seed swaps. The idea of saving and sharing seeds is an age-old practice — early agriculturists had to save seed from one crop to ensure they could plant the next, and they often swapped extra seed with one another to spread the wealth. Though the practice waned with the advent of readily available commercial seed supplies, concerns about the impact these patented hybrids were having on biodiversity, seed accessibility and food security created a renewed interest in heirloom and open-pollinated seeds and plants and in sharing those with one another. Heirloom varieties, which SESE defines as “any variety dating to 1940 or earlier,” have been lost in the past century — and according to the Seed Savers Exchange, that loss includes some 75 percent of edible plant species. The seed saving movement, which began in earnest in the 1960s, has helped reclaim some of those varieties and led to the development of new ones, and it has created renewed interest in seed and plant swaps. Here in Alabama, opportunities for swapping and sharing exist in many communities, often organized through local garden groups and public gardens, and allow gardeners to exchange excess plant

material and much more. “Folks are really friendly at these swaps,” Wallace says. “And seed swaps aren’t just a place to get seeds but also the story of that seed,” and get expert advice and make connections with fellow gardeners. Though the pandemic caused the cancellation of many of these events in 2020 and 2021, they are expected to reopen in the coming months so check with local garden groups, public gardens and the Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network for updates. “Or organize your own,” Wallace says. Details on how to do that are available through a wide range of seed saving and gardening organizations. Yet another source of seed is from the very plants we grow in our very own gardens. Some seeds are easier to save than others, but advice on seed saving is readily available through the websites of SESE and other seed exchange and gardening organizations and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

APRIL TIPS • Sow seed or plant seedlings for summer vegetables and flowers.

• Be on the lookout for the emergence • • • • • •

of pesky weeds and insect and disease problems. Plant summer perennial flowers and warm-season herbs. Prepare lawn and garden equipment for the coming season. Take photos of the spring garden to document its beauty and progress. Keep bird baths and feeders full and clean. Clean empty pots and containers before replanting. Visit public gardens, which should be in full spring glory.


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Alabama Living

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Tackle treasures Alabama man gets hooked on handmade fishing lures By John N. Felsher


very angler has likely looked at a lure that wasn’t quite right and asked, “What if …?” Brandon Lee Betterton from Centre doesn’t need to wonder. If he wants a lure to look a certain way or with a particular paint scheme, he just makes a new one and paints it however he wants it to look. A former lineman for Cherokee Electric Cooperative, Betterton also worked as a safety specialist at the Alabama Rural Electric Association, which publishes Alabama Living. A few years ago, he started his own company, Better Safety and Training, to provide occupational safety and training services nationwide. The job puts him on the road frequently. When he needs to unwind after a long teaching session, Betterton makes wooden and plastic fishing lures. Living on Weiss Lake, one of the premier crappie reservoirs in the nation, Betterton loves to catch crappie. Naturally, he first tried to make better enticements to fool his favorite fish. “I started carving lures in 2018,” he recalls. “I tried to make crappie lures, but I just couldn’t get the action down correctly on the small baits.” Then, he turned a sad event into inspiration. His wife’s grandfather died at 93 years old and left a house full of old fishing tackle. Betterton and his wife bought the lake house and started looking through those antique wooden bass lures. “What piqued my interest in carving lures was my wife’s grandfather had a lot of antique fishing rods, reels, lures and other stuff,”

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Betterton says. “I started looking at those old-style lures and liked them. One rainy Fourth of July, I just grabbed a knife, a piece of wood and started carving.” He experimented with carving various designs. When he came up with a shape he liked, he made prototypes. Now, Betterton uses three different sheet metal templates to make two basic styles of crankbaits. Used primarily to catch largemouth bass, crankbaits can also attract many other species. Differentiating them from other lures, crankbaits come with metal or plastic lips to make them dive underwater and give them action. Some lures also come with rattles, usually tiny glass or plastic cylinders containing small metal balls that make noise when they roll around inside the chamber. “I make deep-diving crankbaits that are more rounded and flat-sided ones that normally dive to about two to three feet deep,” he says. “I’m still tinkering with prototypes, just trying to figure out the best styles. I’ve made some larger crankbaits that people could possibly use for saltwater fishing, but I have not tried them on fish yet.” He buys 12-inch blocks of basswood about 1.5 inches wide by 1.5 inches deep. When ready to carve, he puts the chosen template on the wooden block and draws an outline of the lure body. From that, he carves the shapes with a box opener-like straight razor. “Basswood is about the same density as balsa, but it’s more durable,” Betterton says. “It was a lot of trial and error trying to get the action and size down. It’s something I just have to do by eye.


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Alabama Living

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Brandon Betterton shows some of the fishing lures he’s made by hand. PHOTOS BY DANNY WESTON

I’m constantly looking at the amount I’m taking off from one side to make sure it’s even on the other side. I try to mimic the game fish on various lakes. For instance, if someone wants to fish Lake Guntersville, I will research and try to make something as close as possible to the fish in that lake.” After carving, he uses a Dremel tool for rough sanding to get the approximate shape. Then, he uses sandpaper to smooth it out for the final touches. After carving and sanding to get the body shape the way he wants it, he adds components like eyes, hooks, lips and rattles. “For the lips, I buy real thin sheets of Lexan and I cut the lips by hand or with a jigsaw,” he says. “Then, I sand them to get the profile correct. I scar the Lexan with a blade so it has a bit of surface area retention for the glue. There’s a two-part epoxy outer coat that I put on to protect the paint. I normally do two or three coats of the epoxy. One coat of it is supposed to be equivalent to 60 coats of polyurethane. Once I airbrush it, it’s ready to seal.”

Each carved wooden lure takes about four hours to make. He also buys plastic bodies, adds the components to them and paints them; lures with plastic bodies don’t take nearly as long to make. Usually, Betterton carves about 20 lures at a time and then moves onto the next step. He makes about 50 hand-carved lures a month. On both body types, some steps, such as gluing and painting, require hours to dry. He can’t hang lures to dry because wet paint will drip down and clump, so he rotates lures slowly and continuously on a rotisserie-type device so the baits dry evenly across the lure body. “It’s a very tedious process, but I thoroughly enjoy making the lures,” he says. “For me, it’s more about relaxation than anything else.” Most of his sales come through wordof-mouth, but Betterton does attend events, such as the annual fall festival in his hometown, to sell his baits. Lures range from $5 to $30. For more information, call Betterton at 334-320-3360.


Gather your best photos and get ready to enter the Alabama Living 2021 photo contest starting May 1 on alabamaliving.coop

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! 36  APRIL 2021

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Complete rules will be posted on alabamaliving.coop beginning May 1. 2020 first place in Rural Landscapes: Drew Senter of Oxford, Ala.


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Alabama Living

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| Outdoors |

Getting cranky

Diverse crankbaits can tempt bass all year long


ore than a century ago, Henry Dills of Garrett, Indiana create erratic action. When bass prey upon bluegills, use colors inserted a “stair-step” metal lip into the nose of a woodlike chartreuse and blue or chartreuse with some orange in it. en plug and created a new form of fishing lure. “When bass target bream, I throw a crankbait that looks like a The lip made the bait wobble like a struggling baitfish while bream,” Swindle says. “Whenever I’m fishing hot water, I want a the wood provided buoyancy. Among the oldest and easiest baits big, wide wobble. If I’m throwing in shallow cover that I can see, to use, crankbaits still catch fish because they resemble what fish I always go with a fat, square-lipped crankbait. I usually throw a want to eat – smaller fish! square-bill crankbait from late spring through early fall.” “Crankbaits are very versatile baits to throw all year long for Crankbaits with squared lips give off excellent vibrations so largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass,” says Gerald Swindle, they work great in murky water and at night. They don’t dive very a professional bass angler from Guntersville. “For colors, I like deep, making them superb choices for fishing around thick cover orange or red, something that looks like a crawfish, for fishing in such as fallen trees. super cold water. As water warms, I throw white or light shad col“A square-billed crankbait is one of my go-to baits,” says Kevin ors. In dirty water, I’ll mix in some blue and chartreuse or brown VanDam, a four-time Bassmaster Classic champion. “They have and chartreuse.” become a mainstay Today, some for catching bass crankbaits still use in shallow zones. metal lips, or bills, With angled bills, but most come they deflect off with plastic in cover well. People various sizes and can fish them in shapes. Some lures laydowns, brush, come lipless and rocks, gravel beds, give off tight wobgrass and other bles with slim baitcover. Many people fish profiles. Many think a square-bill crankbaits also inis only a warm-waclude internal ratter bait, but I’ll use tles that produce one all year long vibrations fish can whenever the fish detect from long are up shallow.” distances. Most anglers The longer and simply throw narrower the bill, crankbaits into the deeper the lure likely spots and dives. Baits with Becky Smith lands a bass that hit a crankbait in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta near Mobile, Ala. reel steadily toward PHOTO BY JOHN N. FELSHER long, scooped bills Crankbaits work best when bass key on shad or other baitfish. the boat, letting the run deep, but can lures provide the easily tire an angler repeatedly cranking them back to the boat. action. That catches fish, but anglers who vary their retrieves However, they make good choices for trolling in deep water. commonly catch more and bigger bass. Vary the retrieval speed Long, slender lures create subtle action that mimic shad. These and depth to see what fish want that day. baits typically work best during temperature extremes when bass “Very seldom do I just steadily retrieve a crankbait,” Swindle go deeper and become more lethargic. When fishing these baits, says. “I don’t jerk it either unless I’m trying to clear the grass. The use shad colors such as white or pearl. warmer the water, the more aggressive I work a bait. The stop“The thinner the bill, the tighter the wobble,” Swindle says. “In and-go retrieve is probably the most effective way to retrieve a the winter, I like to throw small wooden crankbaits with tiny, crankbait. I make a few turns on the reel and stop for a few morounded bills that produce very little action. The tight wobble is ments. Then, I start winding again.” like a shad in cold water, almost like a lipless crankbait.” Many anglers deliberately bump crankbaits into logs, rocks, Fish become more active as water warms in the spring. As the pilings, stumps or other cover. When the bait thumps against an season progresses, bass begin to prey more heavily upon bluegills object, pause the retrieve to simulate a fish that just stunned itself. and other bream species. Short, rounded baits mimic bream and More rounded, buoyant baits float over objects. When the bait clears the object, resume the retrieve. If the lip hits bottom, also pause to let the lure float upward a few feet. Lips digging into dirt John N. Felsher is a professional freelance writer who lives in simulate crawfish scurrying on the bottom. Semmes, Ala. He also hosts an outdoors tips show for WAVH FM Few bass would ignore an opportunity to snatch a struggling Talk 106.5 radio station in Mobile, Ala. Contact him at j.felsher@ hotmail.com or through Facebook. shad, bream, crawfish or other prey. Anglers just need to experiment with different styles and colors when they get cranking!

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

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 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

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


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 Th Fr Sa Su Mo

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 31

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

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


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

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


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

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

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 www.moontimes.com. Alabama Living

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| Consumer Wise |


By Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen


for home cooling

My wife and I have been in our 1,500-square-foot home with no air conditioning for 10 years now, and we’re tired of it! What options should we look into so we can stay cool this summer?

around for a while, but now there are portable options available. Evaporative cooling units can be less expensive than traditional A/C, but don’t buy one until you do the research to determine how well evaporative cooling works in your local area. Whatever you choose, make sure it is rated for the size of the space you are cooling. Cost: $149 to $1,000 per new unit (depending on your climate and how many square feet you’re trying to cool)


It’s the right time of year to think about how to stay cool this summer. There are a few low- and no-cost cooling strategies, like using ceiling fans to keep air moving, turning off unused electrical devices and appliances, and blocking direct sunlight with window coverings. If you live in a climate with cool summer evenings, you can let cool air in late at night or early in the morning, then seal up the home to keep that air from leaking out. If that’s not enough, you can install air conditioning (A/C). Below are three common options for home cooling, and we’ve included approximate cost estimates for each. But please be aware that costs are highly variable.

A window A/C can be an effective way to cool a single room. PHOTO COURTESY PAUL SULLIVAN

Window units/portable cooling

Window A/C units or portable A/C units are the lowest cost approach. Portable units can be moved from room to room and come equipped with a length of duct to exhaust hot air out a nearby window. Window units are mounted in a window opening and cool one room. The efficiency of portable and window units has improved over the years, but none of them are as efficient as most central A/C units or a mini-split heat pump. If you live in a hot, dry climate, you could consider an evaporative cooler (sometimes referred to as a swamp cooler). Window units have been 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 energytips@collaborativeefficiency. com for more information.

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Ductless mini-split heat pumps

A ductless mini-split heat pump has a compressor outside the home that’s connected to air handler units in as many as four rooms. Each room’s temperature can be controlled separately. Ductless mini-splits are an especially good choice for homes without forced air ducting systems or with leaky or undersized ductwork. Heat pumps can also be a supplemental source of heat in the winter. Cost: approximately $3,000 to $10,000 (including installation)

Central cooling

The condenser unit for a mini-split heat pump system is usually mounted on an exterior wall. PHOTO COURTESY GARY CZIKO

Central A/C systems typically have a compressor unit located outside the home. PHOTO COURTESY OPEN GRID SCHEDULER

If your home has forced air heating ductwork, it can be used for an A/C or heat pump unit. This is a good option if the ductwork is sized properly and doesn’t leak, and if ducts are in unheated attics or crawlspaces that are insulated. In some locations in the U.S., contractors can install evaporative cooling as a whole house system. Cost: Approximately $3,000 to $7,000 (not including repairs to ductwork) As always, you can save energy and money by purchasing ENERGY STAR®-rated appliances and collecting a few quotes from licensed contractors. We hope this information on home cooling options will start you on the path to a more comfortable home this summer. www.alabamaliving.coop

3/24/21 12:25 PM

Pay yourself first Paying yourself first by saving money can often be a challenge – especially during times of financial uncertainty. However, saving money is a critical component of financial wellness. Paying yourself first helps to:

1: Prepare for emergencies

Did you know over 70% of Americans have less than $400 set aside for unexpected life events? A great way to start saving is to have a portion of your paycheck automatically deposited into an interest-earning savings account. Let this be an account you only touch in case of an emergency, such as a car repair.

Get started on your savings goals with an ARECU Saver’s Club, an account created specifically to help you save smart. Call our TEAM at (334) 215-7328, mention this article and we will sponsor your initial $5 membership deposit to help you on your way.

Setting aside even $20 a paycheck is proven to provide a feeling of freedom due to the buffer savings gives you. Knowing a savings “nest egg” exists gives people more freedom to choose how to handle their finances, rather than feeling stuck in their circumstances.

Alabama Rural Electric Credit Union is committed to helping you achieve financial wellness. Visit www.arecu.net/financialwellness for an array of resources, including our new podcast, FinTALK Academy, featuring weekly money tips and strategies from our financial wellness TEAM.

3: Reduce stress


2: Provide a sense of freedom

Automatically saving a portion of your paycheck for specific expenses, such as holiday gifts, throughout the year helps to relieve the sense of urgency and stress many feel. List out the larger expenses you know you will see later on in the year and begin saving now.

Insured by NCUA.

Jacquie Johnson Director of Financial Wellness & Outreach jacquiejohnson@alabamaone.org (205) 342-0152

Cecilia Waits Financial Wellness Coordinator cwaits@arecu.net (334) 215-7328

Answers to puzzle on Page 28


WE SELL: Steel Trusses • Hay Barns Lumber • Equipment Sheds Building Material Packages Painted Metal • Work Shops Insulation • Kneebraces Galvalume Metal


256-747-8178 • FAX: 256-747-8760

Alabama Living

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| Alabama Recipes |


They're still incredible!

Food styling and photos: Brooke Echols

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ost everyone of a certain age can remember the long-running 1970s TV commercial jingle, “The incredible, edible egg.” That message still applies. In fact, when the COVID 19 pandemic led to stay-at-home orders nationwide, guess what started flying off grocery store shelves, along with toilet paper? Incredibly, it was eggs. “There was over a 70 percent spike in retail sales of eggs in a two-week period in March 2020,” says Marc Driesen, director of integrated communications for the American Egg Board. Why? “A lot had to do with the ease and versatility of eggs, and they’re so nutritionally valuable. You can hard boil them, put them on a salad, put it on a stick for a snack for kids. The average person has a limited recipe inventory, so now when you’re making breakfast, lunch and dinner 6 to 7 days a week,” he says, the variety of ways to cook an egg came in handy. Egg sales rose in 2020 by 8.2%, “and for a staple, that is a massive, massive number,” Driesen says. Egg consumption last year was 285.9 eggs per person, a figure that’s been going up every year for the past 50 years. “That means that Americans consumed 96 billion eggs in 2020,” he adds, or 12% more eggs per person than five years ago. “Eggs are on a roll.” Eggs make it easy to feed the whole family, he adds. And nutritionally, it’s hard to beat an egg. It’s packed with protein, Vitamin D, and choline, a nutrient critical to fetal brain development and throughout life for brain health, particularly in babies and older Americans. When eaten with vegetables, eggs help people better absorb nutrients in those veggies. And yes, eggs have dietary cholesterol, but the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans determined that dietary cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern. “This means that no compelling scientific evidence has shown a direct relationship between the cholesterol in food and most people’s blood cholesterol levels,” he says, and the American Heart Association has said eggs can be part of a hearty healthy diet. So, what’s the difference in all the colors and types of eggs out there? The Egg Board has a handy chart to help you sort them out (see page 45). Generally, all eggs have the same nutritional value. “There are a lot of choices out there, but the good news,” Driesen says, “is that there’s an egg for everybody.” -- Lenore Vickrey

Deviled Eggs in the Instant Pot 12 2/3 1/4 1/4 1/2

Photo by The Buttered Home

The Buttered Home Deviled eggs are a true Southern traditional food. Everyone has a prize-winning Brooke Burks recipe, it seems. Almost every cook I know has had some difficulty with getting their eggs “just right.” This month, we’re showing you how our favorite kitchen appliance can come to the rescue. These deviled eggs are on the dill and mustard side of the spectrum but still so delicious. And whether you like them sweet or savory, you can’t go wrong with our 6-7-8 Instant Pot method!

Alabama Living

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large eggs cup mayonnaise cup prepared mustard cup dill pickle relish teaspoon smoked paprika, plus a bit more for garnish Salt and pepper, to taste

Place trivet in Instant Pot and add 1 cup of water in pot. Place eggs on trivet in a single layer. Lock the lid, turn seal to closed position and set manual or pressure cook for 6 minutes. Once timer beeps that the IP is finished, turn off or cancel and allow to NPR (natural pressure release) for 7 minutes. After 7 minutes, release any remaining pressure by turning the vent and carefully open lid. Place eggs in an ice bath for 8 minutes. 6-7-8! Dry and peel. Cut eggs in half, lengthwise, and remove yolks. This should happen almost effortlessly. Mash the yolks with a fork and place the egg white boats on a pretty plate. Add the mayo, mustard, pickle relish, 1/2 tsp of paprika, salt and pepper and mix. Taste to make sure it’s just how you like it! Place mixture into a zip top bag and snip off a bottom corner. Boom! You have a homemade pastry bag (and yes, I have put a tip in mine before) Then, pipe that wonderfully devilish mixture into the egg white boats. Garnish with a little more smoked paprika and chill until ready to serve.

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Cook of the Month Victoria Motyka, Baldwin EMC Victoria Motyka says she uses two names for her winning recipe, because if you call it Bread Pudding it’s more like a dessert (if you add vanilla and sugar and leave out some of the other ingredients); but if you call it Egg Strata, it’s a breakfast casserole. The original recipe had three variations, she says, so you can change out the inside ingredients and have several different dishes. “I do the breakfast casseroles all the time,” says the Kentucky resident who is a member of Baldwin EMC and enjoys traveling to their condo on the beach. “It’s easy because you can make it the night before. I always use country ham in mine, but you can use bacon. I try to use three or four of the other ingredients, whatever I think looks good. Fresh mushrooms are always good. I also use a lot of fresh herbs, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, and by making it the day before all the flavors blend together.” --Lenore Vickrey

Bread Pudding or Egg Strata Custard-like Filling: 8 eggs 1 cup milk (or ½ cup half and half and ½ cup heavy cream) ¼ teaspoon each parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme (fresh preferred) ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon pepper 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard Bread and Ingredients: 4 cups mixed or plain bread, torn with or without crust Ingredients of choice: chopped spinach, chopped roasted red peppers, dried tomatoes, diced/cooked ham, broccoli, mushrooms, etc. Cheese Topping: 1 cup Gruyere cheese or cheese of choice, shredded Whisk or whip the custard-like filling in a mixing bowl. In another large bowl, loosely mix the torn bread and ingredients. Pour the custard-like filling into the bread and ingredients bowl and toss to absorb. Butter an 11x14-inch baking dish and transfer the now mixed ingredients into the baking dish. Press down with the back of a large spoon. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. Bake in a 375-degree oven until the casserole has “set," approximately 40-45 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle the cheese over the casserole. It will puff and turn golden after approximately 15 minutes more in the oven. When done, take out of the oven, allowing it to sit for 15 minutes before serving. The puffiness will go down.

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

Themes and Deadlines:

3 ways to submit:

Online: alabamaliving.coop July : Cucumber | April 2 Email: recipes@alabamaliving.coop August: Seafood | May 7 Mail: Recipes, P.O. Box 244014 September: My grandparent's Montgomery, AL 36124 favorite dish | June 4 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



Name: Address: City:



Phone Number:


3/24/21 12:25 PM


CRACKING EGG CODE Laid by hens not housed in enclosures. Hens roam in a building, room or open area that includes nest space and perches.

Laid by hens who roam and forage on a maintained pasture area. The USDA does not recognize a labeling definition for pastured eggs as no standards are established.

Laid by hens in enclosures that also serve as nesting space.







The color of the egg shell has nothing to do with the egg's nutritional value, quality or flavor. Hens with white feathers and white ear lobes lay white eggs; hens with red feathers and red ear lobes lay brown eggs










Laid by hens in enclosures that include perch space, dust bathing or scratch areas and nest space.


Laid by hens not housed in enclosures and with access to the outdoors. In addition to eating grains, these hens may forage for wild plants and insects.



Eggs heated to a temperature just below the coagulation point to destroy pathogens.








Laid by cage-free or free-range hens raised on certified organic feed and have access to the outdoors. The feed is grown without most synthetic pesticides, fungicides, herbicides or fertilizers and 100% of the agricultural ingredients must be certified organic.




Laid by hens fed a special diet rich in omega-3s. These eggs provide more omega-3 fatty acids, from 100 mg to over 600 mg per egg.


Laid by hens fed a vegetarian diet.

Graphic courtesy of American Egg Board

Keto Muffins

Mawmaw's Egg Custard Pie

Deviled Eggs

6 large eggs 6 sausage patties 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped 1/4 cup sweet pepper, finely chopped 1/2-3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated Salt and pepper, to taste

4 1 2 2 1 2/3 1 1/2 1

2 hard boiled eggs 1 4 ounces cream cheese, softened 2 tablespoons margarine, softened 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce 1 teaspoon ranch salad dressing mix 1 tablespoon yellow mustard 2 teaspoons pickled jalapeno peppers, finely chopped 1/3 cup ham, chopped Paprika

Use muffin pan that makes six large muffins. Preheat oven to 350. Spray pan with oil. Cook sausage patties, chop or crumble and put in bottom of muffin pan. Put onion and pepper in with sausage. Whisk eggs well and pour on top. Top with about 1 tablespoon cheese. Bake 12-15 minutes. They will puff up when are done and settle when cooled. Good for any meal. Heat in microwave for 30-40 seconds if you have leftovers. Also good with salsa and/or sour cream. Kathy Van Cor Baldwin EMC

Alabama Living

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eggs cup sugar tablespoons flour tablespoons butter, melted cup whole milk cup evaporated milk tablespoon vanilla extract teaspoon ground nutmeg prepared 8- inch pie crust

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, beat eggs for approximately 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar, flour, butter, milk, evaporated milk and vanilla extract. Mix well, then pour mixture into pastry shell. Bake in a preheated oven for 45 to 60 minutes, until the top is light brown. Sprinkle with ground nutmeg. Serve warm or at room temperature. Judy Thompson Baldwin EMC

Slice eggs in half, remove yolks and set whites aside. In a small bowl, take a fork and mash yolks. In a medium bowl, mix cream cheese and margarine, mix well. Add egg yolks and stir. Add remaining ingredients except paprika and mix well. Spoon mixture into egg whites and sprinkle with paprika. Yield: 2 dozen. Teresa Hubbard Franklin EC

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ALABAMA GARDENER’S CALENDAR Information provided by The Alabama Cooperative Extension Service. Find more at www.aces.edu/

April Fruits and Nuts

• Season for strawberry planting continues. • Start spray program for all fruits • Plant raspberries and blackberries and continue budding apples and peaches.


• Prune spring flowering shrubs after flowering. • Fertilize azaleas and camellias. • When new growth is half completed, spray all shrubs with a fungicide.


• Planting continues. • New lawns may need supplementary watering.


• Watch for insects and diseases. • Keep old flower heads removed. • Plant container-grown plants for nurseries or garden centers. • Annuals and Perennials • Plant early started annuals or bedding plants from nurseries or garden centers. • Divide mums or root cuttings. Dig and divide dahlias.


• Avoid cutting foliage of narcissus or other bulbs until it has turned brown naturally.

• Also, fertilize at 3- to 6-week intervals.

• Plant gladiolus, fancy-leaved caladiums, milk and wine lilies, and ginger and gloriosa lilies.

• Keep ryegrass cut low, particularly if overplanted on bermuda lawns.

• Feed bearded iris with superphosphate and spray for borers.


• Spray camellias, hollies, etc., for scale insects. • Carefully water new plantings of shrubs and trees. • Pinching out tips of new shoots promotes more compact shrubs.

Vegetable Seed

• Plant tender vegetables such as beans, corn, squash, melons and cucumbers. • Plant heat-loving vegetables in lower south Alabama. • Vegetable Plants • Plant tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, sweet potatoes, and parsley.

May Fruits and Nuts • Continue spray program. • Keep grass from around trees and strawberries. • Peaches and apples can still be budded.


• Spray weeds in lawns with proper herbicide.


• Spray or dust for insects and diseases. • Fertilize monthly according to a soil test.

• Newly planted shrubs need extra care now and in coming weeks.

• Container-grown plants in flower may be planted.

• Don’t spray with oil emulsions when temperature is above 85 degrees F.

• Prune climbing roses after the first big flush of flowering.


• Now is the best time to start lawns from seed.

• Water new lawns as needed to prevent drying. • Keep established lawns actively growing by watering, fertilizing, and mowing.

Annuals and Perennials

• Late plantings of bedding plants still have time to produce. • Watch for insects on day lilies.


• Summer bulbs started in containers may still be planted. • Do not remove foliage from spring

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flowering bulbs. • Do not let seedheads form on tulips and other spring flowering bulbs.


• Mulch new shrub plantings if not already done. • Avoid drying out new shrub, tree, and lawn plantings. • Delay pruning of fruiting shrubs such as cotoneasters, pyracanthas, and hollies until after flowering.

Vegetable Seed

• Plant heat-loving and tender vegetables. • Start cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and celery in cold frames for the fall garden.

Vegetable Plants

• Plant tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and sweet potatoes. APRIL 2021  47

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| Our Sources Say |

Griddy power T

his article was written the week after the failure of the Texas electric grid. Millions of customers had no power for days in freezing temperatures, and many who had power during the outage are now receiving power bills for thousands of dollars. Even as the Texas electric grid started failing and retail customers were being blacked out, fingers were pointed. The fossil fuel generators pointed at the renewable providers; renewable advocates pointed to natural gas plants and natural gas pipelines; the press pointed at ERCOT; coal haters pointed at coal generation; and politicians pointed at everyone but themselves. Texas suffered an extended, extreme cold spell. The press described it as an unprecedented cold wave; however, weather records indicate it has been as cold for as long or longer in Texas before. Wind turbines were frozen and were unable to run. Natural gas electric generation plants froze and could not produce electricity. Natural gas pipelines froze and could not deliver natural gas to some power plants. Some natural gas supply was diverted from electric generation to home heating. Some coal plants tripped off line and could not generate power. There was very little sun, so solar generation produced very little electricity. Finally, a nuclear plant tripped off line during the cold spell. All forms of electric generation suffered outages and had trouble generating at levels anywhere close to full capacity. However, it is our view that the Texas blackouts were not nearly as much generator failures as they were the failure of Texas’ de-regulated electric markets. Texas’ electric grid is an electric island in and of itself, and 90% of its electric grid is not connected to the rest of the country’s electric grid. Texas’ grid and utilities are not subject to federal regulation but instead are regulated and managed by ERCOT (the Electric Reliability Council of Texas). In the mid-1990s Texas moved to deregulated electric service under which retail customers can choose providers and plans under which they buy electricity. The functions of the electric markets are divided. Approximately 70 retail electric providers sell power to retail consumers; independent generators produce and sell wholesale power through hourly auctions managed by ERCOT to retail providers; and the incumbent utilities maintain the transmission and distribution lines to deliver power and arrange the supply of power to the retail consumers. In normal times, and almost all times are normal, retail consumers will purchase electricity from the cheapest provider and wholesale power generators with the cheapest wholesale cost will sell into the ERCOT markets. Some retail providers offer variable cost retail plans that offer electric consumers the opportunity to chase even lower costs that may be available through the markets. Reliability-minded wholesale generation providers that install

de-icing equipment on windmills, winterization measures on natural gas and coal plants, heat tracing equipment on generation piping and at natural gas regulation stations will be more expensive than those providers that do not. Wholesale generators also keep their generation reserves at the lowest allowable level to reduce costs. It follows that the wholesale generators with weatherization or de-icing facilities have a higher cost and will not win the lowest auction into ERCOT in most hours. Since the market is driven by the lowest cost of wholesale power, only the lowest cost wholesale providers survive. The Southeast, including Alabama, still primarily has regulated electric markets under which utilities are regulated by Public Service Commissions or by their retail customers themselves. Electric service is provided by incumbent electric providers who have monopoly service areas. Utilities in regulated markets are allowed to recover the cost of weatherization and backup reserve power from their retail consumers through their rate bases. PowerSouth and Alabama Power Company both retain 25% excess winter generation reserves in an attempt to avoid the problems experienced in Texas. While it may still be debatable if de-regulated markets provide cheaper retail electric costs, it is undeniable that regulated markets provide more reliable electric service. Which brings us to Griddy Energy, which at least until this week was a retail electric provider in Texas primarily marketing variable, real-time retail cost electric service plans. Griddy is also noted for its strong presence on social media platforms hawking its plans and communicating with electric consumers. Griddy’s message during the peak of the blackouts was: “Texas. Things out there really suck. ERCOT has allowed wholesale prices to go very high. You should switch to another provider.” Some Griddy customers were blacked out. Those who retained power and were on variable cost plans have received bills for as much as $7,000 for February. Of course, complaints have been lodged and lawsuits filed. Griddy has been suspended from providing electric service until the mess is sorted out. People feel cheated, but they made the decision to chase the lowest cost power at the cost of reliability and the cost of very high wholesale power in peak periods. Griddy places the blame on ERCOT for allowing the cost of wholesale electricity to increase. However, the real blame lies in the construction of a de-regulated energy market where reliability is trumped by the desire for cheap electricity. At times, I hear people complain about having no choice in electric providers and about cost. I am not hearing those complaints this week. I hope you have a good month.

Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.

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3/15/21 4:00 PM

| Classifieds | How To Place a Line Ad in Marketplace Closing Deadlines (in our office): June 2021 Issue by April 25 July 2021 Issue by May 25 August 2021 Issue by June 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 hdutton@areapower.com; 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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Alabama Living

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FREE BIBLE CORRESPONDENCE COURSE – write to P.O. Box 52, Trinity, AL, 35673

APRIL 2021  49

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| Hardy Jackson's Alabama |

An ‘undie-niable’ rite of spring ead the other day how up in Pennsylvania a man was arrested for loitering outside a college dormitory and when he was searched the authorities discovered “four pairs of women’s panties and three bras stuffed into his pants.” While reading that, the years rolled back and I remembered how many of my generation could have been arrested for the same offense. And as those memories became clearer, I was transported to a simpler time, a time where spring brought with it a campus ritual that today would be a felony. PANTY RAID! It was 1964. The weather had warmed. The sap was rising. I was a student at a small Methodist college on the edge of a large Southern industrial city. A lot was going on. The Beatles had arrived. The Civil Rights Movement was swirling about us. People were beginning to talk about a place called Vietnam. But what interested us that day was the word circulating among the men that we all were to assemble at the quad after supper. Now the quad was the grassy space around which dorms were clustered – men’s dorms and women’s dorms – so close that if the shades weren’t drawn each could see easily into the other – but the women’s always were. Drawn. As the sun set guys gathered, “college men,” but with adolescence still coursing through their veins. Then, slowly, lowly, the chant began: “Panty, panty, panty, panty . . . .” The chant grew louder. Dorm windows filled with girls. Challenges were shouted. Undergarments were waved. Dares and double-dares and double-dog-dares went round. Then it happened. One guy broke from the pack. Ran across the quad. Leaped to grab the ledge of an open window, and disappeared into the room. A moment later he emerged, prize in hand. That was all it took. The crowd surged into the dorm, raced across the lobby, flung open the doors that guarded the inner

Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Professor Emeritus at Jacksonville State University. He can be reached at hhjackson43@gmail.com.

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Illustration by Dennis Auth


sanctum where only women were allowed, and filled the hall with men. Girls, squealing in mock-fright, took to their rooms, with would-be plunderers right behind them. The “Dorm Mother,” who had an apartment in the building, grabbed her telephone and called Campus Security, a retired policeman moonlighting to supplement Social Security. Finding no comfort in his “I’ll be there in a minute,” she rushed back out into the hall, notebook in hand, to record the names of the trespassers. But after years of indifference to all but her female charges, she discovered that, to her distress, all men looked alike. The raiders scurried for the nearest exit. And as quickly as it began, it was over. Then the campus cop arrived, and found that the girls could not (or would not) identify the invaders. Meanwhile, in the Men’s Dorms trophies were displayed, lies were swapped, and everyone felt good about themselves. Or at least that’s what those involved told me happened. Of course, I wasn’t there. I was in my room studying. www.alabamaliving.coop

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