May 2019 Clarke-Washington

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Stories | Recipes | Events | People | Places | Things | Local News May 2019



Montgomery Youth Tour Taking milkshakes to the extreme Rural dental health



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.

Taking it to the extreme


Milkshakes aren’t just for sipping anymore. “Extreme” milkshakes have elevated what was once just a simple sweet thing to a flashy, showy star, with fruit, candy, cookies or even a slice of cake. We’ve got the scoop on a few of our favorite Alabama places for indulging in these crazy creations.

VOL. 72 NO. 5 n MAY 2019


POSTMASTER send forms 3579 to: Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, Alabama 36124-4014.



AREA President Fred Braswell Editor Lenore Vickrey Managing Editor Allison Law Creative Director Mark Stephenson Art Director Danny Weston Advertising Director Jacob Johnson Graphic Designer/Ad Coordinator Brooke Echols Communications Coordinator Laura Stewart Graphic Designer Kaitlyn Allen




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Our readers love to work in their gardens, and this month’s snapshots prove it.

Bicentennial farms

Family farms in existence more than 200 years are being recognized to celebrate the state’s bicentennial.

Tex-Mex treats

A blend of flavors from Mexico with Texas “cowboy culture” tastes take center stage in our reader-submitted recipes.



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

My garden


WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! ONLINE: EMAIL: MAIL: Alabama Living 340 Technacenter Drive Montgomery, AL 36117

In this issue: Page 16 Page 28

11 Spotlight 29 Around Alabama 38 Gardens 42 Outdoors 43 Fish & Game Forecast 44 Cook of the Month 54 Hardy Jackson’s Alabama ONLINE: ON THE COVER:

Each year, Clarke-Washington EMC provides this special opportunity to four students to learn about electric cooperatives. PHOTO: Sarah Hansen MAY 2019 3

Electrical Safety Month OFFICE LOCATIONS Jackson Office 9000 Highway 43 P.O. Box 398 Jackson, AL 36545 251-246-9081 Chatom Office P.O. Box 143 Chatom, AL 36518 251-847-2302 Toll Free Number 1-800-323-9081. 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 143 Chatom, AL 36518 Office During normal office hours at our Chatom and Jackson offices. Phone 855-870-0403 Online Night Deposit 24/7 at Jackson & Chatom CWEMC App Available from the App Store and Google Play


1.800.323.9081 TO REPORT A POWER OUTAGE 4 MAY 2019

May is national electrical safety month but we stress safety year-round at CWEMC. In fact, we don’t just stress safety at work but at home as well. The topic for our safety meeting last month was Outdoor Safety and if you’re like me, you’ve probably been spring cleaning at home and will continue into the summer. It is especially important that you not let your guard down while working around the house. We stress to our employees in safety training meetings that the same rules apply at home. One of the most serious work and home accidents involves the use of ladders. We go to great lengths at work to have our ladders inspected and tested on a regular basis to make sure they are safe and we spend a great deal of time teaching our employees how to use a ladder safely – at work or home. I encourage you to observe the following ladder safety tips provided by the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration. Falls from portable ladders (step, straight, combination and extension) are one of the leading causes of occupational fatalities and injuries. • Read and follow all labels/markings on the ladder. • Avoid electrical hazards! – Look for overhead power lines before handling a ladder. Avoid using a metal ladder near power lines or exposed energized electrical equipment. • Always inspect the ladder prior to using it. If the ladder is damaged, it must be removed from service and tagged until repaired or discarded. • Always maintain a 3-point (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand) contact on the ladder when climbing. Keep your body near the middle of the step and always face the ladder while climbing.

• Do not use a self-supporting ladder (e.g., step ladder) as a single ladder or in a partially closed position. • Do not use the top step/rung of a ladder as a step/rung unless it was designed for that purpose. • Use a ladder only on a stable and level surface, unless it has been secured (top or bottom) to prevent displacement. • Do not place a ladder on boxes, barrels or other unstable bases to obtain additional height. • Do not move or shift a ladder while a person or equipment is on the ladder. • An extension or straight ladder used to access an elevated surface must extend at least 3 feet above the point of support. Do not stand on the three top rungs of a straight, single or extension ladder. • The proper angle for setting up a ladder is to place its base a quarter of the working length of the ladder from the wall or other vertical surface. • A ladder placed in any location where it can be displaced by other work activities must be secured to prevent displacement or a barricade must be erected to keep traffic away from the ladder. • Be sure that all locks on an extension ladder are properly engaged. • Do not exceed the maximum load rating of a ladder. Be aware of the ladder’s load rating and of the weight it is supporting, including the weight of any tools or equipment. Thank you.

• Only use ladders and appropriate accessories (ladder levelers, jacks or hooks) for their designed purposes. • Ladders must be free of any slippery material on the rungs, steps or feet.

Steve Sheffield General Manager

CWEMC offices will be closed Monday, May 27 for Memorial Day. Clarke-Washington EMC extends our appreciation to all those who have given their lives in service to our country.

| Clarke-Washington EMC |

Students learn electrical safety This month, we would like to take a moment to reflect on the importance of safety. May is Electrical Safety Month and the fifth and sixth grade at Leroy High School learned about electrical safety in March. The students learned how electricity creates a better quality of life for everyone and that if not used properly, electricity can be dangerous. Arthur McBride and Jermarka Williams from Clarke-Washington EMC showed the students electrical safety equipment that linemen wear such as safety gloves and hard hats and explained that is why they can work on power lines safely. Through programs like Safety City, Clarke-Washington EMC makes learning fun, especially when it comes to important issues like staying safe around electricity. Some of the safety tips discussed were: • Never climb a tree if there is a power line nearby. • Never climb a power pole. • Never go near a fallen power line. • Never fly kites near power lines. • Never touch anything that uses electricity while standing in water. • Keep ladders, antennas or any other tools away from power lines. There is no better way to get an electrical safety message across than to show a group of elementary student what happens when Neon Leon and Lightning Liz touch a live electric line.

Clarke-Washington EMC understands the importance of student success and supports them and our schools every step of the way. To learn more about Safety City, or to schedule a Safety City visit to your school or organization, email or call 1.800.323.9081.

Alabama Living

MAY 2019  5

MONTGOMERY 9 1 2 0 YOUTH TOUR In March, four local high school juniors from the Clarke-Washington area joined more than 150 students from across the state of Alabama for the Rural Electric Cooperative Montgomery Youth Tour. Each year, Clarke-Washington EMC provides this special opportunity to four students to learn about electric cooperatives, interact with elected representatives and tour the many historical stops in Montgomery while making friends from across the state. CWEMC’s Youth Tour Coordinator, Sarah Hansen, said, “Youth Tour provides young leaders in our area

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the opportunity to increase their understanding of the electric cooperative and become more familiar with the history of our state. This gives them a chance to get out of their comfort zone and meet other young leaders from across the state of Alabama.” This year’s youth tour delegates included Addis Griffin (Jackson High School), Mary Alex McNider (Clarke Prep), Sophie Sanderson (Millry High School) and Dylan Kimbrough (Jackson High School). The students arrived on Tuesday, March 12 and started with many interactive games allowing students

to learn about electric cooperatives, followed by dinner and a night of fun at a local bowling alley. Guest speaker for the event was Cea Cohen-Elliot, who shared stories with the students about the importance of leadership and how the students can be leaders in their community. “Making lifelong friends and Cea teaching us about self worth and how you can overcome any obstacle in life would be my favorite part about the trip,” Griffin said. “I have become more outspoken and confident, and I have learned that sometimes you need to take a step back and think outside of the box.”

Hearing from Cea Cohen-Elliot was a highlight for this year’s attendees. Kimbrough agrees that hearing Cea speak was his favorite part. “She spoke about aspects of life that teenagers go through and she expressed her story, but she also entertained us and that made me love her motivational speaking,” said Kimbrough. McNider would also agree. “Cea, really hit home with me because she felt the way I have always felt my whole life. She gave me a completely new mind set. She showed me that I am enough and I don’t have to fit in or have everyone like me. That I can be myself, and if I love and respect myself then that is all that matters.” On Wednesday, the students participated in leadership and team-building activities during the morning session before splitting into groups for the tours around Montgomery. Clarke-Washington EMC’s students toured Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, an exhibit inside the Alabama Archives building and the Capitol. Students returned to hear from Max Copeland, the 2018 Alabama YLC delegate, before ending the day with dinner and a dance. Alabama Living

To conclude the trip, students visited the State House where they met with legislators and had the opportunity to ask many questions about current issues impacting our state. “My favorite things about Youth Tour was seeing the State House and being able to act as a representative for a day . I loved being able to ask thoughtful questions to real representatives and legislators,” says Sanderson. “It really fueled my love for politics and being a part of the decisions that can change peoples lives for the better.” Clarke-Washington EMC has been sending high school students from the area since the early 70s. n

MAY 2019  7

Let’s power safety Safety tips for piers and docks As it gets closer to summer, Clarke-Washington EMC wants to make sure you take safety precautions when you are near piers and docks. Residents in our region of the country are known for their love of the water. But we all are acutely aware that electricity and water are a dangerous – and possibly fatal – combination. Swimmers and boat owners at piers, docks and marinas need to take a few steps to make sure their time in and on the water is safe. While this might seem like common sense, boats and docks are often powered by electricity. One mistake could lead to tragedy. Please consider: Unfortunately, there is no visible warning for electrified water. Electric current in water causes a paralysis of muscles, which results in drowning. As a little as 10 milliamps (1/50th of the amount used by a 60 watt light bulb) can cause paralysis and drowning. If you are swimming – or have contact with water – and feel a tingling, the water might be electrified. Immediately get out of the water and avoid using metal objects such as a ladder. That person should immediately alert others, try to stay upright, tuck legs to be smaller, and swim away from anything that could be energized. If you believe an electrical drowning is occurring,

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immediately turn off all power, throw a life ring to the person and call 911. Do not enter the water, as it could still be electrified. If you own a dock or pier, install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) and test them monthly. Be sure to use portable “UL-Marine List” GFCIs when using electricity near water. If you own a boat that uses electricity, consider having Equipment Leakage Circuit Interrupters (ELCI) installed to protect swimmers from electric shock in the water around the boat. The Energy Education Council recommends that all electrical installations be performed by a professional electrical contractor familiar with marine codes and standards. Additionally, neighboring docks can present a shock hazard. Make sure your neighbors are aware of the need of safety inspections and maintenance. The organization also recommends that individuals not swim around docks with electrical equipment or boats plugged into shore power. Many ESD (electrical shock drowning) deaths have occurred around private docks and boats plugged into shore power while docked. At Clarke-Washington EMC, safety is our top priority. We value your membership. We value you. n

| Alabama Snapshots |

My backyard in Hampton Cove, Al. SUBMITTED BY Jeannie Russell, Owens Cross Roads.

Flowers blooming in South Alabama. SUBMITTED BY Debra Jones, Foley.

Flower Garden Daffodil garden. SUBMITTED BY Jeff Huie, Springville.

Peggy’s flower garden. SUBMITTED BY Peggy Harrison, Maplesville. Princess feathers 2018. SUBMITTED BY Bertie Smith, Andalusia. SUBMITTED BY Keith Cain, Arab.

Opie loves to help mom and dad with the garden! SUBMITTED BY Loyd our 91-year-old LanceIvey, Hubbard, Lineville. grandpa, still blesses the community of Henagar with his gorgeous flower gardens. SUBMITTED BY Candace Sizemore, Pisgah.

Submit Your Images! July Theme: “At the beach” Deadline for July: May 31

SUBMIT PHOTOS ONLINE: or send color photos with a self-addressed stamped envelope to: Photos, Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 RULES: Alabama Living will pay $10 for photos that best match our theme of the month. Photos may also be published on our website at and on our Facebook page. Alabama Living is not responsible for lost or damaged photos. Alabama Living

MAY 2019 9


Social Security honors and supports military members Every year, on Memorial Day, the nation honors service members who have given their lives for our freedom. Social Security acknowledges the sacrifice of our military’s service members, and we honor these heroes and their families who may need help through the benefits we provide. Widows, widowers, and their dependent children may be eligible for Social Security survivors benefits. You can learn more about those benefits at www. It’s also important to recognize those service members who have been wounded. Social Security offers benefits to protect veterans when an injury prevents Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at

Whereville, AL Identify and place this Alabama landmark and you could win $25! Winner is chosen at random from all correct entries. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified. Send your answer by May 10 with your name, address and the name of your rural electric cooperative. The winner and answer will be announced in the June issue. Submit by email:, or by mail: Whereville, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124. 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.

10 MAY 2019

them from returning to active duty or performing other work. Wounded military service members can also receive expedited processing of their Social Security disability claims. For example, Social Security will expedite disability claims filed by veterans who have a 100 percent Permanent & Total compensation rating from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Both the VA and Social Security have disability programs. You may find that you qualify for disability benefits through one program but not the other, or that you qualify for both. Depending on the situation, some family members of military personnel, including dependent children, and, in some cases, spouses, may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits. You can get answers to commonly asked questions and find useful information


There are varying accounts of the history of the so-called “elephant service station,” located on the north side of Alabama Highway 22/Main Street in Roanoke. Our winner with the correct guess is William Sanders of Tallapoosa River EC. According to history posted on, the building was constructed as a dentist’s office in the 1940s and the odd shapes were made to resemble teeth. When it was later converted for use as a service station, it was modified into a crude elephant. But another online history holds that it was designed to be a replica of a rocky cliff with a lighthouse on top. Over time, the lighthouse leaked and was taken down, and part of the south end was cut off to make room for a used car lot. As years passed, people forgot about the lighthouse, and in trying to figure out what the building was supposed to be, decided it resembled an elephant. A later owner painted the eye, further enhancing the image.

about the application process at www. Service members can also receive Social Security in addition to military retirement benefits. The good news is that your military retirement benefit generally does not reduce your Social Security retirement benefit. Learn more about Social Security retirement benefits at retirement. You may also want to visit the Military Service page of our Retirement Planner, available at planners/retire/veterans.html. Please share this information with a military family who may not know about these benefits. In acknowledgment of those heroes who died for our country, those who served, and those who serve today, we at Social Security honor and thank you.

Swarming bees are nothing to fear Each spring, healthy colonies of honeybees swarm – their natural way to procreate. While it’s vital for the colonies to swarm, the mere thought of thousands of bees in close proximity causes home and business owners to become fearful, especially if children are nearby. But please, don’t kill the bees. That’s the word from Vince Wallace, a Tuscaloosa County beekeeper and president of the West Alabama Beekeepers Association. When they swarm, the honeybees are simply in transition between residences, because the original colony has grown to capacity and needs room to expand. Wallace says that a swarm of bees is actually very docile, because they are gorged with honey and simply in a transitional phase while scout bees search for a new residence. Honeybees are vital to our food supply, because they pollinate the plants that humans and animal species rely on for survival. “There are numerous beekeepers that would gladly come and retrieve bees” from anxious property owners, Wallace says. He asks that instead of turning to insecticide, first contact a professional beekeeper. There’s a swarm removal list, sorted by geographical location, at

May | Spotlight Level Plains buries 100-year time capsule May 18, 1933

Congress created the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the nation’s largest public power company. Congress charged the TVA, a New Deal agency, with regulating President John F. Kennedy speaks at Muscle the flow and Shoals on TVA’s 30th anniversary, May 18, 1963. navigation of the Tennessee River, producing inexpensive hydroelectric power, developing chemical fertilizers, conserving natural resources, and increasing industrial development in the valley. The valley, which was deeply affected by the Great Depression and includes north Alabama, benefited greatly from TVA. Between 1929 and 1950, manufacturing employment in the region grew from 222,000 jobs to 382,000 while income from manufacturing increased by 442 percent. Today, the TVA continues to employ nearly 2,000 individuals and serves more than 504,000 households in Alabama alone.

Find the hidden dingbat! It looks like we made finding the April dingbat, the bunny rabbit, a bit easier than the four-leaf clover in March, as more than 1,500 readers entered the contest! We were especially glad to get entries from our younger readers (we’re looking at you, Arina Ellard from Baldwin EMC), and from those who’ve been reading our magazine for more than 40 years. Most entries correctly found the rabbit in a picture frame on Page 22, although some of you saw him in a head of lettuce on Page 36, and another claimed to see a rabbit under the chair in the illustration for Hardy Jackson’s column on Page 54. More than one reader saw a rabbit under the paw of a dog featured in Snapshots, and one said the rabbit was in a photo of a barn quilt on Page 14. All very creative guesses, but the winner of our $25 prize, drawn from all the correct answers, is Glenn Cryer of Somerville, a member of Joe Wheeler EMC. This month, we’ve hidden a garden trowel in our pages. Many of you are working in your gardens this time of year, so start “digging” in this issue to see if you can spot it! Remember: It won’t be in an ad, or on Pages 1 through 8. Good luck! Entries must be received by May 10. By mail: Find the Dingbat Alabama Living PO Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 Alabama Living

By email:

As part of Alabama’s Bicentennial events, the city of Level Plains in Dale County is burying a 100-year time capsule, filled with items that capture life in 2019 to share with the citizens of Alabama and beyond when it’s opened in 2119. A copy of Alabama Living will be included in the capsule. The capsule is part of a celebration on April 30, the 54th anniversary of the community’s formation. A $2,500 grant from the Alabama Bicentennial Commission is helping to fund this educational project to tell the story of how Level Plains was established. Residents will be invited to participate by sharing their own histories and stories.

Made-in-Alabama film released Alabama filmmaker Renee Williams is celebrating the recent national release of her first feature film “Traces of Indignity,” produced by ClassA Entertainment. Talent from across Alabama and the Southeast can be seen in the direct-to-video film, which was shot almost entirely in Montgomery. “My goal as a writer, producer, and director working in the Southeast is to not only touch lives, but change lives,” Williams says. “The Southeast has become a growing mecca for entertainment and I’m just here doing my part.” The film’s protagonist is an accomplished author and public speaker who has achieved fame and fortune in her career. She and her family fall victim to stalking and media backlash that leads her to unveil her secretive past through a number of twists and turns. “’Traces of Indignity’ follows a wealthy African-American character whose focus is not only to entertain the masses, but to uplift and inspire others as well,” Williams says. “But she is not without her own faults and indiscretions.” In her feature film debut, Weber is played by actress Kris Lloyd of Montgomery, who served as the film’s lead and its executive producer. Also featured is actress Michelle Sanford from Auburn, who plays story-hungry journalist Ruby Sayers, and actress Jessica Osborn from Prattville, in the role of Dr. Weber’s publicist, Sonya. “Traces of Indignity” is available at Wal-Mart or Amazon. MAY 2019 11



By Angela Minor


hen warm weather arrived at my grandparents’ north Alabama home, the ice cream maker appeared on the patio. It was time to hand crank some homemade deliciousness. This seemingly endless process, however, was always delayed by some mysterious bird in the nearby field. Granddaddy would motion for my brother and me to stop cranking and listen. “Bobwhite is saying his name! Hear him?” he’d exclaim. While I wasn’t exactly sure if I heard anything, or why a bird would be talking in words for that matter, those are now fledgling memories of my life as a birder. “Alabama is the fifth most biodiverse state in the U.S.,” says Greg Harber, Birmingham Audubon board member. “This translates into great plant and animal diversity, including the state’s bird populations. Its location on the northern Gulf coast underscores Alabama’s importance to Neotropical migrants during spring and fall.” Dr. Geoffrey Hill, ornithology professor at Auburn University and president-elect of the Alabama Ornithological Society, says, “Alabama has thousands of miles of low-traffic country roads through diverse habitats where birding is both productive and relaxing.” He then adds, “We also have some of the most beautiful and ‘birdiest’ white sand beaches in the world!”

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Photos by Michael Todd Walls of Jericho Forever Wild tract & Skyline WMA

More than 40,000 combined acres of protected land in Alabama’s northeastern corner is a spring warbler destination. Contiguous undeveloped forests, woodland gaps and grassy coves, mountains, karst formations, and some of the highest water quality streams in the state create rich habitat for birds, endemic inverte-

Cerulean Warbler

brates, native freshwater fish, herpetofauna and cave-dwelling species. Site No. 41 (Northeast Loop) of the North Alabama Birding Trail system offers easy access in this area. Bird list highlights: Cerulean Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, Scarlet Tanager, Wood Thrush, Ruffed Grouse (resident)

Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge

“Winter brings thousands of ducks, geese, and cranes to Wheeler NWR, which hosts the largest wintering population of federally endangered Whooping Cranes,” says Harber. Following this, spring migration at the edge of the Mississippi Flyway is rich with warblers, vireos, and other passerines on their way north. Three hundred bird species, 47 mammalian species, 75 species of reptiles, 115 fish species, and dozens of invertebrates make this region of Alabama’s Tennessee River Valley their home. Multiple Central Loops on the North Alabama Birding Trail system access the Wheeler NWR. Bird list highlights: Savannah, Chipping, Song, Swamp, and Field Sparrows; Summer and Scarlet Tanager; Prothonotary, Blackpoll, Bay-breasted, Pine, Tennessee, and Palm Warblers; Common Yellowthroat; Ruby-crowned Kinglet; Tree, Northern Rough-winged, and Bank Swallow; Horned Lark; Great-crested Flycatcher; Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs; American Coot; Double-crested Cormorant.

Bankhead National Forest

The 180,000 acres of national forest in three northwestern counties are classified as one of American Bird Conservancy’s “500 Most Important Bird Areas in the United States.” The Sipsey Wilderness and Brushy Lake Area are included in this contiguous forest, with patches of virgin

Kentucky Warbler

timber, dramatic canyons, gentle waterfalls, and scenic waterways. Enjoy sites No. 14 and No. 15 (Northwest Loop) of the North Alabama Birding Trail system. Bird list highlights: Cerulean Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Summer Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Ovenbird, Hooded, Kentucky, and Worm-eating Warblers, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Acadian Flycatcher, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Wood Pewee, Rusty Blackbird (winters here, migrates north early spring), Northern Bobwhite (resident), Red-headed Woodpecker (resident).

Key Cave National Wildlife Refuge

Unique ecosystems at this small 1,060acre refuge protect endangered cavefish, two blind crayfish species, 40,000 endangered Gray Bats, and 160 species of birds. Habitats of upland hardwood forests, na-

Yellow-breasted Chat Alabama Living

tive warm-season grasses, and oak-hickory forests sit atop the critical groundwater recharge zone for the area. Site No. 9 (Northwest Loop) of the North Alabama Birding Trail is in this refuge. Bird list highlights: Northern Bobwhite, Eastern Bluebird, Field Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow (state’s highest density), Dickcissel (state’s highest density), Eastern Meadowlark, Northern Harrier, Short-eared Owl.

resident), Red Crossbill (nomadic/(winters here, migrates north early spring), Bachman’s Sparrow (resident), Barred Owl (resident).

Talladega National Forest (Shoal Creek/Talladega District & Oakmulgee District)

This Important Bird Area (IBA) of 391,000 acres is divided into two districts across central Alabama. They protect what remains of an ancient forested ecosystem that once stretched from Texas to the Carolina and Virginia coasts. Large variation in elevations, multiple rivers, edge habitats, bottomlands, open glades, and other environments make these two locations busy highways for both spring and fall migration. Find multiple sites with hundreds of miles of trails in the southeastern portion of the Appalachian Highlands Birding Trail system, and the West Alabama Birding Trail system respectively. Bird list highlights: Black-throated Green Warbler, Blue-headed Vireo, Indigo Bunting (important migration patterns), Blue Grosbeak, Yellow-breasted Chat, Red-cockaded Woodpecker (rare,

Indigo Bunting

State Cattle Ranch/ Black Belt IBA

Located in the Black Belt, this 4,600acre grassland tract is a botanically unique area similar to the tall grass prairies of the American Midwest. Purchased via the Forever Wild Program, efforts to re-establish native grasses benefit numerous grassland bird species. Also, a suite of long-legged waders frequent the property’s numerous ponds. The M. Barnett Lawley Forever Wild Field Trial Area is open to birders (who should make prior arrangements with the site’s manager). Bird list highlights: American White Pelican, Great Blue, Green, and Little Blue Herons, Snowy and Great Egrets, Wood MAY 2019  13

Stork (summer), Pied-billed Grebe (resident), LeConte’s Sparrow (winters here, migrates north early spring), Henslow’s Sparrow, Painted Bunting.

Eufaula NWR

This is the destination for waders, waterfowl, shorebirds, marsh birds, hawks, and Neotropical migrants riding the Mississippi and Atlantic Flyways. Both banks of the Chattahoochee River on the Alabama-Georgia state line, as well as islands, open water, palustrine wetlands, and upland forests, make this location a critical migratory stopover and breeding site. Five Wiregrass Birding Trail sites provide access into this area. Bird list highlights: Sandhill Crane, King Rail, Bald Eagle, Snow Goose, Northern Shoveler, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Wood Duck (resident).

Conecuh National Forest IBA

As part of a 1 million-acre conservation corridor extending into the Florida panhandle, this region protects an 84,000acre southern Longleaf Pine ecosystem including river floodplain hardwood forests. In addition to miles of hiking trails, there are many options for birding by water as the area is also rich with wetlands, bogs, creeks, and swamps. Auburn University’s Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center is located within the national forest. Birders can schedule visits at the headquarters.

Eastern Wood Pewee

Bird list highlights: Red-cockaded Woodpecker (colony), Bachman’s Sparrow (global species of concern), Henslow’s Sparrow, Northern Bobwhite (global species of concern), Painted Bunting, Barred Owl, Summer Tanager, Yellow-breasted Chat, Wild Turkey, Yellow-billed Cuckoo

14 MAY 2019

Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Come for the wildflowers and stay for the birds. This area of rare pine savanna (crossing the shared southernmost border of Alabama and Mississippi) is a living mechanism of fresh- to saltwater transition in a relatively undisturbed ecosystem, ending in coastal salt marsh habitats. Alongside orchids, pitcher plants, sedges, rushes, and carnivorous sundews, springtime welcomes hundreds of avian migrants. Explore the Henderson Camp Road – Grand Bay Savanna Forever Wild Tract. Bird list highlights: Black and Yellow Rails, Seaside Sparrow, Swallow-tailed Kite, Whimbrel, Loggerhead Shrike, Redwinged Blackbird, Red-headed Woodpecker, White-eyed Vireo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.

Scarlet Tanager

Dauphin Island/Fort Morgan IBAs

“Alabama is quite the treasure when it comes to coastal birds and Neotropical migrants. These locations are a crucial part of the Mississippi Flyway,” says Emma Rhodes, Mobile Bay biologist. “Having these protected lands ensures suitable stopover habitat, the sustainability of ecosystems, and the enjoyment of nature for future generations. “The vast array of breeding plumage colors are amazing, particularly during a fallout event. Also, Pelican Island (on Dauphin) can be productive for a diversity of shorebirds, waders, and ducks.” Six Alabama Coastal Birding Trail Loops offer 200+ miles of birding in the region. Bird list highlights: Piping, Wilson’s, and Snowy Plovers, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Marbled Godwit, Red Knot, Orchard Oriole, Parasitic Jaeger, Brown Pelican, Osprey, Sanderling, Laughing Gull, Whiteand Red-eyed Vireos, Northern Parula. Harber concludes, “Encouragingly, there are some large private landowners and conservation groups who work diligently to enhance and manage habitats for species of concern. When taken in conjunction with state and federal lands, this helps meet the needs of our native birds and other wildlife. And, it makes Alabama a great place to go birding any season of the year.” And decades later, I still stop what I’m doing to listen to a bird song or zoom in with my binoculars on a flit of color in the trees. Thank you, granddaddy!

For additional information, visit the following birding organizations: • • • • •

Alabama Living

MAY 2019  15

By Jim Plott


efore Alabama became a state in 1819 and the outbreak of the “Alabama fever” that would follow, many families had already moved west to what was then the Mississippi Territory. Obtaining land patents, three families migrated from Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia to establish new farms in the sparsely settled regions. More than 200 years later, three descendant families continue to utilize those same soils tilled by their early arriving ancestors and every generation since. As a result, those families were acknowledged through the state’s Bicentennial Farm Program. Headed by the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, the program recognizes Alabamians who are still

active in some form of agriculture on at least 40 acres of land and can document their ancestry 200 years or more back to the same land. “With the state’s 200th birthday coming in December of 2019 and all of the celebration preparations being made for Alabama’s Bicentennial, it seemed like the perfect idea,” says Amy Belcher, state Agriculture communications director.

Establishing a legacy

More than likely the Harrison, Wallace and Cates families took the Federal Road to settle into what is now Butler County. They all settled within a few miles of the rough, narrow trail that extended from Fort Mitchell on the Georgia line to Fort Stoddert in Mobile County.

Farms in the family Alabama pays tribute to its Bicentennial farms

16 MAY 2019

Don Hardy and his daughter, Mary Wood Hardy, display the Bicentennial Farm sign they received. Behind them is the farm’s main house, built in 1886. PHOTO BY JIM PLOTT

In the western part of the state, two other families claimed land in what is now Greene County. Col. John McKee, Indian agent of the Cherokees, Choctaws and Chickasaws and later U.S. Congressman, settled near present-day Boligee and built a house, “Hill of Howth.” In later years, William Proctor Gould, whom McKee regarded almost as an adoptive son, brought his family to live in the house with McKee. Gould inherited the property at McKee’s death. Just a short distance away during that same era, Thomas Reeves and his family moved to the area from Virginia and began the process of clearing land on 150 acres. The Harrisons, Wallaces and Cates, who settled just north of present-day Greenville, married into each other’s families. Like many farm families of the times, they likely came to frontier Alabama out of necessity, Ann Cates Boutwell said of her ancestors. “They would pick up and leave the farms they had, and think nothing of it,” says Boutwell. “They had basically worn out the land they were farming. They didn’t understand at that time the need to replenish the soil to grow crops.” Col. Eric Cates Sr., who died this year at 99, was the last one to grow crops and raise cattle on what has become known as Persimmon Ridge Farm. He also had a distinguished military career serving in both World War II and the Korean Conflict and later with Alabama National Guard. In addition, he served in the state Legislature. “Every generation of my family farmed,” Boutwell says. “My father started farming when he was 14 years old and basically farmed all his life, and our family grew up in a farming environment. When he got older he converted all the farmland and pastures to timber and divided the land up among his children.” Boutwell might have left the farm, but she didn’t exactly leave farming. Her husband, John Boutwell, also a Butler County native, took a job with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. That job progressed to one with McQueen Smith Farms in Prattville, where the Boutwells live. John Boutwell also spent several years row-crop farming on leased property in Autauga County. While Don Wood, 58, a descendant of Thomas Reeves, lives and works as a certified public accountant in nearby Tuscaloosa, he and his 11-year-old daughter, Mary Hardy Wood, still manage to maintain what is now a 1,455-acre farm, Wilkes Alabama Living

Ann and John Boutwell look over family history records of the Cates’ Persimmon Ridge Farm PHOTO BY JIM PLOTT in Butler County. The Josiah Seaborn Cates family included Eric O. Cates Sr., grandfather of Ann Cates Boutwell and Eric O. Cates III. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

MAY 2019  17

Jonathan Harrison obtained a land patent, signed by President James Monroe, for his acreage in present day Butler County. PHOTO BY JIM PLOTT

Creek Plantation. He raises cattle and his farm is used to grow soybeans, cotton and timber. During the non-growing season, he manages a successful commercial hunting operation that has attracted country musicians like Blake Shelton and the late Troy Gentry and numerous Alabama and Auburn sports legends. “I always knew I would be involved in some activity at Wilkes Creek Plantation because it has been a big part of my life,” Wood says. “The love of the land and being able to spend time outdoors has kept me in farming. It keeps me in touch with my family heritage.”

The Bicentennial Farm Awards program is ongoing, and landowners who meet the following qualifications may apply as future recipients. • Farm must have been in the same family for at least 200 years. • Farm must be at least 40 acres of land owned by the applicant or nominee. • Farm must currently have some agricultural activities. • Applicant must reside in Alabama. • Owner must complete an Ownership Registration Form supplied by the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries.

Wood admits that even he is astonished that the farm, with its ebbs and flows, has made it through six generations in the same family. He hopes it will continue. “It is humbling to know that my family has held onto the land for longer than Alabama has been a state,” Wood says. “I have included Mary Hardy in my farming operation since she was a baby. I am hoping to pass it on to her.” Wood’s ancestor, Methodist minister William Stith Hardy, built the current house – said to be haunted – in late 1886. The property also contains a church built in 1830 where William Stith Hardy later pastored. A large barn, constructed in the early 1900s to replace an earlier barn built in 1880, remains in use.

Farming heritage

Thet Spree, 70, grew up in the Hill of the Howth homestead and was living there when the land was divided up among heirs and the house, originally a log structure, was dismantled and used for con-

struction of another house in the county seat, Eutaw. Howth is an Irish term for health and was called that after the Choctaws showed the site to McKee. “It never floods, and the water runs all year,” says Spree, who now owns the property and an additional 5,000 acres where he cattle farms, raises catfish and grows timber. While Eric Cates III, 62, has spent much of his adult life away from the farm, lessons learned growing up in an agricultural environment still have an impact. “I think the passage of time and departing a familiar place like the farm helps you better reflect on the value of those experiences,” Cates says. “I certainly gained an appreciation for what all farmers and their families learned. Our dad was always so proud of our farming heritage and instilled that in each of us, which is why ‘The Farm’ remains a focal point for our families and a place where we continue to gather frequently.” The farming heritage will continue in some manner at Persimmon Ridge. The Boutwells’ son, Andrew, is employed with an Atlanta-based forestry consultant firm and also manages all of the timberlands grown at Persimmon Ridge Farms. Wood says farming has always been a business of highs and lows, but he is confident that because of recent trends in consumer demands, agricultural opportunities will abound on Wilkes Plantation for Mary Hardy and for smaller farms in general. “I would encourage anyone interested in agriculture to pursue their dreams,” Wood says. “People worldwide have become more and more conscious of what they are putting in their bodies. I think it’s only going to get better for the agriculture industry. Find your niche and go for it.”

The barn is still well utilized on Wilkes Creek Plantation.


Landowners should contact Amy Belcher at 334-240-7126 or by email at amy.belcher@ to receive an application. A copy of the application is also available on the department’s website agi.alabama. gov under the “Forms” tab at “Century & Heritage Farm.” 18 MAY 2019

Alabama Living

MAY 2019  19

Rural dental care a challenge in Alabama By M.J. Ellington


ach workday morning, Dr. Dwayne Albritton leaves his home in the greater Birmingham area and heads to his general dentistry office. Three days a week, the office is a few miles away. Two days of his work week, however, his office is 60 miles away in a different county. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, Albritton drives a few minutes to his office in Vestavia. Wednesdays and Fridays, he travels over an hour through the countryside to his office in rural Rockford. Melding the needs of the two practices is something he’s done for 22 years. He is the only dentist office in Rockford, population 447 and the county seat of Coosa County. Rockford is just one example of the growing concern that dental and public health experts have as they try to address an alarming shortage of dentists in Alabama’s small rural towns. Albritton is no stranger to small towns. The town where he grew up in Massachusetts had fewer than 10,000 people. The atmosphere in Rockford reminds him of childhood. “There is a need for a dentist in Rockford,” Albritton says. “I love it down there.” But people graduating from dental school now usually skip small towns and set up shop in larger places. Alabama health care planners look at patterns showing where dentists live and work and their current age. Planners say new dentists often leave school owing $250,000-$300,000 or more in dental school debt. The debt is a major reason dentists choose a larger city practices. “Sometimes it is the travel time, the schools, other family needs,” Albritton says. “If there were incentives to a new dentist to go to a rural area, it would be great.”

Recruitment a challenge for rural towns

The way Albritton acquired his Rockford dental office shows the challenge that small rural Alabama communities face when trying to recruit dentists. The town’s only dentist had been killed in a car accident. The dentist’s family had tried for

20 MAY 2019

some time to find a buyer for the practice with no success. Albritton sold another small dental practice in Ashville to a colleague and bought the one in Rockford, where he is able to treat patients with typical dental needs, some with dental insurance, some children with Medicaid, others who pay with cash. He sees more adults needing teeth pulled in the rural practice, and some rural patients may wait longer between dental visits if funds are tight or transportation is a problem. Dr. Stuart Lockwood, a retired state dental officer and epidemiologist with the Alabama Department of Public Health, grew up in Union Springs and opened his first dental practice there. Lockwood then specialized in public health epidemiology, at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Washington, D.C. before returning to Alabama. As an epidemiologist, Lockwood looks at causes of disease and injury and then seeks ways to stop problems that can have negative impact on health. Lockwood studies the ages of Alabama dentists and where they locate their offices and compares that data with parts of the state that have the greatest dentist shortages. Lockwood then can determine where the provider gaps are and help predict future needs. He gets his figures by studying the Dental Care Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

dental students who agree to practice in a small Alabama town. Studstill said if new dentists can be drawn to rural communities in exchange for tuition help, some will love life there. “Small-town Alabama is such a good life. Small-town Alabama deserves good health care,” says Studstill, who grew up in Andalusia. The dental organizations and other providers helped secure passage of a tuition scholarship in the 2016 session of the Legislature, but the scholarship funding was cut in budget negotiations. As of press time, a tuition scholarship bill, SB144, was under consideration again in the 2019 legislative session.

Longer waits ahead without help

Others view of Alabama’s dental needs

Lockwood said planners believe if current patterns in dental care availability remain, rural Alabamians in the future will face longer waits for dental appointments and travel greater distances to get to the dentist. He is working with The Alabama Dental Association, providers and other advocates who want the Legislature to fund dental school tuition scholarships. Dr. Zack Studstill, dental association executive director, said the scholarships would fund four $45,000-per-year ongoing tuition scholarships for qualified

A taste of small-town practice

Students at the state’s only dental school, at the University of Alabama School of Dentistry in Birmingham, get a taste of what a dental practice would be like during placements at community health programs. The dental school partners with 14 community health centers across the state, including some that have dental care for patients, says Dr. Conan Davis, assistant dean for community collaborations. Davis says the dental school credentials health center dentists to serve as adjunct faculty to mentor students. He also teaches a class in community dentistry that teaches students to be advocates for their patients. Davis called the class a way to give students “a broader view of the world beyond people just like them.”

Dr. Richard Simpson, a pediatric dentist in private practice in Tuscaloosa, is chair of the Oral Health Coalition of Alabama. Simpson said more than 90 percent of Alabama children have oral health coverage either through dental insurance, All Kids, Medicaid or other programs that provide care for children. He hopes that children who receive regular care now will not have the dental problems that adults without dental care now have. State Dental Director Tommy Johnson

was in private practice in Mobile before he came to the Alabama Department of Public Health a year ago. Johnson said Alabama provides coverage for children’s dental care, but adults, especially if they are low-income and live in rural areas, have challenges finding and paying for dental care. Transportation can be a problem. Alabama does not pay for dental care for adults on Medicaid, so adults with income well below the poverty level often end up having problem teeth pulled as a result. But Alabama Medicaid Director Danny Rush said the program does have some non-emergency transportation funding to help patients get to a doctor’s office. Alabama rural health advocate Dale Quinney is a retired director of the Alabama Rural Health Association. Quinney questions whether dental hygienists could clean and check teeth for problems in rural areas and use telehealth to connect with a dentist who could check for problems. Johnson said the public health department already uses telehealth, and designs and builds programs to communicate with public health clinics around the state. “I would like very much to be able to incorporate tele-dentistry in public health at some point, but the Alabama Dental Practice Act requires direct supervision of dental treatment by a dentist,” Johnson says. The dental association’s Studstill said current Alabama law requires that a dentist be in the same location as a hygienist or other dental professional doing cleaning or other preventive or diagnostic treatment. Studstill said the requirement is a patient safety issue in case a patient has problems with bleeding or other medical issue needing quick response of a dentist. The law is one that he said the dental association and the Board of Dental Examiners support. But along with the telehealth tools that the Department of Public Health has, Studstill said the dental school is developing telehealth capabilities to help dentists practicing in small towns consult with specialists who are usually in larger city settings. Bradley W. Edmonds, executive director of the Alabama Board of Dental Examiners, says the board is aware that there are concerns about access to dental care in rural areas. He said the board earlier this year voted to allow dental hygienists with additional training to administer local anesthesia by injection, something he said is a step toward better access to care.  Alabama Living

MAY 2019 21

Emma Greer prepares ingredients for an extreme milkshake at the Mason Jar in Auburn. PHOTO BY JULIE BENNETT

Shakes that take the cake By Jennifer Kornegay


(and put them on top)

n the dessert realm, milkshakes are fairly humble concoctions. They lack the fanfare of an expertly iced, lofty layer cake. They don’t require the skill that’s behind a flaky pastry or a perfect pie crust filled with rich custard or succulent seasonal fruits. Milk plus ice cream plus a sufficient “shaking” (or stirring) motion to blend the two ingredients together equals a milkshake. It’s as basic as it gets. Until recently. Enter “extreme” milkshakes. These incredible edible edifices are constructed with creativity and great care. The creamy

milkshake itself is merely the foundation for myriad embellishments: multiple sauces and drizzles, bits of candy and crushed cereal, pillows of marshmallow fluff and whipped cream, entire wedges of cake or cookies precariously balanced on the edge of the vessel holding the shake’s liquid base. These milkshakes have raised the bar significantly, elevating what was once just a simple sweet thing to a flashy, showy star. Here’s the scoop on a few of our favorite Alabama places for indulging in these crazy creations.

The Yard Milkshake Bar


Gulf Shores

22 MAY 2019

Owners of Gulf Shores’ Island Ice Cream & Treats, Chelsea and Logan Green opened The Yard Milkshake Bar in 2017. The couple wanted to expand their ice cream business but knew that to stand out in the crowded beach scene, they’d need a unique concept. “I had so many ideas on new ways to make ice cream interesting, and these milkshakes were one of them,” Chelsea says. “I instantly knew we’d found our niche in the ice cream industry.” The numbers prove her right. Last year, The Yard sold almost 90,000 milkshakes in Gulf Shores. In addition to the original spot in Gulf Shores, there are locations of The Yard in Fairhope and in Panama City Beach, Fla., with a franchise location just opened in Mississippi and additional locations in the works. They all boast the same “over-thetop” appeal that brings in crowds who are happy to pay upwards of $13 for a single milkshake. Chelsea shared why she believes they

do, and how every customer helps promote the business. “Everyone loves ice cream, and when it’s as pretty as the milkshakes we make, people want to show it off,” she says. “Our shakes are known as ‘Instagram worthy.’ When someone posts their shake on social media, more people see it, and come in to get their own picture.” They truly are a treat for the eyes. The Unicorn is a rainbow explosion of cotton candy, sparkling sprinkles, glistening marshmallow cream and an upside-down sugar cone “horn.” But when it comes to food, looks only go so far, as Chelsea explained. “They’re visually appealing, but they also taste amazing.” According to several who’ve had The Yard’s best seller, the Cookie Dough Delicious, with cookie dough ice cream in a chocolate-iced jar dipped in chocolate chips and then topped with chocolate chip cookie dough and a drizzle of fudge sauce, this grand chocolate feast far surpasses the last part of its name. Other varieties include Monkey Meets the Moose and Salted Caramel Cheesecake. “At The Yard, the milkshakes come first,” Chelsea says. “We spend hours coming up with specials and unique combinations that not only look great but taste great too.”

Alabama Living

MAY 2019  23

K&J Elegant Pastries & Creamery Alabaster

Chef Kristal Bryant opened her bakery in 2013, and when she put extreme milkshakes on her menu in early 2017, she claims she was the first in the state to do so. “A customer had shown me an article about milkshakes in Australia called Freak Shakes that had all these elements. They were really cool, and I thought ‘How fun! I’d love to do those at some point,’” she says. When she moved to a new location in February 2017, the space had room for tables and chairs, so she decided to add to her offerings. “There was no one in our area offering hand-dipped ice cream, so I decided we’d do that, and then I remembered the milkshakes, so we added them too,” she says. She created the flavors, gave them names and sketched how they’d look. As soon as they were available, they were a hit. “When I first saw one, my reaction was just ‘wow!’. And it made me smile. I think that’s why others like them so much too,” Kristal says. The Cookies and Cream milkshake with extras like an entire scratch-made brownie, a cloud of whipped cream and an ice-cream cookie sandwich all stacked on top is a jaw-dropping sight. “People see that come out, and they’re like, ‘Whoa!’,” Kristal says. But it’s equally taste-bud-tantalizing, thanks to Kristal’s use of premium ingredients like Blue Bell ice creams and her own fresh-baked-daily delights. “I am huge on quality and consistency,” she says. “That’s what makes our shakes really special.”

A patron sips an extreme milkshake at Auburn’s Mason Jar.

A Kollosal S’Mores Shake at K&J. PHOTO COURTESY K&J

The Mason Jar Auburn


24 MAY 2019

Grab a booth at The Mason Jar and settle into its cozy country-style digs for a meal of Southern standards: country fried steak, chicken and dumplings and fried green tomatoes are popular orders. But most diners remember to save some stomach space for dessert. If they’re in the mood for one of this eatery’s extreme milkshakes, they know to set aside a lot of it, since the shakes earn the adjective “extreme” for the almost ridiculous number of toppings. With its rather pedestrian name, the Peach milkshake seems tame. But when it arrives at the table with four other entire desserts jutting out of the top, the truth sets in. There’s an iced peach honey bun (that when peaches are in season will be traded for a ripe peach), a delicate sugar cookie, a sugar cone filled with warm peach cobbler and a vanilla cream horn. Finally, three gummy peach candies ring the straw that extends through layers of whipped cream into the milkshake studded with peach bits. Owner Danny North explained how milkshakes became part of the Mason Jar’s offerings. “My wife Christie had the idea,” he says. “She thought we should do something different and special that would enhance our guests’ dining experience.” The shakes have done just that; the Mason Jar is becoming known for them. “People love milkshakes in general. But when you start jazzing them up with crazy toppings, it makes for a lot of fun for kids and even the adults,” Danny says. A sense of whimsy is evident in the themes that inspire many of the shakes, like Birthday Cake, Mermaid and the Super Hero (complete with an Astro pop, Rice Krispie treat and gummy bears). “We put a lot of thought into each shake,” Danny says. “We also use a premium ice cream along with quality toppings. They’re all really good shakes.” But Danny does admit to playing favorites. “My favorite is the Strawberry Cheese Cake,” he said. “We recently designed a Banana Split shake that’s really good too, though, so I may have two favorites.”

Alabama Living

MAY 2019  25

| Alabama People |

Dr. William E. “Bill” Barrick

Preserving our horticultural heritage Dr. William E. “Bill” Barrick is an expert on garden plants and design, but he’s also a believer that gardens are places for people as much as for plants. That belief has constantly informed his 40-plus year career as an award-winning horticulturist and public garden director, first at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Ga., and then at the 65-acre historic Bellingrath Gardens and Home in Theodore, Ala. As he prepares to retire in July after 18 years as Bellingrath’s executive director, he looked back on the path that first led him to gardens and to making Bellingrath a major Gulf Coast tourist destination that attracts 110,000 visitors from across the globe each year. – Katie Jackson Why horticulture? I grew up in Dothan, Ala., and was surrounded by neighbors who were avid gardeners. One of my neighbors was even named Mrs. Flowers and she had a fulltime gardener named George and her own greenhouse where she grew flowers for her home and garden. Another neighbor was an FBI agent who hybridized daylilies as a hobby. My third-grade teacher’s father lived in our neighborhood and hybridized camellias. But perhaps the greatest influence on my life was my grandfather, who took care of a two-acre vegetable garden until the age of 100, so I caught the gardening bug at an early age. What drew you to it as a career and kept you in it? I attended Auburn University, majoring in botany for my undergraduate degree, and received a master’s degree in horticulture two years later. After a two-year stint in the Army, I attended Michigan State University, where I received my Ph.D in landscape horticulture, then I taught at the University of Florida for four years before going to work at Callaway Gardens, which began my career in public gardens. My career at Callaway was an exciting time and, over the years, I was part of the design team that led to the construction of the John A. Sibley Ho r t i c u l t u r e

Center, the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center and the new Brothers’ Azalea Garden. How does managing Bellingrath Gardens compare with managing Callaway Gardens? In some sense, managing both gardens is quite similar as both share a legacy of having visionary founders and both have an emphasis on display, rather than on maintaining documented collections of woody plants. The major difference from a career standpoint was that my emphasis at Callaway was on creating new garden amenities for our visitors, while at Bellingrath my emphasis has been on garden restoration. While a major emphasis at Callaway was growing and displaying native species of Southeastern flora, the majority of plantings in Bellingrath Gardens — camellias and azaleas — have their origin in the Orient. Bellingrath Gardens and Home are located in a hurricane-prone part of the state. How have storms such as Hurricane Frederic and others affected the estate? I don’t have a personal knowledge of the efforts required for rebuilding Bellingrath after Frederic — which struck on Sept. 12, 1979, and closed the Gardens and Home until March 1, 1980 — but I can fully appreciate the efforts required to remove virtually all of the downed tree canopy. Overnight, the Gardens transitioned from the deep shade provided by the live oak canopy to a full sun garden, so the Gardens essentially had to be replanted with azaleas and camellias along with restoring the tree canopy. Fortunately, in my tenure, Hurricanes Rita, Ivan and Katrina did minor damage by comparison to Frederic. How do you prepare for storms today? With modern-day weather forecasting, hurricane preparation is much easier, but the Bellingrath Home, Boehm Gallery and Chapel have to be boarded up to prevent damage to these buildings, or to the Bessie Morse collection of antique furniture, porcelains and silver. Typically, the gardeners move planters, hanging baskets and cast-iron furniture to safer locations. What do gardens such as Bellingrath provide to community and to humanity? Throughout my career in public horticulture, I have been made fully aware of the value of public gardens. Increasingly through technology and the pace in which we all live, we are separated from nature. Gardens offer visitors the opportunity to restore their souls and be inspired by the beauty of God’s creation. We are called to be stewards of God’s creation and, in the case of Bellingrath, to be inspired by our founders’ vision and their generosity to preserve part our state’s cultural heritage. What are you planning after retirement? Are there other gardens in your future? Jessica and I plan on continuing to live in Mobile, but she is hopeful we will spend more time in Asheville, N.C., where she grew up. Both of us want to continue to serve in other cultural organizations, too. The gardens in our future will be ones we visit as we love to travel and see other public and private gardens. And, I hope, my back will allow me to garden, for a change, in my own back yard.

26 MAY 2019

Alabama Living

MAY 2019  27

28  MAY 2019

May | Around Alabama


Mentone, Rhododendron Festival. Handmade arts and crafts, live music, food and more. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. May 18 and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. May 19 at Brow Park.

Photo courtesy of Landmark Park.


Visit Landmark Park in Dothan and get hands-on with heavy equipment at Touch-A-Truck on May 4.


Foley, Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival. Foley Soccer Complex, 998 W. Section St. More than 40 hot air balloons from across the country featuring tethered rides, entertainment, carnival attractions, food and arts and crafts. 2-10 p.m. May 3; 9 a.m.-10 p.m. May 4.


Dothan, Touch a Truck at Landmark Park, 430 Landmark Drive. Hands-on opportunity to explore a variety of heavy equipment, trucks and machinery. Concessions will be available and you are welcome to bring a picnic to the park. $7 for adults, $5 for kids and free for children under 2 and park members. 10 a.m.-1 p.m.


Guntersville, Live Longer Happy Fest, Civitan Park, 1120 Sunset Drive. Country and bluegrass music, food, children’s activities, various classes, locally made products and pet adoption event. Proceeds benefit local veterans and rescue shelters. 9 a.m.-6 p.m.


Lafayette, The Oaks is hosting the Piedmont District Log A Load for Kids Annual Sporting Clay Shoot, Turkey Shoot, Live Auction and more. Proceeds benefit Children’s Hospital. For more information, call 334-234-1118 or email


Lincoln, 5th Annual Blue Eye Creek Festival, Blue Eye Creek Trail and England Park, 45 Crawford Street. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Youth fishing derby and concerts throughout the day.


Opelika, Garden in the Park. Arts and crafts festival featuring children’s activities and live entertainment by local schools and dance groups. All items sold will be homegrown or handmade. Event is free, but food donations will be collected for the East Alabama Food Bank. Opelika Municipal Park, 1102 Denson Drive.


Clanton, Alabama State Master Gardener Association Spring Conference, Clanton Performing Arts Center. Public is invited. Pre-registration is required.


Athens, Mother’s Day in the Orchard at Isom’s Orchard. Ladies from the community and local quilt guilds will host a luncheon and quilt showing between the rows of peach trees. Proceeds will be donated to the Alabama Veterans Museum’s expansion project. Tickets can be purchased by calling 256-771-7578.


Jasper, 16th Annual Art in the Park, juried show features original art by local and regional artists, kids’ activities, dance troupes, music and food.

Featured artist is Maurice Cook. For more information, visit our Facebook page or call 205-221-1711.


Union Springs, 40th Annual Chunnenuggee Fair in downtown, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Fine arts and crafts, live entertainment and children’s activities and lots of food. Sponsored by Bullock County Historical Society.


Pell City, Logan Martin Lakefest and Boat Show. South’s largest inwater boat show, live music, food and craft vendors, fireworks and more. Free. For schedule of events and more information, visit


Scottsboro, 18th annual Jackson County Small Business Council Catfish Festival. Entertainment, arts and crafts, car, truck and motorcycle show, free kids fun area and of course, catfish and fishing.


Winterboro, 4th Annual Grassroots Day and Antique Car Show. Free event with entertainment, vendors, art, food and antique car show. Proceeds help with restoration projects for Aljerald Powers Memorial Lodge/ Plank Road Station, a historic landmark in Winterboro. 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Highway 21 South and County Road 76.

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

Alabama Living

Coffeeville, 4th Annual Coffeeville Day Celebration. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Coffeeville High School. Children’s activities, vendors, barbecue competition and food.


Goshen, Military Service Plaque Dedication honoring U.S. military veterans from 1935-1975 from Goshen, Henderson and Rodgers communities at Goshen Town Hall. The plaque contains the names and branch of service for 381 local veterans. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. For more information and to RSVP before May 15, contact Charles Horn at crhorn15@ or 334-277-1364.


De cat ur, Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic. Hot air balloons, vendors, entertainment, tractor show, car show, arts and crafts and more. Admission and parking are free. Alabamajubilee. net

31-June 1

Georgiana, Hank Williams Festival, Hank Williams Music Park. Live entertainment all weekend, as well as arts and crafts and a food court. Confederate Railroad performs May 31.

June 1

Valley Head, Valley Head Fire Department Cruise-In. Food, fun, and entertainment. For more information, call 256-899-3776 or 256-635-6814.

June 1

Oneonta, 18th annual June Fling, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. in downtown. Food, more than 100 booths, classic cars, kids fun zone and live music.

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MAY 2019 29


30  MAY 2019

Alabama Living

MAY 2019  31

2019 photo contest

2018 Emotions First place winner: Jennifer McCuiston, Cullman EC

Do you enjoy photography? Can you capture the essence of Alabama and its people in a photo? Enter your best, original pictures in our third annual photo contest. Entries will be accepted May 1-31 only.

Photos will be judged on quality, originality, creativity, photography skill and content.

There are four photo categories: This is Alabama Fun and laughter

Capture the seasons Cute critters

Each photographer is limited to TWO submissions per category. (If we receive more than two photos in a category from the same photographer, only the first two received will be entered into the contest. Additional photos will be disqualified.) Winning photos will be published in the August 2019 issue of Alabama Living, and periodically on our social media sites. The first-place winner in each category will receive $100. Photo submissions will be accepted online ONLY through our website, Please do not send hard copies. No watermarks on photos. Full rules for entries can be found on our website, Rules for entry: Read and follow all rules carefully or your photo may be disqualified. Entries must be the original work of the photographer making the submission. Two entries per category per person, age 18 and older. See the entry form at By submitting to us your photographs, you represent to us that you are the sole creator and owner of your work and that it is original, does not infringe the rights of any other person or entity, does not defame or invade the privacy of any person, and that you have the right and the authority to grant to us the following right of use. You agree that Alabama Living magazine and the Alabama Rural Electric Association may publish, post online, edit, revise and otherwise make unrestricted use of part or all of your work for commercial or non-commercial purposes, including, without limitation, publishing all or part of your work in Alabama Living magazine, in print or online, shared on social media, in a calendar or other works, or in advertising for the same or for Alabama Living publications. You agree that this grant of use is royalty-free and perpetual. Contest is open to persons 18 or over in the U.S., except for employees or immediate family members of the Alabama Rural Electric Association, Alabama Living, Alabama’s rural electric cooperatives and their respective divisions, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies.

32 MAY 2019

2018 Alabama landmarks First place winner: Rebekah Calhoun, Coosa Valley EC

Alabama Living

MAY 2019  33

| Worth the drive |

s ’ e n y a P

Owner Lisa Garrett and her daughter, Jessica Walton, take pride in serving delicious menu items to customers, including their signature Red Slaw Dog, Cobb Salad, Dagwood sandwiches, sundaes and banana splits.

Still a favorite hangout for ice cream, good food

By Aaron Tanner


ayne’s Soda Fountain and Sandwich Shop celebrates 150 years centuries, many drugstores across the U.S. added soda fountains to in Scottsboro this year. Founded originally as Payne’s Drug their business to attract customers. Mr. Payne, a visionary businessStore in 1869 by Civil-War veteran William Henry Payne, it man, added a soda fountain when he moved his pharmacy to its is the oldest continuously operated business in Scottsboro and Jackcurrent location on Laurel Street. As the first place in Scottsboro to son County and is also believed to be the oldest continuously opersell Coca-Cola, customers would come in and enjoy a beverage or ated business in the state of Alabama. ice cream while having their prescriptions Payne’s Soda Fountain is a Scottsboro institution The pharmacy was located in differ- that turns 150 years old in 2019. filled. “Pharmacies were more like conveent parts of downtown Scottsboro before nience stores back then,” Walton says. moving to the northwest side of the courtEven though the drugstore closed in house square in 1891 where it sits today. 1991, Payne’s continues to offer customAlthough the Payne family still owns the ers the opportunity to experience an era building, the soda fountain is now run by when soda fountains were the favorite run by Lisa Garrett and her daughter, Jeshangout spot in town. Today, it’s still a sica Walton. hangout, and one that serves good food in During the late 19th and early 20th addition to tasty treats. 34 MAY 2019

Alabama Living

MAY 2019  35

While there are different types of sandwiches and salads on the menu, such as a Dagwood and a Cobb salad, Payne’s is best known for its red slaw dog, which is a hot dog topped with ketchup-based slaw. “People come here when they haven’t had them in years because they can’t get red slaw dogs anywhere else,” Walton says. For many, it is a trip back to their childhood – eating a red slaw dog and waiting with their parents for a medical prescription. Walton’s goal with her entrees is to offer customers a healthier alternative to other restaurants in Scottsboro. For example, there are no fried items offered except for chips. Not only does Walton use whole-grain bread for the sandwiches, but the meats are not processed and vegetables are fresh cut daily. “We try to steer towards something you can’t get anywhere else,” Walton says. No trip to the soda shop, however, is complete without enjoying hand-dipped ice cream and served in a cone or an old-fashioned glass or glass bowl. Patrons regularly come to Payne’s for sundaes, banana splits, and coke or root beer floats. Those who are feeling adventurous can order the Banana Rama – twelve scoops of ice cream, five different types of toppings and four bananas. And orders can be custom built to the customer’s preference. “You tell us what you want, we build your order up and make it look beautiful,” Walton says. Because of its long history and location, customers of all ages and walks of life love Payne’s. “I don’t think that there’s a demographic that hasn’t been or isn’t frequently in here,” Walton says. Payne’s also draws tourists. Walton says she has received visitors from such countries as China, Mexico, France, Ireland, and Guatemala, as well as domestic travelers. “We are number one on TripAdvisor.” Many Scottsboro residents both young and old have fond memories of Payne’s. Regulars will tell Walton stories of working in the kitchen in high school or attending a birthday party as a kid, or in the case of one regular customer, proposing to his girlfriend at the restaurant. Some who came to Payne’s as a child with their parents

are now bringing their grandchildren for a bonding experience. “Older customers remember coming to Payne’s with their family” Walton says. Walton receives great satisfaction in running a restaurant with a long history as well as interacting with customers. “I have never worked at a place I felt so passionate about,” Walton says. “Making sandwiches and ice cream for customers I do not know makes me happy.” The superior customer service and the quality of food are responsible for the repeat business, Walton says. “I am really proud of our waitresses, their attitude and their ability to make our customers feel at home and welcomed.” Another aspect of the soda shop that keeps customers returning is Walton’s commitment to maintaining the atmosphere and layout of Payne’s the same as it was 150 years ago. “I think we would really be hurting ourselves if we tried to change,” Walton says. “Many times we thought about expanding or moving to another location, but then it would not be Payne’s.” Plans are in the works to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Payne’s. In the meantime, Walton assures residents that Payne’s will remain a staple in the community for the foreseeable future. “Payne’s has always been here, and hopefully it will always be here,” Walton says. “It will always be a cherished Scottsboro memory.”

Sundaes and banana splits are served the old-fashioned way at Payne’s Soda Fountain. Payne’s has a nostalgic atmosphere that welcomes customers to step back in time when soda fountains were a staple in many American towns during the early and mid 20th century.

Payne’s Soda Fountain and Sandwich Shop

36 MAY 2019

101 E. Laurel St., Scottsboro, AL 35768 (256) 574-2140 Hours: Winter, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Wednesday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. Summer, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday


Alabama Living

MAY 2019  37

| Gardens |


Composting ingredients

Making food for the soil


he fresh fruits and vegetables coming into season this time of year provide an abundance of food for the soul, but they also create an abundance of peels, shucks, seeds and other kitchen waste. Rather than throwing that residue into the trash, consider turning it into food for the soil. Organic kitchen waste as well as grass clippings and other yard waste can clog landfills, but they are prime ingredients for making compost, which can be used as an amendment to improve soil quality and health. Composting happens all the time in nature as organic materials slowly decay and form humus, a dark, rich organic matter that serves as a slow-release natural fertilizer, improves soil texture and moisture levels and helps suppress soil diseases and pests. We humans can harness and speed up the composting process by combining organic carbon-based “brown” ingredients with nitrogen-based “green” ingredients (see a list of options in the sidebar) then using hot or cold composting methods to promote more rapid decay. Hot (active) composting is the fastest method to make garden-ready humus in a few weeks or months because it provides ideal conditions for soil microbes, which break down organic material. It also kills many pathogens and weed seeds that may be harbored in the raw composting ingredients. However, hot composting requires more effort, such as paying closer attention to the carbon to nitrogen ratio in the mix, keeping the compost moist and turning it frequently. Cold (passive) composting is easier. All it requires is collecting organic waste in a pile or in layers and letting nature takes its course. However, it may take a year or Katie Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at

38 MAY 2019

more to create garden-ready humus using the cold composting method. Whichever method you choose, there are two things to consider: site and system. The ideal composting site is an outdoor space with partial shade and far enough away from the house so it’s not an eyesore, but close enough so you can easily take out kitchen waste and add yard waste. However, composting can be done almost anywhere, including on an apartment balcony or even indoors. (Before composting in urban areas, check with your local municipality to find out if there are any restrictions or incentives for composting.) When choosing a system, there are a number of options. You can dig composting trenches or pits in the ground, or compost above ground using a simple pile or in containers ranging from DIY wire cages and trash cans to fancy store-bought bins and tumblers. Perhaps the easiest system of all is sheet composting (sometimes called “lasagna gardening”) where raw ingredients are layered directly onto a garden bed. I can attest from personal experience that sheet and pile composting are very easy, but be aware that those systems can attract some drop-in guests. We set a game camera near our open composting area last year and documented quite the parade of birds, foxes, coyotes, opossums, raccoons, deer and more than a few neighborhood dogs that stopped by for a snack. If you don’t want to host dinner guests, a closed system is likely a better choice. There’s so much more to learn about composting than will fit in this column, but if you want to explore the options, get your hands on a good composting guide (The Rodale Book of Composting: Easy Methods for Every Gardener is considered among the best, but many others are available) or check with your local Cooperative Extension office for guidelines. Then get started making food for your soil. It will be good for your soul.

Almost anything organic can go into your compost EXCEPT meat and dairy products, bones, oils, wood and charcoal ashes, human or pet waste, diseased plant material and weed seeds. Here’s a sample of a few appropriate brown and green compostable ingredients. Browns • Dry leaves • Woody plant trimmings • Straw • Pine needles • Sawdust • Paper products • Dryer lint Greens • Kitchen and garden scraps • Coffee grounds and filters • Leafy plant trimmings • Grass clippings • Manure • Feathers, fur and hair

Tips to accelerate “hot” composting

Hot composting is a faster method to get garden-ready humus into your hands. Here are some tips for maximizing the heating process, which ideally should reach 90 to 140 degrees F: • Smaller compost piles or bins (around one cubic yard in size) heat more efficiently. • Use more carbon (brown ingredients) than nitrogen (green ingredients) in your mix (experts suggest a ratio of 3:1 or higher). • Before adding new ingredients to your compost, chop them into smaller pieces. • Keep composting materials moist enough so that a handful of compost feels like a damp wrung-out sponge. • Turn or stir the compost frequently (every week or two) to keep the pile aerated.

MAY TIPS Weed garden beds. Remove invasive plants from the landscape.

Plant or transplant trees and shrubs. Deadhead early spring flowers and spring-blooming bulbs.

Fertilize plants according to soil test recommendations.

Watch for pests and diseases and treat as needed.

Sow seed for melons, beans, okra, squash, southern peas and beans.

Plant tomato, pepper, eggplant and

other summer vegetable transplants.

Alabama Living

MAY 2019  39


UTI problems are common in cats – but why?


n the days of my frequent travels, I noticed an interesting phenomenon. Every time the suitcases came out, our cat Rabi (another Siamese cross) would start visiting the litter box often, and pass small amounts of blood tinged urine. Many cat owners have experienced this. According to one study by pet-insurance groups, a bladder problem is the second most common reason cats come to a veterinary clinic. I cannot count how many times owners have come and said that their cat jumped on the counter (or sink) and passed red urine. They believed that their cat was telling them something! In those days, I used to think yeah, right! Now, many years later, I think the owners are right; on occasions these cats probably share their distress with their trusted Goutam Mukherjee (Dr. G), DVM, MS, PhD., has been a veterinarian for more than 30 years. He owns High Falls Holistic Veterinary Clinic in Crossville. Email questions of general interest to

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

‘Pickett’s History’ column enjoyed I thoroughly enjoyed your piece about Pickett’s History of Alabama (Hardy Jackson’s Alabama, March 2019). About seven or so years ago, my wife and I bought a copy for an older gentleman from Atmore, Ala., named Herston Dorriety. When we presented it to him, he said, “Ohhh, is this the accepted version?” We just laughed but I did not know what to say. But he was happy to add it to his library. He had remembered many of the stories that were in the book, no doubt learned in grade school. Thank you for writing about this; it certainly brought back some good memories. Patrick Lowery Brewton 40 MAY 2019

friends. They are lot more clever than we give them credit for! Whether the cats are guiding their owners to an imminent problem or not, a red tinge in the urine is a real issue. It simply means there is blood in the urine, which should not be there. Before we explore the nature of this disease, a little primer on the urinary tract. Kidneys filter toxins from the blood and make urine, which then dribbles down via two narrow tubes to the bladder for temporary storage. Then, when the time is right, a slightly bigger tubing brings the urine from the bladder out to the world. In the case of cats, when we see blood tinged urine, almost inevitably it is coming from the bladder. However, just because there is blood in the urine doesn’t mean that there is infection. In fact, repeated research has shown that in vast majority of the cases, there is no infection present!

What happens is this: The inside of the bladder wall is lined by layers and layers of loosely bound cells which is fed with fine blood vessels called capillaries. When there is inflammation (pain and swelling), some of these capillaries can leak out blood and that’s what shows up in the urine. The sensation of pain, burning and bladder spasms (extrapolated from human experience) is what causes the poor kitty to visit the box again and again and strain in hope of finding some relief. A very similar thing happens in humans called Interstitial Cystitis. It is more common in women where there is significant pain in the bladder, and it does not respond to antibiotics. So, now that we understand this disease, what to do about it? And is there a connection between urinary problems and emotional distress? We’ll visit that in the July issue.

Says ‘lend an ear’ to the Green New Deal There’s much discussion about our planet in terms of climate and condition. Although there are billions of stars and planets, we live on the only planet known to shelter life as we know it. So, how are we doing? The ambient temperature is rising caused, to a large extent, by the increase of CO2 released into the environment by human activity. There is no real argument on this: it is a scientific fact. We are fouling and poisoning our air, rivers, oceans and land with herbicides, insecticides and emissions from chemical, petroleum and other sources at an astounding rate. We are advised not to eat more than one fish per month from Wheeler Lake because of the pollution. We were recently told that drinking water from the WMEL water system could be dangerous to one’s health.

The warming environment is causing a frightening increase in the melting of polar ice and glaciers, leading to a steady rise in sea levels. An estimated 1.15 to 2.41 million tons of plastic winds up in our oceans each year. Garbage collects in five huge areas in the oceans caused by intersecting ocean currents. The largest of these lies between Hawaii and California in the Pacific and covers an estimated 1.6 million square miles, or three times the size of France or twice the size of Texas. When your house is burning, you first turn the water on and then you look for ways to do it more economically and efficiently. The Green New Deal is one small attempt to deal with what actually is a real crisis. Maybe we should lend an ear. Wayne Holliday Morgan County

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| Outdoors |

For more information on Alabama public fishing lakes, visit

Fishing for channel catfish fun for any level of angler


any people start fishing by catching channel catfish. Unfortunately, most grow out of chasing catfish as they turn to other species, but this fish can still provide incredible excitement and excellent table fare. One of the most widespread and abundant game fish in North America, channel cats populate just about every freshwater system in Alabama. Although they can’t reach the size of their giant cousins, blue and flathead catfish, channels can top 50 pounds. Most run in the one- to five-pound range, but Donald Cox set the Alabama standard with a 40-pounder he pulled from Inland Lake, a 1,557-acre impoundment in Blount County near Oneonta. “Channel cats can be found almost everywhere and are not shy about biting,” says Brian Barton, a Tennessee River guide from Muscle Shoals. “If they’re in an area, they will bite. Channel cats tend to like shallower water than blue cats and usually seek out shoreline structure, like logs, stumps, weeds and rock piles. Channel catfish usually school in small numbers, so if a person catches a channel cat off a piece of structure, that angler should continue to fish the area.” With about 10,000 taste buds per square inch of its skin, a catfish swims through the water like a giant tongue tasting everything. Their sensors can perceive odors down to one part in 10 billion parts of water, so catfish can detect minute food particles or scents from long distances. They miss few opportunities to grab a tempting morsel and they eat almost anything. Some excellent baits include shrimp, nightcrawlers, minnows, fish pieces, clams, dough balls, crawfish, cheese, livers, gizzards, commercial stink or blood baits and even such odd items as soap, among other things.

John N. Felsher lives in Semmes, Ala. Contact him through Facebook.

The more it smells, the better they bite

“In general, the more it smells, the better channel cats bite it,” Barton says. “A glob of shad guts is my favorite bait. I also use chicken livers, slightly spoiled shrimp, cut bait and nightcrawlers.” Countless people catch channel cats with perhaps the simplest forms of fishing. They dangle nightcrawlers, shrimp, crickets or other baits from bobbers. Toss the rig next to good cover and wait for the float to disappear. Other anglers prefer to fish on bottom with a sinker rig and wait for a tug on the line. Of course, the old methods still work, but anglers can catch channel cats many other ways. For fishing sloping shorelines or other deep structure not directly under a boat, try a slip-float rig. With a slip-float rig, a small weight pulls the line through an eye on the float. A stopper keeps the line from slipping too far, allowing the bait to suspend at the desired depth. With a slip-float rig, an angler can make a natural vertical presentation without sitting on top of the structure or fish, thus keeping the bait in the strike zone longer. Experiment with different depths. “With a slip-float rig, I primarily fish deeper ledges, humps or rock piles where I want to suspend my baits just off the bottom,” Barton explains. “I typically try to position my bait about one to three feet off the bottom. In river environments, look for channel cats in

eddy pools and slack current areas just outside the main flow.” Channel catfish normally prefer natural baits, but anglers occasionally catch them on spinnerbaits, crankbaits, plastic worms, jigs, flies or other artificials. Barton tips weedless spoons with succulent bait and throws them into places where conventional catfish rigs would probably snag. Tipped with a strip of skipjack, mullet, shad or other temptation, the bait undulates through the water like a live fish swimming. The natural scent and oils coming oozing from the bait add to the enticement. Throw this rig around weed beds, fallen trees or logs and retrieve it slowly just off the bottom. Pause the retrieve occasionally. For hot freezer-filling action, Alabama anglers don’t even need boats. The state regularly stocks channel catfish into many of its 23 managed public fishing lakes located in 20 counties. Some better catfish lakes include the ones in Bibb, Dallas, Fayette, Geneva, Lamar, Madison, Marion and Walker counties.

Sharon Jeffreys shows off a channel catfish she caught while fishing next to the Wilson Dam on Pickwick Lake near Muscle Shoals. PHOTO BY JOHN N. FELSHER

42 MAY 2019

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MAY 2019 43

| Alabama Recipes |

Festive Flavorful and

44 MAY 2019

The almost-endless array of Tex-Mex dishes makes it effortless to enjoy the cuisine’s festive flavors as often as you like. BY JENNIFER KORNEGAY STYLING/PHOTOS BY BROOKE ECHOLS


ong before “Taco Tuesday” became a thing, Old El Paso was making it easy for moms (or dads) everywhere to make a meal that was simple to put together and was practically guaranteed to be a hit with everyone around the dinner table. With its pre-packaged crunchy corn shells, zippy seasoning packet and peppery sauce, the Texas-based company gave home cooks everything they needed to whip up pretty tasty tacos, which are classic examples of Tex-Mex cuisine. Tex-Mex is a style of food that actually originated north of, not south of, the border. Tex-Mex dishes are characterized by Mexican influences but often rely on items not usually found in traditional Mexican foods, things like ground beef, shredded cheddar and spices like cumin. As the first part of its name suggests, it originated in Texas, created by Texans with Mexican or Spanish roots (as well as Mexican immigrants who made their way to the Lone Star state). They blended flavors from Mexico with Texas “cowboy-culture” tastes and used readily available ingredients. Mexican restaurants started

Alabama Living

modifying menus and came up with items like burritos and nachos to please American palates, and the appeal of TexMex began to spread like warm cheese dip poured over a pile of tortilla chips. The term Tex-Mex is relatively new; it first showed up in print in the 1940s, and most sources say it was the 1970s before it was widely used. Today, we hear it regularly, and there’s been some insinuation that Tex-Mex is inferior to or a corruption of “authentic” Mexican food (which is now much easier to find). But many argue it’s not; it’s simply different and truly its own distinct category. The popularity of Tex-Mex doesn't seem to be in question at all; we definitely have an appetite for it. At restaurants of all types and at home, folks continue to consume it in massive amounts. In the South, we’ve even folded it into regional favorites like casseroles. And thanks to the long list of Tex-Mex recipes available, you can extend Tex-Mex’s hearty, spicy and zesty essence beyond Taco Tuesday and relish it every day of the week. Try a few of these sent in from your fellow readers. MAY 2019  45

Chili Rellenos Casserole 2 3 2 4

large eggs tablespoons flour 12-ounce cans evaporated milk 4-ounce cans whole chilis, drained and seeds removed 12 ounces cheddar cheese, grated and divided 12 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated and divided 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In mixing bowl, blend eggs and flour until smooth. Add evaporated milk to egg-flour mixture and mix well. Set aside. In a greased 9x11-inch baking dish layer 2 cans of the drained chilies, then layer 1/2 of the cheddar cheese, layer the remaining chilies, then layer the remaining cheddar cheese. Top with 1/2 Monterey Jack cheese. Pour egg-flour mixture over the cheese and chili layers. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with remaining Monterey Jack cheese. Top with tomato sauce. Return to oven and bake for an additional 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to set for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Cook of the Month

Sheila Summers, Joe Wheeler EMC Sheila has been making her beloved Tex-Mex recipe, Chiles Rellenos Casserole, since before the phrase “Tex-Mex” gained common usage, first whipping it up more than 40 years ago. A friend at work who hailed from Southern California shared it with her, and her first bite was her first taste of chiles. “I’d never had anything like it, but I loved it,” she says. She’s continued to make it because everyone else who’s ever tasted it loves it, too. “Every time I fix it, no matter who is eating it, they can’t get enough.” If there do happen to be leftovers, they’re equally delicious, another reason the dish maintains a permanent place in Sheila’s recipe repertoire. “When you reheat it, the cheese kinda gets caramelized around the edges, making it even yummier,” she says. And the cheese is what makes her version of her friend’s recipe distinct; the original had more Monterey Jack, but Sheila switched things up and added more cheddar. One thing you can’t mess with is the chiles. “Don’t use the diced; I tried that. It’s just not the same,” she says. “Use the whole peppers.”



prize and title of


of the

Themes and Deadlines: Aug: Weeknight Suppers | May 10 Sept: Onions | June 14 Oct: Cast Iron Cooking | July 12 Please send us your original recipes (developed or adapted by you or family members.) Cook of the Month winners will receive $50, and may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year.

3 ways to submit:

To be eligible, submissions must include a name, Online: phone number, mailing Email: address and co-op name.

Mail: Recipes, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 46 MAY 2019


Alabama Living reserves the right to reprint recipes in our other publications.

Nacho Grande Casserole

Slow Cooker Picante Chili

2 1 2 1

3 1 1 1 1 2

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pounds ground beef onion, chopped 16-ounce cans chili beans 29-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained 15-ounce can tomato sauce packages taco seasoning mix can mild Rotel tomatoes, drained cups cheddar cheese, shredded cups tortilla chips, crushed Optional toppings: chopped tomatoes, green onions

Cook ground beef and onions in a Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring until beef is no longer pink; drain. Add beans, corn, tomato sauce and seasoning mix; stir until blended. Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Pour mixture into a lightly greased 13x9-inch baking dish. Top with cheese and tortilla chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes until bubbly or golden. Sprinkle with green onions and chopped tomatoes, if desired. Angie Cousins Central Alabama EC

Mexican Cornbread 3 cups self-rising cornmeal 3 jalapeno peppers, chopped (add to your taste) 1 large onion, chopped 3 eggs, beaten 1 tablespoon minced garlic 1 can cream corn 1 cup water 1 cup vegetable oil, divided (3/4 cup and ¼ cup) 1½ cups Mexican blend cheese Mix first 7 ingredients and ¾ cup oil. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Pour ¼ cup oil in a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Place skillet with oil in oven to pre-heat for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and spoon cornbread mix in skillet to cover bottom. Add cheese, covering batter, keeping cheese away from sides, to keep it from sticking. Spoon rest of mix on top of cheese. Bake 40-45 minutes. William Ring Sr. Tallapoosa River EC

pounds ground turkey or chicken onion, diced green bell pepper, diced Dash of olive oil 70-ounce container picante sauce pound mushrooms, sliced cans dark kidney beans Rice, cook’s choice

Brown the ground turkey or chicken with the diced onion and diced bell pepper in olive oil. Add picante sauce, sliced mushrooms and kidney beans. Simmer 2-4 hours in a slow cooker. Serve picante chili ladled over your favorite rice. Dolores Pope Watkins Cullman EC

Mexican Fudge 2 pounds cheddar cheese, divided 6 eggs, beaten Jalapeno pepper, to taste Put one-pound grated cheddar cheese in a 9x13-inch baking dish. Combine beaten eggs and peppers and pour over grated cheese. Sprinkle remaining pound of cheese over egg/pepper/ cheese mixture. Bake 45-60 minutes at 375 degrees. Cut into squares and serve. Great for football tailgate snack. Mary McGriff Cullman EC

Mexican Grits 5 1/2 1/2 1 2

packets of instant grits cup shredded cheddar cheese teaspoon garlic powder large can diced chilies tablespoons of unsalted butter Salsa, cook’s choice

Prepare grits by package directions for microwave. Stir in cheese, garlic powder, chilies and butter. Stir until butter and cheese melt. Spray a 4-quart crockpot with olive or canola oil. Pour grits mixture in crockpot and cook on high for 2-3 hours or on low for 4-5 hours. Serves 8-10. Serve for breakfast or brunch with fresh fruit on the side and your favorite salsa on top.

Nacho Grande Casserole

Migas 2 tablespoons olive oil 2/3 cup diced onion (about 1 small onion) 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced Salt and pepper 4 corn tortillas, cut or torn into 1/2-inch pieces 8 large eggs 1/4 cup salsa 1 cup shredded cheddar, Monterey Jack or Mexican Blend cheese Heat the oil in a large cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat until simmering. Add the onion and jalapeños, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the onion is soft and translucent. Meanwhile, place the eggs and salsa in a medium bowl, season with salt and pepper, and whisk to combine; set aside. When the onion is ready, add the tortillas and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the eggs. Scramble until eggs are almost set, then fold in the cheese and remove from heat. Serve with salsa, pico de gallo, cheese, sour cream, avocado, guacamole, corn or flour tortillas or beans. Belinda Bazinet Central Alabama EC

Peggy Goodlett Joe Wheeler EMC Alabama Living

MAY 2019  47

| Consumer Wise |

Keep cool for less By Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen


We moved into our home last spring. It’s pretty new and seems well-insulated in winter. But it was hot last summer, so we had to run the A/C a lot, and the electric bills were a killer. Do you have any tips on how we can cool our home this summer— without going broke?

expert assessment. A real pro will know how to measure the air flow at each supply and return register. If you’re not getting cool air to the rooms that need it, the contractor may be able to make modifications to the ductwork. Leaky ductwork could be your problem. If the ducts are in unconditioned areas like a We’ve discussed some crawl space or attic, it’s espeof the easiest ways to cially important to make sure make your home more efthey’re sealed and insulated. It will also help to seal ducts that ficient, like reducing solar are in conditioned spaces. gains, insulating and ventiSome HVAC contractors lating the attic, and sealing can do a duct-blaster test to air leaks. You may need to fomeasure duct leakage. Discus on inefficiencies in your cuss whether you should ever home’s cooling system. But close any supply registers. before we address that, let’s Most experts recommend look at some other potential that supply registers are alproblems: ways open. • Do you have freezer or If you cool your home with second refrigerator in window A/C units, there are a the garage? This can be few things you can do to maxia major energy hog, esA duct blaster test can identify air leaks in your home’s ductwork. mize your cooling while keeppecially if it’s old and you PHOTO CREDIT: KET555 ing costs as low as possible. live in a warmer climate. Use window A/C units in rooms that can be closed off with a • Do you have a well? Your pump may be draining your endoor, to make the cooling as effective as possible. ergy use as you rely on it more during the summer. Start by Make sure you have the right sized unit for the size of the room. looking for leaks in the system, and if necessary, reduce irriA unit that’s too big will cool the room before the humidity has gation. been lowered, which will make it feel less cool, while a unit that’s • How about a swimming pool? It may be time to overhaul too small will have to work harder, causing a shorter life span— or replace the pool pump. If the pump is in good shape, try and it may not do the job. putting it on a timer. Use an electric fan or ceiling fan to help distribute the cold air throughout the area you are cooling. If you have central air conditioning (A/C) or a heat pump, make Turn off the A/C unit when no one is in the room. sure your filter has been changed or recently cleaned. The next If your window A/C unit isn’t cooling properly, it may need to step is to call an HVAC contractor for a tune-up and a complete be replaced. Look for an ENERGY STAR-certified unit to make assessment of the system. A tune-up can improve the efficiency the most of your cooling dollars. and extend the life of the unit. The tune-up includes cleaning the Of course, the simplest way to save money on your A/C is to condenser coil, a check of the refrigerant levels and a good look not use it. As much as possible, keep your activities limited to at the pump and electrical contacts. Talk to the contractor about rooms that are easily cooled. Try to spend more time cooking and the efficiency of the A/C unit. If it’s old, it may be cost-effective to eating outside. If you have a basement, think about setting up a replace it, even if it’s still functional. second bedroom down there where it’s cooler. Think of it as your Ductwork is equally important as the A/C unit, so make sure new summer hideaway! the contractor you choose is capable and willing to provide an


Patrick Keegan writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives. Write to for more information.

48  MAY 2019

This column was co-written by Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen of Collaborative Efficiency. For more information on getting the most from your A/C, please visit:


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1 ½ 2 1 1 1 1 1 4 ½ 1 ¼

pound ground pork sausage, crumbled cup onion, chopped cups shredded Colby cheese cup broccoli, chopped and blanched cup cooked brown wild rice tomato, cored and chopped 2-ounce can sliced black olives 10-inch unbaked piecrust large eggs cup whipping cream teaspoon garlic, crushed teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown sausage about 5 minutes. Add onion and continue to cook until onion is fragrant and translucent, 3-5 minutes; drain thoroughly. Remove from heat and stir in cheese, broccoli, rice, tomato and olives. Transfer into piecrust. Combine together eggs, whipping cream, garlic and pepper; pour over sausage mixture to cover. Bake 10 minutes; reduce heat to 400 degrees, bake additional 35 minutes or until brown. MAY 2019 49

50  MAY 2019

Energy Efficiency Tip of the Month Avoid placing items like lamps and televisions near your air-conditioning thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the A/C to run longer than necessary. Source:

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

Alabama Living

MAY 2019  51

| Our Sources Say |

That 97.1% I

n March, I wrote about Alabama’s Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist John Archibald’s criticism of Dr. John Christy on his appointment to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board. Mr. Archibald among other things wrote Dr. Christy’s appointment was “… a smashing success for those who believe our best hope comes with our heads in the sands, listening to the 3 percent of climate scientists who say man is not to blame, instead of the 97 percent, as NASA points out, that agree that climate-warming trends of the past century are extremely likely due to human activities.” Pulitzer Prize winners are assumed to do thorough research, but how much research is behind NASA’s conclusion? The NASA website states, “Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities.” However, that statement is not based on a NASA study. According to footnote #1 in the NASA statement, the conclusion is based upon a 2013 study by John Cook and three other studies performed between 2004 and 2010. Mr. Cook’s study, published in Environmental Research Letters, is most often cited to support the 97% climate scientist consensus claim and the need for immediate action to mitigate climate change. Mr. Cook, unlike Dr. Christy, is not a climate scientist. He is a research assistant professor at the Center for Climate Change at George Mason University, researching cognitive science. He holds a Ph.D in cognitive psychology from the University of Western Australia. However, his primary job is a website blogger on his site, Skeptical Science, that actively promotes action to mitigate climate change. In 2013, Mr. Cook and eleven Skeptical Science volunteers performed an analysis of 11,944 peer-reviewed papers on climate change and found that 97.1% of those papers state a position that explicitly or implicitly suggested that human activity is responsible for some warming. What NASA doesn’t tell you is that of the 11,944 papers reviewed, only 4,014 took any position on human contribution to climate change. It also doesn’t tell you that Mr. Cook’s team reviewed and coded abstracts five at a time in a video game setting. Volunteers admit to evaluating as many as 50 papers a night. Many climate scientists, including Craig Idso, Nicola Scafetta, Nir J. Shaviv, Nils-Axel Morner and Richard Tol, complained that Dr. Cook’s study ignored or totally misrepresented their work. That is not the scientific precision expected from NASA.

A team led by David Legates, professor of geography at the University of Delaware and former director of the University of Delaware Center for Climate Research, reviewed Mr. Cook’s findings and the 11,944 underlying papers. That review, published in Science and Education in August 2013 found only 41 papers Mr. Cook’s team reviewed actually endorsed the claim that human activity is causing at least half of the current warming. That is 0.3% of the total 11,944 papers and 1.0% of the 4,014 papers, not the 97.1% consensus claimed by Mr. Cook. Another study performed in 2009 and published in Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union by Maggie Kendall Zimmerman, a student at the University of Illinois, as her master’s thesis with her thesis adviser, Peter Doran, is also cited as an authority on NASA’s website. The study asked two questions of 10,257 earth scientists: (1) Do you think mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen or remained the same since the pre-1800s? (2) Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing global temperatures? Only about one-third of the scientists responded and of those responses, the authors only used 79, 75 of which thought humans contributed to global warming. Thus the 97% consensus, although it only represents the views of 75 of 10,000 earth scientists surveyed. Two other studies cited on the NASA website targeted a much more narrow and targeted range of scientific papers. Studies by Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard science historian, and William Anderegg, then a Stanford student, found support for the view that human activities are responsible for most of the observed warming. However, the studies are limited to evaluation of 928 and 200 papers, respectively, and both specifically omit papers by prominent climate scientists that question the scientific consensus. Of course, Mr. Archibald is not the only one who quotes the 97% consensus with certainty. President Obama tweeted, “97% of climate scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.” Then-Secretary of State, John Kerry, said, “Ninety-seven percent of the world’s scientists tell us climate change is urgent.” Others, like Thomas Friedman, routinely use the 97% of climate scientists’ argument to intimidate any resistance to climate change arguments. These studies hardly provide robust evidence and logic to terminate the debate on any issue. You would think a true investigative reporter would be interested in what is behind the movement and urgency to shut down the climate change debate. Otherwise, it is just an opinion column. I hope you have a good month.

Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative

52 MAY 2019

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MAY 2019  53

| Hardy Jackson's Alabama |

Illustration by Dennis Auth

Southern haiku


ou can pretty much count renowned Southern poets on one hand. Or at least I can. And Southern poets who write in the ancient Japanese form, haiku, one finger. Or at least I can. (You know who you are.) So, you can imagine my surprise when I was going through some old notes and found among them 14 poems under the category “Southern Haiku.” I don’t know the author (s), but from the subjects and style, I’d say that he, she, or them are from around here. For example, one titled “Beauty” reads: Naked in repose Silvery silhouette girls Adorn my mud flaps. Brings a tear, don’t it? Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University and a columnist for Alabama Living. He can be reached at

54  MAY 2019

Some deal with overcoming disappointment. Southerners are good at that. “A New Moon” Flashlights pierce darkness No night crawlers to be found Guess we’ll gig some frogs And our love of the simple things. “Exuberance” Joyful, playful, bright Trailer park girl rolls in puddle Of old motor oil. Some of the subjects reflect life’s tragedies, of which Southerners have many. “Alone” Seeking solitude Carl’s ex-wife Tammy files for Restraining order And “Remorse” A painful sadness Can’t fit big screen TV through Double-wide’s front door

Or the passions we feel: “Desire” Dern, in that tube-top You make me almost forget That you’re my cousin And my particular favorite: “Gathering” In early morning mist Mama searches Circle K for Moon Pies and Red Man With these few verses, my whole opinion of Southern poetry and poets changed. Why didn’t they teach me this in American Lit at Clarke County High School back in the 1950s? “Deprived” In Walmart toy aisle Wailing boy wants rasslin’ doll Mama whips his butt. If they had taught that back then, I might have studied harder.