December 2017 clarke washington

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Stories | Recipes | Events | People | Places | Things | Local News December 2017



Scrap sculptures Passers-by delighted by farmer’s creations

70 years of service to electric cooperatives Edible holiday gifts



Manager Stan Wilson

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.

70 years serving Alabama cooperatives

This month the Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives celebrates 70 years of representing Alabama’s 22 electric cooperatives at the state and national levels, creating a strong voice for the needs of rural Alabamians .


VOL. 70 NO. 12 n DECEMBER 2017

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 Griffin Creative Director Mark Stephenson Art Director Danny Weston Advertising Director Jacob Johnson Graphic Designer/Ad Coordinator Brooke Echols Communications Coordinator Laura Stewart Graphic Designer Nalin Crocker


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


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Medicare or Medicaid


Baby’s first Christmas



Our Social Security columnist helps you sort out the differences.

What’s cuter than a baby celebrating his first Christmas? Check out our readers’ photos this month!

Gifts of good taste

Who doesn’t love to get a present of homemade goodies at Christmas? We’ve got some delicious reader recipes you can make and gift this season. And save some for yourself!



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



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

In this issue: Page 11 Page 28

11 Spotlight 22 Gardens 29 Around Alabama 40 Outdoors 41 Fish & Game Forecast 34 Cook of the Month 46 Hardy Jackson’s Alabama ONLINE: ON THE COVER: Jim Bird created this 30foot tin man of “found” items, including old bathtubs, used buckets and an old fuel tank. It’s just one of his many whimsical creations on his Greene County farm. See Page 12. PHOTO: Danny Weston DECEMBER 2017 3

CWEMC Annual Meeting I’m not complaining tonight, I’m thankful From Manager’s Comments, October 17, 2017

OFFICE LOCATIONS Jackson Office 1307 College Avenue P.O. Box 398 Jackson, AL 36545 251-246-9081 Chatom Office P.O. Box 143 Chatom, AL 36518 251-847-2302 Toll Free Number 1-800-323-9081 Office Hours 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday - Friday (Drive-thru Hours) Pay your bill online at 855-870-0403

Thank all of you for being here tonight. I enjoy getting to see so many of our members on one night and I also like to get a chance to speak to you and visit with you as you come in. It has turned off cool tonight. “This may be the coolest annual meeting ever!” As my granddaughter Bailey Ann might say. She’s seven and a second grader. Now I’m not complaining about the weather, we’ve sure had some hot nights at annual meetings. Anyway, it’s good to see all of you here supporting your electric cooperative. That’s the title tonight: “I’m Not Complaining; I’m Thankful.” The cooperative is operating efficiently even though the weather has been a factor in operations all year in 2017. We’ve had Number 1) the winter; Number 2) the summer; and now Number 3) Big Nate. First, Number 1) winter. In January then through the winter we didn’t have much cold weather. There were only three days all winter where the temperature went to freezing or below (that sounds almost unbelievable). Really we didn’t have much winter at all. Then Number 2) summer. And the rain came. The high rainfall totals in 2017 held the temperatures down – so not a hot summer at all. With a mild winter and summer our budget was shot – low kilowatt (Kwh) sales lowered our revenue. It seems like we’ve been struggling all

Payment Method Payments can be made at our Chatom and Jackson offices with cash, checks, debit or credit cards, or use the mobile app.

year to make budget figures. And Number 3) Big Nate. Of course, Nate was the hurricane that blew all the way across our area a week ago this past Sunday. I call it Big Nate because our grandson and Bailey’s brother, Brayden, who is five, a kindergartener, and who loves to fish, is always fishing for “Big Nate.” Well, “Big Nate” came up out of the Gulf as a powerful storm and did some $200,000 worth of damage to our electric system. Nate brought hurricane force 80 miles an hour winds and we had outages scattered across the system. We brought in help (41 men and equipment) from electric contractors Petty Line from Clanton and MDR from Hattiesburg. Also, electric cooperatives sent help; Southern Pine was on standby to help us and sent two service buckets from Frisco City and four men. Wiregrass Electric from Hartford sent 12 men (2 crews) and PowerSouth sent in seven men. We appreciate our employees and the work they did in the recovery along with the help from the others to minimize the outage time. The storm we faced wasn’t as powerful as Hurricane Harvey that hit Texas or Hurricane Irma that went into Florida and we’re sorry for their great losses. Even with the mild weather lowering Kwh sales and a hurricane in 2017, CWEMC still has much to be thankful for. We have a well maintained electric system (over 4,000 miles of power line); we are financially sound; and we have great employees who are member-focused and that is the way we operate. We will again be paying patronage capital refunds in December and we look forward to the rest of the year. We thank our hosts, the town of Chatom and Washington County High School and all those that helped and participated in any way tonight. Thank you!

Stan Wilson Manager of Clarke-Washington EMC

Pictured: Grandchildren, Bailey Ann Wilson (7) and Brayden James Wilson (5).

4  DECEMBER 2017

| Clarke-Washington EMC |

Energy Efficiency Tip of the Month

Purchasing electronic gifts this holiday season? Remember to purchase ENERGY STARÂŽ-certified electronics and give the gift of energy efficiency. Visit www. for a full list of efficient products. Source: U.S. Dept. of Energy

Alabama Living


2017 ANNUA

6  DECEMBER 2017


Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2017  7

Electrical Safety Activity The holiday season is a festive time of year! Remember to keep electrical and fire safety in mind as you decorate your home. Can you find the four hazards in the home below? Use the safety tips for clues.

Electrical Safety Tips: Do not overload electrical outlets with too many decorations or appliances. Never leave a candle burning if you’re not in the room. Make sure your tree is watered daily. Extension cords used for holiday decorations should be checked for fraying/damaged or exposed wires.

8  DECEMBER 2017

| Alabama Snapshots |

Baby’s First Christmas

Ann James Kohn is the light of our lives. SUBMITTED BY Debbie Kelley, Troy.

Luke, 5 months old. Photo taken by mom, Andrea Overman. SUBMITTED BY Austin Overman, Hope Hull.

Marley Alani Gaillard. SUBMITTED BY Jacqueline Gaillard, Jackson.

Billy Daniel Greenlee in his rocking chair that has been in the family more than 75 years. SUBMITTED BY Jenni Greenlee, Wetumpka. The first Christmas for Brynlie Cook, great-granddaughter of Myra and Joe Ciotta. SUBMITTED BY Myra Ciotta, Cullman.

First Christmas, we pull Santa’s beard. Second Christmas, we scream. SUBMITTED BY Fran Jackson, Huntsville.

Submit Your Images! February Theme: “Service Pets” Deadline for February: December 31 SUBMIT PHOTOS ONLINE: or send color photos with a self-addressed stamped envelope to: Photos, Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

Alabama Living



Is it Medicare or Medicaid?


lot of people have a difficult time understanding the difference between Medicare and Medicaid. Both programs begin with the letter “M.” They’re both health insurance programs run by the government. People often ask questions about what Medicare and Medicaid are, what services they cover, and who administers the programs. Let’s start with Medicare. Medicare is the national healthcare program for those aged 65 or older and the disabled. You pay for some Medicare expenses by paying the Medicare tax while you work. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is the agency in charge of both Medicare and Medicaid, but you sign up for Medicare A (Hospital) and Medicare B (Medical) through Social Security. You can apply for Medicare online from the convenience of your home at the link on our website: medicare/. If you’re already receiving Social Security retirement benefits when you reach age 65 or are in the 25th month of receiving disability checks, we will enroll you automatically.

Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) and Part D (Prescription Drug) plans are available for purchase in the insurance marketplace. Social Security administers a program called Extra Help to help people with low income and low resources pay for premiums, co-pays, and co-insurance costs for Part D plans. You can find out more about Extra Help and file for it at prescriptionhelp. Each year, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services publishes Medicare and You available online at their website at medicare-and-you/medicare-and-you. html. This publication is a user’s manual for Medicare. Each state runs their own Medicaid program under guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Medicaid offers care for the most vulnerable among us. While it does not require paying taxes while working, it does have guidelines about how much income and resources you can have to qualify. Medicaid provides coverage for older people, people with disabilities, and some families

with children. Each state has its own eligibility rules and decides which services to cover. The names of the Medicaid program may vary from state to state. You can read about each state’s Medicaid program at by-state.html. You can find each state’s Medicaid contact information at www. Medicare and Medicaid are two of the major insurance programs that provide healthcare to the American public. Understanding each program, as well as how the two programs differ, can help you and those you care about find the right healthcare program.

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


Need for dialysis likely to increase; options available


early 10,000 Alabamians receive dialysis treatments to remove excess water, solutes and toxins from their blood. This number is approximately equal to the total current population of Perry County. About half of all Alabama dialysis patients must receive dialysis due to diabetes. High blood pressure (or hypertension) is another leading risk factor. Unfortunately, both risk factors are increasing among Alabama’s adults and may be even more serious among our youth. The number of Alabamians receiving dialysis is expected to increase. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 36 percent of all adult Alabamians were classified as obese in 2016. This is the third highest percentage nationwide and

Dale Quinney is executive director of the Alabama Rural Health Association, 1414 Elba Highway, Troy, 36081.

10  DECEMBER 2017

Eric Wallace, M.D., a UAB nephrologist, has a required office visit with a home dialysis patient using telemedicine. PHOTO BY UAB NEWS

up from 32 percent in 2011. The most current county level data on obesity is produced by the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps Program. In 2013, this data indicated that 17 of Alabama’s 67 counties (all rural) had 40 percent or more of their adult population classified as being obese. This reflected an increase from 11 counties in 2011. Data on hypertension is not adequately available. However, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services publishes an online Medicare Chronic Condition

Dashboard that provides 2015 data on the percent of Medicare recipients diagnosed with hypertension. According to this data, more than 62 percent of all Alabama Medicare recipients had been diagnosed with hypertension. This is the second highest percent among all states. The percent of Medicare recipients diagnosed with hypertension in all 67 Alabama counties exceeded the national percentage. Dialysis treatment can be demanding on patient lives. Most dialysis patients in Alabama are receiving this treatment at end stage renal treatment centers (or dialysis clinics). This treatment usually requires four hours per day for three days. This procedure, in-center hemodialysis, involves removing, cleaning and replacing the patient’s blood. Transportation to dialysis clinics poses a great challenge for many patients, especially because 13 rural counties have no dialysis clinics. An expanding option is to receive this treatment at home. Approximately 10 percent of patients on dialysis (roughly Continued on Page 32

December | Spotlight Alabama Academy of Honor class features all women The Alabama Academy of Honor, established in 1965, recently celebrated its first class that features all women. The academy bestows honor and recognition upon Alabamians for accomplishments and service benefiting or reflecting great credit on the state. The membership is limited to 100 living Alabamians, plus all of the state’s living governors. New classes are inducted each year. This year’s inductees are: Gov. Kay Ivey, a graduate of Auburn, who in 2002 became the first Republican elected State Treasurer since Reconstruction. She was elected lieutenant governor in 2010 and was re-elected in 2014. She was sworn in as governor in April 2017. Deborah Edwards Barnhart is chief executive officer and executive director of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. Her career spans four decades of service in commercial industry, government, aerospace and defense. Cynthia Tucker Haynes of Monroeville has had a distinguished newspaper career, including winning the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007. She was a columnist and editorial page editor for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and now writes a syndicated newspaper column and blog.

This month in December 11, 1926

Catherine Sloss Jones of Birmingham was born into the family that built Sloss Furnaces and is today president and CEO of Sloss Real Estate, a family-owned firm. She’s a recognized civic leader and in 2000 created the not-for-profit Market at Pepper Place, an award-winning farmers’ market that supports small farmers and artisans.

(Photo left) Deborah Edwards Barnhart, left, and Catherine Sloss Jones. (Photo right) Cynthia Tucker Haynes. Photos by Allison Griffin

Alabama history


Blues singer and songwriter Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton was born in the rural outskirts of Montgomery. Thornton transcended conventional roles to create a persona and musical style characterized by her deep, powerful voice and risqué songs and performances. In 1952, she became the first to record the song “Hound Dog,” selling more than two million copies and staying at number one on the Billboard R&B chart for seven weeks. In 1968, she released her original “Ball and Chain,” a song later popularized by Janis Joplin, who often cited Thornton as a musical influence. Thornton was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1984.

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 Dec. 6 with your name, address and the name of your rural electric cooperative. The winner and answer will be announced in the January issue.

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 used will also win $25. Submit by email:, or by mail: Whereville, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124.


Guess where this is and you might win $25! Alabama Living

The Bull Slough Bridge lies across the Sepulga River in the southeast corner of Conecuh County. This iron bridge, built in 1924, is 252 feet long and has a pony truss design. It’s part of the Sepulga River Canoe Trail, which offers a wilderness kayaking or canoeing experience that’s unique to south Alabama. (Information from the Alabama Communities of Excellence.) (Photo submitted by Terry DeFee of South Alabama EC.) The random drawing winner for the correct guess contest is Tommy Cole of Southern Pine EC. DECEMBER 2017 11



West Alabama man’s whim

See more hay art at!

By Allison Griffin


here’s precious little to break up the rural scenery along this stretch of Alabama Highway 43 between Demopolis and Eutaw. That is, until you spot some curious creatures – including a 30-foot Tin Man of “The Wizard of Oz” fame – peeking at you from a clearing just south of Forkland, population 597. This pastureland is home to Jim Bird’s hay bale art, a collection he started as a whimsical gift for his wife, Lib, about 20 years ago. The background: Lib left for a few days to visit one of their grown children, and Jim stayed home to cut hay. “My baler was putting out all kinds of oddball bales. I pushed them to the side of the field, and I thought later I could take them and make something out of them. “I made a caterpillar and a spider. I thought I would surprise Lib with them when she got home,” he says, and Lib was certainly surprised! She was also pleased, which pleased him. It was just the beginning – his collection now numbers more than two dozen. He isn’t creating many sculptures these days, but he takes care of the existing ones and gets some help from his daughter, Avery. The hay art is more of a hobby than a labor of love for Bird – but it is part of a love story. Look no further than the red heart attached to that towering tin man, which reads, “Jim loves Lib.”

sculptures. From the beginning, Bird decided to spend no more than $5 on each creation. The one exception is the tin man – though he used old bathtubs for the feet, 55-gallon drums for the legs, a 1,000-gallon fuel tank with a hole in it for the torso, 30-gallon drums for the arms and an old fertilizer container for the head, he had to buy paint for it, which he figures ran him about $45. Some of the creations aren’t doing so well. “I’ve got one or two that are dying,” he says; the elements take their toll on the hay bales, as do the occasional vandals and feral hogs, which are tearing up the land near some of the bales. The last few years have been tough for Bird as well. After 65 years of marriage, his beloved Lib died in 2015 after a long illness, and it’s evident he misses her. They met in

A life well lived

Bird is small in stature, with a warm smile to welcome visitors. At 90, he still lives by himself on the family property, which is farmed and tended by his son, Archie. A member of Black Warrior EMC, Bird remains active, going to a nearby wellness center every day and tending to his artsy creations. He sprays herbicide around each sculpture to keep the weeds down, and repairs those that lose an eye (often a bucket lid) or a nose (perhaps a safety cone). Such found objects – or junk, if you prefer – are the thread that connects all the 12 DECEMBER 2017

y now!

himsical hay bales continue to delight motorists

Gulf Shores when he was an engineering student at Auburn. “I was going down there to see another girl,” he recalls, but obviously Lib won out. She was from Greensboro and was working as a police reporter for the Birmingham News. “She was quite a go-getter.” They married and raised four children, and he had a variety of ventures, including opening a junkyard. “My children were goJim Bird, pictured above, started creating his sculptures of hay and found art more than 20 years ago to amuse his wife, Lib. Today, the creations continue to draw visitors to his rural west Alabama farm.

ing to school, and they put down that their daddy was a junk dealer, so I thought, I’ve got to do better,” so he bought into the John Deere business for a short while. He also bought property near Demopolis that later became the home for Walmart, and was also in the well drilling business. For the last of his working years, he raised cattle and farmed on this 1,000-acre property where he still lives. And his home was a total loss after fire a year or so ago; fortunately, he wasn’t home at the time, but all that remains are a chimney and the pool. He now lives in a small caretaker’s home a stone’s throw from the old home site, a picturesque setting that overlooks a bend in the Tombigbee River. “I’m about to play out,” Bird says. He’s not sure if anyone will take over the hay bales; though his daughter helps him, she lives in Gulf Shores. While he does stay active, he’s slowing down a bit. “I get nothing constructive done anymore,” he says. Still, he enjoys his creations, and is pleased to offer a visitor a golf cart ride around the property to talk about them.

‘An inspiration’

A few of the creatures have stories attached to them, while others just seemed to evolve, depending on what kind of junk Bird had lying around. Some of the funny roadside friends are pretty obvious: There’s the alligator, with a hide of hickory bark and a mouth full of beer can teeth. The bunny rabbit has bucket tops for eyes, small pipes for the whiskers and buck teeth and ears made of scrap wood and metal. But some, like the creature with pie plate eyes, a propane tank for a nose and a tractor tire base, are a little more abstract, and their creations elude Bird’s memory. Even his garbage can is fancifully decorated, with hands of old rubber gloves and a head made of wood topped with moss and oversized sunglasses (though the can seems to have suffered a bit at the hands of Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2017 13

the Greene County Public Works sanitation workers). The nearby newspaper box is half swallowed by a bright blue sea creature made of scrap pieces of plastic, with pink eyes (golf balls) and mouth that might be an old bicycle tube. Unfortunately, the art is not immune to vandals. Bird says he once had a black cat cut out of plywood placed near the road, but thinks fraternity boys from nearby Tuscaloosa absconded with it. And just off the right-of-way is a curious golf cart, topped with an oversized Oriental sculpture and a life-size mannequin at the wheel. Bird says the mannequin is supposed to be him, though the inanimate version is wearing a pink-hued suit and polka-dot hat (for his interview with Alabama Living, Bird was much more conservatively attired). “Somebody stole me, and I thought I was going to be shopping around fraternity parties,” he laughs. “They threw me in the dump. I found it and just stuck it back up there. I didn’t manicure it.” Like that mannequin, not all the sculptures are hay-based. A sheet-metal Snoopy flies his similarly-fashioned Sopwith Camel into a pine tree near the highway. A bull, cut up out of a large piece of driftwood, chases a woman dressed in silver bubble wrap (“she’s got several coats of stuff on her. She’s been around awhile,” Bird says). And ET, the extra-terrestrial of 1980s fame, is cut out of sheet metal and wears a sparkling hubcap as he sits atop a spaceship made of an old satellite dish. Across the driveway from the tin man is a less fanciful, and more artistic, metal rooster, which Bird built for a gallery owner in York, Ala. But he scoffs at the notion that he’s an artist. He doesn’t play golf or garden or have any of the other usual retirement activities, he says. This is his hobby, though he seems happy that these creatures continue to delight passing motorists. Some drivers fly right on by, but many honk when they see Bird out tending to the artworks. Others stop just to look and take photos; some stop to chat. He’s been interviewed many times over the years, with write-ups by the Associated Press and the Birmingham News, among other outlets, in addition to documentaries. “I get a lot of real interesting folks,” he says. One woman brought him a small photo of the tin man, which she found among an artist’s offerings in New Orleans. She asked the artist if he knew the creator of the tin man. The artist wrote a note to Bird on the photo: “Thank you for your art, you are an inspiration.” 14  DECEMBER 2017

Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2017  15

The power of




Association celebrates 70 years of serving Alabama’s cooperatives By Allison Griffin


our rural electric cooperative is one of 22 such co-ops in • Youth programs and scholarships, to train up the next generAlabama, and together they provide electricity to more than ation of rural leaders; 1 million Alabamians – a quarter of the state’s population • Safety and loss control (the jobs of electric utility linemen – and cooperative power lines cover more than 70 percent of the rank among the country’s most dangerous), as well as complistate’s land mass. ance with often complicated state and federal regulations; Each non-profit, member-owned cooperative in Alabama is in• Self-insured plans, including workers’ compensation insurdependent and governed at the local level, by boards of trustees ance and health plans for cooperative employees; and elected locally. But co-op leaders recognized 70 years ago that it • Communications services, including public relations and the was prudent, and even essential, to have one unifying voice to repproduction of Alabama Living magazine. resent the co-ops on a state and national platform. From that need, These services have evolved and expanded tremendously since the Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives (AREA) AREA’s incorporation on Dec. 26, 1947. But its commitment to was born. serving its member co-ops, provid“Our members are very diverse ing the support and programs that its and their service areas are very difmembers need and expect, remains ferent,” says president and CEO Fred unchanged. Braswell, who started with MontgomDeveloping clout ery-based AREA in 1999. Despite Almost immediately after it was such differences, Alabama’s co-ops formed, AREA jumped into the comhave similar wants and needs: munication realm, publishing the Al• A strong voice for rural voters abama Rural Electric News beginning among local, state and national in January 1948. That publication, elected officials; which was then a broadsheet news• The coordination of power respaper, was distributed to all co-op toration and disaster recovery, members to help them learn about both in Alabama and with sister AREA built this headquarters on the corner of Jackson and the rural electric industry, which in cooperatives in other states; Pelham streets in Montgomery in 1968. 16 DECEMBER 2017

many areas was still in its infancy. (A story in next month’s issue will look at the history and evolution of the publication, which later became Alabama Living.) This magazine is perhaps AREA’s most visible component – it’s distributed to more than 420,000 households in Alabama each month. The publication is just one of many services that AREA provides to its member cooperatives, but it wasn’t always that way. Dail Gibbs became AREA’s leader in 1966, after serving more than six years in the same role at the South Dakota statewide office. (“Statewide” is the term used to describe a state’s trade association.) A colorful character, Gibbs, now in his late 80s, still remembers AREA in the early A front page of the Alabama Rural years of his tenure. Electric News from January 1953. “When I came in, about all that was being offered by the statewide staff was the magazine,” Gibbs recalls. “The co-ops could see a need to do more things together, and they were able to see what other states were doing.” Any trade association needs strong leadership, but in the case of AREA, also having strong leadership at the co-op level was essential for its growth. When Gibbs arrived, there were several young, strong co-op managers eager for change. “They were ready to grow, (and) they were ready to do more things together when I came there. “They kind of kicked me in the pants and told me to get going.” And he did. Among Gibbs’ priorities was building political clout for the rural electric cooperatives. “We were just kind of a non-entity. We had a lot of strength if we just worked together.” Alabama Living

AREA needed a permanent home and purchased land just a block or so behind the Capitol – a location that was no accident. “We made the appearance of, ‘we’re here.’ … We just didn’t have the muscle in the legislature that we had to develop. “I guess you could say we were a potential strength in the state, and we just had to gain some prominence.” Yet political muscle did not then, and does not now, translate into partisan politics. “I maintained a (mostly neutral) posture for the statewide,” Gibbs says. “You’ve got to be involved, but you’ve got to be bipartisan in your approach to be effective.” AREA remains politically neutral, but encourages rural Alabamians to Dail Gibbs was AREA’s executive vice president educate themselves about elections for more than 25 years. and, most importantly, to vote and make their rural voices heard. And the association encourages and assists member co-ops in working with and educating elected officials on the local level. “We want to be sure policy makers understand our needs, and we have the kind of relationship with them to work through issues,” says Braswell, the current AREA leader.

Continued growth

Throughout Gibbs’ tenure, the association worked through several challenges, including the passage of legislation in the 1980s (later upheld by the Alabama Supreme Court) to protect electric cooperatives’ service areas from municipal annexation. And in 1992, AREA passed a comprehensive rewrite of cooperative enabling legislation, or how electric co-ops can do business. Fred Clark, the president of the association at that time, recalls that this very long piece of legislation allowed co-ops to be involved in other businesses – a key for co-ops to continue growing. DECEMBER 2017 17

The AREA board meets in the association’s new headquarters for the first time in February 1993.

The AREA current headquarters under construction in 1992.

“That allowed the co-ops to wholly own other corporations,” Clark says. “It quantified how a board of directors did business.” The association’s building near the State House in Montgomery was convenient for legislative needs, but it lacked the space needed for future growth. With the purchase of land and construction of a new building in east Montgomery, in the Dixie Electric Cooperative service territory, came the ability to expand AREA’s training programs, Clark says, which benefit everyone who works for a cooperative – from member service representatives to linemen to board members. AREA’s increased acreage allowed for the construction of training fields, with power poles and de-energized equipment to safely teach lineworkers’ classes. The AREA headquarters allows for multiple groups to conduct indoor classes as well. The association provided training to almost 1,500 co-op employees, directors and trustees in 2016 alone. Co-op leaders value education in their service areas, and co-ops strongly sup18  DECEMBER 2017

AREA’s headquarters as it looks today.

port their local schools. Each year, AREA’s Montgomery and Washington Youth Tours help more than 150 high school juniors who live in co-op areas learn about cooperative principles, cultivate an interest in governmental affairs and develop leadership skills. The Electric Cooperative Foundation, also established in Clark’s tenure, distributes scholarships to high school seniors who are dependents of co-op members. So far, the ECF has distributed $620,000, helping to encourage children to further their education at either a trade or vocational school or four-year college. This growth in services was in response to the needs of the co-ops, but they were invested in their statewide, Clark says. “We had a lot of support from the members during those periods,” he says. When Braswell took over, it was much the same: “I was very impressed with the support of the member cooperatives for the statewide program,” he says. “There was, and continues to be, a deep commitment to have the statewide be a place where the members work together.”

From left, Jim Vann, president of the AREA board; Hugh Brown, vice president; Emory McNider; Kyle Smith, secretary-treasurer; and Dail Gibbs, executive manager, talk in the board room of AREA’s new building in 1968.

Fred Clark led the association from 1991-1998.

Fred Braswell is the current President and CEO.

Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2017  19

| Consumer Wise |

Water heater efficiency and maintenance By Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen


Our water heater is 15 years old. About how long should it last? Are there things I can do to maintain it and make it more efficient? Or should I just replace it?

It’s hard to say how long your water heater will last. Certified home inspectors estimate the life span to be about 10 years. Some manufacturers suggest 12 to 13 years, but I had a water tank that lasted more than 40 years before the heating element finally gave out. That said, it’s wise to replace a water heater before it fails because sometimes failure includes a ruptured tank or a massive leak that can do a lot of damage. The life span of a conventional water heater (one with a tank) depends on factors such as the volume of water cycled through it, the hardness (mineral content) of the water and the tank’s interior coating. Many water heaters come with a warranty as long as 12 years. Presumably, a longer warranty indicates higher quality and the chances of longer life. These warranties usually only cover the cost of a replacement tank; they typically do not include the cost of labor to install it or the costs from flood damage if the tank fails. There are a few warning signs that your water heater tank or heating element may be failing: • Water leaking from the tank or pooling on the floor underneath it • Rust, corrosion or mineral deposits around fittings or release valves • The water temperature from your faucets is dropping Insulating your water heater and keeping the temperature at 120 degrees or below are two ways to save money on your utility bill. PHOTO CREDIT: WATER HEATER REPAIR PORTLAND

Most experts believe that an important water heater maintenance practice is to drain the tank every year or two. provides an excellent step-by-step Mineral deposits on pressure release valves or corrosion on fittings coming guide. However, Ken Male- out of the water heater are signs of ski, the residential energy leakage that should be addressed. advisor at Central Electric PHOTO CREDIT: JIM TROTH, HOMEINSPECTIONSINOHIO.COM Cooperative in Pennsylvania, recommends that if your tank has not been drained in the past six to seven years, you should avoid doing so because draining could remove sediment in such a way that a leak could develop. Here are a few simple steps you can take to increase the efficiency of your water heater: • Insulate the first six to 10 feet of easily-accessed hot water line where it exits the tank. • If the tank is warm to the touch or is in a cold location like your garage, consider insulating it with a heater blanket. But first, check the owner’s manual to make sure doing so won’t void the warranty. If you have a gas or propane water heater, be careful the blanket doesn’t block the unit’s air supply. • Keep your water temperature to 120 degrees or less. This will help you save money on your heating bill and ensure longer life for pipes and gaskets. • Keep safety in mind. If you have a gas or propane water heater, protect your family from the “silent killer” of carbon monoxide gas. Pick up a carbon monoxide detector from the hardware store and install it near the heater. Opportunities to save money on your hot water budget abound throughout the house. Showering uses almost 17 percent of our indoor water use, so you can save money by installing efficient shower heads. Replacing older dishwashers and washing machines with more efficient models will also reduce your energy bills. You should repair any leaky faucets, as a drip every second can add up to $35 a year. When it’s time to purchase a new water heater, there are many options available. Be sure to check with your electric co-op. Some co-ops offer rebates on energy efficient models. Others offer incentives for water heaters with large tanks or to install a switch that can be triggered remotely to turn the water heater off for brief periods of high energy demand. Last but not least, check out’s excellent article on selecting a new water heater.

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-forprofit electric cooperatives. Write to energytips@ for more information.

20  DECEMBER 2017

Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2017  21

| Gardens |

“Rose of Winter” Season:

Best time of year for the A-O Men’s Camellia Club


inter offion and variegated cially aramong them), sizes rives this (from ½ to 5 inches month, which may in diameter) and make some gardenforms (single- and ers feel a little sad. double-petal arBut for a group of rangements as well east-central Alaas peony, anemone bama gentlemen, and rose styles). this is a month of Though the A-O great gardening joy. Club membership That’s because this (which numbers is high season for about 32 men — the “rose of winter” novices and ex— more commonly perts alike — and known as the cais welcoming new The Auburn-Opelika Men’s Camellia Club has been gathering monthly to share knowledge, mellia. guys to their ranks) plant material and fellowship with one another. Pictured, from left, are some of its more than Camellias have 30 members: Steve Crannell, Ken Rogers, Dale Peterson, Wallace Baldwin, Charles Mitchell, Ted is limited to menbeen adored by Thompson, Vic Payne and Rick Himmer. folk, these guys Southern gardeners truly want to share mid 1980s, Mitchell has seen firsthand the for many generations, primarily because their love — and knowledge — of camelclub’s value to its members and to the local of their gorgeous winter blooms. They’ve lias with everyone. To that end, they hold community. also been adored for nearly six decades by an annual camellia show (usually in late “Our club grew out of the love of garmembers of the Auburn-Opelika Men’s CaFebruary or early March), have established dening, the love of camellias and the joy of mellia Club, an all-male gardening group a number of public camellia gardens and sharing with others,” he said, all things the that strives to share camellia knowledge, plantings in the area, host public workmembers of this good old gardening boys plant material and fellowship with one anshops to teach camellia pruning and propclub still focus on today. other and with the gardening public. agation techniques and its members are Another of the club’s experts is Ken RogChartered in 1959, the club began when available to speak to other garden clubs ers, who also first learned of the club when a group of primarily Auburn University and civic groups. he was an Auburn student and became a agriculturists started gathering monthfull-fledged member around the same time ly to share and learn all they could about as Mitchell. In the years since, Rogers has camellias (and other plants and gardening become a skilled camellia grower and graftsubjects). Since then, the club’s roster has  Stockpile old bedclothes, burlap, er (among his many gardening talents) and included many accomplished professional newspapers or plastic sheeting to use he’s never lost his fascination with these and self-taught plantsmen and, while the as covers for tender outdoor plants in plants. last of those founding members (venerable case of an exceptionally hard freeze. gardener Tom Corley) passed away earlier  Donate to your favorite gardening Easy to grow this year, the club still has many exceptioncharity as holiday gifts for family and “They are tough plants and easy to grow,” al experts in its ranks. friends. said Rogers. But for him, the main reason  Plant bare-root roses, trees, shrubs, Among those experts is Charles Mitchvines and spring-flowering bulbs. to love camellias is because of their “beauell, who first learned about the club when  Sow seeds for winter or cool-season tiful, diverse blooms at a time of year when he was a student at Auburn. “I thought it vegetables and cool-season annuals. nothing else is blooming in the landscape.” odd, but delightful, that a group of ag pro Begin selecting bulbs and seed for Depending on the species (Camellia fessors, most of whom grew up on a farm, spring and summer planting. japonica and Camellia sasanqua are the would form an all-men’s camellia club,” he  Keep bird feeders and baths clean two most common species planted in Alsaid. But, since becoming a member in the and filled. abama), camellias may begin blooming  Store garden hoses and terra cotta as early as September and bloom times pots in a protected dry spot to avoid can last as late as April or early May. But freeze damage. camellias are typically at their best from Katie Jackson is a  Clean up year-end garden debris freelance writer and November through March when they from beds and under landscape and editor based in Opelika, produce prolific numbers of flowers that, fruit trees and shrubs. Alabama. Contact her depending on the cultivar, come in a wide  Make vinegars and sachets from endat katielamarjackson@ of-season garden herbs. range of colors (white, pink, red, salm-

December Tips

22 DECEMBER 2017

For those who don’t fit the gender qualifications or who live in other parts of the state, there are several co-ed camellia clubs. Find out more on the “Alabama Camellias” Facebook page or the American Camellia Society’s website at And for more information on the A-O Men’s Camellia Club’s events and educational opportunities, contact Rogers

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

at or Mitchell at

Camellia Facts

Camellia japonica L was designated as Alabama’s state flower in 1959, the same year that the Auburn-Opelika Men’s Camellia Club was chartered. Both will celebrate their 60th anniversary in 2019 in

shelters, taking therapy dogs to Veterans Hospitals ( Volunteer.html), volunteering for Habitat for Humanity ( near-you/veterans-build) and Healing Arts (, to list only a few. Kathryn Dalenberg, Valley Head

Killing animals isn’t healing

Enjoyed ‘Got mullet’ column

I’m writing regarding the “Warrior Hunts help heal invisible wounds” article (November 2017). They put on a military uniform and are subjected to the horrors of war, and then kill innocent animals as therapy? If they were shooting the animals with cameras, I would agree it is MOST EXCELLENT therapy due to being in wonderful nature. However, my gut feeling is that making sport of killing is not healthy human behavior for veterans or anyone else. My gut feeling is also that it is not the killing of innocent animals that is healing, but the camaraderie in gathering with fellow veterans. There is apparently a monetary benefit for promoters of Warrior Hunts, which appears to me is cloaked as gathering for the camaraderie with fellow warriors. Drawing first blood from the slaughter of quail and pheasants is camaraderie? There are numerous therapy programs that don’t involve the taking of a life which veterans could benefit from; such as horse therapy ( EquineTherapy.html), helping at animal

Good one ("Got mullet?" November 2017). We have always had a cast net and gill net here. When they tried to do away with the recreational nets, I fought hard to keep them. We are grandfathered in to have a 300-foot net. I buy a license for myself, husband, and both my sons every year. Of course, when we die it cannot be handed down. Mullet are the best, but you must eat them quickly, and they do not freeze well. A three-day old mullet is too old. If you are served one, and it does not curl, it is too old! Setting the gill net with grandkids is my favorite past time, even on Mother’s Day. Margaret Long, Orange Beach P.S. I know several who forgot to let the net release out of their teeth.

Alabama Living

I just had a good laugh reading your article ‘Got mullet.’ It brought back memories of something that happened to my grandmother years ago. Grandmother also wore dentures but they were the ones from a

conjunction with Alabama’s Bicentennial celebration of 200 years of statehood. Some 20,000 known cultivars of camellias exist in the world, several hundred of which can be grown outdoors in much of Alabama. Because they are tropical plants and cannot tolerate prolonged cold temperatures, camellias are best suited as landscape plants in the Deep South, though more cold-tolerant cultivars are now available for those living in more northern parts of the state. Camellias grow well in containers, making them great houseplants and allowing them to be moved in and out during the year as temperatures fluctuate. Camellias require an acid soil and do best in partial shade. They have few pests and diseases and require minimal maintenance. To learn more about growing camellias in Alabama, check out the Alabama Cooperative Extension System publication The Culture of Camellias: Alabama’s State Flower ( ANR-0202/ANR-0202.pdf).

doctor, the kind that cost a lot of money. Especially for some old farmers. One morning Grandmother got up and went to the cup in the kitchen for her teeth. No teeth! She looked everywhere and then she and Granddaddy looked everywhere. Still no teeth! So Granddaddy had to buy Grandmother another pair of teeth. He was not happy at all. One day later on, Grandmother noticed that one of her flowers in the window had died. She went over to get the pot to carry it outside and what did she find .... her teeth! She was glad to find her old teeth but my granddaddy was still very unhappy. She was very careful from then on about watering her flowers. I really enjoy your articles. I hope this has brought a smile to your face like your writing has brought to mine. Patsy Lazenby Spivey, Eclectic

Closer to home I love Alabama Living Magazine! My family is from Lafayette and sometimes all I need to feel closer to the place where I spent many summers is this 48-page mailer. Recipes, pictures, and stories of everything small-town (ok, and yes, the info on energy efficiency) make my day. Until my next visit, I’ll imagine the lightning bugs and read the piece titled “Honoring Veterans” on page 12. Shannon McClendon-Robinson San Diego, California DECEMBER 2017 23

| Alabama People |

Wayne Flynt

A man of letters Dr. Wayne Flynt, professor emeritus in the Department of History at Auburn University, is the author of 13 books, the most recent of which, Mockingbird Songs: My Friendship with Harper Lee, chronicles 25 years of correspondence with the famed author of To Kill a Mockingbird.. He disputes rumors that Lee suffered from Alzheimer’s in her later years and knew nothing of the publication of the forerunner of TKAM, Go Set a Watchman,, in 2015. He holds degrees from Howard College (now Samford University) and Florida State University, taught at Samford and joined the Auburn faculty in 1977 where he remained until his retirement in 2005. He is also the founding editor of the online Encyclopedia of Alabama. At 77, Flynt still writes and speaks to groups across the country, although his travel has been somewhat limited as he lovingly cares for Dartie, his wife of 56 years, who has Parkinson’s Disease. They have two sons who married two “brilliant” sisters, and three grandchildren. – Lenore Vickrey

24 DECEMBER 2017

What writers do you read? I came to Eudora Welty late. I like Flannery O’Connor. Obviously, I read Harper Lee. I didn’t read fiction at all until I came to Samford. I was 23 when I read To Kill a Mockingbird. All of a sudden I realized the power of fiction to change your life. Here was a deeply biblical woman with a deeply biblical message. It is a religious book, not about religion. Now I read To Kill a Mockingbird every year. I also read lots of theology, Buechner, Niebuhr; Thomas Wolfe, Peter Taylor, William Faulkner, all the major writers of Southern fiction.


What’s been the reaction to your latest book, “Mockingbird Songs”? The reviews were probably the best I’ve ever had, certainly from the other side of the pond, from the London Times Literary Supplement and the Economist. And I’ve been really happy with the letters I’ve received. I always try to answer everyone’s letter. So many are not the traditional kind of letters we get about a book; they are long, thoughtful letters, handwritten on fine stationery, in many cases, with a fountain pen. Most are letters from people who always fantasized about what Nelle (Harper Lee’s first name, and what Flynt, her family and close friends called her) would be like. They say things like, “At last I understand her.” “She’s so funny, so satirical.” “She’s not politically correct.” Frankly, I wrote the book for that reason. There were so many false statements and conspiracy theories out there, and that Nelle was demented, none of which are true. All you have to do is read the pages from our journals to see how sharp she was, how funny she was and how delightful she was. In the end, it was her decision to have the book published. Journalists look for conspiracy theories. Historians look for the most plausible explanation.

Do you miss the classroom? I miss it terribly. The only thing that makes it tolerable is that I have taught Sunday School ever since I was at Florida State. Now I teach the Pilgrim Sunday School class at Auburn First Baptist. I treat this very seriously in terms of preparation. There’s 107 in the class from agnostics, to Episcopalians, Catholics and traditional Baptists, libertarians, socialists, liberals, Nigerians, African Americans. We have a big poster on the wall, “We reserve the right to accept everyone”! Politically, it’s all across the landscape. I don’t talk politics. Bible study is still the core component. They minister to each other. It’s like a real New Testament church, as opposed to the politically charged. Is there anything you don’t miss about the college classroom? Grading papers, teaching students how to write. By the time I retired, even the honors students didn’t know how to write. Writing has become a lost art. I don’t know if it’s the computer, sound bites or social media, but there’s no such thing as a lyrical writer. I also don’t miss the politics of higher education. It’s just so bloody awful.

Do you have any writing projects in the wings? Yes, but I’ll probably never finish it. If we live long enough, it’ll be “Afternoons with Harper Lee,” based on Tuesdays with Morrie. It would not be a biography because I don’t think anyone will write that. She was too private of a person. We never probed and she never told. We had ten years of visits. We never recorded them, but Dartie has amazing recall, and we would sit in the parking lot and write notes after our visits with Nelle. We have 250 pages of notes from those visits. Continued on Page 32

Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2017  25

| Worth the drive |

Italian fare with Irish flair The appetizer sampler features beach bread, fresh mozzarella sticks and Irish egg rolls.


26 DECEMBER 2017

eat in Alabama Before You Die.” “We sell a lot of it,” Flynn says. Another favorite appetizer at Stevarinos is the Irish egg rolls, featuring corned beef and mozzarella cheese cooked into an egg roll and served with Thousand Island dressing for dipping. “It’s almost like a Reuben,” he says. The corned beef is slow cooked and marinated at the restaurant. One of the recipes brought from Florida is the pizza sauce, used for the restaurant’s New York-style pizza. Flynn makes the dough every day from scratch. Another dish not to miss is the blackened Cajun pasta, which is mixed with chicken, shrimp, and Andouille sausage and topped with Alfredo sauce, made inhouse. Other items on the menu include lasagna, spaghetti, paninis, hoagies, steak, and seafood. Flynn’s goal is for Stevarinos to stand out among other dining establishments by offering options not found in other restaurants. “We try not to be like the typical restaurant where everyone’s menu food is the same,” he says. “I like having things on there you can’t get everywhere else.” The restaurant receives a steady stream of repeat business thanks to the delicious menu items and quality customer service. Flynn personally says hello to patrons who walk through his door. “I like for people to leave my place with a smile on their face knowing they were made to feel special,” he says. Stevarinos Italian Eatery and Pub 3509 S. Broad St., Ste. 207, Scottsboro Phone: 256-259-5420 Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday; closed Sundays Website:

The two bought an old bar in South Pittsburg, which is just over the state line from Alabama, renovated the property, and opened the first Stevarinos in 2006. “I had a dream Stevarinos owner Steve Flynn is ready to help out wherever he can, including at the bar to greet customers. and a vision and if it didn’t work, I could Story and photos by Aaron Tanner still go back to what I was doing,” says Flynn. teve Flynn has an Irish heritage, but Fortunately, the South Pittsburg location when he wanted to start a restaudid work, and many customers made the rant of his own, he knew that Italian drive from northeast Alabama to eat there. would be a bigger customer draw than Flynn saw the opportunity for a second Irish food. “We couldn’t make a living sellrestaurant in Scottsboro after consulting ing corned beef and cabbage,” he says. with the Chamber of Commerce. “ScottsHe was obviously right. He’s been dishboro was the right fit for us,” Flynn says. ing out delicious Italian food – with Irish Today, Hoefer operates the South Pittsinfluences – to locals and tourists alike burg store while Flynn runs the Scottsboro since 2007 at Stevarinos, his restaurant in a location. Both enjoy working with each busy shopping center in Scottsboro. other and are hands-on with running their Flynn’s childhood nickname was “Stevabusinesses. “If I have to cook, if I have to rino,” the salutation made popular on Steve pour drinks or if I have to wash dishes, I do Allen’s 1950s variety show. While trying to whatever it takes,” Flynn says. come up with a name for his eatery, FlyAll the menu items at Stevarinos are nn suggested the name to some friends. “I homemade and made to order. “I’m not thought then it sounded corny, but I told one of those that will substitute quality my friends, and they loved it,” he says. because I can get a better price on someFlynn, who grew up in the Queens borthing,” says Flynn. “I’m very picky because ough of New York City, fell in love with I like to put out a stellar product.” cooking and worked in the restaurant inWhile a few of Stevarinos’ recipes come dustry all around the U.S. One of the stops from Papa Joe’s, a favorite Italian eatery in his culinary career was in Fort Myers, in the Fort Myers area owned by one Fla., where he met Kerry Hoefer; the two of Flynn’s friends, most of the creations became friends while working together at on the menu are from Flynn himself. a Mexican restaurant chain called Chevys Living by the beach inspired him to Fresh Mex. create a favorite appetizer called beach On the side, Flynn sold properties in bread – a toasted hoagie roll topped with Florida. He took some of the proceeds homemade bleu cheese dressing, pieces of from his real estate sales and invested in bacon, tomatoes, fresh garlic and oil and property in Tennessee. It was there that mozzarella. The item is such a hit with Flynn got the idea to start his own restaucustomers that it was named one of the rant. He convinced Hoefer to join him on state Tourism Department’s “100 Dishes to his new journey.


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ZIP System • 2/10 Warranty • Crawl or Slab • 6” Gutters • Granite Countertops


Grand Sierra


DECEMBER 2017 27

Alabama motorists can now choose a license plate design that commemorates the state’s bicentennial.

For more information, call your local tag office or visit our website at

28 DECEMBER 2017

Photo courtesy of Christmas on the River.

December | Around Alabama

Christmas on the River and other events in Demopolis on Dec. 2.


Oneonta, Christmas Lights at Palisades Park. Drive through the annual Christmas lights display from 5-9 p.m. throughout December. Park is closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Free, but donations accepted. 1225 Palisades Parkway. 205-274-0017


Wetumpka, annual holiday flower show, Jasmine Hill Gardens and Outdoor Museum, 3001 Jasmine Hill Road. Beds full of winter annuals and perennials, plus large specimen camellias throughout the 20-acre gardens. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 12-5 p.m. Sundays.


Montgomery, Annual Gem and Mineral Show. Fossils, beads, finished jewelry, arrowheads and demonstrations. Coupons and more information available at montgomerygemandmineralsociety. com. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.


Bridgeport, the CUBBS (Citizens United for a Better Bridgeport) Christmas Parade. 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Downtown Bridgeport.


Demopolis, Christmas on the River. Day and night parades, annual Alabama State Championship BBQ Cookoff and

Fair in the Square, an arts and crafts festival. 102 Washington St.


Andalusia, 3rd annual Andalusia Civitan Holiday Half-Marathon and 5K. Race route winds through the court square, past historic Springdale and around CANDYland, all decked out for the holidays. 7:30 a.m. Visit the event’s Facebook page or call 334-222-2907.


Montgomery, 2nd Annual Cloverdale-Idlewild Art Trail. Six artists in the Cloverdale-Idlewild neighborhood open their studios for self-guided tours and holiday sales. Features the work of 16 artists including potters, painters, photographers, jewelry makers and more. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday. For more information and the list of homes, visit the Cloverdale-Idlewild Art Trail on Facebook.


Alexander City, Annual Hometown Christmas Parade. Parade includes marching bands, dance troupes, musical guests and floats. Parade winds through downtown with special guests Santa and Mrs. Claus. 6 p.m.


Montgomery, Land of the Free and Home of the Brave: Military and Land Records Workshop at the Alabama Archives. Workshop includes the history of land records in America – where to find them and how to use them to enhance genealogical research – and looking at various types of military records. Held in the ADAH’s auditorium. $30 for general public, Friends of the Alabama Archives $20. Space is limited and registration is required. 334-242-4364;


Montevallo, A Colonial Christmas at the American Village. Enjoy a catered lunch in Liberty Hall. Visit the Colonial Chapel and experience Valley Forge with Continental Army Soldiers. $25. Email Christmas@ or call 205665-3535 ext. 1031 for reservations.


Frisco City, 8th Annual Live Nativity Drive-Thru. Celebrate the birth of Christ with the 10-station drivethrough nativity. Receive a CD corresponding to each station or ride the hayride. After viewing, the hospitality and story tents will be available for refreshments and stories for children. Free. 200 School St.


Millbrook, Christmas at Lanark. 10th annual Christ-

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

Alabama Living

mas at the Alabama Nature Center. Hayrides, Christmas crafts, decorating cookies, make your own nature ornament, pictures with Santa and a hayride. 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. General admission of $5/$20 max per family applies and includes all Christmas events. The Upper Pond will also be open for catch and release for $5 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.


Dothan, Victorian Christmas at Landmark Park. Sip hot apple cider or hot chocolate while listening to Christmas carols and visiting with Santa. Enjoy old-fashioned desserts, syrup making, arts and crafts, music, wagon rides and handmade decorations. 1-4 p.m. www.landmarkparkdothan. com or 334-794-3452.


Prattville, A Main Street Christmas in Downtown Prattville. Enjoy the lights and decorations, visiting with Santa, and visiting the shops of downtown. Caroling, children’s projects, hot chocolate, and prizes. 5-8 p.m. 334-595-0854


Clayhatchee, Christmas at Old Providence Chapel. Features “How Little They Knew,” a drama relating events surrounding the birth of Christ by Marion Fairman, music and a visit from Santa Claus. Refreshments in the Rose Cottage following the program. Free. 6-7:30 p.m. 88 Providence Lane.


Fairhope, City of Fairhope New Year’s Eve Celebration. Band starts at 8:30 p.m. at the corner of Fairhope Avenue and Church Street. Fireworks and ball drop at midnight. 251-9291466 or

Jan. 1

Montgomery, Hank Williams 65th Memorial, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Hank Williams gravesite in Oakwood Cemetery Annex. Wreath laying at 10 a.m. followed by live music at the museum in downtown Montgomery. 334262-3600 or

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DECEMBER 2017 29


The encyclopedia of

modern electricity DOE study describes how coal plants and solar cells can share the same power lines—and more By Paul Wesslund


oal-fired power plants are closing. Homeowners with rooftop solar panels are selling unused electricity back to their utility. Windfarms are springing up across the Great Plains. Fracking and other drilling techniques have cut the cost of natural gas by more than half since 2002, and doubled the amount of electricity generated by natural gas. What does all this mean for the nation’s network of wires and power plants otherwise known as the electric grid? The answer lies within a new report from the U.S. Department of Energy, says Pam Silberstein, senior director of power supply for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. “It’s incredibly well-written, well-researched, very thorough, very comprehensive,” says Silberstein. “It’s a well put-together compilation of the state of the grid.” DOE’s August 2017 Staff Report to the Secretary on Electric Markets and Reliability describes the complex state of the electric grid and goes into great detail on how utility trends might affect the price and availability of electricity. It highlights the importance of retraining coal and nuclear power workers, and the effects that renewable energy has on the stability and reliability of the existing electric utility system.

Better reliability

Another way to describe the report: If someone decided that every high school student should understand how the nation’s system of electric wires and power plants works, this study would make a good textbook. Silberstein sees the grid study as a report that puts in one place all the changes affecting utilities and what those changes might mean. She says, “We’re asking our utility systems to meet a lot of demands they haven’t been asked to do before.” The study is a quick-turnaround response to an April 14 memo from Energy Secretary Rick Perry to DOE’s chief of staff to “explore critical issues central to protecting the long-term reliability of the electric grid.” Plenty has changed for electric utilities over the past 20 years, and this DOE study describes that new landscape with enough detail to satisfy the most hard-core energy nerd: About 15 percent of the nation’s power plants have been retired since 2002, mainly coal and nuclear plants. That trend is expected to continue due to low natural gas prices, slower growth in demand for electricity, environmental regulations and more solar and wind power. While new generating capacity from sources including natural gas and renewable energy has amounted to about three times the plant retirements, that radical change in the energy mix requires new ways of managing the flow of electricity from the power plants where it is made, to the homes and businesses where it is used. 30  DECEMBER 2017

Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2017  31

People are demanding better reliability in their electricity; enough that utilities have supplemented their goals of reliability with a new term, “resilience.” Basically that means being able to get the lights back on faster after a natural disaster. That has utilities experimenting with things like utility-scale storage batteries, and more precise targeting of which customers should get power restored first. A lot of states are passing Renewable Portfolio Standards that mandate levels of green energy, creating a patchwork of requirements in the national grid. New and growing additions to the electric grid are changing the way it needs to be managed. Those new power sources include rooftop solar panels that sell electricity back to the utility, natural gas plants that require new pipelines, solar and wind farms in remote areas that need to be connected with new transmission lines, and “demand response programs” in which utilities can turn off home water heaters and air conditioners for short periods during times of peak demand. Recommendations from the study include:  Updating the pricing arrangements that govern the buying and selling of electricity  Improving disaster preparedness  Reviewing regulations that limit the growth of power generation, especially for coal, nuclear, and hydroelectricity  Focusing on workforce development as energy workers face a changing energy marketplace.  Modernizing the software that manages electricity transmission  Coordinating with Canada and Mexico to enhance electric reliability across all of North America The study also notes the importance of cybersecurity to the electric grid, but said that would be addressed in an upcoming joint report from the Department of Energy and the Department of Homeland Security.  Paul Wesslund writes on cooperative issues 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.

Co-op leadership in the new energy reality An important new study by the U.S. Department of Energy describes how the nation’s electric utilities are balancing traditional power sources like coal and nuclear, with renewable trends like wind and solar. Member-owned electric co-ops acknowledged “this new energy reality” in a statement on the recent DOE study, by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. “The electric industry is becoming more consumer-focused as a result of evolving technology and changing consumer expectations,” says the NRECA statement in response to the DOE study, titled Staff Report to the Secretary on Electric Markets and Reliability. Co-ops are pioneering in that consumer focus by helping their members use energy more efficiently, and through research in innovative smaller utility networks knows as microgrids. The NRECA statement says, “As part of our response to this new energy reality, electric co-ops are leading the way in community solar, are developing micro-grids and are implementing energy efficiency programs.” Other fuels are needed as well, concludes the NRECA statement: “Even with these measures, coal, natural gas and nuclear power plants remain an important part of a diverse energy mix that is fundamental to ensuring reliability of service and agility of the electric system during harsh weather. Electric co-ops will continue to rely on these proven resources while integrating new energy options and consumer technology to provide more ways for our members to access affordable, dependable electricity.” — Paul Wesslund

Continued from Page 10 1,000) are currently using this option. There are two types of home dialysis treatment, hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Home hemodialysis involves a procedure like that done in dialysis clinics. Hemodialysis at home must be done five or six days per week for about 2 and 1/2 hours per day. Before this can be started, a patient must go to a home dialysis training unit three or four days per week for six weeks to be trained in this procedure and must have a partner during dialysis. When the patient starts home hemodialysis, he or she must have a face-to-face meeting with their nephrologist once or twice each month. Most Alabama’s home dialysis patients use home peritoneal dialysis. A tube is used to access the patient’s peritoneum in the abdomen and a cleans32  DECEMBER 2017

Continued from Page 24 ing procedure is repeated four times to remove fluids and other substances from the blood. This must be done every night while the patient sleeps. Before this can be started, a patient must go to a home dialysis training unit for eight days of training. It is not necessary for the patient to have a partner during dialysis. When the patient starts home peritoneal dialysis, he or she meets with their nephrologist once or twice a month. Advances have allowed for some of these visits to be completed using telemedicine, if the nephrologist uses this technology. The specific procedure used for dialysis depends on the patient’s activity and lifestyle. For additional information, contact any actively practicing Alabama nephrologist.

The free online resource Encyclopedia of Alabama ( is something you were heavily involved with. You must be very proud of that. It’s the most confounding event that I, as the least technologically advanced person, was asked to oversee a completely electronic encyclopedia! It was truly a collaborative effort (between Auburn, Alabama and many museums, agencies and other groups). We started with 500 articles and I edited every single one. Until I retired, I’d read every article. I wrote the overview, the article on To Kill a Mockingbird, the book that changed my life, and I got to write the sections on religion and Alabama Baptists. There are some advantages to being the boss! If I have one legacy to leave the state, I don’t know that I’m prouder of anything more than the Encyclopedia.

Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2017 33

| Alabama Recipes |

Homemade treats make memorable gifts, even long after they’re gone.

34  DECEMBER 2017


“’Tis better to give than receive.” That’s an admirable sentiment, but maybe not so accurate when you’re set to be on the receiving end of an edible gift. Who doesn’t love retrieving a little bundle from their mailbox or a bag at their front door, opening it and breathing in the scent of freshly homemade goodies? Maybe it's the warmth and spice of a cinnamon-perfumed nut bread, the pure sweetness of brightly iced sugar cookies in festive shapes or the richness of something (anything!) enrobed in chocolate. Gifting with edibles is great for the other side of the equation too. If you’re the one in your family who carries the burden of checking names off the gift list, you know how stressful and time-consuming coming up with a truly appreciated item can be. But everyone eats, and everyone loves a special treat (and they’re also “one size fits all”). It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. It doesn't have to look perfect. It can be as simple as a few cookies in a cellophane bag tied tight with cheery red ribbon. The time and effort you put into it (even if it's short!) means something more than the same amount of energy spent at the mall. So skip the traffic and the crowds, and just grab the things needed to whip up a few of these reader-submitted edible gift recipes on a regular grocery store run.

Make it Merry Once you've made your edible gifts, try one of these fast and frugal ideas to package your delights with some flair. • Embellish plain brown paper lunch sacks with a few holiday-themed stick ers, fold the top over a few times, thread some ribbon through two holepunched holes and tie into a bow to close. • Stack small cookies in Mason jars. Hot glue some ribbon around the top’s metal band. Or ditch the jar’s top and instead, cover the jar with a red or green paper cupcake liner turned upside down and secured with ribbon or a colored rubber band.

• Line plain brown cardboard boxes with tissue paper before filling with your goodies, and decorate their outsides with holiday stickers or holiday ink stamps. • Slide your treats into food-safe clear plastic baggies (found at most craft supply stores) and twist them closed. Secure with a piece of ribbon and adorn with a sticker gift tag.

Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2017 35

Cook of the Month: Denise Swann, Dixie EC Denise Swann has always loved baking. She learned it from her grandmother and today, prefers it to any other kind of cooking. The retired teacher also loves the food culture and flavors of Italy, a country she’s visited multiple times, so she combined her two passions in her recipe for Cranberry Orange Almond Biscotti. “I really enjoy biscotti and I saw a recipe that I liked, but I tweaked it to make it my own,” she said. The change was the addition of blood orange’s bold zip. She’s not the only one pleased with the results, one reason she now gives these biscotti as gifts. “I have a friend who likes them so much I give her the entire recipe for her birthday each year, but for most gifts, I put about six pieces in a cellophane bag and wrap it up pretty,” she said. “They're great for Christmas.”

Cranberry Orange Almond Biscotti ¼ cup olive oil Zest of one orange (I use blood orange, but plain is fine) ¾ cup white sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla extract ½ teaspoon almond extract 2 eggs 1¾ cups all-purpose flour ¼ teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking powder ½ cup craisins 1 cup whole roasted almonds

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar and zest until well blended. Mix in the vanilla and almond extracts, then beat in the eggs. Combine flour, salt and baking powder; gradually stir into egg mixture. Mix in craisins and nuts by hand. Divide dough in half. (It is very sticky. I have water to dampen my fingers when forming the logs.) Form 2 logs on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 35 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the logs are light brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 275 degrees. Cut the logs on a diagonal into 1-inch thick slices. Lay on sides on parchment covered cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 10-15 minutes or until dry, then cool. This recipe makes about 20 cookies.

Calling all home cooks! It's time to spice up our recipe selection and you could be a winner! We are looking for fresh, creative recipes from readers just like you. In addition to our monthly Cook of the Month prize, beginning in January, all cooks who submit a recipe will automatically be entered into a drawing to win a gift basket full of Alabama Living merchandise. Take a look at our upcoming themes and send in your favorite recipes today! (see rules below)

Submit your recipes!

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

Watch us wrap up some Christmas goodies at!

Themes and Deadlines February: Spicy Foods | Dec. 8 March: Honey | Jan. 8 April: Bread | Feb. 8

Coming up in January... Slow cooker favorites!

Please send us your original recipes, developed by you or family members, and not ones copied from a book or magazine. You may adapt a recipe from another source by changing as little as the amount of one ingredient. Cook of the Month winners will receive $50, and may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year. One gift basket winner will be drawn monthly at random and each name will be entered only once. Items in basket may vary each month. To be eligible, submissions must include a name, phone number, mailing address and co-op name. Alabama Living reserves the right to reprint recipes in our other publications.

36 DECEMBER 2017

Crockpot Apple Butter 3 3 1 6 ½ ½ 2

Crockpot Apple Butter

Baby Ruth Bars

Fruitcake Cookies

1 cup sugar 1 cup white corn syrup 2½ cups crunchy peanut butter 5 cups Special K cereal 6 ounces almond bark (3 squares off the whole block)

1 pound mixed candied fruit 2 cups nuts, chopped 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk 1½ cups flour

Bring sugar and corn syrup to a boil. Remove from heat; add peanut butter and melted almond bark; blend well. Add cereal, stirring to coat. Pour into a 9x13-inch pan that has been lined with parchment paper. Cool and remove bars from pan. Cut bars into small pieces. Peggy Key North Alabama EC

Almond Joy Candy 2 1 1 1 2 1

14-ounce bags coconut stick butter can sweetened condensed milk can or bag of almonds 12-ounce bags chocolate chips bar paraffin wax

Mix all together and spoon on cookie sheet or mini muffin pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Shanna Bryars Baldwin EMC

Yee Haw Toffee 1 1 1 1

10-ounce package saltine crackers cup of butter (no margarine) cup light brown sugar 12-ounce package milk chocolate chips 1 cup sliced almonds

Heat butter and sweetened condensed milk until butter is melted; stir together. Add coconut. Cool completely. Form a small ball around each almond to form candy. Melt chocolate chips and paraffin together until smooth. Dip each candy in melted chocolate and lay on wax paper to cool completely. Store in refrigerator until ready to bag or bowl for gifts.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Line cookie sheet with saltine crackers, edges touching. In a medium saucepan, combine butter and brown sugar. Cook until mixture reaches 235 degrees on candy thermometer. Pour mixture over crackers and spread evenly. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Sprinkle chocolate chips over hot toffee. When chips turn glossy, spread chocolate evenly with spatula. Sprinkle with sliced almonds. Freeze 20-25 minutes, remove from freezer, break into pieces and serve.

LaCretia Bevel North Alabama EC

Beth McLarty Cullman EC

Alabama Living

pounds gala apples pounds fugi apples granny smith apple teaspoons ground cinnamon teaspoon ground cloves teaspoon salt cups granulated sugar

Remove cores from apples and chop into chunks (no need to remove skins) and place in a 6-quart crockpot. Combine rest of ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over apples and stir to coat. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour then low for 10 hours, stirring a couple of times throughout. Spoon mixture into a blender or food processor, leaving a vent open for steam to escape and blend to desired consistency. Allow to cool to room temperature then refrigerate or freeze. Makes about 5 pints. Emily Nebrig Joe Wheeler EMC

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls 3 cups old-fashioned oatmeal flour (Using a food processor, blend old fashioned oats to make 3 cups flour) ¼ cup ground flax seed (optional) 2 tablespoons ground hemp seed (optional) 3 tablespoons ground chia seed (optional) 1⁄3 cup honey 1 teaspoon vanilla ¾ cup peanut butter powder 2⁄3 cup coconut oil ¼ cup mini chocolate chips 6 tablespoons milk Whisk wet ingredients together. Stir in the dry ingredients. Mix in chocolate chips. Roll into balls and enjoy. Carissa Pittman Joe Wheeler EMC Editor’s Note: Alabama Living’s recipes are submitted by our readers. They are not kitchen-tested by a professional cook or registered dietician. If you have special dietary needs, please check with your doctor or nutritionist before preparing any recipe.

DECEMBER 2017 37

| Classifieds | How To Place a Line Ad in Marketplace Closing Deadlines (in our office):

February 2018 – December 25 March 2018 – January 25 April 2018 – February 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

DECEMBER 2017 39

| Outdoors | Spotted bass like this one often hit jigging spoons that resemble small shad or other baitfish. PHOTO BY JOHN N. FELSHER


erocious, hard-fighting and aggressive, spotted bass populate most Alabama waters, but typically go almost overlooked, particularly in the winter when so many sportsmen prefer hunting to fishing. Most anglers catch them more by accident than intention when seeking largemouth, smallmouth or striped bass, but these vicious predators can challenge tackle anywhere in the Cotton State at any time. “Spotted bass have a lot of backbone and fight,” says Brooks Holland with Boogerman Guide Service (334-549-2126) in Prattville. “Catching a 5-pound spot is like catching a 10- to 12-pound largemouth. Once, I caught a 6.5- and a 6.75-pound spotted bass on the Alabama River in 10 casts.” Sometimes called Kentucky spotted bass, spots don’t quite grow as big as largemouths, but they can still top 11 pounds. Phillip C. Terry of Decatur set the Alabama state record with an 8-pound, 15-ounce spot he pulled from Lake Lewis Smith near Cullman. In the Bankhead National Forest, Lake Lewis Smith snakes across 21,200 acres on the Sipsey Fork of the Black Warrior River. Deep, clear and blue, the lake drops to more than 300 feet deep in places. With a greenish-white coloration, a spot looks very similar to a largemouth, but with a slightly smaller mouth and more black splotches along its lateral line. The defining feature, a rough “tooth patch” on its tongue, distinguishes this species. Once John N. Felsher lives in Semmes, Ala. He’s a professional freelance writer and photographer with more than 2,500 articles published in more than 150 different magazines. Contact him through Facebook.

40 DECEMBER 2017

Tough ‘other’ bass offer anglers hot action in cold water considered a subspecies, but now reclassified as an entirely separate species, an Alabama bass looks almost identical to a spot, but grows a bit larger. “Spotted bass are found all throughout Alabama,” says Michael P. Holley, a fisheries supervisor for the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries in Eastaboga. “We now recognize the spotted bass as the Alabama bass in the Mobile drainage lakes and rivers. I consider a really big spotted bass in Alabama to be about six pounds. A four-pounder is still considered big and bass this size show up more frequently in angler catches. Pound for pound, in my opinion, Alabama bass fight harder than any other species of black bass in Alabama, including smallmouth bass.” Spots or their Alabama cousins populate almost all waters across Alabama. They prefer current and thrive in rivers like the Tennessee, Coosa, Chattahoochee, Alabama and down to the Mobile River drainage. They also populate the associated reservoirs and tributaries of these and other systems across the state. While spotted bass look similar to largemouths, they act more like smallmouths and stay very active in cold water. Spots love rocks and flowing water. They frequently stay around main channel points, ledge edges with rock or woody debris, rocky shorelines, sandbars, riprap and similar places. Also look for them near dams and in the backs of creeks. Spotted bass hit anything that largemouths and smallmouths might strike. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits, slow-sinking jerkbaits and topwaters rank among the best spotted bass baits. They’ll also hit jigs, worms and other temptations. In deeper water, jigging a chrome spoon can produce a lot of action, particularly during temperature extremes in the winter.

“Quite often, I’ll catch largemouths and spots when fishing the same points or ledges with the same bait,” Holland says. “Spots tend to hold on hump edges. Vertically jigging a spoon is a good way to find fish. I’ll jig a spoon or sometimes a lipless crankbait. A drop shot is another good technique. To catch the largest spots from November through January, I recommend using a 3/8- to 1/2-ounce football jig in a crawfish color. A shaky head worm in a green pumpkin, watermelon red or watermelon seed is another great bait for spots.” In any freshwater system across Alabama, anglers might tangle with a feisty spotted bass. However, some waters consistently produce big fish. No waters produce more impressive spotted bass than the Coosa River impoundments. “If an angler wants to catch a large spotted bass, then the Coosa River impoundments are where they should go,” Holley says. “Weiss, Neely Henry, Logan Martin, Lay, Mitchell and Jordan are all good fisheries that produce large spotted bass. The Coosa River is fertile with a high nutrient base, so bass have plenty of forage and grow really fast. These lakes also offer the right habitat that spotted bass prefer, such as deep boulders and rocks.” Holley also recommended Holt Reservoir, a 3,296-acre impoundment on the Black Warrior River near Tuscaloosa. Anglers might also try Harris Reservoir, also known as Lake Wedowee, on the Tallapoosa River near the town of Wedowee. Other good places to catch spots include the Jones Bluff section of the Alabama River, also known as R. E. “Bob” Woodruff Lake, between Montgomery and Selma. Millers Ferry Lake, also called William “Bill” Dannelly Reservoir on the Alabama River in Dallas and Wilcox counties, can also produce good fish.

Tables indicate peak fish and game feeding and migration times. Major periods can bracket the peak by an hour before and an hour after. Minor peaks, half-hour before and after. Adjusted for daylight savings time.

a.m. p.m. Minor Major Minor Major

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DECEMBER 2017 41

Clarke-Washington Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc.

Established in under


We service & repair all brands

Marks Electric

We sell


Heating & cooling systems


mini-split ductless heat pumps



wood burning heaters Clarke-Washington Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. 107 Jamison St., Jackson, Al 36545


Owner Alfred Marks • AL License# 84750

42 DECEMBER 2017

MERRY, BRIGHT AND EFFICIENT HOLIDAY LIGHTING Decking the halls doesn’t have to take a toll on your energy bill! Keep your holiday lighting merry, bright and energy efficient with LED light strands.

Consider replacing older light strands with new ENERGY STAR LED® lights. LED strands are 70 percent more efficient and last 10 times longer than the age-old standard bulbs. You can get the look of cozy lighting with LEDs. Just look for “warm white” on the label. Unlike older light strands, LED lights give off virtually no heat, making them safer for kids and pets (and reindeer). Save energy by setting a timer for outdoor lighting and decorations. Program the timer so the lights turn on in the evening and turn off later at night when you typically go to sleep.

Source: Dept. of Energy

Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2017 43

| Our Sources Say |

M Big Mike’s Bean House

Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative

44 DECEMBER 2017

y friend, Covington County Circuit Judge Ben Bowden, recently sent me an article from The Atlantic by James Hamblin, “If Everyone Ate Beans Instead of Beef.” He sent it to me to see if I thought it was satire. Since there are other studies and articles on the effects of diet on climate change, I am sure it is a serious article. The article focuses on “ecoanxiety,” a term coined in 2011 by the American Psychological Association to describe “the dread and helplessness emanating from the slow and seemingly irrevocable impacts of climate change and the worry about the future for oneself, children, and later generations because of changes to the environment.” The remedy for ecoanxiety (assuming there is one) is understanding what can be done to mitigate environmental degradation in a country whose economy and society is so greatly dependent upon carbon emissions. The article’s answer to ecoanxiety is found in a study done by Helen Harwatt, a researcher trained in environmental nutrition, who focuses on developing food systems that balance human health and sustainability. The study performed by Ms. Harwatt and scientists from Oregon State University, Bard College, and Loma University calculated the effect of every American making a dietary change of substituting beans for beef. If they could and would make the change, the United States could come close to meeting the 2020 greenhouse emission goals pledged by President Obama in 2009. Ms. Harwatt states, “I think there’s genuinely a lack of awareness about how much impact this sort of change could have. A relatively small, single food substitution could be the most powerful change a person makes in terms of their lifetime environmental impact – more than downsizing one’s car, being vigilant about turning off light bulbs, and certainly more than quitting showering.” The articles states that more than 33% of the land on earth fit for the growing of crops is used to grow feed for livestock and 26% of the earth is used to graze livestock. Up to 42% of America’s farmland would be freed up if beef were traded for beans. Livestock consume many more calories of feed than they yield in meat. The inefficient process of converting feed to beef means additional clear cutting of forests to feed cattle. The article points out the high levels of greenhouse flatulent gases emitted by livestock but

does not mention the increase in human release of greenhouse gases if the beans were directly consumed by humans. Ms. Harwatt states, “It can just be a positive, empowering thing for consumers to see that they can make a significant impact by doing something as simple as eating beans instead of beef. I think it’s such an easy-to-grasp concept that it could be less challenging that a whole dietary shift. Rather, the beans for beef scenario is the dietary equivalent of effective altruism – focusing on where efforts will have the highest yield.” Finally, the article concludes that the benefits of a bean for beef substitution brings empowerment, or at least reprieve from ecoanxiety. There is apparently some satisfaction in knowing how far an individual can go to save the world just by eating beans. I think the article has much more to do with what comes out of the bull instead of what goes into the bull. Climate change may or may not be impacting the world. If it is, the impacts may or may not be caused by human activity. I don’t know and you don’t know, no matter your opinion of climate change. No one knows, even those scientists that claim they know. If climate change is a serious problem, it demands serious responses, not this comical “everyone can eat beans instead of beef and save the world” nonsense (who commissions and pays for studies like this?). Assuming the climate is changing because of human activities, serious efforts are undermined by approaches that people will not accept or pursue like eating beans instead of beef, using a lot less energy, giving up their SUVs, quitting showering, spending more of their disposable income on energy, or committing billions of tax dollars a year on efforts that will have no impact on climate outcomes. People cherish their lifestyles and freedoms. They will not give up those lifestyles and freedoms easily. More serious efforts should be directed towards how we live with the results of climate change, if it is occurring, instead of focusing on how to modify personal behavior or restrict personal freedoms to prevent it. Big Mike’s Steakhouse opened in Andalusia about a year ago. People still wait in line Friday and Saturday nights to enjoy their steaks. They like Big Mike’s steaks. How many people will have enough ecoanxiety to wait in line for a great meal at Big Mike’s Bean House? I hope you have a good month.

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Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2017 45

| Hardy Jackson's Alabama |

Mama’s perfect Christmas turkey s we enter the Christmas season, many of you are looking back on a Thanksgiving and thinking, “I wished I had baked a turkey.” You know why you didn’t. Turkey baking is a daunting task. The bird is big. You have only one chance to get it right. All sorts of things can go wrong. And if wrong they go, the blame falls on the cook. You are the cook. Full of dread at the prospect of disaster, you went out and bought one of those easy-bake turkey breasts, which are an anathema to dark-meat lovers like me, and passed it off on family and friends with a casual “a whole turkey is so, you know, passé.” And everyone looked at you “that way.” So you sulked back to the kitchen, knowing that you have failed as a host/ hostess, and that those who gather around your table hope that come Christmas, they get an invitation from a more competent cook. Well friends, and you are my friends, I am here to help you. Knowing how much Alabama Living readers love recipes, Old Hardy is gonna pass on to you the method my sainted Mother, the Queen of the Kitchen, followed to make sure that Thanksgiving, Christmas, and even Easter, would be celebrated with perfect Turkey. First be warned. THIS ONLY WORKS WITH AN ELECTRIC OVEN – which, being a member of the electric co-op, you obviously have. Also, we have never tried it with a turkey weighing over 20 pounds. Might work. Might not. Don’t want to risk a big bird? Get one smaller. Here we go: The day before Thanksgiving, or whatever holiday on which you are feasting, thaw the turkey. Remove the giblets and save them for gravy. Wash and salt the bird.


Harvey H. (“Hardy”) Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University. He can be reached at hjackson@

46  DECEMBER 2017

Illustration by Dennis Auth


Around two hours before bedtime the evening before the holiday (assuming you go to bed at a decent hour, like 9 p.m.) preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Get out your graniteware baking pan, the kind with a lid, the kind your Mama used. Place the bird breast down in the baking pan. If you don’t have a baking pan, get one of those big old throw-away roasting pans you can buy at the grocery store. Add one quart of cold water. Cover the bird with the lid or with heavy duty aluminum foil – make sure whatever covers it seals the bird completely – and tightly. That is very important.

Place the bird in the 500-degree oven and cook one hour, undisturbed. After one hour, turn the oven off. Do not open the oven. Let the oven cool completely overnight. Do not open. No peeking. Self-restraint is required. In the morning, when you open the oven, the bird will be ready to carve. But remember. Make sure you turn the oven off after an hour. The electric stove will hold the heat and the turkey will slowly cook overnight. If you forget to turn the oven off, and if the bird cooks at 500 degrees, all night long…on Thanksgiving Day you will feast on turkey jerky.

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