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

South Alabama Electric Cooperative

Power Up

How your electricity is made

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

‘Sean of the South’ Sean Dietrich has created a name and a niche for himself with his popular columns, which focus on life and people in the South. Now, he’s taking his talents on the road.


VOL. 71 NO. 3 n MARCH 2018


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Prepay allows members to monitor their power usage throughout the month.


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Storm spotters


Worth the Drive

Trained storm spotters help the National Weather Service by being their “eyes in the field” during severe weather.

The Sunflour Bakery and Eatery serves breakfast, lunch and an array of delectable desserts in Cullman.



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In this issue: Page 9 Page 20 Page 28 Page 34

11 Spotlight 29 Around Alabama 36 Gardens 38 Outdoors 39 Fish & Game Forecast 44 Recipes 54 Hardy Jackson’s Alabama ONLINE: ON THE COVER: Power to the people. Learn how the electricity we use every day is generated and transmitted before it reaches SAEC.

MARCH 2018 3

Do you know where your electricity comes from? David Bailey, General Manager

Board of Trustees James Shaver President District 2

Delaney Kervin Vice President District 5

Douglas Green Secretary/Treasurer District 6

Bill Hixon District 1

James May At Large

Ben Norman District 4

Glenn Reeder District 7

For most of early my life, my knowledge of electricity has been limited to what it takes to plug a device into an electrical socket or build a fence to corral some cattle. I might see a hydroelectric dam or hear about a nuclear power plant and think briefly about where that electricity comes from, but I didn’t understand that those energy resources are just a small part of a much larger system. Even today, some people might be skeptical that, as a trained accountant, I could explain how electricity works. I would remind them that’s why we have electrical engineers. Back in those early days, I may not have been able to explain the ins and outs of electricity generation, but my time in the industry has given me a wonderful opportunity to see how this pivotal resource is created and distributed to homes and businesses across the country. To me, it’s nothing short of miraculous. That’s why, for the next three months, we will feature a series of articles that follow the process of creating, distributing and maintaining electric service. It starts in this issue with a story about the generation of a kilowatt-hour, the many energy resources available to us, and how that electricity is transmitted to substations where local cooperatives and utilities provide distribution. Next month’s article will focus on the ways South Alabama Electric Cooperative builds and maintains our system to provide reliable

and cost-effective service to each of our members. Finally, the last part of the series will walk members through the process of restoring power after a large outage, including how we coordinate with utilities across the state to resolve widespread outages as quickly as possible. It’s hard to imagine our lives today without electricity, which is why we hope you will take the time to read these articles and to learn more about what makes the modern electrical grid possible. As a cooperative, we believe in educating our member-owners to provide transparency in everything we do. Even more importantly, we always want to remind members that the convenience and power of electricity also require attention to safety. SAEC employees are trained to handle the potential hazards of electricity, but every member should know how to safely work with electric power in their homes and at work. Sharing such an invaluable resource is rewarding for anyone in the electric industry. But as someone fortunate enough to work for an electric cooperative, I can say that feeling is only compounded by knowing we get to serve our friends and neighbors. It’s a privilege none of us at SAEC takes lightly, and I hope you’ll take pride in the work that goes into our electric system every day. n

Think replacing your air filter is a waste? Think again. One of the simplest ways to save money on your electric bill is replacing the air filter on your heating and cooling system at least once every three months. That might sound like a cost that adds up, but consider this: §§ In most homes, as much as half of the energy used goes toward heating and cooling. §§ A clogged filter means your system has to work harder to keep your home warmer or cooler, which wastes energy.

Raymond Trotter District 3

§§ According to the Department of Energy, replacing an old filter with a clean one can reduce energy consumption by 15 percent. Those savings will add up much quicker than the cost of a few air filters, especially during the hottest months of the summer and the coldest months of the winter.

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Contact Information Mailing address P.O. Box 449 Troy, AL 36081

Pay your way with PREPAID BILLING

Phone 334-566-2060 800-556-2060 Website Find us here:

Tf Payment Options SAEC App Available from the App Store and Google Play BY MAIL P.O. Box 449 Troy, AL 36081

At South Alabama Electric Cooperative, we know no two members are the same. While some people are planners, others excel at improvisation. One neighbor might check their budget daily, but another is happy to see where they stand at the end of the month. That's why SAEC has multiple billing options, offering something for everyone, including the flexibility and control of prepay. Think of prepay like filling your car with gas. Rather than worry about deposits, late fees and disconnect fees that can come with traditional billing, prepay lets you “fill up the tank” ahead of time and track usage so you know when you’re running low. “You don’t have to think about fees or deposits,” SAEC Office Manager Mark Hill says. “You pay ahead of time, and as it gets low you add more money. As long as you keep enough gas in the tank, so to speak, you’ll continue to have service.” For most people who sign up for prepay billing, this translates into savings. Members can set up text and email notifications that update them on their daily balance, giving them a better feel for how their habits impact their usage. Forget to add money to your account? We’ll send you a notification when your balance dips below $20 so you never have to worry about it hitting zero. Alabama Living

SAEC’s prepay system is also automated, saving members the time of calling the office to ask someone to disconnect or reconnect service and the associated fees. If your balance does drop to zero, the system will wait 24 hours before disconnecting service. Reconnecting service is as simple as paying the necessary funds into your account. “This is just a different type of program for people who might not want to deal with a deposit or the fees of traditional billing,” says Hill. “I think some people just like the concept of not wondering if they’ll build up a large bill this month and have to pay that money at one time instead of all along.”

With prepay you can:

§§ save money by learning about your usage habits §§ receive daily balance notifications §§ stop end-of-month billing surprises §§ avoid deposits, late fees and disconnect fees §§ make payments when you want, in the amount you want To join the more than 300 members who have already signed up or to learn more, call the SAEC office at 800-556-2060 today! n

WEBSITE PHONE PAYMENTS 877-566-0611, credit cards accepted NIGHT DEPOSITORY Available at our Highway 231 office, day or night PAYMENT POINTS Regions Bank - Troy branch Troy Bank and Trust - all branch locations 1st National Bank of Brundidge and Troy First Citizens - Luverne branch Banks Buy Rite - Banks Country 1 Stop - Honoraville IN PERSON 13192 US-231, Troy, AL 36081 Office Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Questions? For questions concerning Capital Credits, contact: For questions concerning Billing, contact: For questions concerning Construction, contact: MARCH 2018  5

Bringing power to the people How electricity is made

This story is part one of a three-part series exploring how SAEC brings electricity to its members, from the generation of a kilowatt-hour to restoring power after storms. Most people don’t spend much time thinking about where their electricity comes from. All they want to know is that when they plug their device into an outlet or turn on a light switch, the power will be there. Of course, at South Alabama Electric Cooperative, we aren’t most people. We work hard every day to bring affordable and reliable electric service to our neighbors. That means it’s 6 MARCH 2018

our job to know everything about the electricity on our system, from the hazards that can lead to outages to how it was generated. However, generating electricity requires large facilities and a significant financial investment, much more than SAEC could handle on our own. Instead, just like our members are part of this cooperative, SAEC is a member of a larger generation cooperative: PowerSouth. This allows us to provide service that is both stable and affordable while sharing the cost of generation with other cooperatives throughout the region.

Energy sources

PowerSouth provides electricity to each of its member cooperatives, such as SAEC, based on their needs. Headquartered in Andalusia the cooperative operates a variety of generation facilities across the state to harness energy from natural resources such as natural gas, coal and even water.

Natural gas

Natural gas is a fossil fuel, meaning it comes from mineral deposits buried deep below the earth's surface. Pressure from the earth's crust and extreme heat turn these deposits into natural gas.

This gas can be used to generate electricity, and the most basic method is a gas-fired steam generation unit that heats water to produce steam. That steam turns the turbine of an electric generator, producing electricity. Gas turbines and combustion engines work in a similar fashion, using hot gases produced directly from burning natural gas to turn the turbine. Newer natural gas plants often combine gas turbines and steam units to reduce inefficiency. In these combinedcycle units, natural gas is heated to power a turbine. Any excess heat goes to boil water for the steam unit. The system

captures energy that otherwise would be wasted. Natural gas has become popular in recent decades because it’s plentiful and has little impact on the environment. The Energy Information Administration estimates that known natural gas resources in the United States alone are enough to last more than 80 years.


Generating electricity from coal works almost identically to gas-fired steam generation. In a coal-fired generator, coal is ground into fine powder before being blown into the firebox of a boiler. The boiler Alabama Living

then heats water into steam, and the steam pressure powers a turbine that generates electricity. After natural gas, coal is the second-largest energy source in the U.S., accounting for about 30 percent of all electricity generated in the country. Its abundance and price stability make it a common fuel source for electric generation because it allows utilities to offer affordable service without sacrificing reliability.

Nuclear power

Nuclear power plants produce energy through the use of nuclear fission, the process of splitting atoms to gener-

ate heat. Uranium is the most common fuel for these reactions, though plutonium and thorium can also be used. Splitting an atom of uranium sets off a chain reaction in which the resulting atoms also split, creating large amounts of heat in a very short period of time. In fact, fission releases 1 million times as much energy as fossil fuels on an atomic level. Just like with natural gas and coal, that heat is used to produce steam at high enough pressures to turn a turbine and generate electricity. Because uranium is relatively common in the Earth’s crust, nuclear plants can produce

large amounts of energy at low operating costs.

Hydroelectric power

Dams are among the most visible forms of electricity generation, and they use the power of gravity to produce energy. The dam itself creates a reservoir of water on one side at a higher level than the other. You could think of a reservoir formed by a dam as stored energy. When water falls through the dam, it turns a turbine that produces electricity in a generator at the top of the dam. Because this process repeats itself as water naturally evaporates and precipitates, hydroMARCH 2018  7

electric power is a highly sustainable way to generate electricity. While hydroelectric dams are extremely efficient and visually impressive, they only account for a small fraction of electricity produced across the country. For that reason, having additional energy resources is essential to maintaining reliable and affordable service.

Electric highway

Once electricity is generated, it still has to travel many miles to reach SAEC and other electric systems. To carry power

over long distances, PowerSouth builds and maintains transmission lines that can cover hundreds of miles. These are the tall wireframe structures you may have seen supporting power lines across interstates and other major roads. PowerSouth provides electricity to each of its member cooperatives based on the demands of that system. This is why it’s important for members to conserve as much energy as possible during peak times, such as the coldest days of winter and the hottest days of summer. Increased demand from SAEC

when other cooperatives are also using more electricity results in higher rates for both the cooperative and members. The electricity going to each cooperative travels across the state on the generation cooperative’s transmission lines. At last, those lines carry electricity to substations on our system that serve specific areas and neighborhoods, where SAEC takes over the job of distributing it to you. n v Be sure to check out next month’s issue where we’ll explore how SAEC distributes electricity to your homes and businesses.

Point A Hydrodam

Central Generation

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March | Spotlight


This Month In


ALABAMA HISTORY Tours will highlight Honoring Our People

historic Mobile

The Historic Mobile Preservation Society will host Celebrate Historic Mobile, a four-day, three-night event March 8-11 that will entertain, inspire and inform residents and visitors alike.

Two of Clara Weaver Parrish’s works, The Red Lily, left, and the Tiffany stained glass windows in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Selma.

March 16, 1861

Artist and designer Clara Weaver Parrish was born near Selma in Dallas County. Trained in New York City and Europe, Parrish is best known for her Art Nouveau-style paintings and stained-glass window designs. She became one of the few women to freelance for renowned designer Louis Comfort Tiffany and worked on several of his commissions, including the large seven-panel angel window at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in New York City. Parrish exhibited her paintings in New York, London, and Paris, and her stained glass windows are installed at four Alabama churches in Selma, Uniontown, and Tuscaloosa. She was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 1983.

Identify and place this Alabama landmark and you could win $25!

Three separate tours will offer glimpses into life of eras gone by. The Living Spaces tour allows visitors to explore the interiors of privately owned historic residences and historic adapted reuses. The Sacred Spaces tour offers views of historic churches and places of worship in the city. And the Resting Spaces Tour will feature guided tours of historically significant cemeteries in south Alabama. The St. John-Rutherford Home will be

part of the Living Spaces Tour. In addition to the tours, the opening gala at the antebellum Oakleigh House Mansion will offer drinks and hors d’oeuvres to patrons under the giant oaks around the beautifully restored home.

And the Legends and Libations adult-only tour will be a history-filled narrated trolley tour, which will make stops at two local bars located in historic buildings. Celebrate Historic Mobile is an official event of the Alabama Bicentennial. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

Winner is chosen at random from all correct entries. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified. Send your answer by March 7 with your name, address and the name of your rural electric cooperative. The winner and answer will be announced in the April issue.

Whereville, AL

Contribute your own photo for an upcoming issue! Send a photo of an interesting or unusual landmark in Alabama, which must be accessible to the public. A reader whose photo is used will also win $25. Submit by email:, or by mail: Whereville, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124.

FEBRUARY’S ANSWER This Kowaliga statue is the third incarnation of the wooden Indian made famous by the Hank Williams song, “Kaw-liga.” This Kowaliga, who has suffered some assaults over the years, now watches over the grounds and greets visitors at the Discovery Center at Russell Crossroads in Alexander City. (Photo by Danny Weston of Alabama Living.) February’s random guess winner is Dale Fortenbury of Coosa Valley EC. (Note to readers: When the February Whereville was written, we were unaware that many magazines would be delivered past the stated Whereville deadline of Feb. 7. We accepted guesses until Feb. 13, right up until our March issue deadline.) Alabama Living

MARCH 2018 9

| News You Can Use | SOCIAL SECURITY

Five facts you might not know about Social Security


ost people know at least something about Social Security. For decades, Social Security has been providing valuable information and tools to help you build financial security. Here’s your opportunity to find out a little more, with some lesser-known facts about Social Security. 1. Social Security pays benefits to children. Social Security pays benefits to unmarried children whose parents are deceased, disabled, or retired. See Benefits for Children 10085.pdf for the specific requirements. 2. Social Security can pay benefits to parents. Most people know that when a worker dies, we can pay benefits to surviving spouses and children. What you may not know is that under certain circumstances, we can pay benefits to a surviving parent.

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

Read our Fact Sheet Parent’s Benefits, available at, for the details. 3. Widows’ and widowers’ payments can continue if remarriage occurs after age 60. Remarriage ends survivor’s benefits when it occurs before age 60, but benefits can continue for marriages after age 60. 4. If a spouse draws reduced retirement benefits before starting spouse’s benefits (his or her spouse is younger), the spouse will not receive 50 percent of the worker’s benefit amount. Your full spouse’s benefit could be up to 50 percent of your spouse’s full retirement age amount if you are full retirement age when you take it. If you qualify for your own retirement benefit and a spouse’s benefit, we always pay your own benefit first. (For example, you are eligible for $400 from your own retirement and $150 as a spouse for a total of $550.) The reduction rates for retirement and spouses benefits are different. If your spouse is younger, you cannot receive benefits unless he or she is receiving benefits (except for divorced spouses).

If you took your reduced retirement first while waiting for your spouse to reach retirement age, when you add spouse’s benefits later, your own retirement portion remains reduced which causes the total retirement and spouses benefit together to total less than 50 percent of the worker’s amount. You can find out more at html. 5. If your spouse’s retirement benefit is higher than your retirement benefit, and he or she chooses to take reduced benefits and dies first, you will never receive more in benefits than the spouse received. If the deceased worker started receiving retirement benefits before their full retirement age, the maximum survivors benefit is limited to what the worker would receive if they were still alive. See for a chart. Social Security helps secure your financial future by providing the facts you need to make life’s important decisions.


Having a pet teaches a child empathy, responsibility “When you discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy – something that truly matters – you care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.” - Jean Bolen, M.D., psychiatrist and author


n January, we talked about the contributions pets make to our lives. However, this great reward comes with great responsibility. The cuteness of a new puppy or a kitten wears off soon and gets replaced with a sense of “another burden” to deal with. That’s why there are so many dogs and cats that are left in the shelter –– or worst-case scenario, just tossed out on some farmland. Before starting with a pet, please research what you are getting into. Taking a few months to learn about different pet’s characteristics, the cost of healthcare and how they will fit into your lifestyle is worth every minute of your time. Visit your local shelter several times to meet with the many amazing creatures there. Talk to the people who work there. They are passionate and dedicated pet people who can help you find a pet to fit your lifestyle. You don’t want a high-energy workGoutam 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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ing breed if you’re too busy to play with them for hours every day! I strongly believe that all children should grow up with pets. Having a dog and a cat in the house may prevent pet allergies in later years. A pet can teach a child to be empathic, responsible, confident, have self-esteem and increase their verbal skills. If you want a pet for your child, it is important to remember that it's likely you will be the one who will do all the work. But by demonstrating excellent care for the pet, we can teach our children how to become a patient, responsible, kind and generous person. I interviewed three people associated with the veterinary profession. I asked what was the earliest age they remember having their own pet, and how did they reconcile between the new cute cuddliness and the tedium of feeding and watering them, cleaning their poop, playing and walking them. Surprisingly, I got three different perspectives. For Jana, it was the rescue mentality. She was only 6. It started with a highstrung “weiner” dog, difficult and unruly!

The family would have given the dog away unless she stepped in. Even at that tender age, her “protector” instinct kicked in, she “grew up” and took responsibility to care for this dog. Now, Jana is studying to be a veterinarian. Next, it was Morwena. When asked about this issue, she simply said, “If I eat, they eat.” So, she was driven by some inner ethics, which was very noble. Then I asked Amber. She had her first pet horse when she was 12 years old. Her parents taught her the value of responsibility. She was not allowed to ride her horse until he was fed, brushed and the stall cleaned. She was taught that fun comes after you take care of things that need to be taken care of. She learned at a very young age that privileges are earned! In the May issue, we will talk about vaccines and preventable diseases for dogs and cats. This column appears every other month. If you have a pet-related question of general interest, write to Dr. G at P.O. Box 687, Geraldine, AL 35974.

| Alabama Snapshots |

Katie-bell (the dog). SUBMITTED BY Cindy Walton, Vinemont.

Joyce Peterson and great-grandson Luke Peterson front porch sitting looking, for “big trucks”. SUBMITTED BY Debbie Peterson, Robertsdale.

Stunning style by the bay. SUBMITTED BY Jeff Hosterman, Fairhope. Family Christmas 2009. SUBMITTED BY Anthony Paradise, Scottsboro.

SUBMITTED BY Mildred West Hutcheson, Old Nauvoo.

The I.D. Killough home, built in 1904. SUBMITTED BY Annie Killough, Greenville.

Submit Your Images! May Theme: “Graduates” Deadline for May: March 31

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

MARCH 2018 11

MMI 175 yea

The entire Marion Military Institute Corps of Cadets, faculty and staff celebrates “Marion Made Day” on October 4, 2017 in honor of college founder Colonel J.T. Murfee.

America’s oldest military junior college marches in By Alvin Benn


arion Military Institute accomplished through the years, is celebrating its 175th but MMI has its own reasons for anniversary this year such a lengthy existence. with numerous events planned In addition to its academic to commemorate one of Amerachievements, it’s also known ica’s most historic educational for military programs that have facilities. educated hundreds of future It will never rival West Point generals and admirals to help or Annapolis because of its size, protect America. The list of but it has left indelible marks as MMI graduates is extensive, MMI continues into its third with every branch of the milcentury of excellence during MMI cadets from around the country learn to work together in a peer itary represented. Many have leadership environment. times of war and peace. paid the supreme price in deMMI is America’s oldest milfense of their country. itary junior college with an origin dating back to 1842 — two But there is no military obligation in attending MMI; about 40 decades after Alabama became a state. That’s quite a pedigree to percent of the cadets are not pursuing a military career. The civilpromote. ian track students come to MMI to gain peer leadership experiUniversities across America are rightly proud of what they have ence, earn an associate’s degree, prepare to transfer to a four-year 12 MARCH 2017

ars of history

s into its third century of educating future leaders university as a junior, and/or compete as a student-athlete on one of the school’s nine National Junior College Athletic Association teams. The school offers the opportunity to live a disciplined lifestyle while gaining practical experience in leadership and organizational management.

The federal government had offered the east Alabama site as a new location, but a two-thirds vote was required. It fell one vote short on the 18-member board. What made the situation doubly hard to swallow was the fact that the proposed move to Fort McClellan was orchestrated by Thomas Adams, MMI’s president at the time. Members of the 1921 MMI “Navy Class” were preparing to transfer to Future once in doubt A storm of controversy folMMI has had loyal graduate the U.S. Naval Academy; the Marion pipeline to the five U.S. Service lowed Adams’ recommendation Academies continues to this day as a one-year MMI program. support throughout its long histhat MMI be moved from Maritory, but its existence appeared in danger at one point. on, and that eventually led to his resignation as president shortly That happened two decades ago when a majority of MMI trustafter he suggested it. He refused to back down from his recomees voted to move the school to Fort McClellan in Anniston, where mendation to leave Perry County, insisting the school was in too the facility was in the process of being closed by the Army. remote a location. Alabama Living

MARCH 2017 13

The uproar at MMI was not unexpected and Adams’ idea backfired. He officially tendered his resignation to the chairman of the MMI Board of Trustees on Aug. 9, 1999. It was accepted “with great reluctance.” The controversy slowly subsided, but it took a few years to ease the unrest just as the state of Alabama entered the picture with a merger idea that helped save MMI. In 2006 the Alabama Legislature placed the school under the auspices of the Alabama Department of Post-Secondary Education. That move turned out to be an educational shot in the arm that was badly needed. MMI is now officially known as “The Military College of Alabama.” As part of the transition from private to public institution, MMI phased out its high school program, one that had attracted thousands of students through the years. The last high school class graduated in 2009 from MMI’s prep-school that had dated back to 1887.

New leadership

Marion’s population and businesses have dwindled in past decades – a distressing development for local leaders who have watched the shrinkage grow before their eyes. Retired drug store owner Roy Barnett, 80, can remember when Marion had three pharmacies surrounded by other thriving businesses. Judson College, an all-female college located only a few blocks from MMI, has helped make Marion educational bookends. That’s why Barnett named his business “College City Drugs.” “MMI is what’s driven our economy for many years, but our downtown district has gone through some bad times and it’s not good,” Barnett says. New leadership at MMI couldn’t have come at a better time, especially with the hiring of retired Marine Col. David Mollahan as the school’s 16th president. A Marine aviator with 4,100 flight hours under his belt, including hundreds of hours on combat missions, Mollahan liked what he saw the first time he got a glimpse of the MMI campus. “It had really impressive, stately-looking facilities that you’d think of in the South,” says Mollahan, an Oregon native, after he completed an interview process. A nuclear engineer as well as a military helicopter pilot, Mollahan has thoroughly enjoyed the past nine years since he took command of MMI. At the moment, he’s busy stepping up efforts to bring more cadets into the fold. “We’re getting the word out about who we are as well as the

unique things we have available that they aren’t going to find anywhere else, especially in leadership and character development,” Mollahan says. What concerns him today are “myths” perpetrated by detractors. He’s been working hard to dispel them as he moves toward completion of his first decade at the helm. “Some claim we’re not much more than a boarding school for troubled students and that half of our students aren’t going to class.” MMI has had fluctuating enrollments for years, with highs in the 600-800 range at times, but that was due to MMI’s prep school involvement. Without a high school now, enrollment has dropped into the mid-450 range, and Mollahan is confident that is what was needed. “This is a special place with opportunities for students to come here,” he says. “What we do here is develop young people of high character with fundamental leadership skills.” Mollahan says MMI’s in-state tuition is about $16,000 a year, with out-of-state student tuition listed at about $22,000. He said the school’s annual budget is in the $13 million range, with support from Alabama’s Educational Trust Fund — one of the benefits of being under the state’s financial wing.

Looking forward

If special thanks are in order at Alabama’s “new” MMI, it belongs to Dean Mooty Jr., who spent five years at the school encompassing high school and junior college before moving on to the University of Alabama. Mooty, who grew up in Marion and created a prominent law firm in Montgomery, not only devotes much of his free time to MMI, but he’s also chairman of the school’s Board of Trustees. Celebrations have begun on the MMI campus and smiles abound as Mollahan, his staff and cadets take part in events to honor Alabama’s unique one-of-a-kind facility. Mollahan and parents of cadets took part in the official kickoff event in September when he delivered a speech, followed by the cutting of a “birthday cake” at a packed gymnasium. He used a number attached to the celebration that also included a “cresting ceremony,” signifying the official welcoming of young men and women into MMI’s Corps of Cadets. “Today we mark 175 years of history, 175 years full of momentous events, 175 years of ups and downs, 175 years behind us, 175 years ahead,” the president said in his address. O’Neal Holmes, director of MMI’s alumni and community affairs programs, said a time capsule will be buried in April as part of acknowledging a milestone event in the school’s history. “Being here has meant everything to me,” he says.

From left: MMI cadets are put to the test on their new, military-grade obstacle course that teaches them physical and mental endurance. MMI studentathletes compete in nine National Junior College Athletic Association sports, including baseball. Kavian Mitchell, a January 2018 recruit, maneuvers through the paintball course during her Intensive Training Cycle.

14 MARCH 2018

Alabama Living

MARCH 2018  15

Storm spotters keep

Alabamians safe during

severe weather By Aaron Tanner


labama experiences all modes of severe weather every year. Despite advances in Doppler radar technology that allows more extended warning lead times, radar usually cannot see what is happening on the ground. That’s where the SKYWARN Storm Spotter program comes in. Volunteers of various backgrounds, including first responders, law enforcement and business owners, help the National Weather Service verify real-time conditions when deciding to issue or continue a warning. “Our SKYWARN spotters are like our eyes in the field,” says Todd Barron, Warn-

16  MARCH 2017

ing Coordinator Meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Huntsville. Storm spotters are different from storm chasers in that a spotter stays in one location, while a chaser travels to a storm. Barron says that storm spotters are preferred over storm chasers in Alabama due to various issues, including the hills and trees limiting views, heavy rain that often obscures tornadoes and the fast motion of storms. “It is dangerous to storm chase, especially if you are not a well trained professional.” Those interested in becoming a storm

spotter receive training from a meteorologist from the National Weather Service, either in person or online. Volunteers learn to appropriately identify and report severe weather, such as finding rotation in a wall cloud or adequately measuring the size of hail, along with safety tips while in the field. “We want the spotters to know what they are looking at when watching for severe weather,” Barron says. After completing the class, graduates receive a certificate certifying them as spotters, and their name is put into a database if they choose to do so. A report from a trained spotter is taken

Storm spotters are different from storm chasers in that a spotter stays in one location, while a chaser travels to a storm.

more seriously when deciding to issue or continue a warning, versus a report from someone not adequately trained. The reports are especially important in rural areas, since those spotters may be the only ones able to accurately verify a report for that particular area, especially if a storm is moving into a more densely populated area. SKYWARN spotters also help emergency managers. Phyllis Little, director for the Cullman County Emergency Management Agency (CCEMA), is especially grateful for the storm spotters in her county who receive proper training. Because the agenAlabama Living

cy cannot be everywhere during severe weather, they rely on information from storm spotters to know where to send resources. “These are volunteers who have a vested interest in serving our community,” Little says. In March of 2017, the CCEMA sponsored a class in the town of Colony that was well attended by different people of all ages. Little says those attending help their community stay safe, thanks to their proper training. “Many will never call in a report, but they do have the knowledge to recognize conditions that may signal a severe weather event.”

Spotters in the field

Rex Free of Lawrence County is one of many certified spotters in Alabama who received proper training. His interest in storm spotting comes from the tornadothat killed 13 people in his county during the Super Outbreak of April 3, 1974. “I saw a lot of destruction that traumatized me,” says Free, who owns an audio-visual company. In 1989, Free met Ed Weatherford, president of the Bankhead Amateur Radio Club in Moulton at the time. He suggested Free help him with ham radio and storm spotting. Weatherford is the Deputy 911 Director for Lawrence County. MARCH 2017  17

In March 2012, Free and Weatherford met Jonathan O’Rear, during the historic tornado outbreak of April 27, 2011. On that who lives in Madison County, through the National Weather day, Free and Weatherford received reports over ham radio of sigService. Like Free and Weatherford, O’Rear experienced severe nificant damage and injuries from a powerful tornado that hit the weather first hand, when a tornado tore through his neighborLawrence County community of Mount Hope. Emergency rehood in Florence in 1989. He also had an interest in CB and ham sponders had difficulty reaching the victims due to the heavy rain radio. and debris scattered across the Though there are several affected areas. methods of communicating Free remembers feeling severe weather reports to the helpless after hearing about National Weather Service, the devastation. Conditions such as by telephone, social were so bad that Weatherford media and internet chat, ham relinquished control of the radio is still widely used by SKYWARN network to anothstorm spotters. When cell er ham radio operator located phone towers and power lines outside the county. “It was a are heavily damaged, ham raterrifying, deadly event and dios still operate because the will always be imprinted in my FCC allocates a portion of the memory,” says Weatherford, radio bandwidth to amateur who drove to Mount Hope radio. “When all else fails, to give damage reports to the there is amateur radio,” says county emergency manageWeatherford. “It is viable in Left to right, Rex Free of Lawrence County, Jonathan O’Rear of Madison ment agency after the storm. County and Ed Weatherford of Lawrence County are some of the many any emergency.” Despite being an unpaid storm spotters scattered across the state of Alabama that who help the Although many spotters in National Weather Service during severe weather. position, the danger involved Alabama have a ham radio liand experiencing first-hand cense, it’s not a requirement to be a storm spotter. the worst of Mother Nature, storm spotters enjoy giving back to Free, O’Rear, and Weatherford are part of Huntsville’s National their communities by helping the National Weather Service and Weather Service’s ham radio program. When a severe thunderemergency managers. storm or tornado watch is issued, a liaison at the Weather Service But there’s also a sense of community among the ham radio formally activates the spotters. operators. “There is a big camaraderie amongst each other,” Free Storm spotters and ham radio operators were put to the test says.

A storm spotter captured this image of a supercell thunderstorm in Madison County. NWS HUNTSVILLE

To find out where and when storm spotter classes are being held across Alabama, visit the websites of the following four National Weather Service websites that cover the state:

Ham radio operators use a linked repeater system during SKYWARN activation to communicate with the National Weather Service office and other spotters. NORTH ALABAMA/ SOUTHERN MIDDLE TENNESSEE SKYWARN WEBPAGE

National Weather Service, Huntsville (north Alabama) National Weather Service, Birmingham (central Alabama) National Weather Service, Mobile (southwest Alabama) National Weather Service, Tallahassee, Florida (southeast Alabama)

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One of many ham radios across Alabama that allow spotters to communicate with the National Weather Service.

Alabama Living

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Plant Detectives Students learn about state’s diverse ecosystems

Students in Emily Smith’s science classes at Pisgah High School visit Graham Farms in Jackson County to collect plant samples, which they will send to HudsonAlpha for DNA sequencing. The classes are participating in the Bicentennial barcoding project, which gives them hands-on experience with an innovative curriculum. PHOTOS COURTESY OF EMILY SMITH

By Jennifer Crossley Howard


s you enter the state from Mississippi, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee, road signs welcome you to Alabama the Beautiful. The highway turns bumpier from some states and smoother from others, but the same deep, green pine forests usher travelers onto paths that lead to species as diverse and complicated and beautiful as Alabama herself. Thanks to a unique project, high school students are getting the chance to learn more about our state’s biodiversity – all the different kinds of living organisms in Alabama. Biodiversity generally includes plants, animals and fungi, but this particular project is focusing on plants, and will allow students to become like plant detectives – giving them valuable insight into Alabama’s unique ecosystems.

Learning about barcoding

The nonprofit biotech institute HudsonAlpha, based in Huntsville, is teaming with 29 public high schools and community partners to catalog barcodes of Ala20 MARCH 2018

bama’s flora. Barcoding uses a very short genetic sequence from part of the plant’s genome – its genetic material – to help distinguish plants that may look similar to the untrained eye. Think of barcoding as the way a supermarket scanner distinguishes two similar products. This innovative project will allow students to study plants unique to their counties. Students, most of whom have little opportunity to use advanced technology to study plants, will get a tremendous educational benefit. They’re learning how to collect specimens, enter information into databases, photograph and use GPS to record locations of species, and organize samples and their numbers. Collected samples will be sent to HudsonAlpha for DNA extraction and preparation of samples for sequencing. Using a DNA analysis program, students will examine the DNA sequences and look for a match to existing barcodes. If a sequence is not a part of the barcode

Alabama Living

MARCH 2018  21

of life database, students will have the opportunity to submit the sample for validation and register a new entry in the database. The project is a vanguard for one of its scale and funding from Vulcan Materials and others made it possible, says Jennifer Whitney Carden, public outreach lead for HudsonAlpha. Schools were chosen for their geographic diversity and teacher interest from those who applied. The project is in conjunction with the Alabama Bicentennial celebration. Jay Lamar, executive director of the Bicentennial Commission, says it’s a wonderful way to open an avenue of participation that would not have existed otherwise. “This is a project that will take place during the bicentennial, but have a life far beyond it,” Lamar says.

That such a species of the flower exists here, and in a few other southern states, is another example of what makes Alabama’s biodiversity distinguished. “Alabama is a jewel,” Carden says, and notes that the state ranks fifth among states in biodiversity. We’re the most diverse state east of the Mississippi River. “We live in a unique and gorgeous state.”

A ‘jewel’ of biodiversity

Participating in this project provides Alabama educators an opportunity to introduce students to cutting-edge genetic technologies and the growing field of informatics (a discipline that focuses on the study of information processing); highlight Alabama’s natural resources; and teach the importance of preserving Alabama’s unique ecosystems. The technologies and supporting concepts align with objectives in the Alabama Science Course of Study for the units on ecosystems, heredity and unity/diversity, and the activities cross-reference with topics from geography, earth science and early American history. The Bicentennial Barcode project began in the spring of 2017 and will run through early fall 2019. Students in high school biology and environmental classes will gather approximately 1,775 samples over the course of the project. Emily Smith’s ninth-grade biology class at Pisgah High School, a member of Sand Mountain EC, is participating. She’s excited for her students to have an interactive curriculum and access to expensive equipment that would be normally out of their reach. The class partnered with Graham Farms and explored their diverse 400-acre farm in order to collect samples that they will send to HudsonAlpha for extraction and analysis. When the sequences are returned, students will utilize a database to compare them to existing barcodes; for example, students may discover whether a particular species of oak has been cataloged. “They’re going to get a chance to look at DNA samples, which is very rare,” Smith says. “Alabama hasn’t been that well studied as far as biodiversity and we have a lot of biodiversity. So we’re going to be able to compare the same plant grown in south Alabama as north Alabama to see if they match.” The diversity of Graham Farms and Jackson County allowed Smith’s students to sample data from a mountain range, swampland and grassy areas. Smith, a longtime fan of biodiversity, learned a lot about her state. “I was really intrigued with the honey locust tree,” she says. “I knew about the leaves, but I didn’t know they grew a crown of thorns off every branch and their seed pods look like green beans.” 22 MARCH 2018

Alabama Living

MARCH 2018  23

Southern storyteller

‘Sean of the South’ celebrates the good, the broken, the angels among us By Allison Law

Sean Dietrich, better known as “Sean of the South,” uses his daily columns to celebrate the South’s everyday heroes and treasured traditions. PHOTO BY SEAN MURPHY


fter the potluck dinner in the fellowship hall and the speech Finding direction in the sanctuary, Sean Dietrich greets his fans in the vestiDietrich’s dad was a steelworker, and the family moved around bule of this church in southeast Alabama. Those who came – Missouri, Kansas, Tennessee, North Carolina. But as a teenager, to hear him are eager to give him a hug, snap a photo and tell him home became the Florida panhandle, where he and his wife Jamie what his writings have meant to them. He’s one of them, and his live today. words touch their hearts, they tell him. But he says he identifies more with He considers those mighty compliments. the people in Alabama than Florida. He’s in his element. He’d stay all Jamie is from Brewton, and when they night and chat with them, if they’d stick married more than 15 years ago everyaround that long. body in the town welcomed him into Dietrich is better known as “Sean of the fold. The logo for his blog includes the South,” the name of his blog and part a drawing of the state of Alabama, and of the title of four of his books. His stothe blog name itself is a play on the old ries touch on hope, goodness, redempAlabama tune, “Song of the South.” tion and kindness. Many relate an apGrowing up was tough. After his fapreciation for the slower, sweeter pace of ther’s suicide when he was 12, he quit Southern life in the towns and farming school to help support his mom and communities his readers call home. younger sister. He loved music, a talent Dietrich is also a musician and is a member of several The columns that seem to resonate he started nurturing early on. He plays bands, including ones that play Americana, New the most are the ones that celebrate the Orleans-style jazz and Cajun music. piano, guitar and accordion, and plays PHOTO BY SEAN MURPHY everyday heroes, who perform miracles in several bands today. big and small with no thought of reward; But he dreamed of being a writer. He the ones that relate the heartbreaking stories of the angels who walk would play music at night, often spending weekends at places in among us; and the ones that highlight the sometimes split-second the Panhandle where he could camp on the cheap while playing a decisions and seemingly small events in our lives, which lead us on gig. During his down time, he started writing a novel. “I finished journeys we could never have imagined. my novel, and I thought, this is fun. I’m gonna do this, I’m going

24 MARCH 2018

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to write a column. I’d always wanted to be a columnist.” He suffered through some rejections, but they redirected his life and his work. He wanted to be a humorist, and there are elements of humor in some of his columns. But his style evolved into telling more of his story, which got a good response, and then the stories of others he met along the way.

Becoming a storyteller

public speaker all over the South. He loves the chance to interact with people – to hug necks, to hear memories, and bring a little light into lives of those who could use some. They tell him the details of their lives – sad, hopeful, sometimes humorous, always heartfelt – and he’s eager to hear them. “If (someone) were to follow me around for a week, they’d say, you look like you’ve hit rock bottom. You’re speaking at the rest home, or you’re speaking at the high school. This is not glamorous stuff. These are small towns. But I love it. That’s where the people are, you know?”

And he meets lots of folks. He’s naturally talkative, but is able to draw people out; they feel safe with him. “My mother is a lot like this – somebody will buddy up to her, Life partners telling her their story. I thought it was Sean and Jamie are very close; his annoying when I was child, because favorite column, he says, is the one she would sit there and listen, and ask called “Baker.” Jamie had a medical them questions to keep them going, scare and the two were on their way and I hated it.” back home from UAB. They stopped One night, he and Jamie went out at the Gator Cafe in Baker, Fla., after for their anniversary, and a fellow at the doctor called with good news. “It the bar sidled up to him and shared an was one of the best days of my life,” incredible story of loss. He and Jamie he recalls, “and writing about it was a talked to the man for about an hour. special experience. I wrote it in about “I realized that night, I’m just like 10 minutes, and hardly even edited it.” my mother. Put me in a bar, and they’re Dietrich signs a book for a fan at one of his speaking Jamie quit working as a private going to find me. I’m grateful for that engagements in October in Dothan. chef to travel with him and handle his now. I’m learning to listen more than PHOTO BY ALLISON LAW scheduling. The two seem genuinely I ever have before in my life, just behappy to spend their time together, often on the road, meeting cause of what I do. I want to say that I notice things that were strangers who instantly become family. there all along, that I didn’t notice before.” If he got his natural magnetism from his mom, he got his love of “I feel like these are the best years of our life, until next year,” storytelling from his dad. “My father was a storyteller – I grew to Sean says. For many years, he says he was plagued by self-doubt love those stories. (One day) he told me I might be a storyteller too. and a lack of confidence. He credits Jamie with having faith in A storyteller is someone who does not judge, who just observes.” his talent. Jamie is equally happy to witness his growth and success. “I ‘Where the people are’ certainly feel blessed to be on this journey. I don’t know how long The columns and books have paved an unexpected but welit’s going to last, but it’s fun, and we’re enjoying it. We’re meeting come career path for Dietrich. He’s become a much-requested so many real people, so many incredible people.”


Sean Dietrich has started recording podcasts under the “Sean of the South” title Each podcast is a collection of his stories recorded in front of live audiences with Southern regional music thrown in. New episodes are released on Saturdays, and are free on iTunes and at www. 26 MARCH 2017

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28  MARCH 2018

March | Around Alabama


Selma, Bridge Crossing Jubilee. Events commemorate the struggle for voting rights for African Americans, the anniversary of 1965’s “Bloody Sunday” and the Selma to Montgomery March. Activities include a pageant, dance, women and youth conferences, parade, festival, interfaith service and National Voting Rights Hall of Fame induction.


Photo courtesy of Jerry Brown Arts Festival.

Pike Road, Seventh annual Pike Road Art Market, Pike Road Town Hall, 9575 Vaughn Road. Artwork, crafts and more from across Alabama and beyond. Opportunities to talk with artists and artisans, purchase artists’ work and silent auction.


Hamilton, 16th annual Jerry Brown Arts Festival, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Tombigbee Electric Cooperative, 3196 County Highway 55. Indoor juried arts festival named in honor of Hamilton resident and Smithsonian potter Jerry Brown, who died in 2016. Featuring pottery, folk art, paintings and more. Free.


Mobile, The Historic Mobile Preservation Society hosts “Celebrate Historic Mobile”, a four-day, three-night event exploring Sacred Spaces, Living Spaces and Resting Places. Homes include the Feore-Gustin home in Old Dauphin Way and the St. John Rutherford home in the DeToni Square Historic District. Spend March 11 touring the Resting Places visiting three historical cemeteries, including the Church Street Graveyard. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit


Montgomery, Southeastern Livestock Exposition (SLE) Rodeo, Garrett Coliseum. SLE Team Roping events begin at 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Teague Arena. Championship rodeos begin at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday at the coliseum. Rodeos feature PRCA freestyle bullfighting and Trent McFarland, professional rodeo clown and barrelman who lives in Hope Hull. For tickets or more information, visit or call 888-2RODEO2.


Dothan, Spring Farm Day at Landmark Park. Turn back the clock 100 years and experience living history demonstrations of sheep shearing, blacksmithing, plowing with mules, entertainment and more. For admission cost and more information, visit

Various types of pottery, folk art and more available at the Jerry Brown Arts Festival March 3-4.


Foley, BBQ and Blues Cookoff. Professional and amateur teams compete for trophies, prizes and bragging rights in several categories, including chicken, ribs, “just butts,” sauce and people’s choice. Food, blues bands, children’s activities, arts and crafts vendors and a raffle. Proceeds benefit the South Baldwin Chamber Foundation and area schools. Event is at Heritage Park in downtown Foley. or call 251-943-5500.


Auburn, Aspiring entrepreneurs, small farmers, and small business owners are invited to get expert advice on topics such as selling to a big box store, labeling and testing regulations, finances, and marketing, as well as “real-life” advice from a panel of successful food entrepreneur guests, such as Robert Armstrong, owner of G Momma’s Cookies in Selma. The 2018 Food Entrepreneur Conference will be held at CASIC in the Auburn Research Park. Cost to attend the conference is $150 before March 14 and $200 after that. For more information, visit www.


Mobile, Providence Hospital Foundation celebrates its 25th annual Festival of Flowers. Features life-size garden vignettes, floral creations, seminars, shopping and more. Largest outdoor flower and garden event on the greater Gulf Coast.


Clanton, March Gourd Madness and

Traditional Arts. Gourd art, fiber art, weaving, carving and more. Classes, demonstrations, raw gourds. Early bird classes 1-5 p.m. Friday; Saturday morning and evening classes available. For class listings, visit falconartsupply. com. Free. Clanton Performing Arts Center, 1850 Lay Dam Road.


Theodore, Easter Egg Hunt and Breakfast with the Easter Bunny at Bellingrath Gardens. Children of all ages are invited for breakfast with the Easter Bunny followed by the annual Easter Egg Hunt on the Great Lawn. Thousands of eggs will be hidden, along with treats and candy to fill children’s Easter baskets. Photos with the Easter Bunny, snacks and crafts available. For egg hunt times and admission costs, visit

Furman, Bethsaida Baptist Church will celebrate 187 years with its historic homecoming. Worship starts at 11 a.m., followed by dinner on the grounds. Bethsaida Baptist helped Furman become designated as a national historic district in 1999. Located at 9025 County Road 59 in Furman, at the corner of 59 and Bogan Road. For more information, search for Historic Bethsaida on Facebook or contact pastor Don Bell, 251-362-5169.


Greensboro, 2018 Greensboro Spring Festival. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Main Street between Beacon and Whelan. Family-friendly event for people of all ages. Performances by local entertainers, a DJ, arts and crafts and activities for children. For information, find the event’s page on Facebook.

Titus, New Home Baptist Church will host “Road to Resurrection,” 3–5 p.m. at the corner of Sewell and Spigener Roads. This family event takes travelers on a mini-tour featuring reenactments of the final days of Jesus’ life on earth through to His resurrection. Groups will begin their journey every 20 minutes starting at 3 p.m., with the last group beginning at 4 p.m. It will take approximately an hour to journey through all destinations. To request a tour time in advance, email your preferred time, last name, and the number in your party to newhometitus@yahoo. com. For questions or to request a tour time by phone, call (334) 567-0923 or (334) 452-6111.




Opp, 58th annual Opp Rattlesnake Rodeo. Snake shows, races, arts and crafts and more. Music by Blackjack Billy and Riley Green on Saturday, and The Charlie Daniels Band on Sunday. $10 in advance and for Saturday, $15 for Sunday. Tickets may be purchased at Opp City Hall, 334-493-4572, in advance or at the gate.

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

Alabama Living


Hillsboro, Miss Annie Wheeler’s Heirloom Plant Sale. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at Pond Spring, the Gen. Joe Wheeler Home. Numerous plants will be for sale, including spider lilies, snowbells, daffodils, irises, daylilies and more, all propagated from the historic gardens of Miss Annie, Gen. Wheeler’s daughter. Proceeds benefit future restoration efforts on the 50-acre historic site. 256-637-8513.

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MARCH 2018 29


| Alabama People |

Harry Ponder

Cultivating students as well as plants Ask almost anyone in today’s southeastern (and beyond) horticulture industry who was his or her biggest influence and you’ll likely hear the name Harry Ponder. This icon of Auburn University’s horticulture teaching program began his career by helping load-out plants at his family’s third-generation nursery business — Ponder’s Nursery in Dadeville, Ala. He went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in horticulture from Auburn and a Ph.D. from Michigan State, then spent three years teaching at the University of Georgia before returning to Auburn as a professor in 1978. Revered for his knowledge of plants and their uses, Ponder is also legendary for knowing and remembering the names of every student in his classes (that’s been more than 2,000 students through the years) and for nurturing them throughout their careers. Though Ponder retired from Auburn in December 2017 after nearly 40 years of teaching, he’s still cultivating new generations of horticulturists there on a part-time basis. – Katie Jackson What was it like growing up in the nursery business? It was very interesting because we grew plants to sell both wholesale and retail. On the wholesale side, we sold plants to places like Russell Manufacturing and Auburn University. Little did I know when I was a young person loading trucks destined for Auburn that I would one day be teaching there. Another twist is that a lot of the retail customers whose cars I loaded were professors at Auburn who later became my colleagues. What part of horticulture — plants or people — do you feel is most important? They go together. I always told every student I taught, you’ve got to like plants and you’ve got to like people. People go with plants. There’s a relationship there, so to maximize your effectiveness you need to get along with both, and I genuinely like both. How do you remember so much about your students, past and present? One thing is that I am blessed with is a good memory, but when I came to Auburn, I wanted to have a real connection with my students. I always heard that people don’t care how much you know unless they know how 30 MARCH 2018


much you care. I also read once that the sweetest word anyone ever hears is their name — once you call them by their name, they feel an affinity — so I decided I would make sure I learned every student’s name in my classes. I also made it a priority to help students after they graduated, and I still see students today that I may have helped change jobs three or four times in their careers. I tell my students, “You are family and, while you may move out into the world, we are still here for you.” Are there any tricks to help home gardeners educate themselves about plants and their uses? The best way in my opinion is to observe. You can read books, but if you have looked at the plants, you’ll know them. And anywhere you go there are plants, so by really looking at them and noticing if they are they in the sun or shade, wet or dry, it sticks with you. How has the horticulture profession changed and where is it going? I think the future of the horticulture industry is very bright for several reasons. When I was coming up, people did their own planting or had their own gardener. Now they use professional installers, designers and maintenance companies. People are also more and more aware of their environments, and for a quality environment there is no substitute for plants. Another thing is that horticulture is what I call an “uninterruptable” industry, because gardens are living systems. We can’t quit maintaining them and that job cannot be outsourced to foreign countries. All of that signals a very bright future and continued growth for horticulture. I don’t see it ending and that’s good for our students, too. The job market has increased so much that we don’t have enough students to fulfill the need. What are your plans in “retirement?” I won’t be teaching in the classroom, but I have committed to work part-time to help place students in jobs and to run Auburn’s horticulture internship program. I also want to stay involved in the industry’s state and regional meetings. But after 40 years in the classroom, I’m looking forward to having more flexibility so I can spend time with my 1 ½-yearold grandbaby and have time to read and travel with my wife. Now that I say it, I may be wanting to do more than is possible. sible.

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| Worth the drive |

Second act

Cullman bakery is leap of faith for couple By Jennifer Crossley Howard


urn left off I-65 south from Cullman, and The Sunflour Bakery and Eatery appears like a mirage so good it just might make you forget the billboards you passed proclaiming homemade meals and humble country times. A yellow house with a long front porch welcomes diners to the restaurant, which is open for breakfast and lunch. It will be tempting to stop and try out the turquoise-painted rockers, but resist, there’s time for that later. Besides, you don’t want to risk the cinnamon orange rolls selling out. They did on a recent morning, at 10 a.m. A wooden sign reading “Mustard Seed Nursery” welcomes you inside. Don’t worry, you’re at the right place. Sunflour shares this historic home with a local plant nursery, and both businesses rely on faith to make it through the grueling tasks of being their own bosses. It is faith, after all, that got Amanda and Brad Quattlebaum out of their former day jobs and into the kitchen. Amanda worked as a surgical nurse, and Brad drove a cement truck. They had no experience in the food industry, but imagined running a small wedding venue one day. Then, the couple had a decision to make. “We had an opportunity three years ago and we went for it,” Amanda says. The New Testament verse, Romans 12:12, adorns many surfaces including a ceiling beam: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.” Worn, painted white furniture and turquoise walls hide behind a sign advertising the Sunday lunch special: meatloaf, chicken casserole, green beans and corn. Another sign beckons you to get on with your meal: “Life is short. Eat dessert first.” Amanda made cakes at home as a hobby, and friends and customers told her for years she should go into her own busi32 MARCH 2018

ness. She and Brad started renting just the kitchen — the house had hosted two other Brad Quattlebaum, a former cement truck restaurants — but demand led her to exdriver, and his wife, Amanda Quattlebaum, left pand through the building in September. their day jobs and took a leap of faith to open At first, making a new restaurant in an their restaurant. It proved to be a wise decision. PHOTO BY JENNIFER CROSSLEY HOWARD old building, even one that already had a kitchen, proved challenging. “Nothing is level or square in the place,” Amanda says. The couple was surprised to find horsehair plaster walls when tearing down the drive-thru window. “It’s probably better than drywall today,” Brad says. Sunflour, a customer of Cullman EC, has six employees, and a few carried cakes to cars for customThe Philly Cheese Steak sandwich is one of ers on a recent winter morning. Regulars the lunch menu’s popular items. come from as far as Nashville and as close COURTESY SUNFLOUR BAKERY as down the street in Cullman. Many go for cheeseburgers, patty melts and Philly cheesesteaks for lunch. Sunflour also serves a full breakfast. The greatest joy of the Quattlebaums’ second act as restaurant owners is not the food. “Getting to know customers is the best,” Amanda says. “We want you to feel like you’re at home or at your grandmother’s house.” In five years or so, the Quattlebaums envision a second store in Cullman. So far, word of mouth and reviews from Yelp and Facebook and Instagram pages are Sunflour Bakery also creates one-of-a-kind enough to keep tables full. cakes for all occasions. But what looks like a cook’s shabby chic COURTESY SUNFLOUR BAKERY heaven requires more work than sleep. The Sunflour Bakery and Eatery “We never dreamed it would be 324 County Road 222 Cullman Cullman, AL 35055 so hard,” Brad says. His wife agrees. 256-841-1970 The couple typically works 16-hour days, seven days a week. Hours: 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday; “He’s always said we’re married to 7 a.m.-12 p.m. Saturday; this place,” she says. “This is our life 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday right now.”

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Will your school be a

Bicentennial School?


he Alabama Bicentennial Commission Education Committee is encouraging all schools to participate in the commemoration of the state’s bicentennial, which is being celebrated through 2019. Any public, private, and home school can request a gubernatorial commendation signed by Gov. Kay Ivey, a bicentennial flag, and bicentennial-themed school resources and supplies. Educational resources include a timeline of state history, posters, as well as online lesson plans and digital curricular resources. Information about bicentennial projects — including statewide traveling exhibitions, virtual fieldtrips, and summer reading programs — will be announced as they become available. Public, private, and home school networks can apply to be designated an Alabama Bicentennial School during the 2018-2019 academic year. Applicants must partner with community organi-

Thanks from governor Thank you for the beautifully framed cover of the January 2018 issue of Alabama Living magazine. I enjoyed doing the interview that was published in that issue and appreciate having this framed memento. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and send my best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2018 to you and everyone at AREA. Kay Ivey Governor PS. Many, many friends across the state have favorably commented on this issue. You enjoy a wide circulation!

Letters to the editor E-mail us at: or write us at: Letters to the editor P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 Enjoyed goat barbecue column I was catching up on reading some back issues of Alabama Living and I just wanted to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Hardy Jackson’s column on the great goat barbecue of 1962 in the July 2017 issue. I was not aware that people ate goat meat. As a young man, I first tasted goat cheese that was given to me by some people living in a mountain village in Turkey. Goat milk and cheese was a part of their everyday staple, but to the best of my knowledge they did not eat the meat. Anyway, thanks for writing the article. I am still learning new things even in my retirement years. Richard Adam Geneva

Fred Braswell, right, president and CEO of Alabama Rural Electric Association, and Gary Smith, CEO of PowerSouth, present a framed cover of the January “Alabama Living” to Gov. Kay Ivey.

34 MARCH 2018

zations on a project that addresses a local need or opportunity and demonstrates civic engagement and community involvement. Projects must be completed during the 2018-2019 academic year but may include components that last beyond the bicentennial period. Up to 200 schools will be selected to be Alabama Bicentennial Schools. Schools selected for the Alabama Bicentennial School designation will receive a $2,000 grant to help with their community project. Based on project reports, 21 schools — three from each of Alabama’s seven state Congressional districts — will be recognized as Bicentennial Schools of Excellence. These schools will participate in commemoration ceremonies in Montgomery on December 14, 2019, and be recognized by the governor. Visit the Alabama Bicentennial Commission website at www. for more information.

Praise for whooping crane article I am writing to praise the work of John Felsher for the article on the whooping crane (January 2018). First, he wanted to give the readers accurate information on the birds and the refuge. He had contacted the International Crane Foundation, my employer, before writing the article with questions about the birds and their natural history. That means quite a lot for the image of whooping cranes in the public eye. He did wonderful job working our information into an article for the magazine. Second, it is always lovely to see a positive story in a news outlet. I am so happy that Mr. Felsher decided to do a story on Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, and the amazing birds it brings in every winter. This wonderful article is going to bring many more people from all over Alabama to see the birds, and that is priceless. Education and awareness is key to conserving nature, and I want to thank Alabama Living for being a part of whooping crane conservation. Amber Wilson International Crane Foundation, Decatur

Alabama Living

MARCH 2018  35

| Gardens |

Garden clubs continue history of service, friendship


n March 6, 1847, a group of women and men living near Union Springs, Ala., held a meeting that forever changed Alabama’s gardening history — and the gardening history of the whole nation. It was on that day that the Chunnenuggee Ridge Horticultural Society, the first such society in Alabama and one of the first of its kind in the United States, was formed. The organization’s primary goal was to preserve and protect the beauty of their community’s landscape and, as their early minutes stated: “…we claim not for (the Society) the cultivation of flowers only, we aim at usefulness and utility.” “Usefulness and utility” remain the tenets of its modern-day successor, the Chunnenuggee Public Garden Club, and also of the many gardening clubs and societies that have been created in the 170-plus years since. Tricia Mitchell is the current president of The Garden Club of Alabama, Inc., the umbrella organization for Alabama’s more than 100 active garden clubs. She says members of these groups are committed to beautifying and protecting natural and cultural resources in their communities while also educating and honoring their fellow citizens. In the process, those members reap amazing benefits themselves. Garden clubs, Mitchell says, educate their members about a wide range of horticultural subjects, from gardening best practices to landscape and flower designing. But their educations don’t stop there. Club members also learn about, and teach the public about, vital environmental issues, such as protecting pollinators and watersheds. Mitchell knows firsthand how educational garden club membership can be. “I grew up in an era where people farmed Katie Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at

36 MARCH 2018

and canned and I loved gardening,” she says. When she joined her local Decatur Garden Club, she embraced the chance to learn more about the breadth of gardening. But in the process, she discovered that there was so much more to love about being in a garden club. “It’s as much about fun, fellowship, friendship, unity and support as it is about plants,” she says.

Members include men, children

While garden clubs are usually thought of as women’s clubs, their memberships (in Alabama there are more than 2,000 people who belong to a garden club) include many men as well as children. In fact, children, who can join junior garden club organizations and be involved in an array of garden club-sponsored activities, are a priority for the GCA and its member clubs. “Teaching our young people is so crucial,” Mitchell says. “We want to invest in them so they can be the next generation of gardeners.” Garden clubs also invest in future professionals. The GCA sponsors six endowed scholarships at Auburn University for students majoring in horticulture, forestry and landscape design, and a number of local clubs also fund their own college scholarships. Supporting military veterans and their families is also a primary focus of garden clubs, a focus that began in the 1940s and continues today as the clubs support Blue Star and Gold Star programs and memorials. (In 1951, Alabama garden club members held an “Every Light a Prayer for Peace” ceremony to pay tribute to those serving in the military as the Korean Conflict was raging. That service is now held annually and is practiced throughout the country.) In addition, the GCA has been active in establishing garden spaces, such as the Garden of Memory on the Auburn University campus that honors veterans of both World Wars and the Korean Conflict

and the Helen Keller Fragrance Garden at the Alabama School for the Deaf and Blind. Today, garden clubs continue to help with a wide range of community projects ranging from beautification and memorial projects to supporting state parks and preserving land, heritage sites and endangered species. They also take care of others. One Alabama club sponsors a program to teach female prison inmates how to grow and preserve food, and several clubs run community gardens to help feed the hungry. But perhaps the best benefit of being in a garden club is the chance to develop lasting relationships. “Garden club members will probably be some of your best friends forever,” Mitchell says. “I guess that’s because we have a lot of things in common.” To become involved in this 170-year-old tradition, visit the GCA website at http:// There you can find contact information for garden clubs in your area or learn how to start one of your own. You can also sign up to attend the GCA’s state convention April 8-10 in Tuscaloosa.

March Tips  Begin fertilizing garden perennials, lawns and houseplants.  Get garden tools and supplies ready for spring planting.  Plant green peas, snow peas, asparagus, horseradish and artichokes early in the month.  Plant seeds for spring crops, such as lettuces and carrots and also for cauliflower, celery, leeks, onions, early potatoes and radishes.  Plant strawberries, blueberries, grapes and fruit trees.  Start weeding garden or flowerbeds.  Clean out birdhouses and fill feeders and birdbaths.  Be on the lookout for spring garden shows, tours and workshops in your area.

Alabama Living

MARCH 2018  37

| Outdoors |

Turkey time! Strong year-class could make for a better turkey season


espite severe cold this past more than 200 wild turkeys during winter, Alabama sportsmen the past four years. Researchers fitshould enjoy a good turkey ted them with tracking devices and season this spring, especially in the released the birds on Barbour, Oakcentral and northeastern part of the mulgee and Skyline WMAs. The state. devices give biologists information “The cold shouldn’t have much of on gobbling activity, nesting, suran impact on the turkey population,” vival rates, reproduction and other says Brandon Bobo, a National Wild factors, which could help determine Turkey Federation biologist in Oxfuture season dates and bag limits. ford, Ala. “Gobbling is mostly based “We are following a structured upon photoperiod, or the amount of decision-making process to guide daylight. In Alabama, gobbling typiturkey management in Alabama,” cally peaks in the last week of March Barnett says. “In that process, we and first week of April. Then, gob- Glenn Wheeler calls turkeys while hunting in rugged country. have developed a prediction modbling might trail off in mid-April, The mountainous northeastern part of Alabama traditionally el to look at survival, reproduction offers sportsmen the best turkey hunting. PHOTO BY JOHN FELSHER but pick up a bit in late April.” and harvest rates. We needed upSince 2014, state biologists have dated research in Alabama to get sportsmen can only hunt from April 21 to asked Alabama turkey hunters to particus better numbers on these elements. This April 25. The state also offers special youth ipate in the Avid Turkey Hunter Survey. experiment will test our prediction model and disabled sportsmen hunts before the While hunting, participants keep track of to demonstrate if a delayed opening date regular seasons begin. For specific hunting turkey sightings, gobbling and other data will help improve turkey reproduction zone boundaries and additional informaand report their observations to wildlife and total turkey numbers over time.” tion, see At the end of the season, the Sportsmen hunting these areas might son-and-bag-limits. Alabama NWTF will draw a name from all spot turkeys wearing leg bands or some“Overall, the forecast looks pretty the program participants and reward that thing resembling miniature backpacks. good throughout the state,” Barnett says. person with a new shotgun. Hunters can legally shoot these gobblers “Northeastern Alabama is probably the Program participants will also receive during the season if they choose. best place in the state to hunt turkeys, folthe annual turkey report published by “We don’t want hunters to be biased lowed by the west-central part. Northwest the state. Anyone can view the report at toward not killing gobblers with tracking Alabama probably has the fewest turkeys devices,” Barnett says. “Part of the inforcompared to the rest of the state. The enDuring the 2017 spring season, hunters mation we need is harvest rates. If hunters tire Southeastern United States is experiacross much of Alabama reported seeing shoot a turkey with a device or leg band, encing a decline in turkey recruitment. many “jakes,” or young gobblers, a good we request that they report those harvests That’s probably most prevalent in northern sign for this upcoming season. to us as soon as possible.” Alabama.” “From the results of our Avid Turkey Although numbers may have dipped a Season dates and other regulations may Hunter Survey, we had an increase in the little in recent years, Alabama still holds differ on some public properties, so always number of jakes observed in 2017,” says more wild turkeys than any other Southcheck the laws before hunting. In particSteve Barnett, the Alabama Division of eastern state and thousands more than the ular, six of the best wildlife management Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries top wild 10,000 birds estimated to live in Alabama areas will open later than most of the state. turkey biologist. “It was the highest since about a century ago. These magnificent These include Barbour, Choccolocco, we began the survey in 2014. Those jakes birds now gobble in all counties across the Oakmulgee, Lowndes, Perdido River and spotted in the spring of 2017 will be the Cotton State, even where no turkeys lived Skyline. two-year-old gobblers people will be huntjust a few decades ago. Now, Alabama “Choccolocco is always a good area,” ing this year.” sportsmen enjoy long seasons and very Bobo says. “I hunt there frequently and For most of Alabama, turkey season liberal bag limits of one gobbler per day have heard hundreds of gobbles on some runs from March 15 through April 30. and five per season. mornings, but it’s a hard place to hunt. In Zone 2, the season begins on March For more information on the National Barbour has a lot of turkeys and intensive 31 and concludes on April 30. In Zone 3, Wild Turkey Federation, see management. The NWTF has done a lot of about/state/alabama. For more inforhabitat work in Oakmulgee and the Tallamation on how to participate the Avid dega National Forest. Skyline is also pretty Turkey Hunter Survey, contact Barnett at John N. Felsher lives in Semmes, Ala. good. ” his office in Spanish Fort by calling 251Contact him through Facebook. Working with the NWTF and Auburn 625-5474 or email Steve.Barnett@dcnr. University, the state captured and released 38 MARCH 2018

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

AM Major

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

1 06:31 2 01:01 3 01:31 4 02:01 5 02:16 6 02:46 7 02:31 8 -9 09:46 10 09:46 11 10:16 12 10:31 13 04:46 14 05:16 15 -16 12:16

Alabama Living

PM Minor Major

MARCH 2018 39

Right-of-way management benefits wildlife, promotes plant diversity By Derrill E. Holly


n Mississippi, it’s a tortoise. In New England, it’s a hare. Those years. Effective management can help make them ecological assets. are just two species symbolizing the successes electric cooperStarting small for big benefits atives are achieving with vegetation management strategies de“Utility easements create opportunities to establish or expand signed to reduce right-of-way maintenance costs while improving habitat,” said Mace Vaughan, co-director of pollinator conservawildlife habitat. “Instead of 12 feet of open space immediately under our poles, tion and agricultural biodiversity for the Xerces Society for Inwe have opened up our entire 100 feet of right of way,” said Wesley vertebrate Conservation in Portland, Oregon. “When you bring Graham, a transmission field biologist at Cooperative Energy. wildflower and plant diversity into those areas, you can make The Hattiesburg, Mississippi-based generation and transmission them more productive.” That means healthy new growth can be (G&T) cooperative used the catastrophic system damage caused by “feathered in,” featuring shorter or slower growing trees and othHurricane Katrina in 2005 to completely rethink its approach to er plants, protecting more mature forests from high winds that right-of-way management, and the results are paying off. might topple trees into rights of way. “In five years, we’ve seen evidence “No one wants trees growing up that gopher tortoises are nesting or into or falling onto power lines, so moving boundary-to-boundary,” said we’re offering solutions that can help Graham. He has collected reams of promote and maintain diverse ecodata on nest activity indicating an systems,” said Vaughan. “Encouragincrease in population for the species ing growth of smaller stature shrubs which remains on the U.S. Fish and helps create sunny, open meadows Wildlife Service’s endangered species that support pollinators and other list. wildlife.” Before Katrina ripped down much Foresters and botanists have idenof the co-op’s transmission system, tified varieties of slow-growing or vegetation management meant mowmedium-height mature trees, flowing the entire 1,800 miles of transmisering or fruiting shrubs, forbs, grassThe data surrounding Cooperative Energy’s new vegetation sion corridors on a four-year rotation management strategies shows an increase in populations of es and wildflowers suitable for natuand side trimming boundary vegeta- quail, wild turkey, white-tailed deer and other species. ralized landscaping. tion over a 15 to 20-year cycle. When they are established along SOURCE: COOPERATIVE ENERGY Graham now uses herbicides or near a utility transmission right specifically formulated to control woody vegetation within the of way, they can offer a welcoming stop for insects and animals 100-foot-wide utility easements. Crews walking the right of way moving along easement edges between parkland and larger, unare able to treat half the system within an annual control cycle. developed areas. “There’s evidence that the change has increased populations of Helping Mother Nature quail, wild turkey, white-tailed deer and squirrels,” said Graham. Small populations of the New England cottontail, sometimes “It’s a win for the co-op, it’s a win for the landowners and it’s a win called the gray hare, have been identified from eastern New York for the environment.” to southeastern Maine. The Natural Resource Conservation SerLike many electric cooperatives, Cooperative Energy is reducing its reliance upon pruning, cutting and mowing as primary vice (NRCS) is involved in a three-year conservation plan for the methods of right-of-way vegetation management, and turning to species on behalf of USDA’s Working Lands for Wildlife Program. resource management techniques to save money and energy. Several utilities in the region are supporting the project in northMany G&Ts are working with the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. eastern New York and six nearby states. Fish and Wildlife Service, state natural resources and environmenA major utility transmission corridor in Maine has been planttal agencies. Cooperative Energy’s current vegetation management ed with shrubby habitat that could attract rabbits and there is evplan was also reviewed by environmental interest groups like the idence they are moving along the right of way and establishing National Wild Turkey Federation. new active colonies. “We’ve worked to develop a program that’s beneficial to all inThe challenge is finding ways to mimic nature, while convolved, and that includes wildlife,” said Graham. “We’re trying to trolling growth to occupy available space. Wildlife friendly habcreate ecosystems that support biologic diversity.” itats can be compatible with most urban and suburban homes, Instead of using turf grasses, like Bermuda or Bahia, Cooperaleaving ample room for outdoor recreation and entertaining. tive Energy has stripped away invasive or overly dominant vegetaDerrill Holly writes on cooperative issues for the National Rural tion, enabling native grasses to recover, said Graham. Graham and other G&T vegetation management experts now sugElectric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service gest that transmission right of way be viewed as natural corridors for arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric wildlife because many easements have been in place for more than 50 cooperatives. 40  MARCH 2018

Alabama Living

MARCH 2018  41

| Consumer Wise |

Hiring the right contractor By Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen


We want to make renovations to our home that will improve aesthetics and overall energy efficiency. How can we make sure we hire a contractor who will do a good job and stay within our budget?


Great question! Renovations can be the perfect time to improve your home’s energy efficiency. To make sure you get those energy savings, it’s important to do some planning right from the beginning. The first step is to educate yourself so you can be in control of your project. Helpful, easy-to-understand energy efficiency information is available for virtually any area of your home and any renovation project. Just be sure to use reputable sources, like energy. gov, or your local electric co-op. You’ll need that knowledge so you can judge the solutions each potential contractor proposes. Some products or methods that are sold as effective energy efficiency solutions may not work as well as they claim, or may be too expensive relative to the energy savings they provide. It’s important to talk to your local building department to find out if your project requires a permit and inspections. Some contractors may suggest doing the work without a permit, but unpermitted work can cause problems if you need to file an insurance claim down the road or when you get ready to sell your home. You can also use your newfound knowledge to ask the right questions of potential contractors. Ask about the product to be installed, the energy savings it should yield and whether it will improve comfort. Because energy efficiency installations and construction are specialized, most measures are unlikely to be installed correctly unless the installer has experience and hopefully some appropriate training or certification. Finding a contractor can be a challenge, especially in rural areas. To find them, use your online search engine to “find a contractor in your area.” If you’re in a sparsely-populated area, the right contracPatrick Keegan writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives. Write to for more information.

tor may be located an hour or two away. Your electric co-op may be able to provide a list of approved contractors in your area. You can also check with a local energy auditor for contractor names. You may decide you’d like to hire a small specialty contractor or a larger general contractor. Either way, it’s crucial to hire someone with a contractor’s license, a local business license and three types of insurance: liability, personal injury and workers’ compensation. Check references to verify the contractor has a solid history of cost-control, timeliness, good communication and excellent results, including significant energy savings. You might learn that your lowest bidder has a tendency to increase the price after the job has begun. As you choose between contractors, quality should be an even more important consideration than price. Poor-quality energy efficiency work will not deliver maximum savings. Once you have settled on a contractor, be sure to get a written contract. It should include “as built” details and specifications that include energy performance ratings you have researched ahead of time, such as: • the name of the individual doing the installation • the specific R value if you’re insulating • the make, model, the AFUE (annual fuel use efficiency) and COP (coefficient of performance) ratings if you’re replacing a furnace (and ask that an efficiency test be conducted before and after the work) • the make, model and EER (energy efficient ratio) rating if you are replacing the air conditioner. (Some contractors are able to check for duct leakage in the supply and return ductwork with a duct blaster if you’re doing any furnace or AC work.) • whether the contractor must pay for the necessary building permits. Finally, be cautious about pre-paying. Keep the upfront payment as low as possible, set benchmarks the contractor must meet to receive the next payment and make sure a reasonable amount of the payment is not due until the project is completed, passes building inspections and you are fully satisfied. If you don’t feel qualified to approve the project, you could even require testing or inspection by an independent energy auditor. Then, enjoy your new energy efficient space!

If possible, hire a contractor with energy-efficiency training and certification such as ACCA or NATE for HVAC work, or BPI for a range of specialties. PHOTO CREDIT: ACCA, NATE AND BPI.

Before signing the final contract, make sure the contractor has liability, personal injury and workers’ compensation insurance. SOURCE: PIXABAY.COM.

42 MARCH 2017

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Alabama Living

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| Alabama Recipes |

Packed with health benefits and boasting a better sweet than regular sugar, honey is one of Mother Nature’s greatest gifts and should stay on your cooking “to do” list.

Honey Don't Because honey can contain spores of clostridium botulinum, a bacteria that can make babies dangerously ill, raw honey should never be fed to children under 12 months old. Anyone with an immunodeficiency should also avoid raw honey. The mature digestive systems of healthy older children and adults can handle exposure to this bacteria, making raw honey safe for most.

44  MARCH 2018


Honey Do


acked with health benefits and boasting a better sweet than regular sugar, honey is one of Mother Nature’s greatest gifts and should stay on your cooking “to do” list. Honey’s sweet. We all know that. But it’s got plenty more going for it too. In fact, its very sweetness is more — more than the one-dimensional saccharine flavor of refined sugar. Its distinct taste is layered, complex, and it’s different depending on which bees made it and which flower nectar they were sippin’ on. The flavor of honey can vary greatly even from one neighborhood to the next, so just imagine the diversity in honey harvested all around our state. From spreading it on white bread opposite peanut butter for a sandwich that surpasses your average PB&J, stirring a spoonful into hot tea or making a sticky-sweet glaze for grilled meats, honey is as versatile as it is delicious. It’s also packed with nutrients our bodies need like vitamins B1, B2, C, B6, B5 and B3; minerals; enzymes; and antioxidants. It has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties too. This,

Ukrainian Honey Cake ½ ½ 1 1 4 2 2 1 ½ 1 ½

cup brown sugar cup butter, room temperature cup honey cup sour cream eggs teaspoons baking soda cups all-purpose flour cup finely chopped walnuts cup golden raisins teaspoon cinnamon (or to taste) teaspoon nutmeg (or to taste)

Dissolve the baking soda in the sour cream and set aside. Cream the butter and brown sugar; add honey and mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing between additions. Mix in the sour cream with baking soda, add the flour a little at a time, mixing slowly, then add the cinnamon and nutmeg (can be adjusted to taste) with one last mix and then fold in the walnuts and raisins. Grease a 9x12-inch baking pan and dust with flour, pour in the mixture and bake in a 325 degree oven for 50 minutes or so. It will be very dark in color when done, so be cautious not to take it out too soon. It is an unfrosted cake but a light dusting of powdered sugar can be used. Note that the walnuts are finely chopped, so be sure to warn anyone who might have a nut allergy.

Alabama Living

combined with its taste and countless kitchen uses, gives it high culinary value. But not all honey is equal. Only raw honey is the real liquid gold. The next time you need some, take a closer look at what you’re buying. The honey you see in the grocery store may not always be 100-percent honey; some of it includes other ingredients. Plus, some honey has been pasteurized, which destroys most of its health-benefitting substances. On the flipside, raw honey is un-pasteurized and un-processed and retains all of its inherent good stuff. Raw honey has been proven to aid in digestion, strengthen your immune system, balance blood sugar and soothe a sore throat, too. And while raw honey is great, local raw honey is even better since it contains pollen that is specific to where you live — and breathe. Some folks claim this helps lessen the effects of seasonal allergies. Plus, you’re supporting area farms and beekeepers, so it’s a win-win. If all of this info makes you want to increase your honey consumption, you’re in luck! We got a great list of honey recipes from our readers this month.

Cook of the Month:

Victoria Motyka, Baldwin EMC Victoria Motyka has been baking Ukrainian Honey Cake for decades. She wanted to make something sweet for her honey (her husband) whose parents came to America from Ukraine. “When we first got married, I wanted to be able to cook some dishes that he liked growing up, so I got a few recipes from his mom, and this cake is something she made often,” Motyka said. She quickly learned why the moist, spiced dessert stayed on her mother-in-law’s rotation. “It tastes great, and it’s easy to make,” she said. “It’s not a layer cake, you don’t ice it. It’s kinda their version of a brownie or a snack cake.” It has a lot of flavors, yet the honey still comes through. Motyka particularly likes the raisins, and her family likes it all. “They love it. My grown daughter now makes it herself.”

MARCH 2018 45

Heavenly Honey Cake 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 3 1 tablespoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice 1 cup vegetable oil 1 cup honey 11/2 cups granulated sugar 1/2 cup brown sugar 3 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 cup warm coffee 3/4 cup fresh orange juice Cast Iron Skillet Honey Lime Chicken

Cast Iron Skillet Honey Lime Chicken 1½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon chili powder ½ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon pepper ½ cup honey Juice of one lime Zest of one lime 2 tablespoons soy sauce 1 garlic clove, minced In a medium-sized skillet over medium heat add olive oil. In a small bowl combine cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Rub on chicken and place in skillet. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side or until chicken is no longer pink and 165 degrees internal temperature. Remove chicken and set aside on plate. Add honey, lime juice and zest, soy sauce and garlic. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and reduce heat and whisk until it starts to thicken. About 2 minutes. Add the chicken back to the skillet and coat in the sauce. Garnish with lime wedges. Mary Rich North Alabama EC

Salted Honey Taffy 1 pound real honey (about 11/2 cups) Salt, to taste Bring honey to a boil in an uncovered medium saucepan over medium heat (about 5 to 7 minutes). Continue to boil until honey registers 280 degrees on a candy thermometer (about 10 to 12 minutes). Line a pan with parchment paper and coat lightly with cooking spray. When the honey reaches temperature, pour it onto your prepared pan and allow to cool on the counter for 20-25 minutes. Spray your hands with nonstick spray and break off about a third of the cooled honey. Begin to pull and stretch the honey, continually folding it and working more air into the taffy. As you continue to pull and incorporate air into the taffy, it will start to firm up and become lighter in color. Keep doing this for about five minutes, or until taffy has lightened in color from dark amber to tan. When taffy is tan and firmed up, roll it into several long thin snakes and place these back on your parchment paper lined pan. Sprinkle with salt. Refrigerate pan for 10 minutes then use a knife coated in cooking spray to cut each taffy roll into one inch long pieces. Roll up each piece of taffy in wax paper, twisting the ends to close.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch angel food cake pan or bundt cake pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Make a well in the center to add the oil, honey, white and brown sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee and orange juice. Using an electric mixer on slow speed, combine the ingredients well to make a thick batter. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Place the cake pan on a baking sheet and bake for 60 to 70 minutes. Let the cake stand for 15 minutes before removing it from the pan, then invert it onto a wire rack to cool completely. Robin OSullivan Wiregrass EC

Russian Dressing ¼ ½ 3 1/3 3 ½ 1 ½

cup honey cup catsup tablespoons water cup vegetable oil tablespoons vinegar teaspoon celery seed tablespoon Worcestershire sauce teaspoon onion powder

Whisk all ingredients together. Chill and use on favorite garden salad. July Self Black Warrior EMC

Sierra Joachim South Alabama EC 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  MARCH 2018

Honey Graham Apple Bars Bars: 1 package honey graham crackers, crushed 1¼ cups quick oats 3/4 cup flour 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 cup coconut oil ¼ cup honey 2 teaspoons vanilla 1 egg ½ cup walnuts, chopped 1 apple, chopped Frosting: 8-ounces cream cheese ¼ cup honey Vanilla, to taste Crumb Topping: Honey graham crackers Melted butter (just enough to make a nice crumble) Cinnamon Walnuts

Honey-Balsamic-Hitachi Wings 1 / 1 ½ 2

cup honey cup balsamic salad dressing cup Siracha sauce dozen wings (drumsticks and wings)

Mix together honey, balsamic and Siracha. Put drumsticks and wings in a Ziploc bag. Shake bag to ensure wings are coated. Store in refrigerator 3 days. Shake bag periodically. To cook in the oven: Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes. To cook on a gas grill: Heat two burners on high. Once the grill is hot, turn one burner off and turn the other burner to low. Place wings on no-heat side, cooking for 1 hour. Turn heat up to crisp wings. They can also be cooked in a smoker at 200 degrees for three and a half hours. Crisp under house broiler, if needed. Mix up extra sauce for dipping.

Honey Jalapeno Salmon ¼ ¼ 1 2

cup honey cup lemon juice large jalapeno, sliced 6-ounce salmon fillets, skin removed Oil Salt and black pepper

Combine honey, lemon juice and jalapeno slices in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer over very low heat for 10 minutes. Rinse salmon and pat dry. Brush lightly with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill or broil for about 5 minutes each side, brushing with honey glaze. When cooked, drizzle with remaining glaze. Julia Gibson Tallapoosa River EC

Bill Stone Baldwin EMC

Directions for Bars: In a bowl, mix 1 cup graham cracker crumbs, quick oats, flour and cinnamon. In a separate bowl mix coconut oil and honey. Then add the vanilla and egg. Combine with graham cracker mixture. Add the chopped apple and chopped walnuts (reserving some walnuts for the topping). Pour into an oiled 11x6-inch pan and bake at 320 degrees. Directions for Frosting: Blend together the cream cheese, honey and vanilla. Frost the bars when they are done baking. Directions for Crumb Topping: Combine the leftover graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, cinnamon and the reserved walnuts. Sprinkle on top of the frosting. Caleb Pittman Joe Wheeler EMC

Coming up in April... Bread!

Alabama Living

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

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

Themes and Deadlines

Submit your recipes!

May: Junior Cooks | March 8 June: Heirloom Recipes | April 8 July: Frozen Treats | May 8

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

MARCH 2018 47

| Classifieds |

Closing Deadlines

2 CONDOS WEEKLY RENTAL – 2 Bed, 2 Bath, 200 feet to ocean w/ pool – Peachtree II, sleeps 4-6 –, (850)5732182, Jeff

May 2018 Issue by March 25 June 2018 Issue by April 25 July 2018 Issue by May 25

GULF FRONT CONDO, Orange Beach or Gulf Shores – 1BR / 1BA, hall bunks, accommodates 4 – Book now for low Spring, Summer rates –, (256)352-5721

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

Ads are $1.75 per word with a 10 word minimum and are on a prepaid basis; Telephone numbers, email addresses and websites are considered 1 word each. Ads will not be taken over the phone. You may email your ad to hdutton@areapower. com; or call (800)410-2737 ask for Heather for pricing.; We accept checks, money orders and all major credit cards. Mail ad submission along with a check or money order made payable to ALABAMA LIVING, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124 – Attn: Classifieds.

Miscellaneous FREE MATERIALS: SOON CHURCH / GOVERNMENT UNITING, suppressing “RELIGIOUS LIBERTY”, enforcing NATIONAL SUNDAY LAW, Be informed! Need mailing address only. TBSM, Box 99, Lenoir City, TN 37771 –, (888)211-1715 WALL BEDS OF ALABAMA - SOLID WOOD & LOG FURNITURE – Outdoor Rockers, Gliders & Swings, HANDCRAFTED AMISH CASKETS $1,599 - ALABAMA MATTRESS OUTLET – SHOWROOM Collinsville, AL – Custom Built / Factory Direct (256)490-4025,, DO YOU NEED A PIANIST OR ORGANIST at your Montgomery area church? I have 30 years experience in church music. Call (334)421-8315 KEPLINGER ALUMINUM BURIAL VAULT CO. in Gardendale, Alabama sells water tested burial vaults to the public saving up to $3000 or more per vault versus funeral home prices. Our vaults protect the contents against water and last indefinitely.  Cardboard wrapped, standing up requires 6 1/2 sq. ft. to store and take to cemetery when needed.  Alabama made with American materials.  $1400 cash, includes local sales tax.  Call 205-285-9732 or 205-540-0781 or visit  G.W. (BILLY) THAGARD: AUCTIONEER – REAL ESTATE BROKER - Land, Commercial, Residential – AL Lic # 675 – (205)410-6751, bill@, Visit our Website - Let’s get together to talk AUCTION! “GOING OUT OF BUSINESS” – CRENSHAW FARMS ANTIQUES and STUFF shops – LAST DAY Apr. 15 – Stockton, exit 31, interstate 65 (251)577-1235 18X21 CARPORT $995 INSTALLED – Other sizes available - (706) 226-2739 METAL ROOFING $1.59/LINFT – FACTORY DIRECT!  1st quality, 40yr Warranty, Energy Star rated. (price subject to change) - (706) 226-2739

Vacation Rentals PANAMA CITY BEACH CONDO – Owner rental – 2BR / 2BA, wireless internet, just remodeled inside and outside – (334)790-0000,, www.theroneycondo. com GULF SHORES/FT MORGAN BEACH HOUSE Pet Friendly,WiFi, Non Smoking (256)418-2131,

48 MARCH 2018

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

PIGEON FORGE, TN – 3 bedroom, 2 bath house – Walking distance to parkway, light# 1 - $95.00 / night – (256)309-7873, (256)590-8758 PIGEON FORGE TOWNHOUSE 2-4 BEDROOM – VRBO RENTAL 556992 – (256)717-9112 ORANGE BEACH CONDO, 3BR/3BA; 2,000 SQ.FT.; beautifully decorated; gorgeous waterfront view; boat slips available; great rates - Owner rented (251)604-5226 GATLINBURG – DOWNTOWN LUXURY CREEKSIDE CONDO – 2BR / 2BA, sleeps 6 –, (256)599-5552 AFFORDABLE BEACHSIDE VACATION CONDOS – Gulf Shores & Orange Beach, AL – Rent Direct from Christian Family Owners – Lowest Prices on the Beach!, (251)752-2366, (205)556-0368, (251)656-4935 DESTIN, FL OWNER RENTALS – – Pat Green Bush, owner –, (334)244-6581 or (334)312-6630 PIGEON FORGE, TN: 2BR/2BA, hot tub, air hockey, fireplace, swimming pool, creek – (251)363-1973, Homeaway#241942 ORANGE BEACH – CUTE BEACH COTTAGES – Owner managed- four to choose from. Pet friendly, boat docks, pools. Near Gulf of Mexico on calm canal. No parking passes required. Away from the condo crowds and chaos – (251)975-7003, email:  cutebeachcottage@ -

Real Estate Sales WATERFRONT 2 BEDROOM 1 BATH HOME – Completely remodeled inside & out in Dallas Co. – New A/C & Heat with basement & large deck on water – (850)939-2054, (859)5827633.


Musical Notes PLAY GOSPEL SONGS BY EAR - 10 lessons $12.95. “LEARN GOSPEL MUSIC”. Chording, runs, fills - $12.95 Both $24. Davidsons, 6727AR Metcalf, Shawnee Missions, Kansas 66204 – (913)262-4982 PIANOS TUNED, repaired, refinished. Box 171, Coy, AL 36435. 334-337-4503

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


Spend your 2018 advertising dollars with the state’s most circulated magazine! Put your products and services in front of 415,000 subscribers every month. or

CHIHUAHUA PUPPIES. Registered, guaranteed healthy, raised indoors in loving home, vet records and references. (256)796-2893

| Market Place |


See Our Website for Monthly Specials

WE SELL: Steel Trusses • Hay Barns Lumber • Equipment Sheds Building Material Packages Painted Metal • Work Shops Insulation • Kneebraces Galvalume Metal


256-747-8178 • FAX: 256-747-8760

Alabama Living

MARCH 2018 49

Brundidge Shop local first

Hello, neighbor! We encourage you to give Brundidge a look when you are shopping for your home, gifts or just basic day-to-day needs. Every dollar you spend locally keeps our city running and supports local jobs. You'll save money and time, too! Shopping at home means less driving and less time on the road. Brundidge merchants care about you and the community we call home. Buriece A Gracey, Agent Please stop by and say, “Hi!” 125 S Main Street Brundidge, AL 36010 I love being part of this Bus: 334-735-3688 communityPlease – andstop as abynew and say, "Hi!"

State Farm®I love agent, I’m excited being part of this to get to know more of you. community – and as a new State Farm agent, I'm excited Whether you need insurance get to know more of you. or financial to services, I’m insurance Whether you need ™ here to helporlife go right. financial services, I'm here to help life go right.™ CALL ME TODAY.

Hello, neighbor! Buriece A Gracey, Agent 125 S. Main St. Brundidge, AL 36010 Buriece Gracey, Agent Phone:A334-735-3688 125 S Main Street

Brundidge, AL 36010

50 MARCHBus: 2018 334-735-3688 1601484

Please stop by and say, “Hi!” I love being part of this community State – and asBloomington, a new IL Farm, ® State Farm agent, I’m excited



Added danger in car wrecks with power poles

The following story is provided courtesy of Safe Electricity. A car accident can happen so quickly, yet the final seconds may seem to be in slow motion as the car and its passengers jolt upon contact. Such an accident can inflict serious injury and damage, and when the car wreck involves power poles, there is an added danger. Knowing what actions to take to stay safe can make the difference between life and death. After a car wreck, it is natural for people to want to get out of the car to assess damage to themselves as well as the vehicle. However, when the wreck involves power poles and lines, that is the exact wrong thing to do. Should you be involved in an automobile wreck with a power pole, Safe Electricity provides the following safety information: • Stay in the car. Call 911 to have the utility notified.

• Do not leave the vehicle until utility professionals have de-energized the line and they advise you that it is safe to do so. • If you must exit the vehicle because it is on fire, jump clear of it with your feet together and without touching the vehicle and ground at the same time. Keeping your feet together, “bunny hop” to safety. Doing this will ensure that you will not have different strengths of electric current running from one foot to another. • Be aware that, after an accident with a pole, wires can fall at any time. • Downed lines can sometimes show they are live by arcing and sparking with electricity, but this is not always the case. Treat all downed wires as though they are energized. • Remember, most power lines are not insulated. The coating on the lines

is for weather proofing and will not offer any protection from the electrical current. • The tires of the vehicle do not insulate it from electrical dangers. Follow the above safety precautions even if the car has rolled and is upside down or on its side. The vehicle is the path to ground for the electrical current. So while you remain in the car, you are safe. If you step out of the car, you are in danger of becoming the path to ground. Also, be cautious if you witness an accident involving a vehicle and downed lines. Stay back, and warn others to stay away. Make sure the occupants of the car stay inside the vehicle until the utility has arrived to de-energize the lines. n

For more information on electrical safety, visit Alabama Living

MARCH MARCH 2017  2018  43 51

| Our Sources Say |

The Right Man


ou may have heard of the “Butterfly Effect.” It refers to a butterfly flapping its wings off the African coast, causing a movement that starts a wave that moves across the Atlantic Ocean and becomes a hurricane. Edward Lorenz, who coined the term, referred to it as, “A very small change in initial conditions that creates a significantly different outcome.” Charles Lowman was the third of Alabama Electric Cooperative’s (now PowerSouth) five CEOs. He followed the long tenure of Basil Thompson, who helped found the company, and Wesley Jackson’s short term as CEO. As A.G. Palmore, a retired AEC Chief Financial Officer, said of Mr. Lowman, “He was the right man at the right time.” AEC was founded in 1941, but most of the 1940’s and 1950’s were spent trying to establish AEC as a viable power supply entity for its members. During those decades, AEC principally relied on Alabama Power Company and Gulf Power Company for wholesale power to serve its members. Wholesale supply under those contracts was often unreliable during droughts because of the amount of water available for hydroelectric production, and pricing was volatile. The primary obstacle to AEC’s success was the development of its own reliable power supply resources with predictable and affordable costs. The answer to that need was the Tombigbee Power Plant, AEC’s second but largest coal-fired generation unit. Charles Lowman was chosen by Mr. Thompson to lead the construction effort of the coal-fired units that are our Lowman Power Plant. Tombigbee Unit #1 was completed in 1969, giving AEC a cost-effective supply of electricity. Mr. Lowman was the right man for the job. He was raised near Andalusia, had studied Defense Radio and Electronics at the University of Alabama and joined the Navy. He spent most of World War II at sea as part of the 1st Aircraft Repair Unit, a mobile group that followed and repaired combat aircraft around the world. After the war, Mr. Lowman reentered the University of Alabama and later transferred to Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University) where he received an Electrical Engineering degree. After graduation, he returned home to Andalusia and started work at AEC. Mr. Lowman was an engineer’s engineer. He was quiet, thoughtful and respected by everyone. He was noted for his memory, recalling minute details of documents and conversations. AEC’s technical personnel was thin, and Mr. Lowman was required to know all the technical aspects of AEC’s generation assets and transmission systems. He was calm and collected. He did not make rash decisions and never panicked. Above all else, he was admired and liked by all of his fellow employees. Mr. Lowman was named General Manager (CEO) of AEC in 1970. Times were turbulent with renewed supply and rate issues with Alabama Power and Gulf Power. Mr. Lowman rallied the AEC members to remain together and to pool their costs into a

Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative

52 MARCH 2018

Charles Lowman

single pooled billing rate – a step he later referred to as the most important single action taken by AEC’s members. He was the right man for the job. He led the decision to build the larger two Tombigbee Units that were completed in 1979 and 1980. They were built with the anticipation of large retail electric growth. However, that growth did not materialize as the country entered a devastating recession in the early 1980’s. By 1983, AEC, like most electric utilities, was in dire straits with excess generation and flat or declining electric sales. I have researched that era and found no evidence that the AEC Board ever considered replacing Mr. Lowman as CEO regardless of the troubles. He was trusted by everyone. After recovering from the recession, the economy boomed and the country thrived. Electric usage soared. AEC was prepared for the growth with the electric generation plan Mr. Lowman orchestrated. Upon his retirement in 1988, the Tombigbee Power Plant was named the Charles R. Lowman Power Plant in his honor. After retirement, he started a pecan farm north of Andalusia and developed his own strain of pecans. In one of my too rare conversations with Mr. Lowman, he said, “You grow pecan trees for your grandchildren.” As I wrote in a recent article, Mr. Lowman also built power plants for our grandchildren. Mr. Lowman built power plants and facilities, held people together through tough times, and planned for the future. Like the Butterfly Effect, his actions led to much bigger and much better things for PowerSouth, all of us, and our members. Small things you do result in significant things for your grandchildren. Charles Lowman passed away January 10, 2018, at the age of 94. He was the right man for the job. I hope you have a good month.

Alabama Living

MARCH 2018  53

| Hardy Jackson's Alabama |

Illustration by Dennis Auth

Was that a turtle I heard?

For, lo, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone; The Flowers appear on the earth; The Time of the singing of birds is come, And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land Song of Solomon, 2:11-12


K, I know it’s a turtledove and the dove got lost in translation, but I’m a King James Version guy. It sounds better. (Besides, as my Sunday school teacher, Miss Kling Dacy, told us after she read the verse, “If God wanted to give turtles a voice, he could.” So there.) But I’m not here to write about turtles, or doves, or Miss Kling (though one day I probably will). I’m here to write about spring in the South. I love Southern springs -- especially early spring, when those first flowers push up to remind us of things past. Ride around town and see paper narcissus and jonquils scattered about in vacant lots where once there were homes and people. Venture into the countryside and catch the outline of a long-gone house defined by daffodils where, years ago, a farm wife put out bulbs to add a bit of beauty to her life. Wisteria fills the air with perfume. And forsythia (or “switch bushes” as they were called in families where the parents knew nothing of Dr. Spock or “positive encouragement,” except to say that “if you do that again I’m positive I’m gonna cut one of them and lay some encouragement on you.”) But don’t get too used to it. February thaws often lead to March Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Professor Emeritus at Jacksonville State University and a regular contributor to Alabama Living. He can be reached at

54  MARCH 2018

freezes. “Thunder in February, frost in April,” my Mother used to say. Spring in the South can also make a liar out of you, as it did me once, long ago. It had been one of those wonderful late February days, bulbs were blooming, buds were budding, the earth was squishy under your feet, and the air was full of damp delights. And my friend Jim was in Iowa. Now Jim was from Georgia, so I figured it was my Christian duty to call him up, remind him of how things were down here, needle him a little, so I did. His wife came on the phone. “Let me speak to Jim.” “He can’t come right now. Our gutters froze over, one has already come down, and he is up on a ladder trying to save the others. And it’s 10 degrees. Can I have him call you back?” Now I could have told her “No, just tell him that it is over 60 here, birds are singing, and kids are already playing baseball.” Or I could have said, “Sure, tell him to call when he gets down.” And when he did I could have described, in detail, the dandy day he missed by being up there. But friends don’t do that to friends. In cases like this, friends lie. Which was what I did. “No,” I replied, “just tell him that we are in the middle of an ice storm and I wanted to see if things were as bad in the North.” There was no reason to remind Jim what a Southern spring was like. Anyone who has lived through one remembers, and can’t wait for another. And a few years later Jim took a job in Mississippi – which he knew was the right decision, he told me, when the feeling returned to his fingers and toes. And he is in the South still, just like me. And I bet, right now, he is listening out for that turtle. Just like me.

March 2018 south alabama  
March 2018 south alabama