Stories | Recipes | Events | People | Places | Things | Local News July 2018
Covington Electric Cooperative
Raising catfish www.covington.coop
Black belt farms keep region afloat
Farmers markets Frozen treats
Manager Ed Short Co-op Editor Patty Singleton-Seay ALABAMA LIVING is delivered to some 415,000 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.
Fresh, tasty and local The number of farmers markets in Alabama now tops 170, with nearly 1,000 farmers selling their fresh produce in those markets. That accounts for between $25 million to $30 million in sales annually. “That’s a lot of watermelons,” says Don Wambles, director of the Alabama Farmers Market Authority.
VOL. 71 NO. 7 n JULY 2018
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CEC launches new heat pump program for manufactured home buyers.
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 Nalin Crocker
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Faith in their farm
Farming for life
Jewel and Russell Bean have revitalized their family farm in Barbour County, and in the process, are teaching others.
Jimmy Parnell’s job as president of the Alabama Farmers Federation keeps him plenty busy, so there’s no better place for him to de-stress than on his family farm.
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Buying a new manufactured home?
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In this issue: Page 11 Page 29 Page 54
11 Spotlight 26 Gardens 29 Around Alabama 40 Outdoors 41 Fish & Game Forecast 44 Cook of the Month 54 Hardy Jackson’s Alabama ONLINE: alabamaliving.coop ON THE COVER: Townsend Kyser, a catfish farmer from Greensboro, the “catfish capital of Alabama,” is proud of the economic impact catfish farming has had on the state. See story, page 12. PHOTO: Morgan Graham
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Covington Electric Cooperative Board of Trustees Gary Harris Assistant Sec./Treas. District I - Dozier
Buying a new manufactured home? Let’s talk. By Ed Short, CEC General Manager and CEO
Dr. Bill King District II - Andalusia
W.B. Smith Chairman District III - Brantley
C. Heflin Smith Vice Chairman District IV - Kinston
James F. Martin Jr. Sec./Treas. District V - Enterprise
Patricia Janasky District VI - Samson
Office Hours: 7:30 AM - 4:30 PM Monday - Friday Headquarters: 18836 US Hwy 84 Andalusia, AL 36421 334-222-4121 1-800-239-4121 Fax: 334-222-1546 District Offices Brantley 334-527-3263 Enterprise 334-347-9449 Samson 334-898-2085 Report Power Outages 1-800-239-1193 www.covington.coop
4 JULY 2018
About 19% of Covington Electric Cooperative’s members are manufactured homeowners. These residences serve a real need for affordable housing. There is also a need for these homes to be more energy-efficient. Since they typically come with an electric furnace, we’re launching a program to help manufactured home buyers, as well as existing owners, upgrade to a high-efficiency heat pump. This more efficient unit is predicted to save participants around $550 per year on heating costs. For most people who are already watching every penny, $550 per year over many years really adds up. As a not-for-profit electric cooperative, we want what’s best for our members. That includes helping them reduce their power bills, when possible. Working with manufactured home dealers in and around our service area, CEC will cover the DIFFERENCE to upgrade from an electric furnace to a highefficiency heat pump in any NEW manufactured home purchased by our members, at no cost to the buyer. The upgrade cost is paid directly to the home dealer at the point of sale. The upgrade helps lower the purchaser’s electric bills for years to come — without adding anything to their mortgage.
We’re helping homeowners in our service area who are already in manufactured homes, too. Those members can get a rebate up to $400 per ton when they replace an electric furnace with a high-efficiency heat pump. In addition, they may qualify for low-interest financing through the cooperative’s Energy Efficiency Loan Program. Plus, they’ll enjoy the comfort and savings of an energyefficient heat pump for years to come. To be eligible to apply for an Energy Efficiency Loan through your cooperative, the member must have a good payment history with CEC and own the residence for at least one year. CEC offers two loan options. Other requirements vary depending on which loan program the member is interested in pursuing. Credit checks are required for both programs, but collateral is only required for the in-house loan program. To learn more about the manufactured home program or the Energy Efficiency Loan program, please call 1-800-239-4121 today. These programs are more ways we’re adding value. Together, let’s power savings!
Cost Comparison of an Electric Furnace versus a Heat Pump
Electric Furnace Annual Cost
Heat Pump Annual Cost
Heating Cost: $750
Heating Cost: $200
Cooling Cost: $480
Cooling Cost: $480
Heating and cooling kWh usages are based on GDS Modeled Results for manufactured housing with various heating types (Electric furnace: 7,236 kWhs and heat pumps: 1,945 kWhs). Cost estimates are based on an average energy cost per kWh for electric cooperatives in south Alabama and northwest Florida.
We’ll cover the difference to upgrade your new home with a heat pump! That’s right! If you’re one of our electric cooperative members, we’ll cover the difference,* at no cost to you, between an electric furnace and a heat pump. You’ll then enjoy a more efﬁcient heating and cooling system that will save you an average of $550 a year on heating costs. You can use those savings to treat the kids, buy a boat, decorate the house or take a vacation! *Cost difference paid directly to home dealer. Limitations apply.
Average savings of
$550 per year!
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| Covington Electric Cooperative |
Thrash’s leadership helped guide CEC through challenging times By Patty Singleton-Seay CEC’s student representatives on the 1969 Washington Youth Tour prepare to board a flight at Dannelly Field in Montgomery bound for D.C. Pictured from left are: Randall Brand, Straughn High School, Alan Thrash, Opp High School, Dickie Lunsford, Elba High School, and Chad Martin, the late CEC member services director.
As a high school junior attending the 1969 Washington Rural Electric Youth Tour on behalf of Covington Electric Cooperative, retiring Vice President of Operations Alan Thrash had no idea his connection to the cooperative world was just beginning. After graduating salutatorian of his class at Opp High School in 1970, Thrash went to Auburn University where he graduated with a degree in education. His first teaching job was at Houston County High School, but Thrash wanted to be closer to his hometown. In January 1976, he accepted a job at Kinston School when their vocational agriculture teacher retired in the middle of the school year. Within a few weeks of settling into his new position, Thrash received a familiar visitor who was at the school to discuss electrical wiring classes. That visitor was Chad Martin, the late CEC member services director, who also happened to be a chaperone on the 1969 Washington Youth Tour. 6 JULY 2018
“Chad quickly realized who I was and we enjoyed working together on the wiring classes at Kinston,” he said. Being an ag teacher was rewarding to Thrash because he liked helping young people grow and succeed, and his roots were in agriculture. After a few years of teaching at Kinston, he began to ponder the future and wondered if there might be other opportunities that he would enjoy even more. Oddly enough, around this same time, Chad Martin and Ed Short approached Thrash about a possible job at CEC. Martin was planning to retire and Short was going to be promoted to the director position. They asked Thrash to consider coming to work at CEC as a member services representative. He talked it over with his family and he decided to take a leap of faith by sending his resume to John Hill, general manager of Covington Electric at that time. “Mr. Hill called me in for an interview and he oﬀered me the job. He wanted me to come to work right away, but I wanted to finish out the school year at Kinston and he graciously allowed me to fulfill my obligation,” said Thrash. “I was excited about the oppor-
tunity to come to work at CEC because I’ve always been interested in electricity and I was eager to take on new challenges,” he said. In August 1980, Thrash began his new career at CEC and there were no shortages of challenges. “First I had to learn all the intricate details of an electric distribution system. It’s a very complex business and I wanted to understand everything I could about it so that I could do the best job possible. As a member services representative, I worked closely with the CEC membership through programs and services oﬀered by the co-op,” he said. Bigger challenges were on the horizon that would make his new job even more demanding. “There was a lot of volatility in the wholesale power market due to escalating fuel prices and an unexpected reduction in demand for electricity. PowerSouth Energy Cooperative (Alabama Electric Cooperative [AEC] as it was known at the time), had made a major investment in a new generation plant that was coming on line and the timing was not ideal, considering the turbulent market conditions. It was a very uncertain time in our industry, but we did the best we could by continuing to work with our members by promoting energy eﬃciency and heat pumps. We also resolved bill www.alabamaliving.coop
| Covington Electric Cooperative |
complaints as needed,” he said. By 1990, the AEC member systems were in a more stable environment and Thrash was promoted to manager of marketing. He worked in this position for three years before making a key move to operations supervisor. “This was very diﬀerent because I went from managing three people to managing about 60 people,” said Thrash. One year later, he was promoted to manager of operations. In this role, he continued to help support one of CEC’s main priorities that began during the previous decade: Rebuilding its electric distribution system. “When I first started working here, just keeping the lights on was a major undertaking,” said Thrash. “The power lines, substations and other equipment used to regulate and deliver power had never been upgraded from when it was first constructed. There was also no defined right-of-way program. As far as trucks and other power line equipment, we were very limited for
a long time and most things were done manually,” he said. “It was very exciting through the years to see our cooperative invest in a better system, better equipment and make the necessary upgrades that would lead to the system we have today which is top notch,” said Thrash. Service interruptions averaged less than two hours per member in 2017 and that was simply inconceivable when Thrash first began working at CEC. “We have just over 2,700 miles of power lines that CEC maintains and even with today’s technology and state of the art equipment, it still takes manpower to make our service outstanding in terms of reliability and I’m very proud of the workers here at CEC because they make it happen every day,” he said. When asked what his most memorable moment at CEC has been, Thrash first said there were too many to list. But after taking a moment, he knew one stood out and for good reason. “When Hurricane Opal hit our area in October 1995,
Teaching wiring classes at schools within CEC’s service territory was one of many responsibilities Alan Thrash had when he began his career at CEC. He’s pictured above (far right) with a vo-ag class at Kinston School in the early 1980s.
one hundred percent of our system was completely down,” said Thrash. “No one on our system had power, literally not one member. Every substation was down, hundreds of poles were broken, massive trees that had stood for well over 100 years were on the ground across roads, homes and power lines. The devastation was beyond substantial. Our employees, with help from other electric cooperatives and contract crews, came together in an unprecedented manner to work around the clock and we restored power to every CEC member who could take power in seven days. It was remarkable how much was accomplished in one week following such a catastrophic event,” he said. Memories from major events, like devastating hurricanes to good times like employee gatherings at cookouts or in the community at Relay For Life, are some of the most valued treasures that Thrash will take into retirement. “I’ve had a rewarding career with many wonderful memories. I’m very appreciative for the opportunity to serve our membership for nearly 38 years and to work with the employees at CEC,” he said. I would like to share a quote from Thrash’s salutatorian speech at his high school graduation because it has such timeless relevance and would benefit a young person today. What is the greatest gift young people can receive? I believe it is the right to work. It is by working and by being educated that one becomes a worthwhile person. It is through work that we earn the right to stand on our own and realize that we can be important as individuals with our own hopes and ideals. While still young we will find that there is honor in labor. Work will be medicine for our souls, JULY 2018 7
| Covington Electric Cooperative |
and a stimulant to our self-esteem. Work will be a turnpike on the road to success over which we can all travel, if we care to do so. Thrash clearly understood the value of work from an early age and that understanding has served him well throughout his life. On March 30, he left CEC for the last time as its vice president of operations, a title which Thrash was given in 2004 to better reflect his role and responsibilities. He’s looking forward to retirement as a new chapter in the book of life where he can spend more time with family. He plans to plant a big garden each year, go fishing on Gantt Lake and travel occasionally. He will also have more time to help care for his elderly parents. Thrash and his wife Diane have three children and six grandchildren, all of whom are looking forward to seeing him more. Everyone at CEC wishes Thrash a long and very happy retirement.
Retiring Vice President of Operations Alan Thrash is looking forward to spending more time with family and enjoying many hobbies. He’s going to miss his co-op family and he’s really going to miss listening to the two-way radio 24/7.
World Championship Domino Tournament set for July 13-14 The Andalusia Rotary Club will host the 43rd annual World Championship Domino Tournament on July 13-14 at the Kiwanis Community Center located at 20096 S. Bypass in Andalusia. Playing dominoes in this tournament provides fellowship, fun, competition and big cash prizes. Online registration and tournament rules are available at worldchampionshipdomino.com.
8 JULY 2018
| Alabama Snapshots |
the hometown of Hosie & Lois Lester Reunion held in 2016 in Addison, last child of the Lesters. the is er) (cent son John r Leste Alene Lester. on. Addis , Boyd SUBMITTED BY Debby
Moranda, LaKrisa, LaTonya, Setasha, Kiera and Aishia. SUBMITTED BY LaTona Peoples, Jackson.
017. ing Day 2 Thanksgiv e, Evergreen. n io n u Bledso mily re Bledsoe fa BY Mike and Becky D E T IT M B SU
First cousins Marjorie Elmore, Doris Henderson and Gwin Prestwood at the McGlaun family reunion in Andalusia, April 14, 2018. SUBMITTED BY Rhonda Mosley, Silverhill.
Some of the descendants of Charlie and Edna Burch Jernigan in Foley in 2011. SUBMITTED BY Cherry Peek, Foley.
PWRC (Pauline, Wa llace, Roberts, Ca rder) Family reuni Carder, Harvest. on. SU
BMITTED BY Pand
Submit Your Images! September Theme: “County Fairs” Deadline for Sept: July 31
SUBMIT PHOTOS ONLINE: www.alabamaliving.coop/submit-photo/ 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 www.alabamaliving.coop and on our Facebook page. Alabama Living is not responsible for lost or damaged photos. Alabama Living
JULY 2018 9
| News you can use | SOCIAL SECURITY
Three common ways your Social Security payment can grow after retirement
ou made the choice and now you are happily retired. You filed online for your Social Security benefits. They arrive each month in the correct amount exactly as expected. But, did you ever wonder if your Social Security check could increase? Once you begin receiving benefits, there are three common ways benefit checks can increase: a cost of living adjustment (COLA); additional work; or an adjustment at full retirement age if you received reduced benefits and exceeded the earnings limit. The COLA is the most commonly known increase for Social Security payments. We annually announce a COLA, and there’s usually an increase in the Social Security and Supplemental
Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at email@example.com.
Security Income (SSI) benefit amount people receive each month. By law, federal benefit rates increase when the cost of living rises, as measured by the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index (CPI-W). More than 66 million Americans saw a 2.0 percent increase in their Social Security and SSI benefits in 2018. For more information on the 2018 COLA, visit socialsecurity.gov/cola. Social Security uses your highest 35 years of earnings to figure your benefit amount when you sign up for benefits. If you work after you begin receiving benefits, your additional earnings may increase your payment. If you had fewer than 35 years of earnings when we figured your benefit, you will replace a zero earnings year with new earnings. If you had 35 years or more, we will check to see if your new year of earnings is higher than the lowest of the 35 years (after considering indexing). We check additional earnings each year you work while receiving Social Security. If an increase is due, we send a
notice and pay a one-time check for the increase and your continuing payment will be higher. Maybe you chose to receive reduced Social Security retirement benefits while continuing to work. You made the choice to take benefits early, but at a reduced rate. If you exceeded the allowable earnings limit and had some of your benefits withheld, we will adjust your benefit once you reach full retirement age. We will refigure your payment to credit you for any months you did not receive payments. Your monthly benefit will increase based on the crediting months you receive. You can find additional information about working and your benefit at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10077.pdf. Retirement just got more interesting since you learned about potential increases to monthly payments. Social Security has been securing your today and tomorrow for more than 80 years with information and tools to help you achieve a successful retirement.
Spay/neuter, microchips help reduce unwanted pets “The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty.” Mother Teresa
ne year ago on a hot July afternoon, we were fertilizing the trees by the fence and the neighbors stopped by the gate to chat. We visited for over an hour. Then the sky started to get dark. We went back to pick up the sprayer by the corner of the property and heard the dreaded sound: a desperate and hungry "meeeoow." There was nothing else to do other than to look for the source. We went around to the road. This minuscule grey fur ball was sitting in a thorny thicket and the sky was getting nastier by the minute. And to top it all, she was Miss Shy Extraordinaire. Goutam Mukherjee, DVM, MS, Ph.D. (Dr. G) has been a veterinarian for more than 30 years. He works part time at Grant Animal Clinic and is a member of North Alabama Electric Cooperative.
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Letters to the editor
My wife tried to go behind her by tromping through the brushes (hard to be stealthy through briers). Pelting rain and lightning forced us to retreat back home. We came back out about an hour later, afraid we wouldn’t hear her again. Good news – she was there! This time I crouched down on the ditch and inched forward on my belly. It took me another 30 minutes to approach her. She had the courage to remain still and I managed to catch her. Now, months later, she is the holy terror of the house and we are delighted to have her. For weeks after rescuing her, we pondered on what would’ve happened if we could not catch her. She probably would have died a slow death by starvation and thirst or if she was lucky, quickly by a coyote. Sadly, this story is not an exception but norm. Dogs and cats are dropped off in wan-
E-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or write us at: Letters to the editor P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124
Two very talented regular contributors are on the next to last page of your magazine. They are Hardy Jackson and the illustrator of his stories, Dennis Auth. Mr. Jackson’s anecdotes about the South are always a treat, so full of down home humor and wit. Accompanied with the awesome illustrations by Mr. Auth, that column is definitely a jewel! Please keep it going. John Shaw Magnolia Springs, AL
Continued on Page 32 www.alabamaliving.coop
July | Spotlight Andalusia hosts domino tournament There will be food, fun and fellowship at the 43rd annual World Championship Domino Tournament in Andalusia July 13-14. The Andalusia Rotary Club has awarded more than $970,000 in prize money and trophies since the Domino Tournament began in 1976. This year’s tournament features 100 percent payout, with total prize money reaching up to $20,000, based upon participation. The top 16 players in both the singles and doubles tournament are guaranteed a percentage of the prize money. Round robin tournaments will be held each afternoon to make sure everyone gets to play enough dominoes. In addition, the club will host a Fantastic Domino Sweepstakes and seafood dinner on Friday night, with a $15,000 prize. Pre-registration is $50 per player for adult singles or doubles, and $60 per player on or after July 1. The club also has tournaments for teens and children. Online registration and tournament rules are available at worldchampionshipdomino.com. The event will be at the Kiwanis Community Center, 20096 S. Bypass, Andalusia.
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 July 7 with your name, address and the name of your rural electric cooperative. The winner and answer will be announced in the August issue.
Contribute your own photo for an upcoming issue! Send a photo of an interesting or unusual landmark in Alabama, which must be accessible to the public. A reader whose photo is used will also win $25. Submit by email: email@example.com, or by mail: Whereville, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124.
Tolstoy Park in Fairhope, also known as the Henry Stuart House and the Hermit House, is a domed, concrete block hut built by Englishman Henry Stuart. Stuart moved to Fairhope from Idaho in 1925 and built the hut by himself in what was once a wooded sanctuary; today, it’s in a parking lot. Decades after Stuart’s death in 1946, author Sonny Brewer immortalized Stuart and the hut in his book, “The Poet of Tolstoy Park,” published in 2005. Photo submitted by Cathy Hegji, Central Alabama EC. The random guess winners are Steve and Carol Barton of Tombigbee EC.
This Month In
ALABAMA HISTORY Honoring Our People
July 2, 1937
Actress Polly Holliday was born in Jasper, Alabama, and graduated from Alabama College (now the University of Montevallo) in 1959. Best known for her role as the smartmouthed, man-hunting waitress Florence Jean Castleberry on the television sitcom “Alice,” Holliday is often remembered for her character’s signature catchphrase, “Kiss my grits!” She won consecutive Golden Globe Awards for Best Supporting Actress in 1979 and 1980 for her work on the show and a nomination for Best Actress in Comedy in 1981 for her work on the spin-off sitcom “Flo.” Holliday also appeared in several popular television series, including “The Golden Girls” and “Home Improvement.” She was inducted into the Alabama Stage and Screen Hall of Fame in 2000. http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-3616
Polly Holliday, right, with the cast of “Alice.”
JULY 2018 11
Catﬁsh industry keeps Black Belt region aﬂoat 12 JULY 2018
Story and photos by Morgan Graham
From left, Ashley Kyser, Beverly and Bill Kyser and Townsend Kyser discuss the catfish harvest on their farm near Greensboro.
“One of the reasons we have remained viable in the U.S. fish market is because our electrical costs in Alabama remained competitive.” Townsend Kyser checks the aerators on his catfish ponds near Greensboro.
any Black Belt farms were in financial deep water in the 1980s when low commodity prices and high input costs struck American agriculture. But the area’s unique black soil and abundant fresh water proved perfect for expansion of an emerging catfish industry. Like all farming, raising catfish had risks. However, it offered families like Townsend Kyser’s an opportunity to continue farming. “In the Black Belt region, we can raise catfish more efficiently than anywhere else in the country because of the people, soil and climate,” said Kyser, 41, president of the Catfish Farmers of America. “The economic impact catfish have on Alabama, and especially the Black Belt region, has kept this area afloat for many years.” Alabama ranks second in the nation for catfish production behind Mississippi. Arkansas rounds out the top-three states. Catfish is so important to the Black Belt, even the water tower in Kyser’s hometown of Greensboro proudly proclaims it’s the “Catfish Capital of Alabama.” The catfish industry provides approximately 1,500 jobs for the Black Belt region, Kyser says. Those jobs include two feed mills and two processing plants. A new processing facility prepares catfish for trendy inhome meal delivery companies like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. The Kyser family farm includes Townsend, his father, Bill, and brother Ashley. They have 50 ponds (around 700 acres of water) that produce 5 million pounds of catfish annually. They also raise cattle, timber and hay. “It is both challenging and rewarding to work with family,” Kyser laughs, “but it works for us. It feels good to know we’re working together producing food for other families. It has an extra special meaning.” Townsend’s grandfather, the late Joseph Alison Kyser, built four catfish ponds in 1967 to raise fish. He said that’s significant because while other area farm ponds eventually were converted for catfish farming, those were the first in Alabama specifically built for commercial catfish farming — 13 years ahead of the industry boon. Those ponds piqued Bill Kyser’s interest in fish farming, eventually steering him to Auburn University where he received the college’s first undergraduate degree in fisheries. As catfish farming grew, so did demand for the fish. More ponds were built, and it seemed like the sky was the limit, Kyser says. Fish farming was taking the place of traditional row crop and dairy farms for west Alabama Black Belt counties. The industry evolved to modern processing facilities, improved harvesting techniques, better feed and modern monitoring equipment. “The industry peaked in the early 2000s, but quickly crashed in 2008 when input costs almost doubled overnight,” he says. “Feed prices nearly doubled, fuel prices skyrocketed, and it was costing more to grow fish than what we were selling them for. That’s also the time when foreign countries began selling more fish in America, representing it to be catfish. The imports were capitalizing on the market demand U.S. farmers had created.” Several farms stopped producing fish or reduced their water acreage. Today, U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish production is about half what it was in the early 2000s. However, demand for the white, flaky fish is at an alltime high. Unfortunately, much of the increased demand is being met by foreign fish, Kyser says. “Nationally, catfish production around 2004 was 600 million pounds annually. Today, we’re producing about 325 million pounds,” he says. “One of the reasons we have remained viable in the U.S. fish market is because our electrical costs in Alabama remained competitive.” To outsiders, catfish farming might seem easy once ponds are filled with water and fish are added. But feeding, monitoring water quality and scouting for disease outbreaks are imperative to success, Kyser says. JULY 2018 13
Ponds are usually stocked in December with fingerlings, young catfish about 4 to 6 inches long. Fish are fed floating pellets that are 32 percent protein and include corn, soybean meal, vitamins and minerals. Fish are harvested when they reach between 1 to 2 pounds using nets with holes designed to catch only fish large enough for harvest. The fish are loaded into live wells on trucks for transportation to processing plants. A typical 18-wheeler holds 25,000 pounds of catfish. The typical growing season for catfish lasts about 18 months, with major growth months being June through September. Kyser said Black Belt farmers have an advantage over Mississippi farmers because electricity cost significantly less. “Electricity is the most important resource for catfish farmers during growing season,” he says. “Producers rely on electricity to run aerators, especially at night, to maintain a steady oxygen level in the ponds. Black Warrior Electric Cooperative is a big part of our community. We enjoy working closely with them.” Alabama Farmers Federation Catfish Division Director Mitt Walker said the catfish industry plays a significant role in the state’s economy. He said about 1,500 Alabamians are directly engaged in catfish production or processing. In addition to Hale County, other top catfish-producing areas include Greene, Dallas and Perry counties. “Alabama farmers produce 33 percent of all catfish in the U.S. annually with 120 million pounds on 85 farms,” Walker says, quoting national ag statistics. “Our state had over 17,000 water surface acres dedicated to catfish production in 2016.”
Lower electricity costs give farmers advantage
Kyser said his work with Catfish Farmers of America helps educate consumers and lawmakers about catfish production and consumption, plus focuses on lobbying in Washington, D.C. He also
works with The Catfish Institute to encourage consumers to purchase fish with the U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish logo. A member of the Alabama Farmers Federation State Catfish Committee, Kyser is a former state Federation Young Farmers committee chairman. He also served as American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers and Ranchers chairman. Kyser said his involvement with those organizations helped him become a better spokesman. He’s routinely interviewed by national media outlets as a representative for the catfish industry and is a regular on National Public Radio’s Marketplace hosted by Kai Ryssdal. The focus of his interviews? It might be the weather, how imports have driven down the price of U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish or how government regulations are placing burdensome regulations on farmers. But Kyser said he never misses an opportunity to emphasize the importance of buying U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish. “It doesn’t matter where you buy your fish, as long as you buy U.S. Farm-Raised,” Kyser says. “Eventually, you’ll be eating catfish my neighbor or I raised.” Kyser said most catfish is consumed in restaurants, and it’s most frequently served fried. However, he encourages consumers to try different ways to eat catfish. While he, wife Kelly and their three children love fried catfish, Kyser’s personal favorites are grilled, blackened and Catfish Allison. For a variety of catfish recipes, visit uscatfish.com. Other websites with information on catfish and the industry: • The Catfish Institute - uscatfish.com • Catfish Farmers of America catfishfarmersofamerica.com • Alabama Catfish Producers - alfafarmers.org/programs/divisions/commodities/catfish/ • Catfish Video - youtu.be/shfK85gMpmU
Caribbean jerk catfish with black bean salad Courtesy of USCatfish.com Start-to-finish: 30 minutes Serves 4 For the dressing 1 small garlic clove, minced 4 tablespoons lime juice and lime zest ¼ teaspoon chili powder 1½ teaspoons ground cumin 2 dashes hot sauce ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil For the salad 1 can whole kernel corn, drained 1 orange bell pepper, diced ½ small red onion, finely chopped 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved 1 avocado, halved, pitted and diced in large pieces ¼ cup fresh cilantro or Italian parsley, chopped Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 14 JULY 2018
For the fish 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons vinegar 1 tablespoon Caribbean or Jamaican Jerk seasoning 4 U.S. farm-raised catfish fillets Spring mix lettuce blend For the dressing, mix garlic, lime juice and zest, chili powder, cumin and hot sauce. Whisk in olive oil until blended. For the Black Bean Salad, mix all salad ingredients together. Combine with dressing and coat evenly. Salt and pepper to taste. For the fish, heat grill or broiler. Combine oil, vinegar and seasoning. Brush fillets with marinade. Place fillets on grill or under broiler, skin side up, and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook 2 to 3 more minutes. Serve over spring mix lettuce blend with Black Bean Salad. www.alabamaliving.coop
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Find your farmers market Visit fma.alabama.gov to find a full list of farmers markets across the state listed by county. And remember: Many Alabama farmers markets are hawking far more than fruits and veggies. Look for homemade jellies, relishes and baked goods, raw honey, organic meats, handmade soaps and more.
Fresh, tasty and local
Farmers markets help put a face on our food By Jennifer Kornegay
All photos courtesy of the Alabama Farmers Market Authority
or many of us, the convenience of the closest grocery story plan that provides vouchers to elderly in need that allow them is just too much to resist. Even in Alabama – where agriculto access products from farmers markets. “That really took off in ture is still a flourishing industry, making a variety of fresh 2004, and because of it, we had markets open in areas previously produce available – for decades, we’ve chosen to buy and consume without one,” Wambles says. “We’ve got the fourth largest profruits and veggies trucked in from other states, including places gram of this type in the country, dollar-wise.” on the other side of the country. The second has been a surge of But that’s been steadily changing interest in what we’re eating and over the last 20 years, according to where it came from among AlaDon Wambles, director of the Albamians of all ages and walks of abama Farmers Market Authority. life. “While the senior program was “In 1999, we had 17 farmers margrowing, so was awareness of the kets in the state, with about 235 importance of local food systems. farmers involved,” he says. “This People started asking questions,” year, when all are open, we will be Wambles says. “They wanted to put in the 170 to 175 range of markets, a face on their food, and there’s no with almost 1,000 farmers selling better way to do that than to shop a in those markets.” farmers market.” It seems our foods’ origin stories That means more folks are purAt many farmers markets, you can often find tasty treats that are gaining a value that’s equal to chasing local food and by doing so, go beyond produce, like these breads from an area baker at their taste. The growing number of making a huge positive impact on The Market at Pepper Place. customers created enough demand the economy, racking up between to open even more new markets and to keep existing ones booming. $25-$30 million in sales annually. “That’s a lot of watermelons,” The program for seniors planted the necessary seeds, but the Wambles says. tide has turned in recent years. “Now, 85 to 90 percent of our And these figures only include farmers markets, not farm and sales are from everyday people,” Wambles says. “The seniors with produce stands. vouchers represent a very small percentage of the business done Wambles attributes this huge uptick to two factors. One is the at markets.” Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, a federal assistance
16 JULY 2018
Taking it to the tents
Today, farmers market numbers in our state total 10 times what they were in the late 1990s, and many in this newer crop of markets are built on a different model, one that the Farmers Market Authority introduced and encouraged after Wambles traveled to California to examine that state’s successful markets. “I noticed that out of more than 300, only two were held in permanent structures. The others were tent markets,” he says. He learned that for most markets, buying property in a good location and constructing a building was cost prohibitive. But, if they found a parking lot or park that would let them set up temporary tents a day or two a week, they could afford it. And then they had money left over to spend on advertising and promoting the market. “I thought that made great sense,” Wambles says. He came home, and the Authority worked to get The Market at Pepper Place going in 2000; it’s primarily a tent market held in a formerly industrial section of Birmingham in paved lots around the old Dr. Pepper syrup plant. It was a hit. The offerings from area farmers drew crowds, but the sea of bright white tents and the feeling it was an “event” also created an engaging, festive atmosphere that added much to the market’s appeal. “I don’t know if that is as easily replicated in a permanent structure,” Wambles says. He explained why. “If you ride by a permanent market structure seven days a week, and people are only there selling two to three days a week, it is mostly empty, so you stop noticing it,” he says. “With tents, they stand out; they come and go, so you don’t get visually accustomed to it. The change draws your eye, and when it’s up and running, seeing all the people milling around, chatting, that draws you in.” Another plus: Tent markets can be sized to fit the needs and preferences of almost any community anywhere. “They’re very flexible and scalable,” Wambles says. There are several permanent markets in Alabama, and they represent some of the state’s most enduring – spots like Montgomery’s Curb Market and the oldest running market, the Alabama Farmer’s Market in Birmingham, founded in 1921 and operating in its current location since 1956.
Farmer John Alpin of Aplin Farms checks his tomatoes at The Shoppes at EastChase Farmers Market.
Supporting local people
But no matter how they’re set up, it’s obvious that the popularity of farmers markets has been and still is on the rise. That’s great news for market newbies like Eric Alabama Living
JULY 2018 17
Farmers markets or produce stands? What’s the difference? When Don Wambles, director of Alabama’s Farmers Market Authority, talks about farmers markets, he’s using this definition: A public place where several farmers gather several times a week to sell their goods. Farm stands (a spot where one farmer sells only his produce) and produce stands (permanent spots that sell a vari-
ety of produce and are usually open year round) are different. There are approximately 250 farm stands in the state, a number that has grown alongside the growth in farmers markets (and is not included in Wambles’ market numbers). And produce stands are scattered all over too, places like Durbin Farms in Clan-
ton and SweetCreek in Pike Road. While they’re not under the “official” farmers market umbrella, they pursue many of the same goals and offer many of the same advantages. “We love those places, too,” Wambles says. “And we try to help them connect with local farmers so they can always have fresh, seasonal, local produce to sell.”
Bern. The chef turned farmer left the heat of commercial kitchens Wambles believes the overall experience attracts many marfor sunny days in his China Grove, Ala., fields in 2013 and founded ket shoppers. “You can build a relationship with a food provider his Bearded Pickle Company in 2016. where you learn their challenges,” he says. “That gives you a true He sells most of his fresh produce to restaurants, but turns some appreciation of the labor that goes into feeding you. It’s social too. of it into lip-puckering pickles, fiery hot sauce, spicy-sweet strawYou chat with other folks. It’s fun for kids, so a great family acberry jelly, caramelized onion-fig jam tivity and a way to get children interwith bacon and more. He sells these ested in eating healthy and trying new treats at The Shoppes at EastChase things.” Farmers Market in Montgomery every The sense of community is as resummer and fall, where he sees thouwarding for many of the farmers as it sands of people each week. is the shoppers. “I love talking to the He offered his take on why they customers,” Bern says. “I get to meet keep coming. “All of the produce at any new people every time, but I also love farmers market is just so, so fresh,” he repeat clients telling me how great my says. “It was probably picked yesterday product is, or even offering some conor even that very morning. And most structive criticism.” products there, like mine, are smallHe enjoys time with his fellow farmbatch and homemade with a lot of care ers too. “I like hearing their stories, and love.” how they got started,” he said. “We can Seasonal markets offer a way for shoppers to support And while the flavorful foods for sale their local farmers. swap advice.” are certainly major draws, the allure The multiple, immediate benefits of doesn’t stop there. “You’re supporting local people and keeping thriving local farmers markets for both farmers and consumers money in your community,” Bern says. “You get to meet the farmer. are clear, but they are also crucial components of a sustainable loYou can ask questions about his growing methods, get tips for your cal food system. If we don’t support our farmers now, who’ll grow home garden, and sometimes, you can sample before you buy.” our food – and how will they grow it – in the future? Knight Farms of Clanton sells produce at The Shoppes at EastChase Farmers Market.
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JULY 2018â€ƒ 19
Faith in their farm
Faith in their farm
Russell and Jewell Bean on their farm near Eufaula.
Barbour County couple revitalize family farm, share knowledge with others
Story and photos by Katie Jackson
t takes a lot of faith to believe that a tiny seed can become a mighty harvest. It takes even more faith to plant seeds for the future of farming. But faith, along with energy and knowledge, are things that Barbour County farmers Jewell and Russell Bean have in abundance.
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JULY 2018â€ƒ 21
The Beans, who operate Stanford and Bean Farm in Eufaula, began their farming journey in 2008 when the two left their urban careers in Georgia to return to their parents’ 106-year-old 88-acre farm, where Jewell’s father and grandfather had farmed the land. The Beans always planned to one day come back home to Alabama (Russell is from Dothan; Jewell grew up in Eufaula), but “one day” arrived earlier than Jewell Bean learned about they expected after Jewell’s father hard work and community commitment from her parents, became ill. Roy and Rosa Stanford, pictured Russell and Jewell moved here. home from the Lake Oconee/ Lake Sinclair area to help care for her father. They also began figuring out ways to revitalize the family farm. Though they had plenty of land and both had done a little farm work in their younger days, Jewell and Russell didn’t feel they had the know-how to make the land truly productive. They did, however, feel a spiritual beckoning to become stewards of that land and make Jewell the third generation of Stanfords to work the farm. They decided to volunteer in the area to gain experience, including with Barbara and Roy Shipman, who run The Cottage House farm and community center in Ariton. The Beans also began attending farm meetings and workshops and were soon invited to join a two-year agricultural leadership class coordinated by Southern University and A&M College in Louisiana. Through that leadership program, the Beans traveled across the nation to learn about farming and farm resources. In that process they discovered the rich cache of assistance available through such U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies as the Cooperative Extension System, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Services Agency. “These resources are the best-kept secret in agriculture,” Russell says. “They offer a lot of knowledge-based information, plus assistance through cost-share programs and grants for small farmers.” Through cost-share programs and the help of USDA and experts at land-grant universities, the Beans obtained a well, fencing, drip irrigation, tunnel houses and the like, as well as advice, such as guidance on erosion control and pasture development. As they built their farming operation, they also built relationships — which led them to yet another “calling.”
Sharing the knowledge
“Farming isn’t easy,” Russell says. “A farm can be a never-ending job and money pit, so you have to watch what you are doing. You have to learn to be flexible and multitask. There are some things that are out of your control, so you have to learn to handle the things you can control and be prepared for emergencies when possible. “When you think about these things, it makes you wonder why in the world anyone would ever want to farm,” Russell says. “But in this career, you really see the fruits of your labor. And you can make money, while building something to pass on to your children.” “It’s like preaching,” Jewell says. “You better be sure that God has called you to do this.” The Beans did feel called to it and, while they made their share of mistakes, they never lost faith. They learned from those mistakes and forged on to create an award-winning, sustainable, organic farming operation. 22 JULY 2018
Among their numerous honors, the Beans received the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service’s national Lloyd Wright Small Farm of the Year award in 2016. They are also “called” to share their hard-earned knowledge with other farmers, which they do by serving as resource specialists with Tuskegee University. In that role, they work with other emerging farmers of all ages and backgrounds to provide peerto-peer trainings developed with their mentor professor, Victor Khan, at Tuskegee University. “We want to empower, inform and educate,” Jewell says. “That’s what we did for ourselves first, and now we do it for others because we want others to get the right knowledge to make the right decisions.” “Our personal motto is ‘dream big, think big, but start small,’” Russell says. That’s the message they impart when they are traveling the state and country to teach, or when hosting the hundreds of people who come to their farm from across the state, region and country for farm training.
Expanding the calling
The Beans work as farmers and as educators, and they embrace everyone who visits their farm. They not only feed their guests with knowledge and food, they also send them away with produce. In fact, the Beans don’t market their farm goods, but instead share the fruits of their labor with visitors and with churches and food banks in the area. Anything that doesn’t walk away from the farm is fed to their animals. “Nothing goes to waste here,” Jewell says. The Beans are in the process of expanding this “calling” by renovating facilities to house farmers, students and professors who, they hope, will work together on the farm for more extended periods of time. They are also working with Auburn University medicinal plant guru Tia Gonzales to install a medicinal plant demonstration and production garden, which has become another passion for the Beans. They always welcome volunteers and donations for the farm and are currently looking for a manager who can live and work on the farm, allowing the Beans more time to travel and spread their faith and knowledge. “Our family motto is ‘Never give up. Always give back,’” Jewell says. “My parents brought us up that way. That’s why this farm is so blessed. It’s blessed by the blood, sweat and tears that my family invested in it, but also by the seeds of faith they planted here and in us. “It’s a God thing,” she says. To learn more about the Beans or to volunteer or make contributions, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or call 334-687-2532. After careful research, the Beans decided to raise meat goats, the demand for which has been growing in recent years.
JULY 2018â€ƒ 23
| Alabama People |
Farming for life Jimmy Parnell has been president of the Alabama Farmers Federation and CEO of Alfa Insurance since 2012. He is a fifth-generation farmer who grew up on his family’s Chilton County farm where they raised cattle and grew timber. He is a graduate of Auburn University. He and his family were named Outstanding Young Farm Family of Alabama in 1999. He is a longtime friend of our rural electric cooperatives, and took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for our food and agriculture issue. — Lenore Vickrey You’ve been in the farming business all your life. How did growing up on a cattle farm help you in your position as president of the Alabama Farmers Federation and as CEO of Alfa Insurance? It taught me work ethic. Farming also taught me how to think and deal with a lot of factors on the farm. Challenges come at different times and different speeds. You have to be able to think through problems and make decisions. The values you grow up with on the farm are very valuable — family values, Christian values — in my mind, they kind of go together. I also believe farming, business and life is about relationships. We all depend on others and notice it especially during a crisis. On the farm, I also learned to work with people, employ people and motivate them. You learn to understand people’s abilities and areas for growth. What is your fondest memory of living and growing up on the family farm? I don’t have a single fondest memory. It was just life in general. Anytime you’re on the farm, you have the downs — your best cow dies or your best bull breaks his leg. But then you have the good things — like a new calf. The highlight of my childhood was time spent with my grandmother (Verna Lou Parnell). She spent a lot of time with me. She loved to farm and taught me how to do so many things. You first thought you’d like to be a veterinarian but changed your plans at a critical time for the farming industry in the 1980s. What caused you to change your decision? My sixth chemistry class was a buzz saw. It made me take a step back and re-evaluate. The main thing, though, was I just decided my real desire was to farm and run the family business. That’s where I thought I was needed at the time, and I would tell you I’m confident I made the right decision. You don’t always know when you’re going through those decisions as a young person, but you can look back later and see whether it was right or wrong. 24 JULY 2018
In my lifetime, the ‘80s were the darkest time for agriculture. It was tough. It really started late ‘70s but the early ‘80s were the worst of it. I don’t know of anyone I was in agricultural economics with at Auburn University who went back to the farm except me. Our family was a little different because we were diversified. Forestry, perhaps, wasn’t as impacted as row crop farming. What I realized when I got back to the farm was what looked bad was actually an opportunity. I was able to buy land at a really good price, which laid the groundwork for our family’s future. Given your current job, how involved are you able to be with your family farm these days? Do you miss that? I do miss the farm. I love the farm. That’s where I go to get my stress relief. Me and my wife Robin raised our children, James Robert and Anna Grace, on the farm, and there’s no place I’d rather be. On weekends and when I’m off, I want to be working cows or doing something on the farm. I’m still involved in decision making but not as much on a daily basis. My brothers (Joseph and Jeff ) are seeing after the timber business and James Robert manages the cattle farm. It’s a growth opportunity because they are learning different aspects of the business and trying new ideas. What are the main challenges facing the farming industry today and looking down the road? The biggest thing right now is the lower commodity prices and higher expenses. We went through a few years when commodity prices were higher and technology was coming of age. Implementing technology made work simpler, but raised input costs. The other challenges are acceptance of products we deliver today by people who are not involved in agriculture and lack an understanding of how food is produced. We have to feed the world, but we somehow have to explain to the world that what we are producing is a good product. We’ve lost that connectivity to the world. The regulatory environment is getting better over the last year or so, but it’s still very burdensome. It really boils down to needing a better knowledge base among the public. If the electorate has a better understanding of agriculture, they will elect people who have a more balanced approach to regulation. American agriculture produces about 30 percent more product than we can consume in the U.S., so we have to continue working on the ability to market our products to the world. We also hear the world is going to need more food in the next 20 years. It seems like these should work together. If we can figure out how to grow the food and the rest of the world can figure out how to pay for it, there is great families. opportunity for farm families. www.alabamaliving.coop
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| Gardens |
A cut above — and below:
Propagate plants to add to your garden
ur list of summer gardening chore lists can be long this time of year, but there’s something else to add to those lists — making more plants. As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, plant propagation is an easy and affordable way to add plants to your garden. It’s something you can do year-round depending on the type of plant you want to reproduce, and it can be done by rooting new plants from stems, leaves and roots or by collecting seed of existing plants. If you’ve never tried it, you may want to educate yourself on the techniques through local workshops and experts, online videos and articles and through books from your local library. One book, American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation: The Fully Illustrated Plant-by-Plant Manual of Practical Techniques, is a good option, but there are many others to choose from, so find one that fits your needs. While you’re studying the process, go ahead and get hands-on experience this summer, which is an ideal time to replicate many woody plants including shrubs (gardenias, camellias, viburnum, holly and azaleas are good candidates), trees such as evergreen conifers and some magnolias, vines, groundcovers and herbs. Many houseplants can also be rooted this time of year in a potting medium (and some, such as African violets, geraniums, philodendrons and coleus, can be easily rooted in water). There are three basic types of cuttings you can take during various seasons. In the spring, softwood cuttings can be taken from new growth on plants and tend to root quickly, allowing you to create new material to plant in the same year. Semi-hardwood (sometimes called semiripe) cuttings can be taken in the summer when plants are actively growing; these take a little longer to root but benefit from warm summer temperatures. Hardwood cuttings can be taken in the fall and winter from dormant plants and produce new Katie Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
26 JULY 2018
To make a cutting from a healthy plant, use sharp shears to make a cut below a node, or where a leaf meets the stem. Photos by Katie Jackson
Insert the cutting into a small container filled with rooting mixture and keep it watered to promote root growth.
material for planting in the coming spring. The technique for all of these cutting types is much the same, so here are steps to get you started. • Using
a sharp gardening knife or clippers, cut six- to eight-inch pieces from the tip-end of a new plant shoot. Choose healthy, pest-free shoots that do not contain blooms or buds. Make the cut below a node (where the leaves meet the stem). As you work, place the cuttings in a plastic bag moistened with a little bit of water and keep these in a cool spot until you’re ready to prepare them. It’s best to take cuttings in the morning and plant them within 12
each cutting by snipping off the top of the stem to leave two to four leaves above a node. Trim off the base of the cutting just below the node and remove the lower leaves. • To promote faster growth, you can dip the end in a rooting hormone, though this is not required. If you do use it, gently shake off any excess product before inserting the cutting into a container filled with a sterile, well-draining rooting mixture (a 1:1 combination of peat moss and sand, perlite or vermiculite works well). Do not add fertilizer to the mix. • Place the containers in a spot with bright, indirect sunlight and keep the cuttings watered or misted so they remain moist, but the potting medium isn’t soggy. A heating pad placed beneath the pots will speed up the rooting process, too. Within a month you should see root growth and, depending on the plant species, semi-hardwood cuttings should be ready to replant into a larger pot or into the landscape by this fall. You can keep potted rootings in a protected spot through the winter for spring planting, too. If you produce more plants than you can use, share or swap them with your gardening friends and family members.
JULY TIPS Harvest fruits and vegetables early in the day. Donate excess fruits and vegetables to a local charity or food bank. Remove dead or diseased plant material from garden beds and under fruit trees. Refresh mulch as needed. Deadhead flowering plants to keep them blooming. Prune spring-flowering shrubs. Start planning for the fall gardening season. Get the kids or grandkids involved in gardening projects. Plant cover crops in bare areas of the garden to fortify soil.
JULY 2018â€ƒ 27
28â€ƒ JULY 2018
July | Around Alabama
Patriotic Concert. Kicking off the Prattville Independence Day events, the concert will feature the Prattville Pops Concert and Jazz bands and the community chorus. Free. 6:30 p.m. Bring lawn chairs and blankets. Food vendors will be on site at the amphitheater at Pratt Park. Prattvilleal.gov
Bay, Watermelon Festival. Family fun, arts, crafts, entertainment, food and rides for the young and young at heart on July 3, no admission charged, from 3-7 p.m. On July 4, admission is $5 per vehicle; enjoy all the free sliced watermelon you can eat from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Children’s area, open car show and “pretty baby” contest. 10327 Taylor F. Harper Blvd., Grand Bay. Grandbaywatermelonfestival.org
10th Annual Plow Days sponsored by the South Alabama Antique Tractor and Engine Club. Antique farming demonstrations, plowing, threshing, corn grinding, tractors, food and music. Saatec.org.
5, 12, 19, 26 Montgomery,
Alabama in the Movies. At 6 p.m. each Thursday in July, the Alabama Department of Archives and History presents its summer film festival, featuring movies made in or made about Alabama. This summer’s lineup: July 5, Close Encounters of the Third Kind; July 12, Fried Green Tomatoes; July 19, Selma; and July 26, Hidden Figures. Archives.alabama.gov
Tuscumbia, “Oklahoma!” 7:35 p.m. each night at the Ritz Theatre, presented by the Tennessee Valley Art Association. $20 for adults, $15 for students. Tvaa.net
, The Miss Independence Pageant, for girls up to age 18, is a fundraiser pageant for Miss Camellia and Miss Camellia’s Outstanding Teen. The Ritz Theatre, 103 W. Commerce St. 334-662-7923.
The Opelika Theatre Company presents Hairy Tale Rock, a fun musical featuring your favorite fairy tale characters. Showtimes are
7 p.m. July 27 and 2 and 7 p.m. July 28; show continues at 7 p.m. Aug. 3 and 2 and 7 p.m. Aug. 4. Southside Center for the Arts, 1103 Glenn St. opelikatheatreco.com
, Chilton County Arts Festival. Free indoor event features artists selling unique hand-crafted items, including paintings, pottery, wood, jewelry, fabric, glass, gourds and more. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Clanton Performing Arts Center, 1850 Lay Dam Highway. 205245-9441 or email email@example.com
Independance Day Events Alexander City, Fourth of July
Boat Parade, 10 a.m. Decorate your boat and join the patriotic crowd at Kowaliga Marina; spectators line the shoreline. Registered boats vie for top honors. 334-857-2111.
Florence, Fourth of July celebra-
tion. Live musicians perform all day; food vendors will be on site at McFarland Park. Activities for the whole family. The day ends with one of the largest fireworks shows in the Southeast. Free. 256-740-4141.
Sheffield, Fourth of July walking
parade. Wear your red, white and blue for this walking parade and decorate baby carriages, wagons, golf carts and bikes. All participants welcome. 10 a.m., 500 N. Montgomery Ave. 256-383-0783.
Scottsboro, Fourth of July on the Tennessee River, 6 p.m. Music, entertainment, boat parade, food and more, ending with a large fireworks show at the amphitheater. Free. Goose Pond Colony, 417 Ed Hembree Drive. 256-912-0592. Opp, July Fourth celebration, 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Frank Jackson State Park. Family fun event features free hot dogs, watermelon, sodas and water; families can picnic and swim at the lake while enjoying live entertainment. Fireworks show after dark. Cityofopp.com Mobile, Fireworks on the Fantail, 7:30-10 p.m. This fundraiser for the Battleship Memorial Park features live music from the band Swing, barbecue, an ice cream buffet and fireworks viewing from the decks of the USS Alabama. Tickets are $50 for adults and $25 for children. Activities for children include a reading by author Karyn Tunks, games and more. Ussalabama.com
To place an event, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. or visit www.alabamaliving.coop. 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.
Athens, July Fourth fireworks show after sundown. 256-232-5411. Cullman, Smith Lake Park Fireworks and Music Festival. Music begins at 9 a.m. and continues all day, and concludes with fireworks at 9 p.m. There will also be arts and food. Admission is $5 per person; puttputt golf and pool costs are extra. 256-739-2916. Decatur, 52nd Annual Spirit of America Festival. Food and drink vendors, craft vendors and family fun, with one of the largest fireworks shows in north Alabama. Free. Point Mallard Park. 256-476-7006. Pike Road, Summer Fest at The Waters off Marler Road. Gates open at 4:30 p.m., fun begins at 5 p.m. Food, family-friendly fun and fireworks over Lake Cameron. Bring blankets and lawn chairs. $10 per vehicle. 334-272-9883. Montevallo, Independence Day 1776. Period re-enactors, Colonial games, drills by the Continental Army, patriotic music, fireworks and more at the American Village. Gates open at 11 a.m.; events begin at 11:30 and continue through the evening fireworks. $5 ages 5 and up; veterans and active military are free. 205665-3535.
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JULY 2018 29
Is an electric vehicle right for you? The economics of electric vehicles are affected by geography, climate and how your electricity is generated By Paul Wesslund
hould your next car be an electric vehicle? The answer could depend on where you live. Electric vehicles account for just 1.2 percent of the U.S. vehicle market, but sales are booming, growing 25 percent last year. And they’re getting better and cheaper as researchers improve the batteries that power them. Here’s a guide to help you decide if an electric car is for you—or if you just want to be smarter about one of the next big things in energy. The first thing to realize about electric cars is they can drive more than enough miles for you on a single charge, even if you live out in the wide-open countryside.
Location issue #1: the distance myth
Try keeping track of your actual daily use, advises Brian Sloboda, a program and product manager at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. “If you’re an insurance salesman, you’re logging a lot of miles, so an electric car’s not going to be for you,” he says, noting that a typical range for an electric car today is over 100 miles, and ranges of 150 to 250 miles are becoming common. “But if you look at how many miles you drive in a day, for most people in the United States, even in rural areas, that number is under 40 miles per day. So if your car has a range of 120 miles, that’s a lot of wiggle room.” According to the Federal Highway Administration, the average American drives 25 miles a day, and for rural areas, that average is 34 miles a day. Sloboda says another reason it’s worth thinking realistically about your daily mileage comes from the most likely way an electric car would be refueled. When an electric car is done driving for the day, you can plug it in to recharge overnight. Essentially, you’re topping off the gas tank while you sleep, giving you a fully-charged battery every morning.
There are three ways to charge an electric car: Level 1—The simplest charging technique is to plug the car into a standard home outlet. That will charge the battery at a rate that will add from two to five miles to its range each hour. That’s pretty slow, but Sloboda notes the battery might start the charging session already partly charged, depending on how far it’s driven that day. Level 2—Faster charging will require a professional installer to upgrade the home’s voltage for a unit that will add between 10 and 25 miles of range for each hour of charging—a rate that would fully charge the battery overnight. Sloboda says installing a Level 2 charger in a house or garage would run $500 to $800 for the equipment, plus at least that much for the labor. Timers can also be used to charge the vehicle in the middle of the night when electric consumption is typically lower.
30 JULY 2018
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Level 3—DC fast charge requires specialized equipment more suited to public charging stations, and will bring a car battery up to 80 percent of capacity in 30 minutes. Sloboda warns this high-speed technique should only be used for special long-distance driving, since it can degrade the battery over time. That’s also why DC chargers shouldn’t be used to bring the battery up to 100 percent.
Location issue #2: off-peak electric rates
What you pay to charge your electric car could also depend on where you live, says Sloboda. He advises checking to see whether your local electric co-op offers a lower rate to charge an electric vehicle overnight, when the utility has a lower demand for electricity. “It’s different depending on where you are in the country,” says Sloboda. Some local co-ops have fairly stable electric demand throughout a typical day, so they may not offer a special electric vehicle rate. He adds, “There are ares of the country where the onpeak, off-peak difference in price is extreme,” so that it might make financial sense for the utility to offer an overnight charging rate. Another factor affecting the economics of an electric car is, of course, the cost of the vehicle. “These cars are really in the luxury and performance car categories,” says Sloboda. As electric cars improve, projections put their cost coming down to match conventional vehicles by about the year 2025. But today, the average electric car costs close to $40,000, compared with less than $30,000 for an internal combustion engine.
Location issues #3 and #4: environment and geography
For many people, one of the biggest selling points for electric cars is their effect on the environment, and that can also depend on where you live. Continued from Page 10 ton abundance. Almost every fourth person in the clinic says their pet was just found on the road or someone dropped them off at their farm. Obviously there are just too many pets. Let’s make sure that we spay and neuter our pets on time. Let’s make sure they remain in a confined space and have a means of identification to find their way back home in case they get lost! Microchipping is the best option, but a simple thing like collar and a stainless steel tag with your phone number is a good, inexpensive choice. Together, we can make a difference! Maybe in the next 10 years we can make sure that there are not a single unwanted, un-adored pet in our neighborhood. The Alabama Veterinary Medical Association supports spay/ neuter for Medicaid recipients. Check to see if your local veterinarian participates in this program. In the last eight years, 17,616 surgeries have been performed with grant money from the spay/neuter license plate program. Please buy “spay neuter” license plates. There may be a low cost spay/neuter clinic near you. Visit the ASPCA online for more information: www.aspca.org/pet-care/ general-pet-care/low-cost-spayneuter-programs
32 JULY 2018
The sources of electricity for a local utility vary across the country—some areas depend heavily on coal-fired power plants, others use larger shares of solar or wind energy. One major environmental group analyzed all those local electric utility fuel mixes, and determined that for most of the country, electric vehicles have much less of an effect on the environment than conventional vehicles. That study by the Union of Concerned Scientists shows that in the middle part of the country, driving an electric vehicle has the equivalent environmental benefits of driving a gasoline-powered car that gets 41-50 miles per gallon. For much of the rest of the country, it’s like driving a car that gets well over 50 miles per gallon. “Seventy-five percent of people now live in places where driving on electricity is cleaner than a 50 MPG gasoline car,” says the report from the Union of Concerned Scientists. Other local factors that will affect an electric car’s performance include climate and geography, says Sloboda. The range of the vehicle will be affected by whether you regularly drive up and down mountains, or make a lot of use of the heater or air conditioner. Sloboda concedes that electric vehicles are not for everybody— yet. One limit to their growth is that no major carmaker offers an especially popular choice, a pickup truck. Sloboda says there’s no technological barrier to making an electric pickup. He even suggests possible advantages: a heavy battery in the bottom would lower the center of gravity for better handling, and at a remote worksite the battery could run power tools. “Within the next 24 months I believe there will be a credible pickup truck on the market,” says Sloboda. “It’s just a matter of time.” Paul Wesslund writes on consumer and cooperative aﬀairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56 percent of the nation’s landscape.
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Fact-checking my parents By Clay Coppedge
y parents and I were going through boxes of old family upon a time, a National Baby Week. The idea came from the Genphotographs several years ago when we came across a eral Federation of Women’s Clubs in either 1914 or 1915 as “a camlarge glossy photo that a photographer for the Birmingpaign to press on the public the need for improved child-rearing, ham Post-Herald took either the day I was born, or maybe the day education, etc.” But National Baby Week was celebrated the first after, of me and my parents in the hospital room. week of July, not the third week of April. My dad was a reporter for the paper and in the picture he’s “inSo my parents were right – they lied to me. terviewing” me, his face covered by a surgical mask, but he has his At some point, National Baby Week ceased to be a thing. I found reporter’s notebook and pencil poised to take down any quotes I a 1984 J.C. Penney TV commercial on YouTube that championed might want to share with his readers. I’m next to my mom, taking the importance of saving 20 percent during National Baby Week on in the proceedings with that curious wide-eyed gaze so common to “baby things, including diapers, toddler tops, shorts and dresses, infants. According to sources close to the situation – my parents – I night wear, underwear and sleepers, strollers and car seats.” Savings didn’t have much to say. were even greater on Penney’s “best-selling baby furniture.” But I later found out that my parents weren’t always the most But if I wasn’t the first baby born during National Baby Week – reliable sources about such matters. and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t – why was “Reporter Becomes Father” a When I was a kid, maybe 10 years old, my otherwise reliable story at all, much less one that warranted an accompanying photo? parents told me the picture ran in the paper to recognize me as “the “Slow news day,” dad explained. “We just ran the picture and a first baby born during Nacutline. Sorry to break it tional Baby Week.” I was a to you like this, but to the baby among babies, they newspaper your birth was said, my arrival celebrated just filler material.” in the hometown paper Not that I don’t hold as if I were heir to a kingany grudges my parents, dom. None of the other even though I’ve fact squalling baby boomers checked them on othof the day could say they er statements, like my were the first baby born mom’s belief that if your during National Baby left palm itches it means Week! you’re about to come And neither could I, as into some money. (False.) it turned out. An itchy foot means you “It was a natural phowill soon “walk on new to-op,” dad told me when ground.” (Also false.) An I first asked about the itchy back foretold “either picture many years ago. a whippin’ or a huggin’.” “I was handsome, your Actually, that one turned mother was – and is – out to be true, because beautiful. And you were mom always hugged me just cute as you could be whenever I complained of – right up until the moan itchy back. ment I bent over to get a Bob Coppedge, right, “interviews” his newborn son, Clay, for the Birmingham Post-Herald Besides, I’m not withgood look at you and you while proud mama Nancy looks on. out fault in this regard. peed in my face!” My daughter and I were watching a Michael Jackson video one So when I saw the picture many years later and retold the story time when she was a little girl, and his “moon walk” dazzled her I grew up with about how dad was “interviewing” me because I to no end. I thought she knew I was kidding when I said, “Yeah, was the first baby born during National Baby Week, friends said I sure had a hard time teaching him how to do that.” But she took it was a good story and congratulated me for making up such an it as further evidence of her father’s wonderfulness. Her friends at entertaining but a ridiculous narrative. By this time I’d followed my school did some fact-checking of their own and reported back to dad’s footsteps into the newspaper business, leading him to suggest her that I was full of it. Just kidding, I said, but she held it against I should try my hand at fiction. me for at least a few weeks. Mom wasn’t any more supportive. “You were born on a WednesBut I’m through fact-checking my parents because the one true day,” she pointed out. “If National Baby Week started on Sunday, thing they always told me was how much they loved me, even if I that means no babies were born for three days until you came wasn’t the first baby born during National Baby Week, and that one along.” never needed any verification. “Besides,” dad added, piling on now, “I don’t think there’s such a Former Alabama resident Clay Coppedge is a Texas-based thing as National Baby Week.” writer and author of four books and a memoir. So I fact-checked my parents and confirmed that there was, once 34 JULY 2018
JULY 2018 35
Beyond the Polka Accordion aficionados keep squeezebox’s legacy alive By Aaron Tanner
To see accordions in action, go to alabamaliving.coop!
affordability of guitars, took a toll nce a popular and even on the beloved accordion – by the glamorous instrument, 1960s and ’70s, fewer students the accordion fell out of were interested in learning it. favor over the years, as rock ’n’ “Some people have never roll came to dominate the muheard an accordion,” Funderburg sical landscape. But some Alasays. “Most people in the United bama musicians are working to States have never been educated promote the once noble squeezebox by introducing its versatile about the accordion and what sounds to some who’ve never makes it the most perfectly designed musical instrument.” heard one performed live. But association members are Members of the Alabama Acworking to educate young peocordionists’ Association gather ple by visiting schools across the not just to play, but to promote the “orchestra in a box,” so state. Caravella gave concerts at a couple of elementary schools named because of its portability in Morgan County this past Noand ability to play a wide range vember, showing the youngsters of notes. Such versatility makes how an accordion works. Both it useful as a solo instrument as students and teachers enjoyed well as part of an orchestra. “It is his performance. a perfect instrument,” says Craig “Most of the children and Funderburg, who is in charge of Frank Caravella, president of the Alabama Accordionists’ Association, adults have never heard an acorganizing concerts sponsored played in Las Vegas clubs and ballrooms in the accordion’s heyday. PHOTO BY DANNY WESTON cordion live – in concert,” Caraby the organization. vella says. “So when we show up Every genre of music features for a performance or class, it is something new and different.” the accordion, from Latin and Big Band to Zydeco. The instrument The organization also hosts concerts for the general public. Last is also prevalent in many countries other than the United States, year’s concert featuring Canadian accordionist Michael Bridge was such as China and Italy, where a majority of the world’s accordions so popular with audiences who saw the first show that some stayed are manufactured. for his second performance that same evening. “You just don’t hear And the accordion has experienced a bit of a comeback in today’s these types of concerts very often,” Caravella says. popular music. Several current acts, such as Arcade Fire and The Lumineers, feature the accordion, perhaps because of its retro style A new generation and sound that makes it stand out from string-based instruments. Though many association members are older, they are influencAssociation President Frank Caravella remembers the heyday of ing some younger folks to play the instrument. Current UAB stuthe accordion, when he played at some of the most popular parties dent Terence Penn was inspired by one of the organization’s conat Las Vegas clubs and ballrooms. One of his favorites was the Polcerts to learn the instrument as a way of getting back into music ish-American Club, where the lively atmosphere allowed him to after taking a hiatus to focus on his studies. entertain the audience while they mingled throughout the evening. “Great fun and good money for the venue,” Caravella says. “I thought it was a neat opportunity to learn a relatively uncomThe rise in the popularity of rock music, coupled with the relative mon instrument that utilizes my background in piano and music 36 JULY 2018
Kyle Owen of Madison has been playing the accordion since he was a young boy.
Members of the Alabama Accordionists’ Association gather for a photo during a jam session in April. PHOTO BY DANNY WESTON
PHOTO BY AARON TANNER
theory,” says Penn, who is currently taking lessons from one of the association’s members. As a kid, Kyle Owen of Madison was encouraged by Funderburg, along with his own self-motivation, to pursue learning the accordion after deciding to move beyond the toy version his mom bought him. “I didn’t want to just make noise on the toy accordion, I wanted to make real music,” Owen says. There are different reasons why people choose to play the accordion over a more familiar instrument, such as a piano or a saxophone. For Owen, he plays to stand apart as a musician. “Being unique is what defines me.” Caravella continues performing for the joy it brings him. “Any musician worth his salt plays his instrument for the love of the mu-
Roswell and Sarah Pfister dance the tango at last year’s Michael Bridge concert at Samford University. PHOTO COURTESY ALABAMA ACCORDION ASSOCIATION
sic,” he says. For Mike Hymes of Trussville, playing the accordion is a way of honoring the memory of his mother, who was part of a traveling band in the Caribbean with her cousin. “They were quite the entertainers back then,” says Hymes, who inherited his mom’s 1940s-era accordion. As the accordion slowly regains popularity thanks to the newer digital models that can produce sounds electronically, Caravella is optimistic that future generations will decide to play the same instrument he started learning over half a century ago. The Alabama Accordionists’ Association has members of all ages and skill levels. To learn more about the group and their yearly concert series, visit their website at bamaccordionists.com.
August 2-5, ‘18 Gas up, empty your trunk and slather on your sunscreen. This is one funderful road trip that can’t be missed! Sale begins at Gadsden’s Noccalula Falls Park and extends up scenic Lookout Mountain Parkway to Chattanooga and beyond, all the way to Michigan! For maps, shopping, lodging, dining & local attraction information, visit
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JULY 2018 37
| Worth the drive |
South Forty: steaks, burgers and more By Allison Law The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner five days a week to hungry patrons in Conecuh County.
ost folks don’t venture into the restaurant industry during their retirement years. But for Don White, the decision to start running a restaurant was rooted in a desire to help his family as well as a commitment to the little community he calls home. White’s investment in the South Forty restaurant, which is served by Southern Pine EC, has been a boon to the tiny town of Repton in Conecuh County, population 282. There are few dining options around, and to have a place that serves a variety of hot, tasty food three times a day is invaluable.
A full pound of hamburger steak with gravy and onions is one of the many dinner options available at South Forty.
“It’s been very good to us, and we’ve enjoyed it,” White says. After he retired from the railroad, he and his wife, Patricia, wanted to help their sons get started with a business. The idea was for them to buy the existing South Forty restaurant, work together as a family to build up the customer base, and then White would step back to let the younger generation take over. But sons and their families found success in other businesses. Many of them still help out at the restaurant, so it’s very much a family affair, but no one is really in a position to take over full time. So White has put it up for sale, but has had to counter the rumor that he was going to close the restaurant. “I told my wife, it won’t sell overnight. 38 JULY 2018
You’ve got to be patient and wait. Somebody will come in and buy it. You’ve got to find somebody who wants to step out on a limb. We definitely stepped out on a limb.” He’s been approached by a couple who asked if he would stay on while if they purchased the restaurant. He has no problem with that, he says; he wants to see someone succeed. “You work 10 years for something, then to just watch it go down? I don’t want that.”
Steaks, burgers and more
The prices at South Forty are tough to beat: A 16-ounce ribeye with a side, beverage and a salad is just over $20. White can keep his costs down, thanks to family members who pitch in to help; because he has his retirement from the railroad, the restaurant isn’t his main source of income. “I’ve got one up on everybody else, because I can set my prices like I want,” he says, but that doesn’t mean he skimps on the quality of the food. The South Forty’s steaks, which are fresh cut weekly, are popular choices, but burgers are his biggest sellers. These are no skimpy patties: they’re one-pound, all-beef burgers. “When I bought (the restaurant), people said, don’t change them,” and he hasn’t. Besides the beef burgers and ribeye steaks, there are dinners featuring catfish, chicken tenders, fantail shrimp, country fried steak and more; appetizers (including the “South Forty Roundup” – homemade potato slices loaded with cheese, bacon bits and chives, a holdover from the previous owner); sandwiches; and loaded baked potatoes. And there are salads, including the “Trashcan Salad,” another holdover from the previous owner, with grilled and fried chicken, popcorn shrimp, ham and turkey. “How she came up with that name, I don’t know! The salad is huge – you cannot eat the whole thing,” White says, laughing.
South Forty owner Don White
It’s about community
White is proud of the charitable contributions South Forty makes – “probably more than we should.” They donate mostly to local causes and organizations, and have been known to comp the meals of first responders as well a few folks, “who, you know they’ve been through a lot.” One of those folks was Steve Fugate, known as the “Love Life guy,” who lost a son to suicide and daughter to an accidental overdose. Fugate has walked across the country multiple times to spread his message of loving life, and to use his tragedies as a way to encourage others. His travels took him near the South Forty, and when White’s family saw him, they fixed a meal for him. Fugate made an impression on White, who felt moved to contribute toward his cause; Fugate, in turn, mentioned South Forty in his book. Given its rural location, the patrons are mostly locals; White says To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee and her sister, Alice, would come to eat from nearby Monroeville, “and nobody would bother them.” Perhaps the Lee sisters also liked the friendliness of the staff. “We put an emphasis on friendliness and pleasing the customer,” he says. Whatever the complaint, White says they’ll make it right. “If they’re not happy, they’re not coming back. If you don’t have repeat customers, especially in a small place like this,” you won’t succeed. South Forty Restaurant 34035 Highway 41 South Repton, AL 36475 251-248-2384 Hours: 6 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday Search South Forty Restaurant on Facebook
JULY 2018â€ƒ 39
Taste, don’t waste
Group raises awareness of less popular fish
rowing up in South Lou“I’m the guinea pig-in-chief,” isiana, where people eat Wright says. “I’m the one who anything that doesn’t gets to eat all the weird stuff eat them first and some things Chris cooks to see how it tastes. that do, I tasted about every Many less desirable fish are fish species found in the Gulf wasted. If people realized how of Mexico or associated waters. good they are to eat if prepared Some I only tried once. Some I properly, they might be more spit out about as fast as it hit my likely to keep some for the table.” The group especially wants tongue. to promote lionfish as a deliBut there’s a group based in cacy. Native to the Pacific and Gulf Shores that wants people to try different species of Indian oceans, beautiful but dangerous lionfish invaded the fish, like jack crevalle. Large, hard-fighting sport fish that Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea can challenge any fishing tackle and Gulf of Mexico a few years with lightning runs and devasago, probably as aquarium fish tating strikes, jack crevalle selreleased into the wild. Highly dom show up on dinner plates prolific with no natural predators on this side of the world, because most people believe Derek Johnson with Reel Surprise Charters shows off a porgy caught while lionfish multiplied and spread that the bloody red flesh makes fishing in the Gulf of Mexico south of Orange Beach, Ala. rapidly. Now, they displace or them unpalatable. PHOTO BY JOHN N. FELSHER eat many native species. Chris Sherrill, the executive trout. Also, catching something different to “Lionfish are terribly voracious and prochef at Coastal restaurant (coastalgulfbring home for the table could give recreshores.com) in Gulf Shores, and Chandra lific invasive species that eat just about anyational anglers, charter captains and even Wright want to change that perception. thing and outcompete many native species commercial fishermen more opportunities They co-founded the Nuisance Underutifor space and food,” Wright warns. “It’s a to keep different kinds of fish. huge threat to native species in the Gulf of lized Invasive Sustainable Available NoWhen they first started the group, Mexico. We want to wipe them out here. ble Culinary Endeavors, or NUISANCE Wright challenged Sherrill to invent a recThey are delicious, but people need to hanGroup, to convince more people to eat ipe that would make jack crevalle appetizunderutilized species like jacks, bonito and dle them with care. They have 18 venoming so they could serve it to a congressional others that most anglers consider “trash ous spines that people need to avoid. The staff delegation visiting the Alabama coast. fish.” meat is not poisonous and is very white, A friend brought the chef a jack to prepare. flaky and delicious. People can fix it a va“Our purpose is to raise awareness of floWhen cleaning it, Chris noticed that the ra and fauna that are a nuisance, underutiriety of ways.” meat looks similar to beef, so he decided to lized or invasive, but sustainable and availNot everything makes the dinner table treat it like beef. He cut the dark red bloodable through noble, culinary endeavors,” menu, despite the chef ’s best efforts. For line out of the meat and marinated it. Wright says. “Sometimes, people look at us instance, he doesn’t like hardhead catfish, a “Jack crevalle has been our biggest surlike we’re crazy when we offer them a piece well-known bait-stealing pest. I tried hardprise,” the chef admits. “I thought it was of jack crevalle to eat, but we want to eduheads – once! inedible, but the bloody red flesh looks like cate people on eating these fish and show “I’m still on the edge with hardhead catraw beef. If we cubed it, marinated it like fish,” Sherrill says. “When it’s ultra-fresh, it them how to treat and prepare them. When steak and grilled it medium rare, it might prepared certain ways, many underutilized has some firmness to it, but it deteriorates taste like steak, I thought. We did and it rapidly. Another chef made some ceviche species can be quite tasty. Not too many came out beyond anyone’s expectations. and cured hardhead catfish in lots of citrus years ago, most people considered redfish We had to check to make sure nobody juices to make it more firm. It’s pretty good trash fish and didn’t eat them.” slipped in some prime rib, it was so good.” with that, but it’s still probably my least faIf people eat more undesirable species Now, the chef experiments with many vorite fish along with skipjack or ladyfish.” like jacks, Sherrill and Wright say, that other less desirable fish. He frequently ofFeel like eating something new? Some might take pressure off popular species like fers samples to his friends, usually without anglers bring their catches to the restaured snapper, grouper, redfish and speckled telling them the species until after they rant to ask Chef Chris to cook it for them. taste it. Some other underutilized species For more information on the NUISANCE John N. Felsher lives in Semmes, Ala. include stingrays, pinfish, scorpionfish, Group, see its Facebook page at fb.com/ Contact him through Facebook. bearded brotula, gafftopsail catfish, porgies NuisanceGroup or email info@nuisanceand others. group.org.
40 JULY 2018
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Tables indicate peak fish and game feeding and migration times. Major periods can bracket the peak by an hour before and an hour after. Minor peaks, half-hour before and after. Adjusted for daylight savings time. Minor
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03:37 04:37 11:07 -12:52 01:37 02:22 03:07 03:52 04:22 --01:22 01:52 02:22 03:07
08:52 09:52 05:52 07:07 08:22 09:22 10:07 10:52 11:22 11:52 05:07 05:37 06:07 06:52 07:22 08:07
10:37 11:22 05:07 01:07 07:22 08:37 09:52 10:52 11:37 12:07 07:52 08:07 08:37 09:07 09:22 09:52
03:37 04:22 12:07 06:07 03:22 04:52 05:52 06:22 06:52 07:22 12:22 12:52 01:22 01:52 02:22 02:52
AUG. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
03:52 10:07 11:37 --01:07 02:22 03:37 04:37 -12:52 01:37 02:22 03:07 09:52 10:52 ---01:22 02:37 03:37 04:22 --12:52 01:22 01:52 08:22 09:07 10:07
09:07 04:37 05:37 06:52 08:07 09:07 10:07 10:52 11:52 05:22 06:22 07:07 07:52 08:52 03:52 04:52 06:07 07:37 08:52 09:37 10:22 11:07 11:37 05:07 05:37 06:22 06:52 07:37 02:37 03:07 03:52
10:07 03:52 04:37 01:52 07:52 09:37 10:37 11:22 12:07 07:37 08:07 08:37 09:07 09:37 10:07 04:22 12:52 03:37 08:37 10:07 10:52 11:22 11:52 07:07 07:22 07:52 08:07 08:22 08:52 02:52 03:22
03:22 10:37 11:22 12:07 03:52 04:52 05:37 06:22 06:52 12:37 01:22 01:52 02:37 03:07 03:52 10:37 11:22 12:07 05:07 05:37 06:07 06:22 06:52 12:07 12:37 01:07 01:22 01:52 02:22 09:07 09:37
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JULY 2018 41
| Consumer Wise |
Understanding your energy bill can help you save By Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen
Every month, I look over my electric bill, but a lot of it doesn’t make sense to me. Is there information included on my bill that can help me save money?
also show how much your use goes up during the summer when you’re running your air conditioner. Your electric co-op may offer tools on their website to help you track energy use and estimate how much you use for space heatIt’s always a good idea to understand how you’re spending ing, air conditioning and water heating, which are often the three your money. You look over your credit card statement carelargest energy uses. Knowing how much you spend on heating fully each month, so you should do the same with your utility or cooling can help you determine how much you might save by bills. As you’d suspect, analyzing your bill can help you save enerinstalling a new heat pump or other energy efficiency upgrade. Some co-ops also offer online engy and money. ergy audit tools that provide ways If you live in an all-electric home, to reduce energy costs based on a all of your home energy costs will detailed set of questions about your be on the monthly bill from your home. If your co-op doesn’t offer an electric cooperative. This bill will online audit tool, or if you want a probably have one or more fixed different perspective, you can try charges that cover some of the costs the ENERGYSTAR Home Energy your co-op incurs in delivering the Yardstick at energystar.gov. power to your home. This resource can give you a Beyond these fixed fees, you will good idea of your space heating pay for the power you have used and cooling use without using an that month, which is sold in kiloonline tool. Just total up your avwatt-hour (kWh) units. One kWh erage electricity use for the months is equal to 1,000 watts over a onewhen you use the most energy and hour period. Think of 10 100-watt subtract the average amount you lights that are used for one hour. use in “shoulder months” – when Most electric co-ops charge the you’re not cooling or heating your same rate for a kWh no matter home. The difference is likely the when you use it, but some offer a amount you pay each month for Time-of-Use rate that is higher heating and cooling. during peak energy hours – when If someone says switching to the wholesale price of electricity is a new heating or cooling system higher because there’s greater decould save you 20 percent, they mand. may mean you can save 20 percent Some co-ops have different rates This is an image of an externally-fitted A/C heat pump. For for different use tiers, so the rate many homes, heating and cooling require more energy than any on heating or cooling costs. Some homes also have significant uses could be higher or lower as month- other end use. besides heating and cooling that ly use increases. Electric rates can increase their winter or summer bills, like a well pump, spa or also vary by season and cost more during high-use months. swimming pool. If you’re being charged more for energy use during On-Peak You may receive a separate monthly bill for natural gas, or for hours, you can often adjust the time you use certain appliancpropane or heating oil, which might be delivered on an as-needes and equipment, like your dishwasher, air conditioner, clothes ed, keep-filled basis. The Home Energy Yardstick can accommowasher or oven to Off-Peak hours. This won’t reduce your electric date any type of fuel you use in your home. use, but it can save you money if your co-op offers a Time-of-Use I hope this information can help you analyze your energy bill rate. and give you some general ideas on how you might be able to cut Most energy bills include a chart that shows your electric use your energy expenses. The best way to turn these ideas into speover the past 12 months. If your home is electrically heated, you cific actions is to conduct an energy audit of your home. Contact will see how much your use goes up in the winter. This chart can your electric co-op to see if they offer free energy audits or if they can recommend a local professional.
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 email@example.com for more information.
42 JULY 2018
This column was co-written by Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen of Collaborative Efficiency. For more information on understanding your utility bill, please visit: www.collaborativeefficiency.com/energytips. www.alabamaliving.coop
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| Alabama Recipes |
44 JULY 2018
Don’t bemoan the heat. Beat it by whipping up some delicious frozen dishes. BY JENNIFER KORNEGAY
ou can eat ice cream, popsicles and other tasty frozen treats all year long. But there’s an extra layer of pleasure when enjoying one in the heat of summer. The temperature difference alone is a little thrilling. That first touch of frigid contact on warm skin (made even hotter by our annual seasonal sweater) is a sensory jolt. It’s a bit magical too; every lick or bite calls up the sights and sounds of childhood: The memory of an ice cream churn’s dull whir, spinning to transform a few basic ingredients into a frozen dream. (Or watching in anticipation and relief as some unlucky someone other than you hand-cranks an old contraption.) Running toward the tinkling tunes of the ice cream truck, trading allowance for something cold and colorful, eating it fast to fight the melt, slurping too quickly and suffering the dreaded brain freeze, but still keeping your smile. Those were charmed days, and we’d all do well to not just remember the carefree attitude they represent but relax and embrace it once again. So when the temps approach triple digits, we can moan and complain with zero effect. Or we can head into the kitchen and spend a little time and effort creating our own edible AC. Be cool and choose the latter this summer, and use this month’s reader-submitted recipes to indulge in some frosty fun.
Fresh Fruit Yogurt Pops recipe on page 47! Alabama Living
JULY 2018 45
Frozen Samoa Pie Crust: 50 Nilla Wafers 6 tablespoons melted butter (not margarine) ¼ cup sugar Pie filling: 4-ounces cream cheese, softened 1 can sweetened condensed milk 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1 cup Cool Whip, defrosted 4 cups toasted coconut, divided 2 cups caramel, melted and divided 1 cup mini chocolate chips 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
Food prepared and photographed by Brooke Echols
Make crust: In a food processor, pulse Nilla wafers until they are fine crumbs. Transfer crumbs to a bowl, then add butter and sugar and stir until combined. Grease a 9-inch pie plate and press in the crust mixture. Make filling: In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Mix in sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and salt until fully incorporated. Fold in Cool Whip. Make middle layer: In a medium bowl, mix 2 cups toasted coconut with 1 cup caramel. Pour half the cream cheese mixture into the pie pan and cover with coconut caramel. Smooth to the edges to make a layer. Top with the remaining cream cheese mixture, then add the remaining 2 cups toasted coconut and mini chocolate chips. Drizzle with remaining caramel and melted chocolate and freeze until firm, about 4 hours. Serve.
Cook of the Month:
Mary Beth Rich enjoys cooking for her family; it’s one way she expresses love. Her family loves that she loves cooking for them, especially her Frozen Samoa Pie, a cool treat she describes as “refreshing, rich, yummy goodness.” “It is great for family get togethers and goes really well with a cookout,” she says. “It is a big request from my family in the summer.” It’s second only to her homemade biscuits, a delight she’s now teaching her fiveyear-old granddaughter to make. Rich has been cooking since she was a child, and in addition to desserts and biscuits, she makes jars and jars of jellies and jams, including a few unique floral-based flavors. “I make a jelly from the blooms of Queen Anne’s Lace and one from dandelion flowers,” she said. “It tastes like honey and sunshine."
Mary Rich, North Alabama EC
Send us your recipes for a chance to win! Themes September: BBQ | July 8
October: Pumpkin | Aug 8 Deadlines November: Nuts | Sept 8 and
3 ways to submit Online: alabamaliving.coop Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Mail: Recipes, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124
July's prize pack winner is Beth McLarty of Cullman EC! Your prize is on the way. Cook of the Month winners will receive $50, and may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year. One gift basket winner will be drawn monthly at random and each name will be entered only once. Items in basket may vary each month. To be eligible, submissions must include a name, phone number, mailing address and co-op name. Alabama Living reserves the right to reprint recipes in our other publications.
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. 46 JULY 2018
Oreo Ice Cream Sandwiches
Piña Colada Wedges
Cookie ingredients: 3/4 cup almond flour 2 tablespoons carob powder 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted) 1 large egg white 11/2 teaspoons vanilla 1/4 cup honey 3 tablespoons milk
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened 1/3 cup sugar ½ teaspoon rum extract 3½ cups (8 ounces) whipped topping, thawed and divided 1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple with juice 22/3 cups coconut
Ice cream ingredients: 1 cup milk 1/4 cup honey 2 teaspoons vanilla 2 cups heavy whipping cream Directions for cookies: Mix together flour, carob powder and baking power. In separate bowl, mix together butter, egg white, vanilla, honey and milk. Add dry ingredients and mix. Grease or oil a 9x13-inch pan. Pour batter into pan in an even layer. Bake at 320 degrees for about 20 min. Allow to cool, then cut into cookies. I used a spice container lid about 2 1/8-inches. Put cookies on plates, and place in freezer. Once firm, you can create the sandwiches. Directions for ice cream: Place all ingredients in one bowl. Use a hand mixer for 5 minutes, then place in freezer. Before it's ready to serve, it's usually a good idea to mix again so the fat doesn't collect on top. When ice cream is frozen, remove from freezer to create sandwiches. The ice cream may need to be mashed with a spoon and stirred to make it softer and easy to spread. Spread on one cookie and top with another. Repeat. Place back in freezer to firm up, if needed. Jessica Pittman Joe Wheeler EMC
Coming up in August... Corn!
Beat cream cheese, sugar and rum extract until smooth. Fold in 2 cups whipped topping, pineapple with juice and 2 cups coconut. Spread mixture in an 8-inch square pan. Spread remaining whipped topping on top. Freeze 2 hours. Garnish with coconut, cherries and pineapple. Peggy Key North Alabama EC
Baked Alaska 2 pints ice cream (brick-style) 1 pound, sponge or layer cake (1-inch thick) 5 egg whites 1 teaspoon vanilla 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar 2/3 cup sugar Lay ice cream bricks side by side, measure length and width. Trim cake 1-inch larger on all sides than ice cream measurements. Place cake on a piece of foil. Center ice cream on cake. Cover; freeze until firm. At serving time, beat together egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar to soft peaks. Gradually add in sugar beating after each tablespoon is added. Transfer cake with ice cream to a baking sheet. Spread with egg white mixture, sealing to edges of cake and baking sheet all around. Swirl to make peaks. Place oven rack in lowest position. Bake in a 500-degree oven about 3 minutes or until golden. Slice; serve immediately. Jamie Petterson Tallapoosa River EC
Piña Colada Wedges
Fresh Fruit Yogurt Pops 1 6-8 ounce container of vanilla Greek yogurt ¼ cup of berries, your choice, cut into bite-sized pieces 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped nuts, your choice Pour yogurt into a small mixing bowl. Add berries and gently stir. Add chopped nuts and combine. Pour mixture into a push-up pop container or other pop mold. Freeze until solid. Yield: 2 pops. Cindy Jean North Alabama EC
Frozen Fruit Salad 1 can peach pie filling 1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained 1 can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk 1 cup Cool Whip ¼ cup lemon juice ¼ teaspoon almond extract Mix all and freeze in an 8-inch square pan. Leave out a few minutes before serving. Karen Faye Fitzgerald Joe Wheeler EMC
JULY 2018 47
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48 JULY 2018
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Subscribe to Alabama Living Magazine AlabamaLiving.com/Subscribe
JULY 2018â€ƒ 49
50â€ƒ MAY 2018
Covington Electric Cooperative
Water Heater Program Many things have changed over the years, but Covington Electric continues to provide discounted water heaters to its members. This program not only provides energy efficient electric water heaters, but it also helps CEC manage energy demand through the H20 load control program. Programs like this help CEC provide reliable and affordable service to its members.
â€˘ www.covington.coop JULY 2018 51
| Our Sources Say |
Better or worse? W
hich of the following statements would you choose as most correct? The world is getting better. The world is getting worse. The world is neither getting better nor worse. A team led by Hans Rosling -- a medical doctor, professor of international health, and advisor to the World Health Organization -- asked that question along with others to people in 30 countries. A strong majority of the respondents to the survey indicated the world was getting worse. Responses to other questions in the survey indicated people aren’t aware the world has improved. Less than 10 percent of the people polled knew extreme poverty in the world has declined by half over the past 20 years. Less than half the people polled knew life expectancy in the world was 72 years. People were consistently more negative in their outlook than facts dictated. We all tend to yearn for the “good old days” when we were young, summers were endless, we had less responsibilities, and our lives were much less complicated. However, those may be the only things better about the “good old days.” In 1800, 85 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty. Twenty years ago, 29 percent of the world population lived in extreme poverty (remember “children are starving in China”), but only 9 percent of the world’s population lives in extreme poverty today. In 1800, the average life expectancy across the world was about 30 years of age. About half the children born died before their 5th birthday. By 1973, most babies survived, and the average life expectancy had increased to 60 years. Over the past 40 years, advances in health care, improved farming practices and reductions in world poverty have improved the average life expectancy to 72 years. Other things are better, too. The percentage of people living in democracy increased from 1 percent in 1816 to 56 percent in 2016. The percentage of 1-year-old children receiving at least one immunization increased from 22 percent as late as 1980 to 88 percent by 2016. Deaths from natural disasters have declined from more than 1,000 per year in the 1930s to 72 per year. Child labor,
ages 5-14, declined from 28 percent in 1950 to 10 percent in 2016. Undernourishment has declined from 28 percent from 1970 to 11 percent in 2016. Despite the recent school shootings and increasing calls for gun control, the number of violent crimes reported declined from 14.5 million in 1990 to 9.5 million in 2016. Finally, internet availability has increased from 0 percent in 1980 to 48 percent today. A lot of people are better off, and the world is improving. If so many things are better, why do so many people think the world is getting worse? One reason is selective, opportunist or exploitive reporting. We rarely hear about good things, successes or advances. Journalists, even Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists, are fixated on everything wrong with our world, our businesses, or our leaders. People who have accomplished nothing in their careers constantly criticize those who are doing things – often good things. At other times, they use negative approaches and scare tactics to advance their personal agendas or beliefs. When was the last time you read the economy is better, the tax changes have increased the standard of living, someone has served us well, or our quality of life is better? Nor do you often hear positive messages from our leaders. Politicians emphasize all that is wrong with their political adversaries instead of their own positive attributes. Very few people can run for oﬃce without being criticized for some problem they have had. People are emotional. If they don’t like what they feel about the direction of the world, they tend to ignore objective evidence of positive things in the world. When people have negative feelings, they conclude that nothing is improving, nothing we have tried has worked, and they lose confidence in leadership. They become increasingly more negative and radical, supporting more extreme actions when things are actually very good in the world. The world is too negative. We need to take responsibility for our successes and failures. We need to think a lot more, expect more of the media, and demand more of our leaders. We need to recognize and support those people who are doing positive things and reject those who only criticize what others are doing. The world is a better place, and everyone should celebrate that success. I hope you have a good month.
Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative
52 JULY 2018
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| Hardy Jackson's Alabama |
Bicentennial beer: A capital idea
Illustration by Dennis Auth
n case you haven’t noticed, Alabama is in the midst of its Bicentennial Celebration. And to mark this historic event, the Alabama Brewers Guild, in cooperation with the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, has enlisted breweries from across Alabama to collaborate in concocting a series of beers, each honoring one of the state’s five capitals. The first beer in the State Capital Series was St. Stephens Stout which pays homage to Alabama’s territorial capital. Had the beer been available back then it would have sold well in a town whose citizens were described as an “illiterate, wild and savage” bunch, a people “of depraved morals, unworthy of public confidence or private esteems.” Fortunately, the town also attracted men like Harry Toulmin, an educated (at least literate) Scottish freethinker, who said he came to St. Stephens because it was “so far from civilization that he would be safe from Presbyterians.” Toulmin strikes me as the sort of fellow who would enjoy sitting with friends and discussing predestination and infant damnation over a nice Chardonnay instead of the “wild and savage” beer drinkers who roamed the streets. But St. Stephens did not have a brewery, so the thirsty had to content themselves with the rot-gut whiskey they called, with a fine feeling for words, “busthead,” or go to Huntsville. Huntsville had one. A far more populous and progressive place than St. Stephens, Huntsville was where the convention met in 1819 to draw up a constitution for what was by then the “state” of Alabama and where the first session of the state legislature was called to order. Huntsville was also the location of Alabama’s first brewery, which James and William Badlun opened that same year. Although I can’t prove it, I am sure that holding the convention in a town where beer was brewed was not coincidental. Nor can I prove, but I do believe, that ready access to beer influenced the
Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Professor Emeritus at Jacksonville State University and a regular contributor to Alabama Living. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
54 JULY 2018
writing of what has been judged to have been one of the most “liberal” state constitutions of the time. So it is right and proper that the second beer brewed by Guild members is Badlun Brothers Imperial Porter, which is described as “a modern take on a traditional porter recipe.” However, Huntsville was not meant to be the “permanent” state capital. A committee of the territorial legislature recommended Tuscaloosa, but William Wyatt Bibb, the state’s first governor, would have none of it. Bibb and a powerful coalition of planter interests favored a spot at the confluence of the Cahaba and Alabama Rivers, where they felt they could make their fortunes in Black Belt real estate and Black Belt cotton. So Cahawba became the capital. For six years Cahawba was the place to be, at least if government was your business. Unfortunately for the city, if you had other business to conduct, it was more profitable to conduct it upriver, at Selma, which would eventually replace Cahawba as “The Queen City of the Black Belt,” though not as the capital. If Selma had become the seat of government the Guild might be brewing Samuel Bogle’s Beer. Bogle was a hotel proprietor whose “assembly room” was the social center of the town. It was there that the city council, after doing the city’s business, reportedly “adjourned to take a drink.” But until Selma came into its own, Cahawba flourished. So, what would be the beer for that capital? Birmingham’s Cahaba Brewing Company is one of the breweries collaborating on the Bicentennial project. Taking inspiration from the mulberry trees that lined Cahawba’s streets, Cahaba brewed “Mulberry Road.” A portion of the proceeds from its sale will go to preserving the Old Cahawba historical site. The next beer will honor Tuscaloosa, which launched a “fake news” campaign and snatched the capital from Cahawba. A Montgomery beer will follow and finish the series. Now I have friends who feel that it is inappropriate to brew beer to celebrate Alabama’s Bicentennial. I also have friends who feel that brewing beer is the perfect way to celebrate Alabama’s Bicentennial. And as for me, I stand firmly with my friends. www.alabamaliving.coop