Clarke-Washington January 2019

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



You voted! Best of Alabama winners

The eagles have landed Eagle Awareness Weekends

draw visitors to state



Manager Steve Sheffield Co-op Editor Sarah Hansen ALABAMA LIVING is delivered to some 420,000 Alabama families and businesses, which are members of 22 not-for-profit, consumer-owned, locally directed and taxpaying electric cooperatives. Subscriptions are $12 a year for individuals not subscribing through participating Alabama electric cooperatives. Alabama Living (USPS 029-920) is published monthly by the Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives. Periodicals postage paid at Montgomery, Alabama, and at additional mailing office.

Where eagles fly


Want to see eagles in the wild or up close? Eagle Awareness Weekends at Lake Guntersville State Park offer outstanding opportunities to spot raptors and other birds. The event runs over four straight weekends from Jan. 25 through Feb. 17.

VOL. 72 NO. 1 n JANUARY 2019


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

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



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


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When it snows in Alabama, we love to remember the day in pictures!


Worth the drive


Protein-packed meals

It’s not every day you get to dine inside a jail on purpose. But that’s what you get when you visit the Main Street Cafe in Madison.

If you’re ready to try one of the popular protein-loaded diets, or just want to add more protein to your menu, you’re in luck.



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

Snowy day


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

In this issue: Page 11 Page 22 Page 28

11 Spotlight 29 Around Alabama 30 Gardens 34 Cook of the Month 40 Outdoors 41 Fish & Game Forecast 46 Hardy Jackson’s Alabama ONLINE: ON THE COVER: Children scamper towards the entrance to Ivy Green, birthplace of Helen Keller. The Tuscumbia home was voted the best museum dedicated to a famous Alabamian in our 2019 contest. PHOTO: Art Meripol, Alabama Tourism Department JANUARY 2019 3

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

PAYMENT OPTIONS Mail P.O. Box 398 Jackson, AL 36545 P.O. Box 143 Chatom, AL 36518 Office During normal office hours at our Chatom and Jackson offices. Phone 855-870-0403 Online Night Deposit 24/7 at Jackson & Chatom CWEMC App Available from the App Store and Google Play


1.800.323.9081 TO REPORT A POWER OUTAGE 4 JANUARY 2019

Educational Opportunities As I write this, we are at the close of 2018 but anxiously looking forward to another great year at Clarke-Washington EMC. At CWEMC, we talk a lot about the services we provide you, our members. One of the seven cooperative principles we live by at CWEMC is education. It is important to support our youth, not only to enrich their lives, but also to instill the importance of cooperative membership. We offer a scholarship opportunity for high school seniors whose parents or guardians live in the Clarke-Washington EMC service territory. This year we will reward six high school seniors with a scholarship worth $1,000 to help further their education. There is some information on Page 8 about the scholarship. You may obtain an application packet at both office locations, your guidance counselor, or you can visit our website,, to print your own copy. I personally think one of the greatest programs Clarke-Washington EMC and other electric cooperatives across the nation sponsor each year is the Washington Youth Tour. I was involved in the selection and chaperoning of students on the tour in the past and it’s really hard to express what a great opportunity it is for the students. In addition to enjoying the fun and educational tours of the trip, many students on the tour develop lifelong friendships. If you are a high school junior, we would love for you to participate in the Rural Electric Youth Tour. We have made visits to schools to let students know about the opportunity that is available to them. We send four students to Montgomery on a two-day trip to learn about electric cooperatives and government on a state level. Two of these students will have the chance to attend the Washington Youth Tour June 14-20, 2019 where they will learn more about electric co-ops and our country’s history. I want to personally encourage our high school juniors to participate in our youth tour program at CWEMC. We also have an opportunity available for our educators, the Empower Energy

Education Workshop. This workshop provides an exciting opportunity to learn about electric generation and distribution, with a focus on energy education and fun ways to integrate it into your classroom, using curriculum designed for your students. These resources meet students’ diverse needs and learning styles. Empower is a way of reaching students through our teachers to help them learn more about the generation of power. The Empower Energy Education Workshop will be held June 2-5, 2019 and is open to K-12 teachers in the CWEMC service area. Attendance is limited to 14, so call our office now to reserve your spot in this year’s workshop. We are passionate about these programs because we understand the importance of student success and support them and our local schools. Deadlines are approaching for these opportunities so feel free to contact our office if you have any questions. Thank you!

Steve Sheffield General Manager

CWEMC Pays Property Taxes In December, Clarke-Washington EMC paid $320,771.84 in ad valorem taxes in Clarke, Washington, Wilcox and Monroe counties. The taxes are based on the assessed value of property, plant and equipment the cooperative owns in each county. The largest tax amount was paid to Washington County Revenue Commissioner Mary Ann Dees. The cooperative paid $147,085.10 in taxes based on the assessed value of the cooperative’s assets in that county. Taxes paid to other counties included: Clarke, $138,747.20; Monroe, $17,431.30; and Wilcox $17,508.24.

Steve Brannan pays Clarke County property taxes to Amy Howell.

Polly Odom pays Washington County property taxes to Mary Ann Dees.

Art Dees pays Wilcox County property taxes to Sonia Young.

Art Dees pays Monroe County property taxes to Karen McKinley.

Capital Credits In December, $590,000 in capital credits were returned to members who received electric service from the cooperative during 1988 and 1989. Clarke-Washington has one of the best records of any electric cooperative in the state in returning capital credits and has returned more than $3 million. We are very proud of this tradition and plan to continue it in the future. Clarke-Washington is a non-profit corporation. Therefore, any money that is left over after all the expenses have been paid is returned to our members. The money that is left over is called capital credits. The capital credits are credited to members’ capital credit accounts based on the purchases from the cooperative. This money is used by

the cooperative as working capital for a period of time and may be returned to the members. Cooperatives are a special kind of business because they are owned by the people who receive service from the company. Receiving capital credits from the cooperative is just one of the many benefits of being a member owner of the cooperative. If you were a member of the cooperative during 1988 and 1989 and you did not receive your capital credit check, please contact our office.

Diann Dorman reviews capital credit checks.

Alabama Living JANUARY 2019  5

| Clarke-Washington EMC |

Additional Payment Methods Offered Clarke-Washington EMC is now accepting VISA, MASTERCARD, AMERICAN EXPRESS and DISCOVER at both office locations, online and through the automated system and CWEMC app.

Member Satisfaction Survey CWEMC receives high marks in survey results In the spring of 2018, ClarkeWashington EMC participated in a member satisfaction survey. The survey was conducted as a part of a system-wide research project of 13 co-ops across south Alabama and northwest Florida. The survey was conducted to determine member satisfaction, the co-op’s American Customer Satisfaction Index score (ASCI), Cooperative Attitude and Performance Score (CAPS), attitudes regarding energy efficiency, communication and member demographics. The survey results were received by telephone and online survey responses from 251 randomly selected residential co-op members. The zip code with the most members surveyed was 36451, Grove Hill.

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CWEMC received a score of 88 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index. This score is an economic indicator that measures the satisfaction of consumers across the United States. The score of 88 is well above the national average of cooperatives. This is the first year that CWEMC received a Cooperative Attitude and Performance Score. In future surveys, CWEMC’s CAPS can be trended and compared with other cooperatives nationwide. CWEMC’s CAPS score was 91. CWEMC scored highly on matters of performance, particularly on trustworthiness. These survey results are going to be broken down in the coming issues of Alabama Living.

| Clarke-Washington EMC |

ARE YOU A K-12 EDUCATOR? If you are a K-12 educator interested in teaching your students more about energy, EMPOWER is for you. This Energy Education Workshop provides an exciting opportunity to learn about electric generation and distribution, with a focus on energy education and fun ways to integrate it into your classroom, using curriculum designed for your students. Other benefits: - Continuing Education Credits for each participant who completes the workshop. - Excellent materials, including a NEED Science of Energy Kit, a class-set of NEED Energy Infobooks (at grade level), access to all NEED Curriculum Guides and supplemental resources.

Learning about Energy can be Energizing! REGISTRATION DEADLINE FEBRUARY 28, 2019 *limited availability


Interested? Please contact Sarah Hansen at CWEMC 1.800.323.9081

2019 YOUTH TOUR FINAL REMINDER Would you like to: Tour our state and national capitals, Make friends from around the country, Meet your U.S. Representative and Senators, Learn more about your local electric cooperative, Experience the trip of a lifetime? If you answered yes, apply for your chance to be a part of the Rural Electric Cooperative Youth Tour. To find out more contact Youth Tour Coordinator Sarah Hansen by calling 1.800.323.9081

IMPORTANT DATES Jan. 9 Essay Due to Counselor Jan. 23 Interviews

Montgomery Youth Tour March 12-14 Washington Youth Tour June 14-20

Alabama Living JANUARY 2019  7

| Clarke-Washington EMC |

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8 JANUARY 2019

Snow Day

| Alabama Snapshots |

Cleburne County December 2017. SUBMITTED BY Randy Stamps, Heflin.

Our grandson, Beckham’s first snowman. SUBMITTED BY Jesse Pace, Wagarville.

Clint Feemster enjoying a snow day with Ruff and Doc. SUBMITTED BY Anna Feemster, Fyffe.

Frank Mann on the tractor feeding Cherokee the horse. SUBMITTED BY Caroline Mann, Double Springs.

Montana Kirkwood’s graduation December 2017. SUBMITTED BY Bettie Giles, Millry.

Adalyn Bellomy sledding at Aunt Patti’s house. SUBMITTED BY Patti Tidwell.

Submit Your Images! March Theme: “Safari Park Photos” Deadline for March: Jan. 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 2019 9

Spotlight | January SOCIAL SECURITY

Beware of scammers pretending to be from Social Security In the digital age, frauds and scams are an unfortunate part of doing business online. During the holiday season, Social Security has traditionally seen a spike in phishing scams, and we want to protect you as best we can. We urge you to always be cautious and to avoid providing sensitive information such as your Social Security Number (SSN) or bank account information to unknown individuals over the phone or internet. If you receive a call and aren’t expecting one, you must be extra careful. You can always get the caller’s information, hang up, and — if you do need more clarification — contact the official phone number of the business or agency that the caller claims to represent. Never reveal personal data to a stranger who called you. Please take note; there’s a scam going around right now. You might receive a call from someone claiming to be from Social Security or another agency. Calls can even display the 1-800-772-1213, Social Security’s national customer service number, as the incoming number on your caller ID. In some cases, the caller states that Social Security does not have all of your personal information, such as your Social Security number (SSN), on file. Other callers claim Social Security needs additional information so the agency can increase your benKylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at

efit payment, or that Social Security will terminate your benefits if they do not confirm your information. This appears to be a widespread issue, as reports have come from people across the country. These calls are not from Social Security. Callers sometimes state that your Social Security number is at risk of being deactivated or deleted. The caller then asks you to provide a phone number to resolve the issue. People should be aware the scheme’s details may vary; however, you should avoid engaging with the caller or calling the number provided, as the caller might attempt to acquire personal information. Social Security employees occasionally contact people by telephone for customer-service purposes. In only a few special situations, such as when you have business pending with us, a Social Security employee may request the person confirm personal information over the phone. Social Security employees will never threaten you or promise a Social Security benefit approval or increase in exchange for information. In those cases, the call is fraudulent, and you should just hang up. If you receive these calls, please report the information to the Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271 or online at Remember, only call official phone numbers and use secured websites of the agencies and businesses you know are correct. Protecting your information is an important part of Social Security’s mission to secure today and tomorrow.

Alabama Living writer will be missed Ben Norman, a freelance writer for Alabama Living and other outdoor publications, passed away Nov. 15, 2018, after a long battle with cancer. Norman, a resident of Highland Home, was a longtime member of the South Alabama Electric Cooperative Board of Trustees. Norman wrote several articles over the years for Alabama Living, says editor Lenore Vickrey. “It was always a pleasure to hear from Ben, who never failed to come up with interesting ideas for stories about the fascinating people and places of south Alabama,” she says. His most recent article, published in June 2018, was about a Brantley resident who made traps to catch catfish. Although his specialty was writing about the outdoors, he also wrote about local personalities, took many of his own photos, and in 2017, penned a feature on the popular Sister’s Restaurant in Troy, which helped draw many new patrons to the business. Donations in Norman’s memory can be made to:

Sardis Cemetery Fund c/o Donald White 15403 Montgomery Highway Highland Home, AL 36041

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Get fit with Scale Back Alabama program Again this year, the Scale Back Alabama campaign will help Alabamians get healthy and have fun doing it. Scale Back Alabama is a free statewide weight-loss campaign designed to address the state’s challenge with obesity. Since the first challenge in 2007, Alabamians have lost more than 1 million pounds. The kick-off event will be Jan. 15, and the weigh-in week will be Jan. 21-27. The weigh out will be April 1-7, with the final event on April 16. Participants must be at least 18 years of age, live or work in Alabama, be on a team of two individuals (no more, no less), and register online or visit an official weigh-in site. Team members will be asked to weigh in and weigh out together at the same site, at the same time. Teams must begin and end the challenge with the same members – no substitutions. To be eligible for prizes, each team member must lose at least 10 pounds during the nine-week challenge. Winning teams are determined by random drawing from all eligible teams. Cash prizes ranging from $100 to $1,000 will be awarded. For more information, visit

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

Thanks for magazine We’re completing our first year in Alabama and wanted to thank you for Alabama Living. It is polished, always grammatically correct with no misspellings, and full of really useful information. Professional! Well done! John Johnson, Gulf Shores

January | Spotlight

Whereville, AL

DECEMBER’S ANSWER Erected in 1862, the Cornwall Furnace was the first cold blast furnace in the country to be powered by water. The furnace provided iron to the Noble Brothers Foundry in Rome, Ga., where it was used to manufacture cannon, cannon balls and other munitions for the Confederate army. The furnace is located on a 5 ½-acre county park in Cedar Bluff that also features a nature trail and pavilion. In the photo is little Reece Dawson. (submitted by Kelli Dawson) The random guess winner is Cliff Samson of Baldwin EMC.

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

Show support with a Thank a Lineman tag

Find the hidden dingbat! Beginning this month, we’re starting a new contest for readers of Alabama Living. No special skills are required, except a sharp eye and a curious mind! Each month we’ll hide a seasonal “dingbat” inside the magazine. What’s a dingbat, you ask? Well, it’s a typographical symbol or ornament (such as *, ¶, or ). For this month, it will be a snowman (see illustration). If you find it, send us a note with the page number where it’s located. Include your name, address, phone number, and the name of your electric cooperative. The dingbat won’t be in an ad, and it won’t be on pages 3-8. A winner will be chosen in a random drawing from the correct answers, and will receive $25. By mail: Find the Dingbat Alabama Living PO Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 By email: Entries must be received by Jan. 11. Good luck and happy hunting! Alabama Living

After Hurricane Michael devastated the Southeast, electric utility workers quickly responded to help. Soon, social media channels were filled with expressions of thanks from residents who were grateful to have their power restored. Now there’s another, more tangible way to say “thank you” to electric line workers – Alabama’s Thank a Lineman license plate. Electric utility linemen should be considered first responders in the same way that law enforcement and firefighters are, says Blake Hardwich, executive director of the non-profit Energy Institute of Alabama. So it seems right to recognize their hard work and personal sacrifice in what can be a dangerous profession. The license plate was unveiled at Lineman Appreciation Day in June, a day set aside by legislative resolution to formally honor Alabama’s electric utility linemen. The work of all the employees of the elec-

tricity industry is vitally important, but EIA chairman Seth Hammett noted at the ceremony that the lineman is in fact the “face of our industry.” The tag has a little more than a quarter of the 1,000 precommitments needed to begin production. A precommitment costs $50, and the money is held in escrow by the state until the goal is reached. To sign up for an individual plate, visit, which is the state’s license plate purchase portal. For help in making a bulk application for a fleet of vehicles, contact Hardwich at Proceeds will be used for the health and welfare of the electric utility worker and his or her family. EIA executives envision a wide variety of recipients, such as burn centers at university hospitals, scholarships for lineman programs at community colleges, and foundations that assist the families of fallen linemen.

Jan. 4, 1953 An estimated 20,000 people attended the funeral of Hank Williams at Montgomery’s Municipal Auditorium, surpassing Jefferson Davis’s inauguration as the largest event ever held in Montgomery. Dr. Henry Lyon of Highland Avenue Baptist

Church delivered the main sermon as Williams, dressed in a white stage suit with a small Bible in his hands, lay in state in an open silver casket. Music was provided by Williams’ band, the Drifting Cowboys, and a number of performers, including Ernest Tubb, Red Foley singing “(There’ll Be) Peace in the Valley” and Roy Acuff and others performing “I Saw the Light.” JANUARY 2019 11

Best of Alabama 2019:

The votes are in! By Allison Law


e asked, you answered! For the sixth consecutive year, Alabama Living asked you, our readers, to tell us your favorite people, places and things about our great state as part of our annual Best of Alabama feature. Hundreds of you responded to the ballots we printed in the September and October issues, which asked you to vote for your favorites in ten different categories. We accepted your responses via the mail and online, and one lucky respondent was randomly drawn to win a $350 prize! (See story, Page 16.) It gets harder each year to come up with different categories for the contest, but it’s not hard to find the things we like about Alabama. From venues for live music to shopping to museums to restaurants, Alabama has it all. Read on to find out more about the winners.

Best museum dedicated to a famous Alabamian:

Ivy Green,

birthplace of Helen Keller, Tuscumbia Helen Keller (1880-1968) remains one of Alabama’s most admired native daughters. Keller became deaf and blind as an infant, but learned sign language from teacher Anne Sullivan at the water pump in the backyard of Ivy Green, her family’s home in Tuscumbia. She characterized Ivy Green and its garden as “the paradise of my childhood,” and the home and grounds today are dedicated to preserving her legacy of activism and literary accomplishment. The home, at 300 North Commons St. West in Tuscumbia, is open to the public; learn more at helenkellerbirthplace. org 12 JANUARY 2019

Best zoo/wildlife park:

Birmingham Zoo From Trails of Africa to the Children’s Zoo and everything in between, the Birmingham Zoo features animals from all over the world. Signage throughout the park highlights their care, conservation initiatives, and species survival plans. With approximately 700 animals of 200 species from six continents, the 122acre site is a great family destination any time of year. The non-profit Zoo, at 2630 Cahaba Road in Birmingham, is open daily; learn more at

Best new tourist destination:

Alabama Gulf State Park and Lodge Hurricane Ivan destroyed the old hotel at Gulf State Park in 2004, but the area will once again be a convention destination with the new Lodge at Gulf State Park, which officially opened in November to much fanfare. Gov. Kay Ivey called it a “world-class place to visit, and it will be the crown jewel of tourism.” The Hilton-branded hotel, new interpretive center, learning campus and state-of-the-art convention facilities will no doubt continue to boost state tourism. Learn more at

Best music venue:

Flora-Bama, Orange Beach

Considered by locals and visitors alike to be the most famous beach bar in the country, the Flora-Bama lounge features live music every day of the year. This longtime honky-tonk straddles the state line between Orange Beach, Ala., and Perdido Key, Fla., and features good times and good music in five different entertainment areas. From country to rock to dance to beach music, there’s something for everyone at the Flora-Bama. Learn more and see the musical lineup at Alabama Living

JANUARY 2019 13

Best open-air amphitheater:

The Wharf, Orange Beach

Baldwin County boasts another winner in our poll this year. The Wharf Amphitheater opened in 2006 with a sold-out Hank Williams Jr. concert, and has continued to draw some of the biggest names in contemporary and classic music: Taylor Swift, Kid Rock, Jason Aldean, John Mayer, Eric Church and more have entertained audiences; this year, some of the big-name acts set to perform include Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney and Hootie and the Blowfish. For more information, visit

Best lake to spend the weekend:

Guntersville Lake Guntersville Resort State Park, located along the banks of the Tennessee River in northeast Alabama, features golf, a beach complex, an outdoor nature center, fishing in Alabama’s largest lake, hiking and biking trails and weekly guided hikes. But one of its main attractions soars above the others: Eagle awareness programs both entertain and educate visitors about our national symbol (see story, Page 18). For more information, visit and click “find a park,” then “Lake Guntersville.”

Best Heisman Trophy winner from an Alabama school:

Bo Jackson, Auburn

Vincent Edward “Bo” Jackson of Bessemer is widely considered one of the greatest athletes of all time. At Auburn, he won the 1985 Heisman Trophy, annually awarded to the best collegiate football player in the country. His popularity in his home state continues, helped in part by his Bo Bikes Bama cycling ride, which he created to support victims of the 2011 tornado outbreak. (Jackson also won in our 2017 contest for “best football player to play in Alabama.”) Learn more at 14 JANUARY 2019

Alabama Living

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Best shopping attraction:

Tanger Outlets, Foley

For many families, a visit to the Alabama beaches isn’t complete without a stop at the Tanger Outlets in Foley. These stores are owned and operated by brand-name manufacturers; the idea is that because you’re buying directly from the manufacturer, you’ll get big savings. The stores feature fashions and accessories for the whole family, jewelry, housewares, home décor, luggage, toys, food specialties and more. Learn more at

Central Alabama EC member wins ballot prize Melanie Stroud has lived in Clanton all her life, “all 65 years!” she says. And she’s been a member of Central Alabama Electric Cooperative all her adult life – and loves reading her copy of Alabama Living. Her favorite feature? “Oh, the recipes! I’m a recipe collector,” she says, “not that I cook much, but I like those recipes.” But she was complimentary of the whole magazine. “All of it really. I love to find out what’s going on everywhere.” Stroud works for a timber company in Clanton, and is a member of Lions Club International and volunteers at the local humane shelter. At home, she enjoys curling up with a good book. Asked what she loves about Alabama, she says, “I love that it has everything you’ll ever need. We have mountains, we have beaches, all the fruits and veggies you’ll ever want. It’s almost Eden.” Though Alabama is home, she does like traveling. She’s been three times to the Caribbean island of St. Martin, which she calls “the land of my heart. It’s the most wonderful place.” Stroud’s name was randomly drawn from the more than 800 entries submitted by readers for our Best of Alabama contest. The prize for her online entry is $350 – which may help finance one more trip to St. Martin!

Best hometown restaurant or diner:

The Bullpen,

formerly Kilpatrick Family Restaurant This family-owned restaurant, located in the rural Kilpatrick community in DeKalb County, changed in both ownership and name just in the last several months. But one thing hasn’t changed: The community’s support. “I’m just amazed how people have taken to us, and wrapped their arms around us, and are so supportive of us,” says Lori Magoon, who bought the restaurant in 2018 with her husband, Jason. Both work there, as do several family members, including a teenage daughter. That support is no doubt why it won this category in the Best of Alabama poll. The restaurant, which is a member of Marshall-DeKalb Electric Cooperative, posted the ballot on its Facebook page and asked its customers to vote for it – and they did! The restaurant serves up three meals a day, six days a week, and Lori says they’re probably best known for the “Big Momma’s Cheeseburger,” a hefty 10-ounce burger that was a holdover from the previous owner. But the Bullpen has added homemade biscuits as well as ribeye steaks on Friday and Saturday nights; they also remodeled the interior, which Lori says made it feel more homey. The lunch service is mostly a meat-and-three selection, though customers can order off the menu. They do homemade desserts everyday and have added hand-dipped ice cream. The restaurant’s address is 18657 Highway 68, Crossville, AL 35962; find their page, “The Bullpen Restaurant,” on Facebook. The phone number is 256-561-2170.

Best small college town:

Auburn “The loveliest village on the Plains” is of course best known for its namesake university, which is central to its economy. But a low cost of living, low unemployment and a variety of cultural and culinary opportunities continue to fuel the growth of the Lee County city. It ranks No. 25 on Forbes magazine’s list of the Best Small Places for Business and Careers. Coming in a close second in this category was the city of Troy, home of the Trojans. 16 JANUARY 2019

Alabama Living

JANUARY 2019  17

The eagles have landed Majestic national birds are flourishing again in Alabama


By John N. Felsher


hen America adopted the bald eagle as its national symbol in 1782, the country may have had as many as 100,000 nesting eagles. Since that day, though, the American people haven’t always treated the national symbol with reverence. Many people considered eagles nothing more than scavengers or predators to be exterminated. They almost succeeded. By 1963, fewer than 500 nesting pairs remained in the lower 48 contiguous states, none in Alabama. “Historically, eagles were found everywhere in Alabama,” says Carrie Threadgill, the Nongame Wildlife Program coordinator for the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. “With the rise in some pesticide usage and other threats, the eagle population declined drastically in the early 20th century.” Beginning with the Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940, followed by an amendment including golden eagles in 1962, a series of laws began to protect eagles and other raptors. Finally, President Richard Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act of 1973, putting eagles on the Endangered Species List. A year earlier, the nation banned DDT. The powerful agricultural pesticide washed into rivers and lakes where fish-eating birds like eagles and pelicans ingested it. The poison weakened eggshells so feathered parents could not incubate their eggs without crushing them. With federal protection and the DDT ban, eagle populations began to soar. To hasten this rebound, Alabama and other states began reintroduction programs. “After the Nongame Wildlife Program was created in 1984, one of the first projects we did was the bald eagle reintroduction program,” Threadgill says. “In 1985, an eagle might occasionally migrate through the state, but there were no breeding pairs in Alabama at the time.”

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Bringing eagles back

In what is called a “hacking” program, Alabama biologists took young bald eagles from Florida and put them in “hacking towers,” or large enclosed artificial eagle nests. The state built six towers along major river systems in Alabama. Once old enough to fend for themselves, the birds were released into the wild. “At that time, bald eagles were doing fairly well in Florida,” Threadgill recalls. “The goal was to raise the babies without human interaction. Once we released them, we hoped they would become imprinted to that area, stay and breed. The first confirmed successful eagle nesting since 1962 occurred in 1991.” From 1985 to 1991, the state released 91 eagles. By 1992, the U.S. bald eagle population grew to more than 100,000 with about half of them in Alaska. In 1995, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reclassified bald eagles from “endangered” to “threatened” and removed the birds from the Endangered Species List entirely on June 28, 2007, but eagles remain protected. “Eagles are doing great in Alabama now,” Threadgill says. “We get eagle sightings in every county throughout the year. We have confirmed records of eagles breeding in 49 counties, but we are fairly certain that they are nesting in every county in Alabama. We have more than 200 resident nesting pairs in the state, but during the winter, many more birds migrate down from other states.” The highest bald eagle concentrations in Alabama occur along the Tennessee River and associated lakes like Pickwick, Wheeler and Guntersville in the northern part of the state. But you may see eagles on other lakes or rivers across Alabama. Several nesting pairs live in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta near Mobile.

Alabama Living

JANUARY 2019  19


Golden eagles in Alabama

Bird watchers might also see golden eagles in Alabama. Golden eagles traditionally live in the canyons and mountains of western states and Canada, but some winter in the Southeast, including Alabama. Slightly larger than bald eagles, golden eagles sport a light golden “cape” on their heads and upper backs rather than the distinctive white top of their cousins. Many people mistake goldens for immature bald eagles that haven’t developed their iconic white headgear. “We have a wintering population of golden eagles, but not a breeding population,” Threadgill says. “Over the past 100 years or so, we’ve had a handful of records of goldens visiting the state, but we are seeing more of them now. Goldens actually have two populations in North America, an eastern and a western population. The eastern population is more migratory. They breed in Canada and winter in the South. Some may even winter farther south than Alabama.” Since 2012, Alabama has joined 15 other eastern states in projects to monitor golden eagle movements. Researchers put up game cameras in several locations to spot the eagles and trapped 12 of them in Alabama. The researchers fitted the eagles with radio-tracking devices and released them. “The golden eagle population in Alabama is a lot higher than we first expected,” Threadgill says. “With the transmitters, we’ve tracked golden eagles to the northern provinces of Canada around Hudson Bay.” Money for eagle research and other projects conducted by the Alabama Nongame Wildlife Program comes primarily from the sale of hunting licenses and excise taxes on guns and ammunition purchased by sportsmen. The federal government reimburses states a portion of those excise taxes collected based upon the number of licenses sold.

Want to see eagles in the wild or up close?

20 JANUARY 2019

Eagle Awareness Weekends at Lake Guntersville State Park ( offer people outstanding opportunities to spot raptors and other birds. The event runs over four straight weekends from Jan. 25 through Feb. 17. People may participate in many different activities and presentations or explore on their own. “Winter is the prime time to see eagles in Alabama,” says Michael Ezell, the park naturalist. “We host some guided field trips. We also bring in experts to present programs on birds of prey, birds in general and other topics like reptiles and plants. Some experts bring in birds that have been injured and rehabilitated, but cannot be released into the wild so people can see them up close.” All Eagle Awareness Weekends events are free and open to the public. The park offers a variety of lodging options from hotel-style rooms in the resort to camping. “I can almost guarantee that people will see an eagle around Lake Guntersville at this time,” Ezell says. “We have two active nests in the park. During the 2018 Eagle Awareness Weekends, we had 66 eagle sightings in two days.” For more on Eagle Awareness Weekends and a complete schedule, see or call Ezell at 256-762-3417.

Alabama Living

JANUARY 2019  21

| Alabama People |

Jay Lamar

Directing Alabama’s Bicentennial Jay Lamar is the executive director of the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, which was set up in 2013 to plan and coordinate events and activities celebrating the 200th anniversary of Alabama’s statehood. Appointed in early 2014, she previously worked at Auburn University in a variety of capacities. A native of Alabama, Lamar is also co-editor (with Jeanie Thompson) of The Remembered Gate: Memoirs by Alabama Writers. Of special interest to our readers is that Jay is the sister of Katie Lamar Jackson, our garden columnist. She is a very busy lady, but she managed to take some time to answer a few questions about this three-year long celebration of our state. — Lenore Vickrey How did you get involved with the Alabama 200 project? By sheer luck and good fortune! Why is Alabama’s bicentennial spread over three years? The Alabama Bicentennial Commission leadership took its cue from Dr. Ed Bridges, director emeritus of the Alabama Department of Archives and History. He pointed out that the state’s territorial period was relatively brief, beginning in 1817 and concluding with statehood in 1819. A three-year window for creating and making significant projects happen was just irresistible. One example of why this was a genius idea: Almost a thousand teachers and administrators in Alabama’s public, private, and home schools have been able to benefit from new curriculum, primary source materials, and high-level professional development to prepare them for making the most of a once-in-a-lifetime “teaching moment.”

happens because of the staff and resources committed from them and other partners. Why is celebrating the state’s bicentennial important to the average Alabamian? Celebrating this anniversary is important for our state because it is a chance to learn about our history and the places and people and events that shaped it. We have so much to be proud of and so much to build on and I believe that at the end of the day the bicentennial is really about our future. The bicentennial will be enriching and inspiring— and FUN!

of the restored Alabama Constitution Village in Huntsville March 2, the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing July 15-20 in Huntsville, and the Poarch Creek Annual Thanksgiving Pow Wow Nov. 28-Dec. 1. There are events literally every week of this year!

What are some of the big events planned for 2019? All of our events are on our website at alabama200. org. They include events all over the state, from the State Camellia Show in Mobile Feb. 15-19, to the opening

It must take a lot of people to pull off a three-year celebration. How many folks are involved and how did it all come together? The sheer number of agencies and organizations involved is astounding! The Alabama Department of Archives & History, the Alabama Tourism Department, Alabama Historical Commission, Alabama Public Television, Alabama Humanities Foundation…these are agencies that are deeply involved and have been from the beginning. The bicentennial really 22 JANUARY 2019

Alabama Living

JANUARY 2019 23

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Alabama Living

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| Worth the drive |

Main Street Cafe offers a glimpse into Madison’s past Story and photos by Aaron Tanner


t’s not every day you get to dine inside a jail cell. But that’s exactly what you can do at the Main Street Café, which occupies the space that once housed the town’s city hall and jail in historic downtown Madison. First-time visitors are often surprised about the opportunity to have a meal inside a jail cell that is now a private dining room. “They walk in and say ‘we hear you have jail cells; can we see them?’” says Cindy Sensenberger, who co-owns the restaurant with her husband, Tony.

On the flip side, Sensenberger has had customers tell them about spending time in the same jail cells that are now the café’s centerpiece. “I’ve had some come in and say they have been in the jail before, and after hearing they were coming I decided to paint over their initials,” Sensenberger says. Although Madison’s population has grown significantly over the past few decades, Main Street Cafe retains its smalltown atmosphere where customers dine on Southern comfort food in a more relaxed atmosphere. “It’s not stuffy,” Sensenberger

says. “It’s like your neighborhood restaurant.” Many of the entrees are from old recipes, including Poulet de Normandie (chicken and dressing topped with melted cheese and mushroom sauce); Cheesy Meatloaf with Marinara Sauce; and a chicken salad plate complemented by an English pea salad and a slice of pumpkin bread. There are also daily specials that change based on the seasonal recipes hand-selected by the chef. Even though Sensenberger’s goal is to

Left to right, Main Street Café is a favorite gathering place for lunch on Main Street in historic downtown Madison; the chicken salad plate is one of the many favorite entrees on the menu; the old jail cells inside Main Street Café now function as decorated private dining rooms.

Main Street Café is known for its homemade desserts including peanut butter pie, lemon icebox pie and strawberry pretzel salad.

26  JANUARY 2019

rotate the specials, she loves her customers enough to make exceptions. If a prior special is not on the menu, the restaurant will personally make the special order. “Sometimes we have to have the same special for the whole week because someone will not be able to come the day we make it,” Sensenberger says with a smile. Desserts are another staple of Main Street Cafe. Although the delights include Peanut Butter Pie, Coca-Cola Cake and Hummingbird Cake (spice cake mixed with bananas, pecans, and pineapple with a pecan and cream cheese frosting), it is their Strawberry Pretzel Salad made with a pretzel base and topped with cream cheese, Cool Whip and strawberry gelatin that customers often choose for their after-dinner course. “It is the most popular dessert we have,” Sensenberger says. “It has a sweet and salty taste.”

Preserving a piece of Madison history

Sensenberger was born and raised in nearby Huntsville. In 1981, she was vacationing in Canada where she met her husband. After a long-distance relationship that lasted a year and a half, the two got married and she moved to Canada and opened her first restaurant. When her mother fell ill in 1991, the couple moved back to Alabama, and Sensenberger opened her second restaurant in an old renovated

Main Street Café co-owner Cindy Sensenberger.

Victorian home in Decatur. After her mother died, she decided to move closer to Huntsville. The couple landed in Madison, which was experiencing tremendous growth during the late 1990s and early 2000s. While she and her husband were renovating several old homes and buildings in downtown Madison, Sensenberger heard that the old city hall and jail were to be torn down. “(The building) was an eyesore for the city,” Sensenberger says. She was eager to open another restaurant, and a contractor suggested using the old building as a cafe. “I had a gentleman come in and do a layout for me and said it would be perfect for a small, homestyle restaurant,” she says. The Sensenbergers leased the property from the city of Madison and went to work to give the facility a second life. Extensive renovations were done on the inside of the building, including adding a walk-in cooler and freezer, kitchen, dining space and a bar

while keeping the layout simple and convenient for future customers and staff. “There is not a lot of wasted space,” Sensenberger says. After a year of renovations, Main Street Cafe opened to the public in December 2000. Since opening, the community’s support for Main Street Cafe has grown, thanks to the revitalization of downtown Madison. During the Madison Street Festival, held the first Saturday in October, the restaurant serves as many as 400 to 500 customers. People can also rent out the entire building for private parties while the adjacent patio is perfect for watching trains pass behind the cafe. Sensenberger enjoys talking with her customers, and those who visit for the first time eventually become regular patrons. Her goal is for those who walk into the door of her restaurant to feel at home no matter their status in life. “I treat everyone like one big happy family,” Sensenberger says.

Main Street Café 101 Main St. Madison, AL 35758 256-461-8096 Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. MondaySaturday



Protect pets from winter’s chilly grip


t is the beginning of a new year, and the two coldest months of the season are ahead of us. As we are bundling up, pampered indoor pets are also donning their new sweaters and rain jackets they got for Christmas. Happy times! However, in this article, we will talk about the brave outdoor soldiers who are patrolling our property, warning us about intruders and in general keeping the neighborhood alive with their serenading barks. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to hypothermia, and should be kept inside during cold weather. Thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies and Pyrenees, indeed do better than shorthair breeds, but even they get cold! Goutam Mukherjee, DVM, MS, Ph.D. (Dr. G) has been a veterinarian for more than 30 years. He works at his home as a holistic veterinarian and is a member of North Alabama Electric Cooperative. Send pet-related questions to

Alabama Living

The signs of hypothermia could be whining, shivering, anxiety, slow movements, weakness, or dogs burrowing for a warm place. An easy way to tell if your pet is cold is to notice how they are resting. Curled up in a tight ball means they are cold and conserving body heat while being sprawled out shows they are warm and comfortable. Feed them a little extra with a high-quality food. This helps them better maintain their body temperature. Having access to warm water will be great plus for many outdoor pets. Several manufacturers, like K&H, make heated pet bowls. The next big issue is shelter. A thermometer reading alone does not give us the whole picture of how a pet feels. Wind and rain can also affect how a pet feels. Just like us, they tend to lose body heat much faster if they are wet and subjected to even a slight breeze on a cold winter day. Build a shelter or buy a shelter. There are

many online videos to guide you. Foam board insulation is a better choice compared to fiberglass insulation. T1-11 can be used for the exterior and the interior. Make the inside chew and scratch proof. Be careful when heating the doghouse. I personally heard of two cases where the doghouse caught fire from the heat lamp. Consider something like CL Safe Chicken Coop Heater. There are also thermostatically controlled outlets to make sure heating apparatuses turn on when the temperature drops below a certain point. Please discuss the details with an electrician. Now, about cats. Cats tend to find shelters, but they will cherish a nice cozy house. I guarantee that they will kill more mice if they can rest easy in their heated hunting cabin. K&H Pet Products and Kitty Tube make many kinds of heated cat houses. Above all, consider safety. Think of and plan for all the possible ways things can go wrong. You will sleep happy. JANUARY 2019 27

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Ensemble Mélange will perform at the Enterprise High School Performing Arts Center January 17.


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 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.


Montgomery, Hank Williams 66th Memorial Celebration, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Hank Williams gravesite at Oakwood Cemetery Annex. Wreath laying at 10 a.m., followed by live music at the museum in downtown Montgomery. 334-2623600, thehankwilliamsmuseum. net


Gulf Shores, Gulf Coast Arts Alliance Art Market. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Features original art by local and regional artists, kids activities, music and demonstrations. Gulf Coast First Presbyterian Church, 309 E. 21st Ave.


Decatur, Festival of the Cranes at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. More than 20,000 Sandhill cranes and 20 or more whooping cranes spend the winter at Wheeler NWR. Events include viewing the cranes up close, birding workshops and nature walks, kids’ activities and more. 256-350-6639,

13-Feb. 15

Hanceville, The artistry and design of cars and motorcycles will be on

display at the Evelyn Burrow Museum at Wallace State Community College. “LUSTER: Realism and Hyperrealism in Contemporary Automobile and Motorcycle Painting” is a traveling exhibition of more than 50 paintings in a range of media and size.


Pike Road, The Pike Road Arts Council presents Art Talk and Afternoon Tea, featuring Barbara Davis. 2-4 p.m. Pike Road Town Hall, 9575 Vaughn Road. The third installation of a new series featuring conversations and demonstrations with local artists. Seating is limited. Purchase tickets by Jan. 9 at


Birmingham, The National Ballet Theatre of Odessa presents Swan Lake at Birmingham’s historic Lyric Theatre, 1800 Third Avenue North. Swan Lake tells the story of a heroic young prince as he works to free the beautiful swan maiden from an evil spell. Tickets can be purchased by visiting lyricbham. com or call 205-252-2262.


Enterprise, The Coffee County Arts Alliance Presents Ensemble Mélange. Mélange is a joyful modern-day ensemble that is changing the rules of performance. Unique to their performance is the manner in which the program is selected. The audience is invited to select the works to be performed by choosing from a menu of more than 30 works derived from different styles. Genres vary from classical, baroque, romantic, jazz, Latin, Americana and Broadway. The result is a one-ofa-kind, high-energy concert. 7 p.m.

Enterprise High School Performing Arts Center, 1801 Boll Weevil Circle.


Elkmont, Hound Dog Half Marathon. Course begins in downtown Elkmont and heads out into the country. About 7-8 miles into the race, runners will move off road onto the old L&N railroad bed, now known as the Richard Martin Trail. USATF certified; proceeds benefit the Elkmont and Ardmore High School cross country and track teams. Hounddoghalfmarathon.


Birmingham, The Birmingham Civil Rights Museum will observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with special programming featuring live performances, music, games and giveaways. Free admission to the museum and extended hours 9 a.m.5 p.m. Tour the permanent exhibits as they come to life with poetry and spoken word performances and test your Civil Rights history knowledge in the BCRI Jeopardy game. For more information, visit 520 16th St. North.


Guntersville, , Eagle Awareness at Lake Guntersville State Park. In January and February, eagles take center stage in North Alabama when Lake Guntersville State Park hosts the annual Eagle Awareness weekends, held every weekend from Jan. 25 through Feb. 17. The program features live bird demonstrations, interactive programs provided by speakers from across the country, guided field trips for viewing

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

Photo courtesy of Ensamble Mélange.

January | Around Alabama

eagles in their natural habitat, and activities for children. There will be demonstrations by Wings to SOAR, Alabama 4H Center and Auburn University’s Southeastern Raptor Center.


Troy, Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival. The festival begins at 6:30 pm. Friday with supper and stories at the We Piddle Around Theater in Brundidge, and continues with three storytelling concerts on Saturday at the Trojan Center Theatre on the Troy University campus. 334-685-5524 or piddle. org


Theodore, Viewing the Winter Sky at Bellingrath Gardens. Special evening astronomy program, led by members of the University of South Alabama Department of Physics. Following a brief lecture, guests will view the night sky on the Great Lawn. Telescopes will be set up to view planets and constellations. Guests are asked to bring binoculars and flashlights. Free for members, $14 for non-members. Reservations required. 251-973-2217

Feb. 2

Orrville, Road to Freedom Wagon Tour. One hundred years before the civil rights movement focused the nation’s attention on Selma, a brave community of recently emancipated African-Americans gathered in Cahawba. This wagon tour tells the story of Cahawba’s African-American majority and traces their path from slavery to freedom. $10 adults; $8 children under 18. Old Cahawba Archaeological Park, 9518 Cahaba Road, Orrville; 334-872-8058. Ahc.

Feb. 7

Nortport, In honor of Alabama’s Bicentennial, Kentuck kicks off “The Year of Alabama Artists” by featuring the work of Kentuck Festival guest artist Michael Banks. Live music in the Courtyard of Wonders; Kentuck’s eight studio artists will have their studios open for demonstrations and purchases. The Kentuck Gallery Shop will also be open.

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JANUARY 2019 29


| Gardens |

Growing history: Celebrating 200-plus years of gardening

This photo, circa 1900-1909 and used with permission from the Alabama Department of Archives and History, shows students working in the garden behind the Fifth District Agricultural School in Wetumpka, which later became Wetumpka High School.


or thousands of years, gardens have been essential parts of our state’s life and culture. As Alabama commemorates its 200th anniversary of statehood this year, here’s a quick snapshot of our gardening history and the plants that have become part of our landscapes and lives through the centuries. According to the Encyclopedia of Alabama, southeastern Native Americans — Alabama’s first gardeners — began growing crops of local plants (lambsquarters, sunflowers, other seedbearing plants and possibly squash) some 3,500 or more years ago to supplement their wild food sources. During the Mississippian Era (1000 to 1500 AD), indigenous Alabama tribes started gardening and farming in earnest, a practice that may well explain our state’s name. Though historians debate the exact origin of the name “Alabama,” many credit it to the Choctaw words alba amo, which translate into “those who clear the land.” Clear the land these early Alabamians did, replacing forests with fields where they grew a variety of crops including monocultures and companion plantings of the “Three Sisters” — beans, squash and corn. When the first European settlers arKatie Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at

30 JANUARY 2019

rived in Alabama in the 1500 and 1600s, they seized Native American cropland, and seized upon their cropping practices and plants. But they also brought with them an array of plants from the Old World. According to the late Montgomery County Cooperative Extension agent and Alabama garden historian George R. Stritikus, those introduced plants included oranges, oleanders, figs, peaches and possibly wisteria and canna lilies. During the early 1700s, gardens became status symbols of wealthy Alabama plantation owners and businessmen who created the state’s first “fine” or “pleasure” gardens. These plantings typically contained both food and ornamental plants, many of which mirrored those of their homelands. By the early 1800s — one of our state’s most tragic historical eras — the importation of slaves from Africa was under way. Along with the slaves came plants of their homelands including okra, kidney and lima beans, black-eyed peas, yams and watermelon. About this time, those affluent landowners were also importing huge numbers of ornamental plants primarily from France and England, but they soon realized that many of these plants could not survive in the South’s climate. According to Stritikus, the need for new varieties suited for southeastern growing conditions kick-started Alabama’s still-thriving nursery industry. The science of gardening and farming took a leap forward in the mid 1800s as Alabama developed its land-grant education and research system (Cooperative

JANUARY TIPS  Enroll in a Master Gardener program.  Take hardwood cuttings from deciduous trees and shrubs.  Water newly-planted trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials.  Plant onions, cabbages and leafy greens.  Trim back ornamental grasses.  Order seed for spring planting.  Keep bird feeders and baths clean and full.  Plant dormant fruit trees, roses and hardy annuals.

Extension and Agricultural Experiment Station systems), which helped identify the best plants and planting practices for home gardeners and horticultural professionals alike. During this era, horticultural and garden societies were also forming. Among the first of these in the South and in the nation was the Chunnenuggee Ridge Horticultural Society, founded in 1847 near Union Springs in Bullock County. By the early 1930s, the Federated Garden Clubs of Alabama was also organized to conserve and expand the state’s woodland environment and increase awareness of landscape beauty. Through history, our gardening practices and trends have changed — and continue to change — with each new generation of gardeners. As we begin our third century as a state, consider recording your own gardening history with a journal to chronicle your gardening successes and failures, and perhaps someday help add your own story to Alabama’s gardening history.

Garden history resources:

To learn more about the history of gardening, spend some time researching it on your own, or look to the list provided below. • The Southern Garden History Society ( is an exceptional resource for information on historic gardens, cultural landscapes and horticultural history. • The Alabama Department of Archives and History (www.archives.state. and other state archival resources offer gardening history records and also educational programs and exhibits on gardening history. • Many public gardens (a list can be found at offer educational programs and resources on gardening history and practices. • A number of historical societies offer gardening histories and also tend historic gardens that are open to the public. Check with your local historical society to find out what’s available in your area.



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| Consumer Wise |

Keeping the home fires affordable:

Home heating options By Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen


I have high energy bills, especially during the winter. My home is heated with a 20-year-old propane furnace. To make matters worse, I’ve also been paying the expenses on my mother’s home, which is heated with electric baseboards and wall heaters. Should I upgrade to a different kind of system?


You’re really getting the double whammy, especially if you live in a cold climate. Fortunately, you have a few potential solutions. A good first step, before making major changes to the heating system, is to look at the area you are heating. The amount of heated space and the efficiency of that space determine how large of a heating system you’ll need. Air leaks and inadequate insulation might be a major cause of higher bills, and correcting these problems might enable you to install a smaller heating system. An energy audit will provide the answers you need and give you an idea of how much you can save from weatherization measures and a more efficient heating system. Contact your local electric cooperative first to see if they offer energy audits or if they can recommend an auditor. Let’s talk about heating systems. Propane furnaces are expected to last 15 to 25 years, but if yours has been well-maintained, you may get more mileage out of it. Even if your furnace is still running well and has some life left in it, it may not be efficient. Propane, gas and oil furnace efficiency is measured by the Average Fuel Utilization Efficiency, or AFUE. This is indicated on a label which may still be attached to the furnace. Your 20-year-old unit might have an AFUE in the 70 to 80 percent range. A new high-efficiency furnace can have an AFUE rating of over 95 percent, which can reduce the portion of your propane bill that goes toward heating by 15 to 20 percent. The AFUE doesn’t account for any heat escaping through poorly-insulated or improperly-sealed pipes or furnace ducts, so you definitely want those issues taken care of first. Instead of replacing your old propane furnace with a new one, you have two additional options. You could install an air source heat pump, which would use your existing duct work, or a minisplit heat pump, which can heat up to four rooms. In the past decade, the efficiency of heat pumps has greatly improved, even to the point where they are solid options even in colder climates. It’s not surprising that your mother’s electric bill is high. This is common for inefficient homes that rely on resistance heat using wall heaters, portable heaters or baseboard heaters. Your mother’s home probably doesn’t have ductwork, which

makes the installation of a central heat pump very expensive. Instead, I suggest getting a quote on a ductless mini-split heat pump. They are efficient for heating and cooling, so if your mother uses a window A/C unit (or two), she can save even more money. Mini-splits are usually installed to heat and cool the largest, most used area of a home. Your mother can continue to use baseboard heaters in the rooms she doesn’t use as often. As efficient as the mini-splits are, they might not provide enough heat in a prolonged, extreme cold snap, so leaving a few baseboard heaters connected is a good idea. Heating system upgrades have a big effect on comfort and the pocketbook for many years. Scheduling an energy audit and considering all your options gives you the best chance at making the right decisions. Good luck, and stay warm! This column was co-written by Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen of Collaborative Efficiency. For more information on heating options, please visit: Below, Mini-split heat pumps are efficient options for heating and cooling. They are typically installed to heat and cool the largest, most used area of a home. PHOTO COURTESY BONNEVILLE POWER ADMINISTRATION

Left, Energy Guide Labels can be found on any major appliance and include information on energy efficiency. The heat pump described here is ENERGY STAR approved. PHOTO COURTESY PAT KEEGAN

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

32  JANUARY 2019

Alabama Living

JANUARY 2019  33

| Alabama Recipes |


It’s an essential nutrient, so putting protein high on your priority list is a resolution you should make (and keep) this year.

Sausage, Egg and Cheese Bake

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akers of many foods (and those in charge of promoting certain agriculture products) like to slap the title “good source of protein” on their items as a way to entice an increasingly health-conscious public to buy and ingest whatever it is they’re selling. But is “getting enough protein” really that important or is the popularity of protein a fad? Yes to the first question; kind of to the second. Protein is a macronutrient that is essential to our bodies’ daily functions. It forms the building blocks of our cells and is used to make and repair muscles, bones, blood and other tissues. It plays many other crucial roles too, making it a key component of a balanced diet. It is found in meats but also in dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds and beans. Protein is also the focus of several “trendy” diets (like Paleo, Keto and Whole 30), but just because they’re “trendy” doesn’t mean they don’t work. These protein-rich eating regimens deliver impressive results for weight loss. Pounds are shed quickly, and thanks to protein’s ability to satisfy appetites, people on these diets usually don’t feel overly hungry or deprived. According to the Mayo Clinic, for most people, high-protein, low-carb diets are safe, at least when they’re practiced short term. But if you’re loading up your plate with bacon and fatty beef, you could exchange unwanted fat for high cholesterol and other issues. Better protein-heavy choices are fish, lean meats, low-fat dairy and beans. In fact, this advice applies to everyone: Experts agree that many of us could be making better choices about the kinds of protein we’re eating. If you’re considering one of the protein-packed diets or just need to add some additional protein to your menu (now that you know how vital to good health it is), you’re in luck. Check out these tasty and (mostly) healthy reader-submitted recipes.

Cook of the Month

Mike Rich, Sand Mountain EC No-Bake Puffed Quinoa Peanut Butter Crunch Cups 1½ cups puffed quinoa* ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons peanut butter ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons coconut butter 2 tablespoons coconut oil 1½ tablespoons pure maple syrup 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Add the puffed quinoa to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the peanut butter, coconut butter, coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract to a medium saucepan. Heat over low and whisk continuously for 4-5 minutes or until completely melted and smooth. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the puffed quinoa and stir to coat.Place 16-18 muffin liners on a baking pan. Drop heaping tablespoons of the quinoa mixture into the muffin liners and gently smooth out with a spoon. Pop the pan into the freezer for one hour to set. Once the cups have set, you can transfer them to the refrigerator to store. Cook's note: You can purchase puffed quinoa, but if you prefer to make your own, this is what I typically do: Heat a large stockpot over medium heat. Once the pot is hot, pour a small amount of pre-rinsed and dried quinoa over the bottom of the pan. Gently move the pan so that the quinoa swirls around as it pops (this helps prevent burning). Once all the quinoa has popped (a minute or two), pour it into a bowl and repeat until you have 1½ cups. You'll notice that the quinoa has a very quiet crackle rather than a popcorn-like "pop," and its popped state is only the tiniest bit larger than its un-popped state.

Alabama Living

JANUARY 2019 35

Meathead Chili 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

ribeye steaks package pork sausage pound ground beef onion, chopped 16-ounce can red kidney beans 16-ounce can black beans 16-ounce can pinto beans 16-ounce can petite-diced tomatoes 16-ounces tomato paste tablespoon chili powder tablespoon cumin tablespoon oregano tablespoon brown sugar 14-ounce can beef broth Splash of sriracha sauce

Sear the steaks in a skillet 10 minutes a side. Brown the ground beef and pork together in a large pot. Cut the steak and add to a pot along with the chopped onion. After the onions cook down, add spices, tomatoes, brown sugar, sriracha sauce and beans. Pour in the beef stock and cook at a simmer for 30 minutes. Let chili rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Kirk Vantrease Cullman EC

Themes and Deadlines: March: Instant Pot | Jan. 3 April: Strawberries | Feb. 4 May: Tex-Mex | March 4 Please send us your original recipes (developed or adapted by you or family members.) Cook of the Month winners will receive $50, and may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year.

36 JANUARY 2019

Healthy Peanut Butter Cup Puppy Chow

Sausage, Egg and Cheese Bake

¾ cup toasted wheat (or rice) cereal 2 tablespoon PB2 (or any brand of peanut butter powder) ¼ teaspoon Hershey Special Dark Cocoa powder (or chocolate protein powder) 2 packets Splenda or Stevia Coconut oil cooking spray

2 pounds bulk sausage (I like to use one hot, one mild) 1 small onion, chopped 1 package diced red, yellow and green bell peppers 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese 1 cup half and half or milk 8 eggs 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon pepper ½ teaspoon garlic powder

(Single serving)

Mix peanut butter powder, dark cocoa powder and Spenda or Stevia in a bowl. Place cereal in a quart sized Ziploc bag. Spray cereal with coconut oil cooking spray, tossing well. Use just enough to coat. Add the dry ingredients to the bag with the cereal and toss until they stick to all sides. Kaci Cheeseman Baldwin EMC Editor’s Note: Alabama Living’s recipes are submitted by our readers. They are not kitchen-tested by a professional cook or registered dietician. If you have special dietary needs, please check with your doctor or nutritionist before preparing any recipe.



prize and title of

Cook of the Month

Brown the sausage with onion. Drain well on paper towels. Add the chopped bell peppers to the pan and sauté until tender. (You may or may not want to add a little oil or butter to the pan.) Add back in the sausage and onion mixture and stir until all ingredients are incorporated. Spread the meat/pepper mixture in a greased 9x13-inch baking dish or two smaller dishes. Sprinkle cheese on top. Whisk eggs, half and half or milk, garlic powder, salt and pepper together, and pour over the whole pan. I like to chill it overnight, but that's optional. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Allison Law Alabama Living managing editor

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

Cooking contest winner continues tradition Story and photos by Allison Law


any folks say that cooking ability is in the genes, passed down from one generation to the next. For this year’s winner of the Alabama Living “Crockin’ It” contest at the Alabama National Fair, not only is cooking in the genes – so is winning. Mary Lyons of Tallassee won first place in the October contest for her dessert creation, Alabama-made Praline CrockPot Bread Pudding. Lyons has entered the contest for the last four years, and two years ago she won third place with her Crockpot Tropics Sipper. Her adult son, Levi, followed in his mom’s footsteps. That same year, 2016, Levi Lyons won second place in the contest with his Crock-Pot Spinach Sausage and Ricotta Shells. From left, Alabama Living editor Lenore Vickrey; first-place winner Mary Lyons; Levi Lyons didn’t enter this year, but his mom continued to second-place winner Tif Smith; third place winner Jamie Davis; and Creative Living Center director Ann Ball. make the family proud. The inspiration for her sweet dish came from Pinterest, the free online platform that allows users to discover and save ideas – everything from recipes to renovation projects to clothing. The recipe she found on Pinterest was for regular baking, not for a Crock-Pot. It also didn’t feature an Alabama-made ingredient, which is one of the requirements for the Alabama Living contest. She decided to use Luverne-made Sister Schubert’s rolls, baking them first in the oven and slicing and soaking them in the egg mixture. She also used Alaga syrup and found vanilla flavoring that’s made in Birmingham. The third place winner, Jamie Davis, is Mary Lyons’ friend, and she’s the one who suggested that Lyons enter the praline dish. Obviously, it was good advice!

Alabama-made Praline Crock-Pot Bread Pudding First place Mary Lyons, Tallassee 1 4 2 ¾ ¼

package Sister Schubert’s rolls eggs, lightly beaten cups half and half cup sugar cup chopped pecans

Praline sauce: ½ cup butter ¼ cup Alaga cane flavor syrup ¾ cup brown sugar, packed ¼ cup chopped pecans ¾ cup heavy cream Whipped cream: 1 small carton Borden’s whipping cream 3 tablespoons sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla Bake rolls as directed on package. While warm, cut into pieces. Arrange pieces in single layer on a flat surface; cool completely. In a large bowl, beat eggs; add half and half and sugar and mix well until blended. Add cut up rolls and mix well; let stand 15 minutes. Spread mixture evenly in slow cooker and press down slightly. Cook on high for two hours. Watch the sides for browning; take top off and allow top to brown for the last 30 minutes of cooking. Turn down to warm. Check center with a knife to make sure center is done; knife will come out clean. Sprinkle pecans over the bread pudding. Sauce: melt butter in saucepan on medium heat. Add Alaga syrup and mix well. Add brown sugar and pecans and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and slowly stir in heavy cream and simmer 2-3 minutes more, stirring constantly until it begins to thicken. Let stand 10 minutes. Pour over warm bread pudding. Whipped cream: With a mixer on medium, beat whipping cream and gradually add sugar and vanilla. Mix until it forms a peak. Serve this cream on top of the pudding and sauce. Alabama Living

JANUARY 2019 37

Pineapple and Pulled Pork Crock-Pot Baked Bean Camp Stew

Crock-Pot Low Country Boil

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 ½ 1 2 2 2 ½ 2

4 cups water 1 bottle of Truck Stop Honey beer ¼ cup Alaga hot sauce 3 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning 1½ teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1½ pounds red potatoes (about 10-15 small) 10 small ears sweet corn (frozen or from the garden) 1 pound Conecuh sausage, cut into two- to three-inch links 2 lemons, cut into wedges 2 pounds large shrimp, deveined Optional condiments: cocktail sauce, additional lemon wedges, melted butter

Second place Tif Smith, Montgomery

Third place Jamie Davis, Tallassee

pound bacon pound Conecuh sausage large white onion, chopped 28-ounce can baked beans in tomato sauce 16-ounce can baked beans 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed 15-ounce can yellow corn 20-ounce can pineapple tidbits, drained cup Alaga maple syrup 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes cups pulled pork large bell peppers, chopped cloves garlic, minced cup ketchup tablespoons Dijon mustard 5 shakes Alaga hot sauce Salt and pepper, to taste ½ cup barbecue sauce Chop raw bacon and Conecuh sausage and fry over medium heat until crispy and done. Drain on paper towels. Drain grease, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the pan. Cook onion in grease until soft. Combine all ingredients in a large slow cooker and cook on high for four hours or on low for eight hours.

In a six- to seven-quart slow cooker, combine water, beer, hot sauce, seafood seasoning, salt and cayenne pepper. Add potatoes, corn, sausage and lemon wedges. Cover and cook for 3 ½ hours on high. Add shrimp and stir until incorporated. Cover and cook an additional 30 minutes or until shrimp are pink. Spoon mixture into a large rimmed dish and serve with optional condiments.

Start the

New Year

Off Right!





‘Best of Alabama Living’ cookbook

Order your copy for $19.95 at, or send a check for $19.95 for each book ordered to: Alabama Living Cookbook Please provide the information below P.O. Box 244014 and mail with your payment. Montgomery, AL 36124

Name: ___________________________________________ Address: _________________________________________ City: ______________________ State: ____ Zip: _____ Phone: _________________ Copies Requested: ____ Email ___________________________________________

38 JANUARY 2019

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Alabama Living

JANUARY 2019  39

| Outdoors |

Gearing up for cold weather F

Better protective gear can help anglers catch more fish

Some anglers love fishing during the winter. Here Jimmy Mason, a bass pro from Rogersville, Ala., bundled up to catch smallmouth bass at Pickwick Lake near Florence, Ala. PHOTO BY JOHN N. FELSHER

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

40 JANUARY 2019

aced with stinging temperatures – intensified by swirling winds driving snow flurries – most anglers would probably wait for a better day, or month, to go fishing. But proper protective gear can allow anglers to fish in relative comfort on days when most people would rather sit next to a roaring fire. “I fished some really bad days, but one in particular stands out,” remembers Denny Brauer, a former Bassmaster Classic champion. “During one tournament, the ramp got so slick that people were almost launching their trucks along with their boats. All my rod compartments froze shut. I had to borrow my wife’s hair dryer to thaw the locks. We made a run to the lower end of the lake and pulled into a creek. I told my partner, ‘We’re going to be here all day. I’m not making another run.’ I actually caught a really good bag that day because I kept my bait in the water and didn’t want to run anywhere else in the cold.” In the old days, many anglers wore army-surplus field jackets, bulky “long johns” under jeans, jumpsuits or maybe sweatpants and anything else they could find to ward off the chill. They topped that ensemble with heavy woolen shirts and jackets. In extreme cold, some put on down parkas. Not designed for fishing, these heavy outfits offered protection, but didn’t allow much mobility or relief from rain. Fortunately, manufacturers have made significant progress in protective gear technology. “Back then, we wore so much that we couldn’t move or fish,” recalls Bernie Schultz, a professional angler. “It was so heavy that it wore us out. Today, an angler can buy stuff right off the shelf that is so much better than what we had years ago. Now, we layer ourselves in garments made of high-tech materials designed specifically for fishing. The cut is better, giving anglers more mobility.” As it progresses, hypothermia, or a lowering of the core body temperature, can cause disorientation, slurring of speech and hamper one’s ability to make decisions. Wetness or wind rapidly exacerbates the effects of hypothermia. A person immersed in 40-degree F waters can lose consciousness in 15 minutes and die in 90. Today, anglers can buy lightweight, waterproof products designed specifically to keep them warm, dry and comfortable

in weather extremes. For starters, protect the head. Many anglers wear insulated or knit wool coverings to protect their heads, faces and necks on extremely cold days. Some wear beanie-type caps and might add wide coverings similar to sweatbands over the ears. Put a sweatshirt hood over this covering, followed by the hood on the outer coat to keep warm and dry. The old adage, “dress in layers” still applies, but with modern garments, layers don’t need to make a person resemble a tire company logo. Most people start with ultralight Gore-Tex thermal undergarments and add a thick shirt or sweatshirt over them. Some wear thin, insulated waterproof pants over jeans or trousers. Others prefer bibs, which resemble overalls on steroids. On the outside, many anglers don waterproof all-weather coats or parkas to fight biting cold, block the wind and repel rain or spray. Nothing makes a person more miserable in cold weather than wet socks and icy feet. Some people wear waterproof thermal socks to keep their feet dry. Some people wear battery-operated electric socks. Over those, add waterproof shoes or boots. “It’s miserable all day if you step into a puddle or walk down to the boat and barely slip into the water at the ramp, getting the socks wet in the morning,” says John Cox, a professional angler. “Wearing waterproof shoes makes a huge difference for the rest of the day as long as I don’t step in water over my ankle. I like a waterproof shoe that feels like a sneaker, but keeps my feet dry. If it’s really cold, I’ll wear insulated waterproof boots, but I can’t move around in boots that well.” Thick gauntlet-style gloves protect hands while running the boat, but anglers can’t easily turn reel handles with them. Many companies now make thinner insulated gloves that keep hands warm, but still allow anglers to better use their fingers. Some gloves come with small pockets to insert chemical air-activated hand warmers for additional comfort. Before heading out to face the elements, start with a good, hot breakfast. Anglers who don’t want to stop fishing to eat lunch can nibble high-energy bars throughout the day. Also drink sufficient warm, non-alcoholic liquids. Alcohol can lower a person’s core body temperature and cause dehydration.


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DOUG HANNON’S FISH & GAME FORECAST 2019 JANUARY Tu 15 We 16 Th 17 Fr 18 Sa 19 Su 20 Mo 21 Tu 22 We 23 Th 24 Fr 25 Sa 26 Sun 27 Mo 28 Tu 29 We 30 Th 31





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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

JANUARY 2019 41

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Established in under


We service & repair all brands

Marks Electric

We sell


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mini-split ductless heat pumps



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


Owner Alfred Marks • AL License# 84750 42 JANUARY 2019

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JANUARY 2019 43

| Our Sources Say |

Lowman People W

hen I started work at Alabama Electric Cooperative in 1989, all our generation resources were coal-fired. We had the McWilliams Plant, a small plant built in the 1950s. We also had the Lowman Plant on the Tombigbee River, which consisted of three units. Unit #1 was completed in 1969, and Units #2 and #3 were completed in 1979 and 1980, respectively. The McWilliams Plant was converted to natural gas in the early 1990s, but the Lowman Plant is still prominent in our generation portfolio today. Most coal plants, especially those built in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, use water to move coal ash from the boiler bottoms to coal ash holding ponds. The ponds allow the ash to settle out of the water and, as the ponds fill, the ash is moved to long-term storage areas. At the time the Lowman Plant was built, unlined coal ash holding ponds were the norm. Lowman’s ash holding ponds were lined with six feet of compacted clay, which provides a barrier between the pond and groundwater. Today, however, they are considered unlined ponds. The Lowman Plant was constructed and has been operated in accordance with all federal and state environmental regulations and permits, but things change, and the view of coal ash holding ponds has changed. The Coal Combustion Residual (CCR) Rule, implemented by the Obama EPA, changes how coal ash is handled and stored. The rule continues to be litigated, and changes have been made by the Trump EPA. The CCR Rule prohibits the deposit of coal ash into unlined coal ash ponds after October 31, 2020. The deadline continues to be litigated, and recent rulings indicate the current deadline will stand, if not become accelerated. Because we will not be able to move coal ash to our ponds after October 2020, we are left with few choices other than to close the Lowman Plant and obtain additional generation resources to replace the coal-fired generation. With additional uncertainty surrounding the Effluent Limitations Guideline rule and other environmental regulations, we decided to cease operations at the Lowman Plant at the end of October 2020, cap and close the ash holding ponds, demolish the Lowman Plant and construct a natural gas combined cycle unit

on the site to replace the Lowman generation capacity. With closure of the Lowman Plant, we lose the diversity of coal-fired generation as a natural hedge against higher natural gas prices, and we are more dependent upon natural gas as a generation fuel. (The Lowman Plant has been economically dispatched ahead of our most efficient natural gas units for the past four weeks because of higher-priced natural gas.) However, the greater loss is the loss of a number of our people employed at Lowman. We currently employ 150 people at Lowman. After replacing the Lowman coal-fired plants with a natural gas combined cycle unit, we will only require 35 employees. A number of our Lowman employees are eligible for retirement, and more will be eligible by October 2020. Unfortunately, we will not be able to maintain some of our current Lowman employees with the operation of the natural gas plant, and they will have to find other employment. Our Lowman employees have worked around the clock, on holidays we enjoyed with our families, through storms and other disruptions to keep your electricity on. They learned to ramp the coal units to follow load changes and implement innovative repairs to keep the Lowman units online at higher availability rates than those of other utilities. They have been remarkable and have done what needed to be done to provide affordable and reliable electric service for PowerSouth’s members. It is sad and disheartening that environmental activists, politicians, bureaucrats and others have allowed environmental and climate change movements to close coal-fired units and cost good, hardworking people their jobs and livelihoods. The real victims are the hopes and dreams of Lowman employees, people with families, lives and needs that were met with their employment at the Lowman Plant, not the abstract climate threats to public health. Maybe one day our leaders will understand the real damage they have done. I usually end by wishing you a good month. It is difficult for me to end on a happy note knowing that good people will soon be looking for new jobs because of extremist environmental ideologies.

Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative

44 JANUARY 2019

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March 2019 Issue by January 25 April 2019 Issue by February 25 May 2019 Issue by March 25 Ads are $1.75 per word with a 10 word minimum and are on a prepaid basis; Telephone numbers, email addresses and websites are considered 1 word each. Ads will not be taken over the phone. You may email your ad to; 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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Fruits / Nuts / Berries

ORANGE BEACH CONDO, 3BR/3BA; 2,000 SQ.FT.; beautifully decorated; gorgeous waterfront view; boat slips available; great rates - Owner rented (251)604-5226 Alabama Living

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


GROW MUSCADINES AND BLACKBERRIES , half dollar size – We offer over 200 varieties of Fruit and Nut Trees plus Vines and Berry Plants . Free color catalog. 1-800-733-0324. Ison’s Nursery, P.O. Box 190, Brooks, GA 30205 Since 1934 JANUARY 2019  45

| Hardy Jackson's Alabama |

Illustration by Dennis Auth

Coops cooperating


urricane season is over. Officially at least. If you were where a storm hit, the season was a bad one. If the storms missed you, it wasn’t. If you were a lineman working for an Alabama rural electrical co-op, where a hurricane hit was not the issue. That one hit at all was what mattered. I first became aware of this in late September 2004. I left my home in North Alabama to check on our coastal cottage. Hurricane Ivan had roared ashore at Gulf Shores the week before and since we were on the west side of the storm, the worst side, I was afraid of what I would find. As I drove south on the Interstate, I passed scores of bucket trucks, driven by linemen from parts of the state that had not been hit. They knew what was needed and were there to provide it. They were putting the co-op in cooperation. Until you have been through a coastal Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University and a columnist for Alabama Living. He can be reached at

46  JANUARY 2019

storm and seen what one can do, it is hard to imagine the magnitude of the destruction. And until you have been without power for a few days, it is equally hard to imagine how you ever lived without it. Recently Hurricane Michael reminded the Florida Panhandle and some of South Alabama just what nature can do. Mexico Beach, east of Panama City, was described as a “war zone.” Carrying the analogy further, the response to the disaster was not unlike the way our military responds in wartime. Get boots on the ground, equipment and supplies in place, do the job you are trained to do, while back at headquarters, the coordinators decided who goes where, what resources are needed, and how best to repair what has been damaged and destroyed. It is a massive undertaking. We were down on the coast when Michael hit. Though the worst of it was east of us, our power went out like everyone else’s. Then the “first responders” arrived and went to work. In the past I thought of first responders as police, firefighters, rescue workers and such. After Michael I put linemen, rightof-way crews, engineers and mechanics in that category.

While the first responders were doing their work, we repacked frozen food in ice we had laid up when the storm approached. We fired up the grill to cook what we could, and set out the candles, flashlights, and lanterns that we kept in the “hurricane box” that we hoped we would never need. The sunset was beautiful. The storm had churned up all sorts of atmospheric clutter and the red rays bouncing off the bits and pieces were a delight to the eye. Then it was dark. Really dark. Except for an occasional flashlight beam or the glow of a lantern in a window across the way, there was nothing. It was a long night. The next day we sat around, listened to the battery-operated radio, and waited for the dark. It came. And after that, the dawn. Then another day of waiting until, just before sunset, electric lights flickered, then came on and held steady. Refrigerators and air conditioners began to hum. Civilization restored. The co-ops, cooperating, had done the job.


Alabama Rural Electric Association’s


st l La al C


Quilt Competition Our 2019 theme is:

Alabama’s Bicentennial

Mail, form below or E-mail information for your entry package. Deadline to submit quilt square is January 25, 2019.

Name: ________________________________________________ Address: ______________________________________________ City, State Zip: __________________________________________ Mail to: Linda Partin AREA E-mail: ________________________________________________ 340 TechnaCenter Drive Montgomery, AL 36117 Phone: ________________________________________________ Cooperative: ___________________________________________ or Phone: 334-215-2732 E-mail: (The electric cooperative name on front of this Alabama Living.)

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