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Stories | Recipes | Events | People | Places | Things | Local News April 2020


Delivering mail on the river Pies worth the drive


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Play ball!

Fourteen Miracle League baseball clubs in Alabama are providing a chance for people with disabilities to enjoy America’s favorite pastime. Proponents say the league benefits not only the participants but the whole community.


Manager Louie Ward Co-op Editor Kevin Hand ALABAMA LIVING is delivered to some 420,000 Alabama families and businesses, which are members of 22 not-for-profit, consumer-owned, locally directed and taxpaying electric cooperatives. Subscriptions are $12 a year for individuals not subscribing through participating Alabama electric cooperatives. Alabama Living (USPS 029-920) is published monthly by the Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives. Periodicals postage paid at Montgomery, Alabama, and at additional mailing office. POSTMASTER send forms 3579 to: Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, Alabama 36124-4014.

12 F E A T U R E S Take us with you! 9 Our readers have been traveling and taking their favorite magazine with them!


AREA President Fred Braswell Editor Lenore Vickrey Managing Editor Allison Law Creative Director Mark Stephenson Art Director Danny Weston Advertising Director Jacob Johnson Graphic Designer/Ad Coordinator Brooke Echols Graphic Designer Chyna Miller ADVERTISING & EDITORIAL OFFICES:

340 TechnaCenter Drive Montgomery, Alabama 36117-6031 1-800-410-2737 For advertising, email: advertising@areapower.com For editorial inquiries, email: contact@alabamaliving.coop NATIONAL ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVE:

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


Best pies in Alabama 24 Our state is blessed with spots across

the landscape that bake pies so tasty, going out of your way for a slice is a detour you definitely won’t regret.


Cattle woman Erin Beasley didn’t grow up on a cattle farm, but today she heads the 9,500-member Alabama Cattlemen’s Association, one of the top three such groups in the country.

Printed in America from American materials

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D E P A R T M E N T S 11 Spotlight 29 Around Alabama 44 Cook of the Month 42 Outdoors 43 Fish & Game Forecast 54 Hardy Jackson’s Alabama ONLINE: alabamaliving.coop ON THE COVER

Look for this logo to see more content online!

VOL. 73 NO. 4  April 2020

Mark Lipscomb is the mail carrier in Magnolia Springs, a town which has the only yearround water route in the U.S. Story, Page 16 PHOTO: COLETTE BOEHM




www.alabamaliving.coop letters@alabamaliving.coop Alabama Living 340 Technacenter Drive Montgomery, AL 36117

Get our FREE monthly email newsletter! Sign up at alabamaliving.coop April 2020  3

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TallapoosaRiverElectricCooperative Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. P.O. Box 675 15163 Highway 431 South LaFayette, AL 36862

Census and Survey Louie Ward Manager of Tallapoosa River Electric

Board of Trustees C.B. Parker, Jr. President District 6 - Daviston

John Adcock Vice-President District 2 - Woodland

Bruce Boswell Secretary/Treasurer District 1 - Seale

Phillip Bryant District 7 - Opelika

Jeff “Bodine” Dodgen District 5 - LaFayette

Mary Ann Walker District 3 - Opelika

Ann Parkman District 4 - Seale

To pay your bill online: Go to www.trec.coop and click “Payment Options.” Save time and money! In case of POWER OUTAGES day or night CALL... 1-877-456-8732

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I have two things to mention this month, the U.S. Census and our very own customer satisfaction survey. First I will take on the Census. In case you have not already seen information about it, this is the year our federal government takes a census of the people. Our response to the census is important for many reasons, only one of which I will take on in this column. Alabama currently has seven congressional district seats. As I understand it, due to population changes around the country, Alabama is at risk of losing a congressional district seat. That means as proposed laws pass through the formative process at the federal level, Alabama has seven votes either for or against it. Additionally, referring to funding opportunities, Alabama has seven votes to help us receive much needed funding for improving roads, schools, and filling many other needs our citizens have. Perhaps another way of looking at it is that we have a team of seven people working to help our state with legislation in the United States House of Representatives. Should we lose one of those congressional seats, then we will only have six team members to work on our behalf. Please, as you read this, set political affiliation aside and recognize that seven people working for our state is better than six. Therefore, I urge you to take the time to accurately complete and return the official U.S. Census information you should receive. I feel it is vital to our

state’s future that every citizen is counted so Alabama can continue to have a strong voice in the national political scene. My second topic this month is a survey about your satisfaction with Tallapoosa River Electric Cooperative. We think it is important not to flood your mailbox or your inbox with endless literature and propaganda. Yet, every few years we feel the need to find out from you how well we serve you. So we take the initiative to ask your opinion about your satisfaction with Tallapoosa River Electric Cooperative. We have contracted with a company called Inside Information. They will conduct the survey on our behalf. We recognize and remind ourselves each and every day that we work for you, our members and the owners of this Cooperative. Every employee, every board member, and I take a great deal of pride in you receiving safe, reliable, and affordable electricity. We make great effort to make sure that your experience in dealing with us is convenient and pleasant. As I close this month, please take time to fill out your U.S. Census, and for those of you receiving a post card from Inside Information regarding your satisfaction with Tallapoosa River Electric Cooperative, please take the time to answer their questions. The board, employees and I need to know how we can serve you better. Thank you and l look forward to our visit next month.


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| Tallapoosa River |

Statement of Non-Discrimination Tallapoosa River Electric Cooperative is the recipient of federal financial assistance from the Rural Utilities Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and is subject to the provisions of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, as amended, and the rules and regulations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture which provide that no person in the United States on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, or disability shall be excluded from participation in, admission or access to, denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under any of this organization’s programs or activities. The person responsible for coordinating this organization’s nondiscrimination compliance efforts is Terrie Thornton, Executive Secretary. Any individual, or specific class of individuals, who feels that this organization has subjected them to discrimination may obtain further information about the statutes and regulations listed above from and/or file a written complaint with this organization; or the Administrator, Rural Utilities Service, Stop 1515, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington D.C. 20250-1510; or the Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Ave, SW Washington D.C. 20250-9410; or call (202) 720-5964 (voice or TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. Complaints must be filed within 180 days after the alleged discrimination. Confidentiality will be maintained to the extent possible. Tallapoosa River Electric Cooperative 334-864-9331 Lafayette, AL 36862

Good Friday

All offices of Tallapoosa River Electric will be closed on Friday April 10, 2020 for Good Friday. We will resume normal business hours on Monday April 13, 2020. We wish everyone a happy Easter!

Alabama Living

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| Tallapoosa River |

TREC Service Awards 2019 Certificates of Appreciation

5 Years

10 Years

15 Years

Taylor Brooks - 5 Years

Austin Wyrosdick

Scott Stewart

15 Years

15 Years

20 Years

Jerry McVey

25 Years

Roger Green

Josh Phillips

35 Years

Rhonda Phillips

Anthony Gosdin

Service Award Recipients Not Pictured Mickey Fuller, Jr. - 5Years Johnny Adcock - 10Years Bruce Boswell - 15Years Todd Looser - 20Years

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| Tallapoosa River |

Alabama Living

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| Tallapoosa River |

2020 Residential Member Satisfaction Survey Talking Points Tallapoosa River Electric Cooperative is conducting a survey of residential consumers to measure member attitudes and perceptions toward their cooperative. The survey will also seek to gauge customer satisfaction, energy efficiency awareness and interest in products and services, as well as general demographic information. Tallapoosa River Electric Cooperative has partnered with research firm Inside Information, Inc. of Kansas City, Missouri, to conduct the survey. All information we gather will be kept confidential and only used to determine how we can better meet our members’ needs. Randomly selected members will be mailed postcards asking them to participate in the survey online or take part in a telephone interview later. The telephone interview should take approximately 10 minutes to complete. The survey will consist of questions such as: • Length of service with the cooperative • Most recent contact with the cooperative • Cooperative satisfaction and loyalty • Value added products and services interest • Perception on electric vehicles • Use of technology/personal communication opportunities (social media, texts, mobile apps, etc.) • View on electric costs Members will not be asked to provide any billing or account information, social security numbers and/or birth dates. For additional information about the 2020 Residential Member Satisfaction Survey, contact Tallapoosa River Electric Cooperative. 8  APRIL 2020

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Protect your family and home. Visit www.trec.coop for resources to help you prepare.

TALLAPOOSA RIVER (334) 864-9331 745 3/18/20 10:31 AM

Take us along!

| Alabama Snapshots | Thanks to all who have sent us photos of your travels with your copy of Alabama Living magazine! Send us a photo of yourself from your travels with a copy of your favorite magazine and you might win $25 if your photo is published! We’ll draw one winner each month. Send your photo and information to: mytravels@alabamaliving.coop. More photos on page 11!

The England family traveled to Livingston, Alabama, to see Hannah England, a student at The University of West Alabama. This was the first visit to West for Granny England, a resident of Ozark. Hannah’s family lives in Clayhatchee, Alabama. They are all customers of Pea River EC.

Margaret Fox of Brantley is pictured at the Panama Canal. A member of Covington EC, she reports that these are the newer locks at the canal, which are very impressive at night.

Tammy Turner of Flomaton, member of Southern Pine EC, got into the spirit of Groundhog Day in Biloxi, Mississippi. Congratulations on being selected as our April winner!

Bob Watkins of Hanceville, who travels frequently between his home and Virginia, stopped at a rest area between Atlanta and Birmingham for this shot. He’s a member of Cullman David and Jessica Monteleone took their copy of Alabama EC. Living on a recent trip to Cancun, Mexico. They are members of Wiregrass EC.

Submit “My Tattoo” photos by April 30. Winning photos will run in the June issue. Ed. note: We did not receive enough “doppelganger” (lookalike) photos for this issue’s “Snapshots” page, so we’ll revisit that topic at a later date.

Alabama Living

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SUBMIT and WIN $10! Online: alabamaliving.coop Mail: Snapshots 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 alabamaliving.coop and on our Facebook page. Alabama Living is not responsible for lost or damaged photos. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope to have photos returned.

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Spotlight | April National Work Zone Awareness Week highlights roadway safety Everyone plays a role in work zone safety. National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW), now celebrating 20 years, highlights the deadly dangers of inattention at highway work areas. This year’s NWZAW is April 20-24, and helps bring attention to the risks faced daily by those who work on Alabama’s roadways. The Alabama Rural Electric Association (AREA), which publishes Alabama Living, has participated in this safety campaign for several years; our rural electric cooperatives employ hundreds of electric lineworkers and right-of-way crew members who work along our roadways and face constant danger from inattentive, speeding or distracted drivers. The campaign takes place in the early spring, traditionally the start of the highway construction season. This year’s theme is “Safe work zones for all: Protect workers. Protect road users.” To learn more, visit workzonesafety.org.

Whereville, AL

Identify and place this Alabama landmark and you could win $25! Winner is chosen at random from all correct entries. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified. Send your answer by April 10 with your name, address and the name of your rural electric cooperative. The winner and answer will be announced in the May issue. Submit by email: whereville@alabamaliving.coop, or by mail: Whereville, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124. Contribute your own photo for an upcoming issue! Send a photo of an interesting or unusual landmark in Alabama, which must be accessible to the public. A reader whose photo is chosen will also win $25.

April’s answer

This stone, located in Elmore County on Weoka Road next to the Thelma Baptist Church cemetery, marks the site of the McGillivray Plantation, also known as “Little Tallase.” The homestead was the birthplace of Alexander McGillivray (c. 17501793), son of a Scottish trader; his mother was a Creek Indian and belonged to the powerful Wind clan. McGillivray became a Creek leader and diplomat who negotiated treaties and alliances with Great Britain, Spain and the U.S. The faded plaque on the stone is dated May 13, 1930 and was placed by the Alabama Anthropological Society. (Photo submitted by W.A. Jones, Central Alabama EC) The randomly drawn correct guess winner is Russell Whigham of Dixie EC. 10  APRIL 2020

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Alabama opens for red snapper fishing on May 22 Alabama state and federal waters will open for red snapper fishing for private anglers on Friday, May 22. The season will consist of four-day weekends, Friday through Monday. The season is anticipated to last for 35 days and is scheduled to close on Sunday, July 19. The season dates only apply to anglers fishing from recreational vessels and state-licensed Alabama commercial party boats that do not hold federal for-hire fishing permits. Anglers fishing from federally permitted for-hire vessels have their own season. The daily bag limit is two red snapper per person, per day with a minimum size limit of 16 inches total length. For more details, visit the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website at outdooralabama.com

Get inspired to move with 100 Alabama Miles Challenge All Alabamians are invited to get active as part of the 100 Alabama Miles Challenge, which kicks off this spring. Participants can walk, run, hike, bike, swim, paddle, ride or roll to their 100-mile goal, and while they can participate at home, in their neighborhood, or even at the gym, the program encourages them to visit Alabama’s parks, nature preserves and rivers. Register at 100alabamamiles.org, where you can earn electronic badges for milestones reached and places visited as you log your miles. The website enables participants to find recreational trails throughout the state, track their progress individually and by teams, and get important safety and wellness information before heading outside. Brag about your accomplishments on social media using the hashtag #100ALMiles. The challenge is organized by the Alabama Department of Public Health, the University of Alabama Center for Economic Development and several other partners. www.alabamaliving.coop

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April | Spotlight

Find the hidden dingbat! We must have made last month’s dingbat search too hard for you, because our entries were down to just more than 220. OK, we admit it. The garden shears were on Page 47, cutting along the edge of the order form for our Alabama Living cookbook. Reader G. B. Gay of Dozier contended we’d placed the dingbat in an ad (which we’ve clearly stated would not be a dingbat hiding place). Mr. Gay, we’ll concede you might think an order form is an ad, but we didn’t consider it as such. Several other readers claim to have found the shear in different photos in the magazine, including the marble quarry, a bookshelf, the peanut butter granola jar, and the pollinator shed, but we had a hard time seeing them.

Take us along! Thanks to all who have sent us photos of your travels with your copy of Alabama Living magazine! Send us a photo of yourself from your travels with a copy of your favorite magazine and you might win $25 if your photo is published! We’ll draw one winner each month. Send your photo and information to: mytravels@ alabamaliving.coop. More photos on Page 9!

Southern Pine EC member Kathleen VanSoest is pictured at Colon, Panama.

Marjorie Wynn of Frankville, a member of Clarke-Washington EMC, sent us some poetry: It keeps my brain working to be smart, Finding the dingbat thrills my heart. As did Eleanor Madigan of Dothan: Peanut butter makes my tastebuds dance, That’s why I gave the cookbook order form a glance. A cut-out shear came with the advertising, How clever and enticing. This month we’ve hidden something we’ve all been using a lot of lately: an umbrella. So don’t get wet while you hunt for it! Send us your answers by April 10. By email: dingbat@alabamaliving.com

By mail: Find the Dingbat Alabama Living PO Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

Janie Whelton of Foley and a member of Baldwin EMC, visited the International Peace Gardens in Salt Lake City, Utah. The gardens were founded by local citizens who wanted to further peace between people and nations.

Jean Head of Boaz, a member of MarshallDeKalb EC, took her copy to Jerusalem. She says she knew her house would be safe with her co-op keeping the electricity on!

Brag about your hometown! Tell us why your hometown is special or unique. We’re looking for stories, no more than 200 words, about Alabama’s towns and small cities (no urban or suburban areas). Email your story to Allison Law, alaw@areapower.com, or mail it to her attention, Alabama Living magazine, 340 Technacenter Drive, Montgomery, AL 36117. Please include your name and contact information. Deadline is April 13, 2020.

Alabama Living

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Donna Gurneck of Orange Beach, a member of Baldwin EMC, vacationed in Nassau, the Bahamas, with her copy.

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Players with disabilities hear the call:

Play ball! By Pamela A. Keene


hirteen-year-old Kendyll Eaton starts asking right after the holidays. “When can I play ball? Did you sign me up yet?” Her mother Belinda takes her by the hand and says, “Yes, you’re signed up. We’ll start playing soon.”

Kendyll, diagnosed at birth with down syndrome, is asking about Miracle League baseball, created to remove barriers for people with disabilities to enjoy America’s favorite pastime. The program came to Troy in 2011 when the city’s Parks and Recreation department completed a specially designed field at the Troy Sports Complex. Dan Smith, director of Parks and Recreation for Troy, has managed the program since its beginning. “One of our early proponents, Dr. David Runyan, heard about the program in Montgomery and saw it as an opportunity for people with disabilities, like his son Julian, to participate in sports,” Smith says. “He came to me; we went to the mayor of Troy; and that started the ball rolling.” Two years later, the people of Troy and Pike County had raised nearly a quarter of a million dollars and built their own Miracle League field. Sheldan Compton, 20, who was born with cerebral palsy, was one of the early players. “So many of us in the community got behind the Miracle League,” says Sheldan’s mom Sheila Compton, who serves as president of the Troy program. “From the very start, everyone embraced Miracle League and continues to see the benefits to the whole community. It has been life-changing.” “Miracle League has helped Kendyll and our family so much,” says Eaton, a nurse. “It’s given Kendyll and so many others with disabilities a chance to do things that other people do, to play a sport, to make friends, and open a whole new world for them.”

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A player at the Troy Miracle League program prepares to take a swing. PHOTO COURTESY TROY PARKS AND RECREATION

Alabama Living

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Members of a local baseball team help players run the bases as Miracle League buddies.

Part of the joy for Miracle League players is receiving plenty of hugs.


Jordan Lewis, 29, was born with cerebral palsy and has been in a wheelchair his whole life. He attended public schools, but once he graduated, he didn’t have many opportunities for social interaction or activities. “Until Miracle League came to Troy, there wasn’t much for Jordan to do,” says his mom Anitria Lewis, who works at Sikorsky Aircraft in Troy. She and her husband Ron, who works at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing in Montgomery, say that Miracle League has been a blessing for their family. “We were one of the first ones to sign up when Miracle League came to Troy in 2011,” Anitria says. “Even though Jordan had lots of friends from high school, many of them have gone on with their lives. Miracle League has given him a chance to have something that’s his. Until Miracle League came here, there was nothing in this area for him to do, and very few resources for us.”

Special field, modified rules, everyone wins

Nationally, the Miracle League program grew out of an invitation from a Rockdale County, Georgia, baseball coach to a youngster with disabilities in 1998. Other youth with disabilities in the area asked to play and soon, the community raised

A coach pitches to a player on the junior-sized field. Every player gets a hit during their at-bat in Miracle League.


enough money to build a specialized field in Conyers in Rockdale County. It hosted its first Miracle League game in 2000. The field, made of synthetic rubberized turf, accommodates players using wheelchairs, braces, walkers and crutches. The bases, home plate and various markers are level with the field. The field is youth-sized, giving players the opportunity to hit balls over the fence, which happens quite a bit. Each team has its own uniforms to wear at every game. There are no outs, every player gets a hit, and every player scores a run. Each team plays an inning, with each player having a turn at bat in the inning. Volunteer buddies run the bases with the players and help with batting and fielding as needed, depending on the abilities of each player. Buddies also give encouragement and provide safety for the players. While one team is at bat, the other team and its players’ buddies take the field. Coaches serve as pitchers and catchers. When the game is over, both teams — their players, coaches, buddies and families — win.

Statewide movement

In 2011, Barry Dean, executive director of the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association, was invited to opening day for the Dothan Miracle League season. It changed his life. “I’d never been to a Miracle League game

Celebration time: Players, buddies, coaches, family and friends gather for a game photo.

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before, but once I saw the teams, the players and their enthusiasm, I was hooked,” he says. “Dothan really blows opening day up, with all the teams in their uniforms on the field, plus area dignitaries, singing of the national anthem and the people in the stands cheering. Almost right away, I saw the potential with our own state high school and college players to be buddies and join in to support the program.” These days, Dean travels across the state encouraging high school and college coaches to bring their teams out as buddies for Miracle League games, like he has the past three years. Last year 30 high school and college baseball teams joined him along the way, while several teams went out on their own and buddied at their local Miracle League games. “Having this experience for high school and college players is incredibly impactful for them,” he says. “Being a buddy to players with disabilities can be really humbling, and we all need a little humility. And, frankly, bringing our players out is a much bigger benefit to our players than you know.” Each year, the ALABCA hosts the “First Pitch Dinner & Silent Auction,” a fund-raising dinner for the Miracle Leagues across the state. The dinner is held in downtown Montgomery in late January or early February, bringing in VIP guest PHOTO COURTESY TROY PARKS AND RECREATION


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Kendyll Eaton takes a break with Troy University baseball player Ryan Fultz on the sidelines. PHOTO COURTESY TROY PARKS AND RECREATION

baseball greats including Gaylord Perry, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Fred McGriff, Tommy John and others. “All money raised at the First Pitch Dinner — this year a record $35,000 — goes to active Miracle League programs in Alabama to help build Miracle League complexes and support their programs,” he says. Alabama’s 14 active Miracle Leagues are located in Andalusia, Cullman, Dothan, Gardendale, Hoover, Huntsville, Jasper, Montgomery, Moody, Muscle Shoals, Opelika, Prattville, Troy and Tuscaloosa. Some of these leagues Players and coaches work together. PHOTO COURTESY TROY PARKS AND RECREATION

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have been active for at least a decade. The newest active league is Muscle Shoals, which opened last year on Sept. 10. Alexander City, Helena, Mobile, Summerdale and Vestavia Hills are raising money to build complexes. “Each program has the same goal — giving players with disabilities the opportunity to play a sport and do something they may not have ever imagined doing,” Smith says. “Anyone who has been involved in Miracle League says the same thing: It’s definitely life changing for not just the players, but for the coaches, the parents, the buddies and the whole community.” Two volunteer buddies share smiles with a Miracle League player.

By the Numbers: More than 300 Miracle League clubs serve more than 200,000 children and adults with special needs and disabilities through more than 300 Miracle League organizations in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and Australia. For more information about Miracle League, visit www.miracleleague.com


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Delivering on the River

Story and Photos by Colette Boehm


ike many who enjoy the inland waters of Baldwin County, Mark Lipscomb spends his mornings out in his boat. Lipscomb’s time on the water, however, is unique not just in these parts, but throughout the country. He’s the mail carrier in Magnolia Springs, a town which has the only year-round water route in the U.S. And while he’s not a native of Alabama, this job seems like a natural fit for Lipscomb who loves not only this area, but also the job he’s found here. Lipscomb grew up in California, but this south Alabama community made quite an impression on him early on. “My grandfather used to row these same waters,” Lipscomb explains. “My dad left and went to California, but his family was here, so in summer we came to visit. I liked it.” He liked it so much, he came back and is now the fifth generation of his family to live here.

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Lipscomb grew up with a love of fishing and of being on the water. “I grew up on the Pacific Ocean, fishing with a basic Montgomery Ward fishing pole. My mom would take me to the Venice Pier,” Lipscomb recalls. That love is something that’s stayed with him into adulthood, even during his time in the U.S. Army. “Even when I was at Fort Hood (Texas), I’d find lakes and go out with a buddy on weekends and fish.” After leaving the army in 1990, he moved to Magnolia Springs and worked as a commercial fisherman for more than a dozen years. “I’ve always been in a boat here, on the water.” Mark’s cousin was the carrier on the water route for 14 years. When he decided to give up the job in 2006, it seemed only natural for Mark, whose father was also a mailman, to take it over. www.alabamaliving.coop

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Magnolia Springs mailman loves being on the water and doing his part

“I live right on the river, so it was convenient. It worked out good that way,” he says with a smile. The route serves approximately 200 people on the Magnolia and Fish Rivers and Weeks Bay. Each morning Lipscomb, who is a contractor for the postal service, spends an hour or more gathering and sorting the mail at the post office, then returns home to load the mail into his 15-foot Alumacraft and begins his route. “I live on the route, too,” he says. “So, I get my mail first.” Then, he’s off to deliver to the other patrons. “We have 190 now, but it’s plus or minus, as people move in and move out,” Lipscomb says. “Usually, I run it in less than three hours.” While other areas of the country have seasonal water delivery, this 31-mile stretch is the only fixed-box water route with year-round service. That means here, the old adage is true that Alabama Living

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“neither snow nor rain nor heat” keep Lipscomb from completing his appointed rounds. Hurricanes, he admits, have been the only exceptions. “I’ve even had to break ice,” he said of the weather issues he’s faced. Mostly, the heat and thunderstorms of the summer are his biggest weather concerns. “People say ‘Oh, you have the best job.’ I say, ‘Maybe right now, but where are you when the lightning shows up?’” He sometimes takes shelter under boat houses to wait out a lightning scare or a short-lived downpour. “Sometimes we’re hunkered down together,” he said of his customers. They look out for him, too, offering shelter from the rain or a cold drink in the heat of summer. “People on the river are happy to give, as the song says.” APRIL 2020  17

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Lipscomb often returns the favor, ensuring packages are protected and property is accounted for. Even though he rarely comes to a full stop, steering with one hand and opening and closing boxes in a fluid motion with the other, he will go out of his way to help someone along the route when the need arises. “If their docks are covered, I can usually leave packages on the dock or in a boat house, but sometimes I need to carry it up to the house.” He’s also become adept at noticing when things are out of place. “You’ll see things floating and you’ll recognize where they came from. I remember one time, there was this boat floating away. I knew it was a really valuable boat. I had to let him know.” He admits there can be other distractions along the route, as well.

“People say ‘Oh, you have the best job.’ I say, ‘Maybe right now, but where are you when the lightning shows up?’” “On more than one occasion, I’ve seen a deer swimming across the river,” he recalls. “I’ve had fish jump in the boat, but that hasn’t happened in a while. If I run into a school of fish, I might have to stop and throw the net a couple times.” In general, though, he’s intent on getting the job done before enjoying the scenery. “I want to get the mail there, take care of business, then take a break later,” he says, noting, “It’s getting into the hottest part of the day.” Later, he said, he might get back out on the water to fish or to kayak with friends. Then the next morning, he’ll hit the water again, mail in tow. “It never stops,” he says of the route, which started in 1916. Like the river, it continues through the heart of this community. “We’re over the 100-year mark now. This thing started way before me. I’m just carrying it on. I’m doing my part.”

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Conservation’s eyes in the skies By Allison Law


illiam Johnston does his pre-flight check of the single-endeer, turkey and bats, among others – that biologists have outfitted gine Cessna 182, the plane he flies for the Wildlife and with radio transmitters. Such surveys help the Conservation Department to manage, protect and enhance the populations of all Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division in the Alabama of Alabama’s wildlife, some of which are endangered or imperiled. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR). His mission today: to check for populations of cattle egrets, do Challenges a visual check of an active eagle’s nest, and give some visitors a The airplane Johnston flies is equipped with up-to-date avionics glimpse of what is for him another day at the office, providing the and high-tech flight displays and communications capabilities. It eyes in the skies for the state of Alabama. also has an enhanced vision system called MaxViz, which presents When Johnston flies, he’s always accompanied – either by a real-time images of the external enwildlife biologist, when he’s needed vironment and allows for safe flying to help with surveys of deer, turkey at night. or other animals, or a conservation “One of the things that scares me officer, when he’s flying for law enforcement purposes. During huntmost is hitting wildlife on takeoff ing season, the missions are almost and landing,” Johnston says. “Those always related to enforcement, lookare the most dangerous parts of flying for illegal bait and night hunting. ing.” “It’s amazing what you can see Yet another hazard, thanks to from the air,” Johnston says. “There’s technology: drones. no hiding from us.” “In the past, we just worried about The aviation program is a critical a bird strike,” says Fred Harders, assistant director of the WFF division. component of Alabama’s conservation efforts. With eagles, for examBut drones are metal, not flesh and ple, at one time there were few in the bone, and have the potential to do state; the Conservation Department William Johnston flies a Cessna 182 for the Alabama real damage to aircraft – and the got involved with eagle restoration, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. personnel on the plane. and Johnston’s flights allow bioloGeneral aviation cannot fly bePHOTO BY BILLY POPE gists to monitor their nesting aclow 500 feet above the ground, and tivities and provide a way to document the program’s success in drones are limited to 400 feet above the ground. But a 100-foot restoring the majestic birds to Alabama. separation is a small comfort. Johnston is also involved in the state’s annual waterfowl survey. “We don’t fly over populated areas, but we do fly over parks, He’ll fly down to the delta area in south Alabama, all the way up to places where people like to take drones,” Johnston says. “So we the Tennessee River area to monitor the counts of certain species have to change our missions based on the use of technology.” of water birds, which has to be done at certain times of the year. While drones are potential hazard, they have the ability to provide imagery from above – which is a part of Johnston’s job. But he Marine Resources – another division within the Conservation doesn’t think they’ll replace what he can do. Department – uses the plane to count crab traps inside the bay “A lot of people think drones are something you see on TV. You near Mobile. A task that takes several days by boat, Johnston can sit in your chair and play video games,” he says. But by regulation, help personnel accomplish in a matter of hours. the drone has to be in the line of sight of the pilot. He can attach antennae to the airplane that will track animals – This photo shows members of the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division’s Rural Operations Unit and the Division’s Air Support Unit. They work together in search and rescue, man tracking, and disaster response. The units also assist in training other state, county, and municipality first responders in rural operation first aid, tracking, and recovery. PHOTO BY BILLY POPE

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From the air, Johnston can assist game and fish law enforcement officers, both on land and water. PHOTO BY BILLY POPE

And accessibility is another hindrance that Johnston doesn’t flying banners up and down the beach in south Florida. For better have. To see a beaver dam, for example, Johnston can fly right pay, he moved to Alaska and earned his instructor’s license; he over it; a drone operator would have to get close to the dam, perbuilt hours and started flying cargo on a turbo prop. haps into swampy, inaccessible areas, to launch a drone. “It’s unique, Alaska,” Johnston says, recalling the extreme Professional drones can cost from the tens of thousands to milweather, treacherous terrain and rough, rugged airstrips. He had lions of dollars – not nearly as economical as an airplane and a an experience there that would change his career path. pilot, who acts as a shared resource between divisions and even It was a dangerous flying scenario, but he wasn’t scared. “I realamong different agencies. ized that I’m so used to that kind of flying, I’m going to kill myself Still, some might consider a high-tech airplane as a luxury because I didn’t get scared,” he says. The danger wasn’t lack of item, an extravagance in times of tight skill; it was that he had grown too accusstate budgets. Not so, Harders says. tomed to risk. For law enforcement, they fly both day “I’m too comfortable flying this kind and night; to pay for a private pilot and of stuff.” airplane would be cost-prohibitive. And He applied with the state of Alabama Johnston can be called on for other kinds and started flying for the Department of of flights: he recently flew some state DeEnvironmental Management (ADEM) in partment of Transportation personnel 2004. He moved over to ADCNR seven around the Birmingham area to gauge years ago. traffic flow. And he can be called at a moHe flies about 250 hours in an average ment’s notice after a severe weather event year; he has 9,600 hours of flight time or some other kind of disaster. total and has a rating to fly three large After the BP oil spill, he was part of airplanes, including the Citation CJ4, the response from day one, flying people which the governor uses. In fact, he flew and supplies, for aerial surveillance and Gov. Kay Ivey when she was lieutenant imagery. governor. “Having an aircraft is not a luxury, it’s Today, he enjoys being a part of the a work item,” Harders says. And for the state’s efforts to promote conservation record, the ADCNR receives no General and wildlife law enforcement. “I love flyJohnston’s flights help wildlife biologists and Fund support; its funding is generated conservation officers in areas that would be ing, but I’m accomplishing something.” through special revenues, including user difficult to access by land. Harders says Johnston’s flying is not and license fees. just from airport to airport. “It’s a highly PHOTO BY MARK STEPHENSON skilled, technical flying that he does in Skill in the skies that aircraft,” Harders says, noting that it’s important for ADCNR Johnston was born in Brazil, to a Brazilian mother and an to have a pilot of his skill level. American engineer father. He lived all over – South America, Johnston knows that other types of flying – for an airline, for Washington, D.C., San Francisco – and after high school joined example – offer good money, and carry a certain prestige. But the U.S. Army. He was an engineer on active duty from 1990shuttling people from point A to point B doesn’t provide the 1994 with a deployment to Iraq. sense of accomplishment he enjoys now. “I really enjoy looking He started taking flying lessons in 1995, and his first job was back and saying, I was a part of that.” 22  APRIL 2020

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Alabama Living

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Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie Pie Lab, Greensboro


Finding awesome sweet desserts in Alabama

is as easy as … By Jennifer Kornegay


hen we say, “It’s as American as apple pie,” the focus is usually on whatever “it” is. But let’s instead put the emphasis on the known entity in this metaphor, the pie. The phrase is employed for good reason: Be it the ubiquitous apple or other equally delicious versions like peach, pecan, lemon ice box or buttermilk, pie – in all its incarnations – is a food-world icon. And in Alabama, we’re blessed with multiple spots scattered all around the state that bake pies so tasty, going out of your way for a slice is a detour you definitely won’t regret. Plug these places into your map app and take a bite of these Alabama pies “worth the drive.”

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the drive The Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie at Pie Lab in Greensboro is one of the establishment’s top three sellers.

Pie Lab is a combo lunch counter/coffee shop and pie bakery that’s turning out a lot more than delicious pies. Located on Greensboro’s main street, the initial motivation behind its opening was to create a space for community conversations to help bring about brighter days in the tiny town. This important purpose is ongoing, but the pies coming out of this kitchen are just as essential, bringing Pie Lab and its hometown national acclaim. Flavor offerings change regularly, but the Chocolate Bourbon Pecan remains the steady favorite for obvious reasons, according to owner and chef Seaborn Whatley. “I mean it has chocolate and bourbon in it, so what’s not to love?” he says. The Chocolate Chess pie and Brown-Sugar Buttermilk pie (its caramel notes and smooth texture call to mind crème brulee) are almost as popular; Whatley says “best-seller status” is really a toss-up between the three. And the Brown-Sugar Buttermilk almost didn’t exist. “It was actually the result of a mistake, but we ran with it, and people love it,” he says. www.alabamaliving.coop

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Fried Peach Pie


Original Oyster House, Gulf Shores


Peach Park, Clanton

The fried peach pies at Peach Park in Clanton may not fit the typical definition of a pie, but their popularity is undeniable.

The recipe for the Original Oyster House’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pie is on the eatery’s website and is often downloaded.

Peaches are the favorite product of Chilton County, and at the folks at Peach Park long ago devised the perfect vehicle for their sweet, tender flesh: the fried pie. Peach Park has been growing and selling the fruits of its labors since it opened in 1984, but it didn’t start making fried pies until the spot added a kitchen in the late 1990s. Since then, they’ve had a hard time keeping up with demand, selling more than 75,000 a year, and owner Mark Gray explained why. “They are really tasty because we use our own peaches, and we’ve got some of the best,” he says. “Plus, you don’t get fried pies like these anywhere else.” Based on a blend of a few different family recipes, the pies’ homemade and hand-rolled dough is bursting at its flaky seams thanks to the massive amount of filling. “I think it’s the size that makes them unique,” Gray says. “They’re almost as big as half a football and almost a half-pound, they’re so packed with peaches. We never skimp on the peaches.”

The Original Oyster House in Gulf Shores is coastal cuisine staple, and while the spot excels at seafood (including the mollusk in its moniker), the restaurant also offers a seriously sweet ending to every meal: its Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pie. It first appeared on the menu in the 1990s when general manager Tim Faircloth brought the recipe to the kitchen. Co-founder Joe Roszkowski, a chef, tweaked the ingredient list, adding a shot of smooth Kahlua to keep the peanut butter and milk chocolate happy in their crushed cookie crust. It was an instant hit and still is. “It’s been a fan favorite ever since we first introduced it. The recipe is available on our website, and it’s downloaded a lot,” says Cecilia Mace, who does marketing for the restaurant. Mace pointed out that while a single slice will suffice, an entire pie is even better. “When I bring this culinary masterpiece to any party (whole pies are sold at each location of the restaurant), it creates a sensation,” she says. “It’s a delightfully decadent dessert.”

Black Bottom Pie

Peanut Butter Pie Acre, Auburn



Gaines Ridge Dinner Club, Camden

The Gaines Ridge Dinner Club’s Black Bottom Pie has a spot on the 100 Alabama Dishes to Eat Before You Die list.

The Peanut Butter Pie at Acre in Auburn features a chocolate crust and toasted banana meringue.

Owner Betty Kennedy makes her restaurant’s Black Bottom Pie the same way her mom did, infusing a heavy egg custard with rum and resting it on a dark-chocolate coated gingersnap crust before blanketing it all with whipped cream and curls of shaved chocolate. A bite today still kindles fond memories of her mother. “When I was about 15, I had to have an appendectomy,” she says. “My mom asked what I wanted to eat. I said, ‘I sure would like some Black Bottom Pie.’ I was in Selma, 40 miles away, and people didn’t carry around coolers back then, so by the time she got it to me, it was in bad shape,” she says. “But I still ate the whole thing.” She’s not the only one who has a hard time resisting the treat. It earned a spot on the Alabama Tourism Department’s 100 Alabama Dishes to Eat Before You Die list, and for all of the 34 years that Gaines Ridge has been open, the restaurant goes through three to four pies each week. “We’ve sure made a lot of those pies,” Kennedy says. 26  APRIL 2020

Chef and owner David Bancroft’s take on farm-to-table fare at Acre has garnered a lot of attention and recently, another nomination for a James Beard Award. With a variety of fruits, veggies and herbs growing in patches around the restaurant and in patches throughout the parking lot, the freshness of the produce and the exciting ways this is highlighted on the plate take center stage. But Acre’s desserts are no slouches either, and delights like Blueberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding beg you to save some room for them. The one most likely to have this request approved is the Peanut Butter Pie. It’s based on Mama Jean’s (Bancroft’s grandmother) recipe, but of course, he added his touches. “We ‘cheffed’ it up a bit, with our great chocolate crust and topping it with our toasted banana meringue,” he says. Those bells and whistles make it a fitting end to an Acre meal, but Bancroft believes nostalgia is also a large part of its appeal. “It reminds folks of their childhood, I think,” he says. “It’s very familiar but with a twist.” www.alabamaliving.coop

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Alabama Living

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Beware of calls claiming there’s a problem with your Social Security account


ocial Security and its Office of the Inspector General continue to receive reports about fraudulent phone calls from people claiming to be Social Security employees. These scammers try to trick people into providing personal information or money, and often threaten their victims with arrest. Don’t be fooled. Our employees will never threaten you for information or promise a benefit in exchange for personal information or money. Real Social Security employees also will not: • Tell you that your Social Security number has been suspended.

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



Across 1 City that used to be the capital of French Louisiana 4 Historic Fort on Dauphin Island 8 “Moby Dick” captain 9 Architect of the Rosenbaum House 11 Tigers QB, 2 words 14 Holiday drink 15 South Alabama alum who plays for the Los Angeles Rams, Gerald ____ 18 Doo-wop classic ‘’Duke of ___’’ 19 Top grades 20 Pours some wine 24 Alabama’s popular ___ turtles 26 Animals that live in every county of Alabama 28 Lady who directed Selma, Ava ___ 33 Popular item in southern food culture 34 ___ carte, 2 words 35 Large mall in Birmingham 36 Defensive tackle, for short 37 Golf starting point 38 Seasoning 39 Termination 40 Evergreens Down 1 Science Center in Birmingham with a popular aquarium 2 Edmund Pettus and Jubilee Parkway, for example 3 Have a po’boy, for example 4 Chitchat 5 Dwelling 6 What football crowds make 7 Wall or Main ___, abbr. 10 Crimson Tide RB, Najee 12 Santa ___ 13 “Sitting on the dock of the Bay” singer 16 Compete 17 Record company 20 Island in Mobile Bay 21 Specialty of Belle Chevre in Elkmont and MELT in Birmingham 28  APRIL 2020

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• Contact you to demand an immediate payment. • Ask you for credit or debit card numbers over the phone. • Require a specific means of debt repayment, like a prepaid debit card, a retail gift card, or cash. • Demand that you pay a Social Security debt without the ability to appeal the amount you owe. • Promise a Social Security benefit approval, or increase, in exchange for information or money. If you receive a suspicious call or are unsure of the identity of someone who claims to be from Social Security: • Hang up. • Do not give money or personal information. • Report the scam to our Office of the Inspector General at oig.ssa.gov.

22 Jazz and Blues singer, Nina 23 Gulf ___, the home of Waterville USA (water park) 25 Magazine manager, abbr. 27 Judge’s mallet

by Myles Mellor 29 30 31 32 37

Routing word Birch family tree Reservoir near Tallassee Word before Bowl and bono Musical scale note

Answers on Page 49 www.alabamaliving.coop

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April | Around



Auburn, 9th annual Bo Bikes Bama ride. Participating cyclists can choose either a 60-mile or 20-mile route. Fees are $65 for the 60-mile ride and $45 for the 20-mile ride. Legendary athlete Bo Jackson and others unite to raise money for the Alabama Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund, providing funds to construct community storm shelters and warning sirens throughout the state. BoBikesBama.com .

25 Bo Bikes Bama is an annual charity bike ride led by two-sport legend and Alabama native Bo Jackson.


Gulf Shores, Waterway Village Zydeco and Crawfish Festival and 5K Run, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., 225 E. 24th Ave. Live music, arts and crafts vendors and children’s activities. Free. 251-968-1174.


Ozark, 14th annual Ozark Crawdad and Music Festival, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the square in downtown. Free admission and live music, featuring Johnny Barron and the Waterfalls, Glory Days and David Gerald. Food, arts and crafts and a children’s area. 334-774-2618.


Northport, 41st annual native plant sale, sponsored by the George Wood Chapter of the nonprofit Alabama Wildflower Society. 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. rain or shine at the Kentuck Arts Center Courtyard on Main Avenue. Items for sale include plants donated by AWS members from their own gardens as well as plants from an out-of-state nursery specializing in natives. 205-8264496.


Enterprise, 46th annual Piney Woods Arts Festival, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 12 to 4 p.m. Sunday, on the track at Enterprise State Community College. Juried arts and crafts show features original works by about 100 artists, a children’s fun center, food and entertainment, student art and Civil War Living display. Free. 334-406-2787 or www. CoffeeCountyArtsAlliance.com.


Titus, “Road to Redemption” at New Home Baptist Church, 3 to 5 p.m. at the corner of Sewell and Spigener roads. This family event takes travelers on a mini tour with reenactments of the final days of Jesus’ life through his resurrection. Small groups will begin their journey every 20 minutes; each group needs about an hour to journey through the six destinations. Free. 334-567-0923 or email newhometitus@yahoo.com


LaFayette, 23rd annual LaFayette Day for Valley Haven School, on the Square. 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Arts and crafts, antique cars, children’s games and rides, family entertainment, food and more. Free. 334-756-2868 or 334-219-1890.


Union Springs, “Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End,” Red Door Theatre, at Prairie Street and U.S. 82. Discover the story behind America’s beloved humorist, who championed women’s lives with wit that sprang from the most unexpected place – the truth. Play is $20, dinner is $20. Call 334-738-8687 or email info@ reddoortheatre.org for showtimes and more information.


Fort Mitchell, Pioneer Day and Quilt Show, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET, Fort Mitchell Historic Site, 561 Highway 165. $5 adults, free for children under 10. Site includes an original circa 1840 log cabin home, visitors center with museum

and theater, Indian Heritage Center and Memorial, carriage house, reconstructed 1813 stockade fort and trading post and a historic cemetery. 334-855-1406 or 706-577-3327.


Waverly, 20th anniversary of the Old 280 Boogie, the outdoor stage at the Standard Deluxe, 1015 Mayberry Ave. Live music all day, with eclectic artisans, food vendors and modern farmers marketing their goods and wares. Standarddeluxe. com.


Decatur, Morgan County Master Gardener Association plant sale, Point Mallard Expo Pavilion, 2901C Point Mallard Circle. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Unusual plants, succulents, annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs, wildflowers, mixed containers, houseplants and some of the South’s top pass-along plants. Search for the group’s Facebook page for more information.


Marbury, Civil War living history and Saturday skirmish at Confederate Memorial Park, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Outdoor living history demonstrations performed by authentically uniformed and equipped Union and Confederate re-enactors. Souvenirs and food will be available for purchase. $2 per person for park entry, $2 per person for museum tours. 205-755-1990 or Chappelle.cmp@gmail.com.

Wetumpka, Coosapalooza Brewfest, along the Riverwalk of Merchants Alley, 108 S. Main St. Beer tasting 4 to 7 p.m., and live music from 4 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $35$55 and are available at bigtickets. com. Proceeds support downtown revitalization.


Fairhope, Bald Eagle Bash, 4 to 7 p.m., Tonsmeire Weeks Bay Resource Center, 11525 U.S. Highway 98. The Weeks Bay Foundation’s largest event features 16 of the area’s best restaurants, and a performance by the Underhill Family Orchestra. Proceeds support the Foundation’s mission to protect land and promote environmental education in South Alabama. Tickets are $50 in advance, $55 at the gate; children 10 and under free. Baldeaglebash.com.


Guntersville, 22nd annual American Indian Powwow, 3550 Creek Path Road. Drumming, dancing, singing, demonstrators, craft vendors, story tellers, flute playing, archery, flint knapping and free children’s activities. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Bonfire and entertainment at dark on Sunday. 256-582-2333 or email ucanonline@bellsouth.net.


Atmore, Pride of Atmore will sponsor Myrna’s Annual Salad Tasting Luncheon from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 208 East Horner. Tickets are $10 and available at the door. Proceeds go toward the downtown restoration project. 251-368-6397.

Because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, some events may have been cancelled after press time. Please check websites or call ahead before planning to attend an event. 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.

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| Worth the drive |

Owner Tyler Jones proudly displays some of The Railyard’s signature menu items, including barbecue shrimp and grits and jerk roasted pork tenderloin.

All aboard with farm to table goodness at

The Railyard Story and Photos by Aaron Tanner


he Railyard restaurant, in the basement of a building that sonal: Summer features tomato pie in a cast-iron skillet from todates to the early 20th century, features many globally inmatoes gathered in nearby Flint City and Falkville. Fall features spired dishes from locally sourced products while paying heartier entrees, such as venison chili with sweet potatoes or homage to the city’s role as a railroad and transportation hub. Wagyu meatloaf from North Alabama Wagyu farms in Cullman Owner Tyler Jones had worked with city officials and merCounty. chants for many years to fuel economic growth in downtown De“Our main focus is to source as much of our products as possicatur and wanted to give back to the community. Despite having ble locally,” Jones says. no previous restaurant experience, he and north Alabama chef Other entrees are available year-round. Those in the mood for Bill Harden opened the Railyard in 2015. burgers have several options, including a seafood-based Wharf The restaurant brings people into Decatur’s charming central burger, topped with the house-made remoulade sauce and fried business district while thinking shrimp. Another favorite sandoutside of the box. “When we met wich is The Usual, a chicken breast  The Railyard initially, our plan was simply to do topped with bacon, spinach, and Decatur 209-A Second Ave. SE something different and be comhomemade ranch dressing placed Decatur, Ala. 35601 munity-driven,” Jones says. inside a French-pressed Cuban roll. (256) 580-5707 Other fresh menu items include As a commitment to being comHours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday jerk pork tenderloin, grilled prime munity-based, many of the items www.therailyarddecatur.com rib, New York strip steak, blackon the Railyard’s menu come from ened Chicken Alfredo, and the local farmers. Many entrees are sea-

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Tennessee Valley Barbecue Shrimp and Grits made with fresh seafood from the Gulf. For an appetizer, the cheese fritters and charcuterie boards featuring local cheeses are not to miss. The Railyard’s old-fashioned bar features a variety of libations, including a fine selection of bourbons, whiskeys and scotches. The menu features entrees for those with dietary restrictions, such as gluten-free, vegetarian, and pescatarian options.

happy that we are trying to contribute.” Locals and out of town guests from north Alabama, Tennessee, and other parts of the Southeast hear about the Railyard via the internet and social media. “On the weekends, I would say 40 to 50 percent of our clientele are from outside the city,” Jones says. The lunch crowd is often steady while the dinner crowds are large enough that a reservation is usually recommended, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. “We always tell our guests to call ahead or to make reservations online to avoid wait times,” Revitalizing downtown Parsons says. Besides running Jones’ goal is to the Railyard with its sustain the level of diverse menu, Jones service and products offered to guests is on the board for while maintaining the Decatur’s Downtown authentic, historic atRedevelopment Authority and owns sevmosphere. “We strive eral other businesses to do what is best to in the downtown area. uphold the integrity His goal of seeing of the business while downtown Decatur still trying to provide revitalized with thrivthe best experience ing shopping, dining, for the customer,” he and entertainment says. options has come to For Jones, the best fruition thanks in part part of running the to the city’s creation of Railyard is seeing an arts and entertainhis hometown and ment district. restaurant thrive. The Railyard sits in the basement of one of downtown Decatur’s most historic buildings from “Decatur has what the early 20th century that sat empty for many years before the restaurant opened in 2015. Many enjoy the authentic experience many cities dream not replicated at a typical chain restaurant, such as watching an of,” Jones says. “It has a rich history and the potential to become old beat-up farm truck driving down the street and delivering something spectacular.” fresh produce to the kitchen. The Railyard fills a void in a building that was vacant for many “The local culture, the creativity we can use day-to-day, and years. “With the influx of businesses, restaurants, and the Princess Theatre being utilized more, the momentum continues to the impact we have on growth in our community; we love this grow downtown,” General Manager Kelsey Parsons says. “We are town!” Jones says. The casual atmosphere of The Railyard allows customers to relax while enjoying one of the restaurant’s farm to table meals from its menu.

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| Gardens |

Defending the home front: How to control invasive plants in the garden


hat’s the difference between a garden variety weed and an invasive weed? The former is an annoying pest, while the latter is a serious threat. But gardeners can help in the control of both. Weeds, often described as “plants out of place,” are unwanted plants that rob resources from preferred plants in the landscape. Invasive plants are defined as non-native (alien) species that, when introduced into an environment where they have no natural enemies, spread quickly and vigorously, soon overwhelming local ecosystems. To be clear, not all non-native plants are invasive, and many native plants can be “weedy,” meaning they can grow aggressively and become pests. But invasive non-natives (also called exotics) aren’t just fast growing – they are bullies in the landscape that push native species out and disrupt ecosystem balance. This imbalance threatens not just plants, but also animals, insects, microbes and other living organisms and also decreases the ecosystem functions that support all life on Earth. What’s more, battling invasives costs government agencies and private landowners billions of dollars each year. Sad to say, while some of these invaders were introduced accidentally, many are treacherous beauties we humans introduced as ornamental plants for our gardens and landscapes. Among them are Chinese privet, thorny olive (Elaeagnus), English ivy, heavenly bamboo (nandina), non-native wisteria, leatherleaf mahonia, popcorn tree (tallowtree), mimosa and Callery (Bradford) pear. These and other exotic plants are rampant in Alabama; privet alone has infested an estimated 1 million acres in the state. Happy to say, we gardeners can help mitigate that damage and slow, if not defeat, these invaders by starting in our own yards and communities. The first step is to know the enemy, which means learning to identify the invasive plants present in your local

landscape. Identification help is available through a number of resources including the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s Invasive Plant website (www.aces. edu/go/678), the Alabama Invasive Plant Council (www.aces.edu/go/679) and the Field Guide for the Identification of Invasive Plants (www.aces.edu/go/681). Once you know your enemies, you can go to battle using four primary control

strategies: mechanical (physically removing invasives by weeding, cutting, tilling, mowing, etc.), cultural (employing landscape practices that exclude invasive and encourage native plants), chemical (using plant-targeted herbicides) and biological (introducing living organisms that are natural enemies of the invasives). Of these, mechanical and cultural controls are the most labor intensive but often

Invasive plants are so tenacious that it often takes a combination of methods to reduce their numbers. One efficient option is the cut-and-spray method of mechanically cutting down a plant as close to the ground as possible then treating the cut spot directly with a chemical herbicide. This method targets only the cut surface, so less herbicide is needed, but to be effective the herbicide should be applied immediately after the cut is made when the chemical can still be absorbed into the root system. PHOTO BY KATIE JACKSON

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

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APRIL TIPS • Sow seeds for beans, corn, squash,

Invasive plants are difficult and expensive to control everywhere, including in city parks and other public areas such as the Caroline Dean Wildflower Garden in Opelika where a team of volunteers collected this giant pile of invasives during a single day of work. Banding together for community cleanup projects is a great way to help control invasives in our communities. PHOTO BY KATIE JACKSON

ideal for gardens and small acreages and offer a more organic approach to control. Chemical control is effective, especially in conjunction with other control measures, but should be used judiciously and according to label directions. Biological controls are harder for home gardeners to access and are typically used for large acreages, such as state parks and forestland. Information and training to use these control measures are available through local Cooperative Extension System offices and Master Gardener groups and through Extension’s Invasive Plant website and Facebook page. Check for local invasive plant control events and programs, too.

Alabama Living

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Here are a few tips to get you started: • Remove invasive plants before they develop seeds. • When removing invasive plants, get as much of their roots as possible by digging or pulling invasive plant seedlings and vines after a rain when the soil is moist or using a weed wrench device on larger plants. • Combine mechanical and chemical control methods using cut-and-spray or girdle-and-spray techniques (available at www.aces.edu/blog/topics/ control-invasive-plants/control-options-for-chinese-privet/). • Properly dispose of all invasive plant

melons and other summer vegetable crops. • Begin planting tomatoes, peppers and eggplants once the threat of a hard freeze has passed. • Fertilize warm-season lawns and plant new lawns. • Plant summer annual flowers and summer-blooming bulbs. • Move houseplants outside and clean dust from the leaves of indoor plants. • Celebrate Earth Day (April 22) by planting natives, creating a pollinator garden or volunteering at a community garden.

material. Disposal guidelines, which vary depending on plant species, time of year and other factors are available at https://extension.unh.edu/ resources/files/resource000988_ rep1720.pdf. • When buying plants, make sure they are not invasive species or cultivars. • Replace non-native plants with native species. A list of alternatives can be found at www.se-eppc.org/pubs/TNALT.pdf. Help your neighbors remove invasives from their yards and volunteer for community cleanup and education events.n

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| Alabama People |

Erin Beasley

Cattle woman When she was named executive vice president of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association in 2017, Erin Beasley became the first female to head that organization. A cattle farmer herself, she holds degrees in meat science and muscle biology from Auburn University, where she was president of the College of Agriculture and was named the Outstanding Student Award winner for Meat Science. She has received many national and collegiate awards, including the Great Idea Award from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. She currently directs the 9,500 members of the Cattlemen’s Association, one of the top three such groups in the country. She and her husband, Chad, a contractor, live in Notasulga with their two children, Hunter, 4, and Tatum, 3 months. We talked with Erin about her life promoting the beef cattle industry in our state. – Lenore Vickrey Tell us about your growing-up years. I moved to Alabama in 2004 to attend Auburn University and have been in the state ever since. I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. Ironically enough, I did not grow up in a cattle family. I was involved in the horse industry while growing up, which had me working on a farm every summer. My fondest memories were working and sweating in the Florida heat! I was also involved in 4-H as a kid along with different horse breed organizations that developed my interest in the livestock industry. Once I moved to Auburn, I majored in animal science and immediately got involved in all things livestock to “catch me up” on experiences I didn’t have as a child. I found my passion, to say the least. Do you have a special fondness for cattle, or do you love all animals? In general, I am an animal lover but I do have a fondness for cattle and I am excited to raise my kids on a farm. I didn’t get to spend my first 18 years entrenched in the industry, but I hope to be the rest of my life. My degree from Auburn is actually in meat science, so I have a genuine interest in the entire beef cattle cycle. I consider it a blessing that I not only get to advocate for the industry I love, but enjoy raising our product as well. It is something my husband and I can do together and involve our children as they get older. Did you ever see yourself as becoming the head of a large organization of cattle farmers? I definitely did not. When I look back at the last 15 years, I can honestly say I have been in the right place at the right time. I have had tremendous mentors and influencers in my career. I firmly believe I have found my niche in the industry because association work is a relationship and advocacy business, which I thoroughly enjoy. I also get to work for and represent some of the best people in the state, cattlemen.

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What is a typical day like? A day is hard to pinpoint because no two are the same, which keeps life interesting! Time management and juggling a lot of balls is the hardest part of association work. My main duties include overall management of the association, lobbyist for the cattle industry and editor of the Alabama Cattleman magazine. We have other large events and tasks that I am responsible for such as our annual Convention and Trade Show and the SLE Rodeo in March. My day to day also includes an open ear for any member issues or assisting my team where they need me on other association matters. The bamabeef.org website says today’s cows are much heavier than previous years, but that the beef is much leaner due to improved genetics, nutrition and better management. Can you talk about that? The beef industry has done a tremendous job in efficiency the last 40 years. Thanks to continuous progression in genetics, nutrition and management, cattlemen are producing more with less each year. We are the definition of sustainability because of this. If you take a minute and Google pictures of cattle or beef from the 1970s you will see that cattle used to be really short and thick. Steaks used to have an inch of fat thickness. Today, our cattle are medium to large frame, are finished at around 1,400 lbs and produce about ¼ inch fat thickness. That is a success story for the industry. We continue to produce a product that our consumer demands. Additionally, we now have over 30 cuts of beef that are classified as lean by the USDA but we have not sacrificed taste as we do it. What is it about Alabama’s climate and land that makes it conducive to raising cattle? Most people don’t know it but 2/3 of the land in the US is not conducive for crop production. Luckily, we can grow forages on this land which cattle graze and convert into a high-quality protein. In Alabama specifically, we can grow a diverse range of forages because of our annual precipitation and various soil types. To give you some perspective, cattlemen in the western states graze one cow/calf pair to over 40 acres. In Alabama we can graze one cow/ calf pair to every acre and a half to two acres depending on the forage quality. What is the current ACA membership? Our membership is over 9,500 members across all 67 counties in the state. We are a grassroots organization in that our counties do a fantastic job at recruiting members that help us generate such a large membership each year. ACA consistently ranks one of the top three cattlemen’s association memberships across the country.


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Alabama Living

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Prepare your family now for tornado safety


labamians are well aware of the destructive power of tornadoes. It was nine years ago this month – April 27, 2011 – that 62 confirmed tornadoes cut a swath through Alabama, and 238 people in the state lost their lives. Thousands more were injured. So there’s perhaps no better time to review tornado safety plans and talk with your family about them. But remember, tornadoes can occur at any time of day or night and at any time of the year. • Be weather-ready: Check the forecast regularly to see if you’re at risk for tornadoes. Listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed about tornado watches and warnings. Check the Weather-Ready Nation for tips. • Sign up for notifications: Know how your community sends warnings. Some communities have outdoor sirens. Others depend on media and smart phones to alert residents of severe storms capable of producing tornadoes. • Create a communications plan: Have a family plan that includes an emergency meeting place and related information. If you live in a mobile home or home without a basement, identify a nearby safe building you can get too quickly, such as a church or family member. • Know your safe place: Pick a safe room in your home, such as a basement, storm cellar, or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows. • Practice your plan: Conduct a family severe thunderstorm drill regularly so everyone knows what to do if a tornado is approaching. Make sure all members of your family know to go there when tornado warnings are issued. Don’t forget pets if time allows. • Prepare your home: Consider having your safe room rein38  APRIL 2020

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forced. You can find plans for reinforcing an interior room to provide better protection on the Federal Emergency Management Agency website. • Help your neighbor: Encourage your loved ones to prepare for the possibility of tornadoes. Take CPR training so you can help if someone is hurt.

During a tornado

• Stay weather-ready: Continue to listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay updated about tornado watches and warnings. • At your house: If you are in a tornado warning, go to your basement, safe room, or an interior room away from windows. Don’t forget pets if time allows. • At your workplace or school: Follow your tornado drill and proceed to your tornado shelter location quickly and calmly. Stay away from windows and do not go to large open rooms such as cafeterias, gymnasiums, or auditoriums. • Outside: Seek shelter inside a sturdy building immediately if a tornado is approaching. Sheds and storage facilities are not safe. Neither is a mobile home or tent. If you have time, get to a safe building. • In a vehicle: Being in a vehicle during a tornado is not safe. The best course of action is to drive to the closest shelter. If you are unable to make it to a safe shelter, either get down in your car and cover your head, or abandon your car and seek shelter in a low lying area such as a ditch or ravine.

Information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)n www.alabamaliving.coop

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Alabama Living

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2019 Honorable mention: Marla Monk Coosa Valley EC

photo contest

Do you enjoy photography? Can you capture the essence of Alabama and its people in a photo? Get ready to enter your best, original pictures in our annual photo contest. Entries will be accepted May 1-31 only.

Photos will be judged on quality, originality, creativity, photography skill and content.

There are four photo categories: Discover the past Capture the beauty Rural landscapes Making memories Rules for entry: Read and follow all rules carefully or your photo may be disqualified. Entries must be the original work of the photographer making the submission. Two entries per category per person, age 18 and older. See the entry form at www.AlabamaLiving.coop By submitting to us your photographs, you represent to us that you are the sole creator and owner of your work and that it is original, does not infringe the rights of any other person or entity, does not defame or invade the privacy of any person, and that you have the right and the authority to grant to us the following right of use. You agree that Alabama Living magazine and the Alabama Rural Electric Association may publish, post online, edit, revise and otherwise make unrestricted use of

Each photographer is limited to TWO submissions per category. (If we receive more than two photos in a category from the same photographer, only the first two received will be entered into the contest. Additional photos will be disqualified.) Winning photos will be published in the August 2020 issue of Alabama Living, and periodically on our social media sites. The first-place winner in each category will receive $100. Photo submissions will be accepted online ONLY through our website, alabamaliving.coop. Please do not send hard copies. No watermarks on photos. Full rules for entries can be found on our website, alabamaliving.coop part or all of your work for commercial or non-commercial purposes, including, without limitation, publishing all or part of your work in Alabama Living magazine, in print or online, shared on social media, in a calendar or other works, or in advertising for the same or for Alabama Living publications. You agree that this grant of use is royalty-free and perpetual. Contest is open to persons 18 or over in the U.S., except for employees or immediate family members of the Alabama Rural Electric Association, Alabama Living, Alabama’s rural electric cooperatives and their respective divisions, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies.

Keeping heritage alive Group honors sacrifice of Civil War soldiers “To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will commit the vindication of the cause for which we fought. To your strength will be given the defense of the Confederate soldier’s good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principles which he loved and which you love also, and those ideals which made him glorious and which you also cherish.” Stephen Dill Lee spoke those words during an address in 1906 while serving as the commander-in-chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Organized in 1896, the SCV exists to honor and remember the bravery of Confederate veterans. In 1864, 30-year-old Lee became the youngest lieutenant general in the Confederate Army. More than 258,000 Americans died fighting for the Confederacy during those bitter years of 1861-65. Many more soldiers and civilians died from disease, starvation and other causes. “The Sons of Confederate Veterans is a historical heritage organization,” says 40  APRIL 2020

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Oren Fannin, a former commander of the SCV Private Augustus Braddy Camp 385 in Pike County. “The group exists to defend the heritage and good name of the Confederate soldier.” Descendants of Confederate veterans form “camps” to honor the valor and sacrifice of their ancestors. Camps form “brigades.” Brigades comprise a division, such as the Alabama Division. Fannin’s camp holds a dinner with a guest speaker each month. They also hold various other functions throughout the year including caring for cemeteries. “We put flags on Confederate graves and clean up cemeteries, even some cemeteries that don’t have Confederate veterans buried there,” Fannin says. “We usually have an event at the state capitol where we have people in period dress, a cannon salute and a speaker. During April, we honor and celebrate the courage and character of the Confederate soldiers.” After the Civil War, many Southern states set aside days to memorialize their soldiers who fought so hard, for so long

Rifle salute near the Alabama State Capitol on Confederate Memorial Day 2019.

with so little. Alabama declared April as Confederate History and Heritage Month. In 1901, the state Legislature set aside the fourth Monday in April as Confederate Memorial Day. It occurs on April 27 this year. Some SCV members also participate in Civil War re-enactments. Movie companies frequently use re-enactors as extras while making historical films because re-enactors bring their own period-correct uniforms, weapons and gear. Any male descendant of a veteran who served honorably in the Confederate armed forces can join the SCV. For more information, visit scv.org or call 800-3801896.n www.alabamaliving.coop

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Alabama Living

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| Outdoors |

‘Electrofishing’ is about science, not sport

Photos by John Felsher


s the boat pulled up next to a fallen tree along a wooded shoreline deep in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, Dave and Tommy readied their fishing equipment. They unlimbered two long poles, but they weren’t tossing lures or dropping baits into the water. In fact, they weren’t using any kind of attractant at all. In reality, their equipment greatly repels fish, but they always return with a mess of assorted species. From long poles dangling off boat bow, they dropped into the water what looked like extended bony fingers on two unclutched hands. Although the “hands” never grabbed a fish, moments after they entered the murky water, fish began jumping in all directions. Tommy worked furiously to net as many fish as possible and dump them into a livewell as fast as he could. No ordinary fishermen using common recreational techniques this day, Dave Armstrong and Tommy Purcell work for the Alabama Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Division. They used a method called electrofishing or electro-sampling. With electricity, biologists can quickly gather many fish of diverse species for sampling and scientific study. They use the data collected to determine the health of a system John N. Felsher lives in Semmes, Ala. Contact him through Facebook.

so they can manage the waters to keep them productive. “The Mobile-Tensaw Delta is one of about a half-dozen waterbodies in this district that we check periodically,” says Armstrong, the District V fisheries supervisor for the AWFFD in Spanish Fort. “We want to primarily monitor the sportfish populations like largemouth bass and crappie. Sometimes, we try to specifically target other different species.” A generator on the boat creates electrical current. Beams, or poles, hold the metal probes, or droppers. Current flows into the droppers to shock fish. The boat serves as a “ground,” keeping the human occupants safe. “The boat works like a cathode, or ground,” Armstrong says. “The beams and the droppers that come off the end is the anode. Between the boat hull and the droppers, we create an electrical charge. That electrical field surrounds the boat, but it’s concentrated off the bow where the droppers are. In the boat, we are safe, but if someone puts a finger in the water, it will get zapped.” In the water, fish and other creatures feel the sting from the electrical charge and try to escape from it. The electric field varies in size, but generally goes as deep as six feet on average. In shallow Dave Armstrong and Tommy Purcell, both Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division biologists, sort through some fish they caught while electrofishing in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta near Mobile.

After catching the fish, biologists collect biological data on them to determine the health of the system and the species. They keep some fish for scientific testing back at the lab, but release the rest.

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3/18/20 11:01 AM


When electrofishing, biologists stick electric probes called “droppers” like these into the water to shock the fish and bring them to the surface where they can net them.

water, fish can’t swim under it so they vault to the surface. Some try to jump clear of the water. Others float up to the surface temporarily stunned, making them easier to net. “We try very hard not to kill fish,” Armstrong says. “Our goal is to get as many fish into the boat alive and release them as quickly as possible. The fish are stunned for a little while, but they revive very quickly. We can gather a lot of data on a lot of different fish species in a short amount of time. The delta probably has a greater diversity of species than any other part of the state.” On this warm, sunny spring day, the team collected several species commonly landed by recreational anglers, including largemouth bass, crappie, catfish and assorted sunfish. The team recorded length and width measurements, weight and other data from species of interest before releasing most of the fish. However, they did keep some for further study back at the lab. “We’ll keep a few fish for aging purposes,” Armstrong says. “We have to kill those fish, but that’s a small number. We take out their otoliths, or ear bones, which are like rings on a tree trunk. From those rings in its otolith, we can tell a lot about that fish’s growth in any given year. How much a fish grows depends on many variables, like temperature, rainfall, food availability, etc. We also get sex data on those fish.” Besides the usual bass, bream and crappie, the team also caught chain pickerel, bowfin, shad, garfish and other species. The catch also included quillback carpsuckers, smallmouth buffalo and redhorse. I even saw some fish and other creatures that I’ve never seen before and didn’t know existed. Amazingly, prey and predators all live next to each other near fallen logs, old stumps, weed beds or other cover. When droppers enter the water, no telling what might pop up after the juice flicks on. District V covers 11 counties in southern Alabama. Biological teams throughout the state conduct similar sampling in waters they manage.n Alabama Living

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

17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

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


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

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

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



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

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


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

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


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

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

The Moon Clock and resulting Moon Times were developed 36 years ago by Doug Hannon, one of America’s most trusted wildlife experts and a tireless inventor. The Moon Clock is produced by DataSport, Inc. of Atlanta, GA (www.moontimes.com), a company specializing in wildlife activity time prediction. APRIL 2020  43

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Pimento Cheese

| Alabama Recipes |


Busby Bourbon Pimento Cheese with a Kick

Fruit & Nut Pimento Cheese

Arizona Pimento Cheese

Bacon Pimento Cheese

Camp Velvet Pimento Cheese

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3/18/20 11:01 AM


‘Kickin’ Alabama-made pimento cheese proves it’s not just for celery anymore By Lenore Vickrey


rowing up in Selma, Kim Peake didn’t even like pimento cheese. But today, she makes and sells her own popular brand – Kim’s Kickin’ Pimento Cheese – in 10 specialty and grocery stores in Alabama and her fan base just keeps growing. “I love cheese,” says the retired insurance agent, “but like my grandmother, I never use a recipe.” She began making her special brand of zesty pimento cheese 10 years ago for her family, and for gifts. “I would send a little tub with my kids when they went to spend the night, things like that. People liked it and it took off.” When her son, Phillip, worked at Mark’s Mart in Selma, he recommended to his boss that he try his mom’s pimento cheese. They tasted it, ordered 100 containers, and sold out in a week. She started making batches for paying customers in 2017. “I do everything myself,” she says, using a KitchenAid mixer and working out of a commercial kitchen at a local church. “I shop one day, do labels the next day, make the pimento cheese the next day, one small batch at a time.” Her son and daughter, Mary Taylor, help with labeling. A friend did the calligraphy and painted the red pepper for her logo. Selma’s Robert Armstrong, founder of GMomma’s Cookies, has been her mentor along the way. Her secret ingredient: whipped cream cheese. Besides three types of shredded cheese (sharp cheddar, pepper jack and Gouda), it’s her main ingredient. “I’m not a mayonnaise eater,” she acknowledges, but she does use a “dollop” of mayo to hold her recipe together. For the “kick,” she adds a bit of jalapeno and an assortment of spices and peppers. Her favorite way to eat her pimento cheese is on Wheat Thins. “There’s a little bit of sweet to them so it seems to be the perfect mix. I also like it on melba toast.” But as the popularity of pimento cheese has grown in recent

Kim’s favorite way to eat her pimento cheese is with Wheat Thins (upper right). PHOTO BY SAM JONES Alabama Living

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years, and more restaurants are featuring it as an appetizer, its uses are expanding way beyond the traditional bridal shower finger sandwiches and stuffed celery sticks.

Kim’s followers on social media love to share ideas: • • • • •

Mix it in ground hamburger meat for a zing of flavor Add it to grits Stir it into chili Use when making a grilled cheese sandwich Stuff jalapenos with a spoonful, wrap in bacon and cook on the grill • Melt it over tortilla chips for zesty nachos • Use it to stuff deviled eggs During the holidays, she makes a pimento cheese ball rolled in toasted pecans and bacon. She also makes a quiche with it and sausage. “Now I’m on a sausage ball trend. I just add a little Bisquick and sausage to it,” she says. She recently sold more than 300 sausage rolls at a local event. CORRECTION: In the March issue, some instructions were left off a recipe for Peanut Butter Reese Squares. Here are the correct instructions: Melt butter and peanut butter in microwave to loosen. Stir in graham cracker crumbs and powdered sugar. Mix until well combined. Spread into a greased 9x13-inch pan. Melt chocolate chips in microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until melted. Spread melted chocolate over peanut butter mixture. Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares.

Follow Kim on Facebook at Kim’s Kickin Pimento Cheese and on Instagram at #kimskickinpimentocheese. You can find her pimento cheese at Mark’s Mart in Selma and Northport; Orrville Farmer’s Market, Orrville; Winn-Dixie in Tuscaloosa, Selma, Auburn, Montgomery (Vaughn Road), Millbrook and Prattville; Renfroe’s Market, Montgomery; Kendrick Farms, Prattville; and Andy’s Farmer’s Market, Birmingham (seasonal).


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We love to reinvent leftovers. If you find you have Pimento Cheese left over, which may be rare, it is worth it to save a bit of it Brooke Burks just to fry up these bites of heaven. Taking leftovers and making them into something new is a favorite pastime of ours. Pimento Cheese only gets better when battered and fried to perfection. For many more recipes like this one, visit us at www.thebutteredhome.com.

Fried Pimento Cheese -2 cups prepared pimento cheese 1 2 eggs, beaten 1 tablespoon water 1/2 teaspoon pepper 1/4 cup parmesan cheese 1/2 cup plain flour 1 cup panko breadcrumbs 1/2 teaspoon salt Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, mold spoonfuls of pimento cheese into 1-inch balls. Place on a cookie sheet. Freeze for one hour. Prepare 3-4 cups canola oil for frying. Heat oil to 350 degrees. In 3 separate bowls, set up a breading station. In one, mix eggs and water. Within the second, mix flour, salt and pepper. In the third, mix panko breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. Remove rolled pimento cheese from the freezer. Dredge each ball into the flour mixture, then the egg and water mixture and finally the panko mixture. Place back on sheet pan to rest while battering the remainder of pimento cheese. Fry in batches for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel and cool. Serve with a ranch or spicy ranch sauce. Photo by The Buttered Home

Fruit and Nut Pimento Cheese

Arizona Pimento Cheese

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded 1/3 cup pecans, finely chopped ¼ cup diced pimentos ¼ cup minced Vidalia onion ¼ cup dried cranberries, chopped 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce ¼ teaspoon ground paprika ¼ teaspoon salt

8 ounces cream cheese, softened ¾-1 cup mayonnaise 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated 8 ounces pepper jack cheese, grated ¼-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste 1 teaspoon chili powder 1 7-ounce jar diced pimentos 4 slices thin bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled 1 small can diced green chilis, drain and blot excess moisture on paper towels

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients, mixing well to blend. Refrigerate until ready to use. Mary Bruce Central Alabama EC

Pimento Cheese Stuffed Hamburgers 8 ounces extra sharp yellow cheddar cheese, shredded 4 ounces white cheddar cheese, shredded 8 ounces cream cheese, softened 4 ounces diced pimentos, drained 3 tablespoons mayonnaise 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper Salt and pepper, to taste 1 pound ground chuck 1 pound ground sirloin Mix cheddar cheeses, cream cheese, pimentos, mayo, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper in a bowl. On a pan lined with wax paper, roll cream cheese mixture into a log and freeze for 1 hour. Mix together the sirloin and chuck and make thin hamburger patties. Take out the frozen chese log and slice into 1-inch slices. Sandwich the pimento slice between the hamburger patties and mold seams together. Grill on medium-high heat until the internal temperature is 160 degrees. Kirk Vantrease Cullman EC

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In a large bowl, blend cream cheese and mayonnaise until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients. Chill. Use as a spread with crackers, tortilla chips or in celery sticks. Also, very good as filling for grilled cheese sandwiches. Patricia Agnew Cullman EC

Busby Bourbon Pimento Cheese with a Kick ¾ cup Duke’s mayonnaise ½ cup sliced pimento, rinsed and chopped 2 tablespoons Bourbon (good quality) 1 teaspoon chili powder ¼ teaspoon ground cumin ¼ teaspoon ground pepper 6 cups (1½ pounds) freshly grated cheese: sharp/medium/mild cheddar or Colby Jack ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese 5-10 drops hot sauce ¾ cup sweet relish, optional Stir mayonnaise, pimento, bourbon, chili powder, cumin and pepper. Stir in all cheese until well blended. Add more mayonnaise if needed and also the option of relish. David Busby Coosa Valley EC


3/18/20 11:01 AM

Cook of the Month Victoria Perry Black Warrior EMC

Camp Velvet Pepper Cheese 2 4 1 2 2

pounds extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated poblano peppers, charred and cleaned teaspoon garlic powder teaspoons smoked paprika cups (or more) olive oil mayonnaise

To prepare poblano peppers, char skins over open flame or under broiler. Drop immediately into a paper bag, seal bag and chill. Rub charred skins off under cool running water, halve peppers, remove stems and seeds and pat dry. Dice ¼-inch and set aside. Grate cheese and place in large bowl. Sprinkle with garlic powder, smoked paprika and diced peppers and mix. Add mayonnaise, combine thoroughly. Refrigerate until used. Cook’s notes: My family most often uses pepper cheese as a vegetable dipper. It’s great in scrambled eggs, makes a delicious topper for tomato soup and baked potatoes, and, of course, as a sandwich spread.



prize and title of


of the


Themes and Deadlines: July: Squash | April 3 Aug.: Pound Cake | May 8 Sept.: Bar foods | June 5 (Taco bar, baked potato bar, etc.)

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

Bacon Pimento Cheese

Pimento Cheese Ball

4 bacon slices 2 8-ounce blocks sharp cheddar cheese, shredded 1 4-ounce jar diced pimento, rinsed and drained ½ cup mayonnaise 2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce ¼ teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper 1/8 teaspoon pepper

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature 8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded 1 small jar chopped pimentos, drained 1/2 cup onion, finely diced Dried parsley flakes

Cook bacon in large skillet until crispy; remove and drain on paper towels. Crumble bacon. Sitr together bacon, cheese and remaining ingredients just until blended. Store in airtight container in refrigerator up to one week. Yield: 8-10 sandwiches.

Mix all ingredients together and shape into a ball. Then roll it in dried parsley flakes. Refrigerate until served. Note: recipe can easily be doubled. Dolores Childree Baldwin EMC

Trudy F. Nelson Central Alabama EC

Please send us your original recipes (developed or adapted by you or family members.) Cook of the Month winners will receive $50, and may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year.

Alabama Living

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| Consumer Wise |

Four considerations before replacing windows By Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen


Our home’s windows are very old, and when the weather is cold, we can feel a chill when we stand near them. Do you think it’s worth replacing them?


First, prepare yourself for a bit of sticker shock when you get your first bid for replacing windows. To help you decide if replacement is the right move, you’ll want to consider a few factors.

increased resale value by $16,500. Only 4% of realtors said the new windows helped close the sale, so if resale value is your main objective, the costs could likely outweigh the return on investment.

Energy savings

Homeowners often believe that the best way to reduce energy use is to replace their windows, but this is rarely Increased comfort true. Companies that The chill you feel near sell new windows sometimes advertise greater your windows when it’s Old wood windows may be worth sanding Vinyl windows are often the most energy savings than the cold out is likely due to ra- and repainting, and can sometimes be affordable replacement, and come in a diant heat loss. When you’re retrofitted with more efficient glass. new windows can actuwide variety of styles. PHOTO COURTESY MIKE SCOLTOCK PHOTO COURTESY STEVE ANDERSON ally deliver. The amount near a cold surface, such of energy you save really as a window, you can feel Appearance and function depends on the efficiency of your existchilled even if the temperature inside Since your windows are older, new ing windows compared to the efficiency your home is over 70 degrees. Your body wood- or vinyl-framed windows can act of the replacement windows. An energy is much warmer than the surface of the as an exterior facelift. But keep in mind, auditor can estimate potential savings, window, and heat radiates from warm to if you own an older home with classic but most audits show that there are much cold. The inside surface of an inefficient, wooden windows, vinyl replacements more cost-effective efficiency investsingle-pane window will be much colder might look out of place. It’s possible to ments than replacing windows. on a winter night than that of a double- or buy new windows that match the style On average, according to ENERtriple-pane window. of some older wooden windows, or you GYSTAR, replacing single-pane winWindow coverings are one unique apcould decide to apply a little elbow grease proach to increasing the comfort level of dows in a 2,000 square-foot home with to get them back into shape. Wooden your home. Curtains and blinds are very ENERGYSTAR-certified windows will windows, even if they were built before effective at reducing radiant heat loss in produce an average savings of $125 to 1960, can last the life of the home. the winter and can even block some un$340 a year, depending on where you Windows can provide ventilation, wanted heat gain in the summer. live. At this rate, it would take a decade which sometimes improves comfort Another aspect to comfort is the sun. or more to pay off your initial investmore cost-effectively than air conditionment. If you have cold winters but lots of wining. Windows also need to be cleaned ocReplacing old windows can provide a ter sunshine, you might enjoy the comfort casionally. If your existing windows don’t number of benefits, but it’s a costly enand warmth of the sun streaming through provide ventilation or they are hard to deavor. By considering these factors and your windows on a cold clear day. If that’s clean, replacing them could solve these how long you plan to live in the home, the case, you should take this into considproblems. you’ll be able to make the right decision. eration as you ponder window replaceNext month we’ll provide information ment. Some windows are better at letting Resale Value that will help you decide what to look for the sun’s heat into the home than others. Windows are a major point of interin a replacement window.n Patrick Keegan writes on consumer est for most prospective homebuyers, and cooperative affairs for the which is why we often hear that window This column was co-written by Pat KeeNational Rural Electric Cooperative replacement is good for resale value. But gan and Brad Thiessen of Collaborative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus a 2019 study by the National Association Efficiency. For more information on the consumer-owned, not-for-profit of Realtors found that on average across 4 main benefits of new windows, please electric cooperatives. Write to the U.S. installing new vinyl windows energytips@collaborativeefficiency. visit: www.collaborativeefficiency.com/ com for more information. costs about $22,000 per home but only energytips. 48  APRIL 2020

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the best of

Mail order form and payment to: Best of Alabama Living Cookbook P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124-4014 COOKBOOKS @ $19.95 EACH:



(Shipping included)

Name: Address: City:



Phone Number:

Answers to puzzle on Page 28

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Alabama Living

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| Our Sources Say |

Have it your way F

or 40 years, from 1974 until 2014, Burger King ran a series of very popular ads that contained the same theme, “Have it your way!” The appeal was that you could order whatever you wanted on your Whopper at the drive-through and have it delivered to you at the window in a very few minutes. Everyone could have their hamburger exactly as they wanted it. “Having it your way” has not always been the norm. You may recall reading about the marketing programs for Ford Model “A’s” and Model “T’s.” Henry Ford has been quoted, “You can have Fords in any color you want, so long as it is black.” Of course, people’s desire for more individuality and something other than black cars have led to the ability to buy Fords and other cars in just about any color and style you want. Everyone can have whatever they like and can afford. Individual choices and “having it your way” works well for hamburgers, clothes and cars. It doesn’t work nearly as well for electric generation. Electricity has no color nor style. In its end state, all electricity does the same thing – it lights, heats and runs appliances and devices. However, we all know that electricity is generated from different resources. Today, some people are demanding that they also have electricity their way. Some states - none in the South - have passed renewable energy mandates that require a certain percentage of electricity used in the state be generated from renewable energy. Some states and cities have passed mandates to have electricity used in their jurisdictions to be totally carbon-free or from renewables by a certain date in the future. (The total renewable portfolios, of course, do not allow you to have it your way. You have it their way.) Generating electricity is much different than making hamburgers, painting cars or buying shirts. Electric generation is a large scale, high investment business. The most reliable and inexpensive electricity is generated in very large generating units that cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Generation from renewable resources is not nearly as reliable as fossil-fired plants and is more expensive. (I am very much aware of the popular argument that solar-generated electricity is now cheaper than natural gas-generated electricity, but that argument is simply not true. I plan to expound on that argument in a future article). The Southern Environmental Legal Center (SELC), a leading regional advocate for renewable energy, states on its website, “Despite the South’s abundant sunshine, solar energy is a vastly

underutilized resource across the region. SELC’s new initiative was launched to … help the South reap the many benefits of solar power and reduce our independence on outdated fossil fuels. Of all the renewable resources available today, solar power combines the greatest raw potential with the smallest environmental footprint.” The SELC, one of the greenest environmental groups in the country, obviously wants it their way and believes solar power to be the optimum solution for electric generation. However, not all environmental groups agree. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently released an environmental impact statement indicating an intent to approve a 7,100-acre solar farm east of Las Vegas with solar panels and battery backup to provide electricity when sunshine is not available at night. However, the Defenders of Wildlife and other environmental groups have filed objections to the renewable project. The objections allege the project’s solar arrays would disturb the habitat for Mojave Desert species such as the desert tortoise, kit fox and three-corner milkvetch, a rare plant. They also allege solar projects in California have been linked to thousands of bird deaths. The environmentalists claim the project will do permanent damage to the desert, saying: “There is no justification for this project that outweighs the importance of the desert tortoise, its habitat and the BLM’s obligations to use its full authority to take actions that contribute to the recovery of this threatened species.” If environmentalists object to a 7,000-acre project in the Nevada desert, how many will object to replacing hundreds of thousands of acres of rural southern timberland with solar panels? Yet, SELC supports that very change and the damage to threatened gopher tortoise, red-cockaded woodpecker and pitcher plants. There are too many special interest groups with conflicting agendas and objectives. They all want it their way. Utilities are placed in an impossible position in choosing generation resources that try to meet all the demands of all the different groups. As PowerSouth builds new generation resources, we will comply with all laws and regulations. We will serve the needs and best interests of our members by providing reliable electricity at the cheapest price possible. Today, that is a combination of fossil fuel-generated power mixed with some coal, hydro and solar. That is the way most people we serve want it. I hope you have a good month.n

Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.

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3/12/20 5:23 PM

| Classifieds | How To Place a Line Ad in Marketplace Closing Deadlines (in our office): June 2020 Issue by April 25 July 2020 Issue by May 25 August 2020 Issue by June 25 Ads are $1.75 per word with a 10 word minimum and are on a prepaid basis; Telephone numbers, email addresses and websites are considered 1 word each. Ads will not be taken over the phone. You may email your ad to hdutton@areapower.com; or call (800)410-2737 ask for Heather for pricing.; We accept checks, money orders and all major credit cards. Mail ad submission along with a check or money order made payable to ALABAMA LIVING, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124 – Attn: Classifieds.

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Alabama Living

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PANAMA CITY BEACH CONDO – Owner rental – 2BR / 2BA, wireless internet, just remodeled inside and outside – (334)7900000, jamesrny0703@comcast.net, www. theroneycondo.com GULF SHORES PLANTATION BEACH CONDO – 2 Bedrooms / 2 Baths. NO pets, NO smoking. Max 6 people. (205)344-3810 MILITARY / SERVICE DISCOUNTS on dozens of rentals. No Booking Fees. (251)333-6500, ALAVHR.com AFFORDABLE GULF SHORES CONDOS - 2BR / 2BA Gulf Front Penthouse, or 1BR / 1BA across the highway from the beach at the state preserve – Pictures on Airbnb & VRBO - (256) 352-5721, amariewisener@gmail.com. OWNERS – Join the fastest growing regional site in Alabama. Low annual fee. Verified Owners, no booking fees or commissions. Alabama Vacation Home Rentals. Locally Owned and Operated. (251)333-6500, ALAVHR.com GULF SHORES / ORANGE BEACH / FORT MORGAN – Choose from hundreds of beach houses and condos! Verified Owners. No Booking Fees. ALAVHR.com GULF SHORES BEACH HOUSE – Nice 2BR – Great Gulf View – Owner (251)666-5476 ORANGE BEACH CONDO, 3BR/3BA; 2,000 SQ.FT.; beautifully decorated; gorgeous waterfront view; boat slips available; great rates - Owner rented (251)604-5226 GATLINBURG – DOWNTOWN LUXURY CREEKSIDE CONDO – 2BR / 2BA, sleeps 6 – aubie552@gmail.com, (256)599-5552

PCB 2 CONDOS – PEACHTREE II – 2 miles West of Pier Park, 400 feet to beach – 2BR / 2BA, sleeps 6, pool, internet - (850)573-2182, Jeff. MENTONE, AL LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN COTTAGE RENTALS – Best brow views, River Front – cottagesofmentone.com, Call or text (504)4818666

Land, Lots & Real Estate LAKE WEISS WATER FRONT NEAR CEDAR BLUFF - $109,900 – bob.f.pollard@gmail.com, (770)427-1201 2 WATERFRONT HOMES IN DALLAS CO. – 1)2BR / 1BA with basement and large deck, remodeled inside and out, new A/C and heat – 2) 3BR / 2BA, 1,500 sqft, ceramic tile & oak flooring, large storage shed - Russ (850)582-7633. DEEDED, 6 ACRES OF ROLLING WOODED BEAUTY at LAKE HARDING. Perfect combination of lake life and privacy. Minutes from public boat landing. Call (404)213-2098 for more details.

Musical Notes PLAY GOSPEL SONGS BY EAR - 10 lessons $12.95. “LEARN GOSPEL MUSIC”. Chording, runs, fills - $12.95 Both $24. Davidsons, 6727AR Metcalf, Shawnee Missions, Kansas 66204 – (913)262-4982

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LAKE HOMES / CABINS – Verified Owners. No Booking Fees. ALAVHR.com ORANGE BEACH – CUTE BEACH COTTAGES – OWNER MANAGED - three to choose from. Pet friendly, boat docks, pools. Near Gulf of Mexico on calm canal. No parking passes required.  ...away from the condo crowds and chaos...  (251)975-7003, email: cutebeachcottage@yahoo.com, www. orangebeachcottage.com AFFORDABLE BEACHSIDE VACATION CONDOS – Gulf Shores & Orange Beach, AL – Rent Direct from Christian Family Owners – Lowest Prices on the Beach! www.gulfshorescondos.com, (251)656-4935, (205)556-0368, (251)752-2366 DESTIN, FL OWNER RENTALS patsdestincondo.com - Pat Green Bush, ownergreenbush36@gmail.com, (334)244-6581 or (334)312-6630

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| Hardy Jackson's Alabama |

Illustration by Dennis Auth

Cousin Benny meets an angel


have mentioned Cousin Benny from time to time, but considering the importance of what is to follow, let me tell you about him again. Cousin Benny, my first cousin, is like a brother to me. He is my Aunt Anne’s (Daddy’s baby sister) “little peach” -- 6-foot, 2-inches, 300 pounds of retired Mississippi Bureau of Investigation manhood. Goateed and pony tailed, he looks like the Big Lebowski’s missing brother or a refugee from a Grateful Dead concert. Now Benny is not inclined to make things up. Nor is he inclined to see the world through rose-tinted glasses. You can’t put anything over on Benny. If I am ever going somewhere I ought not to go, I want to take Benny with me. Get the picture? So when Benny told me he had met an angel, I paid attention. It happened a few years ago. December. He and his wife, Martha, had come to visit his mother, who was in a nursing facility close to me. He came back from the visit all excited. “Guess what I saw at the nursing home Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University and a columnist for Alabama Living. He can be reached at hjackson@cableone.net.

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today?” Benny exclaimed as he sat down in my kitchen. “An angel.” Not my first guess, or even my second. He continued. “We were sitting in the lobby, waiting to go in and see Mother. This guy comes in.” Benny has spent his life observing people but this one was special. “He was bigger than me (and you gotta be big to be bigger than Benny), clean shaven, and red-faced from either the cold or the alcohol, you could smell it on him.” His size was emphasized by his toosmall outfit – warm-up pants, t-shirt and zip-up-the-front hoodie which failed to cover his “very large protruding belly.” Benny figured it was some homeless wino in from the cold. After picking up some information brochures from the registration desk the guy walks over to Benny, reaches in his pocket, and pulls out a $20 bill wrapped around a business card. He hands it to Benny. Benny politely refuses to take it. The man insists. So Benny takes it. Then the man sat down on the couch with Benny and began to ramble on about nursing homes in general and about how he planned to get cigarettes for the smokers in rehab there. After a few minutes of that, he got up, reached in his pocket, and pulled

out a wad of bills – most of them twenties – which he handed to Martha with instructions to give them to needy residents. He could be this generous, the man explained, because he was “a zillionaire” and an angel on top of that. Yessir, an angel. Not an archangel, he wanted that made clear, something along the lines of a “special forces angel who had not earned his wings yet.” And with that, he left. Neither Benny nor Martha saw where he came from, or where he went. Benny and Martha counted the money -- $300, all in twenties -- which they turned over to the business office to be used to help anyone in the facility who needed it. The information on the business card he gave Benny was sketchy – “One Man’s Ministry” followed by a name and city and a reference to “Blue Letter Bible.” I suppose we could do an internet search and find out more about him. But I don’t want to. I’d rather stick with Benny’s explanation. He was an angel. Neither Benny, nor Martha, nor Hardy for that matter, have ever seen one of the Heavenly Hosts, but as Benny noted, “We have been told that they walk among us.” And I thought, “Yes, maybe they do.”n www.alabamaliving.coop

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Profile for Alabama Living

April 2020 Tallapoosa River  

April 2020 Tallapoosa River