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2008-2009 EDITION


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Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009


Strong...Safe...Secure...

Your Community Bank Since 1949 For over 60 years we’ve been providing financing for homeowners throughout the Coosa Valley area. And today, SouthFirst Bank offers customer friendly banking services for all your needs. You can count on us to be here down the road. SouthFirst Bank, your community bank...strong, safe, and secure.

DOWNTOWN SYLACAUGA Lobby Hours: 8:30 to 5:00 Monday-Friday Closed Saturday

126 North Norton Ave.

Tel. 245-4365

Branches in Talladega & Clanton

www.southfirst.com Member

FDIC

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

Drive Thru Hours: 7:30 to 5:30 Monday-Thursday Til 6:00 Friday Til Noon Saturday 227097

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Sylacauga Magazine 2008-2009 A product of the Sylacauga Chamber of Commerce Table of Contents

Quality of Life............................................ 6 The Chamber of Commerce..................... 16 Blue Bell corporate citizen....................... 22 Bringing tourism to town.......................... 30 Fueling economic success......................... 32 The Marble City........................................ 34 Revitalizing downtown............................. 37 Health care in Sylacauga.......................... 38 Parks: Playing in the fast lane.................. 42 The Arts: Culture and Class...................... 50 The treasure of Comer Library................. 54 On the cutting edge of education ������������� 56 Faith in Sylacauga..................................... 60 Recreation for all ages.............................. 63 Profiles in community spirit..................... 66 4

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

Staff Editor

Carol Pappas Design Editor

Graham Hadley

Advertising Director

Pam Adamson Photographers

Bob Crisp, Brian Schoenhals, Jerry Martin Writers

Denise Sinclair, Kendra Carter, Katherine Poythress, Brandon Fincher, Antrenise Cole Published by The Daily Home in partnership with the Sylacauga Chamber of Commerce 17 W. Fort Williams St, Sylacauga, AL 256-249-0308 www.sylacaugachamber.com


Sylacauga:

What a name! What a town!

One of the South’s best kept secrets is Sylacauga, Alabama, where opportunities abound and the welcome mat is rolled out to one and all. From its state-of-the-art medical facilities to its top-notch education systems, from its national ranking as a top community for young people to its quality of life, Sylacauga is indeed a special place to all who call it home. It is said that its people are the city’s greatest asset, and in the pages that follow, that recurring theme will be evident. There is a community spirit that abounds here that sets the city apart. It is an ideal place to live, work and raise a family. And it is a city full of visionaries who see the future and embrace it with new ideas and new ways to move it forward. Sylacauga is truly a city on the move. Come inside this magazine and see what we mean. Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

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SYLACAUGA Where quality of life takes center stage

The new look of Broadway through downtown Sylacauga

Story by Kendra Carter Photos by Bob Crisp and Brian Schoenhals

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When the America’s Promise Alliance announced its selections for the 100 Best Communities for Young People, the City of Sylacauga was named for the third year in a row, a distinction only 44 other communities across the nation have earned. “We are thrilled to be a third-time winner,” said Margaret Morton, executive director of the Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement and chairwoman of the Sylacauga Promise Committee. “This is a tremendous honor for our community, and it means that other communities look to us as having solutions and to assure that all children in our community have access to the Five Promises.” The top 100 were selected by the alliance in recognition of the efforts to make young people the city or town’s top priority and

keeping with the Five Promises, designed to ensure healthy, successful and productive lives for the nation’s youths. The Five Promises for children are caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, an effective education and opportunities to help others. The City of Sylacauga certainly has the opportunities and resources, such as SAFE, the B.B. Comer Memorial Library and the Sylacauga City School System, to provide an impressive quality of life for the community’s youth. But don’t be fooled; the city boasts the quality of life available for residents of all ages. With six parks scattered across the city, lecture and story programs provided by the local library, thriving downtown shopping

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009


and an active senior center, the city has a little something for everyone. Mayor Sam Wright said having good quality of life means different things for different people. “For me, it means that Sylacauga would have … not the same things as others, necessarily, but have things nice,” Wright said. “We make it to where people want to go to our parks, walking tracks and downtown and have people decide Sylacauga is where they want to live and raise a family.” Wright said factors like having a good school system and an abundance of churches also help the area. “I know we don’t take a backseat to anybody with our programs and our department heads. You always want to have a good police department, you always want to have a good fire department (because) that’s part of the quality of life, too,” Wright said. For him, living in Sylacauga is made better by the people who live here. “I like our citizens,” he said. “Being here as long as I have and working here, I think overall it’s the spirit and cooperation of our people.” Listed below is information about people, programs and organizations that make Sylacauga a special place to be. Look for more throughout your copy of Sylacauga Magazine.

Alabama’s First Lady Patsy Riley speaks when Sylacauga is named one of the best places in the country for young people.

SAFE is an integral part of helping children and families in the area.

S.A.F.E.

The Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement Inc. is a community-based, nonprofit organization that aims to provide opportunities for adults and children to promote well-being across the community. SAFE’s mission statement is, “All families have the right to thrive,” and the organization meets its goals by providing community-based, pro-family social services through community contacts. The organization puts emphasis on families to give children in Sylacauga the tools and opportunities they need to succeed and choose a healthy lifestyle. SAFE offers classes in life skills, healthy marriage, fatherhood and adult education, as well as after-school programs for students and the Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY). SAFE also sponsors annual community events like Sylacauga Promise Day, the biggest ball drop fundraiser and the community Thanksgiving dinner. The organization, which was officially formed in 1997, is a member of the Alabama Network of Family Resource Centers and is funded through the Alabama Department of Education, the Sylacauga City Schools, the Talladega County Department of Human Resources, and other organizations, as well as through grants. Margaret Morton is the executive director.

Continued on Page 8 Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

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Quality of life Leadership Sylacauga helps bring people together to strengthen the community here.

To learn more about SAFE or take advantage of the 23 educational opportunities it has to offer, contact SAFE’s office by calling 256-245-4343.

Leadership Sylacauga

Leadership Sylacauga is a communitywide class designed to educate leaders and potential leaders by increasing awareness of current events in the area and developing leadership skills. The goal of the class is to build and enhance leadership skills, as well as increasing the effectiveness of leadership and influencing change in the community though volunteer work.

SAFE

Participants are selected through an application process, and the applications are available to residents and workers in the Sylacauga area who believe their leadership skills could benefit from the class. Thirty applicants are selected for each year’s class, and tuition for the program, sponsored by the Sylacauga Chamber of Commerce, is charged for each student. From the kick-off retreat in September until the following May, participants dedicate the second Thursday of each month to the classes, each of which examines different aspects of the community – from law and city government to health care, media and industrial relations. Presentations from representatives in each field of study are the resources for the course’s probe Tommy & Donna Hebson Owners

Palace Drug Company Established 1896

Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement 227277

78 Betsy Ross Lane / PO Box 1122 Sylacauga, Alabama 35150

visit our website at: www.safefamilyservicescenter.com

OFFICE: 256-245-4343

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Brenda Hebson Hope Gift Buyer

FAX: 256-245-3675

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

216 North Broadway Sylacauga, AL 35150 Phone (256) 245-4381 Fax (256) 245-4383

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Quality of life into the community. In addition to attending classes, the students are required to participate in outside activities and volunteer work. Since the class was developed in 1991, Leadership Sylacauga has had a total of 291 graduates. For more information about the Leadership Sylacauga Program, contact the Sylacauga Chamber of Commerce by calling 256-249-0308.

Sylacauga Rotary recently helped promote reading at Comer Library.

Sylacauga City Schools Foundation

The Sylacauga City Schools Foundation began in 1988 when a group of local citizens banded together to offer students in the city school system the same opportunities as students in wealthier school districts. Local businesses, industries and individuals can make tax-deductible donations to the IRS-approved charitable foundation, which are invested interestgenerating accounts by the foundation’s Board of Directors. The goal of the 21-member board is to donate the interest generated from those accounts to the school system to provide programs above those funded by the State Board of Education. From maintaining more than $1 million in invest-

Continued on Page 10 CONNIE P. JOINER Broker / Owner

(256) 872-6303 Cell conniepjoiner@gmail.com PERRY ANDREWS

Clothier & Antiques

Realtor

214 North Broadway Avenue Sylacauga, AL 35150

(256) 249-8550 Business (256) 249-8390 Fax 124 North Broadway Ave. Sylacauga, AL 35150

(256) 245-1900 228080

(256) 404-1651 Cell prryandrews@yahoo.com

www.coldwellbankeradvanceonerealestate.com Each office is independtly owned and operated

Serving the community for 40 years!

PLUMBING

Julius Anderson Sr. Business Owner cell: 256-404-8335 home: 256-249-0563

P.O. Box 1168 • 36280 U.S. Hwy. 280 Sylacauga, AL 35150 227286

Comfort-Trust-Efficiency

PUMP REPLACEMENT PARTS ALLOY & STAINLESS CASTINGS

BILLY T. BOBBIT President

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

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ANDERSON

SOUTHERN ALLOY CORPORATION

Office 256-245-5237 • Fax 256-245-4992 Cell: 256-404-0409 • Home: 256-249-8696

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Quality of life Kiwanis is another club that makes Sylacauga a better place to live.

ments, the foundation has been fortunate enough to provide more than $400,000 in grants to Sylacauga city schools. To contact the school foundation, call the Sylacauga Board of Education at 256-245-5256.

Civic Clubs

Service clubs are vital to the quality of life of the city and are at the heart of many good works throughout Sylacauga. Kiwanis and Rotary are two examples of civic clubs that make a tremendous difference in the city. The Sylacauga Kiwanis Club meets every Tuesday evening at 5:30 inside the Coosa Valley Medical Center conference room, located adjacent to the Hickory Street Café. The organization is preparing for upcoming service projects taking course over the next few months. Kiwanis members work with the Boy’s Club preparing Christmas baskets and the Reading is Fundamental program, where club members read to children at day care centers in town to promote reading. Kiwanis also supports summer reading programs at the Comer Library, as well as the Comer Museum and the Care House. The Sylacauga Rotary Club strives to achieve club, vocational, community and international service, in keeping with

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the club’s motto: Service Above Self. As an international effort, the club is now collecting used cell phones to raise funds for a water project in Africa. The Rotary Club meets Tuesday at noon inside the conference room at CVMC. Both civic groups sponsor their high school equivalent organizations through the city and county schools in the area. Rotary Club sponsors Interact Club at Sylacauga High School, while the Kiwanis Club sponsors Key Club at both Comer High School and SHS, as well as the Builder’s Club at Nichols-Lawson Middle School

Habitat for Humanity

The Sylacauga Area Habitat for Humanity dedicated its ninth house in August 2008. The volunteer-based organization was incorporated in 1996 and became affiliated with Habitat for Humanity International in 1997. The group built and dedicated its first house in 1998. Applications for the 2009 home were submitted in September, and the organization’s selection committee will choose the recipient of this year’s home based on those appli-

Continued on Page 12

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009


For over 50 years the Sylacauga Utilities Board has been providing electric, natural gas, water and sanitary sewer services to our community. In 1999, we added high speed and wireless internet access to that list. We are proud to be your locally owned and operated utility. If you have any questions about our services, please give us a call.

Billing Office: 256-249-8501 Operations Center: 256-249-0372 Email comments and questions to: sub@sylacauga.net

UTILITIES BOARD CITY OF SYLACAUGA 301 North Elm Avenue • Sylacauga, AL 35150

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

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Quality of life Habitat for Humanity has dedicated nine houses in the Sylacauga area.

cations. When the family is selected, Habitat board members will reach out to the community for volunteers, both skilled and unskilled, to begin work on the home. In addition to building volunteers, the organization has 14 board members and nine committees, each dealing with different aspects of building the home, such as fundraising, volunteer coordination and site selection. So far, the property for each of the nine houses has been donated to the organization.

For more information about Habitat or to volunteer, call 256245-3000 and leave a message.

Library

The B.B. Comer Memorial Library is a rich resource for all Sylacauga residents and has earned regional, state and national

Continued on Page 14

Curtis and Son Funeral Homes

BLUE HORIZON TRAVEL Priscilla Cleveland Owner

Sylacauga • Childersburg

(256) 245-7900 1-888-868-8661 Fax: (256) 245-4115

Barry Curtis

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Email: bluehorizontravel@mysylacauga.com

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

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Serving the area for over 35 years

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Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

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Quality of life

Funding education projects is the core mission of the Sylacauga City Schools Foundation.

acclaim for its ‘cradle-to-grave’ programs. A multitude of books, reference texts, books on tape, public computers and back issues of local newspapers are just few of the materials on hand for community benefit. The facility is also home to a genealogy resource room, meeting rooms and a copy service. The library, located downtown, offers entertaining and informative programs like the “Brown Bag Lunch” series and summer reading program throughout the year for both children and adults. The Community Links program, a weekly medical presentation sponsored by Coosa Valley Medical Center, also takes place at the library. The library is home to the Donna Dickey Bookstore, which sells used, donated books. The proceeds from the bookstore are used to purchase new children’s books. Funding for the library comes from both the City of Sylacauga, donations through the Library Foundation and other avenues. The library is open weekdays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday and from 9 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. The library is open during the weekends on Saturday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. and Sunday

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from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. For more information about the Comer Memorial Library, contact library director Dr. Shirley Spears or any of the library staff by calling 256-249-0961.

Senior Citizen Center

The Maxye Veazey Senior Center is a home-base for activities older residents of Sylacauga can enjoy, including cards, games, crafts and scrapbooking. Seniors can stop in almost any day of the week and find games of rook, bingo, checkers or dominoes going on. Different activities at the center vary from month to month. The center is also a meeting place for clubs like Golden Keys, Friendship Club and the Coosa Valley Quilters. The center is also headquarters for the senior nutrition program, which provides lunchtime meals at the center and also caters to homebound Sylacauga residents. The Maxye Veazey Center is open Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., and Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. For more information on programs at the senior center, call Sherry Vickers, senior adult director, at 256-249-2346.

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009


Quality of life

The senior center provides a gathering place and recreational activities for senior citizens.

Think of those friends you’ve had since you were a kid...

The ones you’ve always counted on in good times and bad. You rely on their advice because you know they have your best interest at heart. You value their opinions because they’ve earned your trust. You have confidence in them because they’ve always been honest with you, even when it hurt. They’ve been there for the biggest and the smallest events in your life.

We’re kind of like that.

Come to Coosa Pines Federal Credit Union and join over 18,000 of your friends and neighbors who have gotten together for more than half a century to build a successful financial cooperative. As members we enjoy a full line of products and services; our deposits are federally insured; we typically pay fewer and lower fees, save more on loans, and earn more on savings. We would love to have you join us!

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www.coosapinesfcu.org

Federally Insured by NCUA

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

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Perfect Partnership Chamber and businesses working together

Sylacauga Chamber staff

Story by Katherine Poythress Photos by Bob Crisp and Brian Schoenhals

The City of Sylacauga has a thriving business community, thanks in large part to an active Chamber of Commerce. Its mission involves providing leadership, stimulating the business community, and promoting economic advancement and excellent quality of life for not only the city, but also its surrounding areas, according to Executive Director Joe Richardson. It does this through a number of programs and services offered to the community, including health insurance programs for members, job fairs, newsletters, networking opportunities, and a Web site with community information and links to area businesses. One of the most successful Chamber programs

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is Leadership Sylacauga, an educational course offered through the Chamber designed to encourage active community participation in Sylacauga leaders from all walks of life. Richardson said one of the most important roles of the Chamber is to serve as a business advocate and assist businesses with both their start-up and promotion. Budsy’s Steakhouse and Zaxby’s are only two examples of the Chamber’s success in assisting with business start-up. Richardson helps business owners with everything from picking a good location to understanding all the necessary forms to file. In the case of Zaxby’s, the Chamber even allowed owner Steve Taylor to conduct inter-

Continued on Page 18

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009


Traditional Values, Exceptional Care (256) 401-4000 www.cvhealth.net

SYLACAUGA, ALABAMA A new state-of-the-art facility. Leading-edge medical technology. Experienced professionals 24 Hour Emergency Services

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Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

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Perfect Partnership

Sylacauga’s business community is thriving thanks in part to the dedication of the Chamber of Commerce, its members and staff. views for his employees at the Chamber office. “We will go to just about any lengths to help our business community be successful,” Richardson said. “We’re promoting Sylacauga, but we’re also promoting Sylacauga businesses. There are good job opportunities here, there are good retail businesses here, and this is a community that is flourishing.” The Chamber even develops leaders among the young people, offering them the Chamber Ambassadors program, which allows young men and women in high school the opportunity to serve as escorts and hosts at many Chamber functions. “There is a real strong educational component to what the

Chamber does,” said community liaison Ted Spears. The organization also works closely with the public schools to promote their technical and vocational courses that help students determine where their career interests lie. In addition, the Chamber coordinates opportunities for students to volunteer with local companies. “It gives them a wonderful opportunity to view the kinds of jobs that are available in Sylacauga so they will have a firm understanding of what the City of Sylacauga is all about,”

Continued on Page 20

DIA

DICKSON INSURANCE AGENCY

www.superiorbank.com

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228086

BUSINESS

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TERESA GRUBBS teresa@dicksonllc.net TRIPP DICKSON tripp@dicksonllc.net

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

PERSONAL

•AUTO •HOME •UMBRELLA •BOATS •MOTORCYCLE

227279

Sylacauga 126 N. Broadway Ave. 256-245-2281

400 Ft. Williams St. W., Sylacauga, AL 35150

Phone 256-249-3288 Fax 256-249-3289 Toll Free 888-884-3330


1215 Fayetteville Road Sylacauga, Al. 35151 (256 )249-3871

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

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Perfect Partnership

The Chamber helps organize Sylacauga’s Fourth of July celebration. Spears said. The diversity of activities keeps Chamber employees multi-tasking, said administrative assistant Pat Lindley, who has even delivered popcorn to all the chamber’s member businesses. Each year the gym at J. Craig Smith is used by the Sylacauga Chamber of Commerce to hold its annual dinner meeting. The meeting is held in October, and more than 400 attend this festive event that features well-known entertainment from across the Southeast and serves as a time to honor individuals, businesses and industries for their contributions to the city. With the help of these programs to improve local business and quality of life, the future looks bright for Sylacauga.

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Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009


1301 Gene Stewart Blvd. • Sylacauga, AL

256/249-4901

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

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Blue Bell Creameries

An exemplary corporate citizen for Sylacauga

Employees at Blue Bell fill tubs of ice cream to be shipped to customers across the Southeast.

Story by Denise Sinclair Photos by Bob Crisp and Brian Schoenhals

A tourist destination point not only in Alabama but around the country, is Sylacauga’s own Blue Bell Creameries located on Norton Avenue. Visitors learn how the best ice cream in the state and perhaps the nation is made right here in Sylacauga. Once you’ve learned how ice cream is made, you can stop by the Blue Bell Ice Cream parlor for a scoop of your favorite treat. Then you can step next door into the Country Store

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and purchase a souvenir for a family member, friend or yourself. Blue Bell is ranked as one of the top three best-selling ice creams in the country. Millions of gallons of what many say is the best ice cream in the country are made each year in the Sylacauga plant.

Continued on Page 24

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009


Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

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Blue Bell Blue Bell purchased the Flav-ORich facility in 1996 and began production in 1997.

Blue Bell products are sold in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. No matter how the market has grown, the quality standards of Blue Blue ice cream remains the same, company officials say. Blue Blue Creameries purchased the former FlavO-Rich manufacturing plant in 1996 and started

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production of its ice cream here in 1997. Soon after production started, the Country Store and Ice Cream Parlor were opened. These two very popular aspects of Blue Bell Creameries along with the educational tours given to visitors of the manufacturing facility bring more than 27,000 visitors each year to the plant, said Susan

Continued on Page 26

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009


Fairmont Realty Company

fairmont@mysylacauga.com

www.fairmont-realty.com

Sylacauga’s Professional Realtors For 50 Years! 208 North Broadway Avenue • Sylacauga, AL 35150 Office (256) 249-8574 • Facsimile (256) 249-0169

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Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

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Find Your Dream Home on line at www.fairmont-realty.com

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Blue Bell Thanks to Blue Bell, other sponsors and patrons, Sylacauga has this pavilion in the park downtown used by the entire community.

Odom, office and country store manager. While Blue Bell has only been part of the Sylacauga community 12 years, its history in Brenham, Texas, dates back more than a century. Blue Bell Creameries, based in Brenham, opened its doors in 1907. According to the ice cream maker’s history, it all started on a hot summer day when local farmers decided to establish Brenham Creamery Company and make butter from excess cream brought in by area farmers. A few years later, the creamery began making ice cream and delivering it

Comer Library...

to neighbors by horse and wagon. It was in 1930 when the company changed its name to Blue Bell Creameries after the native Texas bluebell wildflower. A lot has changed since those early days. Horse-drawn buggies have been traded in for refrigerated trucks, and the creamery no longer produces butter. Today, Blue Bell produces around 50 ice cream flavors, including the number-one seller, Homemade

Continued on Page 28

A beacon of light in the greater Sylacauga community.

JUST TAKE A LOOK B.B. Comer Memorial Library is central to this city on the move, providing services from the AT THE NUMBERS: cradle to the grave. •90,000 books available for check-out •30,000 registered borrowers •73,000 library visits last year •170,000 check-outs •15,000 program attendance visits

244063

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THESE PROGRAMS: •Online services •Public use computers •Wireless access •Lecture series by noted authors and historians •Story time for children •Highlights for Seniors •Better Beginnings for babies •Story-Time-To-Go for Child Care Centers And there’s so much more... •Genealogy databases and programs Visit us today!

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Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009


Sylacauga ~~~

What a Name, What a Town!

You are invited to our Marble Festival and Exposition during April & May 2009

The Mayor and City Council of Sylacauga Welcome You to the Marble City

(L-R) Back Row: Doug Murphree, Ken Horn, Mayor Sam Wright (L-R) Front Row: Jim Heigl, Manuell Smith III, Walter Jacobson 227927

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

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Blue Bell The ice cream manufacturer also has a country store and ice cream parlor that attract people to Sylacauga from all over.

Vanilla, numerous frozen snack items and a no-sugaradded and light line of ice cream. So if you’re looking for a fun place to visit while in Sylacauga or you live in the community and just want to see how ice cream is made, touring Blue Bell is a must. The tour is open to vacationing families, groups, school children and individuals.

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Tours are by appointment only and are from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday. The guided tour includes a short video and walking tour to allow visitors an opportunity to see the manufacturing process at Blue Bell Creameries. Tours last 30 to 45 minutes and accommodate up to 45 people

Continued on Page 31

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009


MONEY-SAVING ENERGY EFFICIENCY TIP No. 23

INSULATE YOURSELF FROM RISING ENERGY COSTS. By David S. Stewart Alabama Power Company

Wish it weren’t true, but energy prices are on the rise. The good news is, there’s plenty we can all do to offset these increases, like making sure your home is properly insulated. A properly

Your insulation should be 8 or more inches.

Start with the walls adjacent to

insulated home

unheated spaces, such as garages. The

can save you up

structural elements in this part of your

to 30% on heating

home are probably exposed, so measuring

and cooling costs.

your insulation here should be easy.

So, grab a

Finally, measure the insulation in your

ruler and let’s

basement (finished or unfinished). Check

head to the attic

the ceilings, walls, crawl space, etc.

to measure your insulation. Should be 8 or

What is an R-Value?

If you’re finding your home is coming

more inches. Make sure you measure in a

up short on insulation, it’s time to add

couple of different places. Insulation can

more. Most of it you can do yourself. We’ve

sometimes be spotty.

got all this laid out in a nice format on our

After checking the attic, take a look at

Web site, along with detailed explanations

the rest of the house. Hopefully, you’ve got

of everything you’ll need to seal in that hot

plenty of insulation in the walls.

or cold air.

For more tips on insulation, visit AlabamaPower.com/tips.

An R-Value is a number that indicates how well a material resists heat. A high R-Value will help keep those power bills down, whereas a lower R-Value will not. I’ve posted an easy-to-follow R-Value calculator up on our Web site.

©2008 Alabama Power Company

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

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The Comer Museum has a section dedicated to local actor Jim Nabors.

Ice cream giant not only thing bringing tourism to town Story by Carol Pappas Photo by Brian Schoenhals Dr. Ted Spears knows a lot about how attractive Sylacauga can be to the outside world. After all, he is a transplant himself. He moved from his native Alexander City with his wife, Shirley Spears, 25 years ago for his career and has never regretted it. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” he said. He is the perfect ambassador for Sylacauga, ready to promote its strengths, its opportunities and its people. Spears heads the Tourism Committee of the city’s Chamber of Commerce, and he is quick to tout what Sylacauga has to offer newcomers. For three years running, it has been named to the national “100 Best Communities for Young People.” The churches are welcoming. In civic clubs, there is plenty of opportunity to meet people and to work for the community. The offerings of the museum, library, and parks and recreation are comprehensive. And the people, Spears said, are its best asset. “The people are readily accepting of someone new.” It is all those things rolled up into one special city that “attracted us and kept us here,” said Spears. Overseeing the Tourism Committee, he wants to make sure that other newcomers have that same kind of experience he had two and a half decades ago. The committee is aggressive in its recruitment of newcomers and works hard to make sure that the city is more accessible to tourists. That’s why the Chamber of Commerce is open on

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Saturdays, ensuring that those passing through town have access to the information they need when they need it. Heavy traffic areas like the CVS drugstore and Blue Bell Creameries, where 25,000 people tour each year, are well stocked with Sylacauga Magazine, maps, retiree brochures and travel brochures from south Talladega County. “Both stay empty all the time, and we have to go back and refill them, which is a good thing,” Spears said. It means people want to know more about Sylacauga. But the committee doesn’t stop there. Members are planning a conference inviting Sylacaugans who are 50 and older. They want to ask questions like, “Why did you choose Sylacauga?” and “Did you really find what you were looking for?” Word of mouth from friends and family about a particular area is a traditional route to attracting newcomers. “People listen to their friends who have moved to a place,” Spears said, so the committee is looking for input about the city and developing a network to attract new residents in a non-traditional way. It is the kind of innovative thinking that sets Sylacauga apart. The Chamber’s Web site, for instance, is a marketing resource others want to emulate. It forms partnerships like the one with hotels and motels in the area, which help distribute brochures. They, in turn, are included on the Web site, where room discounts to encourage visitors are offered. They see an opportunity, and they make the most of it. And that’s what draws new residents each year. Sylacauga, he said, is truly a city on the move, always looking for new ways to serve its citizens. It is what attracted Spears to Sylacauga, and it is the same drawing card he uses to attract more people Sylacauga’s way.

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009


Blue Bell

Students unload from a bus for a special tour of Blue Bell.

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

at a time. After the tour, visitors are treated with a sample of their favorite ice cream. While on the tour, visitors see how their favorite frozen treat is made. They get to see cookies, peaches, pecans, strawberries and more added to these favorite flavors that eventually makes their way to their supermarket. The manufacturing plant makes a variety of flavors in cups, pints, quarts, half gallons, 3 gallons and ice cream novelties. The Country Store and Ice Cream Parlor are open to walk-ins Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tours are by appointment. To schedule a tour call 256-249-6100 or 256249-6112. The country store features mostly Blue Bell logo merchandise from T-shirts to cups and mugs.

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Fueling economic success

New industries building on foundation of original businesses

Retail business growth has exploded along U.S. 280 where it passes through Sylacauga

Story by Kendra Carter Photos by Bob Crisp and Brian Schoenhals

With more than 200 employees, Blue Bell Creameries’ production and distribution plant is just one of Sylacauga’s economic success stories. When the company, headquartered in Brenham, Texas, was looking to expand east in the late 1980s and early 1990s, plant manager Kevin Wood said, the ice cream makers weren’t looking specifically at Sylacauga. But when an already-in-place ice cream plant location was pitched to the company by the city’s leaders, it was an offer the company didn’t refuse. Wood said that, when the Flav-O-Rich ice cream was planning to close, officials at the plant, along with the Sylacauga City Council, solicited companies to purchase the building. According to Wood, the City of Sylacauga fit well with the

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company’s image. “It’s a small-town environment,” Wood said. “Our company started based on small-town roots, and we have the image of being a small-town company and the country-style image we like to present to our customers.” He said the move also made sense from a logistical standpoint because the central location allows the company to break into fast-growing markets. Blue Bell purchased its facility in 1996, and after some renovations, it opened and began producing in 1997. Now the plant produces the company’s top flavors for distribution in eight states. “We moved here, and it’s been very successful,” Wood said

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009


of the company’s 12 years in the city. “Turnover (rates) are low, the tax base is good, cost of living is reasonable, and we’ve had good cooperation with the city and the Chamber of Commerce.” The Sylacauga area has many benefits to offer, including access to U.S. 280 as a main transportation corridor and a quality school system. Both Wood and Calvin Miller, executive director of the Talladega County Economic Development Authority, said the workforce is a draw for the area. “We have a workforce that’s very trainable and that’s been proven several different times with different projects,” Miller said. In the 18 years he’s been director, Miller said, he has seen the city grow and develop economically. “It’s had a constant growth, but we’ve also had some setbacks at the same time,” Miller said. For years, the leading industry in Sylacauga was Avondale Mills. Founded by Braxton Bragg Comer, Avondale began operations in

Nemak employes around 700 people at its facility here.

Continued on Page 34

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Economic success

Why they call it the Marble City Marble is still an important part of the local economy.

Story by Kendra Carter Sylacauga isn’t called the Marble City just because it’s a good nickname. The city is built upon a solid bed — one that’s about one and a half miles wide, 32 miles long and 400 feet deep — of hard, white marble. Though Sylacauga was settled by Creek Indians in the 1500s through the explorations of Hernando DeSoto, it would be more than 300 years before the first recorded discovery of the underlying white marble would be made. Physician Dr. Edward Gantt recorded his discovery in 1820, and Gantt’s Quarry was born. By the time Gantt’s Quarry was purchased in 1906, marble was being shipped to different parts of the state to be used in the structural and steel industries Uses for calcium carbonate, made from crushed marble, kept expanding, and by the 1940s, it was used in industries from paints to agriculture. Today, Sylacauga has quarries still extracting

Sylacauga in 1906. The textile company closed its doors in Sylacauga after a train carrying chlorine gas derailed on January 6, 2005, near Avondale’s Graniteville, S.C., plant, killing six employees, three citizens and damaging millions of dollars of equipment. Though the company worked to keep operations going, officials at the textile company decided to close the Sylacauga and Pell City plants in summer 2006. He said the

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marble and creating calcium for use in everyday consumer products, like chewing gum, cosmetics, plastics and insulations. The marble is also used as an art canvass for sculptures. The Isabel Anderson Comer Museum has a permanent exhibit of marble sculptures on display and the piece displayed outside in front of the museum is made of marble. Next year will mark the 175th anniversary of the marble industry in the city of Sylacauga, and a celebration of the industry will be held in May-June 2009. Plans for the marble celebration are slated to include a marble exposition showcase, displaying different marble products and styles produced by Sylacauga quarries. This would include a walking tour of local buildings, like City Hall, the Comer Memorial Library and the Chamber of Commerce office, where marble is used as part of the interior or exterior design. Other buildings could have pieces of marble or marble creations on display.

city purchased some of the Avondale property for future industrial development and a new speculative building. Since Avondale closed, Miller said the types of industries moving to the area have shifted from textile production to automotive-related manufacturing companies to keep pace with the state’s growing automobile industry. The Sylacauga plant of Fleetwood Metal Industries, a

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009


Economic success

Nemak makes cylinder heads, transmission parts and engine blocks.

company that produces various parts and assemblies for automotive production, is one of the company’s four plants and the only one located in the United States. According the company’s corporate Web site, the company is investing heavily in both labor and equipment at its Sylacauga plant and plans to expand its product lines as it becomes more prominent in the auto market. Nemak, a automotive industry that specializes in the production of aluminum cylinder heads, transmission parts and engine blocks, services customers across the country with facilities in 13 countries and employs approximately 15,000 people worldwide. Around 700 of those employees are at the Nemak Alabama plant. Miller said Coosa Valley Medical Center is also important for the city by providing a service industry and employing doctors, nurses and other hospital staff. The Marble City’ grandfather industry is providing positive economic promise in calcium carbonate, made from ground marble, at plants like Imerys.

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Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

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Economic success “It’s an additive in a lot of different things, like paint,” Miller said. “It’s an additive in plastics, and it’s even the powder on a stick of chewing gum.” Because of shipping expenses for the materials are high and the city has access to the raw material, it creates an opportunity for the area. “Because we have a lot of the raw material, it provides an opportunity for us to try to attract those companies who use it.” Miller said one of the best examples is Heritage Plastics, located in the industrial park, which uses the carbonate as filler in its products. As for the city’s future for growth, the city has opportunities to build on the industries already growing in the area. “I think we’ll be able to attract people who use calcium carbonate because the raw material is very unique to this area,” Miller said. “Also, I think we’ll be able to work toward increasing the number of automobile suppliers. Right now there’s a downturn in the auto industry, but that will come back. There’s a new assembly facility that’s going to be located in Chattanooga (Tenn.) for Volkswagen, and we’re going to try to attract some of its suppliers.”

Fleetwood Metals is just one of the automotive-related industries to locate in the area.

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Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

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A family enjoys a meal at the new outdoor section of the Marble City Grill in downtown Sylacauga.

Downtown Sylacauga A new face for historic

When you pass through downtown Sylacauga, you know you have arrived in a special place. When other downtown areas across the nation have lost their luster, Sylacauga’s downtown is thriving. That’s because city leaders have invested in the heart of their city, putting in new sidewalks and street lights and developing a downtown park with a pavilion. The city’s Commercial Development Authority has actively recruited businesses specially suited for the downtown area, like specialty shops and restaurants, and it has offered incentives for businesses to dress up their facades. It all adds up to a downtown that is inviting, welcoming and yes, open for business.

New lighting, sidewalks, crosswalks and plants were part of the revitalization process.

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LivingHealthy Meeting the medical needs of a growing community

Coosa Valley Medical Center recently completed construction on its new facility that serves Sylacauga and surrounding areas.

Story by Antrenise Cole Photos by Bob Crisp and Brian Schoenhals In this progressive city, the quality of health care continues to improve with the range of health care offerings in Sylacauga bringing it comparable to those found in bigger cities. Coosa Valley Medical Center, originally called Sylacauga Hospital, opened on April 1, 1945, and had the distinction of being the only non-military hospital built in the United States during World War II. Today, the hospital continues to move into the future by continuing to add new services. Coosa Valley Medical Center unveiled a new hospi-

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tal wing in early summer 2007. “The new hospital was really the culmination of our hopes and plans to address what the community needs,” said Glenn Sisk, chief executive officer of CVMC. “It’s a privilege to be a part of something like this because there are not many new hospitals opening these days.” Coosa Valley Medical Center services include 24hour emergency services, cardio/pulmonary rehab, surgical services, labor and delivery, outpatient services, respiratory care, laboratory/pathology services,

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009


ultrasound/digital mammography/nuclear medicine, 64-slice CT Scanner with cardiac imaging, MRI scanning, pain management, pastoral care, home care services, case management, transitional care unit, long-term nursing care, sports medicine, fitness and wellness center, sleep disorders center, ophthalmology services and more. The hospital recently opened a Senior Behavioral Health Center, which is managed through a partnership with Horizon Health Behavioral Health Services. The center, located in the 3 West area of the hospital, is designed for individuals 65 years or older who are experiencing serious emotional difficulties. The center is for short-term stay, with the average patient staying one to two weeks. The center was renovated and has 15 private rooms, an activity room for therapy and recreational activities, a dining room, and living area. Team members include a psychiatrist, nurses, social workers, therapists and mental health technicians. “I think this center will be big in reducing the stigma of mental illness that exists in the community and let them know that this is a normal process that we all go through from time to time,” said Carmen Knox, program

Continued on Page 40

CVMC has a trained surgical staff on site.

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Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

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Living Healthy

Craddock Health Center is another option for residents seeking medical attention.

director of the center. “Mental illness will affect someone in all families, and now, we can provide a service to meet the geriatric patient, as well as the family’s needs.” For more information about the services at Coosa Valley Medical Center, visit www.cvhealth.net or call 256-249-5000. Primary care available at Craddock Health Center Residents in Sylacauga and the surrounding areas can also visit Craddock Health Center for health care needs. Craddock Health Center was founded by Dr. F. Hood Craddock and his son in 1912.  The physicians at Craddock provide primary care and other services, including breath alcohol testing, drug screening,

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diabetic education classes, infectious disease control, vascular imaging, EKGs, cardiac event monitoring, hearing tests, vaccinations, laboratory testing, company physicals, pulmonary function testing, ultrasounds, X-rays, workman’s compensation claims, and screenings for hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol, thyroid disorders, obesity, osteoporosis and cancer. “Having a facility like this for people who are sick or need treatment is important,” said Donna Hernandez, Craddock’s office manager. “As long as you have a local place where the doctors are dedicated to providing good service to the patients, people don’t have to go out of town to get the treatment they can get here. I think it’s important to have that in a community.”

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009


Living Healthy For more information visit Craddock’s Web site at www.craddockhealthcenter.com or call 256-245-5241. Dialysis services provided No longer do patients have to travel to larger cities to get the care they need. Such services as those provided at DaVita Sylacauga Dialysis are right here in the city’s own back yard. DaVita trains patients to do dialysis treatments at home. The staff trains patients to perform both peritoneal dialysis, which uses a thin membrane for dialysis treatments, and home hemodialysis, which uses a dialysis machine to clean the blood. “A large majority of our patients have diabetes and high blood pressure,” said Jamie HortonMauldin, the facility administrator for DaVita Sylacauga Dialysis. “Diabetes and high blood pressure are the No. 1 cause of chronic kidney disease. Diabetes is rampant in our area.” The dialysis center is located at 331 James Payton Blvd.

Labor and delivery is another of the services offered by Coosa Valley Medical Center. Residents in Sylacauga can have nearly all of their health care needs met without ever leaving town.

Medical needs fulfilled Sylacauga also has a wide range of specialists who have offices around town, including chiropractors; optometrists; general practice physicians; gastroenterologists; ear, nose and throat doctors; radiologists; podiatrists; dermatologists; and more.

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Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009


Playing on the fast track

Sylacauga’s parks are beyond something special Story by Kendra Carter Photos by Bob Crisp and Brian Schoenhals They say that mothers know best. And it seems that’s certainly true for the parks in Sylacauga. In 2003, a group of women decided they wanted to see improvements made to the local parks and arranged a meeting with Jim Armstrong, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. Members of the Mothers In Action Committee, which is now an eight-member, 501(c)3 non-profit organization formed by those women, launched a letterwriting campaign to inform the community of its desire to improve the parks.

The community responded by sending contributions, and Armstrong said the group raised approximately $90,000 with its tireless effort. “The community response was so positive,” said Anna Proctor, past president and former member of the Mothers In Action committee. She said all the group’s fundraising efforts were done in conjunction with the Parks and Recreation Department, and no decision was made without consulting Armstrong. The City of Sylacauga also received a $125,000 grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which the city matched with its funds, bringing the park improvement budget to between $340,000 and $350,000.

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On the fast track This skateboarder drops off the backside of one of the ramps at Sylacauga’s skate park in Noble Park.

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Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009


On the fast track Grinding on the rails is a popular trick for bicyclists and skateboarders alike.

Using that money, the Parks and Recreation Department updated each of the city parks this past year, making them each handicapped accessible. Today, citizens of all ages enjoy walking tracks at Fairmont and Noble parks, and the skate park at Noble draws a younger generation from near and far. “I think it’s wonderful that the city and the Parks and Recreation Department has continued this and that people use them,” Proctor said. “It’s exciting to drive by and see school buses parked and see kids playing.” In April, the Parks and Recreation Department added Central Park to its growing list of community parks in the city. With the addition, the city now has six located conveniently around the city — the new Central Park; Beth Wallace Yates Park, home to the tennis center and volleyball pit; Noble Park, the largest of the six, which is home to the skate park and a new BMX bicycle track; Fairmont and South Highland parks, two smaller parks with basketball courts and playground equipment; and the park area at Lake Howard. Joe Richardson, executive director of the Sylacauga Chamber of Commerce, said the parks showcase the city. “(Our parks) are definitely something we at

Continued on Page 46

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On the fast track Noble Park also boasts new playground equipment for younger children.

The BMX track is already bringing racers of all ages to Sylacauga

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the Chamber of Commerce use to promote Sylacauga as a way to show people who want to retire or move here,” Richardson said. “Our parks really are an indication of the overall quality of life in Sylacauga. We have activities for each age group. There’s something for all ages. They’re great parks with first-class amenities.” Margaret Morton, director of the Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement, said she thinks the parks contributed to Sylacauga being chosen three years running as one of the top 100 communities in the nation for young people. Sylacauga is one of only 40 cities to be named in the top 100 list for three consecutive years. Scores of community events, like the SAFE-sponsored Sylacauga Promise Day, have been held at the parks, providing gathering places for family and friends. But Mothers In Action is not content to let the momentum subside. Mothers In Action is kicking off another letter campaign to solicit donations for even more park additions and improvements. South Highland Park is targeted for the majority of improvements this year, including a new fence and renovations to the restrooms and the pavilion. If enough money is raised, Armstrong plans to do some landscape work at each of the parks and add metal roofs to each of the park pavilions in the future. And there is plenty more on the horizon. A major park project is under way with a new 15-mile hiking and mountain bike trail running through the Talladega

Continued on Page 48 Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009


On the fast track

The skate park is also ideal for tricks on scooters.

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On the fast track The city covered the pool with a dome to allow its use in a variety of weather and seasons.

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Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009


On the fast track National Forest being built at Lake Howard. In early September, a groundbreaking ceremony for the new bike and hiking trail was held at Lake Howard. The trail begins at the park’s small pavilion and winds its way into the Talladega National Forest. The trail was expected to be completed this month. Members of the Cyclists of Greater Sylacauga bike club will work to keep up the trail as well as improve it. “Ultimately, the big job is to keep the trail open and work with the erosion,” said Tim Presley with COGS. “We’ll use (the Forest Service’s) procedures and methods to take care of the trail.” The group also plans to build some auxiliary trails that lead to views of the lake and other landmarks that could double the trail mileage, but that could take two years. “The more we do,” Armstrong said, “just gives more recreation opportunities for the citizens in Sylacauga.”

The walking track at Pinecrest Park is another outdoor option for residents.

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Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

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Culture and class

Arts are alive and well in Sylacauga

Assistant museum director Linda Hatchett and director Donna Rentfrow show off some of the work on display at the Comer Museum.

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Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009


Story by Kendra Carter Photos by Bob Crisp and Brian Schoenhals

The City of Sylacauga has two vital groups bringing arts and culture to the residents of the Marble City: the Sylacauga Area Council on Arts and Humanities and the volunteers at the Isabel Anderson Comer Museum and Arts Center. The museum displays a gamut of paintings, drawings, photographs and sculptures, in addition to historical displays. Some are on permanent display, like the memorabilia of Sylacauga native Jim Nabors who rose to fame as television’s Gomer Pyle and through his music. Others displays are changed from month to month. “So if you don’t like it one month, you’ll like it the next,” said museum director Donna Rentfrow. In November, the museum will display a local artist exhibit. The museum staff hosts an opening reception monthly to welcome each new exhibit, where people can mingle and hear live entertainment. The museum is also involved with

The Comer Museum is non profit and relies on support from the community.

Continued on Page 52

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Culture and class

The Arts Council still aims to bring performing arts to children from across the area.

both the area high schools. In April, the museum will feature art created by students at Sylacauga High School, and student work from B.B. Comer High will be displayed the entire month of May. “It’s been proven that art curriculum in schools makes a better student,” Rentfrow said. “They’re able to think outside the box and be more creative in their problem solving.” Rather than just displaying art and history, the museum provides a learning opportunity and creative outlet by providing art classes. “We’re unique because we’re a museum and an art center,” she added. The museum offers classes for both children and adults and serves as the host classroom for the ARC of South Talladega County. The museum is a non-profit organization that relies on community support to maintain. “The museum here is for everyone,” Rentfrow said. It was a community effort to start the museum, and it will be a com-

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munity effort to keep the museum going.” She said the museum belongs to the entire community, and they should take advantage of what it has to offer. The museum charges no admission and is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and other times by appointment. To arrange an appointment or to get involved in classes, call 256-245-4016. Council on Arts Sylacauga Area Council on Arts and Humanities, created in the 1970s, began primarily as a way to bring music enrichment to the community. After becoming a formal entity 35 years ago, the Arts Council still aims to bring performing arts to children living throughout the area. Dr. Ted Spears, current president of the Arts Council, said the organization used to provide entertainment for both adults and children, but in the past five years, the council has changed exclusively to children’s programming.

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009


Culture and class

The museum serves as a host classroom for the ARC.

The council has sponsored performances from the Birmingham Children’s Theatre for each of the local schools and has also sponsored trips to hear the Birmingham Symphony perform a special program for children’s groups. “The age group we’re serving loves live entertainment,” Spears said. “They just respond to it.” The council also provides some monetary support of art programs in the local schools and programs provided by SAFE. For the talent winner of the Miss Sylacauga Pageant, a preliminary of Miss Alabama, the council also offers a scholarship named for Beth Wallace Yates, who was instrumental in the council’s creation. “It’s a service to the community we provide,” Spears said. “Our idea is to enrich the lives of children.” The Arts Council meets at noon on the last Monday of the month at the chamber of commerce office. The council is strictly a volunteer-based organization with 25-30 people serving on the council board. Those interested in joining the arts council should contact Ted Spears at the Sylacauga Chamber of Commerce by calling 256-249-0308.

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Literary treasure trove B.B. Comer Memorial Library is Sylacauga’s

Kiwanians and Rotarians are just two of the local organizations that help support the library.

It grew out of a desire in the post-Depression era to provide something better for the City of Sylacauga. And today, the B.B. Comer Library is considered a beacon of light in the community. Created in 1936 with the Sylacauga Rotary Club taking the lead, the library consisted of 250 books in the back room of a local bank. It has evolved into a 39,000-square-foot facility on the edge of downtown, welcoming more than 73,000 visits from library patrons through its doors last year. The centerpiece of the library is its “cradle

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-to-grave” concept that offers programs – literally – from the cradle to the grave. In addition to its traditional library services, such as the more than 90,000 books available for check-out, in-house reference collection, magazines and newspapers, Comer Library offers electronic services, special programs and outreach. Computers for public use, genealogy databases and wireless access are among its many bridges across the digital divide. Summer enrichment programs for children, the Brown Bag Lecture Series for adults

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009


and after-school programs as well as programs for ARC regularly draw more and more inside the library. Under the leadership of Executive Director Shirley Spears, Comer Library has long been the epitome of partnerships, joining forces with more than 30 businesses and civic organizations to ensure that it continues to move forward in service to the community year after year. And its reputation extends well beyond the city limits. It is a shining star in the state and won national recognition in 2000 as one of only four libraries in the country to earn the National Award for Library Service, which was given for extraordinary service to the community. B.B. Comer Memorial Library is at the very heart of Sylacauga’s standing as ‘a city on the move,’ enhancing the quality of life for all who are so ably served by it.

Under Executive Director Shirley Spears, Comer Library has flourished near downtown Sylacauga.

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Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

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On the cutting edge of

EDUCATION

Area schools are working to keep pace with technology demands in the classroom.

Story by Kendra Carter Photos by Bob Crisp and Brian Schoenhals

With four city schools, two county schools, a private school and a nearby community college, the educational opportunities for students in Sylacauga are boundless. The Sylacauga City School System is divided into four schools that serve students in pre-kindergarten through 12thgrade, plus one school dedicated to providing an alternativeschool environment for at-risk students. For the 2008-2009 academic year, as of September 19, 2008, enrollment in the city school system totaled 2,409 students.

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Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

Sylacauga schools superintendent Dr. Jane Cobia.


Special programs offered to students in the city system include intervention classes in reading and math for students in grades K-12, credit recovery programs, foreign languages, visual and performing arts, as well as classes in enrichment, workforce development, health and advanced placement and dual-enrollment opportunities. “The mission of the school system is to produce graduates who can perform to their fullest potential,” said Dr. Jane Cobia, superintendent of Sylacauga City Schools. At a September meeting, the Board of Education approved the system’s $18,704,739 budget for the 2009 fiscal year. Indian Valley Elementary hosts two classes of pre-kindergarten students with 15 students in each class. The program for 4-year-olds utilizes both the same reading and math programs the students in kindergarten through fifth-grade at Sylacauga elementary schools use. “We have found (with) students who come to our programs, the transition period is almost non-existent,” Cobia said. “I believe it’s a huge benefit for the children.”

Sylacauga High School

Continued on Page 58

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The cutting edge The new Nichols-Lawson Middle School opened in 2004.

Knollwood Christian School

The elementary school also serves students in kindergarten through second-grade and has an enrollment of 570 students. Indian Valley was chosen this year to participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s fresh fruits and vegetables program, in which the department reimburses the school for

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County school B.B. Comer sits in the heart of Sylacauga.

fresh produce purchased during the school year to be served to students as a snack, helping them learn about the value in a balanced diet. Pinecrest Elementary School, located on the southwest side of Sylacauga, is home to the system’s students in grades three through five. Current enrollment is 576 students.

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009


The cutting edge Pinecrest became a third- though-fifth-grade school during the 2006-2007 academic year as Indian Valley became pre-kindergarten through second-grade. The campus is home to the baseball field used by both the high school softball team and Sylacauga Little League. The school, originally built in 1961, underwent a round of renovations last year, which added six classrooms and expanded the lunchroom. Nichols-Lawson is the newest building in the school system. This impressive facility opened in 2004 after two schools, Montainview and East Highland, closed in December 2003. Nichols-Lawson has an enrollment of 564 and serves the system’s students in sixth- through eighth-grade. The school is sectioned into pods, one for each individual grade. While the school system did meet its Annual Yearly Progress goals for the year, Nichols-Lawson excelled, reaching 100 percent of its goals. C-STARS, the alternative-school environment, which has an enrollment of 25, is housed in the old East Highland building, now called the Phoenix Center. “C-STARS is an alternative environment, basically for credit recovery and the passage of the Alabama High School Graduation Exam,” Cobia said. Sylacauga High School, located just north of downtown Sylacauga, offers specialized electives in addition to its core curriculum, such as career tech, machining and health, advanced placement, distance learning, and dual-enrollment with Central Alabama Community College. SHS also offers its current 674 students options for earn-

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ing their diplomas. Students can earn Carnegie credits for a regular, advanced, career tech or occupational diploma, or a certificate of graduation. The 82 SHS students who took the ACT this year scored above state average in all categories, and the graduation rate at SHS is 82 percent. Two Talladega County Schools, B.B. Comer Memorial High School and B.B. Comer Memorial Elementary, which serve students from grades K-12, are also located in Sylacauga. For private school options in the area, Sylacauga is home to the Knollwood Christian School, a non-denominational Covenant Christian School. Larry Jones, headmaster at Knollwood, said the main requirement for admission is at least one of the parents or guardians is a Christian. Current enrollment at Knollwood, for students in Keighth, is 68 students. Tuition costs range from $210 to $325 per month, depending on the child’s age and grade. “We do administer the SAT, DIEBELS and STAR tests to make sure we’re teaching the right things and so the students have a track record of standardized testing,” Jones said. He said most students who attend Knollwood enter the Sylacauga city system upon graduation, but some enroll at Cornerstone Christian School in Columbiana or Briarwood in Birmingham. The Childersburg campus of Central Alabama Community College is located approximately 10 miles from the Marble City. The school offers courses of study in fields such as nursing, truck driving and computer science, as well as other core and technical courses.

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Care House provides people in the community with basic food needs.

FAITH

First Baptist Church

The cornerstone of the Sylacauga community Story by Katherine Poythress Photos by Bob Crisp and Brian Schoenhals

Faith plays a vital role in holding together the City of Sylacauga, because many people who attend church together in Sylacauga also work and play together. They actively serve their community as both individuals and congregations, participating in church outreach activities and volunteering with other charitable organizations, many of them faith-based.

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Churches There are 76 churches of 20 denominations in the Sylacauga area listed with the Chamber of Commerce, all of which play a vital part in the community. Jim Stanford, president of the Ministerial Association and pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Sylacauga, said he considers Sylacauga a strong, faith-based community with church members and entire congregations actively involved in making the city a better place to live. Sylacauga’s faith community is extraordinary, he said, because of the regular cooperation among churches. “We try to do things together, and each church has its own congregation as well,” Stanford said. Such teamwork in the faith-based community is indeed rare, according to Adam Castleberry, associate pastor of Eastside Baptist Church. “I have been all across the United States, and you don’t find

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

First United Methodist Church


churches that are willing to work together very often,” said associate pastor Adam Castleberry of Eastside Baptist Church. Castleberry is thankful for the churches in Sylacauga that work together to better serve their members and the community. Such collaboration results in things like a joint communion service held among several church congregations to celebrate World Communion Sunday together or a short flagpole service for the community on the National Day of Prayer. Castleberry said Eastside Baptist Church invites churches to share its venue for big events like Vacation Bible School and traveling gospel singing groups. The Ministerial Association facilitates this cooperative attitude by serving as a nexus of churches so pastors can share news and ideas and alert one another to concerns and any service or care needs in the community. The Association spearheads projects like the provision of Bibles to high school graduates, keeping a schedule of pastors to lead devotions on the local WYEA Radio station and delegating congregations to volunteer for one-week periods at Care House, which provides food and other help to local residents in need. Many churches also of their own volition donate the food necessary to keep organizations like Care House operating. Two churches, Russell Chapel Baptist Church and Tallasahatchie First Baptist Church, serve as Angel Food Ministries host sites, providing food to those in need in the Sylacauga area. Other churches contribute to the city’s quality of life by doing things like offering their facilities as venues to hold support group sessions, transporting

First Presbyterian Church

Continued on Page 62

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FAITH

local prisoners to services and church suppers, hosting breakfasts for football players and cheerleaders, supplying a respite service for parents of children with special needs, and providing gifts to underprivileged children during the holidays. Many churches also host community outreach activities like fall festivals, and they provide support for their own members through small groups. Individual church members get involved in their own ways by leading initiatives to provide supplies to fire victims, build ramps for the elderly and shut-ins, travel for disaster relief, collect pop tops for the Rondald McDonald House, host exchange students, care for neighbors and provide a plethora of other services. The projects are virtually as diverse as the people offering them. Stanford’s church recently conducted a survey that asked members what they are doing for their community. Results showed that FBC’s 170 members, not all of whom took the survey, are involved in 74 separate community-service organizations, from Boy Scouts and Habitat for Humanity to Kiwanis and Rotary clubs.

Faith-based organizations Sylacauga is home to a number of faith-based organizations, many of them operated by the active church members in the community. An anchor in the City of Sylacauga since its establishment in 1972, Care House provides community members in need with basic food supplies. The Presbyterian Transitional Center in Sylacauga, established in 1987, is an offshoot of the Presbyterian Home for Children located in Talladega and helps children make the transition from a crisis situation into foster placement or reunification with their families. Sylacauga also claims local chapters of United Way, the national organization focused on increasing the capacity of people to care for one another and their community, and the American Red Cross, the nation’s premier emergency response organization. Several Sylacaugans are deeply involved with the Talladega County parish nurses program. A parish nurse is a licensed registered nurse who has completed a basic parish nurse preparation course and is working in his or her church as a leader in areas of health advocacy, teaching and counseling. Coosa Valley Resources for Women is another growing nonprofit Christian ministry, affiliated with Sav-A-Life and CareNet, devoted to helping women in crisis situations, especially unplanned pregnancies. Sylacauga Habitat for Humanity devotes itself to raising housing standards in the area, and in September 2008, volunteers from the city dedicated their ninth Habitat house. Habitat for

Church of Christ

St. Jude Catholic Church

Humanity helps families afford better housing through donations of services and materials. They then sell the family the house at no profit with an affordable mortgage, only asking in return for the family’s assistance in building their own and others’ houses. First United Methodist Church’s mission statement summarizes the active leadership and involvement in Sylacauga’s faith-based community, which truly does its utmost to “bring people, build believers and bless the world.”

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Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

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Recreation! J. Craig Smith Community Center

For residents of all ages Story by Denise Sinclair Photos by Bob Crisp and Brian Schoenhals Sylacauga’s Parks and Recreation Department is like two ends of the spectrum and everything in between. From a new BMX bicycle track for the young and the Maxye Veazey Senior Activities Center for its older population to a vast array of programs and activities to match citizen interest, the Parks and Recreation Department offers it. The department has been part of Sylacauga since it was established in 1938 to have authority to develop parks, playgrounds, swimming pools and other recreational facilities for the citizens of Sylacauga. It has done just that and continues to find ways to meet the needs of citizens and visitors to the city.

In 1938, recreational functions were held in churches, at the Masonic Hall and school auditoriums. The first recreational center was built in 1943 during World War II by the federal government for the ammunitions plant in Childersburg. Three of these centers were built in Talladega County - Sylacauga, Childersburg and Talladega. The Parks and Recreation Department was given $16,000 by the federal government and $4,000 by the city and Avondale Mills to run this department. Today, the department has a budget of more than $1 million. Parks and Recreation Department director Jim Armstrong leads that full service department. “We try to have something for everyone. We have line dancing, ballroom dancing, guitar lessons, cheerleading, football, soccer, a weight room, adult bingo, swimming lessons,

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Recreation! water aerobics, gymnastics, karate, piano lessons, tennis lessons and more. If we don’t have it, we try to get it,” he said. Monday through Friday each week, an estimated 500 to 600 people pass through the community center’s doors en route to one of its many programs. Maxye Veazey Senior Center Through the perseverance of city and community leaders, the Maxye Veazey Senior Center was born. The center houses the senior nutrition program for Sylacauga, where more than 70 seniors are fed a nutritious meal at lunch. This includes both seniors who come to the center and homebound individuals. Sherry Vickers is senior adult director of the Maxye Veazey Center, and she notes the variety of programs offered to seniors throughout the city. Seniors on the go The center has an activity schedule that varies each month. There are trips outside the city for seniors to such locations as Senior Day in Oxford, where they enjoy a day of musical entertainment, door prizes and more. The costs are kept as minimal as possible for the seniors. Up ahead are plans for a trip to Nashville with a stay at the Opryland Hotel. These trips are part of the center’s Travel Club, which meets the first Monday of each month at 10 a.m. in the General Assembly Room. There are dues of $15 per person for new members and $5 per year dues after that. Staying fit, active The senior center features wellness and exercise programs available to seniors on a regular basis. Other activities include bingo, crafts, ceramics, Movie Monday, Looney Painters, the Friendship Club and Golden Keys. Also Scrappy Seniors meets Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for scrapbooking and painting pecan resin and ceramic figurines. The Coosa Valley Quilters Guild meets at Maxye Veazey Center the second Tuesday of each month from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the General Assembly Room. Looney Painters meet each Tuesday from 8 a.m. until in the activity room. Several downtown businesses have art created by a few of the Looney Painters. This group is seriously talented artists, who use a variety of mediums. This is not a teaching class. Those interested in joining the group must be experienced artists and have their own supplies. The Friendship Club meets every Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the activity room. There is a $5 per year membership. The Golden Keys meets the first Thursday after the third of each month, starting at 9 a.m. in the activity room.

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Children’s Day Camp J. Craig Smith Community Center offers a day camp for children, ages 5 to 10, in the fall, winter, spring and summer. To find out the dates of the camp, contact J. Craig Smith at 256249-8561 or fax, 256-249-8563. You may also go by the center at 2 W. 8th St., in Sylacauga or visit the center’s Web site at www. sylacauga.net. The fee for day camp is $15 per day or half a day at $8. There is a discount for two or more campers. Campers are involved in a variety of activities, including crafts, playing indoor and outdoor games. Municipal Pool The Recreation Department’s municipal pool is open yearround and covered in early fall with the air dome. This allows for winter swim programs. The pool is heated during the winter months to provide comfortable, yearlong use. The local Civitan Club is trying to raise funds for a handicapped accessible ramp for the pool, which will benefit physically challenged users and the local Arc of South Talladega County, whose clients use the pool on a regular basis for swimming. There is public swim six days a week, and season passes are available. Adult swim is Monday through Friday. Pool parties can be held Monday through Sunday at various times for a fee of $150. Water aerobics is taught Monday through Thursday at various times, and fees apply. Learn to swim lessons are taught Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at a fee of $40 a month. Swim team is available to the public. This is a Competitive USA Swim Team Program and is held Sept. 1 through Dec. 31, with different swim levels.

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Seniors interested in cards and games can participate in Tuesday and Thursday afternoon games. These afternoon gamers meet from noon until. They play rook, dominos, Chinese checkers or regular checkers. You name it and this group plays it. Wednesday afternoon is for bridge. Players meet from noon to 4 p.m., primarily for bridge. Game-A-Rama is held every Friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. for rook and canasta. Senior players bring a snack to share. Some of these card players have been playing cards at the recreation center for 40 years. The Maxye Veazey Center is open 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. For more information on programs at the senior center call Sherry Vickers at 256-249-2346; fax, 256-249-2063. The nutrition room telephone number is 256-249-8659. Sherry Vickers may be emailed at svickers@mysylacauga.com.

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Recreation! Classes and Programs KidGym gymnastics and all-star cheer is for girls and boys. Children starting at age 3 up to the seventh -grade can participate. These classes are held on Mondays only and are taught by Tanya Ingram. Karate classes are Mondays and Wednesdays at J. Craig Smith. Instructor is Wanda McElrath-Frazier, who has 30 years of experience – 18 of which have been in service at J. Craig Smith. Those interested in piano lessons may take them from instructor Robin Waldrop Mondays and Wednesdays. There is a registration fee and a monthly fee. For information on these lessons, contact Waldrop at 256-404-3480. Dancing with local stars Ballroom dancing class is held Tuesdays of each month with class times starting at 7 p.m. All ages are welcome. Learn the Waltz, Foxtrot, East Coast Swing, Rumba, Cha-cha and more. Syble and Jimmy Johnson are the instructors. Country line dance is taught by Shelia Berry. Call J. Craig Smith for times and days. There is no charge for this class. Shannon Darby is the instructor for dancing stars. Call for class times and fees to the center. Much, much more Michael Shaw teaches guitar lessons Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. There are one-hour individual classes at a cost of $30 per class. Tennis lessons are available from instructor Randy Carter. For more information or to set up a lesson, contact him at 256-2492465. In addition there is youth football, soccer and cheerleader programs and the Cal Ripken Baseball League. At Verlie B. Collins Community Center, the public is invited use the weight room, play adult bingo and more. The center also houses a gym. The weight room is open from 8 a.m. until the center closes. The fee is $2 per visit or $10 per month. Seniors 55 and older pay only $5 per month. Adult bingo is every Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. for a small fee. The Verlie Collins Center has rooms and a gym to rent for meetings, singings, luncheons, dances and other events. For information about renting a room or to find out what is going on at the center, contact Mike Williams, 256-249-2546. Parks at a glance In 2007, the Parks and Recreation Department upgraded four city parks and all are now handicapped accessible. Noble Park is the largest park, and there are age appropriate play structures, a pavilion available for rental, a skate park and BMX track. This park also has a quarter-mile walking track made of concrete.

BMX Track The Marble City BMX Track opened in the winter in Noble Park at E. 9th St. The track hosted the American Bicycle Association’s Alabama state championship in September and offers racing the first and third Saturday of the month. For more information call 256-872-4672 or email marblecitybmx@charter.net. Lake Howard This fall, construction of a 14-mile mountain bike and hiking trail began at Lake Howard. The trail will run through the Talladega National Forest. There are plans under way for a 100-mile race in November, starting on Cheaha Mountain and ending at Legion Stadium at Sylacauga High School. Participants from 13 states have signed up so far for the race. Anyone interested in the race, may contact Armstrong at J. Craig Smith Community Center or mountcheaha50K@charter.net. Lake Howard is also open to fishing, boating and has pavilions for picnics. “We try to build facilities and get programs people want to do. Our community is very supportive of our programs and pro-recreation. We have so many opportunities for citizens to enjoy through our Parks and Recreation Department,” Armstrong said. The center has a kitchen that may be rented and has a list of caterers groups may use at the facility, Armstrong said. Armstrong has been director of Parks and Recreaton for five years. He said, “I feel we have made a lot of progress. We still have things to do. This department has a good mayor and City Council to work, who have been supportive of the things we are doing.” When seeking information on the Sylacauga Parks and Recreation Department, simply call J. Craig Smith Community Center at 256-249-8561; fax, 256-249-8563; or visit the Web site at www.sylacauga.net.

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Beth Wallace Yates Park is the location of the city’s tennis center as well as a pavilion for rental, age appropriate play structures, and a sand pit for volleyball. There are two smaller community parks at Fairmont and South Highland. Both parks have basketball courts, play equipment and small pavilions. Just added in 2008 is Central Park in downtown Sylacauga across from Blue Bell Creameries. This is a passive recreation area with a large pavilion and restrooms. Veterans Park is located in the Pinecrest community, featuring a walking track and a memorial to area veterans who served their country. The Donald Comer Complex is used for many different programs. Cal Ripken baseball is played in the spring, and in the fall, the fields are converted for soccer and football leagues.

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Profiles in community spirit

Morton at heart of good works for families Story by Denise Sinclair Photo by Jerry Martin

Margaret Morton is a community activist whose work shows that once she gets involved, good things will follow. Her activism goes beyond just battling for funding for children and at-risk programs. It also leads her to fight for programs for the elderly, including finding ways to provide health care and prescription drugs to needy seniors. For some 10 years, Morton has been part of a grassroots effort that formed the Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement in the community. She and other leaders saw the need for a whole-family approach to make the community a better place to serve children. And out of a conversation and movement of stakeholders in the community, including Morton, came the birth of SAFE. Today, SAFE offers a comprehensive family resource center that others are working to emulate. Through Morton’s efforts as Sylacauga Promise chairwoman, Sylacauga received its third selection as “100 Best Communities for Young People” by America’s Promise. Morton believes Sylacauga is a community that can come together to develop solutions to problems it encounters. She and other volunteers work tirelessly to provide a meal on Thanksgiving Day to those in need, not just in Sylacauga, but all over Talladega County. Whether it is after-school programs for children, parenting instruction, healthy marriages, medication assistance or public transportation, Morton and SAFE are there to lend a helping hand. She knows the needs of children in the community, and she works to fill them. Thanks to people like Morton, the quality of life in

Margaret Morton Sylacauga is improved immensely on a daily basis. She is dedicated to making life easier for young and old alike. She strives to make partnerships work to achieve the goals necessary to do this. Morton knows how to pull leaders together and truly make a difference in the lives of others.

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Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009


Profiles in community spirit

Pastor and councilman helps improve Sylacauga Story Brandon Fincher Photo by Bob Crisp

It is not easy to have a job in the world of religion and the world of politics, but Henry Looney pulled it off wonderfully. Looney, who has served on the Sylacauga City Council for four years, was a key part in getting some of Sylacauga’s recent improvements, including new parks, the BMX bicycle track and Lake Howard. “I think the Council and the government have been more receptive to and able to hear from the public,” Looney said. “In our city forums, people can share their opinions with the Council, and I hope we can continue that to keep our involvement in the community high.” Also during Looney’s time on the Council, the downtown paving projects greatly improved the appearance of Sylacauga and the construction of a senior center will benefit many area senior citizens for years to come. Besides his City Council duties, Looney has been involved with the Sylacauga Promise Committee which has helped Sylacauga be named by the America’s Promise Alliance as one of the “100 Best Communities in the Nation for Young People.” “We’re one of only about 40 cities to have been named in the top 100 for three years in a row,” Looney said. He’s also on the board of the Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement. Besides all of those duties, Looney pastors at Reaching the Word Bible Church, which is involved in helping the com-

munity in several ways, perhaps most notably with its annual community Thanksgiving dinner, which served more than 1,000 meals last Thanksgiving. The church partners with Care House to have a food drive every fourth Sunday, as well. Looney’s civic service in several areas makes him a credit to Sylacauga and a profile in community spirit.

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Profiles in community spirit

Spears among city’s top movers and shakers Story by Denise Sinclair Photo by Jerry Martin

Failure isn’t a word in Dr. Shirley Spears’ vocabulary. Give her a project to do, and she gets it done – from almost doubling the size of B.B. Comer Memorial Library to starting the Leadership Sylacauga program for the Chamber of Commerce. Spears knows how to get the job done and uses her talent to make her town a better place to live and work. Whether its beautification efforts, bringing arts, storytellers, historians or political giants to the community, Spears manages to simply “just do it.” Spears, director of Comer Library, has spent 25 years bringing state and national acclaim to the library. In 2000, under Spears’ leadership, the library received the National Award for Library Service from the Institute of Museum & Library Services. This was one of four given in the nation that year. Spears was named Eminent Librarian of the Year by the Library Association in 2001 and was chosen “Citizen of the Year” by the Sylacauga Beautification Council in 2007. Spears has been at the forefront of beautification, arts and library service for decades in Sylacauga. She has also served as president of the Chamber of Commerce. A graduate of Fayetteville High School, Spears graduated from Auburn University. She served as school librarian for 12 years at Benjamin Russell High School in Alexander City before returning home to Sylacauga to direct Comer Library. Spears often points out Comer Library helps all ages, from the “cradle to the grave.” She takes great pride in the library and its staff, working tirelessly to bring Comer to the place it is today.

Dr. Shirley Spears

Charles Sims of the Sylacauga Beautification Council, when making the presentation to Spears as Citizen of the Year, best described the community leader as capturing the spirit of a Rotarian, although she isn’t a Rotary Club member, she lives the motto, ‘Service Above Self.’

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Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

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Profiles in community spirit

Volunteerism defines bank marketer

Chris Kramer Story Brandon Fincher Photo by Brian Schoenhals

Chris Kramer keeps several irons in the fire when it comes to helping his community. It is just part of what makes him who he is after growing up in a family involved in helping the community. “I’m just into helping people. I get a great satisfaction out of doing it,” Kramer said. “I think everybody should find a community group they like and be a part of something like that.” In the past few years, he has served two terms as president of the auxiliary at Coosa Valley Medical Center. The auxiliary has raised many thousands of dollars for the hospital through fund raising projects such as the Holiday Tree of Love.

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Kramer has been a past president of a Leadership Sylacauga class, which spearheaded the sidewalk project at Central Park near Blue Bell Creameries. He has been involved with the Chamber of Commerce by volunteering in several capacities. Additionally, Kramer stays busy serving his church, Wesley Chapel United Methodist, by working with the kitchen crew, which plans and serves meals at the church as well as serving on other committees. This is all in addition to his job at SouthFirst Bank, where he is in charge of public relations and marketing – a career that goes hand in hand with community involvement and helping make Sylacauga a better place. Kramer rarely gets to slow down, but with all he does, neither he nor Sylacauga would want him to do so.

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Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

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Profiles in community spirit

Yates set standard for recreation Story by Kendra Carter Photo by Jerry Martin

Beth Wallace Yates is synonymous with recreation in Sylacauga. Guiding the fledgling Parks and Recreation Department for three and a half decades, much of today’s offerings resulted from her leadership. She is one of the typical movers and shakers in Sylacauga – those devoted to community to make it a better place to live, work and, in this case, play. The department created eight playgrounds, three recreation centers, two pools and multiple tennis and basketball courts during her years as director. She was a pioneer, noted for the policies she implemented, organizations she created and the good she has done throughout the community. So it should have come as no surprise that those who followed after decided to name one of the city’s six community parks in her honor. “She started many programs we still have here today,” said Roben Duncan, assistant director of the Parks and Recreation Department. “She has been a great asset to the community as a whole, so we named the park after her.” She was a teacher, a mentor and a trailblazer. After graduating from the University of Montevallo, the Columbiana native moved to Sylacauga, where she taught at Main Avenue Elementary and B.B. Comer Elementary School. In 1954, she served as president for the Alabama Parks and Recreation Association. In 1972, she was a guiding force behind developing the Sylacauga Arts Council, fostering art enrichment in the area through various programs, and she served on its board for a number of years. She helped found the annual Chalaka Arts and Crafts Festival, which became a regional attraction, and she served as a member of the Sylacauga Beautification Council. She served on the boards of several organizations, including the Sylacauga Chamber of Commerce, the Talladega Department of Human Resources, the Sylacauga Housing Authority and the Red Cross. She also served at one time on the White House’s Conference on Aging. The City of Sylacauga honored her in 1974 by declaring Beth Wallace Yates Day, and the Arts Council still provides a scholarship in her name to the winner of the Miss Sylacauga Pageant. In 1997, she recieved the Cottaquilla Council of Girl Scouts’ Women Committed to Excellence Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2006, she was named the first recipient of the Sylacauga Beautification Council’s Nanellen Lane Citizen of the Year Award. If Sylacauga’s richness is in its people, Beth Wallace Yates is one of its gold mines.

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Beth Wallace Yates

Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009


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Sylacauga Magazine • 2008 - 2009

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The Sylacauga Industrial Development Board together with the Talladega County Economic Development Authority assists our existing industry as well as recruits new industry to the area to create jobs for our citizens. Results: •Workforce has increased by 4,000 people. •Unemployment rate has fallen to 4.5% annual rate. •Per capita income has increased at a 7.4% annual rate over the last seven years (highest percentage increase in the state). •Talladega County has risen to 13th highest of 67 counties in per capita income, up from 53rd.

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Sylacauga Magazine 2008-2009