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Stories | Recipes | Events | People | Places | Things | Local News January 2018

Joe Wheeler Electric MEMBERSHIP CORP.

A conversation with the governor Best of Alabama winners Slow cooker favorites

Manager George Kitchens Director of Communications Michael Cornelison 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.

Best of Alabama winners Mountain biking and hiking are two of the most popular activities at scenic Oak Mountain State Park, voted the best place for hiking in our Best of Alabama contest. See all the winners beginning on Page 20!


VOL. 71 NO. 1 n JANUARY 2018

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Rep. Mo Brooks


Forty years ago


Slow cooker favs

Representative Mo Brooks sits with us to talk about the issues.

On Jan. 15, 1978, downtown Auburn was rocked by an explosion at the Kopper Kettle restaurant that left the small town reeling.

Cooking with a slow cooker has many benefits: juicier meats, verstility, and convenience. Our readers agree!



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



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In this issue: Page 11 Page 28

11 Spotlight 30 Gardens 29 Around Alabama 40 Outdoors 41 Fish & Game Forecast 36 Cook of the Month 46 Hardy Jackson’s Alabama ONLINE: ON THE COVER: Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and the “First Dog,” Bear. Read our Q&A interview with the governor, beginning on Page 12. PHOTO: Alabama Governor’s office

JANUARY 2018 3

A view from the top

Born out of politics George Kitchens General Manager/CEO

Board of Trustees Charles Segars


District 6

Charles Teague

Vice President District 7

Linda Owens


District 5

Ricky Knouff District 1 Andrew McCay District 2 Joseph Dutton District 3 Jimmie Halbrooks District 4 Ray Long District 8 Shirley Livingston District 9 Milton Taylor District At-Large

Headquarters: P.O. Box 460 Trinity, AL 35673

256-552-2300 District Offices: Moulton:


641 Big Nance St. Moulton, AL 35650

700 Sparkman St. Hartselle, AL 35640

4 JANUARY 2018

Where has the time gone? It seems like only er purposes. The other purposes became very yesterday that I was trying hard to remember important to Joe Wheeler EMC and the other to write 2017 on checks when paying the bills. newly formed utilities in the Tennessee Valley. Now it’s 2018, and we begin another new year The other purposes included selling excess filled with the hope of many good things to electricity not needed for national defense to come. co-ops like ours that were beginning to serve This issue of our magazine focuses on pol- the rural areas in Alabama. itics. Politics is and will always be very imThe REA, as the Rural Electrification Adportant to your electric cooperative. Electric ministration came to be known, was essencooperatives across the country were born tial in helping Joe Wheeler EMC and other out of politics. On May 11, 1935, during the co-ops begin to design and build new elecdark days of the Great Depression, President tric distribution systems. They helped with Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued executive engineering and design. REA had its own order 7037 which created the Rural Electri- construction standards. The REA developed fication Administration. a 7200-volt distribution In May 1936, the presvoltage standard which ident signed the Rucould support longer ral Electrification Act lines of up to about 40 which had been passed miles without significant by the Senate and House voltage drops. As the coin March and April reop built new lines, REA spectively. At that time, would inspect the work electricity was commonto assure quality and place in cities, but power make sure that the new was not readily available lines met their standards on farms, ranches, and for safety. They also proother rural places. The vided low-cost loans that organizers of Joe Wheelprovided much-needed er EMC were not too far start-up capital for the behind these events. Joe fledgling utilities. The Wheeler EMC was in- President Franklin D. Roosevelt created REA is now the RUS, corporated in April 1937, the REA on May 11, 1935. Rural Utilities Service and by the fall of 1937, and is a part of the Dewe were beginning to serve customers. partment of Agriculture. They still provide Just a few years earlier, in 1933, the Ten- loan funds but are also involved in pilot pronessee Valley Authority was created by con- grams to bring broadband Internet service to gressional action as a federally owned cor- rural areas. poration. The purposes of the TVA were: to So now you know the rest of the story about provide flood control on the Tennessee River; the relationship between politics and your to provide for reforestation and proper land electric cooperative and how that got us to use for marginal lands in the Tennessee Riv- where we are today. This is why we appreciate er Valley; to provide for the agricultural and it when politicians like Rep. Mo Brooks visit economic development of the Tennessee Val- to talk about issues and listen to our concerns. ley; to provide for the national defense by the We thank him, and all the men and women creation of a corporation for the operation of who serve our communities by helping to government properties at and near Muscle make the hard decisions that keep us moving Shoals in the State of Alabama, and for oth- forward.

Representing you in

Montgomery Alabama Senate Arthur Orr, District 3 (R) Limestone, Madison, Morgan Counties State House: (334)242-7891 11 South Union Street, Suite 730, Montgomery, AL 36130 District Office: (256) 260-2146 2128 6th Avenue SE, Suite 504, Decatur, AL 35601

Paul Bussman, District 4 (R) Cullman, Lawrence, Marion, Winston Counties State House: (334)242-7855 11 South Union Street, Suite 733, Montgomery, AL 36130 District Office: (256) 734-1700 1625 Main Avenue, SW, Cullman, AL 35055

Larry Stutts, District 6 (R) Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Lawrence Counties State House: (334)242-7862 11 South Union Street, Suite 735, Montgomery, AL 36130 District Office: (256) 386-6966 1120 South Jackson HWY, Suite 104, Sheffield, AL 35660

As the 2018 Legislative session begins, Joe Wheeler EMC would like to remind our members to take an interest in what's going on in Montgomery and Washington, D.C. The decisions your local Senators and Representatives make can affect your everyday life. So, be part of the discussion and let them know, Co-ops Vote!

Alabama House of Representatives Marcel Black, District 3 (D) Colbert, Lauderdale, Lawrence Counties State House: (334)242-7686 11 South Union Street, Suite 435, Montgomery, AL 36130 District Office: (256) 383-2435 435 P.O. Box 839, Tuscumbia, AL 35674

Ken Johnson, District 7 (R) Franklin, Lawrence, Morgan, Winston Counties State House: (334)242-7754 11 South Union Street, Suite 417-E, Montgomery, AL 36130 District Office: (256) 260-2146 2128 6th Avenue SE, Suite 504, Decatur, AL 35601

Terri Collins, District 8 (R) Morgan County State House: (334)242-7693 11 South Union Street, Suite 427-A, Montgomery, AL 36130 District Office: (256) 260-2146 2128 6th Avenue SE, Suite 504, Decatur, AL 35601

Ed Henry, District 9 (R) Cullman, Marshall, Morgan Counties State House: (334)242-7736 11 South Union Street, Suite 401-F, Montgomery, AL 36130 District Office: (256) 260-2146 2128 6th Avenue SE, Suite 504, Decatur, AL 35601

Randall Shedd, District 11 (R) Blount, Cullman, Marshall, Morgan Counties State House: (334)242-7330 11 South Union Street, Suite 524-A, Montgomery, AL 36130 District Office: (256) 796-5870 1461 Welcome Road, Cullman, AL 35058 * At the time of publication, the seat for District 4 was vacant.

Alabama Living

JANUARY 2018 5

Rep. Brooks visits with JWEMC staff at the Trinity office. Inset, JWEMC General Manager George Kitchens stands with Rep. Brooks outside the Trinity Office.

A Conversation with Congressman Mo Brooks By Michael Cornelison

For this year's Legislative Issue I sat down with Mo Brooks, our U.S. Representative for the fifth congressional district of Alabama. We wanted to get his perspective on the issues that not only affect Joe Wheeler EMC members but the whole country. If you would like to read the interview in its entirety, visit Given everything that has gone on with you in the past year, the softball shooting, the fights in Congress, the Senate run, have any of these changed your outlook of the future? Rep. Brooks: None of that has changed what I believe is the right philosophy of government for our country to continue to prosper. Those principles are immutable. They don't change with assassination attempts; they don't change with big-boy hardball politics. The foundational principles are what allow the people of America to be the greatest nation in world history for about seven decades now. No nation in world history has been able to come close to what our standing is and has been for seven decades across the globe. And that all comes down to the foundational principles that our Founding Fathers set forth in the constitution in 1789. The one thing our Founding 6  JANUARY 2018

Fathers did not envision is that the central government would be wholly and completely irresponsible and be $20 trillion in debt. We are being warned by the Congressional Budget Office, the Government Accountability Office, and the Comptroller General of the United States, that we are headed to an insolvency and bankruptcy. They are putting their reports in writing. If we don't change our path, America will suffer through a debilitating insolvency and bankruptcy that will make the Great Depression look like an economic bonanza. How do you view U.S. energy policy in general? Rep. Brooks: I support energy independence for the USA. To me, that is a national security issue, and I believe we ought to let the free enterprise system dictate what the most economically efficient forms of energy production are. The federal

government should minimize, or totally eliminate its role in picking more expensive forms of energy production which end up making our deficit and debt worse or costing taxpayers and ratepayers more. I have great confidence in the ability of people who are in the energy industry to make the most economical decisions possible to maximize energy production at minimal cost. I have little faith in the ability of the federal government to wisely pick winners and losers in the energy industry. On the plus side, our oil production has gone up far more than anyone thought would happen in the 1970s and '80s. No one thought that was possible. But what we're doing, particularly with "fracking," and also with our discovery of various other oil reserves is making us much more energy independent today than we were two or three decades ago. We are even exporting energy, natural gas, and oil.

Are President Trump's and the new EPA's approach toward reducing regulations a good thing? Rep. Brooks: One of the blessings of the Trump administration is they have figured out that the long-term, net effects of all these government regulations is to make it more difficult for people to be able to pay their power bills. And that has an economically depressing effect, not only on families but America as a whole. So the more the President can do to free up energy production and distribution, by minimizing federal government intervention, then the better off we as a country are going to be, and the better able families are going to be to pay their power bills. What are your thoughts on the recent push to bring broadband Internet to rural areas? Rep. Brooks: I'm torn. On the one hand, I like the idea of all Americans having access to

broadband Internet and all the related services. But on the other hand, I am concerned about beneficiaries of that broadband forcing other people to pay higher taxes, or higher rates for services they do not use. Someone has to pay the bill. And generally speaking, the consumer of a good or service ought to be who pays that bill in a free enterprise system. It's predicted that Alabama will lose a House seat after the 2020 census because of people moving away from rural areas. What can rural communities do to stop this? Rep. Brooks: That's not the reason we will lose a seat. We will lose a seat because there are roughly 15 million illegal aliens in America and they are worth 30 congressional seats. So the cities, counties, and states which promote sanctuary and inward migration of illegal aliens are the ones who gain political power at the expense of the American citizens who follow the law. They are counted for census purposes, that then determine how many congressional seats each state has. That is the biggest factor in whether Alabama will keep its seventh congressional seat, or lose one and be down to six. Is there a final message you would like to send to our members? Rep. Brooks: I am a person that

believes a rising tide lifts all boats, so my focus is in trying to promote policies that help America be more secure and more prosperous. If I am successful in that endeavor, then there is greater opportunity for all Americans, including those I represent to take advantage of that greater prosperity and security. As such, I fight for national security to get a larger percentage of the money being spent to face an increasingly dangerous world; as evidenced by the military conflicts and around the globe, generally, and terrorism here in the U.S. I will also do everything I can to try to prevent the United States from suffering a debilitating insolvency and bankruptcy. If that happens and you follow the cascading effects, that can only lead to one conclusion – an American insolvency and bankruptcy will probably lead to the premature loss of millions of American lives. That's how serious an insolvency can be and how dangerous it is to American citizens. So that is far and away my number one priority. If we go into an insolvency and bankruptcy as a country, in effect, we will have destroyed over two centuries of sacrifices of those who were able to make America the greatest nation in world history. If I can play some role in stopping that from happening then I'm a happy camper.

Representing you in

Washington D.C. U.S. Senate Senator Richard Shelby (R) Washington, D.C. 304 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510 Phone: (202) 224-5744 Fax: (202) 224-3416 Huntsville 1000 Glenn Hearn Boulevard #20127 Huntsville, AL 35824 Phone: (256) 772-0460 Fax: (256) 772-8387 * At the time of publication, the special election to fill the Senate seat left open by Jeff Sessions' appointment as Attorney General had not taken place.

U.S. House of Representatives

Congressman Robert Aderholt District 4 (R)

Washington, DC Office 235 Cannon House Office Building Washington, DC 20515 Phone: (202) 225-4876 Shoals District Office 1011 George Wallace Blvd. Suite 146 Tuscumbia, AL 35674 Phone: (256) 381-3450 Fax: (256) 381-7659 Cullman District Office 205 4th Ave. NE Suite 104 Cullman, AL 35055 Phone: (256) 734-6043 Fax: (256) 737-0885

Congressman Mo Brooks District 5 (R)

Washington, DC Office 2400 Rayburn HOB Washington, DC 20515 Phone: (202) 225-4801

Rep. Brooks with President Donald Trump for the 2017 NASA Authorization bill signing. Photo provided by Congressman Brooks' office.

Alabama Living

Decatur Office 302 Lee Street Room 86 Decatur, AL 35601 Phone: (256) 355-9400 Fax: (256) 355-9406 JANUARY 2018 7

J.R. Knouff Scholarship Application

Ten $2000 scholarships are given at the Annual Meeting in April. Name____________________________________________________

Deadline: March 31, 2018

Address __________________________________________________ City________________ State_______ Zip Code__________________ Day Phone_______________ Evening Phone____________________


Social Security #_________________ Birth date _________________ JWEMC Account # (available on your bill) ______________________ Member’s Relationship to Applicant ___________________________ *If last name is different, please indicate reason

Most Recent Grade Point Average (GPA)________________________ This GPA is for (circle one):

High School


University or College you plan to attend_________________________ If in high school, which school do you attend?____________________ Are you planning to be a full-time student (12+ hours)? Yes No (circle one) *In order to receive a scholarship, you must be a full-time student.

I have read and understand all of the requirements for the JWEMC J.R. Knouff Scholarship Program, and I agree to meet all of them. If I am selected as a recipient, I agree to allow JWEMC to use my name and/or photo in future promotion of this program. Applicant’s Signature_________________________________________


JWEMC Member’s Signature___________________________________


Application Requirements 1. You must be at least a senior in high school to enter. First-time freshmen, continuing college students or persons returning to college to finish an undergraduate degree are also eligible to enter. 2. All blanks must be filled out or your application will be voided. Your application must be signed on the space provided. 3. Your application must be postmarked on or before March 31, 2018 or it will be voided. Only one application allowed per applicant. Duplicates will be voided. 4. If you are living on your own, away from home, you cannot apply under your parents’ name. YOU must be a JWEMC member to apply. EXCEPTION: If you are living away from home specifically to attend college, but your PERMANENT address is still your parents’ home and your parents are JWEMC members, you may apply. 5. Graduate or doctoral students are ineligible. * If you are applying for a student loan, please check with your school’s financial aid office to see how this scholarship might affect you.

8  JANUARY 2018

Electric Cooperative Foundation Scholarship Applications Available High school seniors, listen up! Electric Cooperative Foundation Scholarship Applications are now available. Two $500 scholarships will be given to high school seniors in the JWEMC service area. For an application, stop by any JWEMC office location or go by your school guidance counselor’s office or visit Deadline for the scholarship entry is February 16, 2018. NO POSTMARKS.

| Alabama Snapshots |

Alabama Sunrises

SUBMITTED BY Tommy and Amy Spruiel, Detroit, AL

SUBMITTED BY Regina Sanders, Lanett.

SUBMITTED BY Deborah Walters, Fairhope.

SUBMITTED BY Cindy Prater, Danville.

SUBMITTED BY Sharon M. Tucker, Cullman.

SUBMITTED BY Alice Barton, Marion. SUBMITTED BY Kathy Hester, Cedar Bluff.

Submit Your Images! March Theme: “Front Porches” Deadline for March: January 31

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

JANUARY 2018 9


Ex-spouse benefits and how they affect you


ust like during tax season, it’s good to have all the information you need early so you can prepare and get any money you are due. If you are age 62, unmarried, and divorced from someone entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits, you may be eligible to receive benefits based on his or her record. To be eligible, you must have been married to your exspouse for 10 years or more. If you have since remarried, you can’t collect benefits on your former spouse’s record unless

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

your later marriage ended by annulment, divorce, or death. Also, if you’re entitled to benefits on your own record, your benefit amount must be less than you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work. In other words, we’ll pay the higher of the two benefits for which you’re eligible, but not both. You can apply for benefits on your former spouse’s record even if he or she hasn’t retired, as long as you divorced at least two years before applying. If, however, you decide to wait until full retirement age to apply as a divorced spouse, your benefit will be equal to half of your ex-spouse’s full retirement amount or disability benefit. The same rules apply for a deceased former spouse. The amount of benefits you get has no

effect on the benefits of your ex-spouse and his or her current spouse. Visit Retirement Planner: If You Are Divorced at divspouse.html to find all the eligibility requirements you must meet to apply as a divorced spouse. Our benefits planner gives you an idea of your monthly benefit amount. If your ex-spouse died after you divorced, you may still quality for widow’s benefits. You’ll find information about that in a note at the bottom of the website. Visit retire/divspouse.html today to learn whether you’re eligible for benefits on your ex-spouse’s record. That could mean a considerable amount of monthly income. What you learn may bring a smile to your face … even on tax day!


Pets are more than treasured companions “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened” – Anatole France


ets are a very important part of our lives. One in six American households own a pet. Sixty percent of Americans think pet owners lead more satisfying lives than non pet-owners. From our personal experience, they would be right! We humans started forming a bond with animals many millennia ago. From being just a tool to make our existence a bit easier, like herding dogs, pets have now taken up the role of trusted friend and companion. The history of this bond goes back a long way. A gravesite in the Czech RepubGoutam Mukherjee, DVM, MS, Ph.D. (Dr. G) has been a veterinarian for more than 30 years. He works part time at Grant Animal Clinic and is a member of North Alabama Electric Cooperative.

10  JANUARY 2018

lic unearthed a 31,000-year-old skeleton of a dog buried with a carefully placed bone in its mouth. This skeleton was found in a human graveyard. Perhaps it is romanticizing a bit, but maybe another human like us placed the bone and shed a few tears before throwing the first handful of dirt on their beloved friend. Over 50 studies in the last few decades have demonstrated the many health benefits of pets. Cat owners enjoy a 30 percent reduction in heart attack risk. Watching fish swim lowers blood pressure, and stroking a dog boosts the immune system. Pets provide valuable services as helpers for the blind and disabled. On top of all these herculean tasks, they also work in prisons, nursing homes and women’s shelters providing compassion and healing.

The list goes on. An excellent book, Made for Each Other, by Meg Olmert is a must read on this topic. These creatures give us so much in their short lives! We bear a significant responsibility to take care of them and give them a life full of care and joy. A wonderful guideline for animals in our care is called the “five freedoms:” freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain, injury or disease, freedom to express normal behavior and freedom from fear and distress. This column will appear every other month. If you have a pet-related question of general interest, please write to Dr. G at PO Box 687, Geraldine, AL 35974.

January | Spotlight

Whereville, AL

Identify and place this Alabama landmark and you could win $25! Winner is chosen at random from all correct entries. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified. Send your answer by Jan. 9 with your name, address and the name of your rural electric cooperative. The winner and answer will be announced in the February 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.

Holidays leave you over-full? Commit to scale back If you over-indulged over the holiday season and want to get back on a healthier track, check out the annual Scale Back Alabama (SBA) campaign, designed to address the state’s challenge with obesity. SBA is a free weight-loss program to encourage Alabamians to get healthy and have fun while doing it. Since the first competition in 2007, Alabamians have lost more than 1 million pounds. Form a two-person team and commit to losing a total of 10 pounds each over a 9-week period. The kickoff for the 2018 event is Jan. 9, with teams weighing in Jan. 22-28. Teams will weigh out April 2-8, and the final event will be April 17. To be eligible to win cash prizes, each team member must lose 10 pounds and be recorded by a coordinator at an official SBA site. Winning teams are determined by a random drawing from all eligible teams. Individual cash prizes will also be awarded. To learn more, visit or search for Scale Back Alabama on social media channels.


In the September 2017 edition of Alabama Living in an article on Alabama-made sauces, the status of Moore’s Landing Restaurant in Jasper was incorrectly reported. The restaurant has been in business for 32 years and continues to operate at 1301 Highway 78 East in the College Hill Plaza in Jasper. It specializes in steaks and seafood and is open for lunch and dinner, from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. A menu and more information is available on the restaurant’s Facebook page, or by calling (205) 221-3474. Alabama Living


DECEMBER’S ANSWER This small, igloo-shaped dome, built by state trooper Robert Kendrick, sits along County Road 63 near Calera in Shelby County. Kendrick’s niece, Kay Cessna, wrote in with a little history of the House of Prayer and memories of her uncle, who died in 1999. “He was a wonderful Christian man,” Cessna says. “He saw so many terrible things being a trooper that he decided to do something good that could be used by all. He built the House of Prayer in the late 1970s near the main highway so if anyone had a need to talk to God, they would have a private place to go. He made it with rocks he collected from his yard there in Calera, and he poured the concrete by hand.” Cessna’s sister, Treva Patterson, also wrote in to mention her uncle, unaware that her sister had done the same. The randomly drawn winner among the correct guesses submitted is Eve White of Central Alabama Electric Co-op. The photo was contributed by Emma Wall of Auburn.

This month in

Alabama history ®

January 16, 1967 Lurleen B. Wallace was inaugurated as Alabama’s first female governor. Originally a stand-in candidate for her husband and former governor George Wallace, Lurleen eventually earned the admiration and respect of the public as she handily won the gubernatorial election. While in office, she continued her husband’s fight against federal, court-ordered desegregation but succeeded in bringing attention to the treatment of the elderly and mentally ill. She also advocated for the creation of more state parks and recreational facilities. Lurleen died from cancer only 16 months after taking office, and more than 30,000 Alabamians attended her funeral as she lay in state in the capitol rotunda. She was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 1973. JANUARY 2018 11

A conversation with the governor


Kay Ivey talks about economic development, the Census and Alabama’s ‘first dog’ By Minnie Lamberth


labama’s 54th governor was inaugurated unexpectedly in April 2017, yet she is a familiar figure as a state leader. Gov. Kay Ivey was in her second term as lieutenant governor when she was promoted to the state’s top job at the resignation of former Gov. Robert Bentley. She had previously held the office of state treasurer for two four-year terms. Early in her career, Ivey had served as reading clerk of the Alabama House of Representatives under Speaker Joseph C. McCorquodale, and was also assistant director of the Alabama Development Office. She ran unsucessfully for state auditor in the 1980s. Ivey later served as director of government relations and communications for the Alabama Commission on 12  JANUARY 2018

Higher Education. Recently, Alabama Living sat down with Ivey in her office in the state capitol to discuss her current role. Alabama Living: When you moved into the governor’s office, you talked about “steadying the ship of state.” Do you want to speak to some of the steps you have taken toward that end? Ivey: Before I became governor, a dark cloud was over this state for quite a long time, and that dark cloud caused great uncertainty. Certainly it hindered progress in attracting new investments and creating employment opportunities. It hindered the process of just carrying out the routine business of the state. And it certainly hindered the focus that we should have had trying to find ways to provide

opportunities for all Alabamians. So a dark cloud had been hanging over us. And I knew I had to get a handle on that and, quote, “steady the ship.” To me what we did to steady the ship was to be very methodical and deliberate as we evaluated each one of the cabinet positions. That took us some time because we wanted to be very thorough, and deliberate, but that’s been done, and that’s a good thing. When I became governor, it was in the second half of the legislative session. But even so in that time I was able to support the Alabama Jobs Act. (Ivey signed legislation in May to extend the Alabama Jobs Act, which provides incentive packages for the state to lure businesses to Alabama.) We also supported ending the judicial override situation, so that whatever a jury

decides is what prevails. Whether it’s the like it did. Remember, most folks have places where you used to go unobserved? death penalty or life imprisonment, and three months to get ready for an adminisIvey: Well, it’s for sure everywhere you that was a good thing. (Gov. Ivey signed tration; we had three hours. go somebody’s going to see you and want a bill in April that ended a provision that One of the opportunities certainly was to stop and talk, and that’s an OK thing. was unique to Alabama that if a jury recthat we had a vacancy in superintendent’s I just have to plan a little bit longer to go ommended life in prison, a judge could slot right after I got to be governor. We grocery shopping than I normally would. override the recommendation and impose also had the ESSA, the Every Student SucI have to plan a little bit longer to remain the death penalty.) ceeds Act, was due. It just was not comafter church or whatever than I have beAnd then the autism bill, and the late plete. It was inconsistent. It had a lot of fore. But that’s OK. I’m honored that folks Jim Patterson was the key person that kept things in there that should not have been recognize me and want to have a picture. that alive and moving it forward, and certhere in my view, and so I asked Secretary Or they want to talk or share a concern. tainly we applaud Jim for his leadership on DeVos to grant us an extension, and she That’s a good thing. But yeah, you’re right. that. (The bill, sponsored by the late Rep. did, and I was proud to see that we were I’m meeting a lot of folks that I never Jim Patterson, R-Meridianville, required able to improve that plan substantially. We would have previously. Now, my mug shot certain health insurance plans to provide still have an opportunity to provide more is out there, and people know me. It has coverage for autism therapy.) amendments after the department reviews certainly been an adjustment. I had to So we’ve just had to work hard and use what has been sent. change houses. a lot of common sense to be sure that peo(ESSA was signed into law in December Alabama Living: Did you move into ple felt better about the ship of state be2015 as a federal education law that rethe Governor’s Mansion? cause it was now going to be steadier, and places the No Child Left Behind Act. AcIvey: May 6 – me and Bear. Alabama’s we could start getting back on track. cording to the Alabama State Department got a first dog. (As the Auburn graduAlabama Living: What are some of Education, the ESSA requires states to ate explained why she would have a dog signs that you are seeing that the ship is develop plans to close achievement gaps, named, of all things, Bear, she told the steadier? increase equity of instruction and increase story of how he had come to her as a hardIvey: Some signs that it’s working can outcomes for all students.) ship puppy. He had been injured by an be seen with the investments that have We had the opportunity to issue an exautomobile and was left at the same veterbeen made in the state during the time ecutive order that prevented the executive inarian Ivey used. After he had been treatI’ve been governor. We’ve had over $2 bilbranch for naming lobbyists to boards and ed for his injuries, Ivey heard from the lion of investments. That’s the addition of commissions – since lobbyists get paid for vet’s office.) They called me and said, “We some 5,000 new jobs and more on the way. a particular viewpoint. Boards and comthink you’ve got a dog that you can’t live We’ve had drops in the unemployment missions are designed for citizen input. without.” They turned out to be right. Afrate in each of the months I’ve been in ofWe disbanded a number of the Bentley ter he’d been through all of that, I couldn’t fice, and that’s a good sign. task forces that had been created to study, change his name. So I just bought him an Since I’ve been governor, we’ve taken study, study. We did keep the opioid criAuburn collar. some actions to change the date of the next sis task force, but we have modified it and Alabama Living: Is the Governor’s Senate race election. I simply followed the expanded the membership and included Mansion comfortable for you and Bear? law, and the law said if there’s a vacancy some folks that really need to be on that. Ivey: He’s learned to ride the elevator in the Senate less than four months away That is a major crisis in this great state quite well. Mansion staff and orderlies are from the next election, the governor shall we’ve got to deal with. very fond of Bear, and he of them. They call a special election forthwith. Alabama Living: How has the tranpay him a lot of attention. He has free run I appointed two Supreme Court justices sition been for you personally? How are of the grounds and the mansion. So we’re – Lyn Stuart to be chief justice and Will you adjusting to being a public figure both right at home. I still sit on the back Sellers to fill her vacancy. So we’ve been even when you’re at the grocery store, porch at the mansion just like I sat on the busy doing some things that needed to be at church, at a shopping center, or other back porch at my house. done to give some diAlabama Living: rection and stability At left, Gov. Ivey talks to students from Rockwell Elementary School at the capitol. Below, she You’ve already alvisits Briggs & Stratton’s engine plant in Auburn. to the state. luded to some of the Alabama Living: issues in state govYou’ve been involved ernment. What are in state government some of the issues for many years, but that are of greatest the role of governor concern to you and is surely unlike any other state leadother. Can you speak ers? What are your to an unexpected concerns? What are challenge or opporthe concerns that tunity that you have leaders are dealing faced? with that are top of Ivey: Well, everymind? thing was unexpected Ivey: Well, for me, at the moment – beone of the things that cause I wasn’t expectwas missing before ing things to play out I took office was a Alabama Living

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strong working relationship between the executive office – the governor’s office – and the legislature. But I’m proud to say that we’ve made a big difference in that, and I’ve got a strong relationship with the leaders of the House and Senate and a lot of the members in both houses. Having a good working relationship so you can have open, transparent communications and understanding with the legislative branch is important because the people of Alabama expect elected leaders to work together. Now we’re not always going to agree. But we can work together and find avenues and programs that we can work together on. That’s very definitely of advantage to the people of Alabama to get progress. Another concern that I have, and I’m trying to raise the issue across the state, is getting ready for the Census. The Census will occur in 2020, Gov. Ivey waves to the crowd at a groundbreaking ceremony for Wayne Farm’s expansion project in Enterprise. and while that seems like a long time away, it’s really not. person, it’s going to impact the amount of Then there’s another firm in Jasper – YoroBecause now is the time to start getting federal funding we get in this state. That is zu. prepared and be sure that all our people a serious, serious issue. So every AlabamiThe bottom line is as we continue to who, for example, have moved into new an who is in this state needs to receive and track investments, create more jobs, we neighborhoods or new apartments or new complete a Census form. want to take it to rural areas every time condos or whatever that their addresses It will be sent in paper. So it’s not going it’s possible. have been secured and sent to the Census to be something you can sit down and reWe also need to address broadband inicoordinators in Alabama. spond digitally to. It’s going to be imperatiative throughout the state. (See related ADECA is the state coordinator for the tive that people take the time to fill out the story on Page 18.) Along those lines, we Census process, and already we have sent Census report. Future funding depends did FirstNet – First Responders Network out letters to the mayors and county comon it. – that all first responders can have access mission chairs advising them of the rules Alabama Living: Having grown up just to that network whenever a crisis or and the procedures they need to be underin Camden in Wilcox County, you’re a need arises so they can have their own taking now to get their roster current in daughter of rural Alabama like many of channel of communications, and so that’s Washington so Washington can send the the readers of Alabama Living. Can you a start in that direction. form to everybody, and then it’s going to speak to areas where state government is First Reponders Network, I think, is be key that everybody fills out a census. working to strengthen and support livsome 30 towers that will be built. The U.S. The reason it’s so important is, Census reing and working in rural Alabama? Department of Commerce put out an RFP sults determine how many Congress peoIvey: You’re right, I’m definitely from throughout the nation, and AT&T won ple you’re going to have. It also determines LA, and that’s lower Alabama, and proud that RFP to be the provider. Alabama will the federal funding you’ll get from the of it. be the 24th state to opt in. AT&T then federal government for needed projects. In job creation, for example, some inhas the responsibility to build the towAnd in Alabama now, while our popvestments and job creations are occurring ers, maintain and operate for the next 25 ulation has been growing, it hasn’t been even in our rural areas. For example, in years. That’s separate from broadband, but growing as fast as some of our sister states. Bibb County – Mercedes Benz has anit’s another good thing especially for rural So there’s a great chance that Alabama nounced an expansion for Bibb. Alabama, as well as everybody else that could lose a congressperson, and we cerDallas County is being strengthened by are first responders. tainly don’t need that. In addition, every International Paper’s changing over their Folks in rural areas are good folks and town, every county and so much more process to make a different product and they’re hardworking. We need to do evdepends on federal dollars coming in putting in new equipment down in Selerything we can to help them have access here. All of ADECA is funded with federal ma. And so that’s a good stabilizing thing. to better opportunities. dollars. And if we have to lose a congress14  JANUARY 2018

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Improved revenues could assist budget process See related story, page 18

By Minnie Lamberth


hen legislators gather Jan. 9 to convene for the 2018 regular session, they’ll enter the fourth year of a four-year term – or, in other words, an election year. During the last year of a quadrennium, says Senate Majority Leader Sen. Greg Reed, R-Jasper, legislators usually “try to minimize the amount of conflict and maximize the amount of working together.” Recognizing the influence of the election cycle, Reed highlights an area where the legislature would give paramount attention. “Number one, first and foremost, are going to be the budgets – the education budget as well as the general fund budget,” he says. The state’s budgets are always the top priority, but the process is expected to go easier this year. Over his seven years in office, Reed says, “We have continuously struggled with both budgets because during that window of time Alabama as well as America has moved through the Great Recession. We’ve had very difficult circumstances related to having enough funding.” He notes that the state has cut right at a billion dollars out of the budgets during this period. In addition, “We have almost 5,000 fewer state employees than we had in 2008.” This time around, however, legislators are seeing potential for stronger budgets, given improvements in revenue collection. “As a result, we are going to have a little bit of an easier time in trying to manage some of the budget issues,” Reed says. House Majority Leader Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, echoes that sentiment. In his view, both the education trust fund, which supports public schools, higher education and related agencies, and the general fund, which supports non-education state functions, are going to be in pretty good shape. “I’m excited about our education trust fund,” Ledbetter says. “The money’s where it needs to be with the economy improving, and that enables us to do some things we haven’t done in the past.” During the last budget cycle, the legislature added around 150 schoolteachers in the state, and Reed hopes that addition continues. “If we have resource there where we can look at the potential of having additional teachers, especially math, science and special

education, that’s going to be very important.” Reed notes that rural areas would be the focus of some of the growth in pre-K as well as increases in middle school teachers. Compared to the education budget, the general fund budget has been more of a struggle in the past, Ledbetter says. But legislators had an opportunity to plan ahead. “Last year we set aside $93 million just to be fiscally responsible looking to the ’18 budget. Most of that was due to the one-time funding from the BP settlement.” In 2015, Alabama officials announced a $2.3 billion settlement with BP Oil in response to the economic and environmental damage from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. A portion of those funds have been available to the general fund, including a distribution of $105 million to Medicaid for the current fiscal year. Reed says carrying the $93 million forward took a lot of discipline but will help offset this coming budget. The Alabama Medicaid Agency will continue to receive a lot of discussion. The legislature is also expected to give attention to issues in the state’s prison system. An increase in the number of state troopers is another topic of interest. The current budget added 30 new state troopers to Alabama highways. “I think there will be a move to do that again – to add additional state troopers in the coming budget if there’s additional resource there,” Reed says. Having additional troopers on the road is important to rural Alabama, Reed says. “It’s not as much a concern in regards to having state police coverage in Birmingham or Huntsville as it is in a rural area like Fayette or Greene County.” Among other issues, expanding broadband is a continuing concern for rural Alabamians. “I think that’s something that will come up in this session and certainly deserves a lot of debate,” Ledbetter says. Broadband, Reed says, “may be just as important as roads and bridges and rivers and ports as we look at all of the elements that are associated with not only transferring goods and services but also transferring and managing data.”


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Rural broadband Bill would encourage investment By Allison Law


s a full-time farmer from a rural area, state Sen. Clay Scofield knows first-hand the issues with having limited internet connectivity. It’s why he’s again this year sponsoring a bill to provide tax credits for companies willing to invest in rural broadband infrastructure. “We don’t have access to higher speed internet, and it affects our ability to do business and be connected with markets around the world,” Scofield says. It’s not just an economic development issue, though that is an important component. “We’re putting our students at a serious disadvantage if they don’t have Internet in their homes,” he says. And students can’t take online classes at colleges and universities without adequate internet. And the uses for telemedicine continue to grow. With today’s technology, “we can connect someone in Greene County or Geneva County to specialists at UAB,” he says. Telemedicine also allows for high-risk patient monitoring and for remote yet real-time diagnoses in such specialties as wound care, neurology and stroke. The biggest portion of the bill will provide a tax credit of up to 10 percent of the total investment in rural and underserved Alabama. That will be capped at $20 million per year, for a limit of 10 years. Scofield says the state would also abate some sales and use taxes and ad valorem taxes as well. If the state maxes out at $20 million a year, that would mean that providers are investing $200 million a year in rural Alabama to get that $20 million tax credit. That has a potentially huge return on investment: How many times are those dollars turned over in the rural areas, in terms of wages for people who build the 18 JANUARY 2018

infrastructure and for the materials to do so? After 10 years, the abatement goes away, Scofield says, so the state can begin to collect on that new infrastructure. “So it’s a good deal for them, and a good deal for us.” The bill addresses the biggest reason why there isn’t high-speed Internet in many areas of rural Alabama: the prohibitive cost. For years, it hasn’t been cost-effective for big Internet companies to extend their services to rural areas; Scofield’s bill aims to address that issue head-on. During the 2017 session, SB253 passed the Senate but got bogged down in the House. Scofield has been working with his colleagues to ensure support in 2018. “We have a lot of support for it, and it has bipartisan support,” he says. Before the session starts, legislators will get the results of an initiative to map the internet connectivity in Alabama. Part of the problem, Scofield says, is that it’s hard to offer incentives to companies to invest when there isn’t an up-to-date map that reflects the coverage statewide. Some maps, which are based on Federal Communications Commission (FCC) data, aren’t really accurate, Scofield says, because if one person within a census block is served, then all the people in that block are considered served, which isn’t the case. “That’s why getting a map is critical, so we can determine what we are really looking at.” The Alabama Rural Electric Association, which publishes Alabama Living magazine, as well as the Alabama Farmers Federation support this legislation. Contact your legislators and let them know that you want them to support Scofield’s rural broadband bill.

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2018 By Allison Law


nce again, we asked our readers to vote for their favorite places and things about our great state in our magazine’s Best of Alabama contest, for which we ran ballots in the August, September and October issues. We asked you to vote on your favorites – everything from seafood restaurants to small towns to the best articles you’ve read in Alabama Living. It’s likely no surprise that many of the winners are beach-related. Your favorite seafood restaurant was the Original Oyster House, with locations in Spanish Fort and Gulf Shores; your favorite souvenir was seashells, sand dollars or sand from our sugar white beaches. And your favorite day trip? Gulf Shores. But there were winners elsewhere in the state, too. For best burger, you liked the Jefferson Country Store (featured in our Worth the Drive section in 2016), and for best hiking place, you picked Oak Mountain State Park outside of Birmingham. There were some rather curious answers, too. For best burger, more than one of you responded with Burger King (we were really hoping for an Alabama-based restaurant). And for best living history experience, someone responded with “in college dorm room Troy State.” (He or she obviously had a very interesting collegiate career!) But perhaps the funniest responses were to the best Alabama souvenir question. One reader suggested a “redneck tan,” and another responded with “a full stomach from Peach Park.” (Peach Park, incidentally, was voted best ice cream in our 2017 contest!) Read on to learn more about our winners this year, and see if you agree with the winners.

Best seafood restaurant: Original Oyster House, with locations in Gulf Shores and Spanish Fort (on the Causeway) The Original Oyster House Restaurant has been serving fresh seafood (in addition to a variety of steaks, chicken, salads and pasta dishes) in a casual, family atmosphere for more than 30 years. The first restaurant opened in 1983 in Gulf Shores with 60 seats and 10 employees; after multiple expansions, it now seats 300 and employs 130 people. The second location, on the Mobile Bay Causeway, opened in 1985 and has also expanded over the years to include a gift shop, boat dock, 300 seats, conference room and full-service banquet room. The causeway location is at 3733 Battleship Parkway/Highway 90 in Spanish Fort; call 251-626-2188. The Gulf Shores location on the boardwalk is at 701 Highway 59; call 251-9482445. Visit them online at 20  JANUARY 2018

Best Alabama-made burger: Jefferson Country Store, Marengo County The Jefferson Country Store, located in the unincorporated Jefferson community, opened in 1957 and has been the heart of the area ever since. Besides selling the expected glass-bottle Cokes and Moon-Pies, the store has a small restaurant that offers such Southern house-made foods as pimento cheese, chicken salad and Brunswick stew. Regulars know to ask about daily specials and the “secret menu.” When a writer for Alabama Living visited the store in 2016, that secret menu item was the Firecracker Burger, a hefty beef patty topped with sliced red hots (sausages) and embellished with a thick slab of hoop cheese and jalapeno slices. Besides its kickin’ burgers, the store also offers specialty items, like souse and rag bologna from Alabama’s Zeigler meats, hoop cheese and ribbon cane syrup. And there are locally-sourced products like fresh vegetables and honey. Visit the store at 26120 Alabama Highway 28, Jefferson, Alabama. Call 334-289-0040 and find them on Facebook.

Readers vote for their favorites in Best of Alabama contest Best recipe from “The Best of Alabama Living” cookbook: Pecan Pie It’s hard to go wrong with a Southern classic like Pecan Pie. A recipe submitted by Memory Bush of South Alabama EC for the November 2014 issue of Alabama Living was selected for “The Best of Alabama Living” cookbook, published in 2016. Want the recipe, or any of the other 300 other delicious recipes in the book? It can be yours for $19.95, including shipping! Visit to place your order.

of “epic rides” with just about every trail condition imaginable. Hikers enjoy the White, Blue, Yellow, Green and Lake trails, which offer a variety of difficulties and several connectors to allow for loops. Trails are well marked with colored blazes and trail markers to help rescuers find lost or injured hikers. For more on any of the trails at the park (as well as the campgrounds and cabins), visit or call 205-620-2520. Best historic hotel: The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel and Spa This eight-story beauty, opened in 1908, sits in the heart of downtown Mobile and has hosted politicians, royalty, entertainers and sports legends. The hotel fell on hard times and was closed in 1974, but was impeccably restored in 2007. The restoration incorporates its old-world glamour with modern amenities, including a full-service day spa, modern fitness center and outdoor pool. It’s connected to the 35-story RSA Tower, Alabama’s tallest building. The hotel is located at 26 North Royal Street in Mobile; call 251-338-2000.

Best hiking/biking trail: Oak Mountain State Park Mountain biking and hiking are two of the most popular activities at this state park in Pelham, with more than 50 miles of trails. The Red Trail has something for mountain bikers of any skill level, from kids or beginners to experts. The International Mountain Bike Association added Oak Mountain to its list Alabama Living

Photo by Billy Pope

Best game to hunt/fish/trap in Alabama: Deer White-tailed deer are the No. 1 game animal hunted in Alabama, according to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, so it’s no surprise that deer topped our list. Approximately 180,000 deer hunters account for more than 4 million man-days of hunting activity annually and have a significant impact on the local economy of rural Alabama. The harvest varies from year to year but hunters typically harvest in excess of 300,000 deer annually, according to the ALDCNR.

Best “living history” experience: USS Alabama The USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park recently celebrated the 75th anniversary of the commissioning of its iconic ship. The park has long been considered a worthy tourist attraction, but over the last few years it has enjoyed a shift in focus to a restored-to-original-condition museum on water, its history meticulously researched. It’s also been modernized, with interactive kiosks and newly restored artifact exhibits from two World Wars, with more on the way. The park is located at 2703 Battleship Parkway in Mobile; call 251-433-2703 or visit JANUARY 2018  21

Best day trip in Alabama: Gulf Shores This coastal city in Baldwin County is naturally famous for its beaches, but there’s plenty more to do here. Visitors come for the fishing and golf as well as land- and water-based activities, from hiking along the Branyon Backcountry Trail to kayaking through the back bays. And there are lots of family activities, including the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo and the Historic Fort Morgan. Best Alabama souvenir: Seashells, sand dollars, sand (anything from the beach) As much a tradition as sunburns and swimming, shopping for souvenirs at the beach is an inexpensive and fun way to create memories from a family vacation. Our readers answered mostly sand dollars and seashells, but you could just as easily include hermit crabs, T-shirts, beach towels and keychains. Next time you’re enjoying the Alabama beaches, boost the local economy a little more with a stop at a souvenir shop.

Illustration by Dennis Auth

Best small town for unique shopping: Fairhope The Baldwin County town of Fairhope enjoys a picturesque setting along the cliffs and shoreline of Mobile Bay, but it has more to offer than just pretty scenery. It’s long been a resort community, but over the years artists, writers and craftsmen have found the small town to be an inspiring haven for their work. When its downtown area began to decline in the 1970s, leaders decided to revitalize the town in the image of a quaint European village. Today, its vibrant downtown is filled with unique shops and galleries, gourmet restaurants and cozy cafes. Its high quality of life makes it attractive to visitors and residents alike.

Best article you’ve read in Alabama Living in the last year: Hardy Jackson’s column on air conditioning (or the lack thereof) In general, when we ask readers for their favorite part of the magazine, the answer is either the recipes or the musings of Hardy Jackson, humorist and essayist for several publications. You may not know that Jackson is an eminent scholar in history at Jacksonville State University, and has authored, co-authored or co-edited 11 books on various aspects of Southern history. His column in the August 2017 issue posed the question, “Who Remembers Life Before A/C?” Jackson surely does: “Nights so hot that at bedtime you would take ice cubes, wrap them in a wash rag and hold them to your cheek or chest in the mistaken belief that if you could get one part of your body cold, the rest of you would cool down enough to let you sleep. “What you got instead was a wet pillow or wet sheets.” Best thing about Alabama: The people We’re heartened by this response – the idea that what makes our state great is, naturally, its people. But perhaps not surprisingly, running a close second and third to this question were food and football.

Baldwin EMC member wins Best of Alabama drawing Ally Mills Dorrough was born and raised in Montgomery, but she has called Baldwin County home since 2012 and is a member of Baldwin EMC. And she loves Alabama Living magazine! “Alabama Living captures the heart of Alabama, telling stories of its people and places with passion,” Dorrough says. “I enjoy discovering hidden gems about our great state, from little known restaurants to recipe inspiration to interesting events and sustainable initiatives.” Dorrough was the randomly drawn winner in the Best of Alabama contest. We ran a ballot in the August, September and October issues, asking readers to tell us their fa22 JANUARY 2018

vorite places and things about our state. All eligible entries were entered into a drawing. Because Dorrough entered the contest online, she wins $350! (Mailed entries were eligible to win $250.) Dorrough lives in Foley with her family – husband Dan and children Olivia, 2, and Davis, five months. They love traveling, cooking, volunteering with their church’s youth ministry and anything to do with Auburn. “War Eagle!” They also enjoy the laid-back lifestyle and hospitality of the Alabama Gulf coast. “Plus, since this is a tourism-driven area, there is plenty to do on and off the beach!” she says.

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A gas leak caused the explosion in January 1978 that destroyed the Kopper Kettle restaurant and several nearby businesses. PHOTOS COURTESY AUBURN UNIVERSITY ARCHIVES

40 years after the Kopper Kettle explosion Eyewitness recalls blast that demolished downtown Auburn By Lindsay Penny


an. 15, 1978 was a quiet Sunday in downtown Auburn. At that time, Auburn was a sleepy little village still on the cusp of the economic boom it would see years later. The streets were empty as Jim Patterson, an Auburn student, made his way from his apartment on Thach Avenue to St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church on nearby Magnolia Avenue to catch the morning worship service. A second later, he hit the ground. At 8:13 a.m., the Kopper Kettle, a restaurant located in the heart of downtown Auburn, exploded due to a gas leak, taking out several neighboring businesses and shaking the town to its core. The blast left more than 70 businesses damaged, and one small town reeling. “I immediately fell to the ground, and when I looked up, there were huge pieces of buildings so far up in the sky, I couldn’t believe it,” says Patterson. After the dust settled, concerned for the well-being of the church congregation, Patterson made his way through the rubble to St. Dunstan’s. The Rev. Rod Sinclair was preparing for the 8:30 a.m. service when the explosion happened, knocking him to his knees. He thought a small plane had crashed into the downtown area. “It was just like the movies you see on TV where there is a big explosion, the building rocks and all the windows start moving around,” Patterson says. “It was just an incredible experience.” Shortly after the explosion, chaos ensued as volunteers, police, firemen and state officials were on the scene to determine the cause of the explosion as they prepared for the worst, searching the rubble for fatalities. Miraculously, there were none. “A large part of the street was gone from the Kopper Kettle on down Magnolia,” says Patterson. “Many of the businesses had not opened yet, but there were students living in apartments above those businesses. That was the concern; nobody knew where they were at.” 24 JANUARY 2018

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Much to everyone’s relief, not a single person was killed that day and no life-threatening injuries were sustained. Students were away from their apartments, cars were halted at just the right stoplight, and churchgoers, like Patterson, were just beginning to emerge. The restaurant was closed at the time of the blast, according to a report by ABC News. Investigators determined the gas leak blast was equivalent to multiple tons of TNT exploding. Another witness, a Vietnam veteran, said that it was the most devastating aftermath he had witnessed since returning from the war. “It’s a memory I’ll never forget,” says Patterson. “At that time in 1978, Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ was a big hit. I can say that I was rocked by the song and also by the Kopper Kettle.” The Kopper Kettle made national headlines that night as word spread about the freak accident in a small Alabama town. “We were all so grateful that there were no fatalities,” Patterson says. “Everyone in the community really came together that day. I’m so thankful Auburn was small and slow back then. If this had happened today, it would be a much different outcome.” Two weeks after the explosion, at St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church, Sinclair gave a sermon fittingly titled “Explosions,” recognizing the outpouring of camaraderie and grateful spirits exhibited in Auburn following the blast. Sinclair and his wife, Louise, now live in Charlottesville, Va. By the early 1980s, the block was rebuilt and the evidence of the blast was gone. The familiar greasy spoon that once stood on the corner of Gay Street and Magnolia Avenue did not make a return, but it will forever be remembered by Auburn students and residents. In fact, shortly after the Kopper Kettle’s demise, an Auburn student wrote and recorded the local radio hit “The Kettle’s Gone,” a take-off on the country hit “The King is Gone.” Commemorative T-shirts were printed and sold, and Auburn graduates still recall exactly where they were the day of the Kopper Kettle explosion.

The corner at Bay and Magnolia once occupied by the Kopper Kettle has been PHOTO BY LINDSAY PENNY

Editor’s note: Patterson is a retired diplomat with the U.S. Department of State and resides in Washington, D.C. He lived near the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, and says as his windows shook from the plane crash, he thought back to that January day in 1978.

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January | Around Alabama


Gulf Shores, Polar Bear Dip. Take a dip in the Gulf of Mexico on New Year’s Day at 12 p.m. Beach access and parking is available at 240 W. Beach Blvd., beside the new lifeguard building. Featuring DJ, chili and hot chocolate. Free. T-shirts and koozies available and donations are welcome. Proceeds benefit the Alabama Special Olympics and the Kiwanis Club of Gulf Shores. 256-490-4985


Photo courtesy of Visit Mobile.

Montgomery, Hank Williams 65th Memorial Celebration, 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. 334-262-3600 or


Gulf Shores, Civil War Tour Series at Fort Morgan. Featuring different aspects of the Civil War each week. For topics and more information, visit

Mobile’s Mardi Gras celebration, from Jan. 26-Feb. 13, will fill the streets of Mobile with colorful floats.

3-Feb. 21     14  Theodore, Winter Wednesdays at Bellingrath Gardens. Join us on Wednesday mornings at 10:30 a.m. for special programs covering gardening, history and the collections in the Bellingrath Museum home. Garden admission $13 for adults, $7.50 children ages 5-12.

Birmingham, The Blind Boys of Alabama perform a Martin Luther King Jr. tribute concert as part of the Alabama Bicentennial. The show at the Alys Stephens Center will feature an orchestra conducted by Henry Panion III and seven choirs from universities around the state. Tickets for the 5 p.m. event are $24-$44; call 205-9752787 or visit



Birmingham, Alabama Dance Festival. An annual dance festival that includes classes, workshops, performances and community residency activities. Admission charged for some events, while others are free. For times and locations, visit


Decatur, Festival of the Cranes at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. Over 14,000 Sandhill cranes, along with several pairs of whooping cranes, spend the winter at Wheeler NWR. Events include viewing the cranes up close, birding workshops and nature walks, kids’ activities and live raptors. Free. 256-350-6639 or visit and click on “national wildlife refuges.”

13-Feb.  28  

Huntsville, Beaks and Barks Winter Festival at the Huntsville Botanical Garden. Explore the Lewis Birding Trail, take classes on birding and take part in the global Great Back Yard Bird Count. Four legged friends are welcome.

Elba, “Rumours of Fleetwood Mac” – A Tribute Show. The Fleetwood Mac tribute band Rumours will perform at Elba High School at 7 p.m. For more information, contact the Coffee County Arts Alliance at 334-406-2787.


Millbrook, Amphibian Search Night Hike at Lanark. Join us for a nighttime expedition to find native amphibians. Put on your waders and hike to the vernal pools and take a dip in the water to see what types of amphibians live there. Waders in adult sizes 7-13 available. Bring a flashlight and waterproof shoes or boots if preferred. $5.


Montgomery, January’s Food For Thought lecture will feature Elizabeth Findley Shores, who will speak on “Finding Family History: The Secrets in an Antique Coverlet.” 12 p.m. at the Alabama Department of Archives and History, in the Farley Auditorium. Bring a brown bag lunch; drinks provided. Free.

19-Feb.  18  

Guntersville, 33rd annual Eagle Aware-

ness. Guest speakers, birds of prey presentations, photography opportunities and guided tours are among the highlights of this event at Lake Guntersville State Park. Visit alapark. com and click on Lake Guntersville, then Eagle Awareness Weekends 2018. 256-571-5440.

26-Feb.  13  

Mobile, Mardi Gras. Delighting both young and old from around town and across the nation, this celebration lasts more than two and a half weeks and culminates on Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent. The streets of downtown Mobile are filled with the sights and sounds of live marching bands and floats. For parade routes and schedules, visit


Brundidge, Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival. This annual event traditionally features four of the top storytellers in the country. It opens on Friday night with supper and stories at the We Piddle Around Theater, and moves eight miles up the road to the Trojan Center Theater on the campus of Troy University for three storytelling concerts on Saturday. For ticket information and performance schedules, call 334-344-9427 or 334-685-5524.


Auburn, 2018 Auburn Polar Plunge, 9 a.m. at Auburn Samford Pool. This event raises financial support for the athletes of the Lee County Special Olympics. For more information, search Facebook for “Special Olympics Alabama – Lee County.”


Dothan, Seed Swap at Landmark Park. The Wiregrass Master

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

Gardeners will host a seed swap. Similar to a potluck dinner, gardeners are encouraged to bring samples of their favorite heirloom seeds to exchange with others. Admission is free with paid gate fee ($4 for adults, $3 for children and free for members). A small portion of seeds distributed will placed in the seed bank for future generations.


Birmingham, Cat Fanciers Association Cat Show. Various breeds of pedigreed cats will compete, as well as non-pedigreed household pets. Vendors onsite with cat supplies, apparel, jewelry and more. Local cat rescue groups will also have cats available for adoption. Adults $8, seniors $6, children $5. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. both days. Zamora Shrine Center, 3521 Ratliffe Rd.


Chatom, Indian Artifact Show, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Chatom Community Center, 222 Dixie Youth Drive. Free. Email

Feb. 3 

Monroeville, 17th annual Genealogy and History Workshop, Old Courthouse Museum. $35 registration fee includes lunch. 8 a.m.-3 p.m. 251-575-7433.

Feb. 3 

Orrville, Old Cahawba Cemetery Walking Tour. Old Cahawba’s three cemeteries tell many stories. This tour explores the personal stories of many who once called the area home. 10 a.m. Admission $8. 334-872-8058.

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JANUARY 2018 29


| Gardens |

Month-by-Month Gardening 2018

Intentional gardening Finding garden flow in 2018


had such good intentions when I sat down to write this month’s column. I was going to create the perfect list of monthly gardening chores that would set us all on the path to a fun and productive gardening year. After days and days of trying to create a list that works for every part of the state, though, I realized that my intentions were good, but impractical. How can one short list begin to address the diversity of Alabama gardens and gardeners, not to mention the many variables of gardening in this state such as local climates, soil types and weather patterns? That would require writing a book, not a column. So, instead, I decided to make a list of intentional gardening strategies that can help us all focus on our personal objectives and, perhaps, find flow in our gardens rather than feeling overwhelmed or frustrated. It all begins with questions. The first set of questions is all about establishing your gardening goals:  What garden style do I want – formal, informal, natural, manicured, something else?  Do I want my garden to be ornamental, edible or a combination of the two?  Do I want a low maintenance or a high maintenance garden?  Do I want my garden to be interesting year-round or just during certain seasons?  Do I want a garden that attracts birds, butterflies and other wildlife, draws the attention of passers-by or does both? Then answer some questions about the resources you have to put into a garden:  How much space do I have to garden in and do I want to expand or reduce that space?  How much time and energy can I commit to my garden?  How much money can I spend on Katie Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at

my garden?  Is my garden area typically dry or wet, sunny or shady or a combination of these?  Do I have good soil in my garden or can I improve that soil? Once you’ve answered these questions, here are some strategies to help keep up with your garden’s needs: Walk through the garden as often as possible to look for problems, for chances to pick fruits, vegetables or flowers and to determine which areas and plants need immediate and/or long-term attention, such as watering, pruning, fertilizing and new or different plants. Concentrate on one section of the garden each time you go out there to work, and don’t get distracted by other parts of the garden. You can save those for the next garden workday. Finally, get your hands on one or more gardening guides (available online or in many books and magazines) that will help you organize your gardening plans with an eye toward your local needs. Two extremely helpful resources for our part of the world include the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s Alabama Gardener’s Calendar (visit www. and search for gardener’s calendar) and Month-by-Month Gardening — Deep South, a book written by Nellie Neal and published by Cool Springs Press. However, there are many other resources you can use so take some time to explore the options (and, by the way, January is a great month to stay inside and do just that). Also, tap into the knowledge of local experts at garden centers, public gardens and Alabama Cooperative Extension System offices, attend some gardening workshops and seek advice from seasoned gardeners in your community or from garden club and plant society members and Master Gardeners. Needless to say, there are many other things that can be added to these lists of questions and strategies, and the monthby-month list accompanying this column as well, but perhaps these will kickstart your own intentional gardening approach and help you find gardening flow and joy in 2018!

Because the exact timing of many gardening chores and opportunities varies in different parts of the state, here are some general guides for things we can all do in and for our gardens and yards each month.

January • • • •

Choose and order seeds, bulbs and plants for the coming year. Do a soil test. Plant trees and shrubs now and through the winter. Start seed for winter or early spring crops indoors or in a cold frame.


• Prune many trees and shrubs, though not spring-blooming species. • Begin grafting trees and shrubs. • Start seed for later spring vegetables, herbs and flowers. • Remove or treat winter weeds in the lawn and landscape.


• Prepare garden beds for spring and summer planting. • Add fertilizer or other soil amendments recommended by soil test results. • Clean and service gardening tools, power equipment, irrigation systems, etc. • Start outdoor plantings of tender annual crops.


• Begin moving hardy houseplants outdoors and repot any that have outgrown their containers. • Keep a close eye out for increasing pest, weed and disease problems. • Begin planting summer crops. • Start regular lawn mowing and maintenance routines.


• Plant summer annual flowers • Seed new lawns. • Water lawns, newly planted shrubs, garden beds and potted plants as needed. • Mulch newly planted shrubs.


• Take cuttings from shrubs for rooting new plants. • Trim leggy limbs from shrubs to improve their shape. • Remove spent blooms from most shrubs and other flowering ornamentals. • Stake tall flowers and other plants to keep them from falling or blowing over.

July • • • •

Plant irises and spider lilies. Sow seed for late summer and early fall vegetables and flowers. Keep watering, mowing and weeding. Plant seed for pumpkins and gourds.

August • • • •

Start planting fall vegetable seeds and transplants. Divide clumps of perennials such as irises and daylilies. Add organic matter to empty garden beds. Keep planting late summer and fall annual vegetables and flowers.


• Plant new trees, shrubs and wildflowers now and on through the fall. • Sow seed for leafy greens such as mustard, lettuce, turnips and collards. • Plant spring-blooming bulbs. • Take houseplants indoors.


• Winterize and safely store lawn and garden tools and chemicals. • Clean out flower and vegetable beds and add organic matter to improve soil quality. • Keep planting new trees and shrubs. • Freshen mulch around shrubs and perennials.

November • • • •

Add fallen leaves to compost piles. Start planting new roses. Clean birdfeeders and baths and keep them filled for winter birds. Water newly planted shrubs and trees and container plants.

December • • • •

Add lime to soils if needed (based on soil test recommendations). Prune grape, wisteria and other ornamental or fruiting vines. Plant blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and other small fruits. Stop fertilizing houseplants.





Alabama Living

JANUARY 2018  31

| Worth the drive |

Culinary treats with a 360-degree view By Allison Law


10 Hightower Place Florence, AL 35630 256-246-3600 Hours: 4-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. for Sunday brunch Reservations recommended, especially for “event” nights such as Valentine’s Day Attire is business casual

32 JANUARY 2018

he 360 Grille, perched 20 stowith, but with an upscale twist.” ries up atop the tower of the The Grille also gets fresh seafood Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa twice a week, and sources items loin Florence, lures guests with its comcally when possible. For example, the manding views of the scenic Tennesbutternut squash risotto features local see Valley and Wilson Dam. squash. The aptly-named eatery is the In the last year, the Grille began a state’s only rotating restaurant. Food Sunday brunch, again with a seasonal and beverage director Garien Shelmenu. Among its most popular items by, who’s also the executive chef, first The Spring Vegetable Frittata, on the Sunday brunch menu, is the chicken and waffles, which has came to the 360 Grille as a patron. He features goat cheese, scallions and fresh vegetables. become almost a staple in Southern brought his wife for a sunset dinner, restaurants. But the Grille uses a petit and it was “spectacular.” New York strip coated in rice flour, quicksignature dishes, which are often seasonal. “It completely took my breath away,” he fried to produce a crispy meat with a fla“Our fish and grits is a popular dish. Our says. vorful sauce. braised bison short rib is popular. We take The speed is generally set to allow for a It is fine dining – entrees are generally in some of the Southern flavors and incor3-4 course meal in one full rotation, which the $20-$40 range – but there is a children’s porate them in more upscale and versatile is about an hour to an hour and a half. Pamenu, though with an upscale flair. The items,” Shelby says. trons seated near the windows get the full steak and frites, for example, is a petit filet The heirloom tomato salad is a play on a 360-degree view in one meal, but the speed with Parmesan fries. caprese salad, with freshly fried mozzarella, is slow enough that the rotation is neither The goal is not to have an intimidating a fig balsamic reduction and a spinach pedistracting nor scary. (Interior seats are stamenu, Shelby says. “We take our risks. But sto, instead of the regular basil pesto. “We tionary.) the goal is for our customers to look at the just try to play with the classics and present Its views are unparalleled, for sure. But menu and be wowed, but also to be familiar them in a more elegant way, and take fun Shelby wants people to have a culinary as with the things they see.” risks on certain pieces of the dish.” well as a visual experience. The staff is trained to be able to answer The dessert menu features a baked AlasIt has always been a fine dining restauany questions and explain ingredients ka, but made with red velvet cake and rant, but made the transition to a steakor techniques that may be unfamiliar to cream cheese ice cream. The s’mores are house about a year ago. Steaks are the anguests. “Our menu is designed to have a made with a graham cracker tulipe, a sour chor – the Grille gets fresh beef delivered conversation,” he says. cream fudge cake, marshmallow ice cream two to three times a week – but the chefs and a toffee ganache over the top. “It has The 360 Grille tinker with Southern staples to create other all those flavors our customers are familiar


Alabama Living

JANUARY 2018  33

| Alabama Recipes |


In addition to good taste, slow cookers give us the valuable gift of time.

What's in a name? The first slow cooker on the market made its debut in the 1950s under another name. The company Rival bought and re-introduced the invention with the name Crock-Pot in the 1970s. They were instantly popular, but then waned when microwaves became the latest kitchen rage in the 1980s. Now they’re back in style. In the last decade, all brands of slow cookers have enjoyed a surge in sales. Some figures state an increase in overall sales of more then 65 percent since 2008.


In the South, our culture puts a premium on slow. Our speech slides out with a drawl. We take our time and do things at a laidback pace. So, at first glance, a kitchen device with “slow” in the name seems like the perfect match for this leisurely lifestyle. But we all know that’s not reality, the lifestyle anyway. Today, even down here, most of us are daily moving at break-neck speeds, trying to cram more into every single moment by multi-tasking on many levels. And the slow cooker absolutely fits this scenario. By promising to deliver a hot, tasty meal that requires minimum effort at the end of a long, hectic day, slow cookers are just as popular now as in their heyday in the 1970s. Some sources claim that in 2011, 83 percent of American households contained and used a slow cooker. But it’s not just the convenience that we love. The way they cook – low and slow – has a lot of tasty benefits. It gives us moist

34 JANUARY 2018

tender meats (even when we use cheaper cuts), drastically reduces the risk of burning or over-cooking food, and gives the flavors in any recipe time to truly come together. They’re highly versatile. While they were originally used mainly for savory main dishes, now you can prepare pretty much anything, including desserts, in slow cookers. Plus, they use a tiny amount of energy compared to other kitchen appliances, and as another added bonus (especially for Alabama!), they won’t heat up your entire kitchen. So we’ve established a slow cooker is the busy family’s very helpful friend. But maybe we should also take a cue from the way a slow cooker works: Be open to all kinds of possibilities; take the time to really connect with those around us; and step away from the hustle and hurry sometimes. Good things very often come slowly, and they’re usually worth the wait.

Ham Potato Bake

White Chicken Chili

4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin 1 medium onion, sliced 2 tablespoons margarine 2 tablespoons plain flour ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon black pepper 1 can cream of celery soup 1 soup can water 1½ cups fully cooked ham, chopped into bite-size pieces 1 teaspoon prepared mustard 1 cup grated cheddar cheese

2 1 2 2 1

Spray slow cooker with vegetable spray. Place potatoes in bottom of cooker, then add onion. In a medium-sized saucepan, soften margarine; remove from heat. Add flour, salt, pepper and mustard; mix until smooth. Combine water and celery soup, stir until blended. Add to the mix in saucepan and stir until smooth. Place pan over low heat and bring to a simmer. Remove immediately and pour over ham and potato mix in the slow cooker. Cover; turn on low setting and cook for 8-10 hours. When done and just before serving, sprinkle cheese over top of the mixture and stir until cheese is melted. Serve warm.

cans white northern beans can mild Rotel cups diced chicken cups water package white chili seasoning

Combine all of the ingredients and cook on low for 8 hours and serve with cheddar cheese and tortilla chips. Tina Hancock North Alabama EC

Crock-Pot Red Beans and Sausage 4 15-ounce cans kidney beans (light or dark) 2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes 2 pounds Conecuh sausage (or your choice) 1 package smoked turkey necks 1 onion, diced 1 bell pepper, diced Garlic powder, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper

2 pounds stew beef 5 or 6 potatoes, peeled and cubed 4-6 carrots, peeled and sliced 3-4 celery stalks ½ small onion, minced ½ cup boiling water with 2 beef bouillon cubes dissolved 1 can tomato soup 1 can golden mushroom soup

Pour 4 cups of water into Crock-Pot, add smoked turkey necks and turn on low setting. While the turkey necks are on, chop sausage, bell peppers and onions. Let turkey necks cook for about 2 hours. Open and drain water off beans and tomatoes and add to the crockpot. Add in sausage, peppers and onion. Sprinkle in salt, pepper, garlic powder and crushed red pepper. Season to your liking. Continue to cook on low for 6-8 hours. Great with rice and Mexican cornbread.

Mix all ingredients together in slow cooker and cook on low at least 8 hours.

Sharlene Parker Baldwin EMC

Crock-Pot Beef Stew

Charles Boenig Baldwin EMC

Peggy Key North Alabama EC

Cook of the Month: Myra Johnson, Central Alabama EC Very Easy Crockpot Gumbo with Chicken, Sausage & Shrimp 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 2 3 1/4 1/2 1 4

14.5-ounce can stewed tomatoes, undrained 6-ounce can tomato paste can okra and tomatoes, undrained pound skinless boneless chicken, cut into small pieces large sausage link, sliced 14.5-ounce can reduced sodium chicken broth green bell pepper, chopped small onion, chopped stalks celery, chopped tablespoon Cajun seasoning cloves minced garlic basil leaves teaspoon ground black pepper (I use coarse grind) teaspoon red pepper flakes (or less to your taste) bag frozen medium-sized shrimp, thawed (peeled and deveined without tails) cups hot cooked white rice

Add tomatoes, tomato paste, okra and tomatoes, chicken, sausage, broth, bell pepper, onion, celery, Cajun seasoning, garlic and basil, black pepper and hot pepper to slow cooker. Stir gently to combine everything. Cook on low about 2 hours. Add shrimp and cook another 30 minutes until shrimp is warm. Serve over cooked rice or mix the rice in the slow cooker just before serving. (Read more about Myra on the next page.)

Alabama Living

JANUARY 2018  35

Cook of the Month:

Myra Johnson, Central Alabama EC Author Myra Johnson has taken her love of Tallassee, Ala., history and turned it into several popular books, including a cookbook. She’s also got a long history with slow-cookers, leaning on their reliability and convenience for decades. “I used to commute to Montgomery for work for many years, so I used my Crock-Pot all the time. It made my days so much easier,” she said. She’s got countless slow-cooker recipes, but one of her alltime favorites is her Gumbo with Chicken, Sausage & Shrimp. “I love it because it really is so simple. Just throw everything in and forget it,” she said. “It’s also versatile. You can adjust the heat level by adding hot sauce or cayenne pepper if you want it spicy.”

Congratulations to Ethel Lemmond of Joe Wheeler EMC! Your Alabama Living gift bag is on its way. Keep those recipe submissions coming!

Submit your recipes! Online: Email: Mail: Recipes, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

Themes and Deadlines March: Honey | Jan. 8 April: Bread | Feb. 8 May: Junior Cooks | March 8

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.

Soup, dessert and entree win prizes at ‘Crockin’ It’ competition Story and photos by Allison Law

For Tif Smith, entering competitions at the Alabama National Fair is a tradition she’s enjoyed for more than 20 years. It’s also a family tradition – she cooks with her sister, who came all the way from Dallas, Texas, to enter the Fair this year with her. Smith won first place in the annual “Crockin’ It” contest, the slow-cooker competition sponsored by Alabama Living at the fair in early November. Her prize-winning dish, Crock Pot Amish Cabbage Patch Soup, is a hearty meal-in-itself that’s perfect for these colder months. She credits the unique flavor to the cumin. “You have to be careful with it, but that’s that ‘bite,’” she says. She thought that cabbage would provide a nice layer of texture along with the beans, and she added Alaga syrup to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. One judge noted that even though he doesn’t care for cabbage, he enjoyed the flavors and texture in Smith’s soup. She calls herself a “recipe freak,” and after she suffered a detached retina in March, she used her recuperation time to research recipes and think about twists and touches she could use to make them her From left, Creative Living Center Director Ann Ball, Stacie Bruney, Tif Smith, TerreLynn Huston, Alabama Living Editor Lenore Vickrey and Fair President Keith Norman. own. Smith lives in Montgomery but grew up in Wayne County, Miss., on a pig farm. She and her family did lots of cooking and sewing, skills she’s tried to pass on to her own children. “Tradition is real important to me,” she says, and points to her daughter in the audience. “We’ve been doing this since she was 5 years old, and she’s 27 now.” And Smith’s aunt was one of the “fair ladies” – the dedicated women who work hard each year at the fair to help the contestants and the judges, and who keep the competitions running smoothly. Her family was even keeping up with the competition while the judging was going on. “My mom and dad have already called,” Smith says with a smile. “I said, 'They’re judging, Daddy!'” A young man recently asked Smith for advice about competing; he likely knew that she’s been participating in these contests for many years. “You don’t win if you don’t try,” she says. “Anybody can come up with a recipe. You just keep trying. There was many years when I didn’t win.” 36  JANUARY 2018

First place Tif Smith, Montgomery

Crock Pot Amish Cabbage Patch Soup 1 1 2 2 1 1 ½ 2 1 1 2 1 1 ½

pound ground beef large onion, chopped stalks celery, chopped large bell peppers, one orange and one red, chopped 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained 15-ounce can Garbanzo beans, drained head cabbage, chopped 32-ounce boxes beef broth 28-ounce can diced tomatoes small can tomato paste teaspoons chili powder teaspoon cumin teaspoon garlic powder Salt and pepper to taste Several shakes of Alaga Hot Sauce cup Alaga Light Syrup

Crock Pot Amish Cabbage Patch Soup

Cook the ground beef in a skillet and drain. Add ground beef, onion, celery, bell peppers, beans and cabbage to the Crock Pot. In a bowl, whisk together beef broth, hot sauce, syrup, tomatoes, tomato paste and spices. Pour over the Crock Pot ingredients. Cook on low 6-7 hours or high for 4 hours. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream if desired.

Second place Stacie Bruney, Montgomery

Slow Cooker Reese’s Cake Cake: 1 box chocolate fudge cake mix 1 cup water 3 eggs ½ cup creamy peanut butter 1/3 cup butter, softened 1/8 cup Alaga Corn Syrup Glaze: ¼ cup creamy peanut butter ¼ cup Barber’s milk 1/8 cup Alaga Corn Syrup 1 cup powdered sugar Topping: 30 mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, chopped ¼ cup chocolate sauce For the cake, prepare the slow cooker with cooking spray. In a mixing bowl, beat together the cake ingredients. Pour batter into the slow cooker, cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours. Check after 1 ½ hours just in case. When cake is done, remove the pot from slow cooker and set on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes. In a medium bowl, mix together the glaze ingredients. Spread evenly over the top of the cake. Drizzle chocolate sauce on top and sprinkle chopped peanut butter cups. Alabama Living

Slow Cooker Reese's Cake

Mongolian Beef, Southern Style

Third place TerreLynn Huston, Montgomery

Mongolian Beef, Southern Style 2 ½ ¼ ½ 3 2 1 4 1 2 1

pounds chuck roast cup plus 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce cup plus 4 tablespoons water cup dark brown sugar cloves garlic, minced teaspoons minced ginger tablespoon Dale’s low-sodium seasoning green onions, sliced into 2-inch pieces tablespoon olive oil tablespoons cornstarch tablespoon Alaga Hot Sauce

Combine ½ cup soy sauce, ¼ cup water, sugar, garlic and ginger in the Crock Pot and stir. Add Dale’s seasoning and stir well. Lay the chuck roast into the Crock Pot, cover and cook on low 8-10 hours. Remove beef; shred with fork, then return to the Crock Pot. In a small saucepan, whisk together the cornstarch and 4 tablespoons water. Add ½ cup liquid from the Crock Pot. Whisk until it boils and thickens. Pour this liquid back into the Crock Pot. Before serving, heat a pan and add olive oil; add the green onion pieces. Let them sizzle for a few minutes. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce and Alaga Hot Sauce. Serve the Mongolian Beef over rice and top with the green onion sauce. JANUARY 2018  37

| Classifieds |

Closing Deadlines

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March 2018 – January 25 April 2018 – February 25 May 2018 – March 25

PANAMA CITY BEACH CONDO – Owner rental – 2BR / 2BA, wireless internet, just remodeled inside and outside – (334)790-0000,,

How To Place a Line Ad in Marketplace (in our office):

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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Whoop! Whoop!


Glimpsing one of the world’s rarest birds


cross the field on this frigid day, we watched several hundred tall gray sandhill cranes feeding, but we didn’t feel the cold. Quite comfortable behind the one-way glass of the observation tower at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, we felt only the warmth of excitement as we also spotted three special white birds, bigger and more majestic than others in the flock. Never very common and now one of the rarest birds in North America, whooping crane numbers dipped to about 15 in the world by the 1940s. The population has rebounded to about 600 today. Numbers of the similar sandhill crane species also dropped early in the 20th century, but now nearly 500,000 lesser sandhills and 100,000 greater sandhills migrate across North America. However, numbers remain low for some other subspecies. The tallest birds in North America, whooping cranes stand about five feet tall, compared to sandhills at four feet. Darker gray, sandhills have bright red patches on their heads. Nearly all white, except for black wing tips, whoopers often feed with sandhills where their ranges overlap. People can only hope to see whoopers in a few places in the world, but one of them is Alabama. “Whooping crane numbers are on the rise, but their population is still low,” says Amber Wilson with the International Crane Foundation Whooping Crane Outreach Program in Decatur. “There are two distinct migrating flocks in North America. One is the historic wild flock that travels from their breeding grounds in Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas for the winter. The other migrating population is the reintroduced flock that travels John N. Felsher lives in Semmes, Ala. Contact him through Facebook.

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from their breeding grounds in Wisconsin down to Indiana, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. There are also about 40 non-migrating birds in Louisiana and 10 in Florida.” Fearing that disease or another catastrophe could devastate the whooping crane population in one stroke, the International Crane Foundation ( and other groups formed the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership. These conservationists wanted to establish a second migratory flock and did so in 2001. “Historically there was at least one record of a whooping crane in Alabama before the reintroduction of the eastern migratory population,” says Hillary Thompson, an ICF spokeswoman. “Sandhill cranes are native to Alabama. Sandhill crane numbers were once very low, but their numbers have increased greatly over time.” Now, these eastern birds pass through or winter in Alabama. Sandhills usually arrive at the 35,000-acre Wheeler NWR off Interstate 65 adjacent to Decatur in early November. The first whoopers typically follow a couple weeks later, but a severe cold front could push migrating birds southward. Both species generally leave the refuge in late February or early March heading northward. “The refuge was established in 1938 as a migratory bird sanctuary,” says Teresa Adams, the Wheeler NWR supervising park ranger. “The refuge has diverse habitats, including reclaimed farmland replanted in hardwoods that provide places for more than 295 bird species, including more than 30 species of waterfowl in the winter. A few sandhill cranes started coming here about 20 years ago. In 2016-17, we had about 20,000 sandhills on the refuge. The whopping cranes started coming here in 2005 and their numbers have steadily increased. In the winter of 2016-17, we had 29 on the refuge.”

Photograph in comfort

Probably no other place on Earth provides a better place to view and photograph wild cranes, geese, ducks and other birds up close in comfort than the observation building. A short walk behind the Wheeler NWR Visitor Center, the building sits on a pond shoreline overlooking fields. In an elevated room surrounded by one-way glass, people can observe and photograph birds without sharp eyes spotting them. Photographers can also reserve an observation blind down near the pond shoreline if they wish. “I don’t know of another place like it anywhere where people can get such a good look at the birds and stay warm in the winter doing it,” Adams says. “On some days, people can see all kinds of ducks, geese, thousands of sandhill cranes and some whooping cranes. Sometimes, the birds come right in front of the observation building. We also mounted a microphone on the building so people inside can hear the birds.” The refuge closes many roads to motorized vehicles in the winter so people don’t chase off the birds. However, the roads remain open to hikers and bicyclists. Since the Tennessee River runs through the refuge, people can also see many bird species from boats. People can see cranes and enjoy various exhibits, workshops, guest speakers, concerts and other activities in Decatur and on the refuge during the 2018 Festival of the Cranes, slated for Jan. 13-14. Area visitors can find any food, lodging and other necessities they need in Decatur. For more about the area and the festival, call Melinda Dunn of the Decatur Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau at 800-232-5449 or 256-350-2028, or visit For information on Wheeler NWR, see or visit the Friends of Wheeler website at

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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. AM Minor Major

PM Minor Major

11:16 11:46 07:01 07:16 07:31 08:01 08:16 02:31 03:01 03:46 02:01 08:16 09:31 10:16 11:01 11:31

06:16 06:31 12:01 12:31 12:46 01:16 01:46 08:46 09:16 09:46 10:46 03:31 04:16 05:01 05:31 06:01

04:16 -12:16 12:46 01:31 07:46 08:31 09:46 11:31 --12:31 02:01 03:16 04:16 05:01

11:31 05:01 05:31 06:16 07:01 02:01 02:46 03:31 04:31 05:46 07:16 08:31 09:31 10:31 11:16 11:46

MAR. 1 -2 07:01 3 07:31 4 07:46 5 08:16 6 02:31 7 02:46 8 12:01 9 -10 11:01 11 09:46 12 10:16 13 10:31 14 11:01 15 11:31 16 -17 06:31 18 06:46 19 01:01 20 01:31 21 02:16 22 02:46 23 03:46 24 10:01 25 08:46 26 09:31 27 10:01 28 10:46 29 11:16 30 05:46 31 06:16

06:31 12:31 01:01 01:31 02:01 08:31 08:46 09:16 09:46 04:31 04:31 04:46 05:16 05:31 05:46 06:01 12:01 12:31 07:01 07:31 07:46 08:16 08:46 01:46 03:16 04:01 04:31 05:01 05:16 11:46 12:01

12:01 12:46 01:16 08:01 09:01 10:01 ----01:16 02:46 03:31 04:16 05:01 12:01 06:16 07:01 07:46 08:46 10:01 11:31 --12:31 02:16 03:31 04:16 05:01 -06:31

05:46 06:31 07:16 02:01 02:46 03:31 04:31 05:46 07:16 08:31 09:16 10:01 10:31 11:01 11:31 05:46 12:31 01:01 01:31 02:16 03:01 03:46 05:16 06:46 08:16 09:16 10:01 10:46 11:31 05:46 12:16

FEB. 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28

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42  JANUARY 2018

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Stay warm, save money


e’re in the middle of our cold weather season here in the Valley region, so it’s a good time to think about ways you can reduce your energy costs and stay comfortable. Your local power company works with TVA to offer programs and tips that can help you do these two things in both cold and hot weather conditions. It’s part of the value of public power. Below are some of the important tips we recommend for saving energy during colder weather: • Let there be light—Keep curtains open on the south side of the house and closed on the north during the day to trap the warming sunlight. • Increase your home’s IQ—Install an ENERGY STAR certified programmable thermostat. • Steady as you go—Set your thermostat to 68°F. Turn it down even more when no one is home for several days. • Bundle up—Insulate heating and cooling ducts and repair any air leaks. Add insulation to your attic, crawlspaces and any accessible exterior Kevin Chandler is general manager, Alabama District Customer Service, for the Tennessee Valley Authority.

44  JANUARY 2018

walls. • Keep it clean—Change air filters monthly. Dirty filters force your heating system to work harder. • Seal it up—Caulk and weather-strip around windows and doors and install insulating gaskets to exterior light switches and electrical outlets to stop air leaks. • Family meals—Take advantage of the heat generated by cooking. • Close the damper—Don’t send warm air up the chimney. Make sure the fireplace damper is closed when not in use. More information about energy efficiency is available on TVA’s EnergyRight® Solutions website.

A decade of exceeding goals

Speaking of EnergyRight Solutions (ERS), the organization just completed a decade of exceeding demand-side management goals. What’s next for them? Many of you may be aware that electric load is on the decline across the nation. The Valley is no different with slightly declining load forecasts. ERS has been working with local power companies diligently over the last year to help turn the tides by focusing on selling more electric energy. This is important because when TVA sells energy efficiently, it

helps keep rates low in the Valley and everyone wins.

12 winning seasons with site selection

Let me also recognize TVA’s Economic Development group. For the 12th year in a row, Site Selection Magazine has named TVA among America’s top 10 utilities for economic development. TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley chalks the honor up to his team’s focus on service. “By focusing on ‘service’ you set your team up for success at all levels. TVA’s mission is to serve and improve the lives of the 9 million people of the Valley. Serving the needs of the communities, states and local power companies is the key for our employees to successfully drive jobs and investment to the region.”       In addition to citing soft criteria such as “service” and “savvy,” Site Selection Magazine also crunched some hard numbers to arrive at its list, including corporate facility project jobs and capital expenditure (CAPEX) numbers from the previous year; straight totals and per-capita calculations; website tools and data; innovative programs and incentives for business; and the utility’s own job-creating infrastructure and facility investment trends. So, congratulations to John and his team on another successful year!

for t c e f r e P Year’s New tions! resolu

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Alabama Living

JANUARY 2018 45

| Hardy Jackson's Alabama |

Let’s hear it for the hog Well, I’ve always heard, but I ain’t too sure, That a man’s best friend is a mangy cur. I kinda favor the hog myself. How ‘bout a hand for the hog! — Roger Miller


Illustration by Dennis Auth

read the other day that someone somewhere had done some calculations and come to the conclusion that your average American eats 28 pigs a year! I don’t know just what, exactly, they base that figure on, but I can say, without fear of contradiction, that I and my family and most of my friends have always done our part to keep pork consumption high. We are serious about swine. Now I can’t claim any particular expertise when it comes to pigs. I only raised one. She ate what we gave her and fattened up real nice. I don’t recall mourning her passing, but I do recall enjoying the meat. It’s like this. On a farm everything had a purpose, and a pig’s purpose is to get eaten. Which is why farm folks I knew never made pets out of pigs. Still, among pig raisers I recall a certain respect for the animals, and that respect was most evident at killing time. I have witnessed only a few hog killings. They were long ago and all sorta run together now, but thinking of them as one, what I remember most was the cold and the efficiency. It was cold because, even though by then we had refrigerators, you killed hogs in winter, when there was less chance of the meat spoiling. It was

Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Professor Emeritus at Jacksonville State University and a regular contributor to Alabama Living. He can be reached at

46  JANUARY 2018

efficient because, after years of practice, those doing the killing, the cleaning and the carving-up, knew what to do and how to do it. There was not a lot of talking and socializing, with the work. Those involved were intent on getting the job done as quickly as they could and, though it may seem odd to say it, with as little inconvenience as possible to the pigs. Now, of course, there is a certain inconvenience in getting killed. But in the killing, there appeared an acknowledgement of the significance of the pig’s sacrifice. There was no laughing, joking or kidding around the way Southerners usually do when they get together. Death was serious business. And it was not until all the pigs had become pork that the mood shifted. That’s when they divided up the meat, setting some aside for smoking, and started rendering the fat into “cracklings” for cornbread. Then there was a scramble to claim the parts that the very mention of today causes consternation in polite circles – chitlins, brains, feet, knuckles, and of course, liver and lights (if you don’t know, look it up). My Daddy was particularly good at taking bits and pieces and making hog’s head cheese, to which country connoisseurs gave their highest praise – “ain’t a hair in it.” Today, most people who eat those delicacies don’t even know it. They are consumed as “assorted pork parts” that are unidentifiable in potted meat, bologna, sausage, and stuff like that – which, I suppose, was figured into the 28-pig calculation. Which is a shame, for chitlins, knuckles, liver and lights once enabled Southerners to make two pigs out of one, and in the hardscrabble South, quantity mattered. But so did quality. Southerners learned to do wonderful things with these, the least and the leavings. Which is why I’ll take pickled pig’s feet over ground-up pork parts any day. Yessir, “How ‘bout a hand for the hog!”

January 2018 joe wheeler  
January 2018 joe wheeler