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Stories | Recipes | Events | People | Places | Things | Local News July 2016

Pioneer Electric Cooperative

Just peachy

Peach season is in full swing

Alabama astronauts State has proud heritage of training for the skies

www.pioneerelectric.com


From desert to food oasis An abandoned high school gym has been turned into a grocery store in Marengo County, bringing a full-fledged supermarket to the town of Thomaston.

Executive VP/ General Manager Terry Moseley Co-op Editor Casey B. Rogers 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. AREA cooperative member subscriptions are $3 a year; non-member subscriptions, $6. Alabama Living (USPS 029920) 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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VOL. 69 NO. 7 n July 2016

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

AREA President Fred Braswell Editor Lenore Vickrey Managing Editor Allison Griffin Creative Director Mark Stephenson Art Director Michael Cornelison Advertising Director Jacob Johnson Graphic Designer/Advertising Coordinator Brooke Echols Communications Coordinator Laura Stewart Graphic Designer Tori McClanahan

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NATIONAL ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVE:

National Country Market 611 South Congress Ave., Suite 504 Austin, Texas 78704 1-800-626-1181 www.nationalcountrymarket.com www.alabamaliving.coop USPS 029-920 • ISSN 1047-0311

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You are a member!

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Harvesting the rain

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Worth the drive

Learn more about what it means to be a member of the Pioneer Electric Cooperative.

Our gardening writer Katie Jackson has some ideas on how you can harness the rain for your garden.

Ever had a cheeseburger made with hoop cheese? Then you need to motor on over to the Jefferson Country Store and ask Tony to grill one for you. Trust us: You’ll need extra napkins.

D E PA R T M E N T S

ADVERTISING & EDITORIAL OFFICES:

340 TechnaCenter Drive Montgomery, Alabama 36117-6031 1-800-410-2737 E-mail: advertising@areapower.com www.areapower.coop

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WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! ONLINE: www.alabamaliving.coop EMAIL: letters@alabamaliving.coop MAIL: Alabama Living 340 Technacenter Drive Montgomery, AL 36117

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9 Spotlight 29 Around Alabama 22 Gardens 30 Outdoors 31 Fish & Game Forecast 38 Cook of the Month 46 Snapshots ONLINE: alabamaliving.coop ON THE COVER: DéAundre A. Williams shows off one of the peaches that’s almost ready to pick at the peach orchard of Jimmie Harrison in Chilton County. Harrison, a trustee at Central Alabama Electric Cooperative, has been growing 55 different delicious varieties of peaches since 1957. PHOTO: Michael Cornelison JULY 2016 3


You are a member That’s the co-op difference! Contact Information: Business: 1-800-239-3092 (Monday-Friday 7 a.m. - 4 p.m.) Toll Free Outage “Hotline” 1-800-533-0323 (24 hours a day) Board of Trustees Tommy Thompson • President John Henry • Vice President Melvia Carter • Secretary Carey Thompson • Glenn Branum Tom Duncan • Dave Lyon Melvin Dale • Linda Arnold Web site: www.pioneerelectric.com Payment Options: By Mail: Pioneer Electric Cooperative P.O. Box 370 Greenville, AL 36037 Bank Draft: Contact a customer service representative for details Credit Card: By phone or in person Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express Night Depository: Available at each office location Online: www.pioneerelectric.com In Person: 7 a.m. - 4 p.m. Greenville: 300 Herbert Street Selma: 4075 Ala. Highway 41 Authorized Payment Center: First Citizens Bank 40 Lafayette St. Hayneville 4  JULY 2016

By Terry Moseley Many businesses use the word “member” to describe their customers. Places like Sam’s Club or Costco and even American Express like to refer to their customers as members. You pay a fee to buy their goods and services, but that is really all you get for the “membership.” No right to vote for the Board of Directors or to participate in any meaningful way in the organization. In cooperatives like Pioneer Electric, membership really does mean something more than just the right to buy electricity. Co-ops of all types are founded on seven cooperative principles that give us guidance and strategic direction. Membership also gives you rights as an owner of this co-op. Brett Fairbairn is the director of the Center for the Study of Co-operatives at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada. He makes the case that member relations is not just part of what co-ops should be doing, but in fact is the fundamental core business of the cooperative. He further lays out the three strategic concepts that any co-op must get right in order to survive and thrive: Economic linkage Pioneer Electric is connected to you. There is a business relationship that serves you (the member) and the co-op. Since co-ops are solely owned by people in the community, they have a mutual interest to ensure that both the co-op and the member do well and prosper. Transparency As an owner of the co-op, you have a right

Energy Efficiency Tip of the Month

to know how it operates and how decisions are made that directly impact you. If the coop is transparent and combines this trait with integrity and fairness, it will build trust with the members. Cognition In this case, cognition is best defined as how your co-op thinks. It includes the current and historical identity, the mission and the sense of shared values with co-op members. Research, education and training are critical functions that Pioneer Electric must conduct on an ongoing basis to ensure that we always have the best information to make decisions. The cooperative business model is the best one on earth, but like any enterprise, it is up to the human beings who work at the co-op, who serve on the board and the members like you to ensure that the principles and values do not fade over time. First and foremost, Pioneer Electric strives to be thought of as a member-owned cooperative that gives you the best value of any utility. If we succeed, our community thrives and you will always value being a member – not a customer. n Terry Moseley serves as the Executive Vice President and General Manager of Pioneer Electric Cooperative.

Run ceiling paddle fans on medium, blowing air downward in the summer to assist in cooling your home. Source: energy.gov

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| Pioneer Electric Co-op |

Inside Pioneer: Pioneer Electric Cooperative recently presented Greenville High School graduating senior Saloni Patel and Lowndes Academy graduating senior Millie Motes

PEC’s Executive Vice President and General Manager Terry Moseley and Saloni Patel. with 2016 Electric Cooperative Foundation, Inc. Scholarships valued at $1,000. In 1997, the Electric Cooperative Foundation was formed by rural electric cooperatives throughout Alabama to give back to communities in the form of scholarships for qualifying high school seniors. Schol-

arship recipients must be a dependent of an electric cooperative member and the award is based on academic excellence, character and community service. Saloni Patel is the daughter of Digesh and Sumitra Patel of Greenville, Alabama and Millie Motes is the daughter of Richard and Jeanie Motes of Tyler, Alabama. “We are pleased to present two Cooperative Foundation scholarships this year to such outstanding individuals,” said Pioneer Electric Communications Specialist Casey Rogers. “These are two incredibly impressive individuals and we are thrilled to support their advancement to higher education.” Patel was Greenville High School’s Valedictorian and plans to attend UAB to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology with honors. She plans to take the pre-med track and attend medical school for her Master’s. Patel’s specialty is undecided. Motes is no stranger to Pioneer Electric Cooperative, as she was a 2015 Montgomery Youth Tour Delegate. Motes plans to attend Troy University in the fall to study pre-law. “Both Saloni and Millie have shown dedication and dependability within their communities and an overall level of integ-

rity that should be commended,” said Rogers. “They are well-disciplined, focused and tenacious individuals that are destined for success.”

Millie Motes and PEC’s Communications Specialist Casey Rogers PEC proudly commends Saloni Patel and Millie Motes for their academic excellence and commitment in serving their communities. For more information, please contact Casey Rogers at (334) 3824904 or by email at crogers@pioneerelectric.com

Staying safe from lightning inside your home The National Weather Service (NWS) reports that every year lightning strikes at least 25 million times, and in the United States alone, an average of 49 people are killed and 400 injured as a result of lightning each year. It is simply not safe to be outdoors during a thunderstorm. That is why NWS advises, “When thunder roars, go indoors.” However once inside a safe shelter, there are additional and important safety steps to take. Last year, a teenage girl and her family took cover inside of their home during a tornado warning. They thought that they were safe from the effects of the storm until the daughter opened the refrigerator. She let out a scream as there was a loud boom and the house went dark. She had been struck by lightning. Fox 7 in Austin, Texas reports that although the teen is now fine, she was initially rushed to the hospital after being unable to walk, shaking with severe pain from the lightning strike. Staying inside reduces the risk for light-

Alabama Living

ning strikes, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one-third of lightning strike injuries occur indoors.

Safe Electricity recommends the following tips to help keep you safe inside the home during a thunderstorm: • During a storm, stay away from anything that conducts electricity inside of the home. This includes corded phones, plumbing, or running water. Cellular or cordless phones are safe to use during a storm. • Never use your computer, gaming systems, washer, dryer, or any other appliance that connects to an electrical outlet. • Stay at least a few feet away from electrical appliances that are plugged into the wall. • Do not lie or lean on concrete floors or walls, which can conduct electricity. • Lightning can enter inside through wiring, such as cables or pipes or through

an open window or door. Do not watch a storm from a porch or through a garage door. • Stay away from all water. Do not take a bath, shower, or wash dishes during a lightning storm. Check weather forecasts so you can plan to be in a safe shelter during a storm. After the storm, make sure that you stay inside and follow the safety rules for at least 30 minutes after you have last heard thunder. Remember that lightning can strike up to 10 to 15 miles away from the storm. For more electrical safety tips, go to SafeElectricity.org.

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Something Fishy: Rebuilding the habitat at Lake Eufaula By David Rainer, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Any angler who fished Lake Eufaula during a down cycle in late 2010 and early 2011 will be glad to know the 46,000-acre impoundment on the Chattahoochee River in southeast Alabama has rebounded to its former glory. During that down cycle, Jack Tibbs, who has fished Eufaula for about 40 years, said bass were being caught with “5-pound heads and 2-pound bodies.” In 2009 the lake had a sizeable acreage of hydrilla. Then came a cold spring in 2010 with a lot of high, muddy water. Also, the Army Corps of Engineers released a large number of grass carp in the lake. That combination severely impacted the hydrilla. Tibbs said during the six-year span of extensive hydrilla habitat, the bass became accustomed to thriving in that environment. When the grass was suddenly gone, the fish struggled to adapt. “Just like Lake Guntersville and Santee Cooper (South Carolina), any lake with a lot of vegetation, when the vegetation is sprayed or something happens naturally to knock it back, the fishing takes a big hit,” Tibbs said. “It takes a little while to come back. “That’s what happened at Eufaula. In 2009, it was taking 25-pound (five-fish 6  JULY 2016

limit) bags to win a tournament. All of a sudden, we were struggling to catch fish here.” Since that down cycle, the hydrilla and other habitat-friendly vegetation have returned to Eufaula, and the lake has responded accordingly. “We started seeing improvement in late 2011,” Tibbs said. “By 2012, the lake was almost back. It’s been getting better every year since then.” Bassmaster Magazine ranked Eufaula the 21st best bass lake in the nation in 2015. “In that article, it mentioned that at one of the Alabama Bass Trail tournaments on Eufaula last year it took a 29-pound bag to win,” Tibbs said. “That’s a big bag just about anywhere you go. The year before, I actually fished that Alabama Bass Trail tournament. It took 25 pounds to win that year. We had 17 pounds and finished in 33rd place. That tells you there were a lot of good bags of fish weighed in. “This year, the lake has really showed out. There have been numerous mid-20pound stringers this year. At one tournament, a guy caught an 8 1/2-pounder and thought he had big fish. But a guy came in with a 9 1/2-pounder. The lake has really showed out the last two years, and we’re

really excited about the direction the lake is going in right now.” As a fishing lure manufacturer, Tibbs acknowledges he’s not a fisheries biologist, just a fisherman. “In my knowledge as a fisherman, the hydrilla seems to be the driver in the food chain,” he said. “Everything seems to get in that hydrilla. When they’re living there, they seem to do very well. All the things the bass eat – bream, crawfish and other critters – do well in the hydrilla. It just becomes a food factory. “We also have acres and acres of lily pads. And we have water willow, which is fun to fish. It’s easy to get a bait through it, and the bass seem to relate to it really well. The vegetation is probably the No. 1 driver. When you look at lakes, like West Point, that don’t have as much vegetation, the fishing is not quite as good. You’ve got to have places for the fry to hide to keep the fish population up.” Chris Greene, Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries’ assistant fisheries chief, said what happened at Lake Eufaula is typical for a river-system impoundment. “Reservoir fish populations are constantly changing,” Greene said. “Factors such as water levels, prey abundance, spawning success, and habitat availabiliwww.alabamaliving.coop


| Pioneer Electric Co-op | ty can all affect the year-class strength of game fish.” Tibbs said Lake Eufaula has something for just about every type of bass fisherman, from deep-water ledge fishing with deep-diving crankbaits and Carolina-rigged plastic baits to explosive shallow-water fishing around the lily pads and water willow. He also said Eufaula fits his favorite type of fishing to a tee.

“Fishermen tend to spend a lot of money, so it’s really important that the lake offers good fishing.” “I’m primarily a shallow-water fisherman,” Tibbs said. “I like the shallow grass and the shallow cover. It used to be that a spinnerbait is what you used around that type of shallow cover, but now there are several techniques that will work. Now you can throw swimming jigs, chatterbaits, frogs and swimbaits. All those techniques work, depending on the situation with the lake.” What Tibbs and I took advantage of recently was another feature that holds fish on Eufaula – abundant riprap, the large rocks that prevent shoreline erosion but also provide cover for a variety of bass forage. “In late May, we usually have a shad spawn,” he said. “When the shad are spawning, experienced fishermen know to look for the blue herons and cranes on the bank. If there are herons and cranes there, the shad are probably there. If the shad are there, there’s usually bass there. If you check those places, you’re just about going to find some bass. That’s definitely true for Eufaula.” When the shad are spawning along the riprap, small topwater plugs like the Pop R and Tiny Torpedo will mimic a flipping shad and the bass can’t resist. After the shad spawn and weather starts to turn warmer, Tibbs said the focus then turns to bream. “Then you start focusing on mayflies,” he said. “The bream make that popping sound when they hit a mayfly, so you start listening for that. And where you find mayflies, you’re going to find bream. Where you find bream, you’re going to find bass. “I also throw a frog a lot that time of Alabama Living

year in the pads and grass cover. The cover closer to deeper water is better when it gets hot. As long as the water stays up in the lily pads and cover, there is always some good fish up shallow in Eufaula.” The lake level at Eufaula is controlled mainly by the Army Corps of Engineers according to power generation, flood control and municipal water usage upstream. “There are a lot of variables,” Tibbs said. “Traditionally, if the water stays up, the shallow fishing is tremendous. If the water happens to fall out of the grass, then you go to the river ledges. You use your electronics to look for fish and baitfish. It takes a little more experience, but most fishermen know how to do that. “Eufaula is more diverse than it used to be. There are a lot of boat docks and riprap. So the lake is suited to just about any skill level or the preferred way people like to fish. Most of the time, you can come to Eufaula and find the way you like to catch them.” Tibbs knows very well the impact the fishing at Lake Eufaula has on the local area and economy. He not only manufactures fishing lures, he serves as Eufaula’s mayor. “The fishermen are the top of the food chain when it comes to tourism in our area,” he said. “I’m a tournament fisherman, so I travel. Normally, when a fisherman comes to Eufaula, he is going to stay multiple days. He’s going to fill up with gas and eat at our restaurants. If he brings his wife, there are nice shopping opportunities. “Fishermen tend to spend quite a bit of money, so it’s really important that the lake offers good fishing to keep attracting folks to our area and make sure they have a good time when they come.”

Visiting anglers and nature lovers can grab a ringside seat to the action on Lake Eufaula at Lakepoint Resort State Park, which is located on the lake north of the City of Eufaula. The park has plenty of lodging and a huge boat ramp near the mouth of Cowikee Creek, one of the bass fishing hotspots. Because Lake Eufaula is a border lake between Alabama and Georgia, a reciprocal fishing license agreement is in effect. The agreement covers Lake Eufaula proper but does not include the tributaries that flow into Eufaula on the Georgia side. PHOTOS: Jack Tibbs, a lifelong bass fisherman and Mayor of the City of Eufaula, enjoys the lake’s return to prominence among the nation’s top bass lakes. Tibbs says Eufaula has something to offer for every style of bass fishing from shallow vegetation to deep-water ledge fishing.

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Fiber Ready! By Cleve Poole

At the South Dallas Industrial Park, located in Sardis Alabama, the South Dallas Industrial Development Authority recently joined with AT&T to announce that the park was “AT&T Fiber Ready.” The Fiber Ready designation was the first for a rural industrial park in the state of Alabama, and the first in the Black Belt region of Alabama. In order to qualify as being “AT&T Fiber Ready” the park had to have fiber optic cable installed to one of the industries in the park. “We are excited to partner with AT&T in designating the South Dallas Industrial Park as AT&T Fiber Ready,” said Terry Moseley, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Pioneer Electric. “The availability of fiber-optic facilities with high-speed communications capabilities is one of the checkpoints when a business

is considering a site for relocation or expansion. AT&T’s Fiber Ready designation is a valuable tool and will help ensure our continued success in growing the South Dallas Park and bringing jobs to the Black Belt.” Pioneer manages the South Dallas Park and has land available in the park for development. Fiber optic availability is crucial in economic development. According to a recent article in Site Selection Magazine, “Advances in technology have elevated the importance of the Internet in economic development and site selection. The availability, quality, and competitiveness of broadband service have become and will continue to be a key issue for many locations.” The article goes on to say that Broadband is expected in today’s industrial parks, “Corporate site selectors

expect broadband. It is not a perk or special benefit.” Many local dignitaries attended the event, as well as AT&T Alabama President, Fred McCallum, “We are proud to highlight the South Dallas Industrial Park among the numerous places in Alabama where AT&T’s fiber infrastructure is in place and ready to help community leaders drive job creation.” The AT&T Fiber Ready designation is another step in continued efforts by Pioneer to bring jobs and opportunity to its service area in South Central Alabama.n Cleve Poole serves as the Vice President of Economic Development and Legal Affairs at Pioneer Electric Cooperative.

Pictured (L to R): Board President Tommy Thompson, VP of Economic Development and Legal Affairs Cleve Poole, Executive Vice President and General Manager Terry Moseley, Board Member Melvia Carter, Board Member Carey Thompson, Board Member Melvin Dale and Board Member Glenn Branum

Pictured (L to R): Selma Mayor George Evans, PEC Executive Vice President and General Manager Terry Moseley, VP of Economic Development and Legal Affairs Cleve Poole, AT&T Alabama President Fred McCallum, State Representative Darrio Melton, Selma EDA Executive Director Wayne Vardaman

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www.alabamaliving.coop


July | Spotlight | JULY 16 |

Wetumpka offers free event for the whole family

The River & Blues Music and Arts Festival, set for 3-10 p.m. July 16, has a full day’s worth of music scheduled (with artists that include Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. and the Zydeco Twisters, the Lo-Fi Loungers and J.J. Thames), but it’s about more than tunes. Each summer, regional artists and craftsmen display their talents at this event on the banks of the Coosa River. A kid’s zone will take over Gold Star Park’s parking lot with every inflatable imaginable, and there will be lots of food available. Visit www. riverandblues.net for more info.

National Park tourism creates economic benefit in Alabama A new National Park Service report shows that 792,481 visitors to national parks in Alabama spent $31.8 million in the state in 2015. That spending resulted in 510 jobs and had a cumulative benefit to the state economy of $38.3 million. According to the 2015 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (31.1 percent) followed by food and beverages (20.2 percent), gas and oil (11.8 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (9.8 percent). Among the national parks in Alabama mentioned in the report are Horseshoe Bend National Military Park, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Natchez Trace Parkway, Russell Cave National Monument and the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site.

Whereville, AL In this feature, Alabama Living readers are asked to identify and place an Alabama landmark or scene. The winner is chosen at random from all the correct entries and will receive $25. Multiple

entries from the same person will be disqualified.

If you know where this landmark is, send your answer by July 5 with your name, address and the name of your electric cooperative. The winner and the answer will be announced in the August issue. Contribute your own photo for an upcoming issue! Send a photo of an interesting or unusual landmark in Alabama, which must be accessible to the public and easy to identify. A reader whose photo is used in the magazine will also win $25 Submit: By email: whereville@alabamaliving.coop By mail: Whereville, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124

Guess where this is and you might win $25! JUNE’S ANSWER

This photo of the Lake Purdy Bridge on Grants Mill Road, near the Jefferson/ Shelby County line, was taken on Thanksgiving morning 2015 by using a UAV quadcopter, or drone, and was submitted by Ken Johnson of Birmingham. Johnson says the bridge was closed in December 2009. After 18 months the bridge was rebuilt and was open for traffic in September 2011. Lake Purdy Bridge

Alabama Living

Congratulations to Jim Appleton of Sand Mountain EC., the correct guess winner.

JULY 2016 9

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| Power Pack |

You can still file and suspend, even with these changes

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ou probably heard that changes in the law now affect the way you file for certain Social Security benefits. These changes place limits on when voluntary suspension and reinstatement can begin for you and your family members who might also be entitled to benefits on that record. This is not the demise of “file and suspend.” It’s still one of your best tools for boosting your Social Security benefit after you reach your full retirement age. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 made changes to the Social Security claims filed by married couples. The law affected an unintended loophole primarily used by married couples to gain more money. If you’re full retirement age or older and apply for Social Security retirement benefits, you can suspend your benefits for any amount of time up to age 70. You may do

this to earn “delayed retirement credits,” which result in a higher benefit payment when you turn 70 or when you request reinstatement of benefits, whichever comes first. Under the new law, when you submit a request to suspend your benefits to earn delayed retirement credits on or after April 30, 2016, you will no longer be able to receive spouse’s or widow(er)’s benefits during this voluntary delay period. In addition, if you suspend your benefit, any benefits payable to your spouse and children on your record (except for a divorced spouse) will also be suspended for the same time period. There is an exception. A request for voluntary suspension will not suspend a divorced spouse’s benefit. Also, your divorced spouse can receive benefits on your record during this voluntary delay period.

Remember, you can still plan and make the most of your retirement benefit by filing and suspending. These new rules don’t prevent you from doing what’s best for you and your family. We have a wealth of retirement information at www.socialsecurity. gov/planners/retire. For more information and answer to your questions about these changes in the law, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire/ claiming.html.

Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at kylle.mckinney@ssa.gov.

Letters to the editor

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

Decoration Day I’m very nostalgic and proud of my Southern heritage. That’s why I so enjoyed the feature article on “Decoration Day” (May 2016). I vividly recall the 4th Sunday in May. It was (and still is) Decoration Day at Forrest Home Methodist Church and New Hope Primitive Baptist Church where my parents and other relatives are buried. As a kid I loathed this day. My granddaddy was an elder at New Hope, and me being the oldest grandson, it fell to my charge to prep the cemetery…. A cemetery with NO grass. And it also meant shoes and “Sunday go to meeting” clothes. But by midday, I had a chicken leg in each hand and a great big slice of chocolate pie on my plate as I sat beneath the big oaks surrounding the church. Those memories are now dear to me. Thanks for rekindling them. Phillip Burgess Chattanooga, Tenn.

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Twinkle Cavanaugh, center, president of the Alabama Public Service Commission, and state Rep. April Weaver, left, stand with linemen from across the state at Lineman Appreciation Day. PHOTO BY ALLISON GRIFFIN

Those who keep the lights on honored at Alabama Lineman Day

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hen the power goes out, they’re here for you. More than 50 linemen from Alabama’s rural electric co-ops, Alabama Power and the state’s municipal utilities gathered in downtown Montgomery in early June for the third annual Alabama Lineman Appreciation Day, which is set aside as a time to say “thank you” for keeping our electricity safe and reliable. Several public officials, including Twinkle Cavanaugh, president of the Alabama Public Service Commission; Art Faulkner, director of the Alabama Emergency Management Agency; and state Rep. April Weaver, who

sponsored the original resolution establishing Lineman Appreciation Day, spoke at the event. Weaver’s grandfather was a lineman. But the event featured more than accolades from officials. Patrick Turner of Joe Wheeler EMC and Robert Tutt of Black Warrior EMC both spoke on “A Lineman’s Perspective,” where they gave their unique insights into a job that is dangerous but also extremely rewarding. The linemen were honored with a catered lunch at the Montgomery Biscuits minor league baseball stadium. Photos of linemen at work were shown on the stadium’s outfield jumbo screen. www.alabamaliving.coop


| Power Pack | GUEST COLUMNIST

Cyber counter-attack

How co-ops keep hackers away from the electric grid By Paul Wesslund

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bout 3:30 in the afternoon last December 23, operators at three electric utilities halfway around the world in western Ukraine found themselves not to be solely in control of their computer terminals. Someone from outside the utilities had taken over the controls and started opening circuit breakers at more than 27 substations, cutting power to more than 200,000 customers. Thousands of fake calls clogged utility switchboards, preventing people from phoning in to get information about the outage. Utility workers switched to manual operations, and it took three hours to restore power. That’s not a movie plot. And if you missed or forgot about that news report from last year, people who run electric utilities have not. Attention to cyber security at electric utilities has been growing fast in the past few years, and the Ukraine attack pushed that trend into overdrive. “It’s garnered a lot of attention from the federal government and throughout the industry,” says Barry Lawson, associate director of power delivery and reliability for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). A big part of Lawson’s job is helping the nearly 1,000 electric co-ops in the country understand digital-age dangers, and ensuring that they know how to protect and secure the power supply, electric grid, and co-op members and employees from Internet mischief. Electric co-ops are showing they do understand the importance of cyber security, says Cynthia Hsu, cyber security program manager for business and technology strategies at NRECA. “Electric co-ops were the first utilities to test and use the U.S. Department of Energy’s cyber security self-assessment tool,” says Hsu. “They are often on the cutting edge of implementing best practices to improve their cyber security capabilities.” While the Ukraine cyber attack has been studied in-depth by U.S. utilities and the federal Department of Homeland Security, most analysts see a large-scale attack by hackers as unlikely to succeed in this country. The reports characterize the Alabama Living

Ukraine attack as extremely well planned and coordinated, but not technically sophisticated. The Ukraine incident actually started as early as March of last year, when utility workers received e-mails with Microsoft Office documents, such as an Excel spreadsheet, from the Ukrainian parliament. But the emails were not from the Ukrainian parliament. When workers followed the email instructions asking them to click on a link to “enable macros,” malicious malware embedded in the documents––called BlackEnergy 3––secretly infected the system. Among other capabilities, BlackEnergy 3 can enable an adversary to observe and copy all the keystrokes made on the infected computers, giving hackers passwords and other login information needed to access the utility’s operations control systems.

Upgrading training and security

Defenses against that kind of attack are pretty basic, and you’ve probably even heard the warnings yourself—don’t click on any links or attachments unless you were expecting the message to be sent to you. Utilities are increasing their efforts to enhance and formalize their security plans, processes and controls. New cyber security standards require upgraded levels of training for utility operators, multiple layers of security to shield operational and control systems from the Internet and even stricter procedures for visitor access (physical and electronic) to control rooms. These utilities are regularly audited for cyber security compliance, and regulators, such as the Federal Energy

Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), can levy strict penalties for not following standards. NRECA’s Lawson describes an example of one type of security technology, a security token—a physical device an operator would carry with them that changes their password every 30 seconds. NRECA has also worked with the Department of Energy to develop software called Essence, which constantly monitors a utility’s system for even a microsecond of irregularity that might indicate some kind of hacking attempt or malware is interfering with the system. With all that attention to keeping the electricity flowing, Lawson says there’s another major cyber-threat receiving high-priority attention from electric coops—protecting data and critical utility information to avoid identity theft of members’ information. He says some co-ops hire firms to periodically try to hack into their computer systems, so the co-op can identify and fix the holes in their security. Lawson describes a scary world of cyber terrorists, organized crime, issue-oriented groups or just kids in their basement seeing what kind of trouble they can cause on the Internet. At the same time, he compares those high-tech threats to risks posed by hurricanes or the everyday need for paying attention to safety at the electric cooperative. Co-ops regularly use risk assessment and management practices to balance a wide range of threats to their systems. “Physical security and cyber security are becoming just another cost of doing business,” says Lawson. “You’ll never be 100 percent secure, and all you can do is try your best to keep up with the bad guys. It’s a fact of life in these days and times we’re living in.” Paul Wesslund writes on cooperative issues for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives. JULY 2016  11


clouds Head in the

Jim Voss was awarded Auburn University’s Lifetime Achievement Award earlier this year. Voss joined the faculty of the University of Colorado as a full-time scholar in residence in 2009.

CONTRIBUTED

PHOTOS BY JON COOK, HIGH 5 PRODUCTIONS

Voss logged more than nine hours of EVA, or spacewalk, time in both U.S. and Russian space suits during Expedition 2 in 2001.

12 JULY 2016

Astronaut’s dreams began in his Alabama youth By Lindsay Miles

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rowing up in rural Alabama, Jim Voss dreamed of space travel, exploration and life beyond our planet. The prolific reader would immerse himself in science fiction novels, captivated by the idea of one day reaching space. Raised by his grandparents in Opelika, Voss came from humble beginnings, and would go on to be one of the few astronauts from the state, dedicating 10 years to shuttle space flights and conducting an eighthour and 56-minute spacewalk, the longest to date in 2001 on board the Space Shuttle Discovery. “I think that my love for reading really shaped what I did later on in my life, because as a kid, I thought being an astronaut would be a wonderful thing to do in life. However, we didn’t have astronauts at that time or a real space program,” Voss says. “I kept these ideas in the back of my mind, and when we did establish a space program, I thought again, ‘what a neat thing to do.’” Voss went on to receive an Army ROTC scholarship from Auburn University, which he happily accepted. While at Auburn, he was a part of the wrestling team and a member of Theta Xi fraternity, which led to his first date with his future wife, Suzan. “We were picking sweethearts for our fraternity, and I was assigned to Suzan,” Voss says. “I picked her up for our dinners and social events. She didn’t like me at first, and I understood that completely. I asked her out again after our ‘required’ dating came to an end, and to my surprise, she said ‘yes.’ We went on to date throughout college and got married after she graduated.” Voss, with another year left to complete his aerospace engineering degree, remained a student at Auburn during their first year of marriage. “Aerospace engineering was always a good fit for me,” he says. “I enjoyed what

I was doing. I wanted to be an astronaut, but when we started producing astronauts, they only used test pilots, and I couldn’t be one because I didn’t have good eyes.” After graduating from Auburn in 1972, Voss was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He spent the first two years after entry into active duty attending the University of Colorado where he received his master’s degree in aerospace engineering in 1974. He then attended U.S. Army Airborne and Ranger schools and was stationed with the 2nd Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment in West Germany, serving as a platoon leader, intelligence staff officer and company commander. He returned to the United States and attended the Infantry Officer Advanced Course where he taught in the Department of Mechanics at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. “In 1978, they started the space shuttle program and selected different kinds of astronauts, including scientists and engineers, who could do more than just fly,” Voss says. “They loosened the eye requirements, and I began applying. I thought they’d created it just for me.”

Determination and a dream

CONTRIBUTED

Voss is married to the former Suzan Curry, a member of the Dean’s Leadership Council in the Auburn College of Science and Mathematics.

Alabama Living

His determination to become an astronaut and fulfill his childhood dream was unwavering. Five applications and nine years later, Voss was selected to become a NASA astronaut in 1987. He began training for space shuttle flights as well as training in Russia as a backup crew member to the Mir Space Station. In 1991, Voss began his 10 years of shuttle space flights, including five separate space flights and 163 days as a member of the Expedition 2 crew on the International Space Station. “You train so much that you really are ready and prepared to go into space,” he says. “NASA does a great job of training, so you have a picture of what it will be like. We spent a lot of time in simulators, did weightless training and experiments. It’s like training for a sporting event. A basketball team will do a lot of dribbling practice, then passing practice, then piece it all together.” Of all of his flights, Voss says his very first ascent into space was the most exciting. “You’re anticipating so many things and they’re all happening so fast that you don’t have time to savor the moment,” Voss said. “In later flights, you have more appreciation for the finer parts of it. There are things that you truly can’t simulate until you’re in space. The view out the window cannot be simulated. Pictures or movies

Voss, left, and Expedition 2 pilot Jim Kelly pose for a good-natured Iron Bowl rivalry photo. Voss is an Auburn graduate, and Kelly received a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Alabama in 1996.

can’t do it justice.” Since his retirement from NASA in 2003, Voss has been a professor and associate dean of engineering at Auburn, vice president for space exploration systems at the Transformational Space Corporation, vice president of engineering for SpaceDev and director of advanced programs at Sierra Nevada Corporation. In 2009, Voss joined the faculty at the University of Colorado as a full-time scholar in residence. He was inducted into the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame in 2001. Although semi-retired, Voss continues to teach classes on human spaceflight and mentor graduate students at the University of Colorado. “I find teaching and sharing my experiences with young people to be very satisfying,” said Voss. “All of my experiences have been interesting and rewarding in their own way. I really liked being a solider. It mattered to me that I was serving my country. Being an astronaut was just fantastic. How wonderfully rewarding to be a part of something so exciting that you dream about and work hard to be able to do.” As for the future of space flight, Voss, a member of the NASA advisory council, says next stop: Mars. “The long-term goal is to go to Mars and explore a different world in our solar system,” he says. “We’re working on a big rocket to get to Mars, and a lot of that work is being done at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. There are so many exciting things in the works, and we’ll see our nation’s space program go even deeper into space in the next 10 years.”¢ JULY 2016  13


Alabama has a proud tradition of being both a birthplace and training ground for astronauts. Among them:

Alabama’s proud space heritage

Clifton Williams (1932 – 1967), of Mobile, was a naval aviator, test pilot, mechanical engineer, major in the United States Marine Corps and NASA astronaut. Although he did not travel to space, he served as backup pilot for the mission Gemini 10, which took flight in 1966. He attended Auburn University where he received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1954.

Space Shuttle Challenger on the German D-1 Space lab mission in October 1985. Hartsfield retired from NASA in 1997 and joined Raytheon, serving as vice president for aerospace engineering services in Houston. He retired from Raytheon in April 2005.

Dr. Mae Jemison (1956 – present), originally of Decatur, became the first African-American woman to travel in space while aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1992. She served six years as a NASA astronaut and has since founded and leads the 100 Year Starship, an initiative of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, to assure the capability for human interstellar space travel. Among her many honors and awards, Jemison is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Peace Corps Medical Officer for Sierra Leone and Liberia, and professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth College. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University and went on to receive her medical degree at Cornell University. Henry W. “Hank” Hartsfield (1933 – 2014) was born in Birmingham, in 1933. He graduated from Auburn University in 1954 where he was a part of the Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC). He began graduate school at Duke University but was called into active duty a year later by the Air Force. While stationed in North Carolina, Hartsfield met and married Judy Frances Massey. Following a tour in Bitburg, Germany, Hartsfield was selected for the USAF Test Pilot School. He graduated in 1965 and remained as an instructor until October 1966 when he was selected as a military astronaut on the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) Program. The program was canceled in 1969 and Hartsfield was assigned to NASA as an astronaut.  Hartsfield held various positions with the Astronaut Office, most significantly providing the pilot’s input on the development of the space shuttle entry flight control system. He piloted Space Shuttle Columbia’s fourth and final orbital flight test in June 1982, commanded the first flight of Space Shuttle Discovery in August 1984 and commanded 14 JULY 2016

Jan Davis (1953 - present), a veteran of three space flights, began working for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center as an aerospace engineer in 1979 and was soon selected as an astronaut. Davis has logged more than 673 hours in space. The Huntsville native retired from NASA in 2005 and began working with Jacobs Technology as vice president and general manager. She has been inducted in the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame, the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame and the Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Executive. Davis received a bachelor’s degree in applied biology from the Georgia Institute of Technology, another bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Auburn University, and master’s and doctorate degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Alabama at Huntsville. Jim Kelly (1964 – present) is a NASA Astronaut and retired colonel with the United States Air Force. Selected by NASA in April 1996, Kelly reported to the Johnson Space Center where he completed two years of training and evaluation. He served as pilot on two shuttle missions. Initially, Kelly was assigned to the Astronaut Office Flight Support Branch where he served as a member of the Astronaut Support Personnel team responsible for shuttle launch preparation. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in astronautical engineering from the United States Air Force Academy, and received his master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Alabama in 1996. Joe Edwards (1958 – present), a Lineville native, is an aerospace engineer, former naval officer and aviator, test pilot and NASA astronaut. He has flown 4,000 hours in more than 25 different aircrafts and logged more than 650 carrier-arrested landings. In October 1991, while serving as maintenance officer of VF-142, he was flying over the Persian Gulf when the radome separated from his airplane and destroyed his canopy. Edwards sustained a collapsed lung and broken arm, but managed to land aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was

awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his airmanship. Edwards received his bachelor’s degree from the United States Naval Academy and his master’s degree from the University of Tennessee. Kathryn “Kay” Hire (1959 – present) is a Mobile native, NASA astronaut, and captain in the U.S. Navy Reserve. Hire has flown aboard two space missions including the Space Shuttle Columbia. She received her bachelor’s degree in engineering and management from the United States Naval Academy and her master’s degree in space technology from the Florida Institute of Technology. Her most recent space flight was in 2010 when she journeyed to the International Space Station as a Mission Specialist for Space Shuttle mission STS-130. Her many awards and honors include a NASA Space Flight Medal, War on Terrorism Service Medal and Defense Superior Service Medal, to name a few. Kathryn Thornton (1952 – present) was the second woman to walk in space, setting a record for the number of spacewalks and total time spent on spacewalks. The Montgomery native logged more than 16 million miles in orbit and was the first woman to participate in a classified U.S. Government space mission. She was a member of the first crew to return to orbit following the 1986 Challenger disaster. Thornton went on to complete three more shuttle flights during her time with NASA. She graduated from Auburn University in 1974 and then went on to receive her master’s and doctorate degrees in physics from the University of Virginia, where she is currently a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. Ken Mattingly (1936 – present) is a former naval officer and aviator, flag officer, aeronautical engineer, test pilot, rear admiral in the United States Navy and NASA astronaut who flew on the Apollo 16, STS-4 and STS-51-C missions. He was scheduled to fly on Apollo 13, but was held back due to concerns about a potential illness. He later flew as Command Module Pilot for Apollo 16, making him one of only 24 people to have flown to the Moon. He attended Auburn University where he received his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering in 1958. www.alabamaliving.coop


Alabama Living

JULY 2016  15


Filling the grocery gap West Alabama town’s abandoned gym has new life, thanks to supermarket Story and photos by Jim Plott

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ou can’t toss a basketball inside the Marengo County High School gym anymore, but you can find the ingredients for a tossed salad – and a steak and potato to go along with it if you like. Although the refurbished basketball goals remain positioned on each wall as vivid reminders of the glory years of the green and white Marengo County Tigers, these days the gym is known as Dave’s Market, a full-fledged supermarket. And that, as far as everyone in the town of Thomaston is concerned, is a victory of its own. Before the grocery opened in February, the Marengo County town had gone 20 years without a grocery store, requiring residents to drive 15 to 20 miles to pick up fresh produce or a jumbo size box of laundry detergent. “It’s like having a refrigerator in your backyard,” said local resident Dorothy Murray on the store’s opening day. It all spells good news for a town with a large elderly population and where golf carts are one of the main modes of transportation; they make up much of the town’s Christmas parade. “We have an older population that depends on somebody else to take them to a grocery store and this gives them a new sense of independence,” says Mayor Jeff Laduron. “It’s also going to be a tremendous lifesaver for this small town. We needed desperately to have some revenue to operate the town and provide services and this is going to help.”

Closed since the 1980s

A few years before, the gym was destined to be dismantled, leaving only a pile of rubble and a heap of memories. Closed along with the school in the 1980s, the gym over the decades had fallen in decay and more resembled a greenhouse with vegetation and trees growing inside. It was so dilapidated that it was not even considered when Laduron and Brenda Tuck, director of the Marengo County Economic Development Authority, began meeting more than two years ago with David Oliver, owner of Dave’s Market in Valley Grande in Dallas County, to encourage him to locate a second Dave’s Market in Thomaston. The main school building, although with lesser structural deficiencies, did not fit the layout needs for a grocery store. Both buildings are owned by the town. That changed when a land deal fell through. “I brought a contractor with me and he said it could be done,” says Oliver, who started in the grocery business 50 years ago bagging groceries and mopping floors. As fortune would have it, the roots of the brush and trees had not penetrated the concrete floor and they were easily removable. The town, as part of the agreement, turned the deed to the gym over to Oliver, who began the nearly year-long process of converting it into a grocery store. The town was able to obtain grants, assistance and guidance from the USDA Rural Development, the Delta 16  JULY 2016

TOP: Worked continued on converting the Marengo County High School gym into a super market throughout the winter. The gym sits beside the former school. TOP INSET: The Thomaston gym as viewed from the outside before renovation began. BOTTOM: Workers turned their focus to renovating the interior after the new roof was added to the building. BOTTOM INSET: The interior of the Thomaston gym as cleanup gets under way.

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Alabama Living

JULY 2016  17


Regional Authority, the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, the Alabama Tombigbee Regional Commission, and the Marengo County Commission. The town also brought its industrial development board out of hibernation to help fulfill the project. “Patience and partnerships are what it takes in rural communities to be able to move forward,” Tuck says. “(Oliver) saw potential there and the town was willing to step up and do a lot of things to make this happen. Everybody has been willing to do their part to make this come together.”

From food desert to food oasis

18  JULY 2016

David Oliver (center with brown coat), flanked by Mayor Jeff Laduron and Economic Director Brenda Tuck, prepares to cut the ribbon at the grand opening in February.

YEARBOOK PHOTO

With the store’s opening the town went from being a rural food desert to a food oasis that has attracted shoppers from outlying communities in all directions. The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines a rural food desert as an area in which residents have to travel 10 or more miles to obtain to fresh fruits and other healthy foods. Clifton McKnight, who lives in nearby Dayton and attended Thomaston High School, said the combination of obtaining a super market and saving the gym was a double win. “I am just glad to see it saved,” McKnight says. “I am also glad that it’s being used for something that is so beneficial to the community. It will benefit the area in so many ways.” The town, not to be confused the much larger Thomasville just down the highway, was settled as early as 1830, but did not become a city until 1901. The school was built eight years later and the gym was constructed in 1954. “I was still in high school when (the gym) was built,” recalls McKnight’s older brother, William, who also played sports at the school. “I know we had some good basketball games there.” In recent years the school grounds are host to the town’s annual Pepper Jelly Festival. The festival is a byproduct of the Alabama Rural Heritage Center, which is housed in the school’s former home economics building and features an art gallery and now a small restaurant. Laduron, meanwhile, says the town isn’t finished. The town recently received a $192,000 grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation to revitalize its downtown area, and Laduron said there may be another retail store in the making. Dave’s Market, meanwhile, also seems to be going full throttle. The store recently put in an order for another 50 grocery carts, doubling the number its currently has. “We celebrate this grocery store like some other places would celebrate getting a Super Walmart or something like that,” Laduron says. “Everywhere I go – either in town or just out of town – people tell me how excited they are about having this (grocery store) in town.”¢

From the gym’s heyday: A Thomaston player attempts a shot against Linden in a 1960 game.

A variety of meats and an on-staff butcher are offered by Dave’s Market.

Dave’s Market offers the community fresh produce throughout the year. www.alabamaliving.coop


YEARBOOK PHOTO

Alabama Living

JULY 2016  19


A dog’s life Writer’s beloved companions are metaphors for love and loss By Jennifer Crossley Howard

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n a culture of oversharing, online and otherwise, readers crave columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson’s eloquent insights into a complicated and beautiful South.  Her fourth memoir, The Dogs Buried Over the Bridge, (John F. Blair, publisher, $26.95) debuted this spring. Readers know her as a forthright writer who loves Paris and Hank Williams almost as much as her adopted state of Mississippi. Born in Colquitt, Ga., and educated at Auburn University, she made a name nationally writing columns at the Commercial Appeal in Memphis and then at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Her latest book chronicles her life alongside

her dogs — those that were simply there and the one that broke her heart. The book follows her 2012 title, Hank Hung the Moon and Warmed Our Cold, Cold Hearts (featured in the August 2012 Alabama Living). “I wanted to write about things in life that are constant,” Johnson says, sitting at a sidewalk cafe in Florence, Ala. “One is my love of music and that I covered in the Hank book, and this involves the idea of living a simple life. Any life of mine has involved dogs.” Writing about such a subject meant breaking a cardinal rule her editor at the Commercial Appeal gave her in 1982. Back then, she was the paper’s first female col-

umnist, save the society pages.  “Don’t write about your dogs or your kids,” he told her.  She read between the lines that he was saying don’t write like a woman. Lose the sentimentality at the typewriter. This was more than 20 years before journalist John Grogan published his memoir, Marley & Me, about a rambunctious and devoted Labrador retriever.  “I guess I’ve always felt cheated that I should be able to write about my dogs if I want to,” Johnson says. “It’s sort of a feminist tract in a way because men always get to write about their dogs.” Many of her column datelines are from Fishtrap Hollow, a crook of Pickwick Lake

Johnson’s home in Iuka, Miss. COURTESY RHETA GRIMSLEY JOHNSON

20 JULY 2016

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in Iuka, Miss., where Johnson remany, having grown up in Montsides. The cozy home with plenty gomery, she landed in Mississippi of decks, antique roses and acres in 1979, and has lived there part for dog roaming tends to pique time or full-time ever since.  the curiosity of her readers. The “Kathryn (Tucker) Windham book is as much a recount of what used to give me a hard time. All her dogs taught her as it is a love the time she’d say, ‘You’re an Alabama girl,’ ” Johnson says. “ ‘When letter to Fishtrap Hollow and its are you going to move back?’ ”  zany cast of characters.  Mississippi is a bit softer “Whenever I would write about around the edges, she added, but dogs I would get all these heartfelt one prominent Alabamian proved letters, and people wanted to hear most influential to her. about my dog because they knew “The person I learned the most what I was saying,” Johnson says. about writing from and am still “This, then, is about the place. The learning from every day is Hank people and the animals and kind Williams,” Johnson says. “If you of ties it all up nicely, I hope, and can learn to tell love story in three maybe satisfies people who want minutes and forty-three seconds, to know more about this place.” which is how long ‘Cold, Cold Johnson bought her home at Rheta with her husband, Hines, and their dog Hank, named after PHOTO BY JOHN F. BLAIR, PUBLISHER Heart’ is, that’s good writing. Fishtrap Hollow as a hideaway to Hank Williams. That’s profound.” clear her mind and find some sort oir, Johnson covered the suicide of her Her love for Hank led to the book about of peace and identity during a looming diboyfriend, the recent death of her second vorce. It became her permanent home, one his life, and a play about him that debuted husband, Don Grierson, and the life of a that made her heart ache while she sat in this year in Pell City, written with John M. young reporter trying and thriving in the Atlanta traffic.  Williams. Their bond made a great substiheyday of newspapers.  tute for the newsroom camaraderie John“I was miserable in Atlanta, not because “That was the closest to the bone I had son missed being on the road scouting colof the paper but because of the city,” Johnever written,” Johnson says. “Don had just umns for most of her career.  son says. “Once you’ve been out, it’s hard died, and I didn’t care what people thought She plans to start writing another play to get back to the city.” about me. It was probably the most honest She intends for Dogs to be her last book, this summer. She finds the changeable mewriting I ever did.” and she wrote it as such, with a frankness dium refreshing after a career of 550-word She wrote Dogs at her home and during that daily newspapers don’t always allow.  columns.  travels to Montgomery and Colorado. It “When a book comes out or a newspaThe raw writing is reminiscent of Entook longer to write than others because chanted Evening Barbie and the Second per article or column, it’s too late,” Johnson her parents were ill, and both soon died. Coming, published in 2010. In that memsays. “This is a living thing.” The convergence of family during that Johnson’s latest work, a memoir that tells Rheta Grimsley Johnson during an interview in time brought plenty of grief, surprises and her life story through the lives of her canine Florence, Ala. humor she plans to mine on paper.  companions. PHOTO BY JENNIFER CROSSLEY HOWARD A view of Pike’s Peak and the absence of friends and neighbors allowed her to write without interruption while her husband, Hines Hall, taught a history class at Colorado College.  A puppy portrait hung above her desk in Colorado, a dog that could have passed for Mabel, pronounced “May-belle.” She is the dog, the blond Labrador, who broke Johnson’s heart. Before Mabel, dogs were just dogs — they lived outside, and made nice companions. They were kept at a comfortable distance. Johnson describes Mabel as the child she never had. Her black-rimmed Cleopatra eyes even inspired Johnson to get permanent eyeliner. In this interview, Johnson laughed and shared plenty of her trademark wit, but she spoke softer, quieter about her Mabel.  “There’s always one,” Johnson says. “It’s like the people in your life. You love a lot of people but there’s got to be one.”  Though Johnson’s ties to Alabama are Alabama Living

JULY 2016  21


| Gardens |

Making the most of rain

PHOTOS BY KATIE JACKSON

Rain chains can be made from almost anything, such as these decorative metal rings that, linked together, help direct rain drops from the rooftop and gutter to the ground or to a bowl, rain barrel, birdbath or pond below.

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e can’t control the weather, but we can harness it. Take rainfall, for example. Knowing that our Alabama summers are likely to be hot and dry, I’ve tried to make my garden as drought-tolerant as possible by using native plants and plants that don’t require a lot of water. But I still have a number of plants that can’t rely solely on the whims of summer rains. To help water those plants, and also to harness the pleasure of a rain event, I’ve installed some ancient contraptions — rain barrels and rain chains. Rain barrels, which are available in a wide range of styles and sizes or can be built from repurposed containers, are catchment devices that, when attached to downspouts on buildings, funnel water off roofs for future use. The idea isn’t new — humans have used rainwater catchment systems for thousands of years — but in modern times rain barrels have also been used to reduce the use of public water resources and keep at least some rainwater from running into storm drain systems. We installed three rain barrels around our house several years ago and are generally pleased with them, but I have learned a few lessons in how to make them more functional. My first lesson: I should have thought bigger. A single average rain event usually fills our 60-gallon barrels to the brim and often they overflow far too quickly. To mitigate this, any future barrels I buy will be bigger, or I may get additional 60-gallon barrels and link them together to handle the overflow. Turn the page for more

A rain chain may help your children say “rain, rain, come today,” instead of “rain, rain, go away.”

22  JULY 2016

Ê

Katie Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at katielamarjackson@ gmail.com.

www.alabamaliving.coop


Alabama Living

JULY 2016  23


My second lesson was in the physics realm. Most rain barrels rely on gravitational flow to empty, which means they either need a motorized pump or must be raised (usually 2 to 3 feet above ground level) to provide sufficient water pressure to irrigate some of my plants. I used cinderblocks to raise my barrels, though if you want a more attractive option, you can buy or build specifically designed rain barrel stands. I also attached soaker hoses, the kinds with small holes along their length that allow water to slowly seep out, to my barrels and use these to drip-irrigate around the bases of my shrubs. Another problem I’ve had is mosquitoes, which like to breed in my water barrels. I control these pests by draining the barrels frequently and putting either A bag or two of colorful zip ties and some fun beads are all you need to create a kid-friendly rain chain.

slow-dissolving mosquito “dunk” tablets, a tablespoon of liquid dish soap or a quarter-cup of vegetable oil to the barrels each week or after each rain event. These treatments won’t hurt plants when the water is used for irrigation. Because I also want to harvest the beauty of rainfall, I have installed a couple of rain chains, too. Rain chains have been used for hundreds of years in Japan (and in other parts of the world) as decorative downspouts to channel rainwater away from the foundation of buildings or into rain barrels, decorative bowls or even birdbaths and garden ponds. Rain chains are usually attached to gutters in lieu of downspouts and are typically made from decorative metal rings or small pots linked together, but they can

also be created using all sorts of repurposed items, such as watering cans and even silverware. While you can purchase rain chains from a variety of retail outlets, they can also be fun do-it-yourself projects. My 5-year-old grandson and I recently made one by linking together colorful zip ties — which was more festive than elegant, but was a perfect project for a summer day. Much more information on rain barrels, rain chains and other water-saving options is available online and through local Cooperative Extension offices, retail garden centers, public gardens and water agencies, many of which host rain harvesting workshops that can help you — and your plants — better harness and enjoy the rain.

Rain barrels come in all shapes and sizes, many of which add a handsome design element to the exterior areas of your home. They also provide ready access to water for irrigating landscape plants and those ever-thirsty containerized plants on your patios and porches

July Tips   

 

Plant heat-tolerant annual and perennial flowers. Plant late-season summer vegetables. Begin starting seed for early fall vegetables and start selecting seed for later-season vegetables. Divide over-crowded perennials and irises. Remove (deadhead) faded flowers from annuals, perennials and summer-blooming lilies. Remove fallen fruit from under fruit trees and bushes to avoid attracting pests or promoting disease. Refresh mulch around shrubs, trees and in garden beds to help retain moisture in the soil, keep roots cooler and suppress weeds. Watch out for insect and disease problems in the lawn, landscape, garden beds and on potted plants and treat as needed when they occur. Safely store lawn equipment and chemicals that may be harmful to children and pets. Guard against sunburn and insect bites by using sunscreen and insect repellent and wearing protective clothing, hats and gloves.

24 JULY 2016

www.alabamaliving.coop


Alabama Living

JULY 2016  25


| Consumer Wise |

Wash the energy waste out of your laundry By Patrick Keegan and Amy Wheeless

Q:

We have two kids, which means we do a lot of laundry—it never ends! What are some ways we can reduce our energy use in the laundry room?

A:

The average American family washes about 300 loads of laundry per year—all that laundry uses a lot of energy! However, there are some easy ways to reduce your energy use in the laundry room. Consider purchasing more efficient appliances: One of the biggest changes you can make is to purchase a new ENERGY STAR-certified washer and dryer. Washers with this certification use about 40 percent less water and 25 percent less energy than standard washers. ENERGY STAR washers can be top-loading or front-loading machines; however, front-loading machines are generally more water and energy efficient, helping offset any additional upfront costs. ENERGY STAR dryers use 20 percent less energy than standard dryers. Visit ENERGYSTAR.gov for more information about estimated water and energy use of all of their certified products. Get out of hot water: The easiest source of energy efficiency in the laundry room is to stop using hot water. Almost 90 percent of the energy consumed by your washing machine is used to heat water—but most loads of laundry can be just as easily cleaned with cold water. Using cooler water is also easier on your clothes. If you need to use hot or warm water on a particularly dirty load of laundry, a well-insulated water heater will help decrease the costs of using warmer water. Do fewer loads! When possible, wash a full load of clothes. However, when you must do a smaller load of laundry, remember to adjust the water level settings on your machine. Help your dryer out: One of the best ways to reduce the amount of drying time is to get as much water out of the clothes as possible in the washing machine—use a higher spin setting to wring the extra water out of your laundry. When you are ready to dry, remember not to overfill the dryer so there is enough room for drying air to reach the clothes. Use your dryer’s features: If your dryer has a moisture sensor, use it rather than guessing how long each load of laundry will need to dry. A dryer’s cool-down cycle uses the residual heat to finish drying your clothes, without using as much energy. Dry like with like: Heavy fabrics, like towels and blankets, should be dried separately from lighter fabrics, like T-shirts. When using a dryer’s moisture sensor, the dryer will keep running until the wettest (and probably heaviest) item is dry. Rather than one

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

Your solar-powered dryer: a clothesline! FREEIMAGES/JULIA EISENBERG

towel extending the drying time for each of your loads of laundry, dry the towels together. Live lint free: Clean the lint trap on your dryer regularly to help air circulation. Periodically use a vacuum nozzle to clean the area under or behind the lint filter, where lint can also get caught. If you use dryer sheets, scrub the filter clean about once a month—dryer sheets can leave a film on the filter that reduces air flow. Remember safety: Your laundry room extends from the back of the dryer, down the dryer duct and all the way to the end of your dryer vent. Inspect your outside dryer vent regularly to make sure it is not blocked, and periodically work with a professional to clean your dryer ducts. Making sure the duct and vent are clear not only helps your dryer work more efficiently, but can also prevent a fire— more than 15,000 fires per year are sparked by clogged dryer ducts and vents. If possible, move the dryer closer to an exterior wall to shorten the length of the dryer duct and make sure the duct is as straight as possible—this helps reduce the opportunities for clogging and increases efficiency. Use your solar-powered dryer: Going “old-fashioned” and air drying your clothes will definitely reduce your energy use! You can also tumble dry clothes until damp, then line dry them until fully dry—taking this step can prevent the “crunchy” feeling that line dried clothes can sometimes have. There are many ways you can wash the energy waste out of your laundry routine. Try a few of these simple tips, and “load up” on the savings! This column was co-written by Pat Keegan and Amy Wheeless of Collaborative Efficiency. For more information on how to make your laundry room efficient, please visit: www.collaborativeefficiency.com/ energytips.

Without regular cleaning, a dryer duct can become clogged with lint, making your dryer less efficient and putting you at risk of a fire. FLICKR/AMBOO WHO HTTPS://FLIC.KR/P/CHVWCU

26  JULY 2016

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28  JULY 2016

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July | Around Alabama

15-17

The Red Door Theatre in Union Springs presents “Last Train to Nibroc” July 28-30.

July-September, Wetumpka, The Kelly Fitzpatrick Memorial Gallery, 408 South Main St., features a new exhibition of a long-time Wetumpka resident’s artwork. The Priscilla Crommelin: Her Life and Work exhibition—composed of 69 works, 22 of which have never been exhibited before—is open through September 21. Her work includes vibrant landscapes, portraits, floral and still life paintings. Priscilla Cooper Scott Crommelin was an internationally renowned artist with deep roots in the River Region. She and her husband, a U.S. Navy Captain, lived throughout Europe and the Middle East during his career. After he retired, they returned to Wetumpka and made their home at the Toulouse Plantation. Mrs. Crommelin died in 2010 at the age of 91. Thekelly.org

Birmingham, Thunder on the Mountain will illuminate the skies above Birmingham’s beloved iron man, Vulcan. Free to the public, this year’s show will last approximately 20 minutes and will feature a variety of firework shells that will brighten the sky with new colors and patterns. The show will be choreographed to a musical soundtrack of patriotic favorites and popular music. Fireworks begin at 9 p.m. with Vulcan Park and Museum closing at 6 p.m. No spectators will be allowed inside the park or at the entrance to Vulcan Trail. Visitvulcan.com

Thursdays in July, Lineville, Join us every Thursday evening 7 at Lineville’s City Park for the 13th annual Summer Sizzle free outdoor music series. Brought to you by the Clay County Arts League. Alabamaclaycounty.com

Selma, The Alabama River Chili Cook-off is a fun way to showcase Central Alabama’s best amateur and seasoned chefs. All proceeds go to Selma Area Food Bank. Team entry for the event is $50, non-refundable. Gates open at 4 p.m. $5 entrance fee. Historic Water Avenue, Selma. Contact Becky Glaze (334) 875-2600, becky@henrybrick.com or Leslie Free (334) 878-4543, Lesliefree@pinebelt.net for further information or questions.

3-4

8

Grand Bay, Grand Bay Watermelon Festival will feature rides, arts and crafts vendors, car show, free watermelon and other food vendors. Free admission on Sunday, 3-7 p.m., $5 per vehicle Monday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Walk-ins will be charged individually. Odd Fellows Festival Park, 10327 Taylor F. Harper Blvd. Grandbaywatermelonfestival.org

Dothan, Landmark Park presents Alabama Adventures, a special one-hour educational program providing a unique opportunity to learn about our natural world. Terry Morse of Big Bend Wildlife Sanctuary will present “Alabama Birds.” Morse will bring birds native to this region, including owls and other raptors. These birds are non-releaseable rehabilitated birds that have been given a new purpose as educational birds. Their feeding, hunting and nesting habits will

be discussed as well as what to do if you find orphaned or injured wildlife. Children ages 5 and older are encouraged to come with their families. Program begins at 10 a.m. in the park’s Interpretive Center Auditorium. Animal Adventures are free with park admission. Admission for adults is $4, $3 for children and free for park members. Registration required. 334-794-3452, landmarkparkdothan.com

9

Montgomery, Alabama Archives’ expert genealogist Nancy Dupree will lead a half-day genealogy workshop at the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH). Genealogy 101: A Workshop for Beginners will be from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. This workshop is tailored to those just beginning their family history research. Genealogy 10 will offer step-by-step instruction followed by hands-on research in the ADAH’s EBSCO Research Room, with full access to a vast number of resources and state-of-the-art research tools. Participants will be given a solid foundation to craft an effective research plan and learn valuable skills to help navigate the world of genealogical research. The registration fee for the general public is $30. Friends of the Alabama Archives members can register at a discounted rate of $20. Spaces are limited and advance registration is required. For more information and to register, visit www.archives.alabama.gov or contact Sarah McQueen at 334-242-4364 or sarah.mcqueen@archives.alabama.gov.

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

Alabama Living

Photo courtesy of Red Door Theatre.

Dauphin Island, 83rd Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo is a 3-day Captain’s Choice tournament and a Southern Kingfish Association (SKA) sanctioned event. The total awards package is valued up to $1 million in cash and prizes and anchored by a boat, motor and trailer packages. Event features 30 categories with prizes awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in all categories. One Master Angler is also awarded along with cash prizes for King Mackerel, Speckled Trout and Big Game Jackpots. Adsfr.com

1 6 

Birmingham, Join the Greater Birmingham Humane Society for its third Pup Crawl of the summer at Good People Brewing Company, 114 14th St. S., from 1 to 5 p.m. We will be imbibing in some of our favorite locally hand-crafted beers (or if you have more than two legs, a bowl of water). Furry friends and their humans can take part in the dog photo booth, activities and contests all while raising a beer to the GBHS. The T.A.R.A. van will also be on hand with adoptable dogs, gift shop items and exclusive Pup Crawl merchandise. A $10 donation earns entry into the event, as well as one entry for a chance to win a pair of Adele tickets!

23

Fairhope, 4th Annual Pelican Paddle will feature a race for various crafts, including solo and tandem kayaks, canoes and more. For those not competing, a leisurley Eco-Walk around the edge of Weeks Bay will be offered. Advanced registration ends July 22. For race divisions and registration information, visit weeksbay.org or call 251-990-5004.

28-30

Union Springs, The Red Door Theatre presents “Last Train to Nibroc,” a funny, touching portrait of two people searching for happiness. Set in the 1940s, it tells the story of Raleigh and May, two strangers who meet on a cross country train during WWII. This funny and touching tale of an unlikely romance follows the two as they search for their own happiness. Tickets are $15 and dinner is $15. For tickets, call 334-738-8687 or email conecuhpeople@knology.net. For information, visit reddoortheatre.org.

30

Millbrook, Learn about the different types of animal tracks and how to identify them at the NaturePlex. Event begins at 10 a.m. with a movie showing followed by a lesson in casting animal tracks. Admission $5 per person with a $20 cap per family. alabamawildlife.org

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JULY 2016 29

Al


| Outdoors |

Hooking up with a good charter captain Anglers fish for red snapper and other reef species with Capt. Sonny Alawine of Summer Breeze Charters in the Gulf of Mexico south of Orange Beach, Ala. PHOTO BY JOHN N. FELSHER

T

he federal government only allowed Alabama anglers nine days in June to fish for red snapper, but anglers can fish for them until July 31 in state waters, which extend out to nine miles from shore. “Biologists have assessed the resource in our waters and we feel that there are enough red snapper in Alabama waters to open an additional season to give our citizens the ability to catch more red snapper this year,” says Chris Blankenship, director of the Alabama Marine Resources Division. Despite the smallest coastline on the Gulf of Mexico, Alabama looms large among fishermen. To enhance fishing, the state placed about 20,000 artificial reefs in coastal waters, many within easy range of small boats running out of Orange Beach, Gulf Shores or Dauphin Island. Not everyone can afford a boat equipped for fishing offshore, so many people hire professional captains to take them. Considering the cost of buying, equipping, insuring and maintaining a large offshore boat, anglers who only fish a few times a year actually save money by hiring captains. Most charter captains provide all the bait and tackle necessary. Their customers need only show up at the appropriate time and place ready for action, but might want to bring some food and refreshments, a camera and other personal items. Don’t know how to fish? Don’t worry! Many charter guests have never touched a fishing rod or stepped onto a boat before John N. Felsher is a freelance writer and photographer who writes from Semmes, Ala. Contact him through his website at www. JohnNFelsher.com

30  JULY 2016

and may need the most basic instructions. Captains don’t mind teaching people how to fish. Most would probably rather work with a novice who will listen to instructions than a know-it-all who tries to run the boat. Before booking a trip with any guide or captain, do some research. A little time with a computer can eliminate many problems, save time and may even save money. Many charter captains host their own Internet sites or give fishing reports on other websites. After surfing the Internet, call some captains and ask questions. Talk to the captain directly, not a booking agent. If possible, visit the boat before deciding to hire a skipper. Questions customers might ask: > How does that captain fish, and is that what the customer really wants to do? If customers want to troll for marlin, they shouldn’t book a party boat heading out for four hours of bottom fishing around a reef. Some people don’t care what they catch. They just want to enjoy a good time. > Does this captain fish for the species I want to catch and how I want to catch them? > Is that species in season and is this a good time to catch it? For instance, someone shouldn’t try to book a snapper trip in August after the season closes. > What does the captain provide and what should I bring? What is included in the price and what costs extra? Customers and captains should agree upon special requests in advance to avoid surprises. > Some people also want to know about the captain’s reputation before booking a trip. How does this captain treat the customers? Does the captain find

fish? How is the boat and equipment? Since captains rely heavily upon word of mouth for bookings, most gladly answer any questions and might even give potential customers contact information for some people who recently fished with them. Since many boats stay booked during prime fishing times, customers should book a trip well in advance. Don’t call late one evening expecting to fish at dawn the next morning. After agreeing to a time and place, customers need to show up on time ready for a day on the water. If a customer must cancel a trip for some emergency, that person should contact the captain as quickly as possible so he or she can book another trip. Charter captains carry considerable responsibilities on their shoulders – most importantly, ensuring the safety of everyone aboard their vessels. However, some responsibilities fall on the customers. Customers need to show up with good attitudes to enjoy the day and not feel personally insulted if they don’t catch a state record. Even the best captains cannot guarantee that everyone catches a limit of their desired species, but they can do everything possible to make each day on the water safe and enjoyable for all. After taking a trip, don’t judge it by the amount of fish in an ice chest. Sometimes fish bite and sometimes they don’t. Consider the entire experience, the sights, the new friendships and the lasting memories. Remember, captains keep up with fish movements, but can’t control them and they can’t make fish bite. Also, captains cannot control the weather and sometimes must cancel a trip at the last minute for the safety of everyone involved. www.alabamaliving.coop


Alabama Gun Collectors Association Presents The

Guns of the cowboy era

SUMMER Gun Show

Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center 9th Avenue & 21st Street North Doors Open: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm Saturday, July 9, 2016 10:00 am - 4:00 pm Sunday, July 10, 2016 Admission: $9.00 Adults – Children under 12 FREE

ALGCA.ORG

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC—BUY—SELL—TRADE New and used Firearms, Accessories, Optics, Ammo Over 700 Tables: Largest Show in the Southeast ARMS – EDGED WEAPONS – ACCOUTREMENTS

To learn more about the Alabama Gun Collectors Association or to download a membership application, Go to: www.ALGCA.org or call 205-317-0948 for more information on how to join more than 2200 current members.

Tables indicate peak fish and game feeding and migration times. Major periods can bracket the peak by an hour before and an hour after. Minor peaks, half-hour before and after. Adjusted for daylight savings time.

a.m. p.m. Minor Major Minor Major

JUL 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 AUG 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

04:07 --01:22 01:52 02:37 03:22 09:52 11:07 --01:22 02:22 03:22 04:22 --01:07 01:52 02:22 03:07 09:22 10:22 ----01:52 03:07 04:07 04:52 -12:52 01:22 02:07 08:52 09:52 11:07 --12:52 02:22 03:22 04:22 05:07 --

Alabama Living

11:37 04:52 05:37 06:22 07:07 07:52 08:37 04:22 05:22 06:37 07:52 09:07 10:07 10:52 11:37 05:07 05:52 06:37 07:07 07:52 08:37 03:52 04:37 05:37 06:52 08:07 09:07 09:52 10:37 11:22 11:52 05:37 06:22 07:07 07:52 02:52 03:37 04:37 05:52 07:22 08:52 09:52 10:37 11:22 11:52 05:52

12:07 07:37 08:07 08:37 09:07 09:37 10:07 10:52 04:52 01:07 07:22 09:07 10:22 11:07 11:52 07:22 07:52 08:22 08:52 09:07 09:37 09:52 03:52 12:07 03:07 04:37 09:22 10:22 11:07 11:37 12:22 07:22 07:52 08:22 08:52 09:22 03:37 04:22 01:07 07:37 09:22 10:22 11:07 11:52 12:22 07:07

07:07 12:07 12:52 01:22 01:52 02:37 03:22 03:52 11:37 12:22 03:07 04:37 05:37 06:22 06:52 12:22 12:52 01:22 01:52 02:22 02:52 03:22 10:22 10:52 11:37 12:37 05:07 05:37 06:07 06:22 06:52 12:37 01:07 01:37 02:22 02:52 09:52 10:37 11:22 03:37 04:37 05:22 05:52 06:22 06:52 12:37 JULY 2016 31


| Worth the drive |

Country store, eatery keeps community’s character alive By Jennifer Kornegay

O

n Saturdays, when the weather is fine, a pork-scented smoke signal rises from the gravel parking lot at Jefferson Country Store, hailing members of the surrounding Jefferson community. But the 300 or so residents of this unincorporated area in Marengo County don’t need any help finding their way to the spot (where they know they’ll find far more than barbecue); for many of them, the little white wooden building on Highway 28 is an important part of their lives and has been for more than 50 years. “It opened in 1957, at the same time the highway right out front was finished, and some members of my extended family has operated it pretty much ever since. My aunt owns it now,” says Betsy Compton, who runs the store and eatery with business partner and boyfriend Tony Luker. Sitting at one of just a few tiny tables crammed between shelves stacked with candy, chips, glass-bottle Cokes and Moon Pies and under a low ceiling hidden behind Alabama and Auburn flags and soft-drink promotional posters, she explains how the country store fell into her hands. When Betsy’s aunt announced she was retiring and closing the doors in 2012, Betsy instantly began looking for someone who would keep it open; she knew that folks depended on it. The closest other places to get staples like bread, milk and toilet paper are Linden, which is 10 miles away, and Demopolis, which is 12 miles in the other direction. “The community needs and wants us here,” she says. After searching for a few months with no luck, Betsy decided to do it herself and got Tony on board; they reopened in 2013. “We didn’t know what we didn’t know about doing this, but we’ve done pretty good,” she says. “Tony’s background in beverage sales has helped a lot, and we do know our community. That’s the most important thing, I think.” Many in the area are in their golden

 32 JULY 2016

years, and Tony is always happy to load their cars. For those who don’t have cars, he makes front-door deliveries. “We do what is needed,” he says. Now, in addition to offering the basics that folks nearby need, Jefferson Coun-

try Store has expanded to include Tony’s Munch Box, a tiny restaurant inside the store that offers some of the South’s favorite foods, made fresh, in house by Tony. His chicken salad, pimento cheese, hot ham ‘n cheese sandwiches, Brunswick stew, burg-

Tony Luker runs the Jefferson Country Store and Tony’s Munch Box housed inside.

Check out the cheeseburger and more at alabamaliving.coop!

www.alabamaliving.coop


Alabama Living

JULY 2016  33


Jefferson Country Store sells some hard-to-find oldies but goodies, like souse and hoop cheese.

ers and more keep the small space packed around noon every day. “There are plenty of days when we have 50 people come in here at lunch,” Betsy says. “It gets pretty crowded! Sometimes people end up eating standing up.” Regulars and locals know to ask about daily specials and the secret menu. “They come in and say, ‘What you got?’ and I know they want something other than what’s on the board,” Tony says. Sometimes, “what he’s got” is the Firecracker Burger, a hefty beef patty topped with sliced “red hots” (sausages) and embellished with a thick slab of hoop cheese and jalapeno slices for an extra kick.

A chance to have real conversations

But the store is providing more than necessary items and a tasty, filling midday meal. It’s also become a specialty store, stocking things you can’t find other places, cherished oldies like souse and rag bologna from Alabama’s Zeigler meats (which reside in a small glass-front fridge by the register that Tony calls the “treasure chest”), plus hoop cheese and ribbon cane syrup. And it emphasizes selling local products like honey from down the road, melons and tomatoes from down the road the other way, Milo’s tea and more. It’s a gathering place too, where people come to chat and share community news. “We don’t have much cell service here, and

Tony Luker and girlfriend Betsy Compton are keeping the tradition of good food and good service alive at Jefferson Country Store.

we haven’t put in wi-fi on purpose,” Betsy says. “Our customers don’t care and some tell us they don’t want it. They want a break from their phones, a chance to have real conversations.” Despite their home’s small size and its rural location, Jefferson residents fiercely hold onto their community pride. The store and its loyal customers are both proof of this and a contributing factor. It may not be a “real” town, but it is a definable place, one whose identity Betsy mourns as she sees it slowly eroding. Jefferson used to have its own post office and its own zip code. Now, the country Tony’s pimento cheese and chicken salad are two of the most popular store houses what items on the menu. the Postal Service calls a “village post office,” and it offers the basics. “Worse than losing the bigger post office was getting lumped in with Demopolis and their zip code. That was kinda sad,” Betsy says. But this latest version of the store with its focus on serving its surroundings is

Spot the Store Dog When Betsy Compton and Tony Luker reopened the Jefferson Country Store in 2013, a stray dog was hanging around, so they fed him and he stayed. Everyone started calling him “store dog,” and the friendly black and white pooch has become the store mascot, appearing on the sign and now, also on Jefferson County Store T-shirts. Folks who’ve bought a shirt often post photos of themselves wearing it on social media (and tag the store), and so store dog has popped up all over the country, like in Times Square in New York City, and even beyond U.S. borders, in places like Costa Rica. The store gives a portion of the T-shirt proceeds to the area Humane Society.

34 JULY 2016

helping to keep the community’s character alive while also introducing it to some new people. As are Tony’s Saturday specials, when ‘cue is cooking low or catfish is frying up hot and crisp out in the parking lot. The events are highly anticipated in the area and beyond, easily drawing up to 100 people in the summers and during hunting season. “People call ahead and pre-order to make sure they get a pig tail when I’m doing those,” Tony said. He slow-smokes the pork tailbones, which look like a large pork rib, and then wets them with his spicy vinegar sauce. “It’s not sweet,” Tony says. “It’s an eye-opener,” Betsy adds. These sought-after eats, as well as Tony’s pimento cheese and chicken salad, have made Jefferson’s famous. Groups that travel to the area for a few days of storied Black Belt hunting (some of the country’s best) have come to expect some of Tony’s cooking as part of the experience. The country store has built up a pretty big business catering to the hunting lodges that dot the region. But in the end, Jefferson will always be what its name says it is: a country store and a community store, serving its patrons what they need and going even further to give them the tasty things that they – and plenty of others – want.

Jefferson Country Store 26120 Alabama Highway 28 Jefferson, AL • 334-289-0040 facebook.com/JeffersonStore Store Hours: 7 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., M-Sat Tony’s Munch Box Hours: Serving biscuits and breakfast sandwiches (until they’re gone) as Jefferson well as a full lunch menu from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. daily (except Sundays) Check the store’s Facebook page for upcoming special events like fish fries and barbecues.

www.alabamaliving.coop


Alabama Living

JULY 2016  35


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Lowest Prices on the Beach – www.gulfshorescondos.com, (205)752-1231, (205)556-0368, (251)752-2366 HELEN GA CABIN FOR RENT – sleeps 2-6, 2.5 baths, fireplace, Jacuzzi tub, washer/ dryer – (251)948-2918, www. homeaway.com/101769, email jmccracken36@yahoo.com PIGEON FORGE, TN – 3 bedroom, 2 bath house – Walking distance to parkway, light# 1 - $85.00 / night – (256)309-7873, (256)5908758 DESTIN FL CONDO – Sleeps 4, Nice, GREAT RATES – egtuck@ bellsouth.net, (770)942-5530, (770)365-5205 ORANGE BEACH GULF FRONT, 1BR / 1BA, TIDEWATER CONDO – Hall bunks, WIFI, indoor & outdoor pools, Hot Tub, sauna, weight room – Pictures VRBO listing #843467 – amariewisener@gmail. com – (256) 352-5721, LOOKING FOR A FAMILY FLORIDA VACATION? 2BR / 2BA House, Ft. Walton, GREAT LOCATION – (205)566-0892, mailady96@ yahoo.com. PayPal Accepted

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FOR SALE: 88 ACRES NORTH OF HARTFORD, frontage, 20 year old pines - $5K PA: 23 ACRES SOUTH OF WICKSBURG SCHOOL - $6K PA: 155 ACRES HWY 52 WEST (J. Saunders Rd) - $5K PA: 52 ACRES WEST OF WICKSBURG SCHOOL $7K PA - Will finance with down payment. Would consider dividing into smaller parcels – CALL NATE (334)618-0293

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| Alabama Recipes |

38  JULY 2016

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Peaches Passion for

Peach season is in full swing. There's no better time to savor one of our state's favorite fruits. PHOTOS BY MICHAEL CORNELISON

B

etween Montgomery and Birmingham, just off I-65, a giant, yellowish-orangey orb pops out at you, radiant against a summer’s bright blue sky. Every time I see it, it warms me through, but it’s not the sun. It’s a giant peach on a stick. Or more accurately, it’s the city of Clanton’s water tower fashioned in the form of the one of the Deep South’s most symbolic fruits, designed to honor the crop that means so much to Chilton County and to also pull drivers off of the interstate, inviting them to stop and take a taste of the area’s sweet heritage. At just one exit (No. 205) for Clanton, for example, you’ve got several options to indulge your peach passion: fresh-from-the-tree peaches, peach ice cream, peach fried pies, peach jams, peach cider and more. Chilton County’s hilly terrain and well-drained soils help make it the leader in peach production in Alabama. Farmers grow at least a couple dozen, and often many more, different varieties to ensure a longer harvesting season. While Georgia may produce a higher quantity of peaches than we do (and South Carolina beats both states), Alabamians know that a just-ripe, semi-soft, blushing-cause-it-knows-its-so-good, golden-fleshed Chilton County peach easily rivals the “peach state’s” peaches in quality. Right now, this fuzzy favorite is at its peak, and if you can get your hands on Chilton County peaches, good for you. But no matter where your peaches come from, use them to make some of these peachy keen, reader-submitted recipes. - Jennifer Kornegay

Alabama Living

JULY 2016  39


Skillet Peach Cobbler

Cook of the Month

Skillet Peach Cobbler

Myscha Crouch, Joe Wheeler EMC

Filling: ¼ cup coconut milk 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1 tablespoon maple syrup 2 teaspoons arrowroot or tapioca starch ¼ teaspoon cinnamon 6 peaches, peeled and sliced

Y

Topping: 1½ cups finely shredded coconut ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons arrowroot or tapioca starch 1/8 cup sunflower seeds 1/8 cup pumpkin seeds ¾ teaspoon cinnamon Pinch of sea salt ¾ cup butter 3 tablespoons maple syrup Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all of the filling ingredients except the fruit until well combined. Toss the fruit in the mixture to coat well. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the coconut, arrowroot/tapioca, cinnamon, seeds and salt together until well combined. Mix in the butter and maple syrup until the dry ingredients are incorporated into the wet. Place the fruit filling into a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Then evenly cover the fruit with the topping, leaving the edges of the skillet exposed so you can see some of the fruit and to allow space for bubbling. Bake for 30-45 minutes until the topping is golden brown and the fruit filling is bubbling and the fruit is soft.

Recipe Themes and Deadlines: Sept. Oct. Nov.

40 JULY 2016

Muscadines July Campfire Cooking Aug. Biscuits Sept.

8 8 8

ou can whip up Myscha Crouch’s easy twist on traditional peach cobbler fast, and since it's also delicious, it will disappear just as quickly. “I’ve been making it for about two years, and I modified a recipe I’d found to give the topping more flavor and texture,” she says. She was inspired by a homemade granola she makes and drew on that snack’s combo of crunchy, salty and sweet to round out the soft and sweet of the peaches.

“You can use frozen peaches,” she says. “Just thaw them first. But this time of year, you really should use fresh Alabama peaches.” Trust Myscha. She knows her stuff. “I love to cook and experiment with foods,” she says. She’s even earned our Cook of the Month honor before. And her recipe has an added bonus: For folks watching what they eat or dealing with food allergies, note that this dish doesn’t call for any refined sugars, wheat or dairy. Please send us your original recipes, developed by you or family members, and not ones copied from a book or magazine. You may adapt a recipe from another source by changing as little as the amount of one ingredient. Cook of the Month winners will receive $50, and may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year. Share a story about your recipe! Whether it’s your grandmother’s best cake or your uncle’s camp stew, every recipe has a story behind it. We’ll pay $50 for the best recipe-related story each month. Submit: Online: alabamaliving.coop Email: recipes@alabamaliving.coop Mail: Recipes, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

www.alabamaliving.coop


Drunken Peaches 6 ½ ¼ 1 ¼

peaches, peeled, seeded, halved cup dark rum cup brown sugar stick butter cup pecans, crushed

Grill peaches 5 minutes per side. In saucepan, combine rum, brown sugar, butter and pecans. Cook mixture 5 minutes on low heat. Add peaches to mixture and cook until caramelized, turning often. Serve and enjoy! Kirk Vantrease Cullman EC

Peach-Blueberry Pie 1 1/3 ½ 1/8 3 1 1 1

cup sugar cup flour teaspoon ground cinnamon teaspoon ground allspice cups fresh peaches, sliced and peeled cup fresh blueberries Pastry for double-crust pie (9 inch) tablespoon butter tablespoon 2 percent milk

Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon and allspice. Add peaches and blueberries in a large bowl. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll one half of dough to a circle; transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Trim pastry to ½-inch beyond rim of plate. Add filling. Dot with butter. Roll remaining dough to a circle. Cut into ½-inch-wide strips. Arrange over filling in a lattice pattern. Trim and seal strips to edge of bottom pastry. Flute edge. Brush lattice strips with milk; sprinkle with more cinnamon or sugar if desired. Bake 40-45 minutes. Cool before serving. Robin O’Sullivan Wiregrass EC

Dried Peaches (for making fried pies) 5 pounds peaches (do not peel) 1 5 pounds sugar 1¾cups vinegar (apple cider)

Cook over low heat until thick enough for pies. Put in jars and seal. Betty Brewer North Alabama EC

Wanda’s Peach Cake 2 sticks sweet cream salted butter 2 cups sugar 6 large eggs 1 tablespoon almond flavoring 1 tablespoon vanilla flavoring 3 cups cake flour ¼ teaspoon baking soda ¼ teaspoon salt ½ cup sour cream 3 cups ripe but firm peaches, diced 1 3-ounce package apricot or peach Jell-O, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray tube pan with cooking spray. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add flavorings. Sift flour, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream to the creamed butter mixture. Fold in peaches and ½ of the dry Jell-O. Spoon into pan and bake for 60 minutes or until done. For glaze: ½ cup sugar 2 tablespoons butter or margarine 1 12-ounce can peach soda (I use Faygo) 2 or 3 peaches, peeled and sliced ½ package of reserved Jell-O package Put sugar, butter and soda in a sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add peaches and cook for about 2 minutes. Remove peaches with a slotted spoon and set aside to use for garnish on the cake. Add the Jell-O, stirring to dissolve, and cook two minutes. Leave cake in pan and punch holes in cake with a thin knife. Pour glaze over cake slowly so it will absorb. Save a small amount for the top of the cake. Let stand for about 15 minutes. Invert on a cake plate. Garnish with reserved peaches and remaining glaze. Wanda Stinson Pioneer EC

Alabama Living

Drunken Peaches

Peach Pie 1 cup sugar 1 cup orange juice 1 stick butter or margarine Cook on medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil. 2 peaches, quartered 1 package crescent rolls Roll one quarter peach in each crescent roll. Put them in a casserole dish and pour the sugar/butter mixture over the peaches and rolls. Bake at 350 degrees until brown. (Recipe is easily doubled.) Edna Watts Cullman EC

Peach Ice Cream 16-ounce can sliced peaches 1 cup sugar 1 can condensed milk Milk ½ pint whipping cream Drain peaches and reserve juice. Put peach slices in a food processor and blend until smooth. (It’s fine if a few small pieces are left.) Put peaches in a large bowl and add the peach juice, sugar, whipping cream and condensed milk. Stir well to dissolve the sugar. Pour mixture into the freezer bucket and fill with milk to the fill line on the bucket. Freeze according to freezer directions. Cook’s note: Fresh peaches may be substituted. Just add more sugar. Cathy Johnson Marshall-DeKalb EC

JULY 2016��� 41


ATTENTION NO AD AD NO

HVAC, PLUMBING, ROOFING, LANDSCAPING, CONSTRUCTION, AUTOMOTIVE, HEALTHCARE, INSURANCE, FINANCIAL SERVICES, IT & TELECOM, MANUFACTURING, ETC. As a local business, you may not need to advertise to the entire state. But what about the 10,700+ consumers in the Pioneer EC market? Alabama Living, the state’s largest publication, is offering this page to the first local business that wants to stand out from the competition and put its product/service in front of Pioneer’s members.

This page will be gone fast. It’s efficient and effective marketing. Call 800.410.2737 or email: advertising@areapower.com

42 JULY 2016

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Alabama Living

PIONEER

JULY 2016  43


| Our Sources Say |

For the birds

One problem with wind energy is that hundreds of thousands of birds are killed each year flying into the spinning blades of turbines. To help researchers develop a radar warning system to protect the birds, Auburn University lent eagles to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado earlier this year. In this photo, Auburn eagle handler Andrew Hopkins holds Nova, (aka War Eagle 7) a 16-year-old golden eagle. PHOTO BY THE NATIONAL RENEWABLE ENERGY LABORATORY

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n August 13, 2013, ExxonMobil pleaded guilty to killing approximately 85 migratory birds in five states. The birds, none of which were protected or endangered, died as a result of exposure to natural gas reserve pits and wastewater storage areas between 2004 and 2009. Exxon paid fines and made community service payments of $600,000, and agreed to invest more than $2,500,000 in its compliance plan to prevent additional bird deaths at its facilities. Acting Assistant U.S. Attorney General John Cruden stated, “The environmental compliance plan Exxon agreed to in this multi-district plea agreement is an important step in protecting migratory birds in these five states.” Colorado U.S. Attorney David Gaouette said, “We are all responsible for protecting our wildlife, even the largest of corporations.” As we celebrate Independence Day this month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recently proposed a permitting plan for the wind generation industry that will allow up to 4,200 bald eagles, the symbol of American freedom, and 2,000 golden eagles to be killed each year by wind generation turbines. The service has determined that, with a national population of 143,000 bald eagles and 40,000 golden eagles, losing 4,000 bald eagles and 2,000 golden eagles each year will not push either species toward extinction. The central issue of the service’s wind generation permitting plan is how to protect wildlife, especially endangered species of birds, and allow the wind generation industry to grow. The service has traditionally issued five-year permits for wind generation facilities that allow a certain number of protected birds to be killed each year— somewhere between 4,000 and 6,000—without implementing a mitigation plan. The service wants to extend the permits up to 30 years, recognizing that building and running wind generation turbines requires a long-term financial commitment. The longer permits will provide a basis for better financing that will facilitate additional wind generation. That’s great for the wind industry, even though it

Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative

44 JULY 2016

might not be so great for the birds. Wind power, one of the centerpieces of President Obama’s renewable power agenda, boasts that clean power is better for the environment, but hundreds of thousands of birds – some of which are protected or endangered – are killed by wind generation turbines each year. A study commissioned by the service in 2013 projects that 1.4 million birds will be killed by wind generation turbines by 2030, compounded by the growth of wind generation. Like most electric generation resources, wind generation requires the difficult and often complex tradeoffs between the production of electricity and environmental impacts. It is becoming more and more obvious that wind generation is not quite as environmentally friendly as advertised. The favoritism and preferential treatment given to renewable energy over other, more reliable forms of energy – and the government’s tendency to choose winners and losers – is more troubling. PowerSouth keeps the lights on and electric rates affordable in southeast Alabama and northwest Florida with a combination of natural gas, coal and hydroelectric power. Unlike the favorable treatment being given to wind power, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan will make using fossil fuels to generate your electricity more difficult and more expensive. The service’s permitting plan is discriminatory. It allows the wind generation industry to avoid fines and penalties for killing hundreds of thousands of birds (some of which are protected and endangered) while ExxonMobil is fined for killing 85 birds. It’s also discriminatory because ordinary citizens can be fined $10,000 and jailed for a year for killing just one eagle. The government constantly punishing fossil fuels while promoting and subsidizing renewable energy is also a primary example of what is wrong with our national energy policy. Apparently, Colorado U.S. Attorney David Gaouette was wrong – unlike the rest of us and even the largest of corporations, the wind generation industry is not responsible for protecting our wildlife. Electricity is a necessity of everyday life. Cheap, reliable, affordable energy is an important segment of every business and household. Yet the government gives preference to more costly and less reliable renewable energy, while penalizing the energy we can afford and trust. And, that is really for the birds. I hope you have a good month. www.alabamaliving.coop


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JULY 2016 45


| Alabama Snapshots |

Celebrating Independence

Bailey family annual 4th of July Jamie Jackson, Opp.

fish fry. SUBMITTED BY

Abigail Turner, age 10, at the Lake Martin boat parade. SUBMITTED BY Sam Turner, Flomaton.

Michael Marino at Ris e ‘n Shine Farm. SUBMITTED BY Mich elle Traylor, Andalusia.

ependence Makenzie’s first Ind ED BY JesITT BM SU 15. 20 Day, eek. Cr wn sica Dawson, To

Submit Your Images! September Theme: “Supporting my team.” Deadline for September: July 31 SUBMIT PHOTOS ONLINE: alabamaliving.coop/submit-photo/ or send color photos with a self-addressed stamped envelope to: Photos, Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 RULES: Alabama Living will pay $10 for photos that best match our theme of the month. Photos may also be published on our website at www.alabamaliving.coop and on our Facebook page. Alabama Living is not responsible for lost or damaged photos.

46 JULY 2016

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