March 2023 Clarke-Washington

Page 1


Raised in the co-op world

New Speaker of the House brings experience, influence

March 2023 Stories | Recipes | Events | People | Places | Things | Local News


Steve Sheffield

Co-op Editor

Sarah Turner

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.

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Many of the state’s public gardens and gardening organizations will be hosting garden tours ths spring, so be on the lookout for opportunities to pop into or linger in local gardens.

Family heirlooms

From antique dresses to furniture, heirlooms from our families are reminders of our heritage.

Grab a pizza this!

Homemade pizza isn’t only about tomato sauce and cheese. Our cooks top theirs with chicken, shrimp and even fruit!

Anxious canines

Leaving your dog alone for periods of time can result in destructive behavior. Our pet vet has some advice for dealing with separation anxiety.

34 38 VOL. 76 NO. 3 MARCH 2023 DEPARTMENTS 11 Spotlight 29 Around Alabama 32 Outdoors 33 Fish & Game Forecast 34 Cook of the Month 46 Hardy Jackson’s Alabama ONLINE: 30 MARCH 2023 3 WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! ONLINE: EMAIL: MAIL: Alabama Living 340 Technacenter Drive Montgomery, AL 36117 New Speaker of the House
Ledbetter’s roots go deep in the
cooperative world. Read more about him
other lawmakers with ties to our coops, beginning on Page 12.
Carter Photography & Design FEATURES
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Office Locations

Jackson Office

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Jackson, AL 36545 (251) 246-9081

Chatom Office

19120 Jordan Street

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Chatom, AL 36518 (251) 847-2302

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CWEMC sponsors students on Montgomery and Washington DC Youth Tours

Clarke-Washington EMC and other cooperatives around the world operate according to the same set of seven core principles and values, adopted by the International Co-operative Alliance. Cooperatives trace the roots of these principles to the first modern cooperative founded in Rochdale, England in 1844. These principles are a key reason that America’s electric cooperatives operate differently from other electric utilities, putting the needs of their members first.

Cooperative principle five deals with education, training and information for members and the general public. This principle has been in full display during the 2023 Youth Tour selection process. We believe in our commitment to the community and with that commitment comes a special emphasis on education inside and outside of the classroom.

The Youth Tour is open to eleventh grade students and the selection process requires a tremendous commitment from the participating students. It begins with writing an essay that includes information about the future of electric generation technologies and consumer usage habits and then going through an interview process with a panel of judges. From the interview process, Caroline Breaux, Nour Jabnouni, Sanaa Thomas and Maya Toomey were selected to represent Clarke-Washington EMC on the Montgomery Youth Tour in March. They will learn about state government as they visit the State Capitol and other places of interest. They will also have an opportunity to visit with representatives and senators in

the Alabama Legislature during the threeday event. Following the Montgomery Youth Tour, two of the students will be selected to represent Clarke-Washington EMC on the Washington Youth Tour.

The Washington Rural Electric Youth tour is an annual, week-long event in June during which high school juniors from all over the country convene in Washington DC to learn more about government, cooperatives and rural electrification. They will follow stateplanned itineraries, which include a day on Capitol Hill observing the House and Senate as well as visiting historical sites. Delegates also participate in educational seminars and other fun events, such as a dinner/dance on Youth Day. The tour is coordinated by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), the Washingtonbased service organization of the nation’s rural electric systems. The tour is sponsored by NRECA, local cooperatives and statewide organizations.

Clarke-Washington EMC has a long history of sponsoring students on the Montgomery and Washington Youth Tours and I’d like express my appreciation to all the students who participated in our Youth Tour this year.

4 MARCH 2023


Fourteen students were chosen to interview for the honor of being a Clarke-Washington EMC Youth Tour delegate. Juniors from each high school in the Clarke-Washington EMC area were asked to submit an essay and the top two students from each school were invited to interview with a panel of judges on Tuesday, January 31.

Caroline Breaux of Clarke Prep; Nour Jabnouni of Washington County High School; Sanaa Thomas of McIntosh High School and Maya Toomey of Millry High School were chosen to represent Clarke-Washington EMC at the Montgomery Youth Tour on March 14-16.

All of the students who were selected to interview were outstanding and represented their schools very well.

Congratulations to each student selected to participate in the 2023 Clarke-Washington EMC Youth Tour.

Ashley Smith Jackson Academy Allie Stagner Fruitdale High School Sanaa Thomas McIntosh High School Dylan Grace Thornton Jackson Academy Maya Toomey Millry High School Allie Floyd Washington Co. High School Nour Jabnouni Washington Co. High School Madyson Jackson Millry High School Anna Pearce Leroy High School Allie Richardson Fruitdale High School Mitchell Dees Excel High School Margaret Flowers Leroy High School Mimi Blaylock Clarke Prep Caroline Breaux Clarke Prep
Alabama Living MARCH 2023 5



Storm season is upon us, which means greater potential for power outages. If you’re planning to use a portable generator in the event of an outage, Clarke-Washington EMC reminds you to play it safe. With proper use and maintenance, portable generators can provide great convenience during an outage. However, when generators are used incorrectly, they can be extremely hazardous. In a 2022 report, the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated 85 U.S. consumers die every year from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning caused by gasoline-powered portable generators.

Here are 10 do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when using portable generators:

DO: Install backup CO alarms.

DO: Keep children and pets away from portable generators at all times

DO: Position generators at least 25 feet outside the home, away from doors, windows and vents that can allow CO to enter the home.

DO: Ensure your generator is properly grounded. Use a portable ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to prevent electric shock injuries.

DO: Use three-pronged extension cords that are rated to handle the load of the generator. Inspect extension cords for cuts, frays or other damage before use.

DON’T: Operate a generator inside your home or an enclosed (or partially-enclosed) space. Generators produce high levels of CO, which can be deadly.

DON’T: Open windows or doors while the generator is running.

DON’T: Rely on generators as a full-time source of power. They should only be used temporarily or in emergency situations to power essential equipment or appliances.

DON’T: Overload generators. They should only be used to power essential equipment. Make sure your generator can handle the load of the items you plan to power.

DON’T: Connect generators directly into household wiring unless you have an appropriate transfer switch installed. If a generator is connected to a home’s wiring without a transfer switch, power can backfeed along power lines and electrocute utility lineworkers making repairs.

While generators provide convenience during power outages, they can quickly become hazardous––even deadly––if improperly operated. Before you operate a portable generator, be sure to thoroughly read the owner’s manual for important safety information and tips.

6 MARCH 2023
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In the February magazine, we explained how your cooperatve ranks against other cooperatives using the Cooperative Attitude and Performance Score (CAPS). This month we discuss the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) score.

This score is an economic indicator that measures that satisfaction of consumers across the United States.

Clarke-Washington EMC has a score of 85 and is above average of the national cooperative score, plus investorowned utilities and municipal utility averages.

Clarke-Washington EMC rated higher than Apple, Coca-Cola, Southwest Airlines and many other large corporations.

Providing reliable electric service, communicating effectively, and commitment to local communities are the largest drivers of satisfaction.

Energy Efficiency Tip of the Month

Washing windows and screens is a great way to practice energy efficiency during spring cleaning. Clean windows and screens make your home brighter by allowing more sunlight in, reducing the need for lamps and fixtures. Clean screens also allow more fresh air in the home when the windows are open to recycle indoor air. Natural light and clean air are energy savers, and they enhance overall health and productivity.


You play an important role in helping Clarke-Washington EMC restore power.

We need your help.

Clarke-Washington EMC’s outage system uses caller ID to quickly identify your account and service location, but it only works if we have your correct phone numbers. Lack of a correct phone number means a slower response and repair times.

For example, if you call us to report an outage, our automated system recognizes your phone number and can determine the particular service address from which you are reporting an outage. Once you give our system a response, your outage is reported. This only works if your phone numbers are linked to your service address.

We ask that you make sure all of your phone numbers are listed with your account so we can better serve you.

Alabama Living MARCH 2023 7


Information provided by The Alabama Cooperative Extension Service. Find more at

Fruits and Nuts

• Continue strawberry and grape plantings.

• Bud apples and peaches.

• Start planting blackberries. Remember, if weather conditions prevent prompt planting, heel the plants in by placing the root system in a trench and covering the soil.


March April

• Fertilize shrubs (except azaleas and camellias) according to a soil test.

• Late plantings may be made, particularly if they are container-grown.

• Watch shrubs for harmful insects.

Fruits and Nuts

• Season for strawberry planting continues.

• Start spray program for all fruits.

• Plant raspberries and blackberries and continue budding apples and peaches.


• Prune spring flowering shrubs after flowering.

• Fertilize azaleas and camellias.

• When new growth is half completed, spray all shrubs with a fungicide.


• Plant bermuda, zoysia, and centipede in south Alabama.

• Seed bluegrass and grass mixtures in northAlabama.

• Fertilize established lawns.


• Watch new growth for aphids.

• Begin a spray or dust program.

• Begin fertilizing.

Annuals and Perennials

• Tender annuals may be planted in south Alabama.

• Check garden centers for bedding plants.


• Planting continues.

• New lawns may need supplementary watering.

• Also, fertilize at 3- to 6-week intervals.

• Keep ryegrass cut low, particularly if overplanted in bermuda lawns.


• Watch for insects and diseases.

• Keep old flower heads removed.

• Plant container-grown plants from nurseries or garden centers.


• Plant gladiolus every 2 or 3 weeks if a long blooming season is desired.

• Plant tuberous begonias in pots. Plant dahlias.


• Check and repair sprayers, dusters, and lawn mowers.

• Control lawn weeds with chemicals.

• Delay pruning of fruiting shrubs such as cotoneasters, pyracanthas, and hollies until after flowering.

Vegetable Seed

• Plant hardy crops recommended for January and

Annuals and Perennials

• Plant early started annuals or bedding plants from nurseries or garden centers.

• Divide mums or root cuttings. Dig and divide dahlias.


• Plant gladiolus, fancy-leaved caladiums, milk and wine lilies, and ginger and gloriosa lilies.

• Feed bearded iris with superphosphate and spray for borers.

• Avoid cutting foliage of narcissus or other bulbs until it has turned brown naturally.


• After danger of frost is past, plant tender vegetables.

Vegetable Plants

• Plant cabbage, onions, lettuce, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts in north Alabama; plant tomatoes and peppers in lower South Alabama.


• Spray camellias, hollies, etc., for scale insects.

• Carefully water new plantings of shrubs and trees.

• Pinching out tips of new shoots promotes more compact shrubs.

Vegetable Seed

• Plant tender vegetables such as beans, corn, squash, melons, and cucumbers.

• Plant heat-loving vegetables in lower south Alabama.

Vegetable Plants

• Plant tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, sweet potatoes, and parsley

8 MARCH 2023

Family Heirlooms

In 1908, an emancipated slave made this basket for my mother to gather eggs. They lived in Barbour County at the time and Mom was 3 years old. SUBMITTED by Lynda Truman,

I am the fifth generation who has owned this antique glass pistol. Originally a whiskey bottle, it was given to my grandpa, Oliver Crawford, in about 1883 by my great-great grandpa. SUBMITTED by Dale Crawford, Dutton.

This crucifix belonged to my grandfather, Aloys Krueger, when he emigrated from Bottrop, Germany in the 1920s. SUBMITTED by Alison Rouse, Wetumpka.

This dress was handmade about 32 years ago and has been worn by several family members. It will be passed on to the next generations for the girls to wear.

SUBMITTED by Ella Mae Lathan, Chatom.

RULES: Photos submitted for publication may also be published on our website at and on our Facebook and Instagram pages. Alabama Living is not responsible for lost or damaged photos. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope to have photos returned.

| Deadline:
May theme: “My kid’s stuffed animals”
March 31
| Alabama Snapshots | Online: | Mail: Attn: Snapshots, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124
Florala. Maggie Laura Mae Harris posing with the “Laura Mae” chifforobe that was originally owned by Maggie’s great-aunt, Laura Mae Pell Black, in the 1940s. SUBMITTED by Leslie Harris, Rainsville. This pitcher and bowl set is a family heirloom from my father’s family. Passed down to me by my grandmother. SUBMITTED by Susanlynn Allen, Guntersville.
Alabama Living MARCH 2023 9

Financial relief may be available for timber owners

Financial relief may be available to assist timber owners who suffered damages as a result of the severe storms, straight-line winds, and tornadoes that left a path of destruction across several counties in Alabama on January 12, 2023.

The Alabama Forestry Commission encourages adversely affected forest landowners to reach out to their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices to request funding through the Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP).

To find contact information for your local FSA office, visit

Whereville, AL

Visit Alabama’s sites with All-In-One tickets

The Alabama Department of Tourism and Travel wants everyone to get out and enjoy some of the state’s metro area attractions with the All-InOne tickets, which are passes for admission to attractions and tours in one geographic area at one low price.

Each All-In-One ticket is a special grouping of attractions. The tickets highlight:

• The Birmingham area, with attractions including the McWane Science Center and the Civil Rights Institute;

• Huntsville and North Alabama, with Ave Maria Grotto and the Jesse Owens Museum, among others;

• Florence/Muscle Shoals area, with such attractions as the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and Helen Keller’s birthplace, Ivy Green; and

• Montgomery, Selma and Tuskegee, with attractions including the Hank Williams Museum and the Montgomery Zoo. For more information on these tickets, visit and scroll down to “Attraction Tickets.”

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

Submit by email:, or by mail: Whereville, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124.

Do you like finding interesting or unusual landmarks? Contribute a photo you took for an upcoming issue! Remember, all readers whose photos are chosen also win $25!

February’s answer: This sculpture, titled “Blue,” is made of granite and glass and stands at one of the entrances to the University of West Alabama in Livingston. Artist Antoinette Prien Schultze of Elliot, Maine, installed the sculpture in 2006. “I carved the sculpture in 2003 and feel the setting at UWA is perfect,” Schultze says in an email. “It is a heroic sculpture in form … I love the earthy primal presence of granite, coupled with the ethereal quality of the glass creating strength and fragility.”

You can snack healthfully!

Snacking has a bad reputation, but it can be an important part of a healthy diet. It comes down to choosing healthy snacks and watching portion sizes.

Here are five healthy workday snacks, courtesy of Live Well, Work Well:

• Almonds – 1.5 ounces, or about 35 nuts

• Greek yogurt parfait – one cup yogurt with ½ cup berries

• Berries and cheese – ½ cup berries with low-fat string cheese

• Apple and nut butter – one apple with one tablespoon nut butter

• Veggies and hummus – about eight baby carrots with four tablespoons hummus


In our February issue, the title of Wade Brown was incorrect in the story on pickleball. Brown’s title is director of tennis at the Montgomery Country Club.

10 MARCH 2023 Spotlight | March
(Photo by Allison Law of Alabama Living). The randomly drawn correct guess winner is Connie Marine of Livingston, Alabama.

Find the hidden dingbat!

Combine pickleball and Mardi Gras and what do you get? Last month’s hidden dingbat! Nearly 300 of you correctly found the green, gold and purple Mardi Gras beads on one of the pickleball rackets pictured on Page 13. Arina Ellard, age 15, of Foley, wrote us that she hadn’t looked for the monthly dingbat in a long time, but decided to give it a try. “When I saw that the dingbat was Mardi Gras beads, I thought to myself, ‘This is going to take me forever to find.’ Not even a second after turning the page, I spotted the beads on the guy’s racket and I couldn’t stop laughing for a good bit!” Jackie Jerrell told us that she “loves the intrigue” of finding the hidden object. “It really keeps your mind activated!” That’s the idea, Jackie!

Collen Dixon, a member of Pioneer EC in Selma, enjoyed bringing her grandchildren, Ava and Jordan, in on the search. “Like all children (they were) curious as to what I was doing,” so they started looking. “Both were so happy when we found this month’s dingbat. This is the first opportunity to search and (we) found it within five minutes of searching. A great bonding weekend.” Sherry Miller of Guntersville didn’t try to find the dingbat at first, thinking it was going to be too hard. But on her first look, she spotted it. “By the way,” she wrote, “I’m a pickleball player and I love it.” Thanks to all who entered, and congratulations to Regina Moore of Vinemont, a member of Cullman EC, our randomly drawn winner who wins a gift card from Alabama One Credit Union.

Remember (and thanks to reader Gail Stevens of Hanceville for her suggestion), the Dingbat will never be on Page 1-8 or in an advertisement. Good luck this month in finding the hidden crayon, in honor of National Crayon Day on March 31.

Take us along!

We’ve enjoyed seeing photos from our readers on their travels with Alabama Living! Please send us a photo of you with a copy of the magazine on your travels to: Be sure to include your name, hometown and electric cooperative, and the location of your photo.We’ll draw a winner for the $25 prize each month.

Ellie and Matthew Reed of Woodville and members of North Alabama EC, visited the National Cathedral in Washington, DC with their magazine during fall break last year.

Sponsored by

Liked pickleball cover (February 2023)

Pickleball shoes, sox, shirt & hat? Who knew! Paired with a delightful sloth wearing an ugly Christmas sweater, all sported by a true grit pickleballer fresh from knee replacement surgery? Now there’s an athlete completely devoted to his sport!! A true spokesperson (not to mention fashion guru) for all the pickleballers (and those who wish they were) out there just waiting for the winter weather to break to get back out on the courts and smash a few into the kitchen. Quick, where are the paddles? Grab the balls and bring on the sunshine! Whew! I’m building up a sweat just thinking about it.

Keep up the great work, S. Wolfe, Tallapoosa River EC

March | Spotlight E-mail us at: or write us at: Letters to the editor P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 Letters to the editor
Linda and Charles Green, from Scottsboro and members of Sand Mountain EC, took a 15-day European river cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam when this photo was taken at Bamberg, Germany. Donna Davis and Helen Hawkins of Arab and nine other family members visited Alaska.  They are shown at an overlook of a mountain range surrounded by Denali, Mt. Hunter, and other mountains. They are members of Arab EC. Kyn and Gail Pickett of Kinsey, members of Wiregrass EC, visited Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park with their magazine. They report, “We had cold weather and snow there while seeing the many scenic locations plus wildlife.” Wiregrass member Kris Flippo of Slocomb traveled to St. Lucia, West Indies, where he read his magazine at the Sandals La Toc. Tommy Wilkinson of Crane Hill took his copy along for a visit to Thomas Donuts in Laguna Beach, Florida. He’s a member of Cullman EC. Tommy, did you save us some?
Alabama Living MARCH 2023 11
Speaker Ledbetter brings co-op experience to the State House

Alabama’s recently elected Speaker of the House, Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, enjoyed a long career with Sand Mountain Electric Cooperative before he headed to Montgomery to represent parts of DeKalb County in the state’s House of Representatives.

“If you look at it, I was raised in the co-op,” Ledbetter says. “I started at such a young age there.”

When Ledbetter was a junior in high school, he got a job mowing the grass for the co-op. “After that I went to work with them full time.” He completed a four-year apprentice program to become a journeyman lineman, then pursued a certificate in field engineering and switched to that role. “Later on, I became a key accounts manager over our largest customers,” he says.

Ledbetter ultimately stayed with Sand Mountain Electric for 33 years before retiring and running for the House District 24 seat, which he won in 2014. During that same term, he pursued a leadership role with a run for majority leader in 2017. “I don’t think anybody expected that I would win,” he acknowledges. However, his colleagues voted him into this position, and he became the first freshman legislator to ever be elected to majority leader. He was reelected in 2018 and ultimately served in that role for six years.

When former Speaker Mac McCutcheon announced that he would not run for reelection, Ledbetter threw his hat in the ring to be his replacement. The Republican caucus nominated him for Speaker of the House in November 2022, and he was officially elected by the full membership on Jan. 10 at the start of the Legislature’s organizational session.

Leadership roles, Ledbetter says, give him an opportunity to have more influence in how the state progresses. “I think Alabama had been going in a good direction. The thing we looked at doing was to continue that direction and hope to continue to work to improve it,” he says. “I think we all want to see our state do better.”

Key topics await lawmakers

When the Alabama Legislature’s 2023 regular session begins on March 7, Ledbetter foresees that legislators will address several key topics.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, will be one of the issues on the front burner. “We’re losing too many young adults because of it. We need to make stricter laws to let people know that if they bring fentanyl into Alabama, they’re going to be punished to the point that they don’t want to do that,” Ledbetter says.

Education and mental health funding will continue to get attention, while adoption will be another area of focus. “We’ve got to clean up our adoption process and make it more fluid,” he says,

noting that 5,000 to 6,000 children in the state are without homes. A more fluid process, he says, “will give them a chance to be placed in caring and loving homes. I think that’s important for our state.”

The Legislature will also look at renewing the Alabama Jobs Act and the Growing Alabama Act. This legislation, originally passed in 2015 and renewed in 2021 to support economic development, is set to expire in 2023. “We’ve created over 65,000 jobs, netted over $45 billion in investment into our state because of the Alabama Jobs Act. I think that’s something we’ve got to pass.” The Jobs Act provides business incentives for qualifying projects locating or expanding in Alabama, while the Growing Alabama Act provides tax credits related to support for the qualifying projects of local economic development organizations. “It’s important that we renew those,” Ledbetter says.

Ledbetter’s presence at the Legislature is invaluable to the electric cooperatives of Alabama, says Sean Strickler, vice president of public affairs for the Alabama Rural Electric Association, which represents the state’s 22 electric cooperatives.

“The electric cooperative business isn’t a simple one and most elected officials need some insight from industry experts, but Ledbetter knows more about the cooperative way of thinking than me or most experts do because of his background. So if he feels there is an issue that will help or hurt the Cooperative he will search me out as often as I search him out.”

Serving in the House of Representatives is not Ledbetter’s first turn at elected office. He ran for Rainsville City Council when he was 23 years old, served three terms, then took a shot at the mayor’s office. He didn’t win, but earned the job in the next election when the incumbent chose not to run again. He served as Rainsville mayor until 2002 when he stepped down to move into management at Sand Mountain Electric Cooperative.

Ledbetter also delved into property development and other businesses. He and his wife, Teresa, bought a local newspaper and ran it for several years. “We kept trying to do different things, think out of the box, to keep it growing,” he says. They expanded it to Jackson County and added magazines and digital components before selling it to another newspaper owner.

Ledbetter’s primary career, however, has been at Sand Mountain EC, and he has high praise for how co-ops treat their customers and what he learned from that model.

“The customer relations with electric co-ops across the state of Alabama is as strong as any entity in our state,” he says. “Being reliable and dependable, knowing people can trust you … you learn some of that. It was a good process for me. It was good for my career to grow like I did in my company. We’ve had a lot of opportunities. We’ve been really, really blessed.”

Alabama Living MARCH 2023 13
Speaker Ledbetter sings with the Boys in the Band, an Alabama tribute band, at a reception following his investiture. PHOTO BY DAVID ROBERTSON

Electric co-ops benefit from connections in the Legislature

House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, isn’t the only elected official with connections to the electric cooperative community. Two state representatives and one state senator also have strong relationships with the co-op world.

State Rep. Donna Givens, R-Loxley, had a 47-year career with Baldwin EMC before she retired to run for the House District 64 seat and represent central Baldwin County.

After her high school graduation, Givens began working parttime at the drive-up window to fill in for an employee out on maternity leave. When the new mother elected not to return, Givens was asked if she wanted to stay on the job at the co-op. Because this would mean adjusting her plans for college, she had a big decision to make.

“My daddy said, ‘What better place could you work once you finish your degree? You’ve got the ideal place.’” She took the job, adding, “I did my schooling at night.”

Givens served in a number of roles, including keypunch operator, collections and special projects. In 1998, she took on a newly created position in governmental affairs.

“This was new for Baldwin EMC and the state of Alabama,” she says. Though there’d been a statewide governmental affairs position with the Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives (AREA), which publishes Alabama Living, Givens explained that Baldwin EMC was the first co-op to create the position at the local level. The job was a great fit for her, she says. “I loved it up until the day I retired.”

With her November 2022 election to the House of Representatives, Givens believes her service to constituents will benefit from the great relationships she’s built in her community and in the Legislature, as well as her background in economic development.

State Rep. Van Smith, R-Clanton, is a retired educator first elected to the House of Representatives in 2019 to fill an unfinished term for House District 42, which covers parts of Chilton and Autauga counties. He was elected to his first full term this past November. He has served on the board of trustees for Central Alabama Electric Cooperative since 1994 and, as an extension of that service, he has filled terms on both the PowerSouth and AREA boards.

Smith says his respect for co-op trustees began when he was a young educator teaching agriculture at Selma High School. “I saw young people who were getting to go to leadership workshops provided by our electric co-op,” he says. His exposure to youth tour plus other leadership workshops made an impression.

14 MARCH 2023
Donna Givens thanks the Alabama Rural Electric Association for presenting her with the Jack Jenkins Award in 2018 for her service to electric cooperatives. Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter addresses the House of Representatives after his election.

Historical legacy

While helping photographer Bryan Carter set up a cover photo shoot for this month’s article on House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter, Alabama Living editor Lenore Vickrey pulled a random book from the historical volumes stored on the shelves of the speaker’s office in the Alabama State Capitol. It was a compilation of the “General Laws of the Legislature of Alabama” passed during the sessions of 1947. Ledbetter was happy to pose with the volume at his ceremonial desk, and curiously opened the book to the first page. Something caught his eye: “Look at this,” he said, pointing to a name on the first page. “There’s the last speaker from DeKalb County, W. M. Beck.” Irony? Maybe so. Rep. Beck, who was from Ft. Payne, indeed served as speaker from 1947 to 1951, during James E. “Big Jim” Folsom’s first term as governor. Seventy-six years later, another DeKalb County native is proud to carry on the legacy representing his home district while also leading the Alabama House, just as his predecessor did seven decades ago.

Later, when he became principal at Billingsley School, he says, “We were recommending young people to go to those workshops as well.”

As he learned more about the co-op, he said he admired the trustees’ willingness to serve. “When I was given the opportunity to do that, I was thankful to be considered,” Smith says.

Smith also sees ways he is bringing his co-op experience to the State House. “The opportunity to do things that benefit the entire group – that’s the cooperative way,” Smith says. “We band together for the benefit of all.”

Noting that cooperatives work to keep the quality of power high and the cost as low as possible, he believes that mindset can be useful as elected officials look for what can benefit the state. “Yet we want to do it at a cost that doesn’t penalize anyone.”

In the upper chamber, state Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville, elected in 2014 to the District 30 seat, also has co-op ties. Earlier in his career, Chambliss was working as an engineering consultant in Montgomery, and Central Alabama Electric Cooperative was one of his clients. Among his projects, he worked on preliminary layouts during the initial stages of developing Interstate Business Park, a commercial and retail development in Pine Level.

Later, he was invited to join the staff, and his role expanded into manager of business and community development. He worked for the co-op for several years prior to launching his own firm, Chambliss Engineering, in 2002. Even then, he continued to have a relationship with CAEC while he was serving on the Autauga County Commission. His first of three terms began in 1996, and he served as chairman from 2000 until 2008.

One takeaway from his experience with CAEC, Chambliss says, is the knowledge he gained about the district he represents, which currently covers areas of Autauga, Elmore, Chilton and Coosa counties. “I was able to learn the communities of four primary counties that the co-op serves and the people of the communities and the needs. Then it so happens the district I was in changed, and it was a very close resemblance of the co-op’s territory,” he says.

“What it also helped me see was the wide-ranging needs of my district – which has some of the fastest growing areas (as well as) areas that struggle. I have all of that in my district, and those needs are very, very different.”

This insight into the people and places of the communities he represents “has been invaluable,” he says.

16 MARCH 2023
Sen. Clyde Chambliss speaks to Baldwin EMC Board Chairman Peggy Vanover Barnes after participating in a legislative panel during a past Alabama Rural Electric Association Summer Conference. Rep. Van Smith has served on the board of Central Alabama Electric Cooperative since 1994. PHOTO BY CARTER PHOTOGRAPHY & DESIGN Ledbetter points out a familiar name to editor Lenore Vickrey.
Alabama Living MARCH 2023 17

Chef and son put a New Orleans spin on classic fare

“Ilike playing with my food; I love trying new things and putting a new spin on classic dishes,” says JP Pendergrass, chef and owner of Gadsden’s JP & Son Café. With a rambunctious combo of bouncy zydeco tunes and the clinking forks of a full dining room in the background, he’s explaining the inspiration behind his eatery’s menu, which features a mix of New Orleans’ mainstays and his personal twists on the city’s culinary traditions.

And he’s not riffing on his own. As the restaurant’s name implies, his son Corrigan is beside him in the kitchen. “We play off each other with ideas, and we’re having fun,” Pendergrass says. “I hope we can build a real legacy here.”

Legacy may be a strong word for a spot still in its infancy; it

celebrates six months of being open in April. But the crowds filling the small space, including repeat diners, are an equally strong and positive indication that Pendergrass is not wrong to think about the Café’s future. They’re lured by the Ragin’ Cajun Reuben, house-brined and smoked pastrami that’s sliced, mounded with Creole-mustard-based slaw and stuffed between toasted rye; wings rubbed with a blend of Cajun spices, smoked then fried and served with a sweet barbecue sauce for dipping; the Conecuh-beef mix patty of the Who Dat burger that’s smothered in Creole cream sauce and dusted with crushed Zydeco chips; and Pendergrass’ salad version of a signature Big Easy sandwich.

“The muffuletta salad is just all the great layers of the sandwich minus the bread,” he says. A drizzle of house-made pepper bacon

| Worth the drive |
18 MARCH 2023
Fried green tomatoes over corn succotash with Creole cream sauce for dipping.
Alabama Living MARCH 2023 19

vinaigrette complements the salt and tart of the salad’s chopped olive mix, taking things to a tangy new level of tastiness.

In a recent visit to the eatery, every plate in sight was cleaned of its generous portions, and yet, JP & Son does a brisk dessert business too. Pendergrass’ Rum Runner Banana Pudding, his mashup of an Alabama favorite with a NOLA standard, claimed best-seller status almost as soon as it hit the menu. “I wanted to deviate from regular Alabama banana pudding, so I infuse the pudding with rum and raisins, and I then make my own pecan shortbread cookies to replace the ‘nilla wafers,” Pendergrass says. “The result is kind of a cross of banana pudding and bread pudding.”

So far, every offering has found some fans, but the most popular dish is the gumbo; the restaurant goes through 50 gallons a week. “Mine is a blend of Cajun and Creole gumbo styles — it’s started with a roux but has okra too and tomatoes — so it’s my take on gumbo.” Working with both Cajun and Creole flavors feels natural to JP, who grew up right outside New Orleans. “It’s my roots; I just love to eat this kind of food and cook this type of food,” he says.

Starting young

JP & Son may be Pendergrass’ first foray into restaurant ownership, but he’s been in the culinary world for decades. Or longer, if you count his childhood kitchen adventures.

“I’ve always known I wanted to be in food,” he says. “I played ‘chef’ as a kid. I’d write out a menu and have my family order from it, then I’d make what they ordered.” And while some kids were out riding bikes or making mud pies on Saturdays, Pendergrass was trying out kinds of cheesecake. “I loved to make cheesecake and experiment with varieties, so that’s what I’d do on the weekends.” He decided against the culinary school path and instead learned on the job, moving to California and working in some of the Golden State’s finest restaurants, including San Francisco’s House of Prime Rib. He and his then-teenage son moved back South and to Gadsden in 2012, where he began working for a new barbecue joint in town, Local Joe’s, helping it start its catering business.

After a short stint at a now-shuttered fine dining spot downtown, he returned to Local Joe’s and oversaw all its catering work. The owner was well aware of Pendergrass’ skills and encouraged him to put them to use working for himself. “He said I should I open my own place, and then this building (JP & Son’s location), which had been a Local Joe’s location, came open, and I knew it was time,” Pendergrass says. “I asked my son if he’d join me, and he said yes, so coming up with the name was easy.”

Everything else has been a bit more work, but so far, things are going “really great,” says Pendergrass. “The community is supporting us.” And not just in the cafe. Pendergrass is taking advantage of his catering knowledge, providing his Cajun-Creole dishes for a variety of events and occasions. He offers private chef dinners too and has plans to do more in 2023.

“We’ll be adding more specials at dinner, and we’ll be staying open later on Friday and Saturday nights,” he says. “We have to, to accommodate demand. I think people are enjoying what we’re doing here.”

20 MARCH 2023
JP & Son Café
1640 AL-77 Southside,
Southside l
Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4 p.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday
J.P. Pendergrass, chef and owner of JP & Son, brings his New Orleans area roots to his Southside restaurant. Muffuletta salad topped with Cajun blackened chicken and pepper bacon vinaigrette.
Alabama Living MARCH 2023 21

Leading the charge on electric vehicles

Michael Staley is president of the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition (ACFC), a non-profit dedicated to reducing American dependence on foreign oil by supporting efforts to expand markets for alternative transportation fuels and advanced technology vehicles. Staley says fuels such as electricity, propane, and natural gas can reduce transportation costs for businesses and consumers and deliver better air quality for communities.

With so much recent development in the electric vehicle (EV) market, we asked Staley to explain why families and businesses should consider their EV options next time they are purchasing a new or used vehicle.

Tell us a little about your growing-up years, career and family.

I grew up in Memphis, attended Mississippi State for two years, and then graduated from the UAB School of Business in 2003. Congressman Spencer Bachus hired me straight out of college, and I was honored to serve as his chief of staff from 2007 until his 2014 retirement from Congress. I will always be thankful to Spencer for enabling me to work at the highest level where business, government, and society intersect in our country. Out of that experience, I have committed my career to serving clients I believe in and can defend to my family and my friends. My wife, Kate, is currently taking time away from her job as a nurse practitioner to be a fulltime mom to our son Ryan, who turns three in May.

How did you get involved with the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition?

The Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition was an organization that I became familiar with while working for Congressman Bachus, so I had my first periodic interactions with the group and its leaders in that capacity. Our conversations always challenged the stereotypi cal expectations of an air quality advocacy organization in the halls of Congress. As a congressional staffer, I traveled to many foreign countries and witnessed first-hand the impacts of uncontrolled emissions on public health and the environment.

ACFC leaders came across to me as genuinely caring about bringing people together to advance domestic air quality through common sense solutions. When I was approached years later to lead the organization, I saw it as an opportunity to improve my community by promoting transportation efficiency; to help save people and businesses money using advanced technology; and to strengthen Alabama’s capacity for economic growth and vitality, particularly in the transportation sector.

What strides have you seen in the electric car industry in Alabama?

Three major forces are at play when we talk about electric vehi cles in Alabama. They are our state economy, politics, and EV tech nology. First, as a top automotive manufacturing state, Alabama is on the leading edge of automotive research and development in a world that is embracing electric transportation. Second, people of ten write off electric vehicles as some far-fetched progressive pipe dream, but further investigation reveals something much different from opinions shaped in the political arena. Donald Trump, not Joe Biden, was president in 2017. That was the same year Mercedes announced more than $1 billion investment to build EVs and EV batteries in Alabama.

In supporting EV technology, Alabama leaders are responding to automakers who are major job creators, not politics, and this will keep our state competitive at the top of the list of American automobile manufacturing and exporting states for the next gen eration at least.

What’s the one thing people need to think about when considering how an electric car may fit into their life?

Don’t let your mind get stuck on early EV models that topped out with less than 100 miles of range and often looked like a car you’d expect to see at the circus. If you have a house with electricity, recognize that you have a very low-cost vehicle fueling station at home. If your employer offers charging, that might be free! Electricity also has very low price volatility.

EV fuel efficiency ranges from 2 miles per kilowatt hour (kWh) for a pickup truck to 5 miles per kWh for some of the most efficient models. Charging a 2mi/kWh electric pickup truck at home will cost around 7 cents per mile. For comparison, an 18MPG gasoline truck will cost about 18 cents per mile to fuel when gasoline prices are around $3.30 per gallon. EVs don’t need $75 oil changes or $250 transmission services, either. If you are worried about EV battery life, ask your dealership about EV warranties. Lastly, find out if there are tax incentives to install a charger at home or to purchase an EV which could sweeten the deal even more.

Is Alabama in good shape to provide the infrastructure needed to power all the electric cars anticipated in the coming 5 to 10 years?

22 MARCH 2023 | Alabama People | Michael Staley
Alabama Living MARCH 2023 23 5 21 20 19 18 17 17 16 15 14 11 11 9 7 6 5 5 4 35 34 33 32 31 30 30 3 29 29 28 28 27 26 25 25 24 23 23 22 22 22 21 21 20 2 19 18 17 17 16 15 14 14 14 13 12 11 11 10 1 Alabama’s 2023 State Senate and House of Representatives and their respective legislative district numbers are shown on the following three pages. A listing of all senators and representatives by electric cooperative is on Page 26. Senate To contact Senators: (334) 261-0800 or President Pro Tempore

House of Representatives

To contact Representatives: (334) 261-0500 or

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Alabama Living MARCH 2023 25 99 98 97 96 94 64 100 104 103 101 101 102 102 105 42 88 78 77 76 75 74 69 69 31 31 49 42 42 33 80 99 98 97 96 95 94 93 92 92 91 90 90 90 89 89 88 87 86 85 83 83 84 82 81 79 78 77 76 75 74 72 71 71 69 69 69 68 68 67 66 66 65 65 65 64 38 38 37 31 31 100 104 103 101 101 102 102 105
Map Provided by: Speaker of the House


26 MARCH 2023
Arab Electric Cooperative Inc Senator Arthur Orr 3 Clay Scofield 9 Garlan Gudger 4 Representative Scott Stadthagen 9 Wesley Kitchens 27 Randall Shedd 11 Franklin Electric Cooperative Senator Representative Larry Stutts 6 Jamie Glenn Kiel 18 Clarke-Washington EMC Senator Greg Albritton 22 Rob Stewart 23 Representative Brett Easterbrook 65 Kelvin J. Lawrence 69 Thomas Jackson 68 Baldwin EMC Senator Greg Albritton 22 Chris Elliott 32 Rob Stewart 23 Vivian Davis Figures 33 Representative Donna Givens 64 Jennifer Fidler 94 Brett Easterbrook 65 Frances Holk-Jones 95 Alan Baker 66 Matt Simpson 96 Thomas Jackson 68 Shane Stringer 102 Covington EC Senator Will Barfoot 25 Josh Carnley 31 Donnie Chesteen 29 Representative Jeff Sorrells 87 Rhett Marques 91 Chris Sells 90 Matthew Hammett 92 Black Warrior EMC Senator Gerald Allen 21 Rob Stewart 23 Greg Albritton 22 Bobby Singleton 24 Representative Ron Bolton 61 Thomas Jackson 68 Bill Lamb 62 Kelvin J. Lawrence 69 Brett Easterbrook 65 A J McCampbell 71 Prince Chestnut 67 Curtis Travis 72 Joe Wheeler EMC Senator Arthur Orr 3 Larry Stutts 6 Garlan Gudger 4 Representative Parker Moore 4 Scott Stadthagen 9 Ernie Yarbrough 7 Randall Shedd 11 Terri Collins 8 Cullman EC Senator Arthur Orr 3 Garlan Gudger 4 Representative Ernie Yarbrough 7 Corey Harbison 12 Scott Stadthagen 9 Tim Wadsworth 14 Randall Shedd 11 Sand Mountain EC Senator Steve Livingston 8 Clay Scofield 9 Andrew Jones 10 Representative Nathaniel Ledbetter 24 Ginny Shaver 39 Wesley Kitchens 27 Wiregrass EC Senator Billy Beasley 28 Josh Carnley 31 Donnie Chesteen 29 Representative Rick Rehm 85 Rhett Marques 91 Paul Lee 86 Steve Clouse 93 Jeff Sorrells 87 South Alabama EC Senator Will Barfoot 25 Josh Carnley 31 Billy Beasley 28 Representative Kelvin J. Lawrence 69 Chris Sells 90 Berry Forte 84 Rhett Marques 91 Wes Allen 89 Southern Pine EC Senator Greg Albritton 22 Jimmy Holley 31 Rob Stewart 23 Representative Brett Easterbrook 65 Chris Sells 90 Alan Baker 66 Mike Jones 92 Thomas Jackson 68 Tombigbee EC Senator Garlan Grudger 4 Greg Reed 5 Representative Tim Wadsworth 14 Tracy Estes 17 Kyle South 16 Cherokee EC Senator Andrew Jones 10 Keith Kelley 12 Representative Mack Butler 29 Ginny Shaver 39 Marshall DeKalb EC Senator Clay Scofield 9 Andrew Jones 10 Representative Brock Colvin 26 Mark Gidley 29 Wesley Kitchens 27 Ginny Shaver 39 Pioneer EC Senator Rob Stewart 23 Will Barfoot 25 Representative Prince Chestnut 67 Chris Sells 90 Kelvin J. Lawrence 69 North Alabama EC Senator Steve Livingston 8 Clay Scofield 9 Representative Ritchie Whorton 22 Wesley Kitchens 27 Mike Kirkland 23 Pea River EC Senator Billy Beasley 28 Jimmy Holley 31 Donnie Chesteen 29 Representative Berry Forte 84 Marcus Paramore 89 Rick Rehm 85 Steve Clouse 93 Coosa Valley EC Senator Lance Bell 11 Randy Price 13 Keith Kelley 12 Representative Mark Gidley 29 Randy Wood 36 Craig Lipscomb 30 Corley Ellis 41 Barbara Boyd 32 Susan DuBose 45 Ben Robbins 33 Jim Hill 50 Steve Hurst 35 Central Alabama EC Senator April Weaver 14 Tom Whatley 25 Rob Stewart 23 Clyde Chambliss 30 Representative Troy Stubbs 31 Kelvin J. Lawrence 69 Ben Robbins 33 Reed Ingram 75 Van Smith 42 Ed Oliver 81 Russell Bedsole 49 Jerry Starnes 88 Prince Chestnut 67 Dixie EC Senator Will Barfoot 25 Jay Hovey 27 Kirk Hatcher 26 Billy Beasley 28 Representative Reed Ingram 75 Pebblin Warren 82 Patrice McClammy 76 Jeremy Gray 83 Joe Lovvorn 79 Berry Forte 84 Ed Oliver 81 Tallapoosa River EC Senator Randy Price 13 Billy Beasley 28 Jay Hovey 27 Representative Steve Hurst 35 Chris Blackshear 80 Bob Fincher 37 Ed Oliver 81 Debbie Wood 38 Jeremy Gray 83 Joe Lovvorn 79 Berry Forte 84 TO CONTACT LEGISLATORS Email via | House: (334) 261-0500 | Senate: (334) 261-0800 District District District District District District

Slam the scam: How to spot government imposters

Do you know how to spot a government imposter scam?

Knowing how to identify potential scammers will help safeguard your personal information.

There are common elements to many of these scams. Scammers often exploit fears and threaten you with arrest or legal action. Scammers also pose as Social Security or other government employees and claim there’s a problem with your Social Security number (SSN) or your benefits. They may even claim your SSN is linked to a crime.

When you identify a potential scammer:

Hang up right away or ignore the message.

Never give personal information or money.

Report the scam immediately to our Office of the Inspector General at

If you owe money to Social Security, we’ll mail you a letter with

payment options and appeal rights. We only accept payments electronically through, Online Bill Pay, or physically by check or money order through our offices.

We will never do the following:

Threaten you with arrest or legal action because you don’t agree to pay us money immediately.

Promise a benefit increase in exchange for money.

Ask you to send us gift cards, prepaid debit cards, wire transfers, internet currency, cryptocurrency, or cash through the U.S. mail.

Scammers continue to evolve and find new ways to steal your money and personal information. Please stay vigilant and help raise awareness about Social Security-related scams and other government imposter scams. For more information on scams, please visit

Tell your friends and family about government imposter scams. Let them know they don’t have to be embarrassed to report if they shared personal financial information or suffered a financial loss. The important thing is to report the scam right away.

Together, we can “Slam the Scam!”

Answers on Page 29 March
Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at
Across 1 Traditional Irish musical gathering 5 Rainy 8 Green color associated with Ireland 10 Long stories 11 Runs into 15 Remove 17 Samuel’s teacher, in the Old Testament 18 Large shade tree 20 “Dubliners” author 21 Irish trait in an often used phrase 22 Old time you 23 Golf starting point 24 Like the Cliffs of Moher 27 Young sprigs that are Irish symbols 30 Irish television 32 White wine aperitif 33 Drink with rice 34 “In Dublin’s fair city, Where the girls are so _____” Down 1 Irish ____ liqueur 2 Cocktail addition 3 Artisanal beer letters 4 Concealed 5 Popular drink on Saint Patrick’s Day 6 Turn over the salad 7 Irish symbol with a sun in the middle of it, 2 words 9 Truck track 12 Iconic Celtic singer 13 Observe 14 Irish novelist Oscar 16 Elevated railway, for short 19 The first woman to become President of Ireland, ___ Robinson 20 Happiness 23 Number of leaves in a shamrock 25 Blarney stone location 26 Traditional Irish instrument 27 Atmosphere, from earth 28 Maui’s state, abbr. 29 Garfield, for one 31 “Father ___” : Irish comedy

Around Alabama



3 Montgomery Alabama History Day, Auburn University at Montgomery, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Each fall and winter, middle and high school students statewide research historical topics of interest. They present their findings in the spring at history day, as papers, documentaries, websites, dramatic performances or visual exhibits.

3-4 Monroeville Monroeville Literary Festival. Formerly the Alabama Writers Symposium, this annual event brings many of the state’s most distinguished writers and scholars for two days of readings, workshops and discussions for all ages. A project of the Monroe County Museum, the festival features several awards, including two named for Monroe County’s most celebrated writers – Harper Lee and Truman Capote. Many events are free; visit for a full schedule.

3-5 Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee, commemorating the 58th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the Selma to Montgomery march and the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Dozens of activities all weekend, including a parade, battle of the bands, public conversations, film screenings, a unity breakfast, vote march and rally, gospel concert and awards ceremony. For details, visit or call 334-526-2626.

4 Evergreen 7th annual Collard Green Festival, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Activities for all ages, including vendors, a steak cookoff and a collard green and corn bread cookoff. A car show will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Evergreen Regional Airport.

11-12 Orange Beach Festival of Art at Waterfront Park on Canal Road, beginning at 10 a.m. Visual, performing, musical and culinary arts will be celebrated, with more than 100 vendors displaying a variety of media. Also a kids’ art alley, a culinary arts court with local fare, and a music and songwriters’ stage. 251-981-2787 or email artcenter@

18 Dothan Spring Farm Day at Landmark Park, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Enjoy the sights and sounds of life on the farm in the 1890s. Try your hand at churning butter, plowing with horses and mules and other farm chores. Arts and crafts, wagon rides, music, antique tractors, kids’ activities, farm animals and food vendors. Adults $10; seniors and military $8; kids $6; park members and children 2 and under free.

24-25 Pine Apple Wilcox Historical Society’s annual tour of homes. The keynote speaker at the welcome reception on March 24 is the Right Honorable Countess of Carnarvon of Highclere Castle in Hampshire, England. Highclere is known as the setting for the PBS series “Downton Abbey;” since 2001, the countess and her husband, Geordie, the 8th Earl of Carnarvon, have lived and maintained the 5,000-acre estate. The tour on Saturday will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and feature 10 homes, two churches and other historic sites. or 256-975-7616.


Winfield The Pastime Theatre 2023 concert season continues with The Kentucky Headhunters. 1052 U.S. Highway 43. Tickets are $35. Doors open at 6 p.m., with show at 7 p.m. Search for The Pastime Theatre on Facebook or call 205-487-3002.


Gulf Shores Ballyhoo Festival, Gulf State Park, 20115 State Park Road. This fine arts festival and cultural exchange features local seafood and live music. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Sponsored by the Gulf Coast Arts Alliance.


Ozark Crawdad and Music Festival, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. This annual event celebrates the history of the city and region, featuring the area’s most famous regional dish as well as local music acts throughout the day. Pony rides, bouncy houses, petting zoos and more for children. Arts and crafts and festival foods. 334-774-2618.

1, 15, 22, 29 Pell City Walking tours through downtown Pell City sponsored by the Pell City Historical Society. First tours begin at 10 a.m. each Saturday in April (except Easter weekend). Register at City Hall, 1905 1st Ave. North. The 11th annual statewide walking tours are promoted by the Alabama Tourism Department. Follow the Pell City Historical Society Facebook page for more information.

3 Pell City Pell City History Day at the municipal complex, 1000 Bruce Etheredge Parkway, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. For more information on this meet and greet, follow the Pell City Historical Society Facebook page.

15-16 Decatur Morgan County Master Gardeners’ annual plant sale, Point Mallard Pavilion. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. MorganCountyMasterGardeners@gmail. com

22-23 Enterprise Piney Woods Arts Festival, Enterprise State Community College. This juried arts and crafts show features more than 50 vendors, including artists, jewelry makers, dancers, poets and musicians, plus food trucks, a Civil War living display, a children’s fun center and car and truck show. Free. Sponsored by the Coffee County Arts Alliance. 334-406-2787 or visit

29 Cullman Relay for Life, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Depot Park. All are invited to support the fight against cancer.

Answers to puzzle on Page 28


Greenville Alabama Medieval Fantasy Festival, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 4776 Fort Dale Road. Pageantry and history come to life with hundreds of costumed characters recreating a 9th century village. Enjoy music, comedy and theatre, food and drink, handmade arts and crafts, historical artisan demonstrations and games.

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.

Follow Alabama Living on Twitter @Alabama_Living

Alabama Living MARCH 2023 29
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Many activities during the Monroeville Literary Festival take place in the courtroom of the Old Courthouse Museum. (contributed photo)

Popping into gardens: A new take on garden tours

something to see in a garden,” Clemmons says, which is why she intentionally schedules tours in the off-season, often returning to previous tour sites to see how the landscape has changed.

Still another perk of the tours is that hosts are often generous with plant material, sending “free samples” home with the participants.

LCMGA’s pop-up tours are intended to be free educational and social opportunities for their Master Gardeners and Friends of Master Gardeners members and interns as well as their family and friends. (LCMGA’s biennial garden tour, which will be held this year on May 13, is their primary fundraiser.) However, other groups could easily monetize the concept or adapt it to fit their specific needs and goals.

Pop-up shops — temporary stores that spring up in unexpected places — have become quite popular in the retail world, and now the concept is also all the rage among a group of gardeners.

That group, the Lee County Master Gardeners of Alabama, has been using the pop-up model for several years to host local garden tours aimed at helping members share their gardens with one another. In late 2020, interest in these events burgeoned as the group, though still cautious about COVID 19 exposure, became increasingly keen on reconnecting with one another in person.

Gardens provided the perfect venue — outside with room to socially distance — and by using an online scheduling service (SignUpGenius), attendance could be controlled to avoid overcrowding. Tours were also limited to one or two hours on a single day, which meant neither hosts nor attendees had to commit long periods of time to participate in the events.

LCMGA member Carol Clemmons so loved the casual and educational aspects of the tours that, shortly after earning her Master Gardener certificate in 2020, she volunteered to serve as the pop-up tour

event coordinator.

Clemmons was soon recruiting more and more of her fellow LCMGA members to host tours, which sometimes took a little wheedling because many feared their gardens weren’t polished enough to be tour worthy.

“Those are exactly the gardens we wanted,” Clemmons says, explaining that one of the delights of the pop-up tours has been to see gardens as works-in-progress. And, once members began to see each other’s gardens, more and more were willing to participate as hosts.

The result is that, from late 2020 to fall of 2022, LCMGA hosted 24 tours featuring a diverse array of garden styles — from traditional to naturalized to cottage and more. On those tours, visitors have been able to experience a wide range of plants including daylilies, hydrangeas, trilliums, maples, vegetables and fruits in their prime.

They’ve also been able to see how fellow gardeners creatively incorporate everything from honeybees and chickens to original art into their garden spaces and learn how they deal with pests and other gardening challenges.

A big advantage of pop-up events is that they can be scheduled on the spur of the moment as plants come into their full glory. And the tours can be held year-round. “No matter the season, there is always

“The tours have been a wonderful way to promote learning and fellowship,” Clemmons says. “And they are so much fun!” For those and many other reasons, she encouraged other groups to embrace the concept.

By the way, from now through the fall many of the state’s public gardens and gardening organizations will be hosting garden tours, so be on the lookout for additional opportunities to pop into or linger in local gardens. Or simply invite your own friends and neighbors to pop over and see your garden. You and they will be happy you shared!


 Sow seed for carrots, beets and most leafy greens.

 Start seed indoors for tomatoes and peppers.

 Plant summer-blooming bulbs.

 For the healthiest transplants, try to buy them as soon as they arrive at the store.

 Plant warm season annual flowers.

 Divide perennials such as hostas, chrysanthemums and daylilies.

 Prepare gardening tools and equipment for the coming season.

 Check irrigation systems for leaks and broken parts before using.

 Keep an eye out for local plant sales and other gardening events.

 Keep bird baths and feeders clean and filled.

 Visit for detailed gardening tips and planting dates.

30 MARCH 2023 | Gardens |
Katie Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at Jesse Chappell, far right, is one of several Lee County Master Gardeners who host pop-up garden tours throughout the year. The gardens range from formal to naturalized and some, such as the one Jesse and his wife Sherry tend, represent the finest in “edible” landscapes. These pop-up tours provide members frequent opportunities to see what’s growing, and in this case buzzing, in one another’s gardens. PHOTO BY CAROL CLEMMONS
Alabama Living MARCH 2023 31

Spring brings renewal of fish stocks through spawning

As spring approaches and water begins to warm, fish prepare for their annual rituals that renew life and restock waterways. Each species spawns a little differently at varied times.

Everything depends upon water temperature. Not all waters warm at the same rate and not all fish even of the same species spawn at the same time in any given waterbody. On a massive and complex system like a major river watershed or a large impoundment like Lake Guntersville, the same species could spawn in one cove today and not in a nearby cove for weeks.

“Fish don’t all spawn at the same time,” says Phil Ekema, an Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division biologist in Tanner. “Fish could spawn at different times in different parts of the same lake. That’s nature’s way to ensure the survival of the species. If they all spawned at the same time and something happened, they could have a failed year class that decimates the population.”

Rivers that carry water down from the north tend to run colder so the tributaries and shallow backwaters warm fastest. Therefore, fish might spawn in an oxbow lake weeks earlier than those in the main river channel. Depending upon water levels, temperatures and species, the “spawning season” could last for months.

Among freshwater fish, a more northern species accustomed to colder temperatures, smallmouth bass spawn around deeper rocky outcroppings, logs and other cover when water temperatures reach about reach 59 to 63 degrees. In the Tennessee River system, smallies usually spawn from late March through May.

Crappie spawn when water temperatures reach 60 to 65 degrees. Spawning begins in March but could extend into May. Crappie normally spawn in coves with gravel bottoms about two to four feet deep, possibly out to eight feet. On river systems, crappie might spawn on ledges in 14 to 15 feet of water.

Before moving shallow, crappie gather in deep staging areas near creek mouths and other channels. When water warms sufficiently, males move into shallow water to look for bedding spots.

Crappie don’t make traditional beds like many other fish. Instead, males collectively clear out a place near a stump, fallen tree or some other type of woody cover to protect themselves and their offspring from predators. Then, they wait for the females to arrive. Extremely prolific, each female crappie could produce between 5,000 and 40,000 eggs. Eggs hatch in about two or three days. Parents don’t defend the eggs or fry.

Largemouth bass begin spawning when water temperatures reach about 65 to 68 degrees. They like water two to four feet deep with sandy or gravel bottoms around weeds, flooded brush, fallen trees, docks or other cover. Male bass head shallow first. They use their lower jaws as pivot points and rotate themselves with their tails to scour out saucer-shaped nests. Females arrive about two to three weeks later.

Eggs hatch in eight to 10 days. Male bass guarding the nests eat very little, but they vigorously defend their eggs and young against a multitude of predators until fry reach about a half-inch long. Then, the male drives off the young bass by eating some. A male largemouth might spawn with multiple females over several months.

Like bass, bluegills and other bream species hollow out dish-shaped depressions in sandy or gravel bottoms in one to three feet of water. Bream frequently return to the same bedding grounds each year.

Redear sunfish, also called shellcrackers, spawn in the spring and the fall. In the spring, redears start spawning when water temperatures reach about 75 degrees. Bluegills follow when water temperatures hit about 80 degrees. A bluegill might spawn every 28 days as long as water temperatures stay comfortable. Spawning often lasts into the fall.

Catfish wait until late spring or summer for their annual reproductive ritual. Blue and channel cats begin spawning when water temperatures reach about 70 degrees, but spawning peaks when water warms to 80 to 84 degrees. These species begin spawning in May but could continue through August. Flathead catfish normally spawn in June or July.

All catfish species deposit eggs in nests, but they look for cavities rather than build their own beds. Cats might deposit their eggs in hollow hogs, crannies in rocks, under root masses, holes in undercut banks or even such things as buckets or tires on the bottom. When spawning, catfish seldom bite baits, but some people yank catfish from their cavities with their hands.

32 MARCH 2023 | Outdoors |
John N. Felsher is a professional freelance writer who lives in Semmes, Ala. He also hosts an outdoors tips show for WAVH FM Talk 106.5 radio station in Mobile, Ala. Contact him at j.felsher@ or through Facebook. Amy Gable shows off a bluegill she caught out of a bed while fishing a river backwater. Bluegills and other panfish species hollow out depressions in the bottom for nests in which to lay their eggs. They vigorously guard their nests and attack anything that might pose a threat to the offspring. PHOTO BY JOHN N. FELSHER


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Alabama Living MARCH 2023 33
2023 EXCELLENT TIMES MOON STAGE GOOD TIMES MARCH A.M. PM AM PM Fr 17 7:42 - 9:42 8:06 - 10:06 2:09 - 3:39 2:33 - 4:03 Sa 18 8:30 - 10:30 8:54 - 10:54 2:57 - 4:27 3:21 - 4:51 Su 19 9:18 - 11:18 9:42 - 11:42 3:45 - 5:15 4:09 - 5:39 Mo 20 10:06 - 12:06 10:30 - 12:30 4:33 - 6:03 4:57 - 6:27 Tu 21 NA 12:06 - 2:06 NEW MOON 6:09 - 7:39 6:33 - 8:03 We 22 12:30 - 2:30 12:54 - 2:54 6:57 - 8:27 7:21 - 8:51 Th 23 1:18 - 3:18 1:42 - 3:42 7:45 - 9:15 8:09 - 9:39 Fr 24 2:06 - 4:06 2:30 - 4:30 8:33 - 10:03 8:57 - 10:27 Sa 25 2:54 - 4:54 3:18 - 5:18 9:21 - 10:51 9:45 - 11:15 Su 26 3:42 - 5:42 4:06 - 6:06 10:09 - 11:39 10:33 - 12:03 Mo 27 4:30 - 6:30 4:54 - 6:54 10:57 - 12:27 11:21 - 12:51 Tu 28 5:18 - 7:18 5:42 - 7:42 NA 12:09 - 1:39 We 29 6:06 - 8:06 6:30 - 8:30 12:33 - 2:03 12:57 - 2:27 Th 30 6:54 - 8:54 7:18 - 9:18 1:21 - 2:51 1:45 - 3:15 Fr 31 7:42 - 9:42 8:06 - 10:06 2:09 - 3:39 2:33 - 4:03 APRIL A.M. PM AM PM Sa 1 8:30 - 10:30 8:54 - 10:54 2:57 - 4:27 3:21 - 4:51 Su 2 9:18 - 11:18 9:42 - 11:42 3:45 - 5:15 4:09 - 5:39 Mo 3 10:06 - 12:06 10:30 - 12:30 4:33 - 6:03 4:57 - 6:27 Tu 4 10:54 - 12:54 11:18 - 1:18 5:21 - 6:51 5:45 - 7:15 We 5 11:18 - 1:18 11:42 - 1:42 5:48 - 7:18 6:11 - 7:41 Th 6 NA 12:06 - 2:06 FULL MOON 6:09 - 7:39 6:33 - 8:03 Fr 7 12:30 - 2:30 12:54 - 2:54 6:57 - 8:27 7:21 - 8:51 Sa 8 1:18 - 3:18 1:42 - 3:42 7:45 - 9:15 8:09 - 9:39 Su 9 2:06 - 4:06 2:30 - 4:30 8:33 - 10:03 8:57 - 10:27 Mo 10 2:54 - 4:54 3:18 - 5:18 9:21 - 10:51 9:45 - 11:15 Tu 11 3:42 - 5:42 4:06 - 6:06 10:09 - 11:39 10:33 - 12:03 We 12 4:30 - 6:30 4:54 - 6:54 10:57 - 12:27 11:21 - 12:51 Th 13 5:18 - 7:18 5:42 - 7:42 NA 12:09 - 1:39 Fr 14 6:06 - 8:06 6:30 - 8:30 12:33 - 2:03 12:57 - 2:27 Sa 15 6:54 - 8:54 7:18 - 9:18 1:21 - 2:51 1:45 - 3:15 Su 16 7:42 - 9:42 8:06 - 10:06 2:09 - 3:39 2:33 - 4:03 Mo 17 8:30 - 10:30 8:54 - 10:54 2:57 - 4:27 3:21 - 4:51 Tu 18 9:18 - 11:18 9:42 - 11:42 3:45 - 5:15 4:09 - 5:39 We 19 10:06 - 12:06 10:30 - 12:30 4:33 - 6:03 4:57 - 6:27 Th 20 NA 12:06 - 2:06 NEW MOON 6:09 - 7:39 6:33 - 8:03 Fr 21 12:30 - 2:30 12:54 - 2:54 6:57 - 8:27 7:21 - 8:51 Sa 22 1:18 - 3:18 1:42 - 3:42 7:45 - 9:15 8:09 - 9:39 Su 23 2:06 - 4:06 2:30 - 4:30 8:33 - 10:03 8:57 - 10:27 Mo 24 2:54 - 4:54 3:18 - 5:18 9:21 - 10:51 9:45 - 11:15 Tu 25 3:42 - 5:42 4:06 - 6:06 10:09 - 11:39 10:33 - 12:03 We 26 4:30 - 6:30 4:54 - 6:54 10:57 - 12:27 11:21 - 12:51 Th 27 5:18 - 7:18 5:42 - 7:42 NA 12:09 - 1:39 Fr 28 6:06 - 8:06 6:30 - 8:30 12:33 - 2:03 12:57 - 2:27 Sa 29 6:54 - 8:54 7:18 - 9:18 1:21 - 2:51 1:45 - 3:15 Su 30 7:42 - 9:42 8:06 - 10:06 2:09 - 3:39 2:33 - 4:03

Pizza Grab a this!

| Alabama Recipes |
Food styling and photos: Brooke Echols
34 MARCH 2023
Campari Pizza

Cook of the Month: Jane

Smith, Joe Wheeler EMC

Campari Pizza (no sauce)

Pizza crust (premade)

12 Campari tomatoes, sliced very thin

1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs

3 big leaves fresh basil, cut in ribbons

Garlic salt

8-10 ounces Italian or Italian blend cheese, finely shredded

Toppings of choice (pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, cooked ham cubes, peppers)

Oil a 16-inch pizza stone with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Spread pizza crust evenly over stone. Sprinkle dried Italian herbs and fresh basil evenly over crust. Place thinly sliced Campari tomatoes evenly on crust. Sprinkle garlic salt on tomatoes. Spread half of cheese evenly over tomatoes. Add toppings of choice, then spread remainder of cheese. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, until crust and cheese are brown. Slice and serve.

Pizza is a favorite around The Buttered Home! I often use the saying, "I can't please everyone, I am not pizza!" That’s so true, because it’s the perfect food that can be customized to fit any taste! But I will be honest, in trying to clean up my eating act I struggled with not being able to have my perfect friend, pizza. So, instead of missing it or even giving in to temptation, I got in the kitchen and found a healthier way: Low-Carb Pepperoni Pizza Casserole. For more recipes like this, visit us over at

Low-Carb Pepperoni Pizza Casserole

1 pound Italian chicken sausage

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Salt and pepper

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 cups raw, riced cauliflower

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 cups low sugar marinara sauce

11/2 cups shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup to 1 cup turkey pepperoni slices, some cut into pieces; reserve some whole

Preheat oven to 350°. Slice chicken sausage and brown in a skillet. Drain and cool. Set aside. In a large bowl, add in sausage. Add minced garlic, basil, oregano, onion powder, salt and pepper. Mix in the raw, riced cauliflower, parmesan cheese, about 2/3 of the turkey pepperoni that you diced beforehand, and marinara. Stir to mix well. Pour in a 8.5x11inch casserole dish or 10-inch cast iron skillet. Spread evenly. Top with mozzarella cheese and reserved whole slices of pepperoni. Bake for 20-30 minutes until melted and slightly brown on top.





Cook of the Month wins $50! Recipes can be developed by you or family members. You may even adapt a recipe from another source by changing as little as the amount of one ingredient. Chosen cooks may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year. 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.

Visit our website: Email us: USPS mail: Attn: Recipes,
August: Pears
May 5 September: International Dishes | June 2
P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124
Photo by The Buttered Home Brooke Burks
Coming up next... July Tomatoes Deadline to enter April 7 Alabama Living MARCH 2023 35

Philly Steak and Cheese Pizza

1 Store-bought pizza dough

1 jar alfredo sauce

6 provolone cheese slices

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 package shaved ribeye steak

2 bell peppers, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 stick unsalted butter

Heat a large skillet, add butter, peppers and onions. Cook until soft. Add shaved steak and brown. Drain and set aside. Roll out pizza dough on a pizza stone or baking sheet. Spread alfredo sauce over dough. Top with cooked peppers, onion and beef. Tear provolone and place pieces all over pizza. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.

Kirk Vantrease

Cullman EC

Shrimp Pizza

1 bag raw shrimp (41-60 count), cleaned, peeled and deveined

3-4 Roma tomatoes, sliced medium-thick

3 tablespoons lightly salted butter

2 large bunches fresh basil or 1 small jar pre-chopped basil

1 16-ounce package mozzarella, shredded

2 15-ounce pizza dough, rolled flat

½-3/4 cup olive oil

½ cup all-purpose flour

½-3/4 cup minced garlic, adjust amount to your liking

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sauté shrimp in garlic, butter and a little basil until just slightly undercooked. Dust a flat surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll out the dough to your desired size and thickness, noting that the dough will rise. Transfer to pan. Lightly brush dough with olive oil. Layer tomatoes, garlic, shrimp, basil and mozzarella. Cook until bubbly and brown, approximately 12-15 minutes, rotating halfway through.

Fruit Pizza

1 20-ounce package refrigerated sugar cookie dough

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

¼ cup confectioners sugar

1 8-ounce carton frozen whipped topping, thawed

2-3 kiwis, peeled and thinly sliced

1-2 bananas, sliced

½ cup red grapes, halved Apples, green grapes, any other preferred fruit

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup orange juice

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1½ teaspoons cornstarch

Pinch of salt

Pat cookie dough into an ungreased 14inch pizza pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until browned; cool. Beat cream cheese and confectioners sugar until smooth. Fold in whipped topping. Spread over crust. Arrange the fruit on top. In a sauce pan, bring sugar, orange juice, water, lemon juice, cornstarch and salt to a boil, stirring constantly for 2 minutes or until thickened. Cool; brush over fruit. Chill and store in refrigerator. Makes 16-20 servings.

Chicken Ranch Pizza

1 large pizza crust, thick or thin

2 cups chicken, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces

2/3 cup ranch dressing, divided

1 small can mushrooms, chopped and drained

6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

¼ cup green onion, sliced

3 cups shredded cheese

Combine chicken and 1/3 cup dressing in a large bowl; mix well. Add bacon, green onion, mushrooms and half shredded cheese; mix well. Spread other 1/3 cup dressing over pizza crust. Pour chicken mixture over pizza crust. Sprinkle remaining shredded cheese over chicken mixture. Place on baking sheet, bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until crust is browned and cheese is melted. Let set about 5 minutes and cut into wedges.

36 MARCH 2023
L. McDaniel Vinemont, AL Beth McLarty Cullman EC Peggy Key North Alabama EC Philly Steak and Cheese Pizza
Alabama Living MARCH 2023 37 Licensed and Insured New Right of Way clearing Reclaiming Existing Right of Way Forestry Mulching (334) 818-0595

Help your dog with separation anxiety

Acouple of days ago I happened to glance over someone’s shoulder who was watching YouTube videos and saw a glimpse of a destroyed bedroom, and a dog. The dog looked sad, and to top it all, there was someone laughing in the background. I did not watch further, but this appeared to be a typical case of pet separation anxiety, and the laughter in the background really irritated me. Separation anxiety is far from cute!

Separation anxiety is self-explanatory by its definition. These dogs just don’t want to be left alone, or even be slightly away from the owner, in a different room, or in a cage.

Before we go further, let’s define anxiety, at least from a human standpoint! That’s the best we can do, right? says “Anxiety is what we feel when we are worried, tense or afraid – particularly about things that are about to happen, or which we think could happen in the future.”

We don’t exactly know how dogs feel when they are away from their family, but it resembles panic in a human sense. Is she fearful? Is she upset? We just don’t exactly know! All we see are the results of her distress.

Separation anxiety shows up in a variety of ways. Some moderate to severe signs are straightforward: howling, barking, pooping, urinating and destruction of anything the dog can get to. Most owners seek help at this point for the sake of their property, not realizing how distressed their pet may be!

My bigger concern is when separation anxiety subtly shows up in not so destructive ways, like depression, excessive licking and grooming, restlessness, shivering and shaking, circling and pacing. Let’s call them mild and subtle separation anxiety disorders. In one study, it was estimated that 14-29% of all dogs have separation anxiety but only 13% of the owners actually sought professional help.

So, what do we do? We establish a tentative diagnosis! The only way to recognize separation anxiety is to have an internet camera in the room(s) so that you can see how your dog does when you are not there. There are several well-known brands like Nest and Blink. The Nest cameras are a little over $100 and are rechargeable (no need to wire). For budget conscious folks, we can simply

call these cameras “security” cameras, and then feel good about protecting our house!

OK, now that we have found out that our dog has separation anxiety, what do we do? Call the vet? Check Amazon for herbal and homeopathic remedies, buy an anxiety vest, get a pheromone diffuser, buy a green tea supplement, call a dog trainer?

It depends. If the anxiety falls in the first category where the signs are screaming at our faces, I say, run to the vet, get your dog some meds so that you can even start with some behavior modification training. Let’s look at many tools that are available to us without a vet (but most vet offices carry some of these products).

Herbs: a quick search of “herbs for separation anxiety” brought up over 2 million pages in Google. However, if you look through them, there are about 5-6 well known herbs that are commonly used. In my opinion after using them quite a bit in moderate to severe cases, they help a little bit, but just a little bit, and may be more appropriate for the mild and subtle separation anxiety cases.

Supplements: Again, there are many supplements, but they center around a few key ingredients like theanine from green teas and extracts from milk. It is highly likely that your vet carries products containing these and other compounds. My experience of using them in moderate to severe anxiety has not been that great except in some rare cases. But most of them carry 4-star reviews on Amazon.

Pheromone diffuser: There are calming pheromone diffusers like Adaptil. Again, I am not hugely impressed by their efficacy in moderate to severe cases.

Drugs: You may have already figured it out, I am heading towards medications and going to sing their praises! I am a holistic vet, which means I am very familiar with many alternative modalities, but I have to say that in good hands, and when used judiciously with great caution and care, the drugs can give those poor dogs a new life.

Make a longer (extended) appointment with your vet because these cases take time. Let them listen to you well, totally trying to understand the whole situation, to feel it in their gut and choose the appropriate medication(s). I usually start at the lowest possible dose and then go up over time. If needed, I mix several groups of medication to keep the need for each class as low as possible.

Goutam Mukherjee, DVM, MS, Ph.D. (Dr. G) has been a veterinarian for more than 30 years. He owns High Falls Holistic Veterinary Care near Geraldine, Alabama. To suggest topics for future discussions, email him at
Alabama Living MARCH 2023 39

Save energy and money with a heat pump water heater

Q:I’m looking for options to replace my old water heater. What should I choose to make my home’s water heating more efficient and save money?

A:Consider upgrading to an energy efficient heat pump water heater. Heat pump water heaters—also called hybrid water heaters—use heat pump technology to heat water more efficiently than a standard electric storage water heater.

Think of them as a standard water heater with a heat pump on top. The heat pump heats the water two to three times more efficiently than the electric elements, but the unit still has the electric elements as backup, if needed.

Here are some details about their efficiency, how the units operate, installation considerations and when you should replace your old water heater.

Efficiency and operation

By moving heat instead of creating it, a heat pump water heater uses 60% less energy than electric storage water heaters. That can add up to hundreds of dollars a year and thousands during the life of the water heater.

Improved controls make it easy to set the desired temperature and programming, including vacation mode, which saves energy when you are out of town.

Some models offer Wi-Fi connectivity to be controlled by a smartphone from anywhere. Other helpful features include leak detection and automatic shutoff.

Installation considerations

A heat pump water heater uses heat from a room to heat water. It tends to make the space about 2 degrees cooler, which is something to consider before installation. Ideal placement is an unconditioned space, such as a garage or unheated basement. A

heat pump water heater requires enough space around the unit to supply the air needed for efficient operation—about 750 cubic feet.

Heat pump water heaters tend to be slightly taller than storage water heaters and require additional clearance above the unit to access the filter for cleaning. If your water heater is in a conditioned space or a room smaller than the unit requires, venting might be a solution for your installation.

Another consideration is noise. A heat pump water heater generates about as much noise as a modern dishwasher, so it may not be a good solution if the water heater is located where sound could be a nuisance.

Installing a heat pump water heater is much like installing a standard electric water heater, except for the location of the cold-water inlet, which is located at the bottom of the unit.

Because moisture in the air condenses when it is drawn through the heat pump, it also requires a condensate drain that must be routed to a drain or pumped outside of the home.

Heat pump water heaters can replace electric, gas or propane water heaters. They typically require a 240-volt circuit, which might necessitate an electrical upgrade by a licensed electrician.

When to replace an old water heater

The life expectancy of a standard water heater is about 10 years. If your water heater is older than that or showing signs of failing, you may want to consider replacing it with a heat pump water heater before it fails.

It’s easier to find the product you want when it is not an emergency replacement. It also can be more expensive to replace it during an emergency. While heat pump water heaters are sold at a higher price than standard water heaters, the cost savings over time can offset the purchase and installation cost––and will result in a more energy efficient home.

You also are likely to save by taking advantage of sales, rebates or tax credits. Check with your electric utility, state department of energy and federal tax information before purchasing a new water heater.

I installed a heat pump water heater in my home. I love it and can see how my energy use has decreased since installation. Now, if I can only figure out how to get my children to take shorter showers.

40 MARCH 2023 | Consumer Wise |
Miranda Boutelle is the chief operating officer at Efficiency Services Group in Oregon, a cooperatively owned energy efficiency company. She has more than 20 years of experience helping people save energy at home, and she writes on energy efficiency topics for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. Heat pump water heaters make it easy to set the desired temperature and programming, including vacation mode, which saves energy when you are out of town. PHOTO COURTESY HOT WATER SOLUTIONS If you’re in need of a new hot water heater, consider upgrading to an energy-efficient heat pump water heater. PHOTO COURTESY HOT WATER SOLUTIONS
Alabama Living MARCH 2023 41
42 MARCH 2023
Alabama Living MARCH 2023 43

Energy security

Last month I wrote about the rolling blackouts across the southern U.S. and how renewable generation would not solve the problem of shrinking reliable electric reserves. With continuing pushes from environmentalists and liberal politicians to shut down reliable fossil fuel generation and replace it with intermittent renewable generation, we can expect increasing power shortages and power grid blackouts in the future.

The frequency and expansion of these power shortages and blackouts will depend upon the pace of fossil fuel generation retirements, the level of substitution of renewable resources, the speed of the movement to electrify greater portions of the economy, and the frequency of extreme temperatures – cold and hot.

In addition to the threat of less reliable generation, there is also increasing concern about the reliability of the electric grid. The most publicized concern over the past couple of decades has been cybersecurity threats.

The electric grid is controlled primarily through communications systems owned and operated by electric utilities across the country. Although most utilities deploy their own private communications systems, and access to these systems is protected from both physical and cyber-attacks, there is concern the grid will be infiltrated in some fashion, resulting in the destruction of electric generators or interrupted grid operation.

Electric utilities’ systems monitoring and maintaining the grid are generally separated from public communications systems. Operating system maintenance is almost always limited to physical presence inside a utility’s secure operations center. Communications across the internet are not generally used for electric operations, making it extremely difficult to hack an electric utility’s operating system.

Electric grid security is regulated by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) and its subsets, such as the Southeast Reliability Corporation (“SERC”) in the south. Utilities share best practices and technology advances, as well as cyber threats through the agencies. Utilities regularly undergo cyber and physical infrastructure security audits under which security programs and practices are evaluated and tested.

The greatest cyber threat is most likely a disturbed or disgruntled employee who uses their access to, and understanding of, an electric utility’s operating system to damage the system or electric grid. However, I am reasonably confident the electric grid is secure from cyber or hacking attacks from hostile agents.

I am more concerned about the old-fashioned threat of physical damage to the electric grid itself. The U.S. electric grid delivers power to retail consumers across a system containing thousands of miles of transmission lines and more than 50,000 substations. Because the transmission lines and substations are not exactly

aesthetically pleasing, they are most often placed in more remote, difficult to monitor locations.

Historically, there have each year been approximately 100 terrorist-type attacks – as opposed to vandalism – on electric grid facilities. Attacks on electric grid facilities appear to be increasing. Last year 107 substations were attacked in a terroristic manner from January through August. In December alone there were two attacks on substations in North Carolina, one in Washington state, and one in Oregon, each of which left thousands of electric customers without service for hours. Just last month, the FBI arrested a duo accused of planning a power grid attack, allegedly terroristic, in Maryland.

The highest profile substation attack was on Pacific Gas & Electric’s large Metcalf substation outside San Jose in 2013. A well-orchestrated terrorist team cut communications lines to alarm systems and shot 17 transformers with planned precision and knowledge to totally disable the substation. Fortunately, the attack occurred during a period of relatively low electric usage, and outages were not as severe as might be expected from the loss of such a large substation. No group has taken responsibility for the attack, nor have any arrests been made.

Many of the transmission lines carry huge volumes of electricity across long distances. Many of the substations convert the high voltages of that electricity to lower voltages in preparation for retail consumption. The substations are usually open structures with fencing on the sides, transmission lines coming in and out, and, usually, distribution circuits also coming out. The nature of substation function, design and operations makes substation security extremely difficult.

There have been recent discussions about the requirement to place active surveillance or even armed guards around substations. Active surveillance has shortcomings in that most of the attacks are with high-powered rifles at long distances that may not be detected by the surveillance equipment. While armed guards would provide a much greater deterrence to attacks, armed guards are expensive and could be overwhelmed by a professional terrorist team.

Protecting the thousands of miles of transmission lines against a multi-location attack is altogether a different security issue. It will be impossible to fully protect those lines.

Many in today’s world are increasingly willing, if not encouraged, to express their positions and beliefs with violence and destruction, which puts the basic security of our economy and lifestyles at a greater risk than ever.

While a forced political march to renewable energy places our current lifestyle at risk, we are subject to a far greater danger from the terrorist activities of some factions that will express their opposition to any number of issues. Neither our industry or politicians nor experts, have a suitable answer to these risks. I wish I had a better outlook on energy security for you, but greater energy security will require a complete redesign of the industry.

I hope you have a good month.

44 MARCH 2023 | Our Sources Say |
Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.

How To Place a Line Ad in Marketplace

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Alabama Living MARCH 2023 45 | Classifieds |

The bygone days of the Armadillo Gourmet Society

Iam not a hunter.

I used to be, but not anymore.

But I am an eater, and when I think of eating what hunters bring in, I always think of the Armadillo Gourmet Society, a south Alabama institution that, for a brief time, combined wild game and illegal beer to raise money for a good cause.

Let me explain.

Back in the 1970s (according to my unnamed but thoroughly reliable source) a bunch of South Alabama hunters began meeting for breakfast. The group was bound together by their belief in the strict enforcement of conservation laws and their disdain for local liquor laws.

As is the case in most small towns, the breakfast bunch soon found itself the subject of reproach among the tongue-clickers in community; and so to show their critics “what a fine group of gentlemen they were,” they decided to sponsor a wild game supper, the proceeds from which would go to a worthy charity.

Calling themselves the Armadillo Gourmet Society, they immediately created a buzz by announcing that only 250 tickets would be sold ($20 apiece), and only men would be allowed to attend.

Society members cooked and donated their various specialties – deer hash, deer steak, deer sausage, fried squirrel and squirrel dumplings, possum and sweet potatoes, coon, duck gumbo, fried catfish, grilled bass, bass gumbo, fried rabbit, and wild hog cooked in the ground. The list went on and on to include, naturally, armadillo.

Wives and female friends contributed cakes and pies. One woman, the spouse of a member, was invited to attend because she could bake a cake in the shape of one of various animals. However, this nod to diversity was about as far as the group would go.

There was also fried rattlesnake and beer.

I’ll get to the rattlesnake in a minute.

First the beer.

Keep this in mind. The county in which

this event was held was “dry.” During those days, alcohol could not be legally sold or bought within its borders.

Yet there was beer for $1 a can.

Some folks said it was a love-offering, and if you loved beer maybe it was. But let’s not split hairs here. It was sold and selling was against the law.

However, in this case it was the “law” that provided the beverage.

Yessir, according to my late father, who was a regular attendee (along with many other politicians), the beer came from what was collected when the sheriff’s department caught a bootlegger and confiscated his stock.

Dry county, remember.

After the bootlegger was convicted and sentenced, rather than pour out the evidence, as had been the custom, it was held back and donated to the Armadillo Gourmet Society to raise money for the charitable organization the sheriffs sponsored.

(Those involved easily accepted the logic of this. The few who expressed some sort of ethical, moral, or legal reservations were politely ignored.)

And in the room where they sold the beer was a big pan of fried rattlesnake – an

appetizer. Tasted like fishy-chicken. Or gator.

I know, because I had the pleasure of attending a couple of times with Daddy, and I have the souvenir hats to prove it.

The gathering quickly become a major social event.

In a back room, away from the tables full of food, away from the beer and the rattlesnake, you could even have your choice (according to my sources) of either high stakes poker or an equally high stakes crap game.

And so it was that for a number of years the Armadillo Gourmet Society met, ate, drank, gambled, and raised money for a good cause.

Then it ended.

Reasons for its demise differ.

Some say it was a fight at the crap game. Others claim changes in the courthouse and the legislature brought in office holders whose constituency was less tolerant of such things.

Or maybe the old group just wore out.

Wild game suppers are still held in Alabama, but none quite like those held by the Armadillo Gourmet Society. Or so my sources tell me.

46 MARCH 2023 | Hardy Jackson's Alabama |
Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University. He can be reached at Illustration by Dennis Auth
Reminds you to spring forward March 12

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