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Stories | Recipes | Events | People | Places | Things | Local News June 2020

Covington Electric Cooperative


Storms tear Alabama’s through CECfield sunflower area in April Celebrating Hank Williams

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Embracing the Gulf

Alabama is joining with other Gulf states to celebrate the resilience and resources of the Gulf of Mexico in 2020.

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

AREA President 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 Graphic Designer Chyna Miller

16 F E A T U R E S


VOL. 73 NO. 6  June 2020

Adapting to a pandemic Providing high quality service to our members comes with challenges.

legacy of Hank 14 The Seventy-one years ago this month,

Hank Williams made his debut at the Grand Old Opry. Several Alabama towns lay claim to the country music legend.

Millions of masks 22 Cullman-based HomTex has

transformed its manufacturing line from bed linens to high-demand face masks.



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

American MainStreet Publications 611 South Congress Ave., Suite 504 Austin, Texas 78704 1-800-626-1181 www.AMP.coop www.alabamaliving.coop

D E P A R T M E N T S 11 Spotlight 26 Alabama People 30 Outdoors 31 Fish & Game Forecast 42 Hardy Jackson’s Alabama ONLINE: alabamaliving.coop

USPS 029-920 • ISSN 1047-0311


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

A CEC line crew works to frame poles to replace a portion of power lines ripped down by an EF 2 tornado on County Road 70 in April. PHOTO: Patty Singleton-Seay



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

Get our FREE monthly email newsletter! Sign up at alabamaliving.coop

Printed in America from American materials

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Covington Electric Cooperative Board of Trustees Gary Harris Assistant Sec./Treas. District I - Dozier

Dr. Bill King District II - Andalusia

W.B. Smith Chairman District III - Brantley

C. Heflin Smith Vice Chairman District IV - Kinston

Vacant District V - Enterprise

Patricia Janasky District VI - Samson

Headquarters: 18836 US Hwy 84 Andalusia, AL 36421 334-222-4121 1-800-239-4121 Fax: 334-222-1546 Main/Enterprise Office Hours: 7:30 AM - 4:30 PM Monday - Friday Brantley/Samson Office Hours: 7:30 AM - 4:30 PM - Days Listed Brantley - Days 4 thru 18 Samson - Days 19 thru 3 Report Power Outages 1-800-239-1193 covington.coop

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Adapting to a pandemic By Ed Short, CEC President, CEO and General Manager At Covington Electric Cooperative, it has always been the core of our mission to provide high-quality service to members. Even under normal circumstances, however, that commitment comes with challenges. There are storms and outages beyond our control that might require quick responses and major repairs. There are the everchanging dynamics of the electric industry that require us to stay on our toes in order to provide affordable energy. And we must accomplish all of that while we strive to be responsible stewards of the investment members have made in this cooperative. But as tricky as it can be to juggle all of those concerns, we have never faced a situation like the coronavirus pandemic, where we needed to find ways to serve our members without coming into contact with them. All of us at Covington Electric pride ourselves on being an integral part of the community, so distancing ourselves from it was difficult to do. Still, part of looking out for our members and employees is ensuring their safety while keeping the lights on. That is exactly what we did in recent months as we worked to bring you the service you needed during a difficult time.

Social distancing

Our first step was to temporarily close our office lobbies to the public in order to limit close contact between members and Covington Electric employees. Soon after, we also temporarily closed drive-thru windows as part of our efforts to stop the potential spread of the virus. We were never cut off from you, though. Covington Electric members were always able to call one of our member service representatives during normal working hours to discuss their service and account. We also encouraged members to take advantage of tools like our website, payment kiosks, mobile app and pay-by-mail billing options to handle their cooperative business remotely.

In addition, we took special measures to protect our employees as they continued to do the essential work of bringing electricity to cooperative members. Those who were able to work from home were encouraged to do so, limiting their contact with the public. For those who could not do their job from home, we used a rotating schedule so that fewer employees were in contact with each other at any one time. We also directed our employees to follow CDC guidelines for personal hygiene, practice social distancing while on the job and keep their distance from members whenever possible. To help further these efforts, we provided gloves, masks and hand sanitizer to all employees not working from home. To keep members informed on all of these changes, we posted regular updates to our website and Facebook page and were in contact with local media to help spread the word.

Financial relief

Day-to-day work habits weren’t the only aspects of life impacted by the coronavirus. The pandemic put extreme financial pressure on many of our members who lost work or were forced to take significant pay cuts. To help ease the financial strain for our community, Covington Electric suspended electric service disconnections for nonpayment during the crisis. Late fees and arrangement fees were waived. Cooperative employees continued to work directly with members to find solutions for those struggling to pay their bills during this difficult time. These payments were still due by the normal due dates, and we encouraged members who were not financially impacted by the pandemic to continue paying their bills as normal to avoid larger payments over the following months. However, our hope is that this suspension provided some relief to our members who were faced with a challenging financial situation. www.alabamaliving.coop

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| Covington Electric Cooperative | Annual meeting

Of course, there were some parts of our cooperative mission that could not go on as normal even with social distancing measures in place. Chief among those was the annual meeting, which was originally scheduled to take place in April. As it became clear how serious the coronavirus pandemic was, we decided that gathering all of our members together in one space was neither safe nor responsible. That doesn’t change the fact that the annual meeting is an event we look forward to each year, and it was a huge disappointment not to be able to spend time with our friends and neighbors. Still, as with so many things in recent months, we were able to conduct the necessary cooperative business remotely. We published our annual report in this magazine, giving members a close look at the state of their cooperative. We also encouraged you to cast your vote for trustees by mail or online. I’m pleased to say that many of you were able to take part in



Alabama Living

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our cooperative’s democratic process, even if you couldn’t do so in person. We received many remote ballots and expect the results of the board elections to be available this month. While those results were not ready in time to run in this issue of the magazine, they will be available on our website as soon as we have them. Visit covington.coop for the latest updates on those results, and keep an eye out for the July magazine, which will include the board election results and our prize winners. The coronavirus pandemic changed the way we work, the ways we help our members and the ways we come together as a cooperative. But it hasn’t changed Covington Electric’s dedication to our members. It is still our mission to serve you, and it will always be an honor to be part of this amazing community. n

In April, tornadoes and other severe weather tore through our service area. While many of our members were assessing damage and clearing debris from their homes, Covington Electric Cooperative was already working to restore power. Our employees and crews worked in cooperation with contractors and other assisting cooperatives to safely restore service as quickly as possible to the CEC membership. Please see our detailed story on Pages 6-7.

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| Covington Electric Cooperative |

April storms wreak havoc on CEC service area Covington Electric’s service area got slammed by severe thunderstorms, including one confirmed EF 2 tornado in Covington County, during the overnight hours on April 19. There were miles of downed power lines, more than 80 broken utility poles, huge trees blown over, and hundreds of snapped pines. Numerous homes had damage, and in a few unfortunate cases, there were some that were completely destroyed. Initial estimates indicated that well over 9,000 members, across all six counties served by CEC, lost power. After further review of all numbers related to this weather event, there were just over 13,600 members affected by outages from the time of impact until the end of the restoration process. Some lines had to be temporarily de-energized to make necessary repairs, which increased

CEC linemen Seth Wilkerson and Brian Lasiter make repairs to a three-phase power line that was inaccessible by bucket truck. 6  JUNE 2020

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the total number of outages. Later that same week, another 714 CEC members lost power when a second round of severe weather hit our area on April 23. Electric service to those members was restored the same day. CEC was also able to assist Wiregrass Electric Co-op with storm restoration work in the southern portion Covington County after this storm. The third week of April was a very rough one for many in the Southeast. Thousands of people experienced prolonged power outages for the first time in many years. The widespread impact of these storms was comparable to what we see in our area with a moderate hurricane, which is unusual, but CEC was prepared. The co-op immediately went into emergency storm mode around midnight on Sunday with crews, and assisting contract crews, working diligently to restore power as conditions permitted. Before daybreak, additional contract crews and crews from neighboring electric co-ops were either on the system working, or en route, to provide mutual aid during this crisis. CEC’s top priority in these situations is to restore power safely and quickly for our members. It’s very important that people understand the power restoration process which begins with service being re-established to the main distribution lines. Without these primary lines in service, the secondary lines and single taps can’t be energized. Next, repair crews go neighborhood by neighborhood, street by street, and home by home restoring service. This is very time consuming and requires patience and understanding from our members. We completely understand how frustrating this can be, but the members’ cooperation is vital to the success of these efforts. Utilizing the cooperation among cooperatives principle, CEC received help from nearby electric cooperatives including CHELCO, West Florida, Escambia River and Southern Pine. The co-op also had contract crews from Lee Electric, Harper Electric, Asplundh and HTC. Some of the Lee Electric crews came all the way from Carollton, Ga., to help CEC. It was very reassuring to know we had highly-qualified professionals to assist us during this great time of need, and it was truly appreciated. We were very fortunate that power was safely restored to the CEC membership during this major weather www.alabamaliving.coop

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event, and we want to thank our members for safely using their generators. Generator safety is a major concern during prolonged power outages. It’s critical that people carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions for using a portable generator. Improper use of a generator can be deadly to the homeowner and to the people restoring your power. Downed power lines are another major hazard and there were many on the ground after these storms came through our area. All downed power lines should be treated as though they are energized and people should stay far away from them at all times. We can’t stress this point enough. Safety has most certainly been at the forefront in 2020 as it has been a challenging year already, not only because of the April storms, but because of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. It seems that everything we know has been turned upside down, and we’re all just trying to do the best we can in these strange circumstances. It’s times like this that we see the best and worst in people, and we’re happy to say we have seen the best, by far, in the CEC membership. Many thoughtful gestures were made for our employees and contractors. Hundreds of positive comments were posted on our Facebook page, and many people said thank you in person to the linemen. It’s hard to explain how much this means to people. It’s more than appreciated; it’s uplifting at the end of a long hard day. Even with all this kindness, we know many of our members weren’t happy with living the “pioneer” lifestyle, and we don’t blame you one bit. Some of our employees were impacted by the storms as well and they were part of that group too. It’s a challenge to live without electricity and that’s why we ask everyone to have a plan in place when situations like this arise. Please understand that while CEC strives to provide uninterrupted service 24/7, there are circumstances beyond our control, like weather, that will impact your service from time to time. CEC can’t guarantee that you will not experience power outages, even prolonged power outages, nor can any other utility provider. However, we will always be committed to restoring your power as quickly and safely as possible when service interruptions take place. June is the official start of hurricane season so there’s never been a better time to get storm ready. You can find helpful storm preparedness tips on the CEC website covington.coop. This information is very useful, regardless of the time of year.

Alabama Living

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A CEC crew rebuilds a power line that was torn down by an EF 2 tornado on County Road 70 between the Mt. Pisgah Church and Harmony Church communities.

A multi-family duplex on County Road 70 was completely destroyed by the EF 2 tornado in April. Thankfully, everyone survived this horrifying scene.

Lee Electric crews work to rebuild a power line on Bush Isle Road near Gantt. Strong winds took down 20 utility poles and damaged several homes on this road. JUNE 2020  7

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| Covington Electric Cooperative |

CEC board member James F. Martin Jr. will be missed James F. Martin Jr., a life-long CEC member and long time board member, passed away on March 23. Martin represented the Enterprise district on CEC’s board of trustees since he was appointed to the board in 2007, and later became the board’s secretary/treasurer. His appointment was made by a nominating committee after former board member Martin Moates passed away earlier that same year. Martin retired from farming several years ago after working in the industry for more than 40 years. He was a member of the First South Farm Credit ACA board where he served as chairman in 1993 and 2003. He also previously served as a supervisor on the Coffee County Soil Conservation board. He was a staunch advocate for farming, rural America, and his local community. “Mr. Martin was dedicated to family, farming and community service,” said Ed Short, CEC president, CEO and general manager. “His contributions as a member of the CEC board were instrumental in the cooperative’s success. He knew what life on the farm was like before and after electricity. That level of understanding and appreciation gave him great insight in the mission and impact of rural electric cooperatives. Mr. Martin was a great man and he will be missed by all who knew him,” added Short.

CEC board member, James F. Martin Jr., passed away on March 23.

CEC awards $10,000 in scholarships CEC is committed to community involvement and one of the ways we demonstrate this commitment is by offering scholarships to qualifying seniors who plan to further their education after high school. The co-op offers multiple scholarship opportunities to high school graduates who are the dependents of CEC members. These scholarships are awarded through the Electric Cooperative Foundation located in Montgomery, Ala. Details about the scholarships are publicized through Alabama Living, the CEC website and the co-op’s Facebook page. CEC typically presents scholarships during awards ceremonies at the schools; however, this year that was not possible because of 8  JUNE 2020

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the COVID-19 pandemic. We still want to recognize the outstanding students receiving these scholarships and their names are listed below. Congratulations to the recipients and to all the 2020 graduates. Brantley

High School – Adam Lee Carlisle; Brantley High School (Tech) – Xavier Raine Burnett; Straughn High School – Haley Alyssa Lewis; Pleasant Home School – Riley David Chen; Red Level High School – Ivy DeAnn Griggs; Red Level High School (Tech) – Kade Bryant Green; Kinston High School – Michaela Josie Cooper; Kinston High School (Tech) – Abbigail Hope Johnson; At-Large Scholarship (Opp High School) – Anna Katherine Courson; At-Large Tech (Crenshaw Christian Academy) – Michael Chase Williams. www.alabamaliving.coop

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| Alabama Snapshots |

My tattoos Blue ribbon for my husband and Huntington’s Disease awareness and the cross for my faith. SUBMITTED BY Robin Griffin, Arley.

My grandson’s name is Colin Fisher McNeil. He loves to fish, so he had his name tattooed. SUBMITTED BY Bonnie McNeil, Silverhill.

When my kids were little, I would sign them “I love you.” My son is the artist of this tat on my left wrist. SUBMITTED BY Lisa Parker, Moulton. This was from my birthday get together at the beautiful Gulf Coast in Orange Beach, AL. SUBMITTED BY Jennifer Newby, Pelham.

Roll Tide forever. SUBMITTED BY Randall Williams, Bay Minette.

Sunflower fields are a favorite spot for family photos. Send us yours! Submit “Sunflower Fields” photos by June 30. Winning photos will run in the August issue. Alabama Living

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SUBMIT and WIN $10! Online: alabamaliving.coop Mail: Snapshots P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

RULES: Alabama Living will pay $10 for photos that best match our theme of the month. Photos may also be published on our website at alabamaliving.coop and on our Facebook page. Alabama Living is not responsible for lost or damaged photos. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope to have photos returned.

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Spotlight | June Alabama co-ops work together in storm recovery Crews work to repair storm damage in Central Alabama EC’s service territory after the storms of April 19.

April is often a month of volatile weather, and this year was no exception. Fortunately, Alabama’s rural electric cooperatives were ready to answer the call. Two rounds of severe weather on April 19 impacted an area mostly south of Interstate 20, with significant straight-line wind events alongside large hail and flash flooding, according to the National Weather Service. Extensive wind damage began in Chilton County, where maximum winds were estimated in the range of 80 to 90 mph. The wind damage continued eastward through Coosa and Tallapoosa counties and caused significant damage. A line of severe thunderstorms also moved through south Alabama, with wind damage in Crenshaw, Pike and Barbour counties. Several cooperatives reported widespread outages, with more than 30,000 statewide reported on April 20. In true cooperative fashion, co-ops that were not impacted immediately offered to help their sister co-ops to restore power. The Alabama Rural Electric Association (AREA), which publishes Alabama Living, helps to coordinate mutual aid after a disaster or weather event. Four cooperatives received help from 18 cooperatives in Alabama and the Florida panhandle.

Take us along! Thanks to all our readers who’ve sent us photos of their travels. We realize due to the pandemic, no one’s doing much traveling these days, but we enjoy seeing your pictures from past travels. We’re including several on this page. If you have any past photos send them to mytravels@alabamaliving.coop. We also want to see where you’re reading Alabama Living at home! Send us photos of you or a family member reading the magazine in your favorite home location. Send to athome@ alabamaliving.coop. We’ll draw a winner for a $25 prize each month, so let us hear from you!


At home!

Dr. Linda Raughton of Valley Head, another Sand Mountain EC member, sent us this scenic shot of the Sydney Opera House in Australia taken during her February trip down under.

Lynn Boyd is a member service representative and lead cashier at Wiregrass EC. She’s reading the May edition the Wiregrass version of Alabama Living, and she was featured on the cover!

On a recent visit to see her cousins in Houston, Texas, Deborah Peterson of Robertsdale took us along. She’s a member of Baldwin EMC.

John Chambers, 3, the son of Zach and Stephanie Chambers of Central Alabama EC, is one of the next generation of readers!

Baldwin EMC member Michael Colman of Gulf Shores took his copy along on a trip to Cozumel, Mexico.

Central Alabama EC member Jennifer Cox had some fun taking photos of daughter Eleanor and Tilli, the family dog.

Find the hidden dingbat! Was our May dingbat too hot to handle? Apparently not, as nearly 800 of you correctly guessed the location of the red hot chili pepper on Page 28 as part of the May crossword title. Some of our readers considered finding the pepper an early birthday present, including Jean Sorrell of Dozier, a member of Covington Electric Cooperative. “It was the first one I’ve found,” she writes. “I’ve been looking for so long! Happy birthday to me!” Our readers continue to send us poems about locating the hidden object, like Black Warrior EMC member Elizabeth Strickland of Akron, and Shirley Blevins of Hollywood, a member of North Alabama EC, who wrote: I looked and looked, and to my dismay I didn’t see it that first day. But on my second look-around I found that pepper, whole, not ground. At the crossword, there it lay As part of the “Y” of the word “May.” Congratulations to our winner of $25, Cullman EC member Gail Hooper of Falkville. This month we’ve hidden, in recognition of Father’s Day June 21, that perennial gift for dads, a tie. But not just any tie. In this issue, we’ve tucked away a snappy bow tie. The deadline for entries is June 5. By mail: Find the Dingbat By email: Alabama Living dingbat@alabamaliving.coop PO Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 10  JUNE 2020

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June | Spotlight

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 June 5 with your name, address and the name of your rural electric cooperative. The winner and answer will be announced in the July issue. Submit by email: whereville@alabamaliving.coop, or by mail: Whereville, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124. Contribute your own photo for an upcoming issue! Send a photo of an interesting or unusual landmark in Alabama, which must be accessible to the public. A reader whose photo is chosen will also win $25.

May’s answer

The so-called “Lady in the Lake,” at Barber Marina in Elberta, is a fiberglass sculpture created by artist Mark Cline. Cline also created Bamahenge, a sculptural installation also on the Barber property (and also the very first Whereville photo in January 2016). The lady is not always in the water, so if you’re making a visit, call the marina (251-9872628; 26986 Fish Trap Road) to confirm she’s not out for repairs. (Similar photos submitted by Starla Moore of Wiregrass EC and Amy Miller, who each win the prize.) The randomly drawn correct guess winner is Brandon Cason, Cullman EC.

Explore Alabama’s natural wonders Although the tourism economy has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alabama Tourism Department is continuing to implement cost-conscious initiatives to maintain awareness and encourage tourists to visit the state. The year 2020 has been dedicated as “The Alabama Year of Natural Wonders” by the tourism department, which released a list of 20 of the state’s most impressive, yet still accessible, natural wonders. A website, AlabamaNaturalWonders.com, will help travelers find inspiration to enjoy the state’s naturally wonderful outdoors. The features on the list: Gulf Coast beaches, Mount Cheaha, Cathedral Caverns, the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, Dismals Canyon, Natural Bridge, the Coastal Birding Trail, Cahaba lilies, DeSoto Caverns, Rickwood Caverns, Wetumpka Crater, Pinhoti Trail, Little River Canyon, Sipsey Wilderness, Red Mountain and Park, Noccalula Falls, Walls of Jericho Trail, Bankhead National Forest, Cahaba lilies. Cahaba River and the White Cliffs of Epes. PHOTO BY DAVID HAYNES

Alabama Living

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

Humor in stressful times I was delighted to read Hardy Jackson’s “Laughing through tough times” article in the May 2020 Alabama Living Magazine. I always find his articles entertaining, but the last two sentences just made me giggle. Thank goodness we can find humor during these stressful times. Thank you, Mr. Jackson, for your humor, and to Alabama Living for publishing it. L. Wahl Coosa Valley EC

How would you control feral hogs? I read the letter in the May issue which condemned feral hog hunting as “cruel.” It leads me to a question.  How would  you  control these highly destructive parasites that “cruelly” rob farmers of their hard-earned wage?  Too often I have heard people complain that rain on Saturday ruined their entire weekend when it came following a 30-day drought.  I fear that too few Americans, used to finding everything they desire in a local supermarket, have much of an idea of what makes that happen. Alfred B. Coombe Foley In response to the writer, who claimed hog hunting is cruel (May 2020), are you aware that one feral hog can produce 12- 24 piglets a year and that they cause billions of dollars a year in crop damage, not to mention destruction of habitats that would otherwise support turkey, deer, quail and other wild creatures? Are you also aware that after 2 months of age, they have no natural predators? How much are you willing to pay for your food when the prices spike due to the devastation by feral hogs? I won’t even get into the diseases they carry to livestock, pets and humans – there are at least 45. One study, done by MSU, showed that in 2012, feral hogs caused $81 billion in damage in 41 counties in southwest Georgia. Feral hogs are destructive and aggressive and they do not belong in the wild, period. They need to be removed by any means possible. Using dogs and bait stations may seem cruel, but they are more effective methods than doing nothing and it certainly beats the alternative of letting them breed and destroy the environment, including crops, water and soil. I am confident that if you had some ideas that were equally effective that met your standards, you could make a ton of money, so speak up…we’re all ears! Briana S Powchak Boaz JUNE 2020  11

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Sunflower farm owners hope to see new blo By Allison Law


Photos by Mark Stephenson

t’s impossible to not be drawn to – and give a Sharon Samples, who is originally from Mobile, told Alabama Living on a July visit to the little smile to – a big field of summer sunflowers. As tall as a man, standing at attention, their farm that she wanted to experience nature. bright faces put on a show for all who stop by. She’s a photographer but was taking just perAnd at Kim and Todd Sheridan’s farm west of sonal photos on this trip. Autaugaville, the hope is that this summer’s crop “I’m like, did I take enough pictures? Can I will be as beautiful as last year’s. They started actually capture the beauty?” she says. Even if prepping about 18 acres of fields in late April, her photos couldn’t – we’re pretty sure they did with planting in early May. Depending on the – she was taking some stems home to her family, just in case. weather, the plants should begin blooming in late The farm draws many from central Alabama, June and continue into the first couple of weeks but the Sheridans are surprised by the number of July. of travelers who come by, often taking detours The Sheridans keep their farm’s fans up to date to or from the beach. It’s not uncommon to on the blooms on their Facebook page, titled see travelers from all across the simply “The Sunflower Field.” It Southeast; one woman came has more than 20,000 “likes” and from Tampa, Florida, just to see is the best way to plan a trip to the blooms. the farm. The flowers are undeniably It’s a popular spot with fampretty, but Todd thinks a major ilies and garden clubs as well draw is that fields such as his as photographers; the farm has are rare in Alabama. “Ninety even had its share of engagement percent of the people who come proposals. here have never seen a field of “We haven’t had anyone say no sunflowers like this,” he says. yet to one of the proposals,” Todd “I’d never seen a field of sunsays during an interview at the flowers like this until I planted farm in July 2019, as the blooms them.” were at their peak. “We’re 100 Admission to the field is free; percent on that,” Kim adds with a long wander through the a smile. fields can eat up a good part of As they have for the past few Todd and Kim Sheridan look a morning or afternoon. For $1 years, they plan to open to the forward to welcoming visitors to per stem, you can cut your own public once the blooms open. “I their Autauga County farm again flowers to take home, or get a think we all need this more than this year. bucket for $10 and put up to ever,” Kim said in the late spring, 14 flowers in it. The fee for professional phowhen Alabamians were still under a stay-attographers is $20 per session, no appointment home order to combat the COVID-19 virus. necessary. The Sheridans plan to have produce This is a happy place, the couple says. “Everyavailable for sale at the entrance to the farm, body who comes here has a good attitude,” Todd as well as kitchen tea towels and T-shirts (cash says. “They’re coming because they want to be and check only). here. Except for the few husbands who get drug The farm will have two plantings, to allow for along,” he laughs. But even curmudgeons are a longer viewing season. But each planting only usually pretty cheerful by the time they leave. blooms for about 10 days, so be sure to follow Asked to explain its allure, Kim says, “It’s kind their Facebook page for frequent updates on of simple, but spectacular, if you can use those the blooms. The farm’s address is 3301 Highway two words in the same sentence. It’s something 14 West, Autaugaville, AL 36003. to see.”

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ew blooms by late June

Taking them home

If you want to cut some flowers to take home, Todd Sheridan offers some advice. “The most important thing to making them last is to re-cut the stem about every three days.” When you cut your flower in the field, be sure to leave enough of the stem to be cut several more times. Todd says to put four parts water, one part regular citrus soda and about a thimble full of bleach to kill any bacteria in the flower water.

Alabama Living

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Alabama towns claim a part of Hank Williams’ legacy Story and photos by Emmett Burnett


pproaching Georgiana on I-65 North is an overpass bridge “Hank received his first musical instrument, a harmonica, at sign with a message: “Lost Highway.” The words pay homabout age 6,” the Georgiana house tour guide notes. “He perage to a local boy who made good – Hiram Williams. He formed in church. Mom played organ and dad played the juice changed his name to Hank and became “The Shakespeare of harp.” Hank Williams also worked – a lot. Country Music.” As a boy, he shined shoes, sold peanuts on the streets, and at Many towns claim Hank Williams and have a story to tell. age 8, received his first guitar, a gift from his mom, purchased Ready to visit some of the places country music’s superstar called from Sears and Roebuck. home? Let’s ride. He befriended a Georgiana street performer, Rufus “Teetot” We start where Hank did, in tiny Mount Olive. The third child Payne, who taught young Hank how to play guitar.  “They held of Jessie Lillybelle “Lillie” and Elonzo Huble Williams was born lessons under Hank’s house,” says Simmons, “because Payne, a on Sept. 17, 1923 in a log house no longer with us. He was born black man, felt he would be in trouble if seen with a young white with spina bifida, rendering constant back pain that in later life boy following him all over town.” triggered a drugs and alcohol dependence. Looking back as an adult, Williams recalled Rufus Payne as But at Mount Olive “my only teacher.”  By West Baptist Church, age 10 the youngster a love for gospel muwas singing and persic was nurtured. Years forming in local parlater Hank wrote and ties and winning talent recorded gospel songs contests. “He never had inspired by his church, a little boy voice,” Simsuch as “I Saw the mons adds. “What you Light” – inscribed on hear on his records is his tombstone. how he sounded as a The family moved teenager.” to Greenville and latThe singer’s career er, a few miles south to advanced when the Garland. Mom Lillie family moved to Montopened boarding housgomery in 1937. “They es and took side jobs moved here for a better to support her family. life and opportunities in Hank’s father was mosta bigger city,” says Erica ly absent from the boy’s Hank Williams Sr. Boyhood Home and Museum, 127 Rose St., Georgiana, Ala. Parker, spokesperson life due to a brain aneufor the Hank Williams rysm and eight years of hospitalization in Alexandria, La. Museum on 118 Commerce St. “He performed on the street in In 1934 the mom relocated her family to Georgiana. Their first front of WSFA Radio.” house and everything they owned burned in a fire. Their second Station managers were so impressed, they brought the street residence was 127 Rose St., today the Hank Williams Sr. Boyhood singer in to perform and later to host his own radio program – for Home and Museum. pay. Hank was now a professional singer, making enough money “Hank’s mother ran boarding houses and this was one of her to form a backup band, the Drifting Cowboys. At the age of 16, he first,” says Leona Simmons, the home’s tour guide of 26 years, as dropped out of Sidney Lanier High School. we walk through halls chock-full of Williams’ memorabilia in“He was a genius in writing and recording music,” Simmons cluding a guitar he and Elvis Presley played. says. “Hank once told his band, ‘Boys I got a new song. Y’all ain’t The family, visitors, and boarders enjoyed the home’s four going to have a problem with it. Now give me something.” And fireplaces, running water, electricity, and an outdoor toilet. Rethey did, often recording on the first try. gardless of the home’s amenities or lack thereof, Georgiana was Williams was famous for saying, “If a song can’t be written in a turning point. 20 minutes, it ain’t worth writing.” 14  JUNE 2020

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An emerging country star

der-blue Cadillac. He was very sick. In predawn hours of Jan. 1, 1953, the driver stopped at Oak During World War II most of his band joined the military; Hill, W.Va., to refuel. Hank’s driver, college student Charles Carr, Hank could not, due to health issues. For his contribution to the assumed his passenger was asleep when he checked him at the gas war effort, the singing songwriter took a job as a shipyard worker station. But Williams was motionless in the back seat, unresponin Mobile. He also sang for U.S. soldiers. sive, and at the age of 29, dead. At age 21 in 1944, the emerging star merged in marriage with Autopsy results confirmed a combination of medications and Audrey Sheppard in an Andalusia ceremony at John G. Wright alcohol contributed to his demise. Sr.’s Automotive Garage. The couple’s relationship was best deToday the 1952 Cadillac is in Montgomery’s Hank Williams scribed as “turbulent.” Museum. “People can’t believe this is the car he died in,” says muBefore divorcing in 1952, they had one son, Randall Hank Wilseum director Beth Petty. “About 30,000 people a year visit to see liams Jr. Also in 1952, Hank Sr. married Billie Jean Jones. Between it.” his two marriages, in a relationship with Bobbie Jett, a daughHank Williams’ funeral ter was born, Jett Williams was held in Montgomery, (Antha Belle Jett). The dad with an estimated 25,000 never met his daughter as mourners viewing the she was born Jan. 6, 1953, casket. It is the largest fufive days after he died. neral in Alabama’s history. Concert tours expandHe is buried at Montgomed, including Greenville, ery’s  Oakwood Cemetery Birmingham, and beyond. Annex. After being rejected once, “People visit his grave Hank successfully audidaily from all over the tioned for the Grand Ole world,” says Oakwood’s Opry. His first appearance sexton, Phillip Taunton. on Nashville’s iconic stage “Many leave mementos was June 11, 1949. He relike flowers, guitar pics, ceived 6 encores – a first and bottles of beer.” for the Opry. He was 26 Williams is remembered years old. The Ga - Ana Theater in downtown Georgiana. At age 16, Hank Williams and the as one of the greatest counBut back home he was Drifting Cowboys performed here. try music writers and singstill Hank.  “We sensed his ers of all time. During a five-year career he recorded 225 songs, talent and abilities,” says a second cousin, Georgiana’s June S. of which 128 he wrote. Locally he is remembered annually in Whittle. “But when he visited us, he was family.” Georgiana’s Hank Williams Festival in June. This year’s festival During Christmas week of 1952 Hank Williams visited the famhas been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but organizily for the holidays one last time. “We all attended church Sunday ers plan to be back in 2021. night,” Whittle recalls. “After the service Hank sang gospel songs “His lyrics relate to the people in our area,” says festival board for friends and church members.” With Christmas drawing to a member Judy Black. “People relate to him, even after all these close, he said goodbye. years.” You never forget his voice, his words, and his music. You Dec. 31, 1952: Driving to Canton, Ohio for a New Year’s Day never forget Hank Williams. concert, Williams sat in the back seat of his chauffeured, pow-

Hank Williams’ 1952 Cadillac, displayed at the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery. Williams died in this car

Alabama Living

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Williams’ gravesite at Oakwood Cemetery Annex, Montgomery.

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Alabama joins coastal states to Embrace the Gulf 2020 By Colette Boehm


ike many who live tional opportunities, thrivin coastal Alabama, ing tourism and healthy Phillip Hinesley has ecosystems. The campaign a personal connection to continues throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Yes, 2020, with a 365-day onlike many, he loves to fish, line messaging campaign but his connection goes and events scheduled beyond the excitement of throughout the five coastal reeling in a catch from Alstates. abama’s gulf waters. “The whole idea of EmAfter living on the Gulf brace the Gulf was to focus Coast most of his life and on the positive,” Hinesley sustaining an 18-year casays. “With what we’ve just reer with the Alabama Debeen going through, it’s partment of Conservation more important than ever and Natural Resources to look for the positive.” (ADCNR), Hinesley has Indeed, just as the resila better appreciation than Fiddler crabs scurrying near the shoreline are a common sight on Gulf beaches. ience of the Gulf of Mexico PHOTO BY GINA BRAMBLE most for just how conand all it touched was benected Alabama’s ecology, ing tested 10 years ago foleconomy and culture are to these gulf waters. So this year, he is lowing the oil spill, today, Alabama’s communities and economy joining many throughout the Gulf Coast region to “Embrace the are being tested through the COVID-19 crisis. Gulf.” Some spring events have been canceled or rescheduled and Hinesley retired last year from ADCNR but these days, when Alabama and the other gulf states have seen tourism, retail, oil he’s not enjoying a quiet morning casting a line from his family’s and gas and other industries suffer. But times like these bring the pier near Fort Morgan, Hinesley is still working with organizaresilience of the region’s people and resources to the forefront. tions like the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA). It’s a relationship Coordinators like Hinesley and others from each of the gulf states he continues, he said, because he believes in the work. continue to plan events, get the word out and, through their efThe alliance is a regional partnership focused on sustaining and forts, celebrate the gulf. promoting the resources of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a non-profit “The Gulf of Mexico is an astonishingly valuable natural reled by a network of federal agencies, academic groups, businesses source,” says Laura Bowie, executive director of GOMA. “It supand other non-profits from the five U.S. gulf states. ports 60 million people who live and work throughout the “GOMA started out as part of the U.S. Ocean Commission and gulf coastal region and an even greater number of people who we started gearing up in 2004,” he says. He is quick to point out visit. As an organization, the alliance wants to ensure positive the value of having GOMA relationships established across state messages are shared about its wealth of resources and its imlines and between agencies and industries when events like the portance to our economy and our culture. Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill happened in 2010. “To put it simply,” she concluded, “we are investing our Ten years later, he feels the effort is “more importtime and our resources to ‘do good things for the ant than ever” as the alliance celebrates a year-long Gulf.’ We know healthy ecosystems are the founcampaign to Embrace the Gulf. dation for healthy economies.” GOMA launched the Embrace the Gulf Gulf state governors, mayors, campaign in January as an effort to showagency directors and business case the importance of the Gulf of Mexileaders from all along the co and highlight five areas of influence: resilient coastal communities, prosperous industries, superior educa-

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Tourism to Alabama’s beaches is a vital component of the Embrace the Gulf 2020 campaign. PHOTO BY COLETTE BOEHM

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Gulf Coast have signed proclamations pledging their support for the 2020 campaign. The public is encouraged to get involved by engaging with the alliance (@GOMAlliance) on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, where it is sharing daily gulf-related messages and images as well as promoting Embrace the Gulf happenings. Events and activities associated with the campaign include efforts in restoring coastlines, rehabilitating wildlife, improving water quality and strengthening communities. Additional campaign elements include state-specific education and cleanup events as well as a regional Paddle the Gulf ecotourism opportunity. Hinesley is the Alabama lead for Paddle the Gulf, a slate of paddling events taking place in every gulf state this summer and fall. “We want people to experience our waters,” he says, “and realize that our watersheds are directly connected to the gulf, and to how healthy it is. We want them to get out and enjoy, but also to learn more about things like invasive species and how litter becomes marine debris.” In addition to his Paddle the Gulf involvement, Hinesley is active on GOMA’s Education and Engagement Team as well as its Business Advisory Council. “It’s amazing what GOMA has been able to do,” Hinesley said. “It’s come a long way since its inception and this Embrace the Gulf Campaign is an example of how regional collaboration can increase awareness of the ecological and economic value of the Gulf of Mexico.” Today, GOMA represents more than a thousand people from across the region who work together on a daily basis to address what are considered priority regional issues. Those issues include conserving and restoring habitats, improving the health of wildlife and fisheries, enhancing coastal resilience, improving data access and baseline monitoring, increasing stewardship and improving water quality.

Oil and natural gas wells account for 17 percent of U.S. crude oil production and 45 percent of U.S. refining capacity is located along the Gulf coast. PHOTO BY BRANDON WILT Alabama Living

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Gulf of Mexico Facts One core initiative of Embrace the Gulf is to share facts about the Gulf of Mexico. The gulf states are linked through industries like oil and gas, tourism, marine transportation and commercial and recreational fishing. The gulf ’s influence, however, goes far beyond its local connections, impacting the region and the entire country. Here are just a few facts that illustrate the gulf ’s diversity, environmental and economic importance and wealth of recreational opportunities.  The Gulf of Mexico region includes Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and the Many GOMA partners are Gulf coast of Florida. These hosting marine education states combined share 1,631 programming for young citizen miles of coastline divided as scientists throughout the year. PHOTO BY LESLIE PEART follows: Alabama, 53 miles; Louisiana, 397 miles; Mississippi, 44 miles; Texas, 367 miles; and the Gulf Coast of Florida, 770 miles.  If the five Gulf states were a country, the economy would rank in the Top 10 worldwide with a GDP of over $2 trillion.  The Gulf of Mexico measures approximately 1,100 miles east to west and 800 miles north to south and it covers an overall area of 600,000 square miles.  The natural resources in the five Gulf States support the employment of more than eight million people.  The Gulf of Mexico generates 1.3 billion pounds of seafood per year, which is more annual production than the mid-Atlantic, Chesapeake and New England areas combined.  Each of the five gulf states has an artificial reef program to supplement natural underwater habitats. These reefs enhance fishery resources and fishing opportunities by creating habitat for fish and invertebrate species using man-made materials.  Industries in the Gulf of Mexico region have proudly built 70% of the U.S. Naval fleet of warships.  At its deepest point, the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico is 2.7 miles underwater. Most of the Gulf, however, is much shallower. About 60 percent is less than 700 feet deep.  The Gulf of Mexico is the United States’ hottest vacation destination with an economic impact of $45 billion annually from tourism.  The gulf is home to six of the top 10 most productive shipping ports in the country.  The Gulf of Mexico provides 77 percent of the U.S. shrimp harvest.  There are 207 estuaries, 15.6 million acres of wetlands, eight national parks and 47 wildlife refuges within the Gulf ecosystem.  The Gulf of Mexico, with its warm waters and diverse habitats, is home to thousands of marine species. Scientists have documented 15,419 species living in the Gulf of Mexico. Source: Gulf of Mexico Alliance JUNE 2020  17

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| Gardens |

You can still shop fresh and local — and safely


ack in March, as the coronaviproducts. Many adapted by selling rus inspired record numbers directly to consumers from their of people to plant their own farms, through partnerships with fruits and vegetables, many Alarestaurants and local grocers, by bama produce farmers were wonproviding home delivery services dering if they could safely get their and other strategies. Though farmers and market fruits and vegetables to us. managers have already faced lots They could, but it wasn’t easy. of sleepless nights and unexpected Because farmers markets, U-pick challenges, they remain optimistic operations, roadside stands and other direct-to-consumer farm product and passionately committed to their sales outlets offer exceptional access work, and consumer response has to fresh, nutritious food — some of been exceptional. Many market vendors are experiencing the best sales which has been in short supply at of their careers, and more and more grocery stores — they are “essential” A vendor at the EastChase Farmers’ Market wears a mask and consumers are discovering the flaservices under COVID-19 proto- gloves to hand an arrangement of sunflowers to a patron. cols. But they must be run safely, vor, health and community-buildPHOTO BY CARTER PHOTOGRAPHY + DESIGN ing advantages of buying local. which is a priority for the organizamenting innovative strategies such as oftions involved in overseeing those protoIt’s hard to predict what this summer fering pre-orders for vendors’ products, cols, including the Alabama Farmers Marwill bring — except that all these folks will aggregating products from several vendors ket Authority, the division of the Alabama do their best to provide fresh local prodinto CSA-like “market boxes” and estabucts. But we can help by supporting local Department of Agriculture and Industries lishing drive-through pickup systems. farmers and markets. Learn more about that connects consumers to Alabama’s loThe process worked well early in the cally grown and made products. the sources of farm products near you season when only a few vendors were at a According to FMA director Don Wamand how each operates by contacting the market and product was limited, but Wambles, this year’s COVID-19 restrictions FMA (fma.alabama.gov), Sweet Grown bles said the situation became more comwent into place just as many early spring Alabama (sweetgrownalabama.org), the plicated in April as the amount of produce crops, including beloved fresh strawberries, Alabama Cooperative Extension System and farmers increased. That’s when everywere ready to harvest and just as market (aces.edu) and your local farmers and one in the local food chain, from growers season was cranking up. So Wambles and farmers markets. to eaters to market managers, adapted in his staff, working with other federal and Here are a few other tips to follow at a the moment, often tweaking their stratestate agencies and organizations, developed farmers market: gies from week to week. safety guidelines for farmers and markets. • Limit the number of people in your In addition to farmers market vendors, Those guidelines included such instrucshopping party and, for now, don’t those farmers and ranchers who typically tions as providing extra space between take dogs (except service animals) to sold directly to restaurants and schools, each vendor (6 to 10 feet or more), limitthe market. which were closed by the state order, ing the number of shoppers allowed in the • Get in and out as quickly as possible also had to find new ways to move their market area at a time and providing hand so others can also shop safely. sanitizers and hand-washing stations for • Use hand washing and sanitizing staJUNE TIPS tions as you enter and leave the marboth vendors and customers. The guidelines also required vendors to wear protecket. • Plant tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and tive gear, such as gloves and masks, and en• Follow all rules posted on each marsweet potatoes. couraged vendors to staff each booth with ket’s grounds. • Sow seeds for field peas, beans, squash, corn, melons and pumpkins. two people — one to handle product, the • Prepay if possible or set up a mobile • Irrigate as needed with special attention other to handle money. In addition, sampayment app in advance of shopping. to new plantings and container plants. pling and handling of produce by customIf you’re paying in cash, bring small • Watch for insect and disease problems ers was restricted (customers could only bills. and treat as needed. point to items for vendors to bag). • Freshen water in birdbaths and Market managers quickly developed If you’re a senior or high-risk for ornamental ponds to reduce mosquito other ways to serve consumers by impleCOVID-19 exposure, get a friend or fampopulations. ily member to do your shopping. (If you • Celebrate National Garden Week (June have Farmers Market Nutrition Program Katie Jackson is a freelance 7-13) and National Pollinator Week (June writer and editor based in vouchers, Wambles said your designated 22-28). Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at shopper can use them to buy your order.) katielamarjackson@gmail.com. Be nice, patient, flexible and safe! 18  JUNE 2020

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Doing our part Alabamians continue to step up to help their neighbors and others as we all navigate this time of uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic. We hope you are inspired by the stories on these pages. Please let us hear your own stories of hope by emailing us at alaw@areapower.com. Arab church ‘Glory Train’ cheers members Members of a church in Arab have taken to the streets in their northeast Alabama town to bring joy and smiles to their members who are elderly or shut-in. Kristi Walker, a member of Union Hill FCM Church and Arab Electric Cooperative, organized a “Glory Train” of vehicles to drive through neighborhoods to boost morale. “The Lord put it on my heart to go around to the houses of the elderly, shut-ins and widows of our church and show them we love them,” she says. “We wanted them to know they are not forgotten during this lonely time, since they have not been able to leave their houses due to COVID-19.”

Since April 22, Walker says 25 to 30 cars have participated in the weekly parades with 100 people participating, honking horns and driving by the homes of more than 70 church members and hundreds more in between. “As we approached the houses, we would call them and ask them to step onto their porches where we would surprise them with cars decorated with balloons and signs of encouragement, with families cheering and waving. “We have been able to uplift and inspire hundreds of people in the community,” she says. “We have gotten the biggest blessings from each and every neighborhood we have been able to parade through.”

Members of the Union Hill FCM Church participate in a weekly “Glory Train” parade to surprise fellow members.

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Doing our part

Workers at HomTex in Cullman have been making millions of cotton face masks. The company will add production of surgical face masks this month.

Alabama company pivots to making high-demand face masks By Lenore Vickrey A Cullman manufacturer of bed sheets has converted its plant to make one of the most in-demand products in the United States: cotton face masks. HomTex has been churning out face masks for national companies and individuals for the past several weeks. “By June 1, we will have received orders for and/or shipped a couple million face masks,” says President and CFO Jeremy Wootten. “The customers range from national companies to individuals. We have sold a significant amount of product to businesses in Cullman and the surrounding area as well as to companies all around the Southeast. We have sold to companies and hospitals in New York. Many of the Alabama state agencies have purchased masks.” The success of the cotton masks led HomTex to expand its operations to produce hospital-approved surgical masks. With the Alabama Living

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help of a $1.5 million loan from the City of Cullman Economic Development Agency, the company expects to begin making the surgical masks this month. “Our goal is to begin production of the three-ply pleated surgical face mask in June and reach full production by the end of July,” Wootten says. “We have compiled an experienced sales force to offer the product to the health care industry, the federal and state governments and to retail.” The $5 million venture expects to add 120 jobs with the capacity to make 350 million masks a year. The company moved its corporate office and sewing plant to the city of Cullman in 2018 but continues to operate a plant/ warehouse in Vinemont served by Cullman EC. The Wootten family are longtime members of the cooperative. The cotton masks are sold under the DreamFit brand and may be found at dreamfitfacemask.com/. JUNE 2020  21

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Hillary Cole pets the zoo’s giraffe. Guests will be invited to feed the giraffe when it reopens.


New zoo opens – and you can virtually visit By Marilyn Jones It’s 11 a.m. and I’m at Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. Well, actually I’m virtually at the zoo. Like many attractions closed because of COVID-19, the zoo is bringing the animals to the public by way of live presentations and prerecorded videos of zookeepers interacting with animals. This day two chinchillas — Dusty and Moonlite — are playfully moving around a table as zookeeper Hannah Friess talks about the little fur balls. She describes their diet and habits, and says the rodents are endangered in the wild because of excessive trapping. Every day at 11 a.m. on the zoo’s Facebook page, more animals are presented. Bruce Quillis (porcupine), Kevin Bacon (wild hog) and Benjamin (miniature donkey) tour the zoo and meet other animals. One video shows Benjamin meeting giraffes. Another video shows Bruce Quillis exploring the zoo. At 11 a.m. on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday, the zoo presents “Live with Surprise.” On Tuesday’s prerecorded “Walks with Bruce Quillis,” a baby African crested porcupine explores the zoo grounds and visits other exhibits. Thursday belongs to Kevin Bacon as a zookeeper demonstrates training zoo animals in a prerecorded video. On Saturday at 10:30 a.m., it’s “Guess that Diet.” In the live presentation, the zookeeper puts together a meal for an unnamed animal. Viewers are encouraged to submit their guesses and then watch the animal enjoy its meal after the reveal. The live and prerecorded videos offer guests a look at the new zoo that officially opened March 11. The zoo has been in the works since Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Katrina in 2005. Zoo Director Joel Hamilton says what makes the facility so special is the zoo offers guests the opportunity to learn about conservation and the world through a variety of different programs. “In addition to the usual keeper presentations, we provide guests 22  JUNE 2020

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with opportunities to get up close to select species through our animal encounters,” he says. “Whether the encounter is with a sloth, tamandua, kangaroo or lemur, the goal is to create connections and provide informative, conservation education opportunities.  We have a feeding station at the giraffe exhibit too.” The zoo is impressive, given that Gulf Shores’ population is about 10,000 and neighboring Orange Beach is only about 6,000. There are 300 animals in the zoo including carnivores, ungulates (large animals with hooves), primates, small mammals, birds and reptiles. The zoo is the first American zoo to be built from the ground up in more than 20 years, according to Hamilton. The 25-acre facility (compared to the previous seven-acre zoo) is located at 20499 Oak Road East and far enough inland to be safe from hurricanes. Hamilton says the hub of the zoo is a carousel with paths leading away from it. He adds that you can cross a boardwalk to Bayer Butterfly House and then onward to see Africa. “Other pathways lead to the Americas or between our two ponds where islands house lemurs and spider monkeys.” Above all else, the new zoo provides a much more spacious, protected and enriching environment for the animals, which is evident when watching Bruce Quillis walking along pathways and visiting animals. The zoo also offers a Soaring Eagle Zipline and a fine dining restaurant — the Safari Club. The restaurant reopened on May 11.

For more information:

To watch videos and live presentations starring zoo animals: facebook.com/alabamagulfcoastzoo. Safari Club restaurant: safariclubgulfshores.com The zoo website: alabamagulfcoastzoo.com. www.alabamaliving.coop

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Doing our part Auburn nursing grad’s stint on Navy ship puts her on front lines By Jack West “We’ve seen people from all walks of life,” she says. “Everybody While millions of Alabamians were riding out the Coronavirus speaks a different language which is cool because we have so many storm in their homes with their loved ones, one Auburn gradupeople on this ship that are from all over the place and translate ate was fighting the virus while onboard a floating hospital nearly for us.” 1,000 miles away from the Plains. Kaley said that while she worried about her sister’s safety, she Ensign Megan Arnett was sent to New York City, the American also knows that these experiences were what drove her to become epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, less than a year after becoming a nurse. a Navy nurse in the first place. Arnett, who is from Madison, graduated “I was scared for her because obviously from Auburn in August 2019 and specialthis COVID-19 situation is really intense izes in pediatric nursing. However, after and she was going to be dealing with all of graduation, Arnett joined the U.S. Navy these patients,” Kaley says. “But she joined and was assigned to the USNS Comfort, the the Navy to explore the world and push hospital ship that was recently stationed in herself outside of her comfort zone, so I New York Harbor to help the city’s beleawas mainly just excited for her.” guered healthcare infrastructure. The Comfort left New York Harbor in Arnett said she had been in Norfolk, Virlate April, and Arnett was in self-quaranginia, the Comfort’s homeport, for a few Megan Arnett was sent to New York City less tine because of her direct exposure to the months before being deployed to New York. than a year after becoming a nurse. virus. Her family was expected to visit her “As soon as there was talk in the media when it was safe to do so. Kaley said that about the governor calling for us, needing us to be up here, I knew while there’s a lot of emotion around getting to see her sister again, to go ahead and start getting my bags packed,” she says. that might manifest itself in surprising ways. Kaley Arnett, Megan’s younger sister, said that packing is not her “I’ll definitely hug her,” she says. “I would cry, but now I know older sibling’s strong suit. she’s safe.” “She called us kind of freaking out because she doesn’t know Megan said that she hopes once all of this is over, people will how to pack a bag well,” Kaley says. “My dad’s our expert packer.” become more aware of their own vulnerabilities. So, roughly a week before Megan was set to be deployed aboard “I think what people should really take into account is that the Comfort, Kaley and her parents went to see Megan in Norfolk. you’re not invincible,” she says. “You’re not. Nobody is. Nobody is “We went to Norfolk to help her pack up and visit with her bejust straight up protected from any of this. So, it’s better to follow cause we didn’t know how long she was going to be gone,” Kaley the guidelines because they are there for a reason: to help you.” says. The uncertainty and emotional instability that can accompany Jack West is a senior at Auburn University and editor-in-chief of the a military deployment is not something new for the Arnett family. Auburn Plainsman. Megan and Kaley’s dad, Adam Arnett, is a retired Marine Corps officer. Megan said that connection was really helpful for her while she was in New York. “My dad understands what it’s like to be in a deployed status away from home,” she says. “I call my parents every night and vent about my day which I think is what really helps me the most.” Given the situation in New York and the conditions that Arnett has worked under, venting to friends and family seemed understandable. While Arnett lived aboard the Comfort, she actually worked on the pier that connected the ship to the city. Her job was to help transfer patients from ambulances to the ship while simultaneously acquiring their medical history. “Once we find out an ambulance is here, we have to put on all PPE — gown, mask, gloves, face shield, everything — pretty quickly,” she says. “The nurses down here — there’s five of us — we’re in charge of going through the paperwork, finding the patient’s COVID status and any of their past medical history. We then bring those patients up to the ship.” Like most nurses, Arnett works 12-hour shifts. Unlike most nurses, Arnett’s patients come from one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country. Alabama Living

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Alabama Living

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| Alabama People |

Dr. Scott Harris

Alabama’s top doctor Dr. Scott Harris has become a household name to many Alabamians as he leads, along with the governor, the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Harris has served as the 12th state health officer since February 2018, having previously served as area health officer for seven north Alabama counties. A graduate of Harding University in Arkansas, he attended medical school at UAB, where he completed a fellowship in infectious diseases. He earned a master’s degree in public health from the UAB School of Public Health in 2017, with a concentration in health policy. He practiced infectious disease medicine at Decatur General Hospital and Parkway Medical Center and was medical director at the Decatur-Morgan Community Free Clinic, a non-profit clinic offering health and dental care to low-income uninsured residents. He has also been part of many international medical missions to Central America, South America and Africa. Dr. Harris was kind enough to answer a few questions from Alabama Living. – Lenore Vickrey Tell us a little about your growing up years. I was born and raised in Talladega and graduated from Talladega High School. My parents still live in Talladega, where my father was a pharmacist and operated his own drug store for over 50 years before finally retiring. My mother is also retired now but was a registered nurse who worked for a time, among other jobs, at our county health department.   Is being a doctor always what you wanted to do, and why? I had an uncle in Talladega who was a family physician and even as a young person, I wanted to go into medicine. I really enjoy being able to help others who are in need, and medicine allows an opportunity to connect with people in a way that is different from many other professions. Issues of health and safety are among the most important that people can face, and it is a privilege to be able to help those who are seeking it.    What led you to pursue a fellowship in infectious diseases? The specialty of infectious diseases (ID) is fascinating to me. ID appeals to me because of the variety of illnesses and disease processes that are involved, and because infections can occur in anyone at any time. ID is not a specialty that is focused on a single organ system or a single type of patient, and there are many other non-infectious illnesses that can masquerade as infections, so there are always interesting puzzles to solve while you are trying to help those who are sick.  

What caused you to pursue a career in public health service, rather than private practice? My career in ID had a lot of overlap with the work of public health. Much of my practice involved caring for patients with HIV, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as vaccine preventable illnesses and disease outbreaks. Over my years in private practice, I had many opportunities to work closely with public health officials and always appreciated the work done on behalf of underserved groups and those without other access to medical care. While living in Decatur, I was part of a group that helped to establish a free medical clinic for low-income people, and I served as the volunteer medical director there for about 13 years. Public health is simply a good fit with my training but also with the issues that I care about.   Did you receive training in handling a pandemic? Did you ever expect to be on the front lines of dealing with a pandemic? Public health has spent a great deal of time creating pandemic plans that include a number of other state agencies, health care facilities and community partners. These plans were put together initially after the H1N1 pandemic in 2009 and have been updated regularly. We have frequent tabletop practice events and occasionally have real world practice exercises that involve hospitals, nursing homes, first responders and others.  

Still, this type of practice does not fully prepare us for the event we are experiencing now. None of us could have ever predicted the current outbreak, which has infected over 1 million people in our country alone and killed more Americans in the past two months than who died over the entire course of the Vietnam War. I certainly did not expect to be here in this position for this event, but fortunately have been able to work with true professionals in the Department of Public Health, the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, the Alabama National Guard, and many others who have been trained and prepared for this response.   Your job must be extremely stressful. How do you unwind at night? My wife and I like to cook together and we are always looking for an interesting recipe to try. We grow vegetables and herbs on our property and try to use fresh ingredients whenever we can. We also enjoy spending time reading books or working together on jigsaw puzzles, and we make time on most days for walks around the neighborhood or to our nearby park, just for exercise and to spend time together. PHOTO BY SIDNEY A. FOSTER, GOVERNOR’S OFFICE

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| Consumer Wise |

The kind of audit you actually want By Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen


I need to reduce my energy costs and don’t know where to start. You often recommend a home energy audit. What will an audit tell me?


A home energy audit is the perfect place to start if you want to reduce your energy bills or make your home more comfortable. An audit can also help you decide whether to invest in a new energy source like a solar array, or a new heating and cooling system like a heat pump, or whether it’s time to upgrade your current system. It’s possible to conduct your own energy audit using a website or app. Online and app audits are great tools you can use to learn about energy use and potential efficiency upgrades. A comprehensive, in-person energy audit provides much more information, but because most of us are staying at home and practicing social distancing, an online audit is currently the safest option. Your electric cooperative might have some information about energy audits on their website. They might even have a tool to help you do your own energy audit.  If not, there are other websites that will help you do your own energy audit.  Just plug in “online energy audits” into a search engine.     Here are three sources of online information and online tools from sources that we trust:  · The U.S. Department of Energy has a nice tutorial about DIY energy audits at energy.gov/energysaver/ home-energy-audits/do-it-yourself-home-energy-audits  · The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has an online audit at homeenergysaver.lbl.gov/consumer/ · ENERGY STAR provides a helpful tool, the Home Energy Yardstick.  Patrick Keegan writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives. Write to energytips@collaborativeefficiency. com for more information.

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Energy Auditor D. Michael Ingram from Green Collar Crew inspects insulation in the attic of a single family home. PHOTO COURTESY ANDY HARPER, 60IMEDIA PRODUCTIONS

This tool helps you compare your energy use to similar homes, and provides guidance on how to reduce your energy use. energystar.gov/ index.cfm?fuseaction=home_energy_yardstick.showgetstarted When things are back to normal and it’s safe to have visitors in your home, there are typically two options for an in-home energy audit. The least expensive is a home energy survey, sometimes referred to as a “walkthrough” audit that is essentially a visual inspection. If you have modest goals about what you want to learn from an energy audit, and if you are fortunate enough to find an experienced and knowledgeable professional, this type of audit might meet your needs. The second, more comprehensive energy audit requires more time and utilizes several diagnostic tools. The average cost for this type of audit is about $400. Check with your local electric cooperative to see if they offer energy audits or provide a discount or rebate. A comprehensive energy audit will look at four main areas. The first is the envelope of your home, which includes

all the places where the exterior and interior meet––roof, walls, doors, windows and foundation. A critical tool for testing the envelope is a blower door test, which has a powerful fan that is mounted in an exterior door frame and used to de-pressurize the home. The auditor can then identify how well-sealed your home is and locate any air leaks. Some auditors will work with you to seal leaks and continue to take blower door readings as the home is tightened up. One advantage of this approach is avoiding excessive air sealing. It’s possible, in some homes, to tighten the home too much, so the energy auditor can determine when to stop sealing leaks so that a healthy supply of air infiltration is maintained. Another tool auditors will use to look at your building envelope is a thermal imaging camera, which shows hot and cold spots that pinpoint exactly where insulation is needed on walls and ceilings. The camera works best when the exterior temperature is much colder or much warmer than the interior temperature. The second focus of the audit is your home’s HVAC (furnace/AC unit) system and water heater to see how energy efficient they are and whether they should be www.alabamaliving.coop

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replaced. If your home has air ducts, the auditor can conduct a duct blaster test to see if your ducts are properly sealed. Ducts located in unheated areas are often a major source of energy loss. The third area the auditor will review includes other energy end use, such as lighting, appliances and other “pluggedin” devices. The auditor may also suggest steps like energy efficient lighting or a smart thermostat. The fourth area included in a comprehensive energy audit is health and safety. Does your home have the correct number and placement of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors? Should your basement be tested for radon emissions? Make sure you get answers to these questions. Some audits include a sophisticated energy analysis of your home using energy modeling software. These analyses can rank the different energy efficiency opportunities in your home from most- to least cost-effective. This will tell you how much you can save if you invest in all the cost-effective upgrades. After the energy audit is complete, the auditor should sit down with you and explain the findings in detail. This conversation should include a discussion of ways to operate your home to achieve more energy savings and more comfort. A home energy audit may seem like an unnecessary expense, but it truly can save you money in the long run because it helps to ensure every dollar you put into energy efficiency pays for itself. This column was co-written by Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen of Collaborative Efficiency. For more information on choosing windows, please visit: www.collaborativeefficiency.com/energytips.

Answers to puzzle on Page 32

Alabama Living

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| Outdoors |

For a change of pace, try these methods to catch crappie


rom muddy tidal rivers to deep, clear mountain lakes, anglers “We single-pole jig around thick cover because we can get a bait can find great crappie action in just about any freshwater sysall the way down better,” explains Gerald Overstreet Jr., a profestem in Alabama. sional crappie angler and guide from Gainestown. “We can work a Many crappie enthusiasts suspend live minnows under floats to single bait through really thick stuff and also pull hooked fish out fish around visible structure. Others troll or use spider rigs to work easier. The weight I use depends upon the current.” small jigs, sometimes tipped with a live bait. Spider rigging involves Let the bait sink naturally without adding action. Many anglers hanging several poles from holders in a formation that resembles a fish this method with brightly-colored line to watch for any subtle spider web. Anglers can vertically movements that might indicate fish multiple baits in different cola strike. Crappie usually bite imors or bait combinations at varimediately as the bait sinks or not ous depths simultaneously. at all. If the bait hits bottom, jig For decades, these proven techit back up toward the surface and niques produced outstanding move it just a few inches to repeat crappie catches, but anglers can the procedure. also try many other ways to catch Whenever possible, fish completely around an object or hit the fish. Crappie frequently hit small cover from multiple directions. lures, but such light temptations Fish might hold on one side or make casting difficult. Suspend a another. Perhaps some unseen untiny fly or hair jig below a small derwater object creates the perfect clear plastic float. The float adds ambush spot. On a cool morning, weight for better casting, but fish might prefer the sunny side. doesn’t spook the fish. Set the As the sun climbs higher, fish depth so the bait suspends just might move to the shady side. above the bottom or other cover. Whatever the reason, fish as many Let the float sit for several seconds and then pull it just hard angles as possible around each object to determine patterns. enough to make some surface During summer heat, crappie commotion. The bait should rise often plunge into deep waters to in the water and then sink again. find more comfortable temperaWhen fish want more subtle action, let the float sit longer so the tures. With electronics, look for hairs on the fly or jig twitch with deep brush piles, rocks, sunken the slightest water movements. A logs or other cover that might hold scented pellet adds more enticefish. With good electronics, anment. glers can sometimes almost drop Most people fish this temptaa spoon on a fish’s head or dangle tion with an ultralight spinning it in front of the fish and watch it rod. However, anglers can also fish Pat Trammell, a guide with Pat Trammell Fishing, shows off a strike the lure. bobber-fly rigs with poles as long crappie he caught while fishing Weiss Lake near Centre, Ala. Vertically drop a 1/8- to as they can comfortably handle. 1/4-ounce chrome jigging spoon PHOTO BY JOHN N. FELSHER With the long pole, use very short next to humps, drop-off edges or line, usually only two to five feet. Softly place the rig into tight sweet other bottom cover. Small, heavy and compact, a spoon quickly spots, like a shady pocket between two limbs on a fallen tree or an sinks to the bottom even in the deepest waters. As it flutters down opening in a grass mat. reflecting light, the spoon mimics a dying shad. Let a spoon flutter Anglers can also use long single poles and tiny flies to deploy all the way to the bottom, but crappie don’t always hang near the baits without floats. Approach cover as quietly as possible. At exbottom. They commonly suspend over deep cover. If nothing hits treme range, drop a tiny fly, hair jig or jig tipped with a soft-plastic as it falls, jig the spoon up and down a few times off the bottom. If trailer as close as possible to any vertical structure such as a dock nothing bites there, turn the reel handle two or three cranks to fish piling, standing timber or stump. Use no additional weight. a different depth. Keep testing depths to find the best level where fish want to suspend. Don’t give up on the proven methods that put so many fish into John N. Felsher lives in Semmes, Ala. boats over the years, but occasionally all anglers need to try someContact him through Facebook. thing different. Who knows? They might just find a new favorite technique! 30  JUNE 2020

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

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

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


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

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

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



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

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


3:45 - 5:15 4:33 - 6:03 5:21 - 6:51 5:48 - 7:18 6:09 - 7:39 6:57 - 8:27 7:45 - 9:15 8:33 - 10:03 9:21 - 10:51 10:09 - 11:39 10:57 - 12:27 NA 12:33 - 2:03 1:21 - 2:51 AM

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


4:09 - 5:39 4:57 - 6:27 5:45 - 7:15 6:11 - 7:41 6:33 - 8:03 7:21 - 8:51 8:09 - 9:39 8:57 - 10:27 9:45 - 11:15 10:33 - 12:03 11:21 - 12:51 12:09 - 1:39 12:57 - 2:27 1:45 - 3:15 PM

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

The Moon Clock and resulting Moon Times were developed 36 years ago by Doug Hannon, one of America’s most trusted wildlife experts and a tireless inventor. The Moon Clock is produced by DataSport, Inc. of Atlanta, GA (www.moontimes.com), a company specializing in wildlife activity time prediction. Alabama Living

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Social Security protects your investment


e provide benefits to about one-fifth of the American population and help protect workers, children, people with disabilities, and the elderly. In 2020, we will pay about one trillion dollars in Social Security benefits to roughly 65 million people. One of our most important responsibilities is to protect the hard-earned money you pay into Social Security, which is why we have zero tolerance for fraud. We take fraud claims seriously and investigate them thoroughly. We respond quickly and decisively to prevent and detect fraud. For example, we monitor transactions to detect actions that demonstrate an intent to defraud the American people. We will continue to innovate and develop anti-fraud initiatives because any level of fraud is unacceptable. Recently, we launched a public service announcement as our latest effort to caution you about the ongoing nationwide telephone scam.  The video features a message from our commission-

Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at kylle.mckinney@ssa.gov.


er, Andrew Saul.  Along with our Office of the Inspector General, we continue to receive reports about fraudulent phone calls, text messages, and emails from people who falsely claim that they are government employees.  The scammers play on emotions like fear to convince people to provide personal information or money in cash, wire transfers, or gift cards. Fraudsters also email fake documents in attempts to get people to comply with their demands. “I want every American to know that if a suspicious caller states there is a problem with their Social Security number or account, they should hang up and never give the caller money or personal information. People should then go online to report the scam call to Social Security,” said Commissioner Saul. You can report these scams at oig.ssa.gov. Learn how to protect yourself and report any suspicious calls or emails right away. If you have already been a victim of one of these scams, please do not be embarrassed. Instead, report the scam at oig.ssa.gov so we can stop these scammers and protect others. Please share our new Public Service Announcement video with your friends and family at youtube.com/socialsecurity. You can also share our publication, Social Security Protects Your Investment, at ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10004.pdf.


Across 1 Popular Alabama drink, 2 words 5 Auburn head coach, first name 7 Guntersville, for one 9 ___ Springs, the county seat of Bullock County which displays a life size bird dog monument 10 Statue in Birmingham which is the largest cast iron statue in the world 12 ____ Ground Battlefield Park, in Lowndesboro 13 Celebrated African American airmen who fought in WW II 16 Najee Harris and JaTarvious Whitlow, for example- abbr. 17 Seasonal album by the Alabama band 21 Sweet flower 22 Name of NASA’s Space Flight Center in Huntsville 26 Act that protects the rights of people with disabilities 28 Famous NFL wide receiver who was born in Alabama 30 Last word in the name of the band that sang “Born on the Bayou” 32 Canadian Province, initials 33 Large snake 34 Alabama city where you can visit the “world’s largest office chair”

24 25 26 27 29 31

by Myles Mellor

Baseball great born in Mobile Adores Off-roader’s purchase, for short Type of salad It laps on the shore at Orange Beach African American fashion designer born in Clayton, ___ Lowe

Down 1 Alabama is famous for its ____ hospitality 2 They’re fit to consume 3 Former Crimson Tide great, ____ Nathan 4 “__ tu, Brute” from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” 5 Yukon is one of these SUV’s 6 Perceive 7 Alabama bird, the Mottled ___ 8 Mr. Pacino 11 Cat sound 14 Health club facility 15 High cards 18 “That’s a laugh!” 19 Needing a doc 20 Alabama has over 200 species of these slow moving garden pests 21 Promotional piece 23 Garrett Coliseum, for one Answers on Page 29 32  JUNE 2020

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Alabama Living

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| Alabama Recipes |

Potluck goodness at home STYLING/PHOTOS BY BROOKE ECHOLS

Ham, Cheese and Hash Brown Casserole

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Photo by The Buttered Home

Tomato Pie


hen we planned this month’s recipe theme of “Potluck” back in 2019, we never anticipated that our readers wouldn’t actually be able to attend a potluck event at their church, neighborhood meeting or family reunion. But here we are in 2020, with many of us confined to our homes, still cooking but unable to sit down and share our delicious favorites with others the way we’d like. But we still love to eat, and for many of us, that means “comfort” food like the homemade casseroles you’d find at many a potluck dinner in Alabama and across the South. So enjoy these reader-submitted casseroles we’re featuring on these pages, and just imagine yourself with your friends and family sharing a forkful together, a day we pray returns safely very soon. – the Alabama Living staff

Ham, Cheese and Hash Brown Casserole (opposite page)

1 1 2 2 ½ ½ 1

can cream of chicken soup bag shredded hashbrowns cups ham, diced cups sharp cheddar cheese cup onion, diced cup melted butter cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients completely. Place mixture in a greased 9x13-inch pan. Bake 35-45 minutes until hot and bubbly. Glenda Weigel Baldwin EMC

Alabama Living

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Tomato Pie is the ultimate potluck dish. For many of us in the South, tomatoes are in ample supply this month. With beautiful sliced tomatoes coupled with sliced red onions, all baked in a flaky pie shell, this tomato pie will turn a potluck meal into a party. Follow us at thebutteredhome. com for more recipes that celebrate good old Southern cooking.

Brooke Burks

Tomato Pie 1 homemade pie shell (thebutteredhome.com for recipe) 4-6 ripe Roma tomatoes, sliced 1/4 cup sliced red onions 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar 1 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons dried basil 1 teaspoon pepper 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded 1/2 cup mayonnaise 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded 1/2 cup sour cream Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake pie shell for 10 minutes. While cooking, marinate the tomatoes and onions in balsamic vinegar in a large bowl. Drain. Reserve a few slices of tomatoes for garnish. Allow the crust to cool. In another bowl, mix salt, pepper, basil, cheeses, mayo and sour cream. In prepared pie crust, layer tomatoes and onion into a single layer. Top with cheese mixture. Spread evenly. Top with reserved slices of tomato for garnish. Bake the pie for 45 minutes until it becomes melted, bubbly and the crust is brown. Allow the pie to sit and cool for 10 minutes before cutting. Enjoy! JUNE 2020  35

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Potluck Chicken and Dumplings 1 2 3 2 1 1 2 Skillet Chicken and Green Bean Potluck

Cook of the Month Kirk Vantrease, Cullman EC Skillet Chicken and Green Bean Potluck 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed 1 pound fresh green beans 1 10.5 ounce can cream of mushroom soup 1 cup milk 11/2 cups fried onions 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon thyme 1 stick butter Pinch cayenne pepper Salt and pepper, to taste In a large skillet add olive oil and chicken; cook on medium heat. As you cook the chicken, season with salt, pepper, thyme, cayenne pepper and cook for 30 minutes. Add green beans and stick of butter. Cook for another 30 minutes. Stir in a can of cream of mushroom soup, milk and 1/2 cup of fried onions, blending everything together. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Uncover and top with the remainder of the fried onions.


White Shoepeg Corn Casserole 3 11-ounce cans shoepeg corn, drained 1 to ½ pints whipping cream 2 tablespoons flour 1 stick butter, melted Salt and pepper, to taste

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In a slow cooker, add onions, celery, carrots, garlic, oregano and thyme. Add chicken breasts. Pour cans of cream of chicken and broth over the breasts. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours. Uncover, stir. Salt and pepper, to taste. Top mixture with canned biscuits. Cover and cook one more hour. Kirk Vantrease Cullman EC

Mix all ingredients together. Pour into a 9x13-inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Mama's Cajun Pinto Beans & Rice

Jean Fontaine Baldwin EMC

1 pound bag pinto beans, washed and soaked overnight 1 bell pepper 1 whole onion 1 pound ground beef Chili powder, to taste Black pepper, dash 1 cup onions, chopped Banana pepper, optional

Gertrude's Casserole 1/2 pounds hamburger meat 1 3 cups cooked macaroni 1 cup sour cream 1 cup whole kernel corn 1 small jar pimentos 1 small onion, chopped 1 can cream of mushroom soup Ritz crackers, for topping Butter, for topping Cook hamburger and onion together and drain well. Add all the other ingredients. Top with crushed Ritz crackers and dot with butter. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Sandra Largen Central Alabama EC

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2 4

onion, chopped large carrots, peeled and chopped cloves garlic, minced stalks celery, chopped tablespoon oregano tablespoon thyme 10.5-ounce cans cream of chicken soup cups chicken broth large boneless, skinless chicken breasts 16.3-ounce can refrigerated biscuits Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook pinto beans until almost done. Add bell pepper and whole onion last 30 minutes (then discard onion). Cook ground beef until brown, drain. Add chili powder, to taste, chopped onions, banana pepper (optional) and sauté. Add to beans. Cook rice in separate pan until done. Put rice on plate, pour beans over rice. Mrs. Clarence M. Catt South Alabama EC


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the best of

Mail order form and payment to: Cookbook Best of Alabama Living Cookbook P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124-4014 COOKBOOKS @ $19.95 EACH:


(Shipping included)

Name: Address: City:



Phone Number:



prize and title of


of the


Themes and Deadlines: Sept.: *Bar foods | June 5 Oct.: Traditional Southern Recipes | July 3 Nov.: Pies | August 7 (*Taco bar, baked potato bar, etc.)

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

Alabama Living

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5/14/20 10:38 AM


ELECTRICAL SAFETY a priority in your home

Electricity has powered life-changing technology since cooperatives first started bringing it to rural areas more than 80 years ago. But while electric power is an essential part of modern life, it can also be dangerous when not handled carefully. Covington Electric Cooperative would like to take this opportunity to encourage all of our members to practice electrical safety in their homes. Nationally,


2 3

Always inspect extension cords for broken connectors, damaged insulation and missing hardware. Equip all extension cords with ground fault interruption devices.

Don’t run an extension cord through walls, over beams, around corners or through doorways. Make sure your cords are approved for the environment and loads expected. If an extension cord is damaged, throw it out. Don’t try to repair it and risk damaged insulation or connectors.

Never use multioutlet converters. Connecting too many devices to the same outlet can lead to overloaded circuits, one of the leading causes of home electrical fires. If you use a power strip, make sure it is surge protected. Regularly inspect power strips for damage or signs of overloading, such as a burning odor or sizzling noises.

Alabama Living

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an average of 51,000 electrical fires occur in the home annually, causing more than $1.3 billion in property damage and claiming nearly 500 lives, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Most dangers can be avoided with an understanding of basic electrical safety principles, so be sure to keep these important guidelines in mind around your own home.


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Locate temporary wiring at least 7 feet above any walking or working surface. When setting up outdoor wiring, only use outdoor-approved temporary wiring and extension cords. Don’t operate equipment cords without a ground connection unless they are double insulated.

Inspect electrical appliances around your home and ensure they are properly grounded. If cords are frayed or damaged, they should be removed and replaced immediately. Make sure all your electrical equipment has sufficient access and working space.

Label the purpose of each breaker or fuse on your circuit breaker or fuse box. If attempting an electric repair project yourself, always turn off the power at the main service panel to the circuit you plan to work on. Be sure to test wires before touching them to make sure the power has been turned off. JUNE 2020 43

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Alabama Living

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JUNE 2020  39

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| Our Sources Say |

Is solar cheaper than natural gas? I

apologize for all the numbers. They are geeky, but important if you are interested in the true cost of electricity. If you aren’t, you can stop reading now or skip to the fourth from last paragraph and see the answer. Environmental protesters recently argued that the Alabama Public Service Commission should mandate that Alabama Power build solar generation instead of its proposed natural gas combined cycle plant because solar power is cheaper. The Rocky Mountain Institute reports that today clean renewable solar power is cheaper than natural gas-fired generation. Bloomberg Energy, USA Today and other media outlets also report that solar power is now cheaper than fossil fuel generation. The price of solar power, especially utility-scale solar power, has declined dramatically over the past few years. The International Renewable Energy Agency states the price of solar power has dropped 84% over the past eight years. PowerSouth has had recent experience with both natural gas and utility-scale solar power. I have discussed PowerSouth’s generation plans in these articles a number of times. We will close our coal-fired Lowman Plant in Leroy, Alabama, in October and build in its place a stateof-the-art 693 megawatt (MW) natural gas combined cycle plant. The new plant will cost more than $500 million to construct. We expect it to operate at a capacity factor of at least 85%, which means on average it will produce its stated 693 megawatt output 85% of the time. At that capacity factor, the fixed cost (or capacity cost) of owning the combined cycle plant will be approximately $8.90 per megawatt hour (MWH). The energy cost (or variable cost) to operate the plant will depend on the price of natural gas and its transportation cost to the plant. At $2.00/MMBTU (when I wrote this article, daily gas was $1.68/MMBTU), plus operations and maintenance costs, the variable cost of energy from the combined cycle plant will be approximately $20.63 per MWH. Therefore, the total generation cost of electricity from the combined cycle plant (with $2.00/MMBTU natural gas) will be approximately $29.53 per MWH. Additionally, we recently signed a contract to purchase solar power from an 80-MW solar generation facility starting in 2022. The solar facility will operate at a capacity factor of about 25%, which means it will provide its promised 80 MW about 25% of the time. We will buy the output of the solar facility on a dollarper-MWH fixed cost basis when energy is produced. The cost of

energy under our solar contract is very attractive at a generation cost of about $22.00 per MWH. The cost of this solar-generated electricity at $22.00 per MWH is cheaper than the cost of electricity from our natural gas combined cycle plant at $29.53 per MWH. However, that comparison doesn’t even start to tell the whole story. Electric consumers in developed countries demand power to be available whenever they need or want it, not just when the sun is shining. The combined cycle plant is fully dispatchable and will provide electricity when people need it, whether the sun shines or not. Solar power doesn’t generate at night and is limited on cloudy days. Solar power must be paired with something else before it is as reliable as natural gas. The solution most often offered is battery storage. Batteries can be deployed at utility scale, but additional solar generation must be installed to charge the batteries while the sun is shining so the batteries can provide power at nights and on cloudy days. Batteries are designed for specific discharge cycles. Most utility scale batteries have four-hour discharge cycles; therefore, at least three sets of batteries will be needed to cover the nighttime hours and provide a reserve for cloudy days. Battery costs are decreasing, but based upon recent proposals of $1,500,000 per MW, the total cost of battery storage is about $92.33 per MWH, in addition to the $22.00 per MWH cost of the solar power to charge the battery. Very conservatively, the total cost of the solar power with battery storage will be an average of $56.63 per MWH, assuming solar 15 hours a day and batteries 9 hours. With natural gas at $2.00/MMBTU, that cost is about 92% higher than the cost of electricity from our planned combined cycle plant. Why then do many statements that solar is cheaper than natural gas go unchallenged? The information is hard to find, and calculations are difficult. Too often the cost of pure solar when the sun is shining is offered as the comparison to natural gas. That is not a true comparison - electricity must be available on demand, not just when the sun is shining. And, finally, some people aren’t truthful, even to themselves. Given a choice, a huge majority of people will choose the lowest cost and most reliable source of electricity. Today, that is clearly natural gas. I hope you have a good month.

Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.

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| Classifieds | How To Place a Line Ad in Marketplace Closing Deadlines (in our office): August 2020 Issue by June 25 September 2020 Issue by July 25 October 2020 Issue by August 25 Ads are $1.75 per word with a 10 word minimum and are on a prepaid basis; Telephone numbers, email addresses and websites are considered 1 word each. Ads will not be taken over the phone. You may email your ad to hdutton@areapower.com; or call (800)410-2737 ask for Heather for pricing.; We accept checks, money orders and all major credit cards. Mail ad submission along with a check or money order made payable to ALABAMA LIVING, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124 – Attn: Classifieds.

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Alabama Living

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PET FRIENDLY – Save $$$ by booking directly from Verified Owners. ALAVHR.com GULF SHORES PLANTATION BEACH CONDO – 2 Bedrooms / 2 Baths. NO pets, NO smoking. Max 6 people. (205)344-3810 MILITARY / SERVICE DISCOUNTS on dozens of rentals. No Booking Fees. (251)333-6500, ALAVHR.com GULF SHORES PLANTATION BEACH RENTAL - 2 bed 2 bath, sleeps 6, family friendly, 1st floor. Condo listed on VRBO property #4225281ha or call for info 251-550-5601. GULF SHORES CONDOS - 2BR / 2BA Gulf Front or 1BR / 1BA across the highway from the beach. Reserve privately and save the agency fees amariewisener@gmail.com, (256)352-5721 OWNERS – Join the fastest growing regional site in Alabama. Low annual fee. Verified Owners, no booking fees or commissions. Alabama Vacation Home Rentals. Locally Owned and Operated. (251)333-6500, ALAVHR.com GULF SHORES / ORANGE BEACH / FORT MORGAN – Choose from hundreds of beach houses and condos! Verified Owners. No Booking Fees. ALAVHR.com GULF SHORES BEACH HOUSE – Nice 2BR – Great Gulf View – Owner (251)666-5476 ORANGE BEACH CONDO, 3BR/3BA; 2,000 SQ.FT.; beautifully decorated; gorgeous waterfront view; boat slips available; great rates - Owner rented (251)604-5226 GATLINBURG – DOWNTOWN LUXURY CREEKSIDE CONDO – 2BR / 2BA, sleeps 6 – aubie552@gmail.com, (256)599-5552 AFFORDABLE BEACHSIDE VACATION CONDOS – Gulf Shores & Orange Beach, AL – Rent Direct from Christian Family Owners – Lowest Prices on the Beach! www.gulfshorescondos.com, (251)656-4935, (205)556-0368, (251)752-2366

COTTAGE FOR NIGHTLY RENTAL at “THE PATIO at SMITH LAKE” - has boat dock-fire pit, wood, picnic area, gorgeous views, evening outdoor lighting, Grill, Big Screen TV, outdoor covered area for sitting, incredible sunsets-30 min from Cullman or Jasper-1 hour from BHAM or Huntsville - $200.00 per night - The Patio at Smith Lake (FB) – (256)318-4555 Pam Dodd LAKE HOMES / CABINS – Verified Owners. No Booking Fees. ALAVHR.com ORANGE BEACH – CUTE BEACH COTTAGES – OWNER MANAGED - three to choose from. Pet friendly, boat docks, pools. Near Gulf of Mexico on calm canal. No parking passes required.  ...away from the condo crowds and chaos...  (251)975-7003, email: cutebeachcottage@yahoo.com, www. orangebeachcottage.com

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5/14/20 10:38 AM

| Hardy Jackson's Alabama |

Illustration by Dennis Auth

Remembering ‘Cousin Kathryn’


as it really been that long ago? June 2011. Kathryn Tucker Windham died at home in her beloved Selma. I can imagine the scene, imagine family and friends going to the back shed and removing the Rose Point crystal (service for 12, complete with water pitcher and butter dish) from the custom-built pine coffin where she kept it. And I can imagine her being laid to rest in that very coffin, wrapped in a Gees Bend quilt, according to her wishes. We called ourselves “cousins,” Kathryn and I, though we were cousins only by marriage and even that was stretching it a bit. However, we shared a love of history and appreciation of a good story, which bound us closer than kin. I remembering visiting her one October day. I arrived early. We talked a bit, snacked on graham crackers spread with pimento Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University and a columnist for Alabama Living. He can be reached at hhjackson43@gmail.com

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cheese, clarified family connections, and decried the loss of so many Selma landmarks. Then we loaded up and headed into the Black Belt. “Into the Black Belt” – like we were going into some strange, exotic land from which we might never return. But with Cousin Kathryn we were safe. She knew where to go and who would be there. Along the way she did what she did best – told stories that linked us to times past and resurrected people long gone from the earth. When the day was done, I took her home. Other visits followed. More than once I took students down to see her. I let her set the agenda and it was always different. A trip to Old Cahaba where we picnicked on the site of Alabama’s first capital. A walking tour of Selma’s Live Oak Cemetery where she pointed out graves of little-known people who should be known better. After she finished one of her stories a student asked, “Did that really happen”? “Well,” she said, “If it did not happen that way, it should have.” Those were good times.

There were not enough of them. (For one student’s article on the outing go to wesharethesamesky.com/tag/selma/) Despite frequent invitations, I never made it to her New Year’s Day blackeyed peas and cornbread lunch, when her doors were thrown open to anyone who wanted to make sure good luck would follow for another year. Nor did I do with her so many other things I should have done. Like take my children more often. Our last communication was the graduation gift she sent my boy. A money clip. The sort a young gentleman should carry, for we all know that pulling out a billfold for minor transactions is, well, tacky. When it arrived, I recalled a bit of poetry she loved, based on a verse by Jan Struther. Cousin Kathryn said she wanted it on her tombstone. She was twice blessed. She was happy. She knew it. That was Cousin Kathryn. She left out one thing. We all were blessed by her being here. Now, I think I’ll have some graham crackers and pimento cheese. www.alabamaliving.coop

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June 2020 Covington  

June 2020 Covington  

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