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Northside Expanding Again • Mattie Lou Teague Crow Pell City Baseball Stars • Springville • Chandler Mountain Astronomy

December 2016 & January 2017


Local Color becomes a piece of St. Clair history





Jonathan Brogdon

Deeply rooted in St. Clair, Church Brogdon is a full service, veteran law practice with a specialized focus in




Features and Articles Discover

The Essence of St. Clair

Local Color Final call for amazing musical treasure set for New Year’s Eve

Page 22 Mattie Lou Teague Crow Page 14 A look at Springville, Alabama Page 36 Chandler Mountain lures star-gazers Page 52

From Pell City to

the Pros

Baseball players living the dream Page 8

Emory Cox Rising political star Page 28

Preserving Springville Page 48

The Heart of Pell City A group effort succeeding Page 58

Business Review Northside Medical breaks ground Page 64 Canoe Creek Coffee opens Page 72

December 2016 & January 2017

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Carol Pappas

Writers AND Photographers Graham Hadley

Carol Pappas is editor and publisher of Discover St. Clair Magazine. A retired newspaper executive, she served as editor and publisher of several newspapers and magazines during her career. She won dozens of writing awards in features, news and commentary and was named Distinguished Alabama Community Journalist at Auburn University. After retiring, she launched her own multimedia company, Partners by Design Inc. In addition to marketing, design and web services for companies and nonprofits, Partners publishes Discover, various community magazines for chambers of commerce and Mosaic Magazine, a biannual publication of Alabama Humanities Foundation.

Graham Hadley is the managing editor and designer for Discover The Essence of St. Clair Magazine and also manages the magazine website. Along with Carol Pappas, he left The Daily Home as managing editor to become vice president of the Creative Division of Partners by Design multimedia company. An Auburn journalism graduate, Hadley also served as the news editor for The Rome News Tribune in Rome,Ga.

Elaine Hobson Miller

Jerry C. Smith’s interest in photography and writing go back to his teen years. He has produced numerous articles, stories and photographs for local websites and regional newspapers and magazines, including the St. Clair County News, Sand Mountain Living, and Old Tennessee Valley. His photos have appeared in books, on national public television, in local art displays and have captured prizes in various contests.

Elaine Hobson Miller is a freelance writer with a B.A. in Journalism from Samford University. She was the first female to cover Birmingham City Hall for the Birmingham Post-Herald, where she worked as reporter, food editor and features writer. A former editor of Birmingham Home & Garden magazine and staff writer for Birmingham magazine, she has written for a variety of local, regional and national publications. She is a member of Alabama Media Professionals and NFPW (the National Federation of Press Women). Follow her weekly blog about life with a dozen four-legged critters, life in the country and life in general at

Mike Callahan

Wallace Bromberg Jr.

Mike Callahan is a freelance photographer who resides on Logan Martin Lake in Pell City. He specializes in commercial, nature and family photography. Mike’s work has been published in Outdoor Alabama Magazine, Alabama Trucking Association and Alabama Concrete Industries magazines. Publishing his work to the internet frequently, he has won many honors for pictures of the day and week.

Wally graduated from Auburn University where he graduated in 1976 with his BA in History and minors in German and Education. Wally’s skills in photography blossomed during college.After a 30-year career, he decided to dust off his camera skills and pursue photography full time.

Jerry C. Smith

Leigh Pritchett

For almost 30 years, Leigh Pritchett has been involved in the publishing industry. She was employed for 11 years by The Gadsden Times, ultimately becoming Lifestyle editor. Since 1994, she has been a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in online and print venues. She holds the Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Montevallo.

Paul South Paul South, a native of Fairfield, Ala., is an Auburn graduate with a degree in journalism and a double minor in history. He also has a Juris Doctorate degree from the Birmingham School of Law. Although sports writing was always his first love, South had a remarkably versatile career as a reporter, columnist and editor. Before transitioning to newspapers, South was the first full-time sports information director at Samford University in Birmingham

Jim Smothers


Jim Smothers had his first work published in The Gadsden Times in the late 1960s when his father, sports editor Jimmy Smothers, had him take games called in from youth sports coaches and put a camera in his hands at Jacksonville State basketball games. For more than 40 years he has been a writer, photographer, graphic artist and editor at publications in central Alabama for which he has won dozens of Associated Press awards. He has degrees from Jacksonville State University and the University of Montevallo and also studied at the Winona School of Professional Photography.

From the Editor

Dream Chasers, Dream Catchers

Where would we be without dreamers? Heck, where would St. Clair County be without those people who inspire us, who see things before the rest of us or who imagine what can be and simply go after it? That’s what this edition is all about – the dreamers found throughout St. Clair County who recognized their passion and pursued it in all kinds of ways. In Springville, who would have thought a couple of retired teachers would build a regional musical mecca in their hometown? But that’s what Local Color is 15 years later, attracting famous and notso-famous entertainment playing to packed houses every weekend. Or how about Cole Billingsley and Locke St. John? They were high school baseball stars at Pell City, in college and have since been drafted into professional baseball. Fresh from being named All Stars, they now chase a dream of getting to the big leagues. It is the same with Emory Cox. At 21, he probably has more experience in Montgomery and our nation’s capital than some seasoned politicians. His dream is to one day be a public servant, and he has a sizable head start on bringing it to fruition. An Ashville family had a dream of opening in their hometown the kind of place they enjoy visiting whenever they take a trip across the country – a coffee shop. It is, they say, a place where people meet, greet and get to know one another. It’s community in its truest sense. Such is the genesis of Canoe Creek Coffee, a dream come true for a visionary family, where coffee isn’t the only thing they blend. And, it’s people like the late Mattie Lou Teague Crow who saw that if history in her county was to be preserved, she would have to do it. And she did. And we all are the beneficiaries of it. It is to those dreamers, the dreamers to come and the dreamers who have come before that we dedicate this issue. In the pages that follow, you can read all about their stories and so much more. Discover them all with us.

Carol Pappas Editor and Publisher

Discover The Essence of St. Clair

December 2016 & January 2017 • Vol. 33 •

Carol Pappas • Editor and Publisher Graham Hadley • Managing Editor and Designer Brandon Wynn • Director of Online Services Mike Callahan • Photography Wallace Bromberg Jr. • Photography Susan Wall • Photography Dale Halpin • Advertising

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Locke St. John (left) and Cole Billingsley

DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017

From Pell City to the Pros Every morning, you have two choices: Continue to sleep with your dreams or wake up and chase them. — Dugout sign, Panther Baseball Stadium Story by Carol Pappas Photos by Graham Hadley Submitted photos For Pell City’s Locke St. John and Cole Billingsley, they were two identical dreams that came at different times in their lives but wound up coming true in the very same place – on a baseball field, merely a step, swing or catch away from the major leagues. Cole is an outfielder in the Baltimore Orioles organization for the Aberdeen Ironbirds in the New York Penn League. Locke is in the same league as a left-handed pitcher in the Detroit Tigers organization for the Connecticut Tigers. Locke’s dream of playing baseball in the pros began at an early age. He even remembers his first T-ball team, Tumlin Insurance Diamondbacks, he said with a smile. “I always dreamed of playing pro baseball,” he said. “I always wanted to be a pro at the game I loved. But you don’t know what goes into it until you get there.” His route was as a star pitcher at Pell City High School, then on to Southern Union Community College in Wadley and then as a transfer to University of South Alabama his junior year. Panther teammate Cole headed straight from Pell City High School to University of South Alabama, where he played in the College World Series and garnered several awards during his career there. His dream didn’t take hold as early as Locke’s, he said. “As a young kid out there playing baseball, there’s nothing on your mind. But as you grow older and find a love for something, for me, that love was baseball. I worked at it, but I never dreamed of pro” back then. In college, “I knew I had a chance.” Besides the cold weather for these young southerners, there


From Pell City to the Pros were plenty of other transitions to be made. “You’re surrounded by a whole new group of people, playing baseball every day, learning how to handle a whole new atmosphere and environment,” Cole said. “Being away from family” was a tough transition, said Locke. Also hard to get used to is the physical toll. “You have to take care of your body on a daily basis to put yourself in a position to perform at the highest level every day.” That’s no easy task considering 10-hour bus rides between games and playing the very next day. But he has had some mentors along the way who have helped him get this far in the journey. “From my parents to high school coaches to summer league ... I take pieces from everywhere and put them together,” Locke said. Former Detroit Tiger pitcher Todd Jones, now a Pell City resident and a strong advocate for Pell City’s baseball program, has been a significant mentor. “I could call him at 3 a.m., and he wouldn’t mind. I am confident asking him about anything. He has been a big influence, helping me with pitching. It’s the mental side – 163 games in 180 days. You have to make sure you are mentally sound day in and day out. It’s tough. It takes a big toll on your body.” And it was “pretty cool” that Jones was the one who persuaded the Detroit organization to let him be the first to tell Locke he was drafted by his former team. “It could have been any team, it didn’t matter,” Locke said. “I would have taken any opportunity to do what I could with it because it was my dream.” “It has been a whole new environment, but a whole lot of fun,” Cole said. “You see new places and meet new people.” But it has been the influences that came long before that got him to this point. “My parents, my grandparents, high school, college and summer league coaches ... a lot of people played a huge role in my life.” He credited that support system as contributing to the whole person, not just the baseball player. “They care about what kind of person you are. That’s the most important thing. They helped shape my life.” One of those leading supporters is his grandfather, former Pell City High School Football Coach Pete Rich, an icon around these parts. It’s no accident the football stadium bears his name. He is known throughout the community as a molder of young men. “He is a man of God. He has had an amazing impact on the community of Pell City. People still stop by his house just to talk to him. He is a great man, a wise man.” While Cole and Locke are spending a few months of the off season in Pell City, they still have their eyes and minds on spring training. But in the early days, they were just looking for a little break. “It’s refreshing in a sense,” said Cole. “We’ve been playing baseball every day. It’s nice to get home where you’re from, at your house.” “Sleep in your own bed,” Locke echoed. “It gives you time to recover from a long season and take care of your


Cole at bat for Pell City

Locke on mound for Panthers

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From Pell City to the Pros

Locke’s early years

Cole and Locke step onto Panther field once again.

Cole’s early years


DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017

body. In a month or so,” he said in October, “we’ll start in the weight room, trying to get better and make the most of this opportunity and get ready for next season.” Last season wasn’t bad for either of these players. These former Panther and USA teammates made it to the league’s All Star game – on opposite sides. “It was a really cool experience to be on that kind of stage, to be recognized as an All Star,” Cole said. “It was an honor to be on that stage and sign autographs for the kids and people. It gives a lot of kids hope. It is a blessing for us to play pro sports. It is cool to do what we do and be from the same town as well.” They both take their jobs seriously, not just as players, but as role models. What Locke would tell young players just like him is to “never give up. Everybody has a day they don’t do well in the game. Go out the next day and be the best player. Work hard. We didn’t just wake up and have super talent.” Imagine being down five runs in the 9th inning, Locke added. “You always have to have heart. Never give up. That’s what I would tell them.” “Take pride in what you do,” Cole advised. “Enjoy the game and try to be the best you can be,” he would tell up-and-coming athletes. “Work really hard.” To see what Locke and Cole have been able to do with their own opportunities, they hope will be what gives youngsters “motivation and hope to have the same opportunity.” As for themselves, what’s up ahead? “Being in the minors, your biggest hope is to make it to the major leagues,” Cole said. “Each year, you try to better yourself. That’s what you hope for and what you work for. Your biggest hope eventually is to make it to the big leagues.” Locke agreed. “Our ultimate goal is to make it to the big leagues. We have an opportunity to play in professional baseball. Playing every day teaches patience. There are things in your life you have to overcome. There are things in this game to overcome. I feel like we’re going to make the most of it.” l

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Ashville’s Steel Magnolia Mattie Lou Teague Crow

Mattie Lou Teague in 1918 at the age of 15

Story and photos by Jerry Smith Submitted photos Those of us who work with history sometimes stand on broad shoulders as we search for every pertinent detail, no matter how obscure, to ensure the veracity of our offerings. Accurate, comprehensive input is as vital to us as a blueprint is to a construction foreman. Occasionally, we encounter a single book by an author who writes as if they were actually there. Such a work is History of St. Clair County, Alabama by Ashville’s Mattie Lou Teague Crow, the one go-to book for most beginning researchers. While other writers such as Rubye Hall Edge Sisson (From Trout Creek To Ragland) and Vivian Buffington Qualls (History of Steele, Alabama) have expanded our knowledge of their communities, Mrs. Crow’s book is the single, definitive work that covers the whole county. Writer and historian Joe Whitten fondly characterized his colleague as “... a Southern lady through and through, with an iron fist inside a velvet glove. When necessary, she would not hesitate to remove the glove.” She’s reputed to have arranged a business meeting with a very important official from Montgomery. When he walked in the door of the restaurant and sat down, she immediately chastised him for not removing his hat in the presence of a lady. Her penchant for history began in early childhood while living in her mother’s hotel and boarding house. In those days, Ashville was a bustling city with lots of opportunity for her to pester guests and travelers for every detail of their adventures and knowledge of the outside world.

Life at the Teague Hotel

Mattie Lou was born near Ashville in 1903, the same year the Wright Brothers first flew. She was the seventh and youngest child of Talulah (Nunneley) and John Rowan Teague. Her father, a farmer, died when she was only 2. Quoting an entry in Heritage of St. Clair County by Mary McClendon Fouts, “... Lula Teague could not support her family on the farm, so she moved to Ashville and took in sewing for a time. “There was a large two-storied house built by Curtiss Grubb Beason, about the time that Ashville was incorporated, where the Union State Bank stands today. Lula Teague’s brother, Robert Nunneley, and his wife Emma had operated it (as the Village Inn) for many years. “Robert decided to retire, and Lula then operated it until her death in 1942. Her daughter, Annie, operated it for 10 or more years after that. This ... is where their seven children grew up. It was a sad day in 1960 when the old hotel was demolished.” Also in Heritage, Mattie Lou’s sister, Annie (Teague) McClendon recalls: “I remember how our mother bought this old house in the year of 1909 and moved us there: Grandmother Nunneley, Uncle Rufus, my four brothers, my little sister (Mattie Lou) and myself. “After she made a small down payment on the place, we had no money, so we all worked, helping as best we could. The boys helped, not only with the chores, but at any little job they could find, in order to buy their clothes and shoes and help with the expenses. I stopped school to help with the housework. Our baby sister did her part, too. “I remember the big kitchen and dining room where so much food was prepared and served.” Mattie Lou’s daughter,

Mattie Lou Teague Crow with Bill Hereford at museum dedication

Ellen (Crow) Smith, adds that a lot of that food came from the family garden, chicken coop and smokehouse. She also says her mother’s job was ironing linen napkins for the dinner table, a job she hated and prophetically swore that when she grew up she would invent paper napkins that could be used once then thrown away. Annie continues, “We had a black mammy whom we loved very much. She was Josephine Smith, often called Mammy Jo. She was with us about 30 years. “I remember how Mama got up long before daylight and worked long after dark. I remember the cheerful living room with open fire and piano, where we all gathered to sing. Our mother loved this part of the day most. “I remember the big front room where the ‘drummers’ slept and where they showed their samples on tables or wooden planks laid across the foots of beds. I remember the doctors and their families who lived in this house and called it home, ... and the teachers who boarded here (during school terms). “I remember when our little sister (Mattie Lou) went away to school ... and how we looked forward to Christmas and Thanksgiving, when she would be home.” An obsessively inquisitive young Mattie Lou found a gold mine of knowledge among guests who lived at the hotel, many of whom were much educated and experienced in life. In a 1999 News-Aegis story, Joe Whitten writes, “Born when this county was still in swaddling clothes, Mattie Lou lived in St Clair County for nearly a hundred years. As a girl and young woman, she heard Civil War battle stories from the old veterans themselves. “She learned of Reconstruction hardships from the men and women who lived in Ashville in those days. It is no mystery why history was a life-long passion with her.” Every one Mattie Lou met knew things that she yearned to discover and understand. She often eavesdropped to hear

DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017


Traveling the


Mattie Lou Teague Crow at home in Ashville

uncensored war stories as old soldiers chatted on the front porch after supper. As a child, she loved to sneak into courtrooms during trials, sitting in the back row to avoid attention, but the judge would order his bailiff to remove her and her friends when a particularly heinous matter was before the bench, She diligently collected and annotated an unrivaled historical database. It’s said that her hope chest was full of historical documents instead of linens and personal items. In a sense, she was the history Wikipedia of her day.

Mattie Lou becomes Mrs. Crow

Ellen tells that her future father, 25-year-old Abner (Ab) Hodges Crow, spent much of his leisure time at a wooden bench on the town square, chatting with his buddies as young men are wont to do. Naturally, this talk often included the opposite sex, which probably hasn’t changed since the days of the Pyramids. Mattie Lou, some 11 years younger than Ab, sometimes walked by with a group of friends. He had his own way of expressing admiration and,


Richard Teague, Mattie Lou Teague and a friend enjoy a Victrola


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BACKROADS once the girls were out of earshot, was known to say, “One day I’m going to be compelled to marry that girl.” Ab was not known for being straitlaced and, given the age difference, her mother was not really fond of them getting married. Mattie Lou said in a Birmingham News story, “Momma told the man I married that I had to have at least two years of college education before I could settle down.” Like any obedient but strong-minded young woman of that post-Victorian era, Mattie Lou accepted this condition, and immediately after graduating high school in 1921, she went to Alabama College for Women, which is now the University of Montevallo. She and Ab were married a few years later. He’d learned a little about the pharmacy business while working for Dewberry Drugs in Birmingham and established a drugstore on the square in Ashville. Ab had no formal teaching in drugs, so had to employ a full-time pharmacist. In 1932, the local sheriff was killed in action. Ab was appointed by the governor to complete the late sheriff’s term and was re-elected, serving a total of about eight years. Ellen recalls going with her father to homes out in the countryside, to inform families of the loss of one of their own. These trips were part of the sheriff’s duties, since there were no telephones. Ellen said they usually went after her father had closed the drugstore for the day and, with no rural electricity, most of these grim visits were in pitch dark, where they often encountered snarling dogs in the middle of the night. She adds that her father was a compassionate man who never turned away a hobo or transient during the Depression. They were not allowed in the house, but Mattie Lou would tell them to wait on the front steps of the Methodist church, and Sheriff Ab would allow them to eat and sleep in the jail overnight.

Heritage hoarder

A well-educated woman, Mattie Lou also attended Jacksonville State Teachers’ College and University of Alabama, with degrees in elementary and secondary education and library science. Teaching was in her genes. Her grandfather, E.B. Teague, was a superintendent of education. Her father was principal of Springville School. One of her first official assignments was a school for farmers’ and migrant workers’ children on Chandler Mountain. Rather than commute every day, she stayed in the homes of farm families and shared their lifestyle. Mattie Lou taught at several St. Clair and Jefferson County schools, directed libraries at Judson College, Samford University and Homewood High School, and taught library science at night at UAB. But all the while she was stockpiling documents and information that would fuel her true avocation, preserving heritage. By the early 1960s she had published a short history of Ashville Baptist Church, followed in 1973 by her most important single work, The History of St. Clair County, Alabama, the first book of its kind for our county. It endures to this day as a superbly written, comprehensive resource for all who would follow her lead. Four years later, she produced Diary of a Confederate Soldier—John Washington Inzer 1834-1928, which edited and


Teague Hotel built in 1820 by C.G. Beason

preserved the Civil War memoirs of one of Ashville’s premier citizens. It’s a treasure for Civil War buffs, as it factually portrays lesser-known factors, events and emotions as written by a highly literate man who served in a losing battle, then became a working part of Alabama’s re-entry into the United States after Appomattox. Joe Whitten adds, “Perhaps her crowning achievement was the Ashville Museum and Archives. Dedicated in 1989, the Archive was originally in a room at the Ashville Library. Mrs. Crow believed it was important for us to know who we are and where we came from. “She once commented, ‘Give me a name and I can take it back six generations.’ After listening to her recount names, dates and places, some of us wondered if she couldn’t take one or two families all the way back to Adam and Eve!” Joe affirms that recently-retired archivist Charlene Simpson has virtually equaled her mentor’s level of expertise in ancestral name-dropping. Both will be sorely missed. Every public document, official record, land deed, obsolete file, minutes of meetings, every scrap of yesteryear was sacred to Mattie Lou. She prevented several hundred pounds of courthouse documents from being burned, as evidenced by charred edges on some which were snatched from a roaring bonfire by Mattie Lou herself. In a Birmingham News story by Melanie Jones, Mrs. Crow is quoted in her later years, “Why I’m just an old country lady that does as she pleases. My husband died 30 years ago and my children were both at the university. I sold the drug store and

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BACKROADS went back to school. I had a feeling Ashville would be very drab if I sat still.” According to another News writer, Mike Easterling, Mattie Lou got an elementary education degree from Jacksonville State Teachers College (now Jacksonville State University) in 1949, then got a secondary degree in 1950, not long after Ab’s death. She later joined her children, Ellen and Pete, at the University of Alabama, getting a master’s degree in library science. And she was true to her word about not sitting still. She managed, delegated, arm-twisted, conspired and charmed her way through a bewildering list of historical quests and civil projects, most of which would not have succeeded without her dynamic spirit. In the same News story, she is quoted, “You don’t get to my age unless you stir up some trouble now and then. I’ve fought with some folks like a tiger to get something done. But it gets done, and then we’re friends. You just gotta shake ‘em up a bit.”

Mattie Lou at age 16, during World War 1

Relocating history

While some strive to move mountains, Mrs. Crow was content to move a huge, historic, 132-year-old, two-story building across town to save it from the wrecking ball. It had been moved before to a location beside the Ashville City Jail, but once again was in the way of progress. A lover of all things historic, she could not bear to see this fine old structure demolished. Reluctant to put themselves at odds with the indomitable Mrs. Crow, the County Commission agreed that she could have the old building provided she moved it somewhere else, and soon. Her crusade resulted in a new action group called Save The Ashville Masonic Lodge Council. In a mighty effort that’s still legendary among Ashville natives, Mrs. Crow spearheaded an effort to raise some $12,000 to cover expenses. It took only two months to secure these funds as well as a nearby piece of property donated by Jack Inzer in memory of his grandfathers, both of whom were Masons and lay at rest in nearby City Cemetery. It’s been said there was no door upon which she would not knock, no favor left uncalled, no politician immune to her bullyragging until the job was done and, with Mrs. Crow in the catbird seat, the 132-year-old Masonic Lodge soon found itself being moved to a third location. The Masonic Lodge has been placed on the prestigious Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. It now sits peacefully about a block from Ashville’s town square, serving as a monument to Ashville’s history and to its matron saint. The Mattie Lou Teague Crow Museum upstairs contains many of her mementos. It’s presently open only by appointment. Call Ashville Archives for more information if you wish to visit. It’s a nice place to savor genuine antiquity. In a 1990 Birmingham News story by Elma Bell, Council Member Hope Burger said, “As a result of Mattie Lou’s hysterics, all this is taking place. ... This whole thing has been a team effort.” Such was the stuff of which St. Clair’s own Steel Magnolia was made.


A ‘legendarian’ passes

Some years before retirement, the widowed Mattie Lou and her sister-in-law, Gladys Teague, operated a small antiques shop in a little gingerbread-trimmed white house beside Roses & Lace Bed & Breakfast. It was the former Ashville Academy, so she named it Academy Antiques. She spent several of her last years quietly reminiscing about her prodigious life in a book-lined apartment adjacent to daughter Ellen’s former home in Irondale. Mattie Lou donated most of her vast collections to be shared by one and all at Ashville Archives. She delighted in telling ghost stories to groups of children at Irondale Library. A 1982 Birmingham News article by Garland Reeves relates that one of her favorites was the sad saga of Old Tawassee, an Indian who stayed behind after his brothers were expelled from Alabama on the Trail of Tears. Tawassee was hanged for civil mischief and is reputed to have haunted the town on that same day every year afterward by making his skeleton rattle in a local doctor’s closet and shaking the limb from which he was hanged. Joe Whitten wrote in the News-Aegis, “On the day the archives was dedicated, she said ‘I haven’t done anything. I’ve twisted a few arms to get stuff done, but it was others who did all the work.’ But it was her love for a county and a place called home that inspired her.” In the same article, Joe eulogizes his friend and colleague, “On a sun-washed, blue-sky day last week, Mattie Lou Teague Crow was brought back to the county and the town she loved, and was laid to rest in Ashville Cemetery. “It was a fitting day to say farewell to a lady who left us an impressive legacy of books, biographical sketches and human interest articles about St. Clair County. “She’s found a new place to call home now. I wonder if she’s taking notes for her next book?” l

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LOCAL COLOR Girls With Guitars— Lolly Lee, Janet Hall, Kelli Johnson

Springville’s ‘colorful’ music spot closing its doors, unless ... Story by Paul South Photos by Susan Wall and Jerry Martin and courtesy of Local Color 22

DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017

Dolores Hydock and Bobby Horton

Imagine a magical music box that when opened played music from virtually every era. And from the box wafted the sweet aroma of cornbread cooked in a black, cast-iron skillet and chicken and dumplings like your Grandmama used to make. And imagine a place so intimate and acoustically perfect, you could, as Merle Dollar puts it, “hear the smiles” of the audience. So it is with Local Color, Springville’s musical treasure box. But unless Dollar and her husband, Garry Burttram, find a buyer, this precious box will be locked after the iconic Alabama bluegrass trio, “Three on a String,” plays the venue’s final show on New Year’s Eve. Dollar and Burttram taught in area schools until both retired. But instead of kicking back, the couple went to work. Burttram and a partner went into the barbecue business, which later expanded into a burger and barbecue restaurant. But Garry “got tired of all the grease.” So in 2001, Burttram and Don Dollar, Merle’s former husband, decided to open a different kind of place. At the same time, Merle and her sisters were renovating the site of what’s now Local Color. “The whole premise was to do really good food and have music. It would be a great place to do art stuff and have theater and all the things that we loved to do,” Dollar said. DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017

Late Steve Young



Sally Barris and The Birmingham Boys, Chas Williams and Jason Bailey

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With a budget of practically zero, Garry and Merle scavenged for chairs and tables and poured do-it-yourself sweat into the place. And by the first weekend in October 2002, the doors opened, offering classic Southern cuisine. It was not a sparkling opening night. “It was a stupid thing to do,” Dollar said. “To open smack in the middle of the college football season was not a good idea.” It became clear Local Color needed a hook. Sylvia Wade (Garry’s sister) and our cousin, Peggy Jones, had been singing together for 20 years, crooning tight Andrews Sisters’-style harmonies and became the “house band.” Soon, they brought in local musicians and storytellers. “Everybody who plays an instrument in Springville or the surrounding area has played our place at least once,” Merle said. Soon word got around. The first big-name to grace the Local Color stage was a Birmingham-based jazz singer Elnora Spencer. “Elnora could blow the walls out,” she said. Before long, Local Color, with only about 70 seats, became a hot venue for local, regional and national storytellers, singers and musicians performing all types of music from jazz to Celtic, even 19th-century Alabama tunes set to jazz arrangements. Trumpeter Robert Moore, for example, traveled from his home in Portland, Ore., at least once a year to play Local Color. And Steve Young, writer of the Eagles’ hit, “Seven Bridges Road,” has also played the room. And then there is Bobby Horton. Part of the iconic string band “Three on a String.” Horton earned national acclaim for his work in the dazzling documentaries of filmmaker Ken Burns, the scores he wrote and played for 21 films of the National Park Service. The band performed at Local Color at least eight times a year, including a “Month of Sundays,” where each Sunday for a month, Three on a String brings a friend along to perform to sold-out Sunday shows. Horton has played as part of the trio and has performed his solo act a number of times, including an annual performance of Civil War-era music and a musical history of Christmas. “I don’t know how many times I’ve played there, but every time I do it’s very special. It’s just wonderful,” Horton said. Horton can’t put a finger on what has made Local Color so wonderful and so popular over the years. Merle is the bubbly one who greets the public. Garry cooks great food and is sometimes “crotchety.” Horton loves them both. “Garry’s the tension, and Merle’s the release,” Horton said with a laugh. “They’re definitely a part of the Local Color family,” Dollar said As far as its restaurant menu, diners make a reservation for the night, giving Local Color a classic “supper club” feel. “We’re not fussy, not prissy, but we do try to keep it classy. Dinner is served from 6 to 7:30, then the lights go down and the performance begins. Quiet

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‘The Usual’ – Three on a String; packed house

from the audience is expected. “We frown heavily on talking and yakking during the performance,” Dollar said. “People are paying money to see a particular group and they are entitled to the best possible time they can have. Once the music starts, that’s when the magic happens.” There is something magical going on. Even with a concrete floor, a metal ceiling and narrow walls, Local Color seems to defy the laws of physics and acoustics. “There’s something magical about that room. It’s got a resonance that is so good,” Dollar said. “The audience is so close, and the musicians are so close performers can literally hear the people breathing. It’s just like they’re in your living room.” Horton agreed. You can see every single person in the room and that is very fun,” he said. “You play in a big venue and you love the people, but you sure can’t see ’em.” As for the acoustics, Horton said, “The minute you walk in and start to play, you just get the warm fuzzzies. It’s great.” And, it’s a place to test the waters for new material, Horton said.


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Merle and Garry “We looked at it as one of the strong suits for playing there,” he said. That intimacy no doubt plays a role in the packed houses over the years. But so do the dinners. Remember the chicken and dumplings and cornbread? That’s just part of a limited menu. “It’s just great, old-time Southern cooking, which I love. You can’t find that very many places anymore,” Horton said. “It’s biscuits and stuff your wife won’t let you have at home because of your diet, but you can have ’em at Local Color.” Springville is a very artsy part of St. Clair County,” Dollar said. “They love music. They love theater. We have several authors who live in the area. It’s just a hotbed for entertainment kinds of things. I don’t know why it is. Maybe it’s the water we grew up with. Springville seemed like an area where this would go over. We thought if we liked it, people would like it, too.” Indeed, they have. But Merle and Garry have decided to close up shop, to enjoy retirement and do other things. It’s something they’ve kicked around for years. “We kind of wanted to go out on top, and we have really good memories,” Dollar said. Horton is grieved by news of the closure. “If you wanted to copy that place, you couldn’t replicate it. It just sort of happened. I’m just so sad that they’re quitting. I can’t stand it,” Horton said. They’re going to miss it more than they know. And so will I.” As Local Color’s last waltz nears, Dollar knows the tears will come. It’s bittersweet. “I’m going to miss it like crazy,” she said. “At the same time, there’s so much life to be lived out there. We’re ready to take the next step.” l


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DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017


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Anatomy of a rising political star Story by Leigh Pritchett Photos by Mike Callahan Submitted photos Emory Cox sat on the lakeside patio of his Pell City home, laughing and talking with a stranger as if with a long-time friend. He discussed politics, society, government and the state of domestic and foreign affairs. With the certainty that comes from firsthand knowledge, he assessed the work of sundry politicians. This was a brief moment of respite after a summer in the company of newsmakers. During his summer break from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., the 21-year-old junior served internships in the Capitol Hill office of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-AL; with the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs (the chairman of which is U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-AL), and in the office of Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange. Once during Cox’s time in Washington, there was an “armed shooter” alert in his building. “That was wild,” Cox said. Thankfully, it was a false alarm. At least twice during his internship in Alabama, Cox saw history unfold: - He attended former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s first hearing before the Judicial Inquiry Commission. - He went to a parole hearing for Thomas Blanton, who was convicted in the 1963 bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham that claimed the lives of four African-American girls. Cox has long been interested in law and politics. In college, he is studying economics and American


Emory, right, talks with fellow intern in historic U.S. Senate Rotunda.

DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017

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Emory Cox history, intending to pursue a master’s degree in business administration and ultimately a law degree. His choice for graduate school is likely to be the University of Alabama. His father, Ray, was a golfer there and his grandfather, long-time Pell City dentist and former mayor Dr. Bam Cox (deceased), played on the 1941 National Championship football team. This past summer was actually Cox’s fourth for serving internships in government offices. Before his senior year in high school, Cox was an intern in Congressman Mike Rogers’ office in Washington, D.C. “That was definitely a good, growing-up experience,” Cox said. Living alone and taking care of finances, laundry, meals, and everything else “definitely gives you more respect for your parents. ... You remember to say, ‘Thank you,’ (to them) more often.” His mother, Annette, never doubted that he was ready for the venture. “I had every confidence that he was mature enough to behave responsibly away from home,” she said. “... I knew that living and interning in Washington would be a wonderful learning experience for Emory. From age 11 forward, he planned our family vacations and was always at ease when traveling. We have close friends in the D.C. area who I knew would be there for him if any issues arose.” The summer between high school and college, Cox assisted Bill Armistead, chairman of the Alabama Republican Party. Then, during summer break 2015, Cox worked in the office of Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and with Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill. PREPARING FOR POLITICS Cox’s interests are many. He enjoys kayaking, swimming, traveling, playing golf and tennis, and visiting family, friends and neighbors. Following politics is definitely one of his hobbies. And yes, he does have political aspirations. He quickly added, however, that he does not want to be a career politician. Instead, he wants his public service to be in the truest sense — only for a short time and only with prior private sector experience. “I’m a huge supporter of term limits,” said Cox, who participates in the St. Clair County Republican Party when he is home. “That’s the way the Founders wanted it.” In the various internships, Cox believes


Emory at Washington and Lee University

Emory and Dr. Ben Carson, Republican candidate for president

DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017

Emory Cox Young Emory with father, Ray Cox, at golf museum Emory at home on college break with mother, Annette Cox

he has observed the traits of effective leadership. He admires what he saw in Armistead, whom Cox describes as a moral, ethical, spiritual person. Through that internship, Cox met Dr. Ben Carson, who later would become a GOP contender in the 2016 Presidential race. “Dr. Carson is a brilliant man of sincere conviction whose life story proves that, with hard work, anyone can succeed in America,” Cox said. “I admire his thoughtful approach to complex problems and believe that he would be an excellent secretary of health or education in a Presidential cabinet.” As for Sessions, Cox said, “He is attuned to the people of Alabama and deeply grounded in faith.” Even during a busy time of advising then-GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump, attending to Senate business, and meeting with constituents, Sessions still spent time with Cox. “(He) took time to talk to and mentor and encourage a young person.” Cox found Strange to be a mountain of a man ... literally. Though Cox stands six feet tall, he was dwarfed by Strange’s stature. Even so, Cox said Strange is “approachable” and “down to earth.” Each of the internships left an impression on Cox, who left an impression as well. “Emory brought an unwavering passion for hard work and an enthusiasm for tackling any assignment,” said Mike Lewis, communications director in Strange’s office. “We wish his internship had not ended so soon.”


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Emory Cox COLLEGE LIFE Cox’s busy summer is an extension of his busy college life. In addition to his course load, he is chairman of the College Republican Club at Washington and Lee University and was appointed by the university’s president to serve on the student financial aid committee. Also, he was elected to a Student Government body that formulates a course of action in student disciplinary matters. In the Lexington, Va., community, he is involved in the Rockbridge County Republican Party, as well as Robert E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church. He said he and friends go to church together as a way to keep each other accountable. More importantly, though, they attend church because faith has an all-encompassing importance in a person’s life. At home, Cox is a member of Pell City First United Methodist Church. Being with other followers of Christ Jesus is an essential ingredient in Cox’s recipe for success in college. The recipe reads like this: “go to class (of course); study hard and find a church home to stay grounded in faith.” In church, “you meet people in the community. It keeps you grounded,” Cox said. “It keeps faith in the forefront. ... I know how important faith is in my life.” Faith, Cox explained, instills moral and ethical values. It leads a person to treat everyone with respect, and affirms the presence of the all-powerful God, who is far greater than we are and is in control of everything. When individuals who make policies, laws and decisions are people of faith, they serve with integrity the voters they represent, Cox said. “We need more people like that in public office.” EARLY LIFE Cox shares a common experience with so many of the historical figures who shaped our nation: he lived his early years in a cabin. Until age 2, his family lived in a 500-squarefoot, A-frame cabin at Seddon Shores before moving to their current home. Through eighth grade, Cox attended Pell City schools and then went to The Altamont School in Birmingham for high school. Cox said his parents — both entrepreneurs — instilled in him values, perseverance and determination. “No matter the task, no matter what you might be doing in life, do it 100 percent,” Cox said, recalling what his father taught him. “Find your passion and devote yourself to it.” Before Cox was born, his father, Ray, founded Metro Bank by going door to door to sell stock in it. The first location opened in Pell City. Now, the bank operates nine sites in St. Clair, Etowah, Talladega and Cleburne counties. Annette Cox ran her own Pell City business, called Potpourri Gifts & Antiques. Emory Cox said his mother passed to him the legacy of hard work she learned growing up on a farm in South Alabama. Ray Cox was driven, passionate and diligent, Emory Cox continued. “He was very good at treating people with respect, no matter what walk of life. That’s a goal that I set for myself.” Ray Cox was also adept at balancing responsibilities and, as a result, was a great father, his son said. When Emory Cox was quite young, his dad was diagnosed


Emory worked as intern for U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions

Emory and Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange with cancer and given only six months to live. For 18 months, Ray Cox continued to work and to create special family memories. After a two-year battle with the disease, Ray Cox succumbed to cancer in 2005. Emory Cox was nine years old. Cox said his mother “handled (Dad’s) passing with such strength and grace and determination. ... She was determined to raise me in a way she thought he would be proud of. She was always strong, always supportive, always there for me. ... I love her dearly.” Losing a parent, Cox said, brings the realization that relationships are important and each day with those we love is to be cherished. Annette Cox said her son “stepped up as an adult overnight. We had to learn to depend on each other and, as a result, have a great relationship. It has been amazing to watch Emory grow into a young man that I know his Dad would be so proud of. I feel honored to be his mother.” l

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Marching to its own rhythm Story by Paul South Photos by Susan Wall In one sense, Springville rocks to the gentle rhythm of a quintessential Southern small town, where folks speak to everyone – even strangers – on the street. In the mornings, locals and visitors feast on steaming plates of biscuits and gravy at Springville Café, a meat-and-three at lunch, seasoning their food with talk of politics and football and gossip. They worry when their neighbors are sick, celebrate when a new baby is born and mourn when a neighbor passes away. It’s a rhythm of Springville Tiger football on fall Friday nights and heartfelt prayers on sun-washed Sunday mornings. But in another sense, this town of nearly 4,100 souls marches to its own drumbeat, crowding the local library for the latest literature, tapping their toes at intimate music venues like Local Color, or celebrating local artists and craftspeople at Homestead Hollow. It loves the cool, clear water of Big Canoe Creek, the same ancient waters that brought Native peoples and white settlers to the area centuries ago. This town that once boasted its own college cherishes history and education, like the Old Rock School, crafted from stones yanked out of


DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017

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Main Street at night DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017


Springville Preservation paramount in Springville

the ground by locals, and the current Springville High School that strives for excellence in and out of the classroom Like its sister cities in St. Clair County, Springville is growing, but at its own pace, with its own sense of how things should be done. It’s a stained-glass window of a town, vibrant in life and color, where the light of possibility shines through. “Springville is a very welcome, gentle, conservativeminded but progressive-thinking city for people to live in. All of those are here,” said Springville Mayor William “Butch” Isley. “They are all seeking for it to be slow and easy for people to live here. The daily life here is easy. The town is welcoming and warm to all who come here. That’s why I’m here.”

A rich history

Why the Springville area’s first settlers came here is simple: Water, pure water. The area’s crystal clear waters from natural springs made it a popular rest stop for Native peoples and later European pioneers who traveled through and settled in the area. The first settlers came to Springville – first known as Big Springs – before Alabama achieved statehood in 1819. The first church was established in 1817. With the establishment of the first post office in 1833, the town’s name was changed to Pinkhill, but was again changed a year later to Springville. The town was incorporated in December 1880. Descendants of families who settled in Springville in its earliest days – Woodall, McClendon, Bradford, Forman and others – still call Springville home. A co-educational academy was built in 1861 and in 1873 was renamed Springville High School. The 1870s were marked with both triumph and tragedy. The Alabama Great Southern Railway came through the town in 1870. Sadly, the advent of the railroad brought with it the dreaded disease


DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017

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cholera, killing many of the railroad workers. Telephone and electricity came to Springville in the first quarter of the 20th century. And the town’s water and sewer system came into being in 1935, in the heart of the Great Depression. In 1957, a new city hall was constructed. Donna Davis is part of a cadre of volunteers working at the Springville Museum and Archives. Once located in the upstairs portion of the Springville Public Library, when the library moved to a new building, the museum made the Masonic Lodge on Main Street its home. In late October, Davis and the museum volunteers bustled, decorating for a Christmas exhibit. She remembers one of the milepost moments of Springville history, the explosion at the local train depot in January 1969. “I was in the second grade, and it was two days past my birthday, and I remember it very well. We were all in school on that day,” Davis recalled. “What I remember was the panic of everyone. We all were evacuated from the school and ran up the hill behind the school, trying to get to safety. The explosions were shattering the windows of the houses around town.” In the panic, children piled into the cars of neighbors to get home. Firefighters from as far away as Birmingham, as well as the Alabama National Guard came to fight the blaze, sparked when a train carrying propane exploded. Miraculously, despite the damage to buildings, no one was killed. One former town landmark, now gone, brings happier memories. Residents of a certain age will remember a lake constructed by the city in the heart of town. Filled with carp, bream and trout, the lake was popular for picnics and other social events, as well as for folks who simply wanted to feed the fish. A hill behind the lake was home to Easter sunrise services, a celebration of resurrection and renewal. Springville Lake was a popular spot until the late 1960s when the state health department ordered that the lake be covered over and filled with dirt, opening the floodgates of protest. Letters to the editor flooded local newspapers, and the lake’s closure generated coverage from big city papers. Writing in the Birmingham News more than 40 years ago, the late Frank Sikora reported, “Springville Lake was a natural park. You could hardly walk around the place through the crowds that came on July 4. Now it’s gone. Where the water was, there is now only red-yellow dirt. Nobody wanted it to happen, but it did.” The lake was the heart of the town, said lifelong resident Donna Davis. In the early part of the 20th century, Springville had its own college, attracting students from as far away as Texas, many of whom roomed at local homes. Spring Lake College burned down in 1912. The lake even spawned a number of businesses, flour mills and axe handle mills and hotels. Most notable was the Herron Hotel, which attracted politicians, movie stars and travelers who flocked to Springville to dine. “It was famous for its fried chicken, which you could get for 50 cents,” Davis said. Big Canoe Creek and other tributaries of the Coosa River have helped the city keep its time-honored ties to the water. And as water enriches life, some natives of Springville have enriched and entertained America, like former major-league ballplayer Artie Wilson, a four-time all-star in the Negro Leagues who hit .402 in 1948. Wilson broke briefly into the National League, where he was a teammate of Hall-of-Famer and Fairfield, Ala., native Willie Mays. Wilson was also a four-time batting champ in the Pacific Coast League.

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Aubrey Willis Williams was head of FDR’s National Youth Administration during the New Deal. He was also assistant federal relief administrator during the Depression, the second-highest ranking American relief official at the time. And the late Springville native Hank Patterson performed the unforgettable role of Fred Ziffel in the classic television comedy, Green Acres. Patterson also had a recurring role in Gunsmoke and appeared in a number of television classics, including The Twilight Zone and Perry Mason.

Smart growth, economic diversity

Like other municipalities in St. Clair County, Springville is growing. In the past 12 months, 50 new homes have either been completed or are in progress, a sign that the housing market is coming out of the recession of 2007-08, Isley said. St. Clair County Realtor Josh Kell agreed. New rooftops are becoming common in Springville after years of an almost flat-lined housing market. Kell and his late father built one of the new developments in Springville, Village Trace.


Mayor Isley and Mayor Pro-Tem Wayne Tucker review new sports complex plans

DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017



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New children’s library just opened in former City Hall.

DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017

“Especially in the past year, you’ve seen a lot of new construction in Springville, more than the last several years,” he said. Proximity to I-59 is a key selling point, Kell said, attracting newcomers from Jefferson County. As far as future trends, unless something unforeseen happens, Kell sees continued residential growth. “I see a lot of continued growth,” he said. “There’s still plenty of opportunity for new rooftops, barring something similar to what we just came out of.” At the heart of the community’s overall economy? Pride. “The businesses are very focused on that community,” said Don Smith, executive director of the St. Clair County Economic Development Authority. “Pride is at an absolute high in Springville.” The town, with rare exception, has operated on a cash basis and has more than $2 million in its rainy-day fund, Isley said. The town has invested some $500,000 annually in recreational facilities and is also working toward sidewalks, curbed and lighted downtown streets as part of a state-sponsored Streetscapes program. The city has seen growth of new restaurants and businesses along its part of the I-59 corridor and hopes to attract a hotel chain. But Isley would also like to see St. Clair cities along the interstate team up to develop economically. “We’re happy with our retail, but we want to try to partner and market with our sister cities, Argo, Odenville, ... Ashville and Steele,” Isley said. “I think that we should be promoting our I-59 corridor as sister cities. We’re a team player in that regard.” While the town wants to market itself to the wider world, its citizens are the priority, as evidenced by the dedication to parks and other amenities. One of the cornerstones of Springville’s economic development is a longstanding commitment to a community blueprint aimed at maintaining the traditional character of Springville. “That commitment was already in place back when I became the mayor. That commitment has been in place with all of or mayors to help maintain the downtown district – home to the historic district. We have had a concerted effort with the local preservation society and the historical society to maintain the character of the town and to improve it.” Springville has held fast to its blueprint, with positive results. “They wanted quality-built neighborhoods. They wanted quality developments and didn’t change because of the whims of the times. They’ve been very selective about what they’ve been involved with,” Smith said. “They’ve been very particular about how they grew, and they wanted to grow in a certain manner.” Smith can see Springville becoming a community more deeply committed to the arts, like a smaller version of Fairhope, Ala., in the future. But it could also be a draw for IT businesses. A big hurdle economically is finding suitable property currently for sale. “The challenge for Springville is to continue to redevelop their activities. They need to look to expand without losing their identity.”

Cherished Education

There’s been a school in Springville since the middle of the 19th century. The city’s deep educational heritage and love for it is evidenced by the preservation society’s efforts to restore the old Rock School and expansion at the Springville Public Library. The belief in education and love for creativity flows through local schools, said Springville High School Principal Virgil Winslett. “You don’t have a lot of arts funding for the school. But we have visual arts. We have a very strong band program. We have a choir and choir classes. One thing about Springville High School is we try to be the best we can in every facet. We try to give 110 percent in every aspect.” As it has throughout its history, Springville loves its schools. “Without a doubt this is one of the strongest bases of support for all of our schools,” Winslett said. “We have great support from the mayor and City Council, the Fire Department, the Police Department. When we need help, we get it.” As an example, the city stepped to the plate to help Springville High repair and upgrade its baseball and softball fields after dugouts were destroyed in a storm. “They’re that way all the time. They are very supportive of what we do,” Winslett said.

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DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017


The schools are also willing to help with local city youth sports program. It’s a two-way street, Winslett said. Parental involvement is also a big positive for Springville schools. “Our teachers feel like they’re supported. There’s a good relationship between parents and teachers. That shows in the academic success of the school,” Winslett said. Part of its academic success is the school’s course offerings. “We’re now an A-Plus College-Rated School,” Winslett said. “We were given a three-year grant. We offer six AP classes and dual enrollment through Jefferson State Community College, which allow students to earn college credit while in high school.” Winslett has been an educator in Springville for more than two decades. He’s home. New teachers who come from outside to teach in Springville rave about the schools. “It’s not a struggle to get up and come to work every day,” he said. “You get up. You’re excited about coming to work. We’ve got good kids here. I don’t know of a kid here who would say he or she is not proud to be a Springville Tiger. “Springville has grown a lot since I’ve been here, but it still has that small-town feel. People talk to one another and take care of one another. You go to school and go to church with the same people. There’s something about that sense of community you won’t find in a bigger place. To me, that’s very important to me and my family.” Two other avenues for education are the recently-expanded Springville Public Library and the Springville Museum and Archives. Both celebrate literature and the arts. The library recently expanded, adding a young people’s literature annex and also celebrates a local artist and author of the month. On a recent morning, even though it was early, Library Director Jamie Twente was busy, as the library bustled with readers. A book group meets here monthly. But the library, while it celebrates literature, also cherishes the arts. It offers quilting classes, Cherokee leaf printing, folklore, even martial arts. The library also offers a variety of services: copying, printing and job-search resources. The library recently received a $20,000 grant for additional computers. But as with every library, books are at the heart of the facility. Twente said readers at the Springville Library accounted for half of the circulation of the St. Clair County Library System. The Springville Library is now independent. “Per capita we were checking out seven items per person,” Twente said. “People here like to read. They love the printed word. We have artists with no formal training who can do amazing things I could never do. I feel fortunate to live here.” The pace of life in Springville lends itself to a love of the written word and the arts. “It’s a very friendly place. It’s a very charming place. People here love their community, but they also love their private time to pursue their interests.” The new children’s annex was at different times the Springville City Hall and the local fire station. A huge bay window allows light to stream into the new annex. “Keeping the downtown area alive is good for the downtown and good for the community,” she said. As for the Springville Museum and Archives, one of its featured exhibits is a piece from one of the World Trade Center Twin Towers, on loan from the Port Authority of New York. The towers were destroyed by terrorists Sept. 11, 2001. While this month, the museum is celebrating classic Christmas decorations and toys, it’s also building its collection



New welcome center under renovation

A downtown business shows its colors of historical archives. Every Springville High yearbook has been preserved digitally. The museum is also working to preserve old newspapers and records, a treasure trove for historians and genealogists. The museum, along with the historic preservation society, is working to preserve the old Rock School. It was built in 1921, and “we’re trying to renovate it and get it back to its former glory,” Davis said. The Springville Historic Preservation Society is also working to restore a building known as “The White House” for use as a welcome center. These efforts, aimed at preserving Springville’s past for the future, are another facet of the character of the town. The museum staff is a cadre of volunteers working without pay. “The people, when needed, will join forces together to help each other, and most of the people who’ve lived here all their lives and even the people who have moved in have a strong love for Springville. They are really dedicated to their town.”

DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017

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Preserving tradition Preserving nature Preserving community Homestead Hollow, Big Canoe Creek and the Springville Café Story by Paul South Photos by Susan Wall Submitted photos Three of the iconic locales in Springville seem to have their own special mission: Homestead Hollow preserves tradition, celebrating arts and crafts, the sacred mileposts of life like weddings and baptisms and modern and traditional arts and crafts. Big Canoe Creek, a waterway seemingly as old as time, is a place for people to revel in God’s handiwork, enjoying the water that first drew settlers to Springville. And Springville Café fills empty stomachs with classic home cooking of recipes old and new, drawing on Southern cooking and the cutting-edge culinary artistry of farm-to-table cuisine. The eatery, which has served hungry customers in Springville across seven decades and under many names, also preserves conversation and fellowship, a dying art in the age of technology. Here’s a look at all three: HOMESTEAD HOLLOW As many as 15,000 people flock to this picturesque venue three times a year for an arts and crafts festival, said Terri Goforth, a co-owner of Homestead Hollow and director of its arts and crafts programs. “There are some that are much larger and some that are much smaller,” Goforth said of the Homestead Hollow gatherings. “The thing that makes our festival unique is our demonstration area, our re-created Pioneer Village. We don’t just have the arts and crafts. It’s a way for people to come out and see how things were done in pioneer times.” A decade ago, interest in arts and crafts seemed on the wane, Goforth said. The Web changed all that and reversed the trend. “With the internet and with sites like Pinterest, it’s kind of re-sparked people’s interest in handmade and hand-decorated items.” There’s something for everyone at the festivals. “I owe it all to the crafters. They’re the ones that have these visions and come up with all this stuff,” Goforth said. “It amazes me how they can turn something into a piece of home décor or something you want to put on your wall.” The setting at the 17-acre Homestead Hollow is unique, with large open areas, great for browsing arts and crafts, listening to


Homestead Hollow draws from all around. live music, eating, or just people watching. Homestead Hollow has also hosted car shows, dog shows, barbecue cook-offs and other events. The venue even holds a few weddings each year. “It’s pretty much open to the bride’s imagination,” Goforth said. Her favorite part of Homestead Hollow is seeing people enjoy the property. “I love it when the show is up and going and people just enjoying themselves out in the country having a good time,” she said. A tributary that runs through the property flows into Big Canoe Creek and has been the site of baptism services for two area churches. Homestead Hollow is a place for everyone, Goforth said. “We welcome people to come enjoy it,” she said. “We have a great sense of doing things to help others. God blessed us with being able to have this property, and we want to use it to bless others.”

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Springville The baptisms in the creek occur several times each year. “That is probably the biggest reward of having Homestead Hollow and being able to share it with others.” Homestead Hollow was started in 1982 by Dr. John Tingley, a Springville surgeon who once kept cattle on the property. Tingley is one of Springville’s biggest cheerleaders who worked to make the city better. Goforth and her partners bought the property from the beloved physician in 2005. “One story he told me was that he got tired of people calling him while he was in surgery to tell him his cows were out,” Goforth said Homestead Hollow has had a positive impact on the local economy. And it also plays a role in preserving Springville’s past. “There does seem to be an interest in the past, which is great. They cannot forget the past. Not to live in it, but not to forget it and document it to make it accessible for young people to learn from,” Goforth said. For more information on Homestead Hollow, visit BIG CANOE CREEK Doug Morrison has been in love with Big Canoe Creek for as long as he’s lived on the waterway. The president of the Friends of Big Canoe Creek, Morrison said the organization’s aim is to keep the water, the larger watershed and the surrounding environment in pristine shape. As St. Clair County grows, that will become a greater challenge. “Our mission statement is to protect and preserve Big Canoe Creek and its tributaries for the benefit of its communities and the health of the watershed,” Morrison said. “If you’re going to fish or swim in that water, don’t you want to protect that?” A big part of the organization’s mission is protecting the creek from runoff that comes with development. A buffer of vegetation helps protect the creek. Located in the Middle Coosa River Basin, Big Canoe Creek is unique, Morrison said. “There aren’t many creeks that I know of that flow northeasterly. The headwaters start at the edge of Jefferson County and flow north into Neely Henry (Lake),” Morrison said. “You think of a creek flowing, you think ‘down’. That’s kind of significant.” Even under the stress of a deep autumn drought, the water of the creek flows fully and briskly, Morrison said. In Springville, which has embraced smart growth in its development, the Friends of Big Canoe Creek have been an advocate for growth policies that will protect the watershed. “I think the Friends of Big Canoe Creek has been important in terms of educating the city on the importance of the watershed,” Morrison said. “There’s a look and feel to Springville that’s just different from other areas I’ve lived in. People here love the outdoors. I think the creek has opened up a whole new area of recreation.” Turkey, deer, otter and even mink have been spotted on the creek. There are more than 50 species of fish in the creek. And there’s one species of shellfish, the Canoe Creek Club Shell, that’s found nowhere else in the world. The mussel is a bio indicator, a barometer if you will, of the health of a waterway. “In other words, they can’t live in polluted waters,” Morrison said. “But they also help to clean your water. They filter out


Beauty of Big Canoe Creek Photo Credit Liz Brooke

pollutants. They are good indicators of the health of the water.” Big Canoe Creek has also been a resource for universities, whose students come to learn about the creek’s flora and fauna. The creek, which stretches for more than 50 miles, also teaches another lesson of infinite value. “If we don’t pay attention and we don’t learn and teach others, how are we going to protect what we have?,” Morrison said. “This is something special that the whole community needs to wrap their hands around and nurture and love it and protect it.” The Friends of Big Canoe Creek have nominated several parcels of land adjoining the creek for Forever Wild, which would make it part of Alabama’s Forever Wild Land Trust. The group is still working with the City of Springville, the St. Clair County Commission, the St. Clair Economic Development Council and others to make a Big Canoe Creek Nature Preserve a reality in Springville. For more information on the Friends of Big Canoe Creek, visit SPRINGVILLE CAFÉ While the small-town café that serves up hot, homemade breakfasts in the morning and a meat-and-three vegetables at lunchtime may be slowly vanishing in a fast-food world, that’s not the case at Springville Café. In fact, the eatery has flourished in Springville under various names since 1945, without closing its doors. But if you think Springville Cafe’ is your grandpa’s “meatand-three” place, think again.

DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017

Eatery’s slogan says it all Springville native Tina Baran and her husband John returned to Springville from Chicago and bought the place in 1995. “The Simmons family did a wonderful job with the restaurant,” Baran said. “My husband and I had just relocated back to Springville, which is my hometown, and I thought, ‘Maybe we should try this.’ ” Baran, a graduate of the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, never wanted to get into the restaurant business. “But I thought, ‘We could do this,’ ” she said. “We went in there and expanded the restaurant, doubled its size. We started considering recipes from our families, and we put those principles and practices to work, and we’ve been really successful.” She added, “Our community wrapped its arms around us, and they have really, really made us what we are today. The Simmons family had that support as well. “We’re just fortunate to be in an area and community that supports local business.” It’s not the traditional meat-and-three. Springville Café operates a brisk catering business and serves up seafood buffet on Friday nights in the spring and summer. The couple’s time in Chicago, where John was born and raised, also influenced the café’s menu. The couple look for the hottest culinary trends, like using fresh local produce in season, a byproduct of the farm-to-table movement. For example, when Chandler Mountain tomatoes are in season, don’t be surprised to see Tomato Pie on the menu.

“Being in Chicago gave me the foresight of farm-to-table,” Baran said. “It drives you to become more innovative when your product is coming straight from the field.” But Springville Café is more than a restaurant. It’s a gathering place where people can find out the news of the day in their town. “I think the café is one of the pillars of the community,” Baran said. “I definitely believe the café is part of the big structures that holds Springville together.” The café is a ministry, Baran said. “We take care of people when they’re sick. We take care of our elders in the community. We do quite a lot of outreach from the restaurant, I get really emotional about it.” The restaurant supports Leadership St. Clair, first responders, local schools and other organizations. Tina Baran directed the Springville Christmas parade for 15 years and served as a vice president for the Chamber of Commerce. Café employees, some of whom have been with the Barans for 21 years, also reach out to the community. “That’s what we’re there to do, to help our community,” she said. She describes Springville Café – “The Place Where Springville Meets to Eat,” with two words: “A blessing.” There’s no doubt about that with a plate of chicken and dressing and fried green tomatoes on the side. For more information on Springville Café, visit l

DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017


NIGHT SKY Chandler Mountain lures star gazers Story and photos by Jim Smothers Submitted photos


Every month members of the Birmingham Astronomical Society make their way up Chandler Mountain past Horse Pens 40 for a cliffside “Star Party” to enjoy their hobby and the company of other like-minded individuals. Well, almost every month — if it’s cloudy, there’s always next month. “Partly cloudy sounds like a nice forecast, but it can be an awful thing for our hobby,” said Preston Pendergraft, a club member and a security specialist with a regional banking group. Members keep a close watch on weather forecasts and some of them use special-purpose apps that predict when the skies will be clear. They are helpful but not perfect.




Saturday nights closest to new moons give the stargazers the opportunity they need to stay up late with the darkest skies of the month. “There is lower humidity at the site, so that helps,” said Sterling Deramus, a Birmingham-based attorney and president of the club. It also helps to get away from the light pollution in the metro-area that creates a haze they can’t see through very well. “Dark sky is a big deal for us,” he said. Even from Chandler Mountain, the number of security lights throughout the area is becoming more noticeable. Lights that shine into the sky collectively create a haze that makes it difficult to see objects in space, and clouds can spoil everything. Deramus said that at some star parties there will be 20 or 30 people on the mountain with their telescopes. It’s hard to predict. For the October outing there were only two members there. A partly cloudy sky and competition from college football may have kept others from making the trip, and Deramus’s “clear sky” app missed the mark this time — patchy clouds made for limited viewing. Pendergraft said a public television program about the Voyager spacecraft piqued his interest in astronomy when he was a child, and he has been interested ever since. He collected golf balls from a water hazard on a golf course near his childhood home in Las Vegas and sold them to save money for his first telescope. Deramus said he was interested as a kid, but it was a college class in astronomy that got him hooked. It’s easy to see why. The stars, planets and other objects in space hold deep connections to mankind’s past, present and future. Throughout man’s time on the planet, objects in space have stirred his imagination, with impacts not only on the understanding of the sciences and mathematics, but also on the arts, history, mythology and more.

Even with a few clouds in the sky, Chandler Mountain makes for great star gazing.


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Away from city lights, the night sky is truly an amazing sight in St. Clair. People can enjoy astronomy as a hobby today in a number of different ways, and not all of them even involve telescopes. A simple star chart and a clear sky can be enough to start learning where and when the different constellations and planets can be seen. A pair of binoculars and a steady hand can work very well for viewing. Some hobbyists barely look at the skies at all — an organization with a website called Zooniverse offers computerbased opportunities for amateurs to assist professionals with real-world scientific research. In astronomy, the projects include time-intensive viewing and comparison of photographs of objects in space. One project in particular is Planet Four, which involves thousands of images of Mars, and there are other astronomical studies on that site as well. The club is active with a lecture meeting each month and two scheduled star parties — one on Chandler Mountain and another on Oak Mountain — plus outreach opportunities. Sometimes they will set up telescopes in public areas in town and invite non-members to take a look, and some of the members recently participated in a school program to introduce students to the hobby. Lectures each month at Samford University feature a variety of speakers. One recent program featured a University of Alabama professor who spoke about galactic research, and another program was given by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Sometimes the lecture will be a “how-to” program to help people get more out of the time using tips and tools more effectively. It’s all about the camaraderie, about spending time with others who share a common interest. Party time At a typical star party, individuals set up telescopes and seek the objects they are particularly interested in seeing. One may be looking for a particular planet. “Saturn is a good one to see,” Deramus said. Someone else might be trying to find separation between two stars that appear in the sky to be a single star. Others may be using photography to record deep-space galaxies. There are different goals and methods to explore the skies. “There are different things to see in each season,” Deramus said. “There are always good things to see, good star clusters… Andromeda is a good one to find.” Some hobbyists get started by looking for the Messier Objects, a list of about 100 bodies compiled by French


astronomer Charles Messier in the 18th Century. Messier was looking for comets, and made a list of objects that look like comets — but are not — so that he could avoid spending time on them in the future. Finding and keeping a log of their locations helps hobbyists get started with learning their way around the sky. “None of them are really that challenging to find,” Pendergraft said. “You can see a lot of them with binoculars. A lot of people go from there to the Herschel 400, which is kind of like the intermediate list. It’s a list of 400 objects that were discovered by William Herschel in the 1700s in England, and some of them were actually discovered by his sister, Caroline, as well. She was an accomplished astronomer in her own right, and she discovered some comets, too.” Deramus uses a camera-equipped telescope to help find objects that can’t otherwise be seen. Using a series of long exposures and specific computer programs, he is able to find galaxies that can’t be seen through a telescope with the eye. “Galaxies are a challenge,” he said. “I’ve seen some really good ones from up here, but they are very, very faint. That’s why I’m doing photography now. That was my first challenge, finding all the galaxies I wanted to see. May is the time to see galaxies because you have what’s called the Virgo and Leo clusters, which we are actually a part of — our galaxy is part of the Virgo cluster, on the outer edges of it. There are hundreds and hundreds of galaxies, it’s just amazing how many.” Pendergraft said there is a scale for the brightness of stars and space objects. Vega is rated at 0, with higher numbers assigned on a logarithmic scale for decreasing brightness. The unaided human eye can see down to about 6, depending on the individual. With binoculars, stars down to about 9, more or less, may be seen, depending on the binoculars and how steadily they are being held. Some telescopes can extend that to 14 or 15 on a good night, and telescopes with cameras can get to 15 or 16. The Hubble telescope, by comparison, gets to 22 or 23. “That’s probably the limit,” Deramus said. At a typical star party, members enjoy spending time with others who share the hobby and share the excitement of seeing parts of the universe for themselves. Some even make the trek to larger star parties in other parts of the country. “I’ve been to one in Texas a couple of times near the McDonald Observatory,” Pendergraft said. “It’s kind of like the ‘Woodstock of Astronomy.’ Everybody who is anybody in astronomy is there.” More places in the West have the dark sky stargazers need, and that event draws hundreds each year. It’s partly a trade show and partly a social gathering, and is a key event for hobbyists. But there’s plenty to see from atop Chandler Mountain. “Some people try to see the ‘Pup’,” Pendergraft said. “Everyone knows Sirius is the brightest star in the sky, but right next to it is a dimmer star everyone calls the ‘Pup.’ It was discovered in the late 1800s, not far from here, through a telescope at the University of Mississippi…there are always challenges for people to see faint objects. There are galaxies and nebulae. There are bright objects, which people want to see features inside them. “It’s a hobby that you can take as far as you want to go, from the naked eye to custom built scopes that cost as much as your car.” l Learn more about the Birmingham Astronomical Society at or on Facebook at The Birmingham Astronomical Society of Alabama.

DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017


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Heart of Pell City

Cogswell Avenue, sometimes known as “The Cog”


DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017

Story by Paul South Photos by Susan Wall When it began three years ago, Heart of Pell City’s mission was to bolster and grow downtown businesses. In its short history, the nonprofit organization has grown into much, much more. Heart of Pell City wants to put the town on the map as a destination location for visitors from Birmingham and beyond and not just as a lake town or a spot near the Talladega Superspeedway just down Interstate 20. One of the key initiatives for the organization is to bring together similar local organizations and governmental leaders – like the Heart of Pell City, the Chamber of Commerce, Pell City’s Gateway Community Garden, Council of the Arts Inc. (Artscapes Gallery), CEPA (The Center for Education and Performing Arts), St. Clair County Economic Development Council and others — to move the city forward. “We all need to be meeting and working together to build this downtown,” said Renee Lilly, one of Heart of Pell City’s founding members. “We’re going to bring these organizations together and start meeting and brainstorming to see what we need to do to put this town on the map to make it a destination location for Birmingham residents and others from outside communities as far as a 100mile radius who want to come enjoy a small-town fun experience.” The Heart of Pell City wants to showcase the historic downtown, said Urainah Glidewell, the organization’s acting president. “If we can highlight those areas as far as tourism is concerned, that would be of benefit to the entire city. Yes, we are a lake town. But people like to do other things besides that,” Glidewell said. One of the organization’s key goals is to be designated as a Main Street Alabama community. Main Street Alabama’s focus is on “bringing jobs, dollars and people back to Alabama’s historic communities,” and to revitalize city centers and neighborhoods, according to the Main Street Alabama website. In that light, the organization also wants to explore more effective zoning and long-range strategic planning with positive input from all corners. “Involvement is key. If we can bring different groups of people together and show that this is important for the city to help bring more commerce and tourism in to help revitalize and restore our historical district for the future generations of children growing up in this town, the benefits will be far-reaching,” Glidewell said. “It’s just a matter of getting it in front of them and showing them it is a really good investment in the town.” Frank Lee, Heart of Pell City treasurer and director of multimedia, sees the potential of an

Kate DeGaris, a member of the town’s founding family, preserves history.

Toast has become a popular downtown eatery.

Walking tour featured Pell City Players as characters from town’s history.

DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017


Heart of Pell City

Cogswell, downtown’s main street

entertainment and an historic district. Creation of an entertainment district would help fuel growth, Lee said. “In all the cities I’ve traveled, I’ve seen firsthand the benefits of historic preservation. Historic preservation is one of the key elements of sustained growth in a city,” he said. “When you have an historic downtown, that draws people in, it becomes your prime real estate in a lot of cases, especially when it’s fixed up and revitalized.” He added, “What we’re trying to do is restore our past, revitalize it and show people the example of how other cities have used (preservation) as their springboard to economic prosperity and sustained growth.” But along with showcasing history, the organization has helped spruce up downtown with small touches, like hanging baskets to adorn the historic areas. In April, The Heart of Pell City, along with the Alabama Department of Tourism, sponsored walking tours of downtown. People flocked to the downtown area on Saturday mornings in April to learn more about its history, and it was a significant step in sparking interest into the city’s historic past. Along that same line, the Heart of Pell City also celebrated the city’s historic ties to the textile industry with Avondale Mills Day. The city actually grew up around the mill beginning at the turn of the 20th century, with generations of Pell City residents working at the factory. “It was an effort to tie the city with its

Ready for parade


DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017



past,” said A.J. Wright, the organization’s secretary. “This city was built around Avondale Mills,” she said. The festivities centered on downtown with a puppy parade, doughnut-eating contest, even a Moon-Pie-eating contest and other entertainment. It culminated just a few blocks away at CEPA with the presentation of Our Town, a locally written play based on the city’s history and performed by the high school’s Drama Department. Heart of Pell City has ventured into the political arena as a non-partisan civic venture. Partnering with the Pell City Rotary Club, the organization sponsored a candidates’ forum in advance of municipal elections at the Center for Education and Performing Arts. But its main emphasis remains returning downtown to what its name implies – the heart of Pell City. “We have to preserve it and save it,” Lee said. “By investing in our history, it’s also an economic investment. We have a very rich history, and it needs to be promoted.” Pell City already has certain areas designated for their historical significance, like the Mill Village. Downtown is in a nationally-designated historic district, as is the residential area behind the St. Clair County Courthouse and Cogswell Avenue. Historical markers aimed at drawing people from nearby Interstate 20 to the downtown area would help boost those districts. “This is a great historic area, and we need to get a historical marker on the interstate to help bring people downtown,” Lilly said. Glidewell agreed. “We are in beautiful buildings that have so much character,” she said. “Any new business that comes in brings more life to it. Being able to celebrate that and pass it on and share that with everyone is just a wonderful thing.”

Stephen E. Heinzman, M.D.


NORTHSIDE MEDICAL Specializing In Minimally Invasive Surgery, Colorectal Surgery, Cancer Surgery, Endocrine Surgery, and Surgery for Gastroesophageal Reflux

William C. Wood III, M.D.

Adam S. Harris, M.D.

70 Plaza Drive Pell City, AL 35125 205-814-0284 52 Medical Park East Drive Suite 308 Birmingham, AL 35235 205-838-3025

DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017

Eric L. DuBois, M.D.


Avondale Mills Day, a time to rediscover downtown fun

Heart of Pell City

Lilly, who has watched the organization grow from its earliest days, believes the Heart of Pell City has made progress in its short history. She also gives Glidewell high marks for her hard work and leadership as the interim president. The committee overall is working very hard. Lilly has been involved in a number of local organizations and currently serves as vice president of Gateway Community Garden, which will brings people together to grow gardens and reap their benefits. “I think that it is on track and we’re growing momentum every day,” Lilly said. “There’s always going to be change, but it seems like we’re moving forward, and it’s exciting. I feel like we are moving in the right direction.” It’s all about community. A newly created set of chalkboards on Cogswell Avenue between Gilreath Printing and Lilly’s shop, Lilly Designs, A Design Resource, is yet another example of that. In the days leading to Thanksgiving, the boards offered an opportunity for passersby to express what they were thankful for and share it with others in the community. l Editor’s Note: The Heart of Pell City meets at 8:30 a.m., on the first Wednesday of every month at Toast Sandwich Eatery in the Old Gray Barn at 1910 Cogswell Avenue. For more information on The Heart of Pell City, call 205-533-5594. You can also learn more from its Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and Instagram accounts, where it promotes downtown businesses and community events.

When you can’t be there. Always ere is…

Helping with the little things.

On the road to recovery.

Assisting with everyday life.

Making sure Dad’s OK.

A helping hand when you need it most.

30 Comer Avenue Suite 1 Pell City, AL 35125 205-824-0224 820 B Franklin Street Huntsville, AL 35801 256-539-1400 3021 Lorna Rd Suite 100 Birmingham, AL 35216 205-824-0224



DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017


St. Clair Alabama

Business Review Louis

Officially breaking ground, from left, are Dr. Steve Fortson, Jason Goodgame, Dr. Michael Dupre’, Dr. Rock Helms, Adrick Goodgame, Dr. Scott Boyken and Dr. Bob Whitmore.

64 DISCOVER Essence St. Clair • August & September 2013 of St. ClairThe •The Business Review DISCOVER The Essence St. Clair • February March 2016 64• DISCOVER The Essence DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair June &&July July 2016 DISCOVER DISCOVER Essence The Essence of of St.of Clair of St. • Clair Clair December June 2016 & & January 2015 2017 64 DISCOVER The Essence of St. •••April May

Story by Leigh Pritchett Photos by Michael Callahan

Northside Medical

Official groundbreaking on expansion Five physicians traded stethoscopes for shovels to officially break ground Oct. 26 on Phase III of Northside Medical Associates’ expansion. This phase will produce a 50,000-square-foot, twostory addition that will more than double the size of the clinic facility. The expansion will house an array of services. It will accommodate more than 20 medical specialists, including physical therapy, obstetrics and gynecology, sports medicine, orthopedic surgery, nephrology, immunology, allergy, dermatology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, general surgery, oral surgery, and otolaryngology, among others. Nuclear stress tests, echocardiograms, vascular studies and other services will be offered in a full-time cardiology suite. There will also be an infusion center and a comprehensive vision center. Plus, Northside Apothecary, the onsite pharmacy of Northside Medical, will get a larger home. “Our goal is for it to be a patient-centered medical home,” said Dr. Rock Helms, who is a partner in Northside Medical and chief executive officer. Individuals will be able to get their primary medical care, specialty care and all of their diagnostics without going to multiple facilities or traveling outside the county. “Nobody could have foreseen the need 10 years ago,” said Dr. Michael Dupre’, a Northside Medical partner. The extensive growth in St. Clair County has necessitated expanding to meet health care needs in the community and in the area. Northside Medical has two locations in Pell City and one in Moody. Sean Witt of Williams Blackstock Architects designed the current expansion, and Goodgame Company, Inc. of Pell City is building it. “We’re just really excited,” said Connie Goodgame, co-owner of Goodgame Company, which is also constructing the new Town and Country Ford complex just a few blocks away. Northside Medical began in 2001 and has since added — through Phases I and II — exponential floor space; more physicians, specialties and nurse practitioners; a laboratory, and a gamut of diagnostic equipment, as well as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) suite. That suite opened in 2015. “I’ve been coming here since it was the little, first building,” said Judy Brennan of Cropwell, who attended the groundbreaking ceremony. “It’s been great to watch it grow.”

Pell City Chamber President Larry Daugherty, Dr. Rock Helms, Dr. Micahel Dupre’

Plans for new specialty phase on display

DISCOVER Essence St. Clair • August & September 2013 Business Review •July DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • 65 DISCOVER The Essence St. Clair • February March 2016 DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair June &&July 2016 65 DISCOVER DISCOVER TheThe Essence The Essence of of St.of Clair of St. • Clair Clair December June 2016 & & January 2015 2017 DISCOVER The Essence of St. •••April May 65

Business Directory

Business Cards

Business Directory

Business Cards


DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017

Piers Keith



DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017


Business Review

Northside Medical

Northside team gets in on the act.

Betty Ingle, who has been Northside Medical’s phone operator the past seven years, is eager to see the completed product. “I thought it was wonderful, and I can’t wait until it’s finished.” Callie Williams, nurse practitioner with Birmingham Heart Clinic, believes it will prove beneficial for patients to have access to the many specialties and to the medical care of physicians from Birmingham and surrounding areas without having to travel out of their hometown. “We’re excited for Northside, and we’re glad to see Pell City growing like this,” said Kelsey Bain, executive director of Greater Pell City Chamber of Commerce. The building that encompasses the original facility and Phases I and II is situated basically perpendicular to Interstate 20. Phase III runs parallel to I-20. Together, they form an L-shape. When asked if more expansion is in the future, Helms said Northside Medical does have additional property along the interstate, if needed. At that point, Brad Kelley, project manager for Goodgame Company, joked that they do not need to stop until they finish out the horseshoe shape! l 70

DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017

Business Directory

Business Review

Canoe Creek Coffee

Another new business for Ashville

Sarah Jane Bailey prepares coffee for a customer.


DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017


RELATIONSHIPS are not the only

thing WE BUILD, but they are










When Mike Bailey and his family of seven take trips out west, they love to visit local coffee shops. So it wasn’t much of a leap for them to open a coffee shop of their own. Canoe Creek Coffee opened for business October 6 on U.S. 231 North, about halfway between the I-59 Exit and the county courthouse. “Visiting a coffee shop is a great way to meet the community and get to know people,” Mike says. “We want people to come by and take a break from life at a place where they can talk.” Canoe Creek Coffee is a family-run business, with Mike’s wife, Alison, baking many of the pastries they serve, oldest daughter Sarah Jane working behind the cash register, and the other four Bailey children either cleaning tables or doing their homework on them. All five of the children are home schooled, so customers get to see a lot of them. “This is the ultimate home-school project,” says Alison. “It’s math, business, research, everything.” Rachel Pritchett is the only non-family employee in the shop, which features free wi-fi for customers.


Story by Elaine Hobson Miller Photos by Mike Callahan

At Goodgame Company, Inc., we don’t just deliver a quality product. We deliver a quality experience. That’s what has kept our customers coming back since 1955. Let us show you the Goodgame difference. We’d like to get to know you.









Design-Build • Construction Management Fabrication • Plant Maintenance Goodgame Company, Inc., is an award-winning supplier of the American Buildings Company

Goodgame Company, Inc. t: 205.338.2551

2311 3rd Avenue South Pell City, AL 35128 f: 205.338.7736

DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017



Business Review Open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m., Canoe Creek serves flavored coffees roasted by O’Henry’s in Homewood, non-flavored coffees from another source, and a special Cowboy Coffee using beans that Mike smokes to get that campfire flavor. They also have frappes, hot teas and smoothies. “We researched coffee and different drinks, tasted all types of beans,” Mike says. “We serve what we like.” Their pastry menu varies from day to day. Alison might make Cheddar Bacon Scones one day, chocolate muffins the next and cookies the next. They also have bottled water and soft drinks, fruit and some packaged trail-mix bars. Their best sellers are the Cowboy Coffee, which is boiled, Alison’s Luscious Layer Bars and the cinnamon rolls they buy frozen and bake at the shop. “We tell folks not to drink that last sip of Cowboy Coffee, because it has some grounds in it,” Mike says. They also sell a line of glutenfree mixes made by Mike’s sister, including lemon pound cake, chocolate chip cookie, cornbread, banana bread, and a pancake and waffle mix. “We’re adding a breakfast sandwich and lunch panini to the menu by December, and we hope to roast our own coffee beans one day,” Mike says. He owns the building where the shop is located, and rents the other half to His ’n Hers Hair Salon. A building contractor for 15 years, he still enjoys woodworking and did all of the remodeling for the shop himself. He used pine trees from his parking lot to panel the inside walls and to build several of his tables. “The atmosphere here is relaxed and casual, a place where friends can visit with each other,” Alison says. l 74

canoe creek coffee

Mike Bailey and his wife, Alison run the shop with their children. With them here are Mia (in blue tee-shirt), Sarah Jane (at back) and 9-year-old John. Rachel Pritchett, right, is the only non-family employee. Not pictured are Matthew and Sam Bailey.

Customers enjoy the relaxed atmosphere at Canoe Creek.

DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017


Merry Christmas & HappyNew Year!

Front, left to right: Bill Gossett, Lawrence Fields, Brenda Fields and Blair Fields 2nd Row, left to right: Tina Stallings, Mary Ellis, Karen Bain, Nan Morris, Carey Monistere and Michelle Shoemaker 3rd Row, left to right: Carl Howard, Scott Fields, Gary Smith, Joel Jones, Adam Bain and Tony Gossett


Your Real Estate Needs - Our Specialty Karen Bain 205-473-4613 Adam Bain 205-369-2704 Same REAL ESTATE location that has served the public for over 40 years!

FIELDS GOSSETT REALTY 508 MARTIN STREET SOUTH PELL CITY, AL 35128 (205) 884-2300 DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017 75


The firm is pleased to announce the addition of attorney Brandi Williams.

Providing a broad range of legal services to individual, business and local governmental clients including:

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James E. Hill Matthew E. Gossett Governmental affairs · Estate Planning Candace B. Crenshaw Personal Injury and Administration Joel P. Watson Domestic Relations · Civil Litigation Judge James E. Hill, Jr. of Counsel Real Estate · Corporate Criminal Defense Representation Brandi Williams

Moody Professional Building, 2603 Moody Pkwy, Suite 200, P.O. Box 310, Moody, AL 35004 6441 U.S. Highway 11, Springville, AL 35146

Phone (205) 640-2000 or (205) 467-2225 Fax (205) 640-2010 No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.


DISCOVER The Essence of St. Clair • December 2016 & January 2017

Discover St. Clair December 2016  

Local Color's last song, Stargazing from Chandler Mountain, Northside Medical Expanding, The City of Springville, Mattie Lou Teague Crow, Pe...

Discover St. Clair December 2016  

Local Color's last song, Stargazing from Chandler Mountain, Northside Medical Expanding, The City of Springville, Mattie Lou Teague Crow, Pe...