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A complete guide to

Chilton County for visitors, residents and newcomers

a special publication of

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FACES & PLACES 2014 Chilton County.....Jacob Sim (Higgins Ferry Park)...................................................................6 Clanton.................Ocie Williams (American Legion Post 343)...............................................18 Jemison.................Gerald Arrington (Minooka Park)..............................................................26 Maplesville...........Sheila Haigler (Maplesville Baptist Church)..............................................32 Chilton County.....Kelvin Boulware (Verbena High School)...................................................42

ON THE COVER: Sheila Haigler has seen and done much in Maplesville and knows the importance of community.

chilton county

Jacob Sim, originally from Michgian, moved from Illinois in June to take the park ranger position created when long-term park manager Frank Atkinson retired this year.

The Great Outdoors New Higgins Ferry Park ranger seeks improvement story By EMILy EThErEdGE | PHoto By JOn GOErInG


acob Sim loves spending time outdoors. It was part of this love that made him decide to apply for the park ranger position at Higgins Ferry Park. “When I heard about the position, I was looking for something that I could work on marketing and planning and spend a lot of time outdoors,” Sim said. “I saw this job, and it seemed perfect for what I was wanting to do.” Sim, originally from Michigan, moved from Illinois in June to take the park ranger position created when long-time park manager Frank Atkinson retired this year. Sim will now work at Higgins Ferry Park alongside Chilton County Parks and Recreation Manager Gerald Arrington. “I will basically make sure the park is kept up and looking nice,” Sim said. “The goal is to have people visit, enjoy their visit, and want to come back.” Higgins Ferry Park is located just off Interstate 65 about 10 miles east of the city of Clanton. Lake Mitchell is a 5,850-acre impoundment on the Coosa River

with 147 miles of shoreline. The 25-acres of Higgins Ferry Park is owned by Alabama Power. There are 24 full hookup RV campsites at the campground, and four RV sites with water and power, which is the responsibility of the county to maintain. Another area at the park is the John Trobaugh Pavilion that is the site of River Church. River Church begins Memorial Day weekend and continues every Sunday morning through Labor Day. The John Trobaugh Pavilion at Higgins Ferry Park serves as the venue for the services, which started about 40 years ago. The pavilion bears the name of the service’s late founder. The pavilion can be rented for things such as family reunions, class reunions and fishing tournaments. On any given weekend at the park, there can be around 150175 boats on the water. The park features a playground for children and a 4-to-6-foot swimming area for everyone to enjoy.

Large bass tournaments are held on Saturdays, which is one of the busiest times on the lake. The park requires campers to make reservations because there is a limited amount of space, and offers full service electric hookups for RVs, along with spots for primitive tent camping. Renovations have been made to the park over the years, including the repaving of the boat launch and parking lot. Sim said one goal he has is to make sure the park is clean by cutting the grass, cleaning up areas by the “beach” and making sure the restrooms stay clean. “I am also going to try to market the park through a website and Facebook,” Sim said. “We have plenty of guests in the summertime, but we would like to keep them coming back in the fall and spring.” Sim graduated with a Bachelor of Science in parks and recreation and an associate’s degree in natural resource technology from Lake Superior State University. Sim said when he graduated from college it was a dream of his to see the country and work in different recreation fields. “I worked for the Yellowstone Co-Op Rec. Program, which is a park and recreation program for staff who live and work in Yellowstone National Park,” Sim said. “We would lead employees on hikes and stuff in

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 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 Joseph Parnell (205) 688-6991 heedy hayes (205) 288-8127 Greg Moore (205) 351-1266 Shannon Welch (205) 287-1412 FACES And PLACES


‘the goal is to have people visit, enjoy their visit and want to come back.’ –Jacob Sim Yellowstone, which was a lot of fun.” Sim moved for a short time to Alabama and then moved to Illinois before deciding to return to Alabama. “I knew someone who lived on Lake Mitchell, but I had never been down to Higgins Ferry Park,” Sim said. “I saw the job, and it was something that really interested me. I came down to Alabama and Gerald took me around. I just really liked the area and thought Gerald had a lot of great ideas so I applied for the job, and now I am here.” Although Sim is still learning about his new role as park ranger, he said everyone has been nice and



welcoming to him during his time on the job. “The biggest thing I have enjoyed is meeting different people,” Sim said. “Everyone is so nice. I have also enjoyed working with Gerald. I think he has a lot of ideas for how to grow the park and keep people coming back. There is a lot to do and we both know that. We also know that it will take some time to get some of the goals we have in place accomplished, but it is very encouraging to do little things such as cut the grass and have someone come up and tell me they really appreciate the grass being cut. I have honestly loved every part of it so far.”

July Fourth celebrations


ach year, chilton county hosts several events to ring in America’s birthday. clanton’s annual fireworks show is held around the Fourth of July. For more information, contact city hall at 205-755-1105. the town of thorsby also holds an annual celebration. Each year , the event was held at Richard Wood Memorial Park and was filled with music 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 with lake Mitchell hoBo at jmac51@bellsouth. net.

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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, politicians, children, flashy vehicles and lots of candy. clanton’s christmas Parade is sponsored by the Rotary club of chilton county, and 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 2014 has yet to be announced, but typically

features the Swedish Queens and the thorsby high band.

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 high-spirited 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



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. Veteran Morris Price is credited 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 Veterans of Foreign Wars, American legion and Disabled American Veterans Associations. Every Memorial Day, each name is read aloud as a crowd of citizens gathers to pay tribute to the 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, including a fishing



tournament, 5k run, cook-off, 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 2014, the entry fee was $100 per boat, including $10 for a “big fish” contest. First-place prize was up to $1,000, second-place prize

was up to $500, and thirdplace prize was up to $250. For more information, contact Rotary members carl Mims at (205)646-2641 or Jimmy Smith at 205-3324672.

260 Health Center Drive, Clanton, AL 35045 • 205-280-1080 Mon. - Fri. 8 - 5 • Most major insurance accepted • FACES And PLACES


Peach run

the annual Peach Run is sponsored by cornerstone Fitness & Wellness in clanton. in 2014, the Peach Run was held Saturday, June 14. there is 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 205-2806450.

Peach Cook-Off

the annual Peach cook-off is held at thorsby First Baptist church. it is sponsored by the Alabama cooperative Extension chilton county office, chilton county Farmers Federation Women’s committee and the clanton



lions club. the contest includes all kinds of dishes-and 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 205-2806268.

Miss Peach Pageants

there are four categories in the Miss Peach Pageants: little Miss (ages 5-7), young Miss (8-11), Junior Miss (12-14) and Miss (15-18). the pageants are always on Saturday, Monday, tuesday and thursday night during the Peach Festival. 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 2014, Valley Road Bluegrass 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 Brittani Ellison 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 205-7551194.

Peach Auction

the Peach Auction is at Jack hayes Field in clanton city Park, and always directly follows the Peach Parade. last year’s event raised more than $16,000. 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.

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Ocie Williams lived in north Carolina for six years after retiring from military service, but it was ultimately his sister’s “old-fashioned” cooking that brought him back to Clanton.

Glad to be back home Williams proud of his country, state and city story By STEPhEn dAWkInS | PHoto By JOn GOErInG


cie Williams knows there’s no place like home. Born and raised in Chilton County, Williams realized just how much he loved his home when he left. Williams, 69, lived in North Carolina for six years after he first retired from the military, in 1984. “It wasn’t nothing like home,” Williams said. “It never got out of my mind. Like they used to say: Chilton County is a good place to visit but a better place to live.” Williams came home to visit once and his sister cooked up one of those “old-fashioned dinners” he loved so well: fried chicken, meatloaf, black-eyed peas, cornbread and lemon meringue pie. “I knew I was coming home,” Williams said. Williams started his career in the Army being stationed at Fort Devens, Mass., “a country boy in all that snow,” he said. Afterward, there were stops in Bangor, Maine, Fort Dix in New Jersey, Fort Jackson in South Carolina, Germany, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Fort Sill in Oklahoma and Fort Benning

in Georgia. “Then one day, I decided to hang up my rock ‘n’ roll shoes,” Williams laughs. He retired as a sergeant first class, but his military connections don’t end there. Williams has two sons serving their country: 38-year-old Andrew William is a major, and 30-year-old Ocie Williams Jr. is a staff sergeant first class. When he returned to Chilton County, Ocie Williams Sr. became involved with American Legion Post 343, eventually rising to post commander. He has also been vice-commander and commander of American Legion 23rd District of Alabama. Williams has been secretary of Area 11 of Community Action and trustee of Union Baptist Church. He also founded Concerned Citizens of Chilton County.

Williams thought there were people that needed help. “We were seeing a great deal of problems in the community, and it’s problems that needed to be addressed,” Williams said. “People didn’t know how to present themselves in court. We had problems with people raising kids—how to show them love.” Along with another group, the West End Neighborhood Watch, Williams said he’s proud of the progress that has been made. “We’ve made a large improvement in the community,” Williams said, adding that Concerned Citizens has provided college scholarships for 12 local students. For Williams, there’s no better place than the United States, Alabama and Chilton County. He doesn’t want to be anywhere else. “I love the people of Chilton County and what they have encouraged and helped me to do,” Williams said. “I love the state of Alabama and the United States--there’s no greater country in the world. This is home.”

‘Like they used to say: Chilton County is a good place to visit but a better place to live.’ –dr. Curtis Baker

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 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 the AEMA, visit, and for the chilton county EMA, visit www.



chilton county extension


he chilton county Extension office serves as the county’s branch of the Alabama cooperative Extension System, which connects Alabamians on the significant issues the state is facing at any given time. the AcES recently celebrated its centennial, and was granted a commendation document on May 8, 2014, recognizing the important role that the AcES has played in Alabama over the past 100 years. the system’s mission inlcudes 4-h and youth development, economic and community

development, food safety and preservation, animal science, farm management, forestry and nutrition. chilton county’s office offers several programs throughout the year, including canning workshops, gardening classes, youth outdoor adventure camps and volunteer opportunities. For more information on the Alabama cooperative Extension System, visit www. For more information on the chilton county Extension office, contact county Extension coordinator Gay West at 205-280-6268.

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. it is an annual tradition 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. 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. FACES And PLACES


stoPs along interstate 65


hilton county has several attractions located right off exits 205 or 208. For years, people traveling to and from beaches on the Gulf coast have been stopping off i-65 to enjoy the delicious summer treats at Durbin Farms Market, Peach Park, todd’s Produce and heaton Pecan Farm.

durbin Farms Market

Danny Jones bought Durbin Farms Market in 2005. located off Exit 205, Durbin’s seated 54 people at the time, but now seats about 200. Durbin Farms Market specializes in peach pecan ice cream, and averages 180-200 gallons of ice cream sold per day during busy weekends in the summer. Durbin’s began as a seasonal fruit market located off highway 31 in clanton, and now features a sandwich shop, fruits and vegetables 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 is closed only two days a year. For more information, contact Durbin Farms Market at 205-755-1672.

Peach Park

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. the park is located off Exit 205, and includes a fruit market with homemade peach ice cream, homemade cobbler, fried pies and a gift shop. Peach Park has added a garden area with a walking path, a food menu featuring



barbecue and a playground. Peach Park is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. For more information, contact Peach Park at 205755-2065.

Todd’s Produce

located off Exit 205, todd’s Produce offers fresh fruits and vegetables, an ice cream parlor and a new children’s boutique. Founded in 1988, owners hal and Dordie hayes named the stand after their son, todd hayes. in addition to fresh produce and ice cream, todd’s specializes in peach bread and peach preserves. todd’s “Sweet as a Peach Boutique” is located inside of todd’s Produce, and features clothing for infants, toddlers, and young children up to size 7. For more information, call todd’s Produce at 205-755-


heaton Pecan Farm

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, 12 years 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 pre-roasted 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, peanut 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 delistyle sandwiches. other favorites include their pecan chicken salad plates and homemade cakes. in addition to sweets and lunch, heaton also sells gifts, home d√©cor, jewelry and other items. For more information, call 800-446-3531 or visit www.

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Gerald Arrington previously served as park manager for Minooka Park in Jemison before receiving the promotion to parks and recreation director in May.

natural resources Arrington takes on new role for county parks story By EMILy EThErEdGE | PHoto By JOn GOErInG


s Gerald Arrington, the new director of parks and recreation in Chilton County, drives into Higgins Ferry Park or Minooka Park in Jemison, he likes to imagine that he is seeing the parks for the first time. “I kind of like to imagine that it is the first time I am getting to see the parks,” Arrington said. “I think about what kind of impression it would make on me, and there are times I don’t always like what I see. It gives me motivation to make those changes, though.” Arrington previously served as park manager for Minooka Park in Jemison before receiving the promotion to parks and recreation director in May. Now, Arrington oversees daily operations at both parks, working alongside the two park rangers, Jacob Sim at Higgins Ferry Park and Randall Bice at Minooka Park. “The biggest part of my job is increasing revenue at both parks,” Arrington said. “I try to come up with different ideas for events to have at the parks that can bring in more revenue for the county.”

Arrington also hopes to continue applying for various grants such as the $96,000 grant awarded to Minooka Park in February by Gov. Robert Bentley. The grant would enable the park to expand and offer a broader ranger of accommodations for off-road motor vehicles and other trail-related activities. The plan for the grant is to purchase 40 acres adjacent to its existing 300-acre park near Jemison. The expansion would enable the county-owned park to provide more trails, including some designed for beginners and younger riders of off-road vehicles. Arrington applied for the grant in 2013 and said the money would allow the park to have some beginner trails. “We don’t really have a lot to offer as far as beginner trails,” Arrington said. “I would say that I get a call probably once a week from people asking about beginner trails. People want to know if we have something suitable for kids, and right now we don’t have that much. The wheels are already turning as far as getting everything ready

for that. We are in the process of getting appraisals done to purchase adjoining property.” Still under development, Minooka Park opened in March 2007 offering trails for all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles. Hiking is also allowed in some areas. The park includes a lake and areas for primitive and recreational vehicle camping. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) administered the recreational trails grant from funds made available to the state by the Federal Highway Administration. The program funds trails and related amenities for walking and hiking, bicycling, boating and paddling, and other activities. Local governments and nonprofit groups that receive recreational trail grants are required to supply support equal to at least 20 percent of the grant. Another goal Arrington hopes to accomplish is improving the docks at Higgins Ferry Park. “I have talked and listened with a lot of people since Higgins Ferry Park became part of my responsibility, and one of the biggest suggestions I hear is people want the docks to be improved,” Arrington said. “That is one of the biggest things is improving those docks, and we definitely recognize that need and hope to do it in the near future.”

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 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


‘I kind of like to imagine that it is the first time I am getting to see the parks.’ –Gerald Arrington Arrington said both Minooka Park and Higgins Ferry Park are unique parks that should stand out to people. “Our parks have so much to offer,” Arrington said. “At Minooka, there are not many parks in the state where you can go camp in an RV campground and bring your 4-wheelers and dirt bikes. Most campgrounds, if you show up with an ATV, they will tell you, you have to keep it parked, but we encourage it at our park.” Arrington said one of the perks at Higgins Ferry is the location on a “beautiful lake” and easy accessibility to Interstate 65. “It is so accessible to be able to come and enjoy the lake,”



Arrington said. “I think being eight miles off the interstate will help us. You want new customers to eventually be old customers and not a one-time customer.” The ultimate goal for Arrington is to create an atmosphere at both parks where people want to come and bring their families. “Everything we do, we want the parks in our county to be a place where people want to come and bring their families and have a good time,” Arrington said. “That is something we are always talking about, and we don’t want anything to deter from that. We want to create a good impression for people so they decide to come back.”

J Petals From the Past


etals from the Past is a nursery in Jemison that specializes in heirloom plants. they also have a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. their plant inventory includes antique roses, perennial flowers, herbs, fig trees, citrus trees and many more.

the nursery also holds regular events, including herb cooking classes, tomato contests, and gardening workshops For more information on Petals from the Past, call 205646-0069 or visit their website at FACES And PLACES


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 familybuilt 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 205-688-4648 or visit their website at www.

lake mitchell


ake Mitchell is a component of the coosa River that lies 10 miles east of clanton. the 5,850-acre lake averages 29 feet in depth and includes 147 miles of shoreline. Alabama Power constructed lay Dam in 1923 to provide flood control and

hydroelectricity to central Alabama. Since then, lake Mitchell has become a source of recreation with attractions such as boating, swimming, and fishing. the lake supports high densities of sport fish, such as largemouth bass, spotted bass, bluegill, crappie,

catfish, walleye, striped bass, hybrid, and white bass. the lay Dam tailwater area at the upper end of the lake is a popular recreational area for fishermen. the Marina restaurant offers food seasonally, and specializes in crawfish, gumbo and barbecue.

the higgins Ferry boat launch is open to the public, and can be accessed by taking the lake Mitchell exit off i-65, and taking county Road 28 until it dead-ends at higgins Ferry Park.




Sheila Haigler has lived in Maplesville for nearly 48 years, dating back to helping her parents at their Triangle Cafe.

Power of community Haigler becomes integral part of her hometown story By EMILy BECkETT | PHoto By JOn GOErInG


heila Haigler is proud to call Maplesville her hometown. Haigler has lived in the small community west of Clanton for nearly 48 years, witnessing its growth and economic progression throughout different phases of her life and work. “I wasn’t born here, but I have lived the majority of my life in Maplesville,” Haigler said. Over the years, Haigler, 55, has seen the town undergo changes in population, industry and infrastructure. When she was a child, Haigler said she remembers the majority of businesses being familyowned and operated. “Now, it’s more commercial,” she said. “There are still a lot of family-owned businesses. It used to be individuals had their own service stations and stuff like that.” Haigler’s parents owned a café called Triangle Café across from the historic Foshee house on Alabama Highway 22 when she was a child. She said she would help her mother at the café before and after school with tasks like mopping the floors.

According to Haigler, the town’s primary business district comprised Main Street and an adjoining street until businesses began migrating toward the intersection of Main Street (also known as Alabama Highway 22) and U.S. Highway 82. “All the businesses and everything were right in a central location, where the town hall is on Main Street,” Haigler said. “But as the years have gone by, businesses have moved toward the 82-22 intersection.” Haigler attributed the gradual shift partially to businesses needing more building space and accessibility with customer parking, which were hard to come by along Main Street in downtown Maplesville. “There was nowhere to grow right here,” Haigler said. Haigler said U.S. Highway 82 receives much traffic, especially during football season, with people from the Montgomery area traveling to Alabama and Auburn games in Tuscaloosa and Auburn, respectively. “On a Saturday, in season, you can hardly get on 82 because of game traffic,” Haigler said. “That’s where the majority of

people are coming through.” Haigler cited Maplesville’s project to extend the town’s sewer system to the intersection of U.S. Highway 82 and Alabama Highway 22 and beyond as the key to furthering the town’s business and industry. “That’s the reason the sewer project is so very important,” Haigler said. “Maplesville will not grow until there is sewer out there. They’ve got to have that sewer. That’s one of the things the town is really looking to do.” Along with business and industry growth, Haigler noted the overall change of pace in people’s lives. “I remember when businesses didn’t open on Sunday,” Haigler said. “Everything was closed. That was church time and family time. You enjoyed your family, and you didn’t go anywhere.” Another change Haigler noted was that more people are moving away from communities like Maplesville to larger cities. “People, the younger adults, are not living here,” she said. “They’re moving to larger cities because that’s where work is taking them, and I understand that. The population is going up a little bit, but they’re just not staying and continuing to live in the community like they used to.” According to Haigler, the closing of Gulf States Paper Corporation (where South Coast Paper is now) displaced many people.

MAPLESVILLE FAST FACTS City hall P.o. Box 9 Maplesville, Al 36750 Phone number (334) 366-4212 Fax number (334) 366-4210 Email 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 FACES And PLACES


‘When things happen, your community is here to support –Sheila haigler you.’ “They employed 300-plus people,” she said. “A lot of those people had to go outside of Maplesville to get a job. I’ve always had a job right here at home, so I imagine that was a big change.” When she was about 21 years old, Haigler worked as a receptionist and orders clerk at a garment plant called Maple Tree. Haigler is married to David Haigler, a lifelong Maplesville resident. The two have been married for 36 years and have two children, Christopher and Christy. When her son was in kindergarten, Haigler started substituting at Maplesville High School and eventually was hired full-time as a lunchroom assistant for 10 years and then as lunchroom manager for six years. After retiring and spending a few months at home, Haigler got restless and decided to work again. She found out Maplesville’s town clerk position was open, applied for it and was hired. Haigler served as town clerk for more than nine years. She retired in March with hopes of giving herself a chance to fully recuperate from chemotherapy and radiation treatments after being diagnosed with cancer in December 2012. Haigler recently found a new job opportunity, albeit part-time with more flexibility in hours. She is the church secretary at Maplesville Baptist Church, which is right across the street from her former stomping grounds at town hall in the heart of the downtown district. “In April, our church secretary took a job in Bay Minette, so that position was open, and I applied for it and got it,” Haigler said. “I knew that by wintertime, I can’t stay in the house all the time. God just opened that door, and it just worked out perfectly.” When she was town clerk, Haigler said she often used the church as a landmark for people who needed directions to town hall. “We’re a small town, but having the church right in the center of town, we hope that would speak to people that the center of town would be a Christian influence on the people—that it would be a lighthouse, so to speak,” she said. Haigler said Maplesville Community Park on Shanks Drive has been a hub for residents of all ages to socialize and spend quality time together. Directly behind the park’s walking trail is Maplesville’s birding trail. A birding trail sign from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System is located across from the park on Shanks Drive. “When that park first opened, you got out to support families,” she said. “It was a very positive thing for the community that kids had things to do. It brought the community together.” Haigler said one thing about Maplesville that has never changed over the years is the sense of community in good and bad times. The tornado that hit Maplesville on Jan. 23, 2012 highlighted the town’s neighborly atmosphere among residents. “When you have deaths in the family and tragedies, people are there for you, but I think the tornado really opened people’s eyes,” Haigler said. “Everybody was there to help. It was an amazing thing.” Haigler said her community was a backbone of support for her as she battled cancer last year. “When I was diagnosed with cancer, I would get cards and see people I didn’t think knew me that well,” she said. “When things happen, your community is here to support you. Maplesville is just a sweet and loving town.”

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.

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 12 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. Society members 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.

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 initiative. one of the group’s first



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 fifth annual heritage Day was held April 12.



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 Dawn Smitherman at 334-366-4211.

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.


helen Jenkins chaPel


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. 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.

ThOrSBy FAST FACTS “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 businesses and other generous individuals, raised the money to restore the chapel back to its former glory. 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.

City hall P.o. Box 608 thorsby, Al 35171 Phone number (205) 6463575 Fax number (205) 6462414 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) 6462429 Town council neil Benson, (205) 6462936 Marvin crumpton, (205) 6463202 Randall higgins, (205) 217-0105 nicole hilyer, (205) 6462809 Glenn littleton, (205) 6463638



swedish FestiVal


he town of thorsby gets together every october to celebrate its heritage by hosting the annual Swedish Festival. the event will be held october 11, 2014, at Richard Wood Park. the festival features numerous activities for the entire family, including a parade and 5K Viking Run. Richard Wood Park has most 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 thorsby town hall at 205646-3575.

scandinaVian cemetery


he Scandinavian cemetery in thorsby came into existence when Swedish lutheran church members bought



the land in the late 1800s. two founders of thorsby, t.t. thorson and J.F. Peterson, have several relatives buried in the Scandinavian

cemetery, formerly known as the concordia lutheran cemetery. in 2009, the cemetery was added to the Alabama historical

commission’s Alabama historical cemetery Registry.

205.755.5747 Peach Living, P.O. Box 1379, Clanton, AL 35046

chilton county

Verbena Principal Kelvin Boulware is originally from Clanton but quickly realized the ownership Verbena residents claim in their school.

School caretaker Principal knows school’s importance to community


story and PHoto By EMILy BECkETT

erbena High School Principal Kelvin Boulware sees his school as a “centerpiece” of the community. “The school is one of the foundations of the community,” he said. “We’re trying to produce graduates of Verbena High School who will in turn find employment in the community or the area and keep our school growing.” Boulware is entering his second year as principal at VHS, where many students continue family traditions of attending and graduating from the K-12 school. “A lot of our students’ parents actually attended Verbena,” Boulware said. “It’s steeped in tradition here because of that.” Originally from Clanton, Boulware was familiar with Verbena before taking the job because of friendships he had made with residents over the years. “I felt like I had pretty good knowledge of everything with knowing so many people in Verbena,” he said. “I had tre-

mendous respect for their sports traditions. I knew that the community had a tremendous amount of pride in this school here.” According to an article about VHS in the school’s archives, Verbena High School could be the oldest school building in the county. The building was constructed between 1925 and 1926, and the community donated the money for the building, the article said. “The outside of the building is rock collected from Chestnut Creek and Knight’s Ferry Road,” the article said. “Jeff Griffin, Verbena, did the rock masonry work.” Before taking the job as principal, Boulware sensed a high level of involvement among Verbena residents at the school as well as local churches. “I knew it was a very active community with the churches,” he said. “I knew the school was very active, too, just by seeing things in the paper and talking to people.” Community members’ kindness and willingness to work was also evident to Boulware

before he became principal. “The people are very helpful and friendly,” he said. “Most of them are willing to help out a lot of different ways. Just call them and they’re here to help us.” Boulware said alumni contact the school on a regular basis and sometimes stop by for a tour of the school. “I get calls from alumni who attended Verbena in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s,” he said. “They just want to touch base with me and see how things are going. I had someone come back here from the ’40s and tour the school with me.” Alumni also flock to athletic events at the school, cheering on the school’s various teams, including football, baseball and basketball. “We have a lot of alumni show up to see the games, and they don’t have any children playing,” Boulware said. Many current students’ parents are employed at nearby corporations, such as KMA and Johnson Controls Inc., and many work in farming, Boulware said. Students returning to the community or somewhere else in the county after high school or college is not uncommon, he said. “We have a very large number of our students stay in Chilton County after they finish school. Even when they come back from college, they typically stay in the

area,” Boulware said. The school has nearly 50 employees. Student enrollment is expected to be about 615 this year, Boulware said. “We’re anticipating 45 graduates,” he said, adding that the school had 31 graduates in 2014. “We’ve experienced growth in our student enrollment, but I think we will enroll more students as our economy grows.” Boulware praised the VHS faculty and staff for preparing students for the future. “I can’t say enough good things about them,” he said. “Our faculty and staff really make this school successful. I think that is a critical point of a school’s success.” Boulware and his family live in Clanton. His wife, Kim, teaches in Coosa County and at Jefferson State Community College in Clanton. They have two sons, Russell and Perry. After spending the majority of his waking hours at VHS this year, Boulware knows his perception of the school being a fundamental part of the community in the past was, and continues to be, accurate. “This was pretty much the center of the community,” Boulware said of the school. “I still think it is—it and the churches.” FACES And PLACES


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.



2014 marks the 18th 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 2014 will take place Aug. 23 in Verbena. For more information, including directions, complete band lineup and how to volunteer, visit www.

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.

conFederate memorial Park


he Alabama historical commission’s confederate Memorial Park near Verbena equips a museum, research facility, authentic historical structures, ruins and two cemeteries with more than 300 confederate soldiers. the 102-acre park hosts both local guests and tourists, and has the only museum in Alabama that is strictly devoted to the civil War. new additions to the park include a pavilion for visitor use, signs built along interstate 65 north and South attracting tourists, a replica of civil War barracks and a nature trail. the park hosts an annual battle in April to offer an up-

close and personal view of the civil War. confederate Memorial Park is located at 437 county Road 63 near Verbena. For more information about the park, call 205-755-1990. Dr. Douglas C. Clark Dr. Jason K. Dickerson

Dr. Seth Williams



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



Faces & Places 2014  

A complete guide to Chilton County for visitors, residents and newcomers

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