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Wiregrass Electric COOPERATIVE

Record Demand

Wiregrass Electric set a new record for energy demand this January

VOL. 67 NO. 3 MARCH 2014



Les Moreland CO-OP EDITOR

WEC Member Services Division ALABAMA LIVING is delivered to some 420,000 Alabama families and businesses, which are members of 22 not-for-profit, consumer-owned, locally directed and taxpaying electric cooperatives. AREA cooperative member subscriptions are $3 a year; non-member subscriptions, $6. Alabama Living (USPS 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.



8 WEC is here to help Frigid temperatures this January have left many residents of the Wiregrass dealing with higher than usual electric bills. Your cooperative has several programs that could help control your electric costs.

20 Cycling challenge

Hundreds of bicyclists will converge in Anniston and Piedmont to celebrate their sport with a weekend of bicycle-themed festivals, races and the 102-mile Cheaha Challenge Gran Fondo ride.


Clint Hatcher, WEC serviceman, works on a downed power line during Winter Storm Leon. WEC set a new record for energy demand in January (Page 6).

28 Attracting butterflies Spring’s an ideal time for gardeners who love ornamental plants to plan for not only a bountiful show of blooms but also butterflies.



340 TechnaCenter Drive Montgomery, Alabama 36117-6031 1-800-410-2737 E-mail: When you see this symbol, it means there’s more content online at! Videos, expanded stories and more!


National Country Market 611 South Congress Ave., Suite 504 Austin, Texas 78704 1-800-626-1181

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Alabama Living

While January brought the highest electric demand in the history of Wiregrass Electric Cooperative, it also showed how WEC members are helping “beat the peak” (See Page 6).


Spotlight Worth the Drive Alabama Gardens Fish & Game Forecast Cook of the Month MARCH 2014 3

Wiregrass Electric Cooperative Board of Trustees

President’s Comments

Hometown Heroes Kip Justice, Board President

Wiregrass Electric Cooperative Kip Justice District 6 President

Danny McNeil District 4 Vice President

Debra E. Baxley District 1 Secretary

Donna Parrish District 2

John Clark, Jr. District 3

Tracy Reeder District 5

Donald Ray Wilks District 7

Greg McCullough District 8

Nolan Laird District 9

4 MARCH 2014

March is the beginning of spring, and hopefully it will bring warmer temperatures. As I write this column, February is just beginning and Winter Storm Leon is still a very recent event. Serving our neighbors During the storm, freezing rain clung to both trees and power lines across our service area. As tree limbs snapped under this new weight, hundreds were left without power. But, through that night and the next day, WEC employees were working hard to restore power as quickly as possible. Our linemen and right-of-way crews were outside in the cold and rain for hours. They were in bucket trucks that were caked in ice, as the cover of this magazine shows. They slept in shifts, getting what little rest they could. In cooperative offices, employees who were essential to responding to outages did not go home Tuesday evening but instead stayed the night at the office to help dispatch and respond to our members who had lost power. I can’t think of many jobs where employees would willingly spend the night in the ice and cold instead of going home to their families so that their neighbors could have heat in their homes. As a board, we want to thank each and every WEC employee for their efforts. In our 2013 Annual Report, we said our employees were “Hometown Heroes.” In January, they showed us how true that is. January was a challenging month in other ways as well. On Jan. 7, your cooperative set an all-time record for energy demand. Even though the temperatures were low during Winter Storm Leon later in the month, energy demand was not as high because people stayed home to avoid icy roads. This means not everyone turned on all their appliances

at the same time. However, on Jan. 7, at 6:45 a.m., most of the Wiregrass was getting ready to start their day in 14-degree weather. You can read about how this new “Peak Demand” record affects your cooperative on Page 6. You can also read how many members, residential and business, listened to WEC’s call for help by reducing their energy use that morning. Though we still had a record demand, it’s a demand that would have been even higher without your help. We are also proud of the many programs that WEC has to help people control their energy costs at home. With the cold temperatures of January, a lot of people probably saw higher electric bills. We want all our members to know that there are a number of options to help save you money on your bills. See Page 8 for more information about some of these programs. An update on our CEO search Last October, I wrote to let you know that we were beginning the search for a new chief executive officer to help lead WEC. I am happy to report that after an extensive national search, we have made our decision. Your Board of Trustees has selected Mr. Les Moreland to serve as our CEO. Les joined WEC in November 2005 as chief financial officer, and he has been involved with every progressive decision the company has made during the past nine years. He has spent the last few months serving as interim CEO, and we congratulate him on his new position. We know there are great things ahead for WEC. We have great leadership and the best employees an organization could wish for. I hope everyone enjoys the first days of spring. A

Your Cooperative Contact Information

Download Wiregrass Electric’s smartphone app Did you know you can manage your Wiregrass Electric Cooperative account from your smartphone? You can with the WEC mobile app. WEC’s mobile app gives our members the power to connect with their account any time, from anywhere they have mobile service or a Wi-Fi connection. With the WEC app, members can: • View their account information • View their current bill or past bills • Pay their bill • Update their account information • Report an outage The WEC mobile app also has powerful

notification capabilities. You can set it to send text or email notices for due date reminders, past due notices, account profile changes, returned checks and confirmation that a payment has been received. To download the free app, visit the App Store on your iOS or Android device and search for “Wiregrass Electric.” You will need your account number and password to access your account through this mobile app. A

Scholarship deadline is soon!

Business Phone: 1-800-239-4602 (24 hrs/day) Office: Mon. – Fri. 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Toll Free Outage “Hotline” 1-888-4-MY-OUTAGE 1-888-469-6882 (24 hrs/day) Website Find Wiregrass Electric Co-op on Twitter ( and on Facebook

Payment Options BY MAIL Wiregrass Electric Cooperative, Inc. Department 1340, P.O. Box 2153 Birmingham, AL 35287-1340 WEBSITE Payments may be made 24 hrs/day by Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express and E-Check on our website at PHONE PAYMENTS Payments may be made any time by dialing 1-800-239-4602. NIGHT DEPOSITORY Available at each office location. IN PERSON Mon. – Fri. 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Hartford 509 N. State Hwy. 167 Hartford, AL 36344

The Electric Cooperative Foundation Scholarship, awarded through Wiregrass Electric Cooperative is available to high school seniors who meet certain eligibility requirements. • Applicants must be a dependent child of at least one member of the cooperative • Applicants must enroll as a full-time student at an accredited learning institution Contact your school counselor or visit any Wiregrass Electric Cooperative office to pick up an application. Applications must be received no later than March 14, 2014.

Alabama Living

Samson 13148 W. State Hwy. 52 Samson, AL 36477 Ashford 1066 Ashford Highway Ashford, AL 36312 Dothan 6167 Fortner St. Dothan, AL 36305 For questions regarding sanitation service, call Houston County Sanitation Department at 334-677-4705 or Dothan City Sanitation at 334-6153820.

MARCH 2014 5

Members help WEC ‘beat the peak’ this January In early January, temperatures dropped into the single digits, and the demand for electricity across the Wiregrass spiked. However, thanks to the efforts of Wiregrass Electric Cooperative members, the demand was less than it could have been. The drop in temperatures and the resulting need for electricity was so great that it created a new record in energy use for WEC on Jan. 7, with 135 megawatts of electricity used. This beat the previous record from Jan. 11, 2010, by three megawatts. On that day in 2010, temperatures dropped to 18 degrees, with 11 days of freezing temperatures leading up to the demand set four years ago. Before and during this new record peak set Jan. 7 of this year, WEC employees worked hard to provide for the increased need for electricity. They worked with our right-of-way contractors and our wholesale power supplier, PowerSouth Energy, who worked around the clock to maintain and op-

erate equipment at generation facilities across the Wiregrass. What is ‘peak demand?’ Extremely cold temperatures can have an affect on the price of electricity. WEC does not produce electricity nor does it operate power plants. Instead, it purchases electricity wholesale for its members from its generation and transmission partner, PowerSouth Energy Cooperative. Wholesale energy pricing depends on the concept of “peak demand.” Peak demand refers to the time of day when there is the most demand for electricity, which requires more power to be supplied by PowerSouth. This extra power to supply the peak demand — the electric utility industry’s equivalent of rush-hour traffic — can cause power costs to skyrocket. Wiregrass Electric Cooperative’s wholesale price from PowerSouth is based on the highest peak set in a given year. PowerSouth has to plan its wholesale

Outside the WEC Dothan office, a frozen Electronut also braved the cold during Winter Storm Leon.

generation based on the capacity needed, during the peak times. If they didn’t plan their wholesale power supply to meet the peak demand times, then the capacity in those times would not be available, possibly leading to blackout periods. According to Jason Thrash, systems

WEC SETS RECORD ENERGY USE IN JANUARY January 7, 2014 6:45 a.m. 135,000

kilowatt-hours 6 MARCH 2014

Average temperature across the Wiregrass


Total usage January 7-8

Previous record


January 11, 2010


Occurred after 11 days of freezing temperatures

Around the Wiregrass

! For more information on ways to save money and energy, turn to Page 8 of this edition of Alabama Living

engineer at WEC, the more energy that is needed and used during “peaking” times, the more likely it is to increase prices for WEC and its members. “When we set a high peak,” says Thrash, “it causes our wholesale power prices to be higher, which, in turn, causes everyone’s electric bills to be higher for the following year. Luckily, we were able to help bring down those costs thanks to our members.” Members help keep costs down Costs and usage were reduced thanks to a “Peak Alert” mini-campaign employed by WEC. The campaign called on members to save money and energy by following a few simple guidelines. Guidelines included tips such as setting thermostats to 68 degrees from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., taking showers the night before to avoid heating water, running

Peak energy use during Winter Storm Leon


ABOVE: Linemen, right-of-way crews and others worked in freezing temperatures for hours to help make sure the power stayed on this January. RIGHT: Freezing rain coated electric lines across the region, causing numerous outages on Jan. 29 and 30.

dishwashers and washing machines during off peak hours, and limiting the use of TVs, gaming consoles, computers and unnecessary lighting during these peak hours. “I think our members heard our pleas and they did a great job of helping keep our peak as low as possible,” says Thrash. “By helping their cooperative, they are really helping themselves keep cost of electricity as low as possible.” Thrash says he doesn’t know the specific amount of energy saved due to the

Our wholesale energy provider, PowerSouth, also set a new record


2,394,000 kilowatt-hours

January 29, 2014, 8:30 p.m.

January 8, 2014, 7 a.m.

Alabama Living

campaign because it is difficult to know how many members actually did what was suggested, but he does know a few businesses that contributed by limiting usage. Those businesses include McLane’s, Jeffers Pet Supplies, Southern Rock & Lime, Working Cows Dairy, Cook Saw Manufacturing, Enfinger Steel and various poultry manufacturers.

A mix of energy sources were used to meet the demand: Coal Natural Gas


Number of members participating in WEC’s H2O Plus Program


Hydroelectric MARCH 2014 7


Surprised by your bill

WEC offers many ways to help...

Levelized Billing: Don’t let the electric bill bust your budget Ever have your electric bill jump from one month to the next, blowing your budget? You can fix that. Levelized billing assures that even though your energy use changes from month to month, your bill will vary only a little. There’s no enrollment fee, and no surprise “true ups” at the end of the year. (Some restrictions may apply) WWW.WIREGRASS.COOP/LEVELIZED-BILLING

InControl: Prepay for your electricity, never be surprised again InControl is a totally different way of managing your Wiregrass Electric Cooperative account. Instead of receiving a bill for what you owe, InControl members pay for electricity before they use it. They are never surprised by an electric bill because they don’t receive a bill, period. The InControl program also allows members to put their deposits to work for them, immediately. WWW.WIREGRASS.COOP/PRE-PAY

Energy Audit: Knowledge is power, and savings High electric bills are often a symptom of a deeper problem — a house that wastes energy. For absolutely no cost, WEC will send an energy-efficiency expert to your home to perform tests and tell you exactly how your home is losing energy and costing you money. At the end of the Energy Audit, you will have a concrete plan to reduce all your future electric bills. WWW.WIREGRASS.COOP/FREE-ENERGY-AUDIT

Energy Efficiency Loan: Helping pay the way Most energy-saving improvements can be done for little or no cost. However, for the more significant changes, WEC offers access to low interest loans to help upgrade your home. We even have a list of approved contractors for you to choose from. WWW.WIREGRASS.COOP/ENERGY-EFFICIENCY-LOAN-PROGRAM

8 MARCH 2014

Spot Light

In March What’s happening in Alabama 1 • Boaz, 9th Annual Race to Remember 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run hosted by Hospice of Marshall County at Snead State Community College. 6:30-10:30 a.m. Register at www. 7 & 8 • Alex City, 8th Annual Lake Martin Area Rodeo. Alex City Horseriding Arena at the Charles E. Bailey Sportplex. Gates open at 5 p.m. and the show starts at 7. Call 256-329-6736 for more information.

Advance tickets for the Festival of Flowers can be purchased by calling 877777-0529.

MARCH 20-23

Festival of Flowers celebrates British gardens The 2014 Festival of Flowers will be March 20-23 at the Providence Hospital Campus in Mobile. The theme is “British Gardens in time” and will include a schedule of special events and seminars. For ticket information, call 877-777-0529, or visit APRIL 5 AND 6

Piney Woods Arts Festival returns The 40th annual Piney Woods Arts Festival takes place April 5 and 6 on the grounds of Enterprise State Community College (at the running track) in Enterprise. One of the oldest juried arts and crafts shows in the area, it features original art and crafts by approximately 100 artists, a children’s fun Artworks from more than 100 artcenter, food and entertainment. ists will be available for viewing at the Piney Woods festival. Special events include a Civil War living display and the Weevil City Cruisers Car & Truck Show (Saturday only). Gates open at 9 a.m. Saturday and 12 p.m. Sunday. Free admission. For more information, call 334406-2787 or visit To place an event e-mail to or visit You can also mail to Events Calendar, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124; Each submission must include a contact name and phone number. Deadline is two months prior to issue date. We regret that we cannot publish every event due to space limitations.

Alabama Living

8 • Hanceville, Swamp John’s. A fundraiser for the Dodge City Fire Department from 4-7 p.m. Your choice of fish, chicken or shrimp along with french fries, cole slaw, pickles, onion, hush puppies, tea and desserts. $10 per plate. Tickets can be purchased at Dodge City Town Hall. 8 & 9 • Orange Beach, Orange Beach Festival of Art. Showcase of local and regional fine artists of visual, performing and culinary arts. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Free. Call 251-981-2787 or visit 19 • Foley, Mad Hatters Fundraiser, “The Roaring ‘20s,” hosted by the Foley Women’s Club at the Foley Civic Center. There will be a luncheon, fashion show, hat contest, raffle and silent auction. Luncheon begins at 11 a.m. All funds raised go to local charities. 15 & 16 • Birmingham, Veterans Appreciation Gun Show. The Alabama Gun Collectors Association will hold the fourth annual show at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center. $8 for adults and free for children 12 and under. For more information, contact Brent Goodwin at 205-317-0948. 20 • Andalusia, Senior Appreciation Day/Sock Hop at the Kiwanis Building from 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Featured entertainment will be the LBW Ensemble and Elvis impersonator Blu Braden. The event is free and pre-ordered lunches will be provided for $5.50. Event is for ages 21 and older. Call 334-222-6891. 23 • Pell City, Voices of the South Barbershop Chorus performing at the Pell City Center. Ice cream social for ticket holders at 1:30, performance at 2 p.m. Contact the box office at 205-338-1974 or 24 • Troy, Kremlin Chamber Orchestra will be performing at the Crosby Theatre at 8:30 p.m. The orchestra is one of Russia’s leading ensembles and one of the top touring string orchestras in the world. General admission tickets are $20 (at the door or online) and $5 for students. Call 334-4843542 or visit MARCH 2014 9

Power Pack

Be aware of changes to your Social Security


new year is a time for change. People across the world make resolutions and set goals to better themselves and the world around them. Whether you want to shed a few pounds, secure your finances for retirement, devote more time to charity or go on a vacation you’ve always dreamed about, chances are you have some ideas for a fresh start in 2014. Social Security is no different. Our goal is to provide the best service possible to everyone who comes to us for help, whether they’re applying for disability benefits or getting verification of their Social Security number. By investing in new technologies and finding innovative, cost-effective ways to deliver service, we are able to reach this goal. We continue to rank high in customer service satisfaction and have the best online services in government, providing the best service to those who come to us for help. Technology is vital to delivering quality service, and we continue to provide more options for customers to do business with us over the Internet or through self-service kiosks. For example, my Social Security provides people who use the Internet a secure way to do business with us in an easy and convenient way at www. We are making changes in the way we provide some services so we can serve the vast majority of Americans better and more efficiently. Most people won’t even notice the changes. So allow us to fill you in. Later this year, Social Security will stop providing benefit verification letters in our local offices. You can still get an instant letter online by creating a personal my Social Security account at myaccount, or by calling our toll-free

10 MARCH 2014

telephone number at 1-800-772-1213 to request one by mail. In addition, we will discontinue providing Social Security number printouts. These printouts have no security features and could be easily misused or counterfeited. If you need proof of your Social Security number and you do not have your Social Security card, you may apply for a replacement card by completing the Application for a Social Security Card and providing the required documentation. You’ll find the application online at As always, we continue to work directly with other agencies to minimize the need for furnishing proof of your Social Security number. You may want to check out our webinar “Benefit Verification Letters Online, Easy as 1-2-3.” The webinar explains how to establish an account on my Social Security, how to get a benefit verification letter and other services offered at our website. Watch the webinar at www.socialsecurity. gov/webinars. We wish you all the best in 2014 and hope that you are successful in meeting your own goals and resolutions. If one of them is to do business with Social Security, or even if it is not, we will strive to continue providing the best and most secure customer service possible. Learn more about Social Security and what we do for you at A

Kylle’ McKinney, Alabama Social Security Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached in Montgomery at 866-593-0914, ext. 26265, or at kylle.

Crews help in restoration after ice, snow Crews from Alabama’s electric cooperatives worked long hours to help their fellow cooperatives in north Alabama and Georgia restore power to cooperative members affected by the ice and snow that hit the southeast last month. A total of 152 men from 14 Alabama electric cooperatives helped in storm restoration for other cooperatives, according to Mike Temple, director of training and risk management for the Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives. “We have been overwhelmed by the number of linemen who have volunteered to go into harm’s way to help our brothers in need. The cooperative spirit continues to be alive and well in our Alabama cooperative family,” said Temple. Crews from Dixie Electric Cooperative and Central Alabama Electric Cooperative helped with repairs and restoration at Joe Wheeler Electric Cooperative and Sand Mountain Electric Cooperative. Crews from Black Warrior Electric Cooperative and Tombigbee Electric Cooperative also gave assistance at Joe Wheeler EC, while a crew from Cherokee Electric Cooperative helped out at North Alabama Electric Cooperative. In Georgia, 125 men from 13 Alabama electric cooperatives -- Baldwin EMC, Coosa Valley, Central Alabama, Wiregrass, Pea River, Pioneer, Dixie, South Alabama, Black Warrior, Covington, Southern Pine, Tallapoosa River and Clarke-Washington EMC -- along with safety and loss control staff from AREA, assisted crews in that state. A

Fewer Alabamians succumb to heart disease and stroke; Knowing your ABCs can help continue this trend


or the past quarter century, we have made remarkable improvements in survival rates for heart disease and stroke in Alabama and the nation, largely thanks to improved medical care. In addition, more people are taking preventive actions, recognizing the signs and symptoms of heart disease and stroke, and getting needed treatment. Regrettably, many of those at high risk of heart disease do not even know it. I count myself as among that number. On Nov. 20, 2013, I was beginning the noontime exercise class I have taught at the Downtown Montgomery YMCA for a number of years. Without warning, I suddenly collapsed and was unconscious for several minutes before four quick-thinking friends acted to save my life by starting chest compressions and using an AED (automated external defibrillator) which was placed in the gym three years ago to help people like me. After my heart stopping for at least five minutes, I was brought back to life by having the right people use this portable electronic device correctly. Through successful heart bypass surgery and excellent medical care, I have recovered and am back at work. For many years I had regular medical screenings for high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and elevated blood sugar levels. I engaged in physical activity on a regular basis, didn’t smoke or drink alcohol. I was doing some of the right things, but not enough. In addition to timely treatment, many of the major risk factors for heart attack and stroke can be prevented and controlled. Talk with your health care provider about ways to reduce your risks, such as following the “ABCs” of heart disease and stroke prevention. Many lifestyle choices—including eating healthy food, exercising regularly, and following your health care professional’s instructions about your medications—can protect the health of your heart and brain. Jim McVay, Dr.P.A., is director of the ABCS awareBureau of Health ness is part of the Promotion and Chronic Disease of the Million Hearts Alabama Department campaign—a naof Public Health. If there is a health tional initiative to topic you’d like Dr. help prevent 1 milMcVay to write about, email us at contact@ lion heart attacks and strokes in the Alabama Living

U.S. by 2017. This is what the initials represent: A = Aspirin Use Ask your health care provider about taking: One baby aspirin (81 mg) every day, or One regular-strength aspirin (325 mg) every other day. B = Blood Pressure Treatment and Control Normal blood pressure should be at or below 120⁄80. Reduce your sodium consumption. Too much sodium can increase your blood pressure. People with normal blood pressure have about half of the risk of stroke as those with high blood pressure. One in three adults has high blood pressure, and half of these individuals do not have their condition under control. High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” because it often has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people don’t realize they have it. C = Cholesterol Ask your provider about how often to check your cholesterol. Normal total cholesterol levels should be below 200. LDL (bad cholesterol) should be below 100. Avoid trans fats High cholesterol affects one in three adults, and two-thirds of these people do not have the condition under control. Half of adults with high cholesterol do not get treatment. S = Smoking Cessation Research shows using a quitline with medication increases abstinence rates. Ask your provider about quitting, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW, or visit the Alabama Quitline for more details. Cigarette smoking greatly increases heart disease risk. If you are a smoker, quit as soon as possible. Also, support smoke-free policies in your community and try to avoid secondhand smoke. Current smokers have a 2 to 4 times increased risk of stroke compared with nonsmokers or those who have quit for more than 10 years. It is important to commit to a heart healthy lifestyle. By remembering and following your ABCS, you can modify your risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke. The Million Hearts campaign brings together communities, health systems, nonprofit organizations, federal agencies and private sector partners from across the country to fight heart disease and stroke. Information on cardiovascular health and a variety of health-related information is also available at A MARCH 2014 11

Schoolchildren learn about the state’s early days at the new “Alabama Voices” exhibit at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. Below, visitors are invited to touch the names engraved on the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, a moving tribute to the men, women and children who lost their lives during the Civil Rights Movement.

I Teach your children history by visiting Alabama’s past By Marilyn Jones

12 MARCH 2014

stand at the top of the Alabama State Capitol steps in Montgomery. Just around the corner to my right is a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Directly on the other side of the building are the flags of every state in the Union. Down the block is Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church where a young Martin Luther King served as pastor. And the street straight in front of me is where Selma to Montgomery marchers approached the Capitol seeking voter’s rights in 1965. Alabama is like this; everywhere there are landmarks pointing to its history dating back to Native Americans, the first European explorers and settlers, the Civil War and civil rights. Like a great novel, there are many plot twists, characters, places and events. But unlike a good book, we can visit history. It’s all around us; as close as a museum or historic site. As close as the State Capitol where so many significant events took place. By introducing children to the past, we’re providing them a chance to time-travel; fueling their curiosity and helping them better understand Alabama and American history.

Above, Confederate Army reenactors ready a cannon for firing at Fort Gaines, while at right, a blacksmith helps illustrate life at the fort during the Civil War. Below, a costumed guide tends a fire at the fort.

When you begin to explore:

An excellent website to get you started is When you get to the webpage, scroll down and click on Alabama. Or check out Alabama’s official tourism website Chattahoochee Indian Heritage Center, Fort Mitchell Co. Park, AL Hwy 165, Fort Mitchell; 334-687-9755; DeSoto Caverns Park, 5181 DeSoto Caverns Pkwy, Childersburg; 800-933-2283; Fort Morgan, 110 State Highway 180, Gulf Shores; 251-540-5257; Fort Gaines, Dauphin Island; 251-861-6992; Buena Vista Mansion, Prattville; 334-365-3690; Civil Rights Memorial & Center, 400 Washington Avenue, Montgomery; 334-9568200; Museum of Alabama, 624 Washington Avenue, Montgomery; 334-242-4435; Old Alabama Town, 301 Columbus Street, Montgomery; 888-240-1850;

Alabama Living

Take a tour of the new “Alabama Voices” exhibit at!

MARCH 2014 13

The Old Alabama Gazette and Print Shop is just one of the historic buildings open for tour.

A straw hat worn by a typical early Alabama lady is on display at the Old Town Alabama Millinery Shop.

Visitors to DeSoto Caverns Park in Childersburg are surrounded by the caverns’ natural beauty as they learn about Alabama history.

The First Alabamians

The Chattahoochee Indian Heritage Center in Fort Mitchell chronicles the Creek Native Americans, who, for centuries, lived here until they faced the assault of Spanish, English and French explorers and settlers. The Creek War of 1813-1824 and the Creek War of 1836 crippled the Creek Nation resulting in their forced journey west on the Trail of Tears. Thousands of men, women and children died along the way. The heritage center remembers this tragic time in history as well as celebrates the culture of the Native Americans who inhabited Chattahoochee Valley.

European occupation

In 1540 Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto, accompanied by an army of 600 men, first set foot in what is now Alabama. This was the beginning of European occupation, which lasted until Alabama became a territory in 1817 and then the 22nd state on Dec. 14, 1819. According to the most recent historic information, the Spaniards entered Alabama along the Coosa River and followed it to what is today Childersburg. DeSoto’s expedition spent a little more than five weeks in the Coosa Indian capital. The mission had two major objectives, to find gold and to establish the first Spanish colony in the New World. The head of

14 MARCH 2014

the Coosa Nation welcomed DeSoto during a ceremony that took place near the entrance of DeSoto Caverns. It ended badly for the Micco, or chief, who offered DeSoto territory to establish a colony. DeSoto, in turn, refused. He had come for gold and took the Micco hostage, enslaved some of the Coosa people and raided their supplies. The French and English followed the Spanish into Alabama, pushing out Native Americans and establishing forts and communities. There is a lot to learn about the Childersburg area. A fun place to start is DeSoto Caverns Park. In addition to DeSoto’s journey, cave guides explain how saltpeter was mined in the cave and used to make gunpowder for the Confederate Army during the Civil War, and that the cave was later used as a speakeasy during prohibition.

Civil War and civil rights From the Montgomery inauguration of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in 1851 to Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines protecting Mobile Bay, Alabama has numerous Civil War sites to ignite any child’s curiosity about the war, the politics behind the state’s secession from the Union and slavery. To further enlighten young minds about slavery, there are several plantations open for tours, each further examining the institution of slavery which factored into Alabama’s decision to secede from the Union in 1861. The Montgomery-JanesWhittaker House, best known today as Buena Vista, is located south of Prattville and operates as a house museum. A century after the Civil War, Alabama made history as the center of many civil

rights events that would bring about positive change in this nation. One of the best sites to visit to better understand the civil rights movement — past and present — is the Civil Rights Memorial & Center in Montgomery. A feature of the center is the Civil Rights Memorial which honors the achievements and memory of those you died during the civil rights movement between the Brown vs. Board of Education decision in 1954 and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in 1968.

Tying it all together

One destination that puts the state’s history over the past 300 years into clear focus is the Museum of Alabama at the Alabama Department of Archives and History in Montgomery. A new gallery, “Alabama Voices,” chronicles the past 300 years of state history beginning with Native American Creeks and newly arriving Europeans. The visual narrative continues through the early years of statehood up until the Civil War: the logistics and economics; the emotions, anxiety and fear. “Mine, Mills and Mules” follows the years of reconstruction - the growth of railroads, textile and lumber industries, iron production and farm families all leading up to the disastrous economic failure of the 1930s during the Great Depression followed by the New Deal and WW II. The civil rights movement culminates the new state-of-the-art museum that uses everything at its disposal from priceless artifacts and maps to touch-screen computers and video monitors to tell the state’s story. Old Alabama Town in Montgomery is another excellent attraction to help children visualize the past. Covering six blocks, the 19th century village features houses original to the neighborhood and others moved here from other locations throughout the state. Costumed docents add to the village’s charm. A

Alabama Living

MARCH 2014 15

Bus Station transformed into Freedom Rides Museum By Miriam C. Davis


rom the outside, the building looks much like it did when I was in college and stopped here on my trips from Mobile to Atlanta – a simple box-like, yellow brick structure. An old-fashioned Greyhound sign still hangs in front. Yet there is something special about this old Montgomery bus station, something I didn’t realize then. It was the site of one of the most dramatic episodes of the fight against Jim Crow. Ellen Mertins of the Alabama Historical Commission welcomes me to the Freedom Rides Museum and explains, “In the 1990s, this building was deemed ‘historic,’ but it wasn’t until 2008 that the Alabama Historical Commission actually got access to it. The museum opened in 2011, the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides.” Outside the building, panels of photographs and text tell the story: In 1961, Freedom Riders – people committed to non-violence, many of them college students – challenged de facto segregation on the South’s interstate bus transportation system by riding from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans in racially mixed groups. When 20 young Freedom Riders arrived in Montgomery on May 20, they were viciously attacked by an angry white mob. The following night, a mob besieged the church in which the black community had staged a rally to support the Freedom Riders. Local police did nothing to restore order until the threat of federal intervention convinced Alabama Gov. John Patterson to send the National Guard to disperse the crowd, allowing the Freedom Rides to continue. Inside the building, museum visitors can see exactly what the students were protesting. The old “Colored” entrance is bricked over, but one can see that it wasn’t a proper door at all, just a gap in the wall. Diagrams and pictures convey the second-class experience of black passengers. While the main entrance brought whites into a spacious waiting room and dining counter, the opening in the wall for black customers brought them directly onto the bus platform. They had to walk past buses, through diesel fumes, to their smaller waiting room, dining counter and restroom facilities. When the Alabama Historical Commission established the museum, it decided to focus on artistic interpretations of the Freedom Rides. Mertins says it was a way of drawing in people who might not connect with a traditional history museum. Fifteen local and national artists were featured at the museum’s opening, with exhibits ranging from a realistic bronze sculpture depicting “Liberté,” to abstract works such as “Detour,” a mixed media display of wood, metal and cement.

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Several artists chose ordinary objects to celebrate the extraordinary actions of the Freedom Riders. Cindy Buob’s painting “Objections,” is based on mugshots of four civil rights workers and conveys how proud they were to be arrested for their cause. In “By Bus, By Train, By Plane – They Came!” Gwendolyn Magee used a simple quilt to commemorate the names of the 443 “foot soldiers” of the Freedom Rides. Stephen Hayes recycled street signs and an old tire to represent the road to equality in his abstract sculpture, “Detour.” The artists’ exhibits change every year, renewing the museum experience with fresh perspectives. On my recent visit, I was struck repeatedly by how everyday objects can be transformed to examine and celebrate the extraordinary. One permanent collection piece, Terry S. Hardy’s “Monument,” is constructed with a stack of old suitcases to represent the histories of those traveling on the road to equality. Artist Charlie Lucas used scrap metal to The Freedom Rides Museum convey the story of the Freedom Riders 210 South Court St., in “We Ride Together,” a metal sculpture Montgomery, Ala. 36104 of a Greyhound bus. Quilt artist Yvonne (334) 242-3188 Wells tells the story of the young activists who persevered against angry mobs in Fridays and Saturdays only, “Let Freedom Ride II.” 12 pm - 4 pm CST My favorite exhibit is by photographer Open by appointment for Eric Etheridge. He paired mug shots of groups of 10 or more the original Montgomery Freedom RidClosed all state holidays ers with recent photographs of them. Life Adults $5; college students, seniors, went on for the movement’s heroes, who military $4; children 6-18 $3; $1 disco became pastors, teachers and business ownunt per person for groups of 10 or more ers – people one might take for ordinary – but who faced very real violence with the gospels of non-violence and equality. Ultimately, the Freedom Riders’ mission was a success. The violence at the Montgomery Greyhound station inspired more riders to continue the journey from Montgomery into Mississippi. The attention these activists brought to the injustice of segregation led the Interstate Commerce Commission to rule that all facilities in interstate travel must be integrated. Today, visitors come from all over to learn the story of the Freedom Rides. Take a tour led by one of the museum’s staff. Wander into the “Share Your Story” kiosk and listen to the reminiscences of the Freedom Riders, or record your own reflections on what you’ve learned. You’ll never look at this ordinary bus station the same way again. A

Alabama Living

MARCH 2014 17

Worth the Drive

Chicken wings are over. Long live the hog wing! By Jennifer Kornegay

This delicious ‘hog wing’ is just the start of a delectable dining experience at Fairhope’s Big Daddy’s Grill.


am anticipating a few emails about this, as I know there are folks out there who really, really like buffalo chicken wings, but I cannot tell a lie and must, as a journalist, present the facts I find. So here goes: The chicken wing is over. Finished. Done. As over-cooked as, well, a dried-out chicken wing. I came to this conclusion by accident; I wasn’t looking to kill off a casual-dining icon. While having lunch at Big Daddy’s Grill in Fairhope, “Hog Wings” on the appetizer menu caught my attention, so I ordered one. (If you’re a regular reader of this column, you may think it odd that I asked for only one of anything, but when my waitress illustrated the size of a hog wing with her hands, I decided to play it safe. Plus, I still had an entrée coming.) Minutes later, my red plastic basket arrived with my one hog wing, (and since it was not quite as big as the waitress had intimated—wonder how she is at judging fish size—I was already wishing I’d ordered at least two). It was glistening with a thin layer of ruddy red sauce clinging to its meat, which, if you hadn’t figured it out by now, is pork. Of course, pigs don’t fly, unless hell freezes over and the sun rises in the west first, so a hog “wing” is actually a pork shank. The exposed leg bone makes a handy handle, but I decided I’d use my manners and therefore, used my fork. Tender bite-sized pieces easily slid off the bone, and the flavorful tomato-based sauce was spicy without any real burn. Simply put, it was delicious and better than a chicken wing in several definitive ways. 1) The ratio of meat to bone is easily 4 to 1, instead of a chicken wing’s 2 to 1, on a good day. 2) This much more meat takes so much less work to get into. 3) There are no gooey, fatty parts or hard, chewy parts and, this is important, no tendons! If any of this appeals to you, I urge you make your way to Big Daddy’s because hog wings are really just the beginning. Situated so near the coast, Big Daddy’s is mostly known for its fresh Gulf seafood, much of it served up fried, grilled or blackened on a bed of shredded lettuce in a po-boy or in a basket. 18 MARCH 2014


Big, plump shrimp with a dusting of seasonings and a buttery sheen filled over half of my blackened basket, with the other space occupied by coleslaw, hushpuppies and sweet potato fries. As an imperative on the menu instructed, I asked for a cup of Mo-Dat sauce, which, as the menu insisted, really does make everything taste better. The peachy-pink condiment is a cross between the dipping sauce at popular chicken-finger restaurants and a basic Alabama barbecue sauce, thinner and sweeter than the former and creamier that the latter. It’s good on shrimp, fries, hushpuppies and even the coleslaw. You can eat it all on Big Daddy’s deck overlooking the lazy Fish River. A wooden counter and simple picnic tables topped with tear-off brown paper towels and tin buckets covered in beer logos full of cocktail sauce and ketchup are lined up so each has a nice view of the South Alabama scenery, and an outdoor bar ensures the easy and timely delivery of adult libations. While Big Daddy’s waterfront spot probably has a lot to do with its popularity, it was pretty packed on a Sunday in January at 2 p.m., when it was far too chilly to enjoy the outdoor space. I’d wager that Big Daddy’s got so big, thanks not to location, location, location but to its tasty combo of location, fresh seafood Visit Yo Daddy and hog wings. A Big Daddy’s Grill 16542 Ferry Road Fairhope, AL 251-990-8555


Jennifer Kornegay is the author of a children’s book, “The Alabama Adventures of Walter and Wimbly: Two Marmalade Cats on a Mission.” She travels to an out-of-the way restaurant destination in Alabama every month. She may be reached for comment at

Alabama Living

MARCH 2014 19

Hundreds of cyclists expected for Gran Fondo race, festival Story and photos by David Haynes


ach April hundreds of bicyclists from throughout the Southeast and beyond converge on the Calhoun County cities of Anniston and Piedmont to celebrate their sport with a weekend of bicycle-themed festivals, races and the 102-mile Cheaha Challenge Gran Fondo ride. The events are organized and coordinated by the Northeast Alabama Bicycle Association (NEABA) and include the Noble Street Festival in Anniston on Saturday, professional bicycle racing in Anniston’s streets Saturday evening, then conclude on Sunday with the Foothills Road Race and the Cheaha Challenge, each of which begin and finish at the Piedmont Civic Center. This year’s events will be April 5 and 6. Mike Poe, president of the NEABA, said that for most of its 21-year history the Sunday ride from Piedmont to the highest point in Alabama at Mount Cheaha and back was known simply as the “Cheaha Challenge.” Last year they adopted the “Gran Fondo” title. He explained that a Gran Fondo - which is a long bicycle ride with other enhance-

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ments like meals and t-shirts added have been popular in Europe for years. “We realized that the Cheaha Challenge was already being run like a Gran Fondo, so we added the designation,” he says.

2013 Cheaha Challenge competitor pedals on AL 281.

The 2013 events were among the best attended ever, Poe says, noting that Sunday morning nearly 900 riders from 26 states pedaled out of Piedmont as participants in either the 72-mile Foothills Road Race or the Cheaha Challenge Gran Fondo.

The 565 riders in the Cheaha Challenge ranged in skill level and experience from beginning bicyclists to seasoned experts and the format and course for the event was styled accordingly. Poe explained there are five turn-around points at staffed rest stops along the course so cyclists could tailor the ride to their skill and endurance level. Turning around at the first stop made it a 26-mile ride. Other turn-around points were for total ride lengths of 47, 66, 88 and 102 miles. Beginning at Piedmont, which is about 700 feet above sea level, the course follows Alabama Highway 9 south to U.S. Highway 78, then to the Skyway Motorway for the long climb to the highest point in Alabama at Mount Cheaha State Park at over 2,400 feet. Those turning around there make a total ride of 88 miles. For those riding the entire 102-mile course from Piedmont, past Cheaha State Park, to Adams Gap and back, the challenging course had climbs totaling 7,600 feet! For more details or to register for the Gran Fondo race, visit A

Alabama Living

MARCH 2014 21

Bringing butterflies in the

By L. A. Jackson

Spring is an ideal time for gardeners who love ornamental plants to plan for not only a bountiful show of blooms but also butterflies. That’s right–butterflies.  22 MARCH 2014

An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail exploring a butterfly bush blossom. PHOTO BY L.A. JACKSON

Alabama Living

MARCH 2014 23

(l to r): The native black-eyed Susan is favored by both butterflies and gardeners. A wide hydrangea bloom makes dining on nectar easy for this Black Swallowtail. Large, massed plantings such as this bed of purple coneflowers help attract more butterflies. PHOTOS BY L.A. JACKSON


hese bright flits of kinetic color are enough to make even the most distracted backyard grower take notice. Of course, stray butterflies will fly into the garden just about any time during the spring and summer months, but when it comes to finding these beautiful winged insects in the landscape, the more the merrier! And the best way to bring in more butterflies is to simply offer them something to eat. This can be done by serving up plants off of butterflies’ Most Preferred List, which is actually two lists because mature butterflies go for flowering, nectar-producing plants, while their young–caterpillars–prefer to munch on plant foliage. Some butterflies are pretty finicky eaters, but in general, there are plenty of plants around that will attract a large assortment of these beauties. Nectar-loving adults are, of course, drawn to blooming plants. They seem to favor plants with red flowers first, followed then by yellows, pinks, whites and purples. Also, they like blossoms that are flat-topped or clustered to allow them to land so they can feed while in park. Call it a fly-in diner, if you will. And what specific kinds of flowers can be classified as butterfly magnets? Spring bloomers such as primrose, money plant, lilac, sweet William, rock cress and candytuft are great for attracting an assorted variety of adult butterflies at the beginning of the growing season. In the summer, butterfly weed, bee balm, purple coneflower, butterfly bush, cosmos, daylilies, lantana, periwinkle, scabiosa, lavender, hydrangeas, yarrow, zinnias, phlox and verbena are some good choices to take over from the spring flowers and continue bringing butterflies into your garden. Butterflies will flock to fall flowers as well. Sedums, asters, salvias and swamp sunflower are a few of the better late-blooming butterfly baits. The blossoms of many native trees also double as desirable food for adult butterflies. Examples include tulip poplar, wild cherry, sassafras, persimmon, hackberry, redbud and pawpaw. Even weeds can attract butterflies Even weeds will draw these winged beauties into your yard. Clover, henbit, morning glory and dandelion are all native “volunteer” plants that pop up in the landscape and serve as sources for nectar. The difference between a “weed” and a “native plant” often lies in its desirability in the garden. Many native plants are simply too pretty to not be included in cultivated gardens, and as a bonus, their nectar also attracts adult butterflies. Such indigenous lovelies include liatris, black-eyed Susan, cardinal flower, coreopsis, Indian blanket, ironweed, goldenrod and Joe-pye weed. Butterfly larvae also like weeds. And since they munch on the foliage of these plants that many gardeners find undesirable, the caterpillars are actually helping with landscape maintenance. Some caterpillars chew on certain tree leaves as well. Elm, river birch, poplar, willow, dogwood and cherry trees seem to be tops on many of their dining lists. But as long as 24 MARCH 2014

Butterflies and insecticides

Being insects, butterflies will not fare well in a garden that is heavily dependent on insecticides to keep bad bugs at bay. In particular, broad spectrum insecticides–commercial concoctions that usually list on their labels dozens and dozens of different bugs they kill–are especially dangerous for butterflies. Probably less known is the fact that systemic insecticides can be equally hazardous because they make all parts of the plants poisonous to insects, meaning they put both leaf-munching butterfly caterpillars and nectar-sipping adults at risk. An easy way to deal with damaging bugs in a dedicated butterfly garden is to lessen the need for insect poisons by picking more plants that are insect-resistant. There are plenty of modern cultivars that have been developed to be less appealing to destructive insects, but for time-tested toughness, also consider native plants. By their evolved nature, most indigenous plants have survived and thrived in the wild against bad bugs, so including some of them in your landscape is another kinder, gentler step towards creating a butterfly-friendly garden.

these leaf-eaters keep damage to a minimum, it is easy to live with their presence. Interestingly, some butterfly caterpillars tend to be plant-specific–in other words, very picky about what kind of greenery they eat. A good example is butterfly weed. While this native perennial’s nectar is a big favorite for many different adult butterflies, its foliage is especially sought out by Monarch larvae. This is also true for many of the other related plants in the Milkweed family. As a similar example, Black Swallowtail caterpillars have a preference to feed on the native golden Alexander as well as related plants–and this sometimes gets them in trouble. Golden Alexander is from the Parsley family, which also includes three other plants young Black Swallowtails prefer: the popular garden herbs parsley, fennel and dill. However, many concerned herbalists coexist with these larvae by either picking them off the plants and moving them to other greenery, or planting more parsley, fennel and dill than man or beast will ever consume in a summer. And the Spicebush Swallowtail actually gets its name from the source of its larvae’s preferred food: the spicebush, which is a small native shrub often found on flood plains and along ditch banks. A good way to attract more adult butterflies into a garden is to concentrate the right plants in large enough numbers so these fliers can easily see what you have to offer when they are flitting through the neighborhood. A clump or two of purple coneflowers won’t effectively do the job, but a massed bed or border filled with these plants in full bloom will be a big neon sign that, to butterflies, spells “F-O-O-D!” Another trick for bringing in butterflies is to add shallow dishes of water, wet sand or mud in the garden. You will be surprised how many of these winged beauties will congregate around such watering holes! Since butterflies also like sweets, sugar, honey or pieces of fruit can be added to enhance this butterfly bar, but be forewarned that such treats will also catch the attention of ants, wasps and bees. One more amenity that can appeal to these wonderful winged insects is large, flat rocks placed in an area that receives the morning sun. Butterflies are cold-blooded creatures and will seek out such toasty spots to warm themselves up at the start of a new day. Of course, if you are committed to bringing in more butterflies to your garden this growing season, one other item you might think about picking up is a good book that identifies the different types of butterflies in your region. It can become a fascinating hobby, and, after all, you wouldn’t want to mistake an American Painted Lady for a Great Spangled Fritillary, would you? L.A. Jackson has been a garden editor, lecturer and writer for more than 20 years and has led many tours overseas through the great gardens of Europe. He lives in North Carolina. Alabama Living

MARCH 2014 25

Alabama Gardens

Use spring’s energy to improve your home landscape


he spring awakening has begun and, as our plants wake up from their long winter naps, so does our gardening energy. Why not use some of that energy to make your landscape and food gardens even more appealing? One exceptional way to apply your gardening energy is to focus your efforts on improving your curb appeal, that term realtors use to describe a front yard that draws in prospective buyers or simply makes your yard a jewel of the neighborhood. Whether you’re putting a house on the market or simply want to improve the value and looks of your home, investing in your landscape is money well spent. According to real estate experts, an attractive landscape increases a home’s value by up to 15 percent, and money spent on landscaping is estimated to pay for itself five to 10 times over when a home sells. Plus, improving your home’s landscape can make it even more enjoyable for you and your family and also helps address functional issues, such as drainage or erosion problems. An easy and inexpensive way to immediately increase your curb appeal is to adorn your front steps or porch with pretty plantfilled containers. Or use flowering perennials or annuals to fill window boxes, flowerbeds or line walkways. Ornamental grasses and groundcovers can also be used to fill empty spots in flowerbeds or cover bare or eroded spots in the yard. And many of those ornamental grasses also make stunning accent plants in the yard or in containers. A lush vining plant can be the perfect quick-fix option to camouflage a less-than-attractive mailbox, pump house, tool shed or other structure in the yard. Or, if you have a bare outside wall that needs some adornment, train a vine on a trellis or other standalone structure in front of the wall for an almost instant solution. If you’re willing to dig a little deeper in your pocket and soil to add long-term beauty to your yard, trees and shrubs are the way to go. Trees reportedly offer the greatest return on investment with shrubs being a close second, and a single handsome tree or shrub can instantly fill a bare spot in the landscape, or plant several in strategic spots throughout the yard as accent plants. Not sure how to get started upgrading your curb appeal? The Alabama Smart Yards publication (available through your local Cooperative Extension office or at ANR-1359/ANR-1359.pdf) that I often mention in this column has a chapter on landscape planning, and local realtors and appraisers often also have guidelines for improving curb appeal. Or just search the web for ideas. A

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

26 MARCH 2014

Although it can be high-maintenance, grass makes these paths very eye-appealing. PHOTO BY L.A. JACKSON

March Gardening Tips d Transplant shrubs and trees early in March. d Remove winter mulch from garden beds gradually as the plants show signs of new growth. d Divide and transplant summer-blooming perennials and fertilize established ones as soon as new growth appears. d Add any amendments (composted or processed manure, peat moss, compost, etc.) into your garden soil. d Plant green peas, snow peas, asparagus, horseradish and artichokes early in the month. d Plant eggplant, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celery, leeks, onions, early potatoes and radish seeds. d Plant strawberries, blueberries, grapes and fruit trees. d Sow seeds for tomatoes, lettuce, carrots and other spring vegetables. d Prune or pinch back house plants that are getting leggy and begin fertilizing them with a diluted solution of plant food. d Begin weeding garden or flowerbeds as soon as weeds emerge. d Clean out birdhouses and feeders.



Alabama Living

MARCH 2014 27

28 MARCH 2014

Alabama Living

MARCH 2014 29

Safe @ Home

Lightning: When it roars, go indoors S

pring’s coming, and with it come spring showers. Some of these showers will contain thunderstorms, so March is a good time to review your personal safety where lightning is concerned. Even though lightning deaths have decreased drastically over the last century, an average of 53 people are still killed in the United States each year by lightning, and hundreds more are severely injured. Developing thunderstorms occur more often in spring and summer. As the air is heated by the sun, energy is created with air movement, and lightning typically comes from towering storm clouds. Lightning can strike many miles ahead of a storm front. According to the National Weather Service, the best way to know when a storm is a threat is to remember the saying, “When thunder roars, go indoors.” Lightning accidents often occur when people wait too long to take shelter from a thunderstorm. If you hear thunder, seek shelter immediately, because that indicates lightning is within 10 miles of you. If you are outside, go inside a building. If you are at a park, do not seek shelter at an open pavilion. A building is safest.

Lightning will typically seek something tall, such as a tree, building, or flagpole, but can also strike at lower objects. Do not seek shelter under trees, and if you detect a tingling sensation, crouch to a low position with your head between your knees to reduce your height. Being inside a structure is much safer than trying to find shelter outside. For a building to be safe from lightning, it must contain some form of grounding such as plumbing or wiring throughout. Small outdoor shelters found at ballparks are often not ideal for avoiding lightning as they are often not grounded, and should be avoided as they offer little protection. Once inside, avoid the telephone if possible. Corded phone use is the leading cause of injury. Stay away from windows and doors. Pets should also be kept indoors during thunderstorms if possible. Because water is an excellent conductor of electricity, lightning is particularly dangerous for anyone in a swimming pool or engaged in water recreation. Swimmers, boaters, fishermen and others on lakes and rivers should seek shelter. Authorities warn against outdoor activity until 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder is heard. A

Lightning safety myths and facts Myth: Lightning never strikes the same place twice. Fact: Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if it’s a tall, pointy, isolated object. The Empire State Building is hit nearly 100 times a year. Myth: If it’s not raining or there aren’t clouds overhead, you’re safe from lightning. Fact: Lightning often strikes more than three miles from the center of the thunderstorm, far outside the rain or thunderstorm cloud. “Bolts from the blue” can strike 1015 miles from the thunderstorm. Myth: Rubber tires on a car protect you from lightning

by insulating you from the ground. Fact: Most cars are safe from lightning, but it’s the metal roof and metal sides, NOT the rubber tires, that protect you. Remember: convertibles, motorcycles, bicycles, open-shelled outdoor recreational vehicles and cars with fiberglass shells offer no protection from lightning. When lightning strikes a vehicle, it goes through the metal frame into the ground. Don’t lean on doors during a thunderstorm. Myth: A lightning victim is electrified. If you touch them, you’ll be electrocuted. Fact: The human body

Michael Kelley is senior manager of Safety & Loss Control for the Alabama Rural Electric Association.

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does not store electricity. It is perfectly safe to touch a lightning victim to give them first aid. Myth: If outside in a thunderstorm, you should seek shelter under a tree to stay dry. Fact: Being underneath a tree is the second leading cause of lightning casualties. Better to get wet than fried! Myth: If you are in a house, you are 100 percent safe from lightning. Fact: A house is a safe place to be during a thunderstorm as long as you avoid anything that conducts electricity. This means staying off corded phones, electrical appliances, wires, TV cables, computers, plumbing, metal doors and windows. Wind generated during a thunderstorm can blow objects into the window, breaking it and causing glass to shatter. In older homes, in rare instances,

lightning can come in cracks in the sides of windows. Myth: Structures with metal, or metal on the body (jewelry, cell phones, watches, etc), attract lightning. Fact: Height, pointy shape and isolation are the dominant factors controlling where a lightning bolt will strike. The presence of metal makes absolutely no difference in where lightning strikes. Mountains are made of stone but get struck by lightning many times a year. Myth: If trapped outside and lightning is about to strike, you should lie flat on the ground. Fact: Lying flat increases your chance of being affected by potentially deadly ground current. If you are caught outside in a thunderstorm, keep moving toward a safe shelter. COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE

Alabama Living

MARCH 2014 31

Alabama Outdoors

Celebrating 75 years of Alabama state parks By John N. Felsher


n March 1939, the Alabama Legislaacres. These parks preserve and maintain ture passed the Department of Conjust about every habitat type found in servation Act, creating the DepartAlabama as well as some historically and ment of Conservation and abolishing the culturally significant areas. Habitat types Commission of Forestry. Frank Dixon, include southern Appalachian mountainthen governor of Alabama, signed the act tops, forests, caves, river and lake shorewith the goal of setting aside special lands lines, wetlands and Gulf Coast beaches. in the state for the enjoyment of the pub“The mission of the Parks Division is to lic. Thus, the Alabama State Park system acquire and preserve natural areas; to depark system to this day. officially began 75 years ago. velop, furnish, operate and maintain recreIn 1930, the state acquired Cheaha ational facilities, and to extend the public’s “The Alabama Tourism Department declared 2014 as the Year of the Parks to Mountain, the highest point in Ala- knowledge of the state’s natural environrecognize the significance and importance bama. From the Creek Indian word for ment,” Lein says. “From the mountains of parks to our state,” says Greg M. Lein, “high point,” the peak tops out at 2,407 to the coast, we have a park system that the director of the Alabama captures a lot of ecological State Parks Division. “That systems and unique wildlife not only includes state habitats. Two primary cave parks, but municipal parks, parks, Cathedral Caverns historical parks, national and Rickwood Caverns, ilparks and others.” lustrate the geology of AlaHowever, parks in Alabama and the diverse cave bama go back even further formations in the state. than 1939. In 1927, the Desoto State Park is on a legislature passed the State wild, free-flowing river.” Land Act, which provided These parks welcome befor the administration of tween four and five million any lands owned by the state visitors annually. About half and created a Bureau of come from Alabama with Parks and Recreation. Unthe rest visiting from out fortunately, the state didn’t of state. The visitors enjoy own any park lands at the Rocking chairs provide a place for rest and relaxation at Lakepoint Resort a wealth of recreational optime. The act did set aside State Park in Eufaula. PHOTOS BY JOHN N. FELSHER tions. Lakepoint, Gunters940 acres between Double ville and Joe Wheeler parks Oak Mountain and Little Oak Ridge near feet above sea level in Clay and Cleburne sit on the shores of outstanding fishing Pelham as a park administered by the For- counties. In 1933, the new park opened to lakes. Many major tournaments run out estry Commission. Over the years, Oak the public in conjunction with the Nation- of the park marinas. Other parks offer Mountain became a state park and grew al Park Service. In 1939, the park became fishing at small ponds, rivers or streams to include about 9,940 acres. It remains Cheaha Mountain State Park, the first offi- within their boundaries or close to them. the largest park within the Alabama state cial state park in the system and the oldest Some parks rent boats. At Gulf State Park continuously administrated park. in Gulf Shores, people can tempt redfish, John N. Felsher In the 1930s and early 1940s, the Civil- sheepshead, Spanish mackerel, cobia and is a professional ian Conservation Corps built or enhanced other large fish off a 1,540-foot long pier freelance writer and several state parks currently in the system that juts into the Gulf of Mexico. photographer who lives in Semmes, Ala. including Cheaha. They built cabins, Many parks exist in remote, wilderness He’s written more lodges, hiking trails and other projects locations where visitors can escape from than 1,700 articles for people to enjoy. Many remain in use. modern life for a time. Almost all parks for more than 117 magazines. He In the 1970s, the state conducted a major provide extensive hiking trails and wildlife co-hosts a weekly building and renovation program to mod- or bird viewing opportunities for visitors. outdoors radio show. ernize many parks and build new ones. Many parks permit horseback or bike ridContact him through Today, the system encompasses 22 ing. Increasingly popular, some parks offer his website at www. state parks totaling more than 48,000 treasure hunting geocaching experiences

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

MAR. 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 APR. 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

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

Alabama Living

12:01 06:16 12:16 07:01 06:46 07:46 07:01 08:31 07:31 09:31 08:01 11:01 08:46 - 09:31 - 02:31 - 03:16 01:31 04:01 03:01 04:31 04:01 04:46 05:01 11:31 11:46 05:46 06:31 06:16 07:16 06:31 08:01 07:01 08:46 07:16 09:46 07:4611;01 08:01 - 01:01 - 02:31 - 03:01 01:31 03:31 02:46 03:46 03:46 10:16 04:31 10:46 11:01 11:16 11:31 11:46 - 05:31 07:01 06:01 07:46 06:31 08:46 07:01 09:46 07:31 11:01 08:16 - 12:31 - 01:31 - 02:31 01:46 03:01 03:16 10:01 04:16 10:31 10:46 11:16 11:31 11:46 - 05:31 07:16 05:46 08:01

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

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From left, Rickwood Caverns north of Birmingham were water-formed more than 260 million years ago and offer more than a mile of “living geology;” canoe rentals are just one of the many activities offered at Oak Mountain State Park; the adventurous can try their hand on the zipline at the Gulf Adventure Center at Gulf State Park.

in which visitors use a Global Positioning System, or GPS, to hide and seek containers. Two parks permit visitors to access some of the most spectacular cave formations in the southeastern United States.

Stay in a tent, cabin, your RV or cottage

At nearly every state park, visitors can enjoy an array of lodging options. Facilities range from primitive tent camping to spaces for recreational vehicles to rustic CCC cabins or modern cottages equipped with many conveniences. Many people from up north stay at Alabama state parks all winter long, particularly at Lakepoint on Lake Eufaula and Gulf State Park, to escape the cold in their home states. “Gulf State Park is our most popular facility,” Lein says. “About 40 percent of our annual visitation takes place there. It gets a lot of out-of-state visitors. People visit the parks to relax and get back in touch with the great outdoors. We see a lot of family activity at parks. We might see three generations of a family enjoying a park. Some families have been coming back to the same parks for many years over several generations. Every year, they make new friends. We have a lot to offer

folks and it gets better each year.” Six parks operate deluxe lodges and hotel facilities. These resort parks offer visitors first-rate golf courses, conference centers, tennis courts, 5-star restaurants and other amenities one might find at any commercial resort, but for significantly less cost. These resort parks host many business conferences, family reunions, weddings and other special occasions each year. “State parks are a very affordable way to enjoy a vacation or just a day trip,” Lein says. “Most of these resort facilities go back to the 1970s. Most of them were the first such facilities built in these rural areas. When these park systems were developed, they helped put those communities on the map.”

Shrimpfest and barbecues planned

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the park system, the state teamed with Bob Baumhower, a former All-American football player from the University of Alabama under Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and five-time All-Pro who played for the Miami Dolphins, to host a series of “low country shrimp boils and barbecues.” As a

restaurateur, Baumhower will provide the food and plan the events in conjunction with parks officials. The first Baumhower’s ShrimpFest and Barbecue of 2014 will be March 29 at Gulf State Park. Others will follow throughout the year at Lakepoint, Joe Wheeler, Oak Mountain and Guntersville state parks. See sidebar or Alapark. com for more specific details. “We’re lucky that we’ve got a partner like Bob Baumhower,” Lein says. “He’s done shrimp boils on his own for years, so we’ve got a partner who not only has great name recognition, but he also knows what he’s doing when it comes to throwing parties like these. It will be a lot of fun. These are family friendly events with food, music and entertainment. The events are free, but people just need to pay the park entrance fees. We’ll also have smaller events at various parks throughout the year.” Not just looking back, the park system also plans many renovations, enhancements at various facilities in coming years in addition to acquiring future properties. Parks officials will also hold a series of open house events at various locations throughout the state this year to obtain feedback from customers and local communities surrounding the parks.

RVs get plenty of company at the campgrounds at Lakepoint Resort State Park in Eufaula.

34 MARCH 2014


Waterfront dining at Joe Wheeler Resort Lodge offers a peaceful view; Joe Wheeler campsites, nestled among the towering pines, are perfect for your RV; cottages at Gulf State Park all have three bedrooms, three bathrooms, two screened porches and a deck that overlooks Lake Shelby.

“We want to help people understand how the park system operates,” Lein says. “I appreciate the people who come out to the state parks. We want to listen to what the people say about what they want from their park system. When people visit a state park, we want them to have a positive experience and come back to visit again. They are partners in what we do. We would not exist without our customers.” Contrary to what most people think, the state parks receive very little money from the general state treasury. The parks pay for themselves through fees they charge for lodging, equipment rental, food and other services. Sometimes, a park partners with a local business to provide a service, such as the zipline operation

at Gulf State Park in which the business owner pays a percentage of the profits to that park for the privilege of operating on state grounds. Occasionally, a park will receive a grant for a specific program, to buy a piece of equipment or to perform maintenance. “State parks pay their own way,” Lein says. “Parks are nearly self-sufficient. The day-to-day operation of the parks is paid for by the customers. The park system has been serving the public for quite some time. We plan to continue serving the public for many years to come. State parks are a great place to start for anyone looking for an Alabama adventure.” For information on Alabama state parks, call 800-ALA-PARK (800-2527275) or visit A

Baumhower’s ShrimpFest and Barbecue 2014 Schedule March 29 Gulf State Park Gulf Shores May 31 Lake Point State Park Eufaula July 26 Lake Guntersville State Park Guntersville August 9 Joe Wheeler State Park Rogersville October 11 Oak Mountain State Park Pelham

The Alabama Military Support Foundation seeks your support as you start working your 2013 Alabama State taxes. You can demonstrate your support for Guardsmen and Reservists by making a contribution by using a check off box on the bottom of the Alabama State tax form. The mission of the foundation is to educate employers on the active role played in the defense of our nation by Guardsmen and Reservists, and to inform them on their legal rights and responsibilities. Funds donated to the foundation will be used to educate and recognize outstanding employers who go above and beyond to support employees serving in the Guard and Reserve. Your financial contributions to the Alabama Military Support Foundation will be greatly appreciated.

Alabama Living

MARCH 2014 35

Alabama Recipes

Bacon Cook of the month: Becky Terry, Joe Wheeler EMC

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Bacon Fudge 4 (4-ounce) semisweet chocolate baking bars, chopped 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk ¼ cup butter, softened

Photo by Michael Cornelison


have to admit I was excited to see what kind of recipes I would get involving “bacon” and was pleasantly surprised at the diverse dishes submitted. Let’s just face it: Bacon makes everything taste good. My favorite is a good oldfashioned BLT: Fresh-sliced, juicy red tomato, fried thickcut bacon, crisp iceberg lettuce, mayonnaise (yes, only on one side, Dad), all between two slices of toasted bread. It doesn’t get much better than that. I never use my entire package of bacon the first go round, so I hope to try some of these great recipes sent by our readers to use my leftover bacon. I’m looking forward to springtime, warmer weather and BLT’s!

¼ cup heavy whipping cream 1 pound bacon, cooked until crisp 2 cups chopped toasted pecans

Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium saucepan, combine chocolate, condensed milk, butter and cream. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat. Crumble bacon, and reserve ¼ cup. Stir pecans and remaining bacon into chocolate mixture. Spoon mixture into prepared pan; smooth top with a spatula. Sprinkle reserved ¼ cup crumbled bacon over chocolate mixture, pressing down gently. Cover and chill for 4 hours or until set. Cut into squares to serve. Makes about 32 pieces.

You could win $50! Upcoming recipe themes and deadlines are:

May June July

Party Foods Wild Game Homemade Pizza

March 15 April 15 May 15


Mary Tyler Spivey is a graduate of Huntingdon College where she studied history and French but she also has a passion for great food.

online at email to mail to Recipes, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

Contact her at

36 MARCH 2014

Editor’s Note: Alabama Living’s recipes are submitted by our readers. They are not kitchen-tested by a professional cook or registered dietician. If you have special dietary needs, please check with your doctor or nutritionist before preparing any recipe.

Southern Occasions CO O K B O O K

Bacon Corn Casserole 2 tablespoons chopped onion 2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons flour 1⁄2 teaspoon salt 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper 1 cup regular or low-fat sour cream

2 12-ounce packages of frozen corn 6 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled Parsley, for garnish

Southern Occasions


Sauté the onion and butter in a large skillet. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Add sour cream and cook mixture on medium heat until bubbly, stirring often. Add corn and half of the bacon. Mix well. Pour into a greased casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Top with remaining bacon and parsley. Serves 8. Carol H. Alford,Living Dixie EC Alabama

MARCH 2014 37

How To Place a Line Ad in Marketplace

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Closing Deadlines (in our office):

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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; 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.

38 MARCH 2014

Market Place

Alabama Living

MARCH 2014 39

Blue Cheese, Date and Bacon Wraps 12 bacon strips 36 pitted dates

â „3 cup crumbled blue cheese


Cut each bacon strip into thirds. In a large skillet, cook bacon in batches over medium heat until partially cooked but not crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain: keep warm. Carefully cut a slit in the center of each date. Fill with blue cheese. Wrap a piece of bacon around each stuffed date. Secure with wood toothpicks. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake in 375 degree oven for 10-12 minutes until bacon is crisp. Yields 3 dozen. Cindy Kusnierz, Baldwin EMC

BLT Dip Potato Salad Red skin, yellow flesh potatoes boiled 4 boiled eggs, separate the yolk and dice the whites 1 teaspoon dry mustard mixed with water according to directions

Sweet pickle relish Bacon, cooked and crumbled, reserve the drippings 1 teaspoon bacon grease drippings Mayonnaise Mustard Salt

Mix the yolks, mustards, bacon drippings, mayonnaise and salt together with a mixer. Pour over the hot potatoes and mix. Add egg whites, relish and bacon and mix. We like it served warm or cold. Jamie Petterson, Tallapoosa River EC

2 cups (16 ounces) sour cream 2 cups mayonnaise 2 pounds sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled 6 plum tomatoes, chopped

3 green onions, chopped Crumbled cooked bacon or thinly sliced green onions, optional Assorted crackers or chips

In a large bowl, combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, bacon, tomatoes and onions. Refrigerate until serving. Garnish with bacon and green onions if desired. Serve with crackers or chips. Yield: 6 cups. Mary Tyler Spivey, AREA

Crock Pot Sour Cream and Bacon Chicken 8 bacon slices 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 2 10-ounce cans cream of mushroom soup 1 cup sour cream

½ cup flour Salt and pepper to taste Shredded cheddar cheese

Wrap each chicken breast with two pieces of bacon, then place in the bottom of the crock pot. Mix together the cream of mushroom soup, sour cream and flour. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Margaret Green, Covington EC 40 MARCH 2014

Bacon Topped Meatloaf ½ 1 2 ½ 1 1 ¼ 1 1 2

stick butter onion, chopped cloves of garlic cup of chopped red or green bell pepper carrot, chopped can tomato paste cup Worcestershire sauce pound of ground beef cup of Italian bread crumbs eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon of thyme 3 tablespoons of brown sugar 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar 1 teaspoon of salt 1 teaspoon of pepper 6 slices of thick-cut bacon

Melt butter in a large skillet, then add onion, garlic, bell pepper and carrots and sauté for about 4 minutes until tender. Stir together tomato paste and ¼ cup of Worcestershire sauce and set aside. Mix all other ingredients, except bacon, and form in a greased loaf pan. Pour tomato paste mixture over the meatloaf. Place strips of thick cut bacon over the meatloaf and bake for 1 hour on the grill or in the oven at 350 degrees. Kirk Vantrease, Cullman EC

Praline Bacon 1 pound of thicksliced bacon 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 ½ tablespoons chili powder ¼ cup finelychopped pecans

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut bacon slices in half crosswise and place on rack of broiler pan (clean up is easier if you line the pan with foil). Cook bacon for approximately 10 minutes or until bacon begins to turn brown and slightly crisp. Stir together the sugar, chili powder and pecans in a small bowl. Sprinkle this mixture over the bacon slices and gently press down to adhere the mixture to the bacon. Return bacon to oven for an additional 10 - 15 minutes. Note: Praline Bacon can be made ahead and refrigerated. Just reheat for a few minutes in a warm oven before serving. Belinda Lane, Joe Wheeler EMC

Creamed Spinach With Bacon ½ pound bacon, cooked 1 package frozen spinach, thawed 5 tablespoons butter 1 medium onion, finely chopped 1 clove garlic, minced ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper 2 tablespoons seasoned salt

1 small can mushrooms, drained 3 tablespoons flour 2 cups half and half cream 1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese 2 ⁄3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided ½ teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch baking dish. In a medium saucepan, melt the remaining butter over medium heat. Add onions and sauté 4-5 minutes until tender. Add garlic, mushrooms, bacon, cayenne pepper, seasoned salt and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add flour and stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Slowly add cream, bring to a boil and stir until thickened about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add spinach and stir thoroughly. Stir in cheddar cheese and 1/3 cup of the Parmesan cheesee and stir until melted. Season with pepper. Transfer to buttered baking dish, sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese and bake for 25 minutes until bubbly on top. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving. Robbie Vantrease, Cullman EC

Alabama Living

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MARCH 2014 41


continued from Page 7

An approach that works “What is interesting to me,” says Brad Kimbro, director of member services, “is that the previous peak was set in January 2010, almost four years earlier to the day, and in four years, we have added new residential members and new commercial meters, such as Publix. Yet we only exceeded our peak by 3 megawatts. This tells me for certain our load management efforts worked.” Keeping the demand for electricity down is beneficial in three ways. For one, it reduces the need to purchase large amounts of expensive electric capacity during peak periods.

To sign up for the H2O Plus program: Go to and click on the H2O Plus program under the “My Service” tab. The link will direct you to a form to fill out and return to the WEC office by mail or email. Someone will contact you to schedule a time to install the equipment.

Second, it can help keep future rates lower by postponing or delaying new generation construction. Third, it helps the environment due to consuming less fuel. Another successful program that helps keep costs and usage down is the H2O Plus Program, Thrash says. The program, which currently has 2,089 members, helps reduce our cooperative’s energy demand during peak events like we experienced in January, Thrash says. The program offers members a free water heater — or the ability to receive credit on a purchased water heater — by allowing Wiregrass Electric to equip the unit with an H2O load control device. The device, which is installed by a certified electrician at no cost to the member, will allow WEC’s power supplier to cycle the water heater during times of high demand, which is usually on the hottest days of summer or coldest days of winter (like Jan. 7 and 8 of this year). As a result, the elements on the water heater will power down for short periods of time — usually during peak times — and restart in time to maintain hot water in the tank, allowing there to be plenty of hot water to handle the washing, showers and other tasks. Most people won’t even notice a difference, he says, and those with a water heater already can also take advantage of the program. Both of these programs implemented by WEC allow members to conserve energy usage when demand is high and, as a result, reduce the costs of electricity for everyone. A

Can we get your number? Update your phone number by April 1 to be entered for a chance to win a $50 gift card! Wiregrass Electric Cooperative’s tollfree Outage Reporting System makes it easy to report an interruption in service. By calling our automatic reporting system, you are able to report any outage without worrying about busy signals or being placed on hold. In order for the system to work, however, WEC needs your correct contact information. Without your current phone number, we have no way of contacting you if there is a problem with your account requiring immediate attention. When we send a broadcast message with important service information for a particular neighborhood, you will not receive the message. And most importantly, our automated Outage Reporting System will 42 MARCH 2014

not be able to link your account with your phone number when you call to report an outage. We will be unable to track your outage, which could make response times slower. With your home and cell numbers on file, our system will use Caller ID information to immediately identify your account when you call to report an outage. With the press of a few keys, you’ll be able to verify the information and complete your report in a minute or less. Our system will then use the information from you and others affected to efficiently track and respond to the outage. See the simple instructions on the right to update your account information today! A

Updating your account information is easy:

ONLINE Use the convenient update form on our website at

or BY PHONE Dial 1-800-239-4602 and connect with our Member Care Team or Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system.

“ I know every outage I help fix could bring power back to my neighbor.

—Tammie Byrd, Dispatcher 17 years of service

It began in 1939. The people of this region came together to form a cooperative that would give them a better way of life through the

Neighbors helping neighbors, for 75 years.

power of electricity. For 75 years, Wiregrass Electric Cooperative has fulfilled that mission, from bringing electricity to farmers in the 1940s, to providing reliable, affordable service to the industries of today. We are still guided by a sense of tradition ... and a dedication to the values and mission of our founders.

This Earth Day, celebrate with Wiregrass Electric Cooperative! Earth Day is April 22. This year, WEC would like to join with our members to make it meaningful for the Wiregrass. Join us in doing our part by signing up for paperless billing or switching to InControl, our prepay program. Both of these options do away with having a printed bill sent to you each month, adding to your convenience — and

Alabama Living

helping reduce waste. If you join either of these programs during the month of April, you will be eligible for a special prize. Look for more details about Ear th Day at WEC and our paperless promotion in next month’s Alabama Living magazine!

MARCH 2014 43

Our Sources Say

Who stole your truck? I

f you follow my articles, you know I have written a number about carbon emissions and the potential that they will be greatly regulated or taxed. As a member of the electric utility industry, I am interested in the carbon issue, but probably less than you might think. If carbon emissions are limited, we will develop lower carbon generation and pass on the higher costs to our consumers. Of course, the people we serve will have to pay more for electricity, their jobs will lose competitive ground on the global front, and they will have less disposable income because everything will cost more. I am understandably concerned about those effects. I continue to write about carbon emissions so you will not be surprised when the price of electricity increases with the implementation of carbon limitations or taxes. Carbon limits or taxes may or may not affect our business, but they will certainly change our lives, and you should be aware of the consequences. In addition to lobbying and plotting to reduce carbon or tax emissions from electric generation, there are also efforts to reduce carbon emissions from other sources. In fact, your truck has been stolen. Worldwide, more than 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere each year. About 6 billion tons of the emissions come from the U.S., and an increasing amount comes from the rest of the world. Of that 6 billion tons, about one third comes from electric generation and about one third comes from the transportation sector. While we continue to debate, negotiate and argue about regulation of the electric industry, the automobile industry has already been regulated. You just didn’t notice. In the depths of the recession when automobile manufacturers were seeking help from the federal government to stay in business, they accepted fuel efficiency regulations that require their products (cars and trucks) to average 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025 in an effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Automobile manufacturers are planning to achieve those efficiency requirements in different ways. In an effort to increase fuel efficiency from 20 mpg to 30 mpg, Ford is changing the entire body of its best-selling F150 full-sized pickup from steel to aluminum. It is also changing the F150 engine from a V-8 to a turbo-charged V-6. The changes reduce the truck’s weight and provide a more fuel-efficient engine. There

Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative

44 MARCH 2014

are concerns the new design will be less durable and more expensive to manufacture and repair. If the new aluminum body is not as durable nor provides the same feel as a steel body, you will likely not be as happy with your new Ford truck as the one you have now. Ford sells approximately 700,000 F150s a year at an average profit margin of $10,000 per truck. If the costs of the newer, more efficient design are not passed on to buyers, Ford’s profits will be eroded. So the price of your new Ford will very likely be higher, too. GM is taking a different track and addressing the fuel efficiency standards by introducing an additional line of mid-sized trucks to displace sales of its Silverado full-sized pickup with a higher mileage option. Of course, manufacturers have tried to market mid-sized trucks with little success in the past. You may not like the size of your new GM truck. Chrysler is planning to make a nine-speed transmission and diesel engine standard on its Ram full-sized pickup. With those changes, Chrysler expects the Ram pickup to achieve 25 mpg. You may not like the sound or acceleration of your new Ram truck. The manufacturers can average the fuel efficiency of all their products to reach the 54.4 mpg requirement and also receive credits for sales of electric vehicles. However, even with the $7,500 federal tax credits, electric vehicles priced at an average of $75,000 still seem to be a stretch for most of the U.S. market and don’t offer the manufacturers much relief in meeting the efficiency requirements. Sales of very efficient vehicles will help with the average but may leave some of the rest of us wondering what happened to our truck. As a driver of a Chevrolet Tahoe that gets 18 mpg, I don’t expect to be able to replace my truck very far into the future. If you drive a V-8 F150 or a V-8 Silverado, you will likely have a similar problem in replacing your truck. If full-sized pickups with V-8s are available, the price will most likely be considerably higher because production costs are higher or the demand for full-sized trucks will drive up the price. My complaint about federal regulation of carbon emissions is that the cost greatly exceeds the benefits, regardless of how you value the cost. China, India, Russia and emerging third-world countries will continue to emit carbon dioxide while availing themselves of low-cost energy. We lose in two ways. The carbon levels in the atmosphere continue to increase, and we lose economic market share because the cost of our products increases compared to other markets. The costs of regulation also include the change in our lifestyles – from the cost of electricity to the type of truck we drive. If you have a truck, it may not be Ford Tough very far into the future. Thank you for reading. I hope you have a good month. A

Market Place

Alabama Living

MARCH 2014 45

Alabama Snapshots 1


6 3



Me and someone famous Submit Your Images! MAY THEME:

“Art by me”


Photos, Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL, 36124 RULES: Alabama Living will pay $10 for photos that best match our theme of the month. Photos may also be published on our website at Alabama Living is not responsible for lost or damaged photos. DEADLINE FOR MAY: March 31

46 MARCH 2014

1. Garth Brooks, Kathy McWhirter, Trisha Yearwood and Taryn McWhirter at a soccer tournament in Orange Beach SUBMITTED BY Kathy McWhirter, Vinemont 2. “This was taken around 1978, at the World of Wheels auto show in Birmingham. I’m on the far left next to my dad, sister and the original Batman, Adam West. SUBMITTED BY Leah Blanchard, Rockford 3. Kathy Sexton at the premiere of “Wild Hogs” in Ocala, Fla. with John Travolta and Kelly Preston SUBMITTED BY Kathy Sexton, Ralph

4. Rhett Johnson and AJ McCarron SUBMITTED BY Rachel Rider, Bay Minette 5. Daisy Neathery of Summerdale and Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson shopping together at a Sam’s Club while she was visiting relatives in Monroe, La. SUBMITTED BY Barbara McCullough, Foley 6. “In August 2000, Dale Earnhardt drove the one millionth van off the end of the line at GM’s Doraville Assembly Plant in Doraville, Ga. I was working there at the time and got several items signed by him.” SUBMITTED BY Mark Blackmon, Salem

Wec march14dm  
Wec march14dm