Faces & Places 2013

Page 1



A complete guide to

Chilton County

for visitors, residents and newcomers

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FACES & PLACES Chilton County...Sondra Henley (Master Gardeners)................................................................6 Clanton...............Herman Washington (Chilton County Tennis Association).........................18 Jemison...............Arlie Powell (Petals From the Past).............................................................26 Maplesville.........Clem Clapp (Maplesville Historical Society)...............................................30 Thorsby..............Jim Pitts and Michelle Elmore (Chilton Research and Extension Center)...36 Verbena..............Bill Rambo (Confederate Memorial Park)....................................................42


Chilton County, Alabama!

chilton county

Sondra Henley is this year’s president of the Chilton County Master Gardeners, a group that plants and maintains flowers and shrubs at various locations in the county.

Chilton the beautiful Master Gardeners, Henley help county blossom story By EMiLy BECKEtt | PHoto By jon GoErinG


he purple crape myrtles and wave petunias in front of the Chilton County Courthouse aren’t there by happenstance. Neither are the flowers in Corner Park across from the courthouse, nor the hanging baskets in downtown Jemison. The clusters of colorful petals and soft lines of green leaves dispersed in planters and mulch beds throughout the county exist thanks to a group of green thumbs who, year after year, give residents and visitors alike a reason to stop and admire their surroundings. Jemison resident Sondra Henley, president of Chilton County Master Gardeners Association, is one of the people behind these areas of botanical beauty. Each year, Henley and her fellow CCMGA members help create Chilton’s cityscapes with flowers and plants, as well as maintaining a demonstration garden at the Chilton Research Center in Thorsby. Henley, 64, remains humble as she talks about her mission as the

group’s current leader. “When I started my term, I wanted us to educate and celebrate,” she said. “We want our classes to be fun.” As the daughter of an avid gardener, Henley had plenty of experience in gardening before she joined CCMGA about six years ago. “My gardening connects me with my mother,” Henley said. “I’ve got a lot of her day lilies.” But Henley’s gardening became paramount when she and her husband moved to Chilton County in 2005 and she realized the sight of their bare, rambling yard made her feel isolated and overwhelmed. “I have to have boundaries,” Henley said. She began working and shadowing Jason Powell at Petals from the Past, a nursery in Jemison, to learn gardening techniques she could apply in her own yard. “I followed him around and learned by listening to him,” Henley said of Powell. “I’m a people person, so I began to meet people.”

In the two and a half years Henley worked at Petals from the Past, she met various gardening groups as they visited the nursery. “One day I saw something about Master Gardeners, and I thought, oh, that will be a way to get out and meet people,” Henley said. She has been a member of CCMGA since 2006 and served as the 2011–2012 vice president. “Right now, we have 64 members,” Henley said. “I probably have 30 members active in leadership.” CCMGA members help fill the planters in Clanton and Jemison in the spring and fall, in addition to the demonstration garden, their major ongoing project which contains perennials, herbs, vines, animal name plants, morning glory tower, vegetables and a rock garden. “We work every Monday from April through August weeding, pruning, planting and watering— whatever needs to be done to keep that demonstration garden at its peak,” Henley said. “It is a big job. It’s time for us to put in a different design and a new irrigation system.” Henley said another goal she has for CCMGA is to highlight members that exceed expectations and deserve praise for their service. “We need to celebrate more,”

CHiLton County FASt FACtS County Courthouse 500 2nd Avenue n clanton, Al 35046 Mailing address: P.o. Box 1948 clanton, Al 35046 Phone number (205) 755-1551 Website www.newchiltoncounty.org Population 43,643 Land area 693.98 square miles Commission Chairman Allen caton (205) 351-2107 County commission Joe headley (205) 287-1689 Bobby Agee (205) 299-1242 tim Mims (205) 258-9040 heedy hayes (205) 288-8127 Greg Moore (205) 351-1266 Shannon Welch (205) 287-1412 FACES And PLACES


she said. “We need to recognize our members and the work they’re doing. They work hard. They are kind, sweet, generous people.” Henley said CCMGA seeks members of all ages and, contrary to popular belief, all abili-

ties. “There’s a need for people to do things other than dig and haul,” Henley said, mentioning the group’s need for people adept at writing grants, news releases and organizing publicity efforts. The Chilton County Master

Gardeners Program is offered on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. January–March. Those interested in membership may submit an application (available at Ccmga.aces.edu or the Chilton County Extension Office) and registration fees.

Members are required to have at least 10 continuing education hours per year. “Each season is a little improvement,” Henley said. “We don’t have to have it perfect every time, but we’re moving toward improvement.”

one of the busiest times on the lake. higgins Ferry Park, located at 11161 on county Road 28 in clanton, is featured on approximately three websites. the park requires campers to make reservations because there is a limited amount of space. the park offers full serve electric hookups for RVs along with spots for primitive tent-camping.

Renovations have been made to the park over the years. two years ago, the park’s public boat launch was repaved and a 10-car parking lot for swimmers, located above the existing boat launch was constructed in June. For reservation and information, contact park ranger Frank Atchinson at 205-7555952 or pkranger@earthlink. net.

Higgins Ferry Park


he 25 acres of higgins Ferry Park, owned by Alabama Power, has something for all ages to enjoy. Families from near and far travel to chilton county yearround to enjoy the leisure of the park, set up camp at one of its campsites or take their boat out on the lake. on any given weekend there can be anywhere from 150 to 175 boats on the



water, and even more people in the park. Park Ranger/Manager Frank Atkinson can be found patrolling the land reassuring everything is in order for camping and boating visitors. the park features a playground for children, a pavilion and a 4- to 6- foot swimming area for everyone to enjoy. large bass tournaments are help on Saturdays, which is

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July FourtH celebrations


ach year, chilton county hosts several events to ring in America’s birth-

day. clanton’s annual fireworks show is always held on the Fourth of July. For more information, contact clanton city hall at (205) 755-1105. the town of thorsby also holds an annual celebration. in 2013, the event was held at Richard Wood Memorial Park and was filled with music, barbecue and fireworks. For more information, contact thorsby town hall at (205) 646-3575. A couple of celebrations are also held on lake Mitchell, including the cargile creek Fourth of July fireworks show and boat parades. For more information, contact Jim Mccormick at jmac51@bellsouth.net.



relay For liFe


hilton county’s Relay For life event, held every April, raises money for the American cancer Society. linda hand, a breast cancer survivor, started the local version of this national event in 1994. hand served as the Relay For life chairwoman for 13 years, and local pastor Robert Griffin took over in 2007. Relay, now chaired by courtney Brock, is held at the

youth league football field at clanton city Park. the highspirited event includes entertainment, cookouts and fun activities. Each fundraising team sets up campsites around the field, and cancer survivors and their supporters walk around the track to celebrate the continued fight against the disease. For more information, contact Brock at kickingcancerinchilton@gmail.com.

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Veterans MeMorial


he chilton county Veterans Memorial stands in front of the county courthouse on Second Avenue north in clanton as a reminder of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. the memorial bears the names



of chilton county residents who died in combat in World War i, World War ii, Korea, Vietnam, lebanon and iraq. credit Morris Price for coming up with the idea while he worked as a property tax appraiser in the courthouse.

Price, once a prisoner of war in Korea, also lost a brother in combat. A drive was started to raise funds for a monument in 1985, and the dream became reality on Memorial Day 1986. the committee that oversees

the memorial is made up of the VFW, American legion and DAV. now every Memorial Day, each name is read aloud as a crowd of citizens gathers to pay tribute to these fallen heroes.

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PeacH FestiVal


erhaps chilton county’s best known annual event is the Peach Festival, which occurs during harvest time in June. For two



weeks, many events occur throughout the county, from a fishing tournament and 5k run to a cook-off (of course, with peaches), pageants and the

Peach Jam. Peach Classic Fishing tournament the Peach classic fishing

tournament, sponsored by the Rotary club of chilton county, has been held traditionally on a Saturday in June at higgins Ferry Park.

in 2013, the entry fee was $100 per boat, including $10 for a “big fish” contest. Guaranteed payouts were $1,500 for first place, $750 for second place, $500 for third place and $250 for fourth place. those interested can learn more information by calling Rotary member carl Mims at 646-2641. Peach run the annual Peach Run is sponsored by cornerstone Fitness & Wellness in clanton. in 2013, the Peach Run was held Saturday, June 22. there is always both a 5k and a 10k run through downtown clanton. one of the best places to watch the race is along Alabama highway 145 between cornerstone (located just north of chilton Medical center) and downtown. there were cash prizes and winners named in several age divisions in both male and female categories. For more information, call lori Patterson at 280-6450. Peach Cook-off the annual Peach cook-off is held at thorsby First Baptist church. the contest includes all kinds of dishes—the only catch is they must include fresh chilton county peaches. there is always a guest chef and other entertainment. Admission is free, and people don’t have to compete to attend. cash prizes are awarded in two age divisions, adult and youth. After judging, people in attendance have a chance to sample all the entries. For more information, call the local office of the Alabama cooperative Extension System at 280-6268. Miss Peach Pageants there are four categories in the Miss Peach Pageants, which are: little Miss (ages

5-7), young Miss (8-11), Junior Miss (12-14) and Miss (1518). the pageants are always on Saturday, Monday, tuesday and thursday night. Winners earn scholarships and other prizes. Peach jam jubilee the annual Peach Jam Jubilee, sponsored by the chilton county chamber of commerce, is held the last Friday night in June. in 2013, GloW, an eightpiece dance band headlined the event. local entertainment also performs. there are food vendors and arts and crafts vendors, as well as kids’ rides, games, and more. call Mike Robertson at the chilton county chamber of commerce at (205) 755-2400 for more information. Peach Parade the annual Peach Parade is held the Saturday after the Peach Jam. it starts from behind Fred’s near clanton city Park and circles through downtown clanton. Participants will line up at 8 a.m. For more information, call clanton Police officer David hicks at 755-1194. Peach Auction the Peach Auction always follows the parade at Jack hayes Field in clanton city Park. last year’s event raised more than $18,000. the fundraiser benefits clanton lions club and its charitable work, which includes providing glasses and eye care to children through Alabama Sight. Peach Barbecue After the parade and auction, head to the annual Peach Barbecue at the clanton city Park pavilion, which lies within walking distance from the auction, along Park Drive. the barbecue is an annual fundraiser sponsored by American legion Douglas Glass Post 6 and the ladies Auxiliary. FACES And PLACES


cHristMas in cHilton


very year, the towns of clanton, thorsby, Jemison and Maplesville get into the holiday spirit by hosting christmas parades. Each parade features marching bands, pageant queens, rescue vehicles with lights blazing, politicians, children, flashy vehicles and lots of candy. clanton’s christmas Parade is held the first Friday in December at 6 p.m. it involves a route that weaves through downtown and showcases Peach Queens and the Pride of chilton county high School



Band. the town of Maplesville holds its parade the Saturday after thanksgiving. the time has yet to be decided. it often hosts a large number of floats, as well as the MhS Band. Jemison traditionally holds its parade early in the yuletide season and prominently features Jemison high’s Blue Regiment Marching Band. thorsby’s parade date for 2013 has yet to be announced, but typically features the Swedish Queens and the thorsby high band.



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Herman Washington has twice been named united States Professional tennis Association “Professional of the year.�

Swing of things Washington is patron of Chilton County tennis story By StEPHEn dAWKinS | PHoto By jon GoErinG


erhaps no one has done as much for tennis in Chilton County than Herman Washington. What, you don’t think that’s saying much? You don’t think tennis means much in a place where football, baseball and even softball rule? Think again. Chilton County has a rich tennis history, and Washington is a part of most of it. A native of Baldwin County, Washington began playing at age 12 when a physical education teacher introduced him to the game. Washington attended Tuskegee University and was a member of the track and field team. His squad sometimes traveled to away competitions with the tennis teams, so during down times, Washington found himself hitting balls with the tennis players. He also played intramural tennis. “It wasn’t something that I did all the time,” Washington said. He didn’t know yet that the sport would become a focus of his life. Washington later taught tennis in Florida, and while employed in the Chilton County School System, he wrote grants for the Chilton County Tennis Association.

He and others offered clinics two days a week at the Clanton City Park courts. Students at the old Adair school could take 10 weeks of tennis for $5 each. The program was later extended to include Verbena School. Washington also organized an annual tournament tied to Chilton County’s Peach Festival for 25 years. The last tournament was held in 2007. In 1987 and 1997, Washington was selected as the United States Professional Tennis Association’s “Professional of the Year” in Alabama. In 1993, he received the United States Tennis Association’s “Southern Section Volunteer Award.” Washington retired from the school system in 2004. Now he gives individualized lessons while continuing to promote the sport. “I’m happy about the crosssection of people,” he said about his pupils. “I have college kids, tots—all ages. “When I take on a young kid, I try to get them to become a student of the game. I want them to enjoy watching it even if they never become a pro.” Under Washington’s guidance, Chilton County High School

started a tennis program less than 10 years ago. The boys team now has a state tournament appearance under its belt, and one of the girls team’s most promising players—Ada Ruth Huntley, who plays in the No. 1 position despite having yet to walk the high school’s hallways as a rising freshman—is a Washington protege. Washington also helps Jemison’s program, which is more established, having won three state championships. Whoever he’s coaching, Washington wants to see them win. “I give people the impression that I’m nice and cool, but beneath that, I want to see some results,” he said. “I know what it takes to win: You have to have that killer instinct.” While his students obviously benefit, Washington said coaching is rewarding for him also. “There are great health benefits,” said the 77-year-old. “I’m rewarded because I used to run track, but I don’t like to run anymore. This makes me run.” But more than anything, Washington wants to see tennis offer opportunities to local youths, like it has for him, he and his wife Olivia’s three children, and many others. “The greatest thing I’ve done, I’ve encouraged young pros,” Washington said. “I have players scattered all over the country and all over the world. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

CLAnton FASt FACtS City hall 505 Second Ave. n., P.o. Box 580 clanton, Al 35046-0580 Phone number (205) 755-1105 Fax number (205) 755-7650 Website www.clanton.al.us Population 8,619 (as of census 2010) Land area 20.3 square miles (52.7 square kilometers) Zip code 35046-0580 Elevation 600 feet (183 meters) Mayor Billy Joe Driver, (205) 755-4051 City council Jeffrey Price (District 1), (205) 280-1792 Bobby cook (District 2), (205) 755-3418 Sammy Wilson (District 3), (205) 755-4841 Greg DeJarnett (District 4), (205) 755-4780 Mary Mell Smith (District 5), (205) 755-0410



eMergency ManageMent agency


oth the chilton county and Alabama Emergency Management Agency headquarters are located in clanton, separated by just a few miles on u.S. highway 31. the AEMA serves as the coordinating agency for disaster preparation, response and recovery statewide. the fact that the AEMA is headquartered here provides the county with 100 jobs, not to mention the revenue that comes with it. on the county level, the chilton county EMA helps prepare residents for all kinds of disasters and threats to the area. this includes winter storms, tornados, fires, drought and hazardous material spills. For more information on both the AEMA, visit www.ema.alabama.gov and for the chilton county EMA, visit www.chiltonema.org.



Martin lutHer king Jr. Day


or the past 12 years, Robert and lucy Binion of clanton have organized clanton’s Martin luther King Jr. Day Parade. A program at the E.M. henry Skills center in West End follows the parade each year, which starts from Jack hayes Field and ends at the skills center.

Parade participants include the Pride of chilton county high School Marching Band, fire trucks from clanton and other departments, police and classic cars, city leaders and churches—just to name a few. For more information, contact Binion at (205) 299-1873.

Pancake Day


ancake Day is held at First united Methodist church of clanton on the second Saturday of February each year. it is a fundraiser organized by the united Methodist Men. All proceeds go toward charity and mission work. Plates consist of about three pancakes and two sausage patties, plus all the seconds (or thirds) you can handle. Because of the day’s proximity to Valentine’s Day, many couples make the trip each year.

the Methodist Men work a dry run the Friday night before each Pancake Day to ensure things go smoothly the following morning. 10 men usually come in at midnight to grill the sausage ahead of time, which takes between four and five hours. Just a few hours later, at 5:30 a.m., the real show starts. the Alaga Whitfield company donates syrup, and howard thomas donates pancake mix. to purchase a ticket, see a Methodist Men member or call the church office at 755-0490. FACES And PLACES


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blast FroM tHe Past


ne of the most enduring events in chilton county has been the musical fundraiser “Blast from the Past” at chilton county high School. “Blast” is an annual tradi-

tion in which students from chilton county high School sing popular songs from past decades. Each song also includes choreographed dance parts or skits performed by students.

Ricky and Sheri McKee started the program in 1993. it now features close to 150 students for four performances over two weekends, usually held the last two weekends in February. the cast practices

for two months leading up to the opening night. tickets have been $7 in recent years and can be purchased from cchS starting in January.

ago. John Heaton passed away, leaving the legacy to be carried on by his wife Billie, their son and grandchildren. The doors of the white barn, trimmed in green, are open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Friday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Barn is known for its various preroasted pecan pleasures that are freshly made every day in the store’s kitchen. Milk chocolate and white chocolate pecan halves are the farm’s best sellers. Other pecan delicacies include: pecan brittle, pecan logs, billionaires, chocolate pecan bark, pralines, milk chocolate pecan fudge, pea-

nut butter fudge, pecan pies, pecan pie tarts and pecan fruitcake. Pecans are not the only things the Heatons have to offer. The Barn serves 11 assorted flavors of homemade ice cream and milkshakes; Belgian Waffles, salads, soups and grilled gourmet, specialty and deli-style sandwiches. Other favorites include their pecan chicken salad plates and homemade cakes. In addition to sweets and lunch, Heaton also sells gifts, home décor, jewelry and other items. For more information, call 800-446-3531 or visit www. heaton.com.

stoPs along interstate 65


ot stopping Interstate 65 exits 205 or 208 is difficult to do, especially when there are popular Chilton County attractions such as Durbin Farms Market, Heaton Pecan Farm and Peach Park right off the exits. For years, people traveling to and from beaches on the Gulf Coast have been stopping off I-65 Exit 205 to enjoy the delicious summer treats at Durbin Farms Market and Peach Park. Durbin Farms Market averages 180-200 gallons of ice cream sold per day, during busy weekends in the summer. Gene and Francis Gray built Peach Park in 1984 so they wouldn’t have to haul peaches to New Orleans to sell them. Their two sons, Mark and Derek, still run the business. Danny Jones bought Durbin Farms Market in 2005. It seated 54 at the time and now seats about 200. Durbin’s and Peach Park have both evolved to be as attractive as possible to interstate travelers. At Durbin’s you can find peach pecan ice cream, while Peach Park specializes in caramel peach ice cream. Both businesses have undergone dramatic changes over the years. Durbin’s began as a seasonal fruit market located off Highway 31 in Clanton.

Durbin’s now features a sandwich shop, fruit and vegetables of all kinds and a selection of plants and gifts at LJ’s Boutique. The business is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week and closed only two days a year. Peach Park has added a garden area with walking path, a food menu featuring barbecue and a playground. For more information, contact Durbin Farms Market at 205-755-1672 or Peach Park at 205-755-2065. Heaton Pecan Farm, located off I-65 Exit 208, also has treats and homemade delights for everyone to enjoy. John and Billie Heaton opened The Barn, which first began as a hobby, 10 years




dr. Arlie Powell along with his wife Gwenn, son jason and his wife Shelley and a group of employees at Petals from the Past, work to provide quality products for people to enjoy.

Fruits of his labor Petals from the Past a temple to delicious fruit, beautiful flowers story By EMiLy EtHErEdGE | PHoto By jon GoErinG


hen he isn’t writing his new book slated to debut at the end of this year or selling weekly produce at Pepper Place in Birmingham, Dr. Arlie Powell of Petals from the Past in Jemison works to create different varieties of fruit for others to enjoy. “People enjoy eating what tastes good,” Powell said. “No one enjoys eating something that is hard as a rock and tastes terrible. That is why we are about the fruits that make your heart grow fonder.” Powell, along with his wife Gwenn, son Jason and his wife Shelley and a group of employees at Petals from the Past, work to provide quality products for people living throughout Alabama. With a cool, wet spring, Powell said the produce season was off about two weeks compared to 2012. “I think everything is on track now but we got a later start this year due to the cooler temperatures,” Powell said. “The whole Southeastern production

area has been on a late production this season but I would say everything turned out just fine. Now it is just a matter of getting everything harvested.” One popular event Powell’s business attends each week is the Pepper Place Farmers Market in Birmingham. Employees from Petals from the Past will load up produce and sell at the farmers market with roughly 100 other vendors from Alabama. Powell said Petals from the Past has had great success with the farmers market where hundreds of people will attend the market each Saturday morning to purchase locally grown foods. “Farmers markets have emerged as a great way for people to connect with what they are buying,” Powell said. “People enjoy knowing where the food they are buying comes from as well as knowing it is fresh. Vine ripe always tastes better because people get tired of buying stuff that tastes like cardboard. Pepper Place serves a lot of people and is one of the finest farmers markets that is operated in the state.”

Powell explained that people purchasing items from the farmers market often purchase produce that tastes better than what can be found in a grocery store. “When we take a product to the farmers market we have picked it that morning,” Powell said. “We give up shelf life for flavor because people like eating what tastes good.” Although harvest season takes up the majority of his time, Powell spends the remaining hours of his day working on his self-help book for gardeners and small producers being published later this year. “I am writing it based off of 15 years of experience at Petals,” Powell said. “I am writing it from personal experience of marketing and growing products. I am telling a story about what we are going to do with specific varieties and people will be able to gain application from what they read.” Powell said he is currently working on the book every hour that he can devote to sitting down and writing which is often tough during the peak of production season. “During this time of year it is tough to sit down and find a few hours out of the day to devote to the book,” Powell said. “I am excited for the book though because it will tell a story for the Alabama and southeastern gardeners if they have an inkling toward producing fruits.”

jEMiSon FASt FACtS City hall 14 Padgett lane Jemison, Al 35085 Mailing address: P.o. Box 609 Jemison, Al 35085 Phone number (205) 688-4492 Fax number (205) 688-1109 Website www.jemisonalabama.org Population 2,585 Land area 8.1 square miles (21.1 square kilometers) Zip code 35085 Elevation 719 feet (219 meters) Mayor Eddie Reed P.o. Box 609 Jemison, Al 35085 (205) 688-4492 City council George Brasher (205) 688-2560 Donnie lane (205) 688-2898 Robert Morris (205) 688-2538 Rex Bittle (205) 396-4145 Sam Reed (205) 238-9288 FACES And PLACES


Minooka Park


inooka Park, in Jemison, offers something for everyone. it is perhaps most famous for its AtV trails, among the best in the Southeast, but the park also has fishing, hiking, horseback riding, primitive



and motor home camping and meeting space. there are multiple AtV trails that wind their way throughout the property’s 295 acres. there is also a 1-mile walking trail along the lake, which is stocked with bass and bluegill.

the motor home campground is a big draw too. local people and those traveling through onward to other destinations both have migrated to the park. General admission to the park is free. AtV/dirt bike rid-

ers pay a fee of $15 per day; for children 10 and under the fee is $5. Groups of 10 or more riders or members of a riding club pay $10. For more information about the park, call 287-1214 or 312-1376.

HiDDen MeaDow VineyarD


ill and Janette Bailey’s family-owned hidden Meadow Vineyard and Winery officially opened for business in Jemison on June 17, 2011. Bill became interested in starting his own winery six years ago, and now owns a four-acre vineyard at 664 county Road 606. the first grape vine was planted in 2005 and is still producing. Wine sold at hidden Meadow is crafted on site from the vineyard’s fruit, which includes Muscadine (noble, carlos and Magnolia), concord, niagara and cynthiana grapes. in addition to the vineyard, the winery includes a family-built wine selling and tasting house

with a processing room behind it. the winery has a selection of 10 wines to choose from including sweet reds and whites and drier reds aged in oak. the vineyard’s homemade wines range from $12 to $18 a bottle. For now, hidden Meadow’s wine will only be available on site because they’re regulated as a small farm winery. in addition to buying bottled wine, visitors can sit out on the winery’s wooden porch overlooking the vineyard and have a glass of wine. the winery is open Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For questions or more information, call 688-4648 or visit their website at www.hiddenmeadowvineyard.com.




Clem Clapp has spent much of his life in Maplesville and has been instrumental in preserving the town’s history through the Maplesville Historical Society, which he helped form about five years ago.

rich history preserved Clapp among those preserving town’s history story By EMiLy BECKEtt | PHoto By jon GoErinG


ith a population of nearly 700, the town of Maplesville is much smaller than Clanton to the east with more than 8,000 residents. But longtime Maplesville residents like Clem Clapp have seen—and helped—the town progress from simply a railroad pass-through to a place where people want to raise their families and retire. Clapp, 62, and his wife Diane have lived in Maplesville most of their lives. Diane was from Stanton, and they met in fifth grade at Maplesville and started dating when they were seniors. Clapp’s mother grew up in Maplesville. Following her graduation from The University of Alabama in the 1930s, she went to work with the WPA and eventually ended up in Monroeville, where she met Clapp’s father. They married, moved to Maplesville in 1940 and bought the hardware store from Hyman Atcheson. Clapp’s roots in Maplesville trace back multiple generations.

“I have lived about eight miles from where my great-greatgreat-grandparents moved into the county,” Clapp said. “I’m not very mobile I guess.” Over the years, Clapp has been instrumental in promoting and preserving the town’s history. He and Joel Atchison started the Maplesville Historical Society about five years ago and currently serve as the group’s vice president and president, respectively. Clapp also spearheads Heritage Day, the group’s largest annual fundraiser occurring in downtown Maplesville in the spring. “We’ve had four of these Heritage Days,” Clapp said. “I guess we were the instigators of it, and folks kind of got on board with it. It’s been an interesting journey for history stuff.” Heritage Day gives local and out-of-town guests a chance to peek inside the Maplesville Train Depot and see the town’s history displayed in a pictorial exhibit featuring old photographs, drawings and documents. Clapp said the first depot was built in the 1850s and was burned by Wilson’s raiders in

1865. A new depot was built in 1866, but in 1911, a fire in the business district destroyed it and other structures. The third depot—the one still standing—was built circa 1912 and houses the Maplesville Senior Center. Local historian Wayne Arnold, also a Maplesville Historical Society member, stands inside the depot during Heritage Day and talks about the Battle of Ebenezer Church and war-related artifacts he has collected in the Maplesville and Stanton areas over the years. “He’s really a walking treasure for local history,” Clapp said. Organizers added a 5K to this year’s Heritage Day in an effort to cultivate more interest in the event, proceeds from which the group has dedicated to preserving a town landmark known as the Foshee house, located off Highway 22 in the area considered Maplesville’s historic district. The house, built by Noah Foshee in the late 1800s, sustained extensive damage in the January 2012 tornados. Last fall, the town council gave the historical society permission to have the house repaired. “It was an idea that it was up to the historical group to raise the money to at least get the roof fixed so it will be protected,” Clapp said. “This should complete the outside of it and have

MAPLESViLLE FASt FACtS City hall P.o. Box 9 Maplesville, Al 36750 Phone number (334) 366-4212 Fax number (334) 366-4210 Email maplesvilletowno@bellsouth.net Population 708 Land area 3.3 square miles (8.5 square kilometers) Zip code 36750 Elevation 351 feet (107 meters) Mayor W.c. hayes Jr., (334) 3664383 town council hal harrison (District 1), (334) 375-7880 Sheila hall (District 2), (334) 366-0052 hilda Atchison (District 3), (334) 366-4777 Richard Davis (District 4), (334) 366-5214 Patty crocker (District 5), (334) 366-4432






nice, little rural Alabama town,” in his words. “You have a small-town atmosphere,” Clapp said. “It kind of has its own character, it’s evolved a lot over the years, but you still have basic folks that still care about the town and want to see it sustain itself anyway. We could always have more, but we’re glad to have what we have.”



it protected from elements. It will make that end of town more attractive.” Clapp retired from Peachtree Bank, originally named Bank of Maplesville, as executive vice president in July but plans to serve on the board of directors of the bank his grandfather helped start in 1919. Clapp said he and his wife also plan to stay in Maplesville, “a


ebenezer baPtist cHurcH


benezer Baptist church in Stanton was the site of a civil War battle on April 1, 1865. According to the marker in front of the church, lt. Gen. nathan Bedford Forrest led 1,500 confederate cavalrymen into union Army General James h. Wilson’s force of 7,500 near Ebenezer, hoping to stall Wilson on his march toward an arsenal at Selma. Ebenezer’s pastor, Bro. Danny Rasberry, said people

still visit the church hoping to find a rumored bullet hole on the exterior, but that was likely located at a previous building that burned in 1916. one clue to the past is the cedar trees that tower over a cemetery up the hill behind the church. on a tombstone is written that the federal government asked the church not to cut down the trees because union soldiers are buried there and the trees would serve as a memorial to the dead.

MaPlesVille railroaD DePot


irst built in the 1850s, Maplesville’s train depot marked the end of the age of the stagecoach in the town, as businesses moved to create the current downtown around the railroad. But as the automobile became the preferred means of transportation, the depot

fell into disuse. the Maplesville historical Society has worked to transform the depot into a museum. the society was founded in 2007 in an effort to prepare the town for its bicentennial celebration as part of former Gov. Bob Riley’s Great Alabama homecoming initia-

tive. one of the group’s first projects was to build a pictorial museum in the town’s historic depot, but the historical Society’s work isn’t finished. Maplesville heritage Day on April 13 included guided tours of historic structures, a showing of a DVD about town history and opening

the museum to residents and visitors alike—along with vendors and a food court. Atchison said plans for the future include improving the grounds around the depot and making a town garden in the small triangle of land just across highway 22 from the depot and transforming the entire depot into a museum. FACES And PLACES


MaPlesVille Heritage Day


he town of Maplesville’s first heritage Day was held in 2010 as part of the year of Small towns and Downtowns in Alabama. the event was turned into an annual homecoming for those who once called the Maplesville area home. it also encompasses surrounding communities such as lawley, Randolph and Stanton. the fourth annual heritage



Day was held April 13. Aside from street vendors and the typical festival fun, many historic homes and businesses were open for tours. these included Maplesville Methodist church and the Southern Depot Museum, the latter of which contains 100-plus historic pictures and documents. to learn more, call town clerk Sheila haigler at 334366-4211.

24-Hour cHallenge


he Perry Mountain 24-hour challenge is a yearly motorcycle race held at Perry Mountain Motorcycle club on the first weekend in June. the event pits riders from all across the country against each other, against the 10-mile course and against the clock. the concept is simple: Go as hard as you can, as much as you can, as long as you can. the team/rider with the most laps completed after 24 hours wins the event. Riders

tackle all kinds of terrain and elevation changes, along with mechanical issues. there are more than 14 classes of riders, with most entries coming from teams. Riders in the ironman class, however, choose to take the challenge by themselves. the event brings in dozens of vendors and hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts from all across the country into chilton county, as it is only one of two events like it in the nation.


Michelle Elmore is an Extension animal scientist at the Chilton Research and Extension Center, where Jim Pitts (opposite page) is director.

Farmers’ friends Center offers many resources

tHorSBy FASt FACtS City hall P.o. Box 608 thorsby, Al 35171

story By StEPHEn dAWKinS PHotos By jon GoErinG


eaches are a way of life for many Chilton County residents. But what happens when the area’s most well-known and important crop suffers from disease—or just doesn’t produce. Fortunately, local farmers have a resource in the Chilton Research and Extension Center. The center, which acts as a field laboratory for scholars at Auburn University, is one of only six of its kind in the state. The center, led by director Jim Pitts, tests different varieties of peaches, plus chemical treatments, to find out what is the most effective approach for farmers. “We’re trying to keep our growers economically viable,” Pitts said. The work is important because growers, able to focus on shortterm sales, don’t have the resources to experiment themselves. Plus, such tests are costly. “It takes a lot of money to do research,” Pitts said. “We’re trying to take the loss—we’d rather it be us than the growers.”

Phone number (205) 646-3575 Fax number (205) 646-2414

An example of the center’s work is its recent participation in a test aimed at combating one of the most destructive diseases for Chilton County’s most famous fruit: peach tree short-life, which causes relatively young trees to collapse and die. The Research and Extension Center helped produce trees that survived short life. “Because of the work we did, they were able to develop trees that weren’t as susceptible to it,” Pitts said. Pitts has been at the center for 30 years. “We’re very grateful to be able to do this kind of work,” he said. There is work other than Pitts’ being done at the center, also. Michelle Elmore has been at the center since 2000 as an Extension animal scientist for the Alabama Beef Cattle Improvement Association.

The BCIA’s mission is to promote, educate and facilitate the use of performance data, recordkeeping and marketing opportunities for BCIA members. Elmore covers the entire state, processing records so her customers can have date about performance, such as weights. “If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” Elmore said. Elmore said the work is so important because profit margins are tight with the rising costs of fuel, feed and fertilizers. The Research and Extension Center hosts the Farm and Home Expo each year, a chance for local residents to gain knowledge about agriculture and related fields they might find useful. The event features fruit tasting, cooking demonstrations, a raptor exhibit, skeet shooting and more. This year’s Expo is scheduled for Aug. 3.

Website www.townofthorsby.com Population 1,820 Land area 5.2 square miles (13.4 square kilometers) Zip code 35171 Elevation 696 feet (212 meters) Mayor Jean nelson (205) 646-2429 town council neil Benson, (205) 646-2936 Marvin crumpton, (205) 6463202 Randall higgins, (205) 2170105 nicole hilyer, (205) 646-2809 Roger Marcus, (205) 646-4841



Helen Jenkins cHaPel



clantonadvertiser.com 38


elen Jenkins chapel, located on concordia Avenue across from thorsby high School is a window to the town’s past. the chapel is named after helen Jenkins, a former principal of thorsby school. Built in 1903 by norwegian lutherans who had been meeting in homes and businesses, the building served as a church until the early 1960s. the last lutheran pastor, however, served until 1911 and the church was sold to the congregational church. local historian Jane Sutlive said many of the original settlers who came to thorsby from the northern u.S. had found life to be more difficult than expected. People came to the area and cleared the land, but many were not farmers and they looked for opportunities elsewhere. As church members dwindled, the lutherans had no choice but to sell the property. “People moved away,” she said. “A lot of their children moved away. they just didn’t have the congregation to keep it up.” the congregational church was a major supporter of thorsby institute, a private school open from 1906 through 1957. Many students and faculty members attended the church, so when the school disbanded the church followed soon thereafter. But the school would ultimately be what helped save the chapel. in the early 1960s the building was sold to the Masons and became the thorsby Masonic lodge. “the Masons had it until they gave it to the town in the late 1980s,” said Sutlive. “the town allowed the board of education to use it as a band room for thorsby high School

until 1997.” the following year, the town formed a committee to restore the structure, which was in despair. “At the time, there weren’t many stained glass windows left,” Sutlive said. Graduates of thorsby institute, along with local busi-

nesses and other generous individuals, raised the money to restore the chapel back to its former glory. For a time in 2012, the chapel looked to be in danger when termite damage was discovered in crucial parts of the building. luckily, the damage wasn’t as extensive as feared,

and the facility is again available to rent for special events. A street clock in honor of former mayor Dearl hilyer was added in front of the chapel in May. hilyer passed away in october 2012, shortly after being re-elected to a second term. FACES And PLACES


tHorsby sweDisH FestiVal


he town of thorsby gets together every october to celebrate its heritage by hosting the annual Swedish Festival. the event is held in october at Richard Wood Park. the all-day festival features numerous activities for the entire family, from parades to the seminars on the town’s history. Richard Wood Park has most

Dr. Douglas C. Clark Dr. Jason K. Dickerson



Dr. Seth Williams

of the activity with arts and crafts booths, food vendors, games and other attractions. An antique car show has been held in previous years, and the beauty pageant takes place on two nights during the week, with the official date to be announced. For more information regarding the event, contact town hall at 646-3575.




Bill rambo, site director for the Alabama Historical Commmission’s Confederate Memorial Park is instrumental in giving an up-close and personal view of the Civil War (opposite page).

Living in the past Rambo, park bring war to life to educate story By EMiLy EtHErEdGE | PHoto By jon GoErinG


ivil War enthusiast Bill Rambo enjoys living for “magic moments.” Although Rambo said the moments rarely come, he experiences them during the times he reenacts a Civil War battle. “A reenactment deals with none of the horrors of war,” Rambo said. “However, you can be in uniform, on the battlefield being immersed with horses, wagons, tents, etc. and look around and for a brief moment feel as if everything is real, and that is a magic moment.” When Rambo isn’t immersed on the battlefield in his Civil War military garb, he can be found as the site director for the Alabama Historical Commission’s Confederate Memorial Park in Verbena. Most days, Rambo oversees the 102-acre park dressed in civilian clothes as he jingles with a key chain attached to his hip making sure everything runs smoothly for visitors to the park. The park, equipped with a museum, research facility, authentic historical structures, ruins and two cemeteries with more than 300 Confederate sol-

diers, attracts guests both locally and from different parts of the country. “We have a lot of visitors that come visit the park throughout the year,” Rambo said. “People enjoy learning about Alabama’s role in the War Between the States and our park covers that,” Rambo said. “This is the only museum that is strictly devoted to the Civil War and the Confederate side.” New additions to the park for 2013 have included a newly built pavilion for family reunions, parties and picnics among the visitors and new visitor signs built along Interstate 65 North and South attracting those traveling to the park. “We were really excited to be able to have the signs attracting visitors who might see them and want to stop and check everything out,” Rambo said. “We also added the phrase ‘Park and Museum’ to show we have something a little bit more than just a park.” Rambo spent two years working with the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) to create the blue attraction signs that will soon have the park’s logo on

the exterior. Another project completed this year included a replica of Civil War barracks built to Civil War standards with nothing visibly electric used to create them and a nature trail with interpretive signs made to educate children on how water was collected during the Civil War time. “All of the additions to the park this year have made everything more user friendly,” Rambo said. “We have seen an increase in visitors this year due to more people wanting to stop by and find out a little bit more about us.” Another event held at the park each year is the Civil War Living History Program for all ages to get an up-close and personal view of the Civil War. Typically, the program is held

for one day in the spring so school children can attend as a field trip with their school. Rambo plans to expand the event for two days for April 4-5 in 2014 to encompass those who might be unable to attend during a school day. “We are going to have a battle on April 5 which will be a lot of fun for those who want to see something like that,” Rambo said. “So many young people don’t know their history and how special this country is and the living history programs allow them to be able to learn something they might not know.” For more information about the park, call 755-1990. Confederate Memorial Park is located at 437 County Road 63 in Verbena. FACES And PLACES


Verbena traDe Day


t was once one of Verbena’s most celebrated events, and current residents and Verbena high School Band Boosters are working to restore it to its former glory. Verbena trade Day was initially created to raise money for the VhS Red Devil Regiment Band while providing the community with an outlet for music, arts and crafts, socializing and sampling foods. Band booster Karen Williams said Verbena trade Day was the event, with vendors and guests filling Magnolia Park. Money raised helps pay for



band equipment, uniforms and transportation to away games.

en Fuego


n Fuego is a large, outdoor christian music festival held every August in chilton county. More than 15,000 people come to a farm in Verbena to enjoy some of the top christian recording artists from around the country. 2013 marks the 17th edition of the event, which started out as a small youth group event. over the years, En Fuego has grown to be one of the biggest christian music festivals in the Southeast. often called “the Woodstock of christian Music,� En Fuego has hosted many acts,

including third Day, Kutless, Pillar and Family Force 5. For those who are unfamiliar, it is held on an inconspicuous hillside along county Road 23 near Verbena. the all-day event is attended by all ages but especially targets student groups. the focal point of En Fuego is the guest speaker, followed by the traditional bonfire En Fuego 2013 will take place Aug. 24 in Verbena. For more information, including directions, complete band lineup and how to volunteer, visit www.enfuegoinfo. com. FACES And PLACES


iMPortant telePHone nuMbers Emergencies: 911 ABc Board: 334-271-3840 Family Planning office: 205-755-6973 American Red cross: 205-755-0707 Family Violence Shelter: 205-263-0218 Appraisers office: 205-755-0160 FBi: 334-263-1691 Auto tag and title: 205-755-1258 Food Stamps: 205-755-0578 Better Business Bureau: 800-824-5274 Forestry commission: 800-242-2504 Board of Education: 205-280-3000 Girl Scouts: 205-646-3938 Board of Registrars: 205-755-3820 health Department: 205-755-1287 Boy Scouts: 800-977-2688 chilton county humane Society: 205-755-9170 Bureau of investigation: 334-242-4372 human Resources: 205-755-3250 child Abuse: 205-755-8633 industrial Development: 205-755-5934 or 205-755-1120 Jail: 205-755-1053 SPAn Program: 205-755-2779 Minooka Park Ranger: 205-755-5952 Poison control: 800-462-0800 consumer Protection: 205-261-7334 Probate Judge: 205-755-1555 council on Aging: 205-755-7817 Social Services: 205-755-8533 Department of human Resources: 205-280-2000 State troopers: 205-755-1120 District Attorney’s office: 205-755-4242 tax Assessor: 205-755-0155 District court: 205-755-7233 District Judge: 205-755-1558 Property tax: 205-755-7228 Driver’s license: 205-755-155 tag Division: 205-755-1258 Emergency Assistance center: 205-755-9467 title and Mfg home: 205-755-7257 Emergency Management Agency: 205-755-0900 Sheriff: 205-755-4698 Engineer: 205-755-0530 unemployment Services: 205-755-6695 Extension System: 205-755-3240 Veteran’s Service: 205-755-2912 chilton/Shelby Mental health: 205-755-5933 Alabama Power company: 205-755-9666 central Alabama Electric: 205-755-6068 chilton county Water Authority: 205-646-3300



E U Q I T U LJ’S BO s m r a F n i b r Du

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