Issuu on Google+

d

distinguished citizens THE CULLMAN TIMES | PROFILE 2012

The Volunteers of Cullman County Character, spirit of residents help area rise above tragedy of April 27 tornadoes

DAVID PALMER EDITOR

T

he tornadoes of April 27, 2011, challenged the foundation of Cullman County’s strong charac-

ter. Two deaths, numerous injuries, and landscapes of snapped trees and battered homes and buildings stretched

across the county. Moments after the tornadoes struck there were moments of anxiety, confusion and fear. But those emotions were quickly channeled into positive action. Law enforcement, fire departments and emergency responders of all types were quickly at work conducting search and rescue operations, and making sure the injured were taken for medical treat-

ment. Many roads were impassable because of fallen trees and power lines, but the right people were quickly on the scene to ensure safety. While public servants were quickly afoot in the aftermath of the tornadoes, they were quickly joined by an army of citizens who stepped up to the task of helping neighbors. Area churches activated their vast

resources, providing food and comfort throughout the area. Men and women with trucks and chainsaws lined up to volunteer clearing roads and yards of mounds of debris. Teenagers dropped their pursuits to lend valuable time and effort to the relief effort. The charitable agencies of the area, Please see CITIZENS Page 2

PROFILE 2012

PROFILE 2 | THE CULLMAN TIMES

CULLMANTIMES.COM | SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

PAST DISTINGUISHED CITIZENS 1998 - TOM ‘BIG DOC WILLIAMSON

2005 - THE CITIZEN SOLDIER

1999 - RAYMOND YOST

2006 - STEVE GLASSCOCK

2000 - MARGARET JEAN JONES

2007 - FRED CESPEDES

2001 - KIM CHANEY

2008 - DR. SYLVIA MORRIS

2002 - CHESTER FREEMAN

2009 - JAVON DANIEL

2003 - PEGGY SMITH

2010 - JAN HARRIS

2004 - BILLY JACKSON

2011 - SAMMIE DANFORD

AMANDA SHAVERS-DAVIS/THE CULLMAN TIMES AMANDA SHAVERS-DAVIS/THE CULLMAN TIMES

Junior Goodno, left, with Unsung Hero recipient Mark Stephens.

Beth Evans, left, and Joyce Hardeman accept the Unsung Hero award Thursday evening on behalf of Elena Caudle who was out of town. Beth is the mother of Colton Evans.

AMANDA SHAVERS-DAVIS/THE CULLMAN TIMES

Unsung Hero recipient Melissa Roseberry, left, with Glenda N.Wright who nominated her for the award.

AMANDA SHAVERS-DAVIS/THE CULLMAN TIMES

AMANDA SHAVERS-DAVIS/THE CULLMAN TIMES

From left, Judy Allred, Schenaye Mauldin, Danna Putman and Unsung Hero recipient Holly Hirsbrunner.

Unsung Hero recipient Steve Means, right, with the James family.

AMANDA SHAVERS-DAVIS/THE CULLMAN TIMES

Accepting the 2012 Distinguished Citizen awards Thursday evening for the volunteers of Cullman county, from left, are Terry Tingle, president of the Ministerial Association of Cullman accepting for area churches; Cullman County Commission Chairman James Graves accepting for Cullman County employees; United Way Executive Director Kasey Kearce accepting for the volunteers of United Way of Cullman; and Red Cross Director Mike Bates accepting for the volunteers of the Cullman chapter of the American Red Cross. Not pictured is Cullman Mayor Max Townson who was out of town and unable to accept on behalf of the employees of the City of Cullman.

CITIZENS FROM PAGE 1 Red Cross and others under the United Way banner, put their expertise to work for the community. Many citizen volunteers acted alone while others joined ranks through various agencies to help with cleanup, food preparation and providing shelter to the needy. While the scars of the tornadoes will remain with us for a long time, much has been rebuilt or is under

construction. Cullman cleaned up quicker than anyone, with few problems arising along the way. Visiting National Guard soldiers often reported that local residents spent a lot of time making sure their needs were met while they were here patrolling streets. Some commented that never had they witnessed such a caring community. In honor of the caring community

of Cullman County, The Cullman Times could not think of a single individual to carry the Distinguished Citizen award for 2012. That honor goes to a wide range of people, many who will remain unnamed. In an effort to cover a wide range of volunteers who made recovering from the tornadoes possible, we recognized the Cullman chapter of the American Red Cross, United Way of Cullman,

City of Cullman employees, Cullman County employees, and the Ministerial Association of Cullman. Under the umbrella of these organizations and government bodies, many volunteers enlisted to bring order, compassion and relief to their communities. Congratulations and thank you for your effort and spirit in restoring our community.

The Unsung Hero Award

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012 | CULLMANTIMES.COM

PROFILE 2012

Presented annually by The Cullman Times, the Unsung Hero awards, recognize a handful of remarkable individuals who don’t get attention for the amazing things they do. The individuals you see on these pages were nominated by the community, and

THE CULLMAN TIMES | PROFILE 3

The Cullman Times’ editorial department selected the recipients. These people represent the best of the best, folks who work to make Cullman County a better place to live, all without expecting recognition in return. We’re glad to give them their turn in the spotlight.

RANDY BAILEY

MELISSA ROSEBERRY

MARK STEPHENS

Randy Bailey is a very special person in the eyes of many who know him. As a member of the Cullman County Rescue Squad, Bailey is often called in to transport someone to the doctors office, hospital or a variety of other places. He’s on the scene for youth activities, rodeos, events in the OHV Park, the lake or anywhere else the rescue squad is needed. During the tornadoes he awoke to a tornado coming straight for his home. He got out in time, but lost his home and everything with it. Without stopping to look at his home, he jumped in his truck and took off for the squad building where he worked for the next several days through the day and night with very little sleep. He cared about helping other people in the community that had lost everything. According to Judy Chambers, Bailey always puts the needs of others before his own.

Melissa Roseberry has been a nurse for the last 40 years in Cullman County. She is presently serving part time at Welti School due to her recent retirement. It doesn't matter what she is called upon to do, she always makes her patients feel special, loved, and cared about as if they were her own. She always meets everyone with her loving smile and wonderful bedside manner. In addition to her clinical duties, she conducts classes on subjects that help the students have a healthier life. Roseberry has a list of community accomplishments including: Helping organize the first home health service in Cullman, the “For Kids Sake” fundraising event and the campaign with the Bownes' Children's Clinic to raise the bicycle helmet safety awareness. Mrs. Roseberry did teaching programs daily as an instructing nurse for the student nurses doing clinicals in Pediatrics at Bownes' Infants and Children's Clinic. Her community involvement includes the care of individuals in her community of Cold Springs who need blood pressure monitoring. She is a caregiver to family and friends. According to Glenda N.Wright, Roseberry is an Angel among us. “Maybe she hides her wings, but there is no disguising the compassion, charity, dedication, loyalty, support, and professionalism that she brings to everyone.”

Mark Stephens is a true hero. While awaiting a second deployment to Iraq, Stephens made a promise. Junior Goodno was a kidney dialysis patient when he met Stephens. “He told me if he made it back he would be tested for a possible donor,” said Goodno. At the age of 23, Stephens returned from his second tour. On July 28, 2010, Goodno received his gift of life... a kidney from Mark Stephens. “He is not only my son-in-law, but a true part of me, who I am proud to call a son,” Goodno.

HOLLY HIRSBRUNNER

Nominated by Glenda N.Wright

Nominated by Junior Goodno

Nominated by Judy Chambers

STEVE MEANS

Holly Hirsbrunner is truly one of those angels on earth — especially for many of the students at Cullman High School, according to Danna Putman. Over the last decade, Holly has spent countless hours volunteering by helping students review for the Alabama High School Graduation Exam. Not only did Holly draw symbolic pictures to help students remember the various acts, battles, acts, laws, leaders, important dates etc. from each vital Social Studies unit of material; she also regularly baked homemade lemon poppy seed, blueberry, and chocolate chip muffins on a regular basis to help the students (and teachers) stay motivated. She truly cares about helping young people succeed. “Holly Hirsbrunner is truly a bright splash of sunshine wherever she goes — especially the halls at CHS,” said Putman. “Many students have benefited from her being such a gifted and generous volunteer. Her genuine love of learning has truly made an impact on our students.”

Sometimes it takes a tragedy to get to know your neighbors. Steve Means met his on April 27, 2011. Means watched as the home of Bud and Jean James was hit by a tornado. Jumping on his 4-wheeler, Means quickly made it to what remained of the James’ house. Pulling cinder blocks from a basement wall, Means helped free a trapped Bud and Jean along with their granddaughter, her husband and their grandson. “We didn’t know him at the time,” said Jean. “We were very glad that this man came to make sure that all of us were out of the house and safe.”

Nominated by Danna H. Putman

Nominated by Bud and Jean James

ELENA CAUDLE

In January 2011, Elena Caudle, a volunteer for Comfort Care Hospice, became a volunteer for a very special young man by the name of Colton Evans, pictured with Colton. Colton was first diagnosed with a brain tumor at the early age of 9 but was in remission for several years before passing away at age 16. It was at this time that Caudle met Colton, and they immediately became best friends. During the last year of Colton's life Caudle made countless visits as she would say "just to hang out with my favorite fellow." She would take her dog Jiro to visit Colton, but would also borrow friend’s dogs to visit, which would always bring a big smile to his face. Caudle would visit weekly. They would talk, laugh, play cards, get on Facebook, and eat some of his favorite foods. In the fall of 2011, Colton was given box seat tickets to an Alabama game. His mother (Beth Evans) told Colton that he could invite whomever he wanted to enjoy the ballgame with him. Colton immediately told his mother that he wanted Caudle. "My heart is so happy to call this young man my friend," Caudle told Joyce Hardeman

Nominated by Joyce Hardeman

f

f a i t h

THE CULLMAN TIMES | PROFILE 2012

LORETTA GILLESPIE/THE CULLMAN TIMES

Karen Hassell's official title is secretary and office administrator, but she is much like a traffic cop in that she keeps everything flowing smoothly at St. John’s.

Church secretary, B office administrator

BY LORETTA GILLESPIE CORRESPONDENT

Karen Hassell

Interacting with church members is a blessing

orn and raised in Cullman, Karen Hassell is one of the busiest people around town. Karen attended East Elementary, Cullman Junior High and graduated in 1975 from Cullman High School. She married Dave Hassell, from Holly Pond on Feb. 21, 1981. The couple was blessed with twins, Daniel Hassell and Sonya Hassell Holcomb. Before starting at St. John’s Evangelical Protestant Church in 1998, Karen was a substitute teacher, and a very active member of the Holly Pond PTO, while helping out with the family chicken farming opera-

tion. Karen’s official title is secretary and office administrator, but she is much like a traffic cop in that she keeps everything flowing at St. John’s. She also has the heart of a teacher, the authority of a military drill sergeant when necessary, is an excellent cook, a master organizer, and is a veritable fountain of useful information. Karen loves her job. “No two days are alike,” she says. “Getting to interact with the members of the congregation on a daily basis and at various important times in their lives is a blessing. The extra bonus is getting to work with an outstanding church staff, my second family. We all get along really well and have

lots of fun and fellowship together.” Karen oversees the day-to-day business of the church, gathering information for the weekly church bulletin, scheduling appointments, making sure the staff is where they are supposed to be, when they are supposed to be there, in addition to answering the phone, which seems to ring constantly. Perhaps the church and community saw her talents in action most recently after the April 27 tornadoes last spring. There were lots of people who volunteered and did courageous and heroic things during that time. Karen was one of them who stepped up to the plate — no pun Please see HASSELL Page 3

FAITH 2 | THE CULLMAN TIMES

Veterans advocate Jane Neal FAITH

CULLMANTIMES.COM | SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

Love of history, people keeps Neal on the move “Our history needs to be taught,” she said firmly. “We need to know our country’s history and we need to be taking care of our veterans and their families. Our government is making an effort. I see them providing education for the veterans, but some vets are in danger of losing their homes and that should never happen.” Neal has been visiting the Floyd E. “Tut” Fann State Veterans Home in Huntsville for the past eight years. She travels an hour and twenty minutes each way, every Thursday, to help with church services for the residents. “They are real heroes,” she said softly. “Sometimes I just simply sit and listen to them as they tell their war stories.” She was privileged to be an aide for three World War II veterans on an Honor Flight in 2009. “We left about 4 a.m. and arrived in Washington, D.C. later that morning,” she recalled. “There were a total of 263 veterans on that flight. It was such an honor and a pleasure to see their eyes light up when they saw their memorial,” she recalled. “Senator Aderholt was even there at the monument to greet them.” The Tut Fann Veterans Home has been in Huntsville for about 30 years. It serves both men

and women, mainly from World War II, but Neal says they are seeing a few from Iraq now. She sees many who are lonely, with no children or family to visit them. “I try to look at them as if they were my daddy,” she said. Neal says that she gets very attached to the people she visits, but that in a way she has to “detach” because most of them are advanced in age, or severely wounded. She now works mainly with the Wounded Warrior project. Neal belongs to the Order of the Purple Heart/Cullman-Madison Branch, and to the Cullman Veterans of Foreign Wars, which she credits with being a great sponsor of the veterans and thanks them for attending the programs at the Tut Fann Veterans Home. She invites anyone who is interested in volunteering their time to the Wounded Warrior project to get in touch with her or with the Veterans Home. “It’s a really good way to help support our wounded, who are mostly from recent wars.” The Wounded Warrior project sponsors programs such as trips to Disney World for soldiers and their families, among other things.

Neal says that the Veterans Hospital in Birmingham also has a volunteer program. “They aren’t perfect, but they have helped with medications, prosthesis, eyes, and in some cases, financially.” “Volunteers can drive the vet’ back and forth to the Veterans Hospital. People interested in volunteering in this or in any other capacity can contact their local VFW,” Neal suggested. “There are all sorts of things volunteers can do…work crossword puzzles, write letters, read to them, and listen to them,” she said. “They also love their Bingo, and volunteers can also help with that.” Neal says that people tend to remember these heroes around Christmas time, but after that the visits, cards and little gifts fall by the wayside. “The Wal-Mart Distribution Center has been wonderful about visits and every quarter they have a birthday party for those residents of the Huntsville Veterans Home who have had birthdays in the past few months, with a party, cake and entertainment.” “The VFW Ladies Auxiliary also does birthday cakes, cards and karaoke,” she added. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to serve our country and our veterans” she said.

Be B en ne ed di ic ct ti in ne e S Si is st te er rs s R Re et tr re ea at t C Ce en nt te er r

916 Convent Road • Cullman, AL 35055

CONTRIBUTED

VFW Post 2214 recently presented an American flag to Jane Neal. This flag will be taken to the Floyd E. “Tut” Fann Veteran's Home in Huntsville each week for a church service. deserved for giving a leg for his country.” Mr. Woodard stayed in Augusta, Ga., at a veterrom the time Jane Woodard Neal was a ans hospital for three years to recuperate and to little girl she knew what it was like to give to learn to live life using a her country. She watched prosthesis. “In his last letter to my her father, Percy R. Woodard, as he struggled mother before he was wounded, he wrote, to overcome the physical ‘Things are heating up and emotional effects of over here,’” Neal recalled. living through World War Many years later, from II. among her mother’s The family lived in Hanceville. Jane graduat- belongings, came a poignant message from ed from Hanceville High the past. “The mail was School in 1965. unreliable during the For most of her life, war,” Neal explained. “On Neal attended Hopewell the day he lost his leg in Baptist Church in battle, he carried five letHanceville, but has ters from my mother that moved to Faith Baptist had been delivered to Church to be nearer her him at one time. They home. “We have such were postmarked 1953.” good churches in When she came across Cullman County,” she the letters, wrapped in a said. Her father, a U.S. Army tattered ribbon, they were foot soldier, was wounded stained with his blood. “Our men went over in Europe, “My father lost his leg in the war; he suf- there and saved this nation,” said Neal, reverfered the rest of his life ently. “It’s the only reason because of it,” she said, we have this free country tears falling freely from her eyes as the memories returned. “He was such a good man.” Jane says that she still feels guilty for taking her lunch money every day because she knew how hard it was for him to come by. “When I saw him lay that money down I always felt bad about taking it. “I never felt as if he got the recognition he BY LORETTA GILLESPIE CORRESPONDENT

F

now — Hitler would have won if the allies hadn’t intervened. “ This is the message she taught her students for the past 36 years as a history teacher in the Cullman County School System, mostly at West Elementary. “West Elementary was just like my home,” she smiled. “It was hard for me to leave there last June when I retired.” She led the youngsters through almost every war fought by the United States, both at home and abroad. She especially loved teaching Alabama history to her fourth graders. Perhaps she put so much of her heart into it as a tribute to her father, who passed away in 1996 at the age of 73. “Teaching has been one of the loves of my life,” she said. Her life has been built around that teaching, and in caring for her husband, Frank Neal, who is also a veteran.

• Retreats • Conferences • Christian Yoga • Private Retreats • Foreign Travel • Reflection Days • Special Scheduling For Reservations, Call 256-734-8302

e-mail: retreats@shmon.org

“That in all things God may be glorified.” --Holy Rule of St. Benedict

Benedictine Manor 200 Janeway Drive • Cullman, AL 35055 Independent Living in a Retirement Community

For Information, Call 256-739-2853 e-mail: benedictinemanor@att.net

• Beautiful, spacious grounds • One- & two-room units • Three meals per day • Private baths, storage space • Utilities (except telephone) • Bi-weekly housekeeping • Laundry & kitchenette access

Benedictine Sisters, Sacred Heart Monastery 916 Convent Road, Cullman, AL 35055 256-734-4622; e-mail: shmon@shmon.org www.shmon.org

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012 | CULLMANTIMES.COM

FAITH

THE CULLMAN TIMES | FAITH 3

HASSELL FROM PAGE 1 intended. Donna and Tim Richter and Karen were at the church talking about how helpless they felt, and their need to do something… Donna said, “I don’t know what to do.” “Me, either,” replied Karen. “I can cook…” said Donna. “Me, too,” came Karen’s quick reply. So that’s what they did. Starting the day after the tornadoes struck, St. John’s began feeding people — lots of people. They organized volunteers to fire up their grills and fish cookers so that they could prepare all the foods that would have otherwise spoiled as the days went by without power. “Our minister of music, Adam King, drove up each day from Birmingham to help us cook,” said Karen. "Ben Karwoski, Rev. Steve Wood and Rev. John Richter helped with the cleanup and in getting the donations organized." Others were assigned the task of boiling water for washing dishes. Many people came each day to help prepare meals and serve several of the city department’s workers and other volunteers from all over town, and the many volunteers who flooded in from out of town to tackle the gargantuan effort. Due to Karen’s organizational skills, things got done as smoothly as possible under very stressful circumstances. They didn’t know from one day to the next where it would come from or what they would have to feed the volunteers. But they trusted that it would be provid-

LORETTA GILLESPIE/THE CULLMAN TIMES

Karen loves her job. “No two days are alike,” she says. “Getting to interact with the members of the congregation on a daily basis and at various important times in their lives is a blessing.” ed — and it was. “We received blessings each day of all kinds of foods and fruits,” recalled Karen. “And from those

donations we prepared accordingly with whatever we had.” Over the course of those strange and frantic

days, working in less than perfect conditions, the group at St. John’s fed hundreds of people who came in off the

streets, faces streaked with dirt and sweat, looking shell-shocked and fragile. They also helped to feed the roadies and the band members of Casting Crowns, the Contemporary Christian group who came to Cullman to give moral support to the volunteers and the victims of the tornado and to raise money for the relief effort by performing the Concert of Hope. “Pastor Bob and Mayor Townson helped to organize the concert,” said Karen. It was an unprecedented feat of logistics and determination due to the fact that there was no electricity and the regular phone lines were still down. And it was a huge success. As the days turned into weeks there was still much to be done. “Each day we had a number of volunteers, both adults and youth, that went out and helped cut trees and pick up limbs and debris,” said Karen. She would arrive early each morning with some of the other volunteers and begin strategic planning for how to feed the masses. Amidst all this, Karen was also instrumental in helping to collect and organize van loads of necessary supplies for those who had lost everything. If not for Karen Hassell’s innate sense of prioritizing, organization and her networking skills, things might not have run as smoothly as they did. Karen serves on the kitchen committee for the Sunday fellowship hour and Wednesday evening meals, in addition to helping in meal

and dessert preparation and clean up. Secretary/receptionist for the entire staff of nine, including five pastors (senior pastor, minister of parish life, Christian education minister, youth and minister of music) Karen has her hands full, but she is a highachieving, multi-tasker who seems to thrive on the challenges of keeping everyone on track. Active in the chancel choir, which may well be the only time she has to sit for a while without answering the phone, she is also a member of the Music Committee and the Ladies Handbell Group (Heritage Ringers) at St. John’s. Karen has recently been serving on the Senior Pastor Search Committee, because St. John’s beloved Pastor Bob is retiring after 20 years in June. She even pitches in as a relief driver for Sassy Sages Trips for the church when an extra driver is needed. Perhaps she is most well-known for her wonderful talents in the kitchen, where she sometimes prepares lunch for the staff. It’s really a labor of love for her, because they are such a close-knit bunch. Karen says it’s like preparing a meal for family. Each Wednesday evening before classes begin, St. John’s has a meal prepared for the congregation. They usually feed about 125 church members, who look forward to Karen’s desserts each week. Karen’s passions in life are her family, cooking, music, gardening and going to the beach — when she has time.

e

education THE CULLMAN TIMES | PROFILE 2012

CONTRIBUTED

Clara, 13, on the left, is a seventh grader, Liam, a fourth grader, 9, and Ester, a first grader, who is 6. Anna, far right, also has a 20-month-old, Violet, who soaks up a lot of education between naps.

Homeschool A parent

LORETTA GILLESPIE CORRESPONDENT

Anna Lanier

Mom taking control of children’s education

nna Willingham Lanier of Cullman has a full and rewarding life. The Cullman High School alum graduated from Montevallo in 1998 with a major in retail merchandising and a minor in business. But life took a turn for her with the advent of four children, so now, instead of selling purses and shoes, she is a homeschooling mom who runs a business and teaches ballet lessons. During college she taught ballet in Birmingham for a year, afterward she worked in a bank for awhile before opening her store, Dance With Us, a retail store with dance, gymnastics apparel and workout clothes, in 1999. In 2001, she married David Lanier, a talented musician, who’s first CD will be released in the next few months. Anna started ballet at

the age of five under the careful eye of her mother, Elaine Willingham, also a dance instructor and owner of the Cullman Ballet Theatre School. With her background in working with children as a ballet instructor, she felt that homeschooling was something she could do well. “I went into it with the attitude that I handle it,” said Anna. “I felt as though I could do a better job that public school because I know my child better than anyone else.” Her oldest child, Clara went to public school from kindergarten through the second grade, but wasn’t enjoying the experience. “She just wasn’t happy in school,” recalled Anna. “Everyday it was a struggle to get her up and ready. Some days she complained of a tummy ache, or a headache, but really she just missed me and didn’t want to go to school. “With my schedule I never had enough time

with Clara while she was in public school, and felt like I didn't know my child,” she said. “Homeschooling is great for my work schedule. We start around eightish each day and can be finished with all three school-age kids by noon or earlier. Then I open my store at 1:30 and the kids can either go with me or stay with their dad at home. It's such a blessing to us that we are able to do it this way.” Because she teaches ballet at her mother’s school, four days a week and often works until 6:30, she would have had little time with them had they been in public school. This way, they get their work done in the morning, leaving the early afternoons for running errands, doing chores around the house, or just relaxing. Clara, a seventh grader, is now 13, and thriving in the homeschooling enviPlease see LANIER Page 2

EDUCATION 2 | THE CULLMAN TIMES

EDUCATION

CULLMANTIMES.COM | SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

LANIER FROM PAGE 1 ronment. Anna has a fourth-grader, son Liam, 9, and Esther, a firstgrader, who is 6, at her dining table classroom. She also has a 20-monthold, Violet, who soaks up a lot of education between naps. “Actually, everything goes really smoothly,” said Anna. “You can get a lot of school work done in a couple of hours a day when children don’t have to stand in line for 20 minutes to go to lunch or the bathroom several times a day, or take physical education classes,” she said. “Homeschooling can be a bit tricky doing three different grades each day, especially with a very demanding infant,” admitted Anna. “For us, it works best if I start the six-year-old first, because she has less work and then can help by playing with her little sister while I help the nine-year-old. The oldest works independently most of the time, but I still have her at the table with us in case she needs me and so I can make sure she isn't slacking off,” laughed Anna.

“I love being the one to teach my children new things and I love being with them as they accomplish new goals and seeing how their face lights up when they finally ‘get’ any problem they've been having trouble with,” she said. Clara and Liam have different learning patterns. “Clara was easy, with Liam it’s been a little bit harder, because they have different personalities,” she said. “Esther is just learning to read, and is coming along nicely.” One of the reasons homeschooling works for the Laniers is that Anna can quickly tell what their weaknesses are, allowing her to slow down, making sure that they have grasped the concept before moving on to something else. Anna says that she is probably fairly structured in her curriculum. “I teach the history, science, English, math and intensive writing courses, all of which are outlined in the Bob Jones University guidelines for homeschooled students,” she explained. She teaches them Bible courses as a part of

their everyday lives. They also get lots of extracurricular instruction. “Liam isn’t into sports much although he takes gymnastics twice a week and loves that. He is also very artsy,” said Anna. At 13, Clara is an aspiring writer, and the whole family loves to read. David teaches them music when they show an interest, although it isn’t part of their class work, and the girls take ballet. Working with her children has taught Anna much about the virtue of patience. “I’ve learned to be more patient, and I’ve also learned a lot about myself in the course of working with my children,” she said thoughtfully. “I’ve learned to take myself much less seriously — to laugh more often and to relax and enjoy life.” Part of those life lessons she’s learned deal with stress management. “When we have doctors appointments we don’t have school that day,” she said. “That’s really stressful trying to cram schoolwork into loading four children

into the van for a drive to the doctor’s office. But we take those kinds of days off, which is another thing that makes homeschooling work for us — there are no makeup lessons like they would have in public school, no doctor’s excuses, and I can schedule their appointments around my work schedule.” Since Anna teaches public school children in her ballet classes, she normally follows the public school break schedule, at least for major holidays. “I normally don’t break for President’s Day and things like that,” she laughed. Her children have plenty of interaction with other children and with other adults. Each Friday they join a co-op of other homeschoolers and their parent/teachers for extracurricular activities and other group lessons. Recently the co-op group studied astronomy, took drawing lessons and Clara, who is on the yearbook staff, met with her group to work on projects related to that. Anna closes her store

on Fridays to be able to make these outings without having to rush back to work. “I’m really happy doing this, “she said. “There is so much less stress and we all get along and enjoy being together.” They even get in some cooking lessons by helping to prepare meals and Anna teaches the girls crafting skills like sewing, quilting and knitting. “These are just parts of our everyday life,” she said. She also weaves moral lessons into the fabric of their lives because by being with them 24/7, she can point out examples whenever certain situations arise. “My mother-in-law, who is very supportive of us, is a public school

teacher in Madison, so I know how hard teachers work and what they have to deal with on an everyday basis. I don’t mean to criticize anything that they do, it’s just that this is very important to me, and my work situation makes it possible for me to have the best of both worlds, so I feel very blessed to be able to do this for myself and my children,” said Anna. “If things change in the future, we always have the option of them going back to public school.” As for now, though, the children are surrounded on a daily basis by books, art, music, nature, Christian values and a whole lot of love. That’s a pretty fair tradeoff for anything that they might miss by attending a crowded public school.

THE CULLMAN TIMES | SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

EDUCATION

3

EDUCATION PAGE 4

EDUCATION

THE CULLMAN TIMES | SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

THE CULLMAN TIMES | PROFILE 2012

AMANDA SHAVERS-DAVIS/THE CULLMAN TIMES

Sy Shaver performs with the Wallace State Singers during the 2011 Cullman County Fair Queen Pageant BY TERRI MORETON CORRESPONDENT

H

ANCEVILLE — Sy Shaver is a small-town boy with big-time plans. Shaver, 20, has spent his entire life in Garden City and Hanceville. He started school at Garden City Elementary eventually graduating from Hanceville High School. He insists he’s really a homebody, even though he knows people would be surprised to know that fact. “I’m a bit of a shocker around here,” Shaver said with a brilliantly white grin, perfect tan and impossibly blonde hair. In high school, Shaver spent three years in the band’s color guard. “That was the BIG shock for the school year,” Shaver said, noting how rare it is to have a male in the pre-

dominately female section of the marching band. Shaver even went back to his high school this past fall to choreograph the color guard’s halftime routine. “It took a little while for them to come around to me,” he said. “I think they were a little bit scared. But they warmed up to me, and it went really well.” Shaver worked with the group through band camp and color guard camp in the summer and then every Tuesday and Thursday through football season. “It was a big job,” he said. “It kept me really busy.” But entertaining is what he wants to do. “I’ve sung forever,” Shaver said. “It’s all I do, really.” Shaver wants to have a recording career. But his plan to get there is a bit unorthodox. Most people

would assume Shaver would make a beeline to Nashville and start pounding the pavement. In fact, he already has a demo CD of some of his work. “Nashville is really hard,” he said. “It’s tough to be successful just going in cold. I have a more rocky, soul voice. I’m not the musical theater type. I like being a star. I like singing by myself. I want to be the center of attention.” To that end, Shaver has auditioned to be a cruise ship performer. “Cruise ships offer a lot of solo work,” he said. “I want to record, and you have to start somewhere. I’d like to do the cruise ship for as long as I can.” He received hiring information from the Royal Caribbean cruise line after his mid-January Please see SHAVER Page 7

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012 | CULLMANTIMES.COM

LEISURE

THE CULLMAN TIMES | RECREATION 7

SHAVER FROM PAGE 1 audition in Nashville. “It’s not a done deal, but looks promising,” he said. “They gave out information like what sort of clothes and supplies to pack for living on a cruise ship and boat safety.” If he gets the job, he’ll have a six-month contract. “There’s two months of rehearsal in Hollywood, Fla., then four months on the boat. That starts in April. I’m really hoping that comes together. I’m so excited about it. It’s really bad having to wait. I plan to keep auditioning, just so I have some options. You never know who you’re going to meet. You never know when an opportunity will arise.” In the spirit of keeping his options open, Shaver performs at just about any event he’s invited to. He’s participated in several talent competitions and performed at American Cancer Society events. “Anything creative and performing, I really like,” he said. The college sophomore will soon graduate from Wallace State Community College with an associate’s degree in general studies. While in school, Shaver has been heavily involved in the college’s performing arts programs. “I’m in the Wallace State Singers, concert choir and theater,” he said. “I was a singer at my high school. I was well known for that at my high school, so I auditioned for at Wallace and got a scholarship. I’ve been recognized since I’ve been singing more here.” While he’s grateful for music education he’s received, Shaver admits school isn’t really his thing. “I’m just getting the basics right now,” he said. “I don’t find it very satisfying sitting in a classroom all day. But Wallace State has really helped me as far as my music education goes. They’ve been great. I’m scatterbrained when it comes to education. I don’t focus well sitting in a classroom. Entertaining is what I know I want to do right now, and Wallace State has been the best for my performing learning

AMANDA SHAVERS-DAVIS/THE CULLMAN TIMES

Sy Shaver performs with the Wallace State Singers during the 2010 Cullman County Fair Queen Pageant experience. I would not have been able to make that (Royal Caribbean) audition without Wallace. It’s been two years of really good practice.” Shaver is gung-ho about the possibility of working on a cruise ship even though he’s never traveled much. “I know we went to Disney

when I was really young,” he said. “I’ve visited family in Tennessee. But that’s it. I’ve never really traveled before, so it’ll be a bit of a culture shock, I’m sure. But I’m up for anything. Talent-wise I think I’m ready. I don’t know if I’ll be ready to be away from my family. I just have to jump and

hope for the best,” he said. Shaver is particularly close to his grandmother. In fact, she accompanies him to all his auditions. “My Nanny is my best friend,” he said. “She’s such an inspiration to me. She helps me stay focused. It’s tough to find sincere friends in this

business. It’s important to me to keep those kinds of people like my Nanny close.” In the meantime, Shaver is up to performing just about any function. He sells his CD for $5 to anyone interested in hearing his style. He can be contacted at 256-636-5329 for bookings.

RECREATION 8

THE CULLMAN TIMES | SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

h

health

THE CULLMAN TIMES | PROFILE 2012

TERRI MORETON/THE CULLMAN TIMES

Drake grew up hanging around her grandfather’s dental practice. “I would go after school and just watch him,” Drake said. “I liked seeing him work on people’s teeth and educating them on how to take care of their teeth. I want to come back to Cullman to start a family and my dental practice,” she said.

Future dentist S

Sara Beth Drake

Organized and living on a fast track to career in pediatric dentistry

TERRI MORETON CORRESPONDENT ara Beth Drake is a young lady with a lot of irons in the fire. She dances, performs community service, serves as Miss Wallace State, and will graduate college two weeks before she graduates from high school. Drake participates in the FastTrack program at Wallace State Community College where she earns college and high school credits at the same time. “I’ve done that for the last two years,” she said. “Wallace State’s graduation is before my high school’s. So I’ll actually have my college degree before my high school degree.” And although she’ll receive her high school diploma from Vinemont High School, she really has not spent much time there. Drake attended Sacred Heart School and St. Bernard Prep School before deciding she want-

ed to attend public school. “After the ninth grade, I decided I wanted to try public school,” she said. “I had gone to school with the same group of kids all those years. We were like brothers and sisters. I wanted to venture out. For the tenth grade, I went to Vinemont High School. That’s when I found out about the FastTrack program at Wallace State.” FastTrack students attend spend the day in college-level classes and receive dual enrollment credit for both college and high school. Drake turned in an application and had an interview and got in the program. “I’m at Wallace State 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day,” she said. “I’m never at Vinemont for class, but I do my extracurricular activities there.” She has participated in the dance line for band and was a cheerleader last year.

Drake has danced at the West Main Dance Studio for 14 years and has taught some of the younger students. That dance experience has worked in her favor. Drake tried out for and learned in January she made the Alabama Hammer Girl Dance Team. The Hammer Girls are the dance team for the Huntsville Hammers, a professional indoor football team. “I’m the youngest one on the squad,” she said. She was also the youngest contestant in this year’s Miss Wallace State contest. One of the requirements to participate is that students have 24 credit hours. Because she has been in the FastTrack program, she had 32 credit hours. “I turned 18 just two weeks before the contest in November,” she said. The Miss Wallace State contest is a preliminary to the Miss Alabama contest. Please see DRAKE Page 7

HEALTH 2 | THE CULLMAN TIMES

HEALTH

CULLMANTIMES.COM | SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

CONTRIBUTED

Group members shown, from left, are Perry Shields, David Hudson, Gayle Ledbetter, Annette Harris, Dixie Bergquist, Noel Bergquist, Keelan Banks (Dogs-Wicken and Lola), Deb Schmidt, Becky Loyd, Michael (last name unknown), Jim Loyd, Steve Barnett, Katie Newman, Gabe Taylor.

The Rumors Bike Club

Low-impact workout offers fun, calorie burning adventures CONTRIBUTED

Taking a short break are members, Perry Shields, Vince and Dixie Berquist. LORETTA GILLESPIE CORRESPONDENT

conscious, making sure that people know the rules of the road, and that they hey say you never wear the proper safety forget how to ride a equipment, like helmets. bike. For some “We plan to have a beginCullman residents, that’s ner’s class this year to an understatement. The insure that everyone Rumors Bike Club has knows how to be safe, and members who have been also how to be courteous riding for years, but they to drivers and other ridwelcome any and everyers,” said Harris. one to join them in this “This class will be for fun, low-impact sport. people who don’t know “We encourage anyone anything about riding or from beginners to interhow to use their bike. A lot mediate and experienced of people are intimidated riders,” stressed Annette by the more experienced Harris, charter member of riders, but there are memthe bike club, which bers of all skill levels who meets at her restaurant, ride with us,” Harris Rumors Deli, and makes explained. its circuitous route around “Most of us have the city. learned how to change a The group started out flat and do general mainsmall, and has grown to tenance on our bikes,” she about 25 members, but added. that number fluctuates as “This is for fun, these people take vacations, aren’t mountain bikes, kids start playing ball or although we do have new members are added. members who also ride The bikers vary the those, this is for people routes to keep the ride who want to exercise at from getting boring, and their own pace, and there have devised routes that is always room for allow beginners to comadvancement.” plete a cycle, while others Harris points out that continue to ride a longer this sport is relatively route. “People of all ages inexpensive, and that and skill levels ride with there are no dues from us,” said Harris. “We don’t members. want people to think that The group got started they have to start out ridabout two years ago. “We ing long distances, there never expected to ride the are several routes that can way we are doing,” she bring them back around admitted. “We started out to the starting point.” riding for about two or Cullman’s wide streets three miles, some people are perfect for cycling, could only ride for about running, walking and jog- 10 minutes in the beginging. The recent beautiful ning, but now we have spring weather has three loops around town, brought people out in and people can stop at droves to stretch their legs any point.” and get some exercise. They meet at Rumors It’s a great way to meet at 6 p.m. and each indipeople, too. “A lot of peovidual rides for as long as ple just like riding in a they feel comfortable. group for the companion- There is a one-mile, twoship,” Harris pointed out. The group is very safety Please see BIKE Page 3

T

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012 | CULLMANTIMES.COM

HEALTH

THE CULLMAN TIMES | HEALTH 3

BIKE FROM PAGE 2 mile and four-mile loop. The average ride is about two miles, round trip. They start riding about this time in the spring and ride as long as the weather permits. “Most of us stop when it gets below 55 degrees in the winter, but it never gets too hot,” Harris laughed. “We bring water with us and we can stop to rest in the shade if necessary.” Some of the more experienced riders, like Dr. and Mrs. Vince Bergquist, started out slow, but have built up their endurance to the point that they now ride 25-30 miles, three times per week. Dr. Vince Bergquist, M.D. Orthopedic Surgeon and an avid bicyclist, says that bicycling is excellent exercise to maintain and increase cardiovascular (heart) and pulmonary (lung) functioning. “Since it is low-impact it is also good for toning and building muscles without joint damage. Weight control is another plus since steady biking burns about 300 calories per hour,” he said. “Maintaining and even increasing coordination and balance are important benefits it has proven to be good for mental health — especially when done outside,” he explained. “Just about any age group can enjoy bicycling’s benefits. If there is any doubt of its appropriateness for you, asking your primary care physician is a good thing before beginning and make sure you have the right equipment — a bike that fits you, as well as a helmet are important.” Not everyone is able to devote that much effort or time to the sport, but its one activity that allows for individuals to monitor themselves and most people know when to call it a day. Others like the chal-

lenge of a longer, more vigorous ride. “People often surprise themselves at how fast they build up to riding longer distances,” said Harris. “We’ve had riders from the age of three to people in their 60s,” said Harris. “It’s a fun activity for the whole family, and it encourages people to get up and get outside.” Ben Harrison and his family ride with the club. “It’s a great way to spend time with my family,” said Harrison, whose daughter Sophie, 9, and son, Cole, 5, have both been riding for a couple of years. “I want them to learn a sport that will last them a lifetime,” he explained. “You can only play baseball or football for so long, but you can ride a bike for years.” Cole rides along sometimes when Ben runs. “Cole can ride five miles when I’m running, and Sophie can ride as long as the rest of the group rides. It’s a great way to stay active,” said Harrison. Unlike some sports, bike riding is easy on the joints, and people can ride at their own speed. This is not a race. “Its good for people who have arthritis in their knees,” Harris pointed out. “It builds energy, stamina, and motivates people to get outside and have fun,” she said. “Some people walk up the steeper hills, and there are three-wheel bikes for people who have trouble with balance,” she added. Club member Becky Loyd says that this suits her lifestyle much better than other forms of exercise. “I had gastric bypass surgery in 2004 and at my physician's recommendation I joined a fitness club,” she explained. “Doing the same old thing time after time got boring to me. When I heard about

the bike club, my husband, Jim, and I wanted to start riding. Finding the appropriate bike for me took a few tries, but after that it has been fairly easy. Riding bikes is a good way to get exercise. It gets the heart pumping, the legs burning and helps burn calories.” The club members sometimes take field trips to places like Chief Ladiga Trail on the Alabama/Georgia line, which offers a 33-mile ride on a converted Southern Railroad bed. “It just blew out minds,” said Harris of the trip. Ben and Cole Harrison. They frequently ride at Sportsman’s Lake Park, and on many of Cullman shady, level or gently curving and rising streets. Denise Hays Peek says she thoroughly enjoys riding with the group. “It's definitely exercise with a little socializing thrown in to keep it fun,” she laughed. “We choose different routes to break up the monotony and then we just sit back and see what happens. We've had several unexpected things happen on our rides.” “Cullman is the friendliest little town. People smile and wave as we pass by their homes. One neighbor was grilling steaks and invited us for dinner,” she laughed. “If anyone has a ‘hankering’ for a fun way to exercise, I would highly recommend riding a bike,” said Loyd. “It’s something that the whole family can do together. We would love to have anyone join us on our Monday, Wednesday and Friday rides.” “Rob Werner has been a big help to our club members,” said Harris. “He made a contribution to a favorite charity in honor Please see BIKE Page 7

CONTRIBUTED

United Way marketing, communications director

HEALTH 4 | THE CULLMAN TIMES

HEALTH

CULLMANTIMES.COM | SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

Jacqueline Schendel

Life of service in health, charity LORETTA GILLESPIE CORRESPONDENT

A

circuitous route brought Jacqueline Schendel to Cullman from Lake Charles, La., via New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Crowley, La.. She graduated from Westlake High School near Lake Charles in 1972. Afterward she attended McNeese State University in Lake Charles, obtaining her bachelor of arts degree in secondary education. At the age of 15 she met her future husband, Michael, while they were both in high school. Their relationship continued after graduation, and through college. They were married in 1973, when Jacqueline was 19. They lived in Metairie while Michael attended medical school. Young, bright, eager and energetic, she now had a degree in education, but there were few job prospects, so she went to work at the Gateway Hotel in the sales department, supporting both of them while Michael finished medical school. Jacqueline later went to work as a claims adjuster for Allstate Insurance. Michael attended LSU Medical School in New Orleans and received a doctorate degree in medicine. The couple moved to Baton Rouge, where Michael did his residency. Allstate found a place for her in their office, so the move was a good one for both of them. After his residency, they chose to move to Crowley, La., where his family lived. He hung out his shingle and Jacqueline became his secretary/receptionist. He practiced medicine there for eight years, but the economy started to take a nosedive. The area is known for its oil industry and Crowley is known as the rice capital of the world. This was during the days of gasoline rationing and high prices. People were moving away from the area, which left it even more depressed and forced them to look elsewhere for better opportunities. They began looking around for another place to live, work and rear their children. With the help of a physicians search group, they scouted out prospective places in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. “We knew we wanted to stay in the South,” said Jacqueline. “When we interviewed in Cullman we knew that this was the place,” she smiled. “It was spring and the lake beckoned us, because we both enjoyed boating activities.” Dr. and Mrs. Schendel found the people of Cullman to be friendly, and since they belong to the Lutheran Church, they were attracted to St. Paul’s and the school there. By now they had a son, Derek, who was a third grader, and a daughter, Jennifer, who was a first grader. They returned in the fall. They were enchanted by the pumpkins, mums, and the festivities in and around town. “I thought this was the most wonderful place,” she said. It was a major move for the young professional couple. They had no friends, family or contacts in Cullman. With two small children, that combination was somewhat

Jacqueline Schendel. daunting. Woodland Hospital recruited them. They still owned a building and a home in Louisiana, so they bought a modest home on Catoma Drive and began to settle into their new lives. After only 11 months in Cullman, still adjusting to their new surroundings, Dr. Schendel, who was a Louisiana Army Reservist, was called to duty during Desert Storm. “We had gone back to Crowley for Christmas and he found out then. I came back to Cullman and found a crisis of a different kind — our house had flooded,” she said ironically. She pitched in, tearing away layers of wallpaper, ripping up carpets and dealing with contractors. In a way, she says, it gave her something to focus on while he was gone. She also kept going into the office, working with their new patients, giving them referrals and hoping that they would return when Dr. Schendel’s six-month tour of duty was finished. She became a jack-ofall-trades. She learned things about herself that she didn’t know, like how strong she really was, that she could deal with life’s crises as they came, efficiently and effectively. “My husband is a very hands-on type of guy and I value his opinion,” she said. “He likes being involved in decisions about our lifestyle, but he wasn’t here, so I had to handle everything myself.” When he returned, they resumed their lives, and moved on to bigger and better things. She became involved in several school related activities, the PTO, her son’s sports, “Derek was involved in soccer, so I was a soccer mom, and later he played football,

which brought us in contact with many other parents,” she said. In 1994, Dr. Schendel joined Cullman Primary Care, where he still practices today. That left Jacqueline unemployed for the first time in her adult life. “It only lasted about a year and a half, “she laughed. She went to work at Margo’s in the historic section of downtown, and then in 1998, Dennis Borwick offered her a job at CATV2, the local television station. “It was all on-the-job training,” she laughed. She worked there for over 10 years, and has loved every minute of it. She left to start working at United Way, but has recently returned to cohost three mornings a week. It is a light-hearted morning show, featuring community events and doing interviews with the likes of former Governor Bob Riley, and other dignitaries like Rep. Robert Aderholt. “I learned a lot about advertising, editing and marketing, and it’s opened a lot of doors for me,” she said. She began to get the Cullman spirit of community, which is contagious, and joined several civic and charity organizations. She was involved in the now defunct Business and Professional Women’s Association, served on the Kenya Relief Board for several years, and was a committee member on the Wallace State Community College Foundation Board. She belongs to the Alliance to the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, which has local, state and national affiliations. This organization provides help and support for medical families and medical communities.

Jacqueline belongs to the Cullman Women’s League, currently serving in the capacity of treasurer. The Women’s League helps to raise money for scholarships and for local non-profit agencies such as Victim’s Services, Brook’s Place, the Cullman Regional Medical Center’s Foundation, Cullman Caring For Kids, and others. “I’ve always been amazed at how the Cullman County Community is willing to help when the need arises,” said Jacqueline. “The people in Cullman are amazingly caring, giving, and willing to volunteer their time and resources to help.” According to Jacqueline, there are many issues facing the citizens of Cullman County. These issues range from hunger to homelessness and not everyone may be aware of the problems that are occurring here daily. “However, with all the services that the UW Partner Agencies provide, there are still many unmet needs,” she said. “We encourage anyone who would like to get involved, to contact our office as the funds have decreased and the needs have increased. Those wanting to get involved can ‘Give, Advocate or Volunteer’,” she stressed. The Schendel children both live in Nashville now. They have one grandson, LORETTA GILLESPIE Logan, who is the light of their lives. When she has time, Jacqueline served as both will be held this year at Jacqueline loves painting, county and state president Cullman’s Stonebridge crafting, and reading, and of the organization over Farm on Thursday, Sept. is a very talented and the years. 27,” she said. inventive hostess. “I love She also belongs to the She also coordinates doing tablescapes,” she Alliance to the Cullman The UW Day of Action. said. She likes entertainCounty Medical Society “This is a community ing and often delights her which has an independent event that will focus on Breast Cancer education. This year’s Day guests with creative themed dinners. And, of Foundation, that helps of Action, ‘Born to Read,’ course, loves spending put together gift bags for is an event for children time with her grandson. women who have recently through sixth grade,” she “The food is usually been diagnosed with explained. breast cancer. They have okay, but the tablescape is The event, held at the also helped a few individ- Cullman County Public much better,” she uals with specific needs Library, will be Thursday, laughed. over the past few years. June 21, with gift cards “Cullman has welPerhaps her most valued at $10 each to be comed us,” she mused. rewarding position has given away, (one per fami- “When we first came here been with the United Way ly), and will feature guest the people always asked if (UW) of Cullman County, readers. we had children, then they where she has been the Jacqueline also coorasked where we went to marketing and communi- dinates events like the UW church, because they cations director since Kick-Off luncheon which wanted to invite us to 2008. “My primary will be held in August, and their church, and I found responsibilities include begins United Way’s that a lovely custom,” she promoting United Way as fundraising efforts. She is said. “We are very pleased well as fundraising and also responsible for all to call Cullman our home special events, like the communications such as now and look forward to upcoming ‘Wild About newsletters, brochures seeing it grow and prosGirlfriends Gala’ which and social media. per.”

Rotarian HEALTH

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012 | CULLMANTIMES.COM

THE CULLMAN TIMES | HEALTH 5

Lisa Eckenrod

Resident uses variety of talents to serve community

LORETTA GILLESPIE CORRESPONDENT

L

isa Eckenrod came to Cullman from Birmingham. She and her husband, Mike, followed his job here, in November 1990. The couple and their partner, Vaughn Burrell, bought the former Holiday Motors, changing the name to Long-Lewis Ford, then changed it to Eckenrod Ford in 1999. Since then she has taken Cullman to her heart, working in many different capacities in several organizations. A past member of both Sacred Heart and St. Bernard PTAs, Lisa also served as the chairperson over transportation on the Decorator Show House to benefit Cullman Regional Medical Center. She is a member of the “Share” Women’s Club, which is devoted to Christmas and Garden Tours, benefiting Hospice of Cullman County, was the Cullman County Regent of the DAR for two years, has been Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the United Way of Cullman County, serving on that board for six years, and is now in her ninth year as a member of the Rotary, where she currently serves as president. She often lends her talents as a decorator and floral designer to causes like the CRMC Heart Ball, and other worthwhile community events. She is happy to do all of this because she loves the community. “Cullman is like stepping back in time,”

said Lisa. “You just feel safe here, the people are friendly, and when opportunities arise the citizens of this city and county are always there to help.” “This is an amazing community,” she said. “It’s as close to perfect as anywhere you could find to live.” One of her most active roles is the Rotary. “I’m so proud to be a part of this club,” she said. “The Cullman Rotary Club goes above and beyond what’s expected of them at all times.” "Cullman's first female Rotarian and first female club president was Deb Buettner. She paved the way for women here in Cullman," said Lisa. The Rotary Club has

several functions and fundraisers during the year, mostly geared toward helping children. “All the funds we raise go back into the community,” she explained. "We donate books to the city and county schools for their libraries, help to fund the CCCDC and help to support the Good Samaritan Clinic and Childhaven." One of the most recent ways in which the Rotary Club has given to the community was attaining two grants with which to replant some of the trees lost in last spring’s devastating tornadoes. Lisa applied for and received two grants from Rotary. One was a District Grant for special projects. Cullman Rotary

received $3,000 for that grant. The other was an Alabama Tornado Disaster Donor Advised Fund Grant which was funded from Rotarians all across the United States who sent in money to the Decatur chapter for dispersal to area Rotarians following the tornadoes. That fund eventually totaled $75,000. Cullman Rotary received $3,250. Lisa filled out the tedious grant applications in detail. She included a heartfelt plea for funds to replace Cullman’s historic trees. One turned into

a five page letter describing the beauty of the city along with several quotes about trees, and pictures from the files of The Cullman Times chronicling the devastation. “I had never written a grant or applied for one before,” she said. “I tried to appeal to the nature lover who might be reading it.” It took her over a week to fill out all the painstaking paperwork and write the letter. In about six weeks she got the second grant in the form of a check for $3,250. Lisa was thrilled. “I was absolutely beside myself,”

she said. “My dream of replacing trees is also geared to children,” she said. “The trees were one of the things about our city that was so strikingly beautiful. If we don’t replace them, our children will never know what it was like.” “I want future generations of children to see what our organization and others have done toward making our city look the way it used to, with beautiful trees gracing every corner.” She has been working Please see ECKENROD Page 6

HEALTH 6 | THE CULLMAN TIMES

HEALTH

CONTRIBUTED

Lisa Eckenrod.

ECKENROD FROM PAGE 5 with the city arborist, in conjunction with Mayor Townson to decide where the trees will be placed. Cullman’s arborist, Darrell Johns, estimates that on city property alone there were over 600 trees lost. “The loss of these mature trees could change a historic landscape forever. However, Cullman Rotary intends for that change to be temporary,” Lisa wrote in her grant application. “Cullman Rotary realizes the enormity of the loss. We have been saving for several years — looking for a ‘big’ project to benefit our community. At present we have $15,000 in our ‘big project’ fund. Well, we found our ‘big project’ on April 27 — trees!” she continued. “Our plan is to plant one tree for each Rotarian in our club. At present, that would be replacing 53 trees lost on public property in the City of Cullman. We chose one tree for one Rotarian in order for our members to take ‘ownership’ of the project. Each of our Rotarians will even have the opportunity to name their tree. One of our Rotarians wants to name his ‘Toomer’s Corner.’” “The very first tree we will plant will be in honor of Mr. Bill Buettner, who was a Rotarian in Cullman for over 40 years. In all that time he had perfect attendance." Mrs. Bobbie Buettner will choose the type of tree to be planted in her late husband’s honor. Although the trees haven’t been purchased as of yet, Lisa anticipates that there will be several different varieties and that they will be of substantial size. “I think they will include some oaks, of course, and maples, dogwoods and other trees suited for our climate. All of them will be long-lived trees,” she said.

“These trees will be at least 6- to 10 feet tall and will cost anywhere from $350 to $500 each — just to purchase. Our 53 trees will cost our club anywhere from $18,550 to $26,500. Those amounts do not include the costs of transporting or planting of the trees. These costs are unknown at present,” she explained. “However, we plan on asking those in our community with connections in the transportation field for assistance in getting the trees to us, as well as those in the construction area for help in planting. Whatever costs remain will be the responsibility of the club as this is a community project.” “We intend to have permanent Rotary signage at each area where our trees are planted,” Lisa added. Besides her community service, Lisa’s other passions include her family: Husband, Mike and daughter, Dr. Katie Stipes and her husband, Chris Stipes. Katie is a veterinarian in Birmingham, so she is close enough to visit frequently. Both Lisa and Mike are especially proud of Eckenrod Ford Lincoln of Cullman. Over the years, they have won numerous customer satisfaction awards. Ford's highest honors such as the President's Award and Chairman's Award, and also, The Cullman Times’ Best New Car Dealership Award, which is an honor for the dealership as it is voted on by the citizens of Cullman. Lisa also loves to design, sew and paint baby blankets. “I’ve been sewing since I was a little girl of about 12, and quilting for the past five years,” she said. Her last project was one of her favorites. She pieced together and quilted 27 of her own Hard Rock Café T-shirts as a gift to Katie.

CULLMANTIMES.COM | SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012 | CULLMANTIMES.COM

HEALTH

THE CULLMAN TIMES | HEALTH 7

DRAKE FROM PAGE 1 Drake will participate in the Miss Alabama pageant in June. Besides being a Miss Alabama contestant this summer, Drake will also be trying out for dance teams at schools throughout the Southeast and taking some summer classes. “My mom is making me take some classes,” Drake laughed. Drake got involved in pageants just for fun. “I’d done some local pageants, and a friend of mine suggested we do the Miss Alabama Most Outstanding Teen contest,” she said. “It was another just-forfun sort of thing. I worked out and followed a strict diet for the bathing suit part so I wouldn’t

make a fool of myself. I ended up winning. My friend said, ‘I thought this was just for fun.’” Those pageant scholarships and dance team tryouts are all part of a greater goal — paying for school. Drake has big plans there, too. She’s about to receive her associate’s degree in biology. She plans to go obtain her bachelor’s degree in biology next, possibly at Auburn University. Then, she wants to attend the University of Alabama at Birmingham dental program and become a pediatric dentist. Drake grew up hanging around her grandfather’s dental practice, which he sold years ago and is now called Today’s

Family Dentistry. “I would go after school and just watch him,” Drake said. “I liked seeing him work on people’s teeth and educating them on how to take care of their teeth.” Drake grew up in the Cullman area and wants to come back here. “I want to come back to Cullman to start a family and my dental practice,” she said. In the meantime, Drake is involved in her Miss Wallace State platform. She decided on literacy as her platform after watching a friend of her brother’s struggle with his reading.

“So many kids have a tough time with their reading,” she said. “So I’m working with a program at the public library to help middle school and high school students improve their reading comprehension.” If students struggle to understand what they’re reading, then taking tests becomes quite an ordeal. “Students who aren’t good at the reading comprehension take so long reading and understanding the question, they don’t have a lot of time to actually answer the questions,” she said. “This will help them get through a test in a timely manner, especially things like the

reading portion of the ACT, college entrance exam.” She’s also been reading to elementary students and is involved in a program called First Book that donates books to mothers to read to their newborns. “The community service has been a really good experience,” she said. To be involved in so many activities, Drake has to stay on top of her schedule. “I like to be really organized,” she said. “People tell me I’m the most organized person they know. They ask me all the time if I can help them organize their lives, too.”

BIKE

Ralph Harris has his own style of dismounting a bike.

FROM PAGE 3 of Rumor's Bike Club, and has also been very helpful to everyone interested in buying a bike. Justin Loyd who works at Werner’s Trading Company has really been helpful fitting members with bikes and other equipment,” said Harris.

THE DETAILS The Chief Ladiga Trail starts at the Alabama-Georgia state line. At about mile marker 7.0, the trail crosses the

Pinhoti National Recreation Trail. It travels west to Piedmont then on to Jacksonville and ends in Weaver, Alabama. It travels through wetlands, across streams, through forests and farmlands, and includes a horizon view of the Talladega Mountains. There are several bridges and both new and restored railroad trestles. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Chief_Ladiga_Trail

CONTRIBUTED

a

at work

THE CULLMAN TIMES | PROFILE 2012

LORETTA GILLESPIE/THE CULLMAN TIMES

Mrs. Dahlke with her sixth graders at the St. Paul's book fair. Her class did the decorating and set up for the event. From left, front row: Alex Miller, Alan Crisologo, Dylan Yankee, Carley Byerley, David Dueland; middle row: Zoe Kelsey, Dahlke, Kacy Burroughs; and back row: Logan Conner, Patrick McKeehan, Luke Marti.

Teacher A

Ange Denney Dahlke

Love of students keeps educator inspired and focused

LORETTA GILLESPIE CORRESPONDENT

nge Denny Dahlke is a teacher. She incorporates that love of learning in every facet of her life. The 1988 graduate of Holly Pond went on to Jacksonville State University, where she received a bachelor of science degree in secondary education, sixth through twelfth, graduating cum laude in August, 1996. She then attended Wallace State College, where she received an associate in arts degree in June 1992. Dahlke presently teaches sixth grade at St. Paul’s Lutheran School, but has taught many other classes as well. Recently she was honored during the 2011-12 Southern District Teacher’s Conference of the Southern District of the Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod, as the Southern District Lutheran School Day School Educator of the Year during a ceremony at St. John Lutheran Church

in New Orleans. Honored for her professional excellence, dedication and creativity in service to St. Paul’s Lutheran School and the Southern District of the LCMS which includes all of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and part of Florida – Dahlke was humbled and amazed to be chosen. The Southern District’s Day School Teacher of the Year Award was selected by the Southern District Award Selection Committee which recognizes individuals with the highest standards of professional performance and service. “We are very pleased to see Mrs. Dahlke recognized for her work here at St. Paul’s Lutheran School,” said St. Paul’s Principal, Robert Lange. “She approaches her teaching with innovation, dedication, enthusiasm and a helpful attitude. She is always ready to go that extra mile for our students, staff, and school family.” Dahlke is a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran

Church, the mother of three, and the wife of 20 years to Dan Dahlke, who is the engineer for St. Clair County. Her own children finished at St. Paul’s and now attend Fairview. “Besides being a mother and wife, teaching is who I am,” she said. “I truly believe it is what I was born to do and I’m thankful that God has given me that opportunity,” said Dahlke. “I no longer only have three children; I have a whole new family introduced to me each August,” she said. “I get to know them and watch them blossom. At the end of the year, each student that leaves sixth grade leaves our school. My job is to make sure they are ready to fly out into the world and spread their wings. I’m not talking only about school work and textbook answers — I want them to be able to make informed decisions and have a contribution to make to the world because they are Please see DAHLKE Page 9

Ballet instructor, homeschool teacher

AT WORK 2 | THE CULLMAN TIMES

AT WORK

CULLMANTIMES.COM | SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

Anna Lanier

Homeschooling mom enjoying educational adventures with children Her oldest child, Clara went to public school from kindergarten through the second grade, nna Willingham but wasn’t enjoying the Lanier of Cullman experience. “She just washas a full and n’t happy in school,” rewarding life. The recalled Anna. “Everyday Cullman High School it was a struggle to get her alum graduated from Montevallo in 1998 with a up and ready. Some days she complained of a major in retail merchantummy ache, or a dising and a minor in headache, but really she business. But life took a just missed me and didn’t turn for her with the advent of four children. So want to go to school. “With my schedule I now, instead of selling purses and shoes, she is a never had enough time homeschooling mom who with Clara while she was runs a business and teach- in public school, and felt like I didn't know my es ballet lessons. child,” she said. During college she “Homeschooling is great taught ballet in for my work schedule. We Birmingham for a year, afterward she worked in a start around eightish each day and can be finished bank for awhile before with all three school-age opening her store, Dance With Us, a retail store with kids by noon or earlier. dance, gymnastics apparel Then I open my store at 1:30 and the kids can and workout clothes, in either go with me or stay 1999. with their dad at home. In 2001, she married It's such a blessing to us David Lanier, a talented that we are able to do it musician, whose first CD will be released in the next this way.” Because she teaches few months. ballet at her mother’s Anna started ballet at school, four days a week the age of five under the careful eye of her mother, and often works until 6:30, she would have had little Elaine Willingham, also a time with them had they dance instructor and been in public school. owner of the Cullman Ballet Theatre School. With her background in working with children as a ballet instructor, she felt that homeschooling was something she could do well. “I went into it with the attitude that I can handle it,” said Anna. “I felt as though I could do a better job that public school because I know my child better than anyone else.” LORETTA GILLESPIE CORRESPONDENT

A

CONTRIBUTED

Clara, 13, on the left, is a seventh grader, Liam, a fourth grader, 9, and Ester, a first grader, who is 6. Anna, far right, also has a 20-month-old, Violet, who soaks up a lot of education between naps. This way, they get their ronment. Anna has a who is 6, at her dining work done in the mornfourth-grader, son Liam, 9, table classroom. She also ing, leaving the early after- and Esther, a first-grader, has a 20-month-old, noons for running errands, doing chores around the house, or just relaxing. Clara, a seventh grader, is now 13, and thriving in the homeschooling envi-

Violet, who soaks up a lot of education between Please see LANIER Page 11

AT WORK

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012 | CULLMANTIMES.COM

THE CULLMAN TIMES | AT WORK 3

Farmer

CONTRIBUTED

Whitney has turned into a real farm wife. “There is something to be done every season on a farm,” she said. “I love teaching and being with kids at school, but my heart is here on the farm.” She is shown here just before cow-feeding time.

Whitney Haynes

Life on the farm is a fairy tale life LORETTA GILLESPIE CORRESPONDENT

“M

y friend says this is a fairy tale life,” said Whitney Haynes. “I guess it’s a Southern thing… sometimes Ben, the kids and I ride the combine all day long, the kids napping in the floor. We eat lunch out in the field, watching the seasons change.” That does sound like an idyllic lifestyles to some. Others might find it a bit bucolic, and it is, but what better way for a family to spend their time than together? For 27-year-old Whitney Pruett Haynes, it’s a dream come true. She grew up in Simcoe. Her father, Bill Pruett, ran some cattle, but his primary business was a sawmill and pallet plant. She knew about cattle on a small scale and about gardening from both her grandmothers and her mom, Vickie Dixon Pruett. That prepared her somewhat for life as a farmer’s wife, but she says she wasn’t prepared for it to be 24/7, 365 days a year. “I just never thought about it,” she admitted. “But the truth is, cows eat on Sunday just like they do on Monday.” Whitney graduated from Fairview in 2003. She went to Wallace State Community College on a track and cross country scholarship. Later, she was recruited by a scout from Jacksonville State, where she ran in their track and cross country program. She graduated in 2006. Three days after finishing her course work, she married Ben Haynes. “I knew all along I was going to marry him,” she laughed. “I worked in a country store near where he lived and I had been seeing him come in there since I was sixteen.” One day she spotted Ben in town. “See that boy, Mamma?” she asked. “That’s Ben Haynes, I’m going to marry him one day.”

CONTRIBUTED

Whitney and her husband, Ben, on four-wheelers. A few years later, she did just that. Her grandfather, Charles Dixon, performed the ceremony. She did her student teaching at Cullman High School with Caren Rains. Her first teaching position was at Good Hope, where she taught Family and Consumer Science (FACS) which was formerly known as Home Economics. “I loved FACS in high school,” Whitney said. “I had Doris Patterson as a teacher, and she is the reason I am a FACS teacher today. She is like a second mother to me. She was a real inspiration, she made the class interesting.” Later, Whitney had the opportunity to transfer to Fairview High School. Her mother, Vickie, also teaches there. They often console each other when one has had a bad day. “She’s working with first graders and I’m working with teenagers. It makes us appreciate what the other does,” laughed Whitney. Whitney, who also coaches track at Fairview, is passionate about her job. “I love teaching, love my kids, and am really missing them right now,” she said. Whitney decided to take a year off work when her second child, Lola Kate, was born. Her son,

Jack, is now four, and she felt the need to be home with them for a while. The Haynes live in Holly Pond on a farm that holds many memories for the whole family. Ben is the fifth generation to farm this land. Jack will be the sixth. Ben’s father, Darrell, and his brother, Bart, all work the farm together. Whitney works alongside them much of the time. “Mostly I’m a go-fer,” she laughed. Ben’s grandmother, Juanita Haynes, still cooks lunch for her son and grandsons and whoever drops by every day. “Mamaw spoils them,” laughed Whitney. “Sometimes it’s just a hotdog, but most of the time she cooks big farmhouse lunches — meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn and cornbread, all that good stuff.” ‘My grandmother died six years ago,” said Whitney softly. “But Ben’s grandmother is just like my own. She taught me how to can, and how to dress chickens.” “I love being a farm wife,” she said. “Cullman is such an agricultural county, there is so much going on here. When I first married Ben and moved here I really didn’t pay much attention to the weather. Before that I only noticed the rain when it

messed up my hair or if I had to change shoes,” she laughed. “I just never knew how dependent farmers were on the weather. Everything relies on it when you farm. If it doesn’t rain, you don’t have a crop.” Her domestic routines revolve around Ben’s farming schedule. “In the

summer he works from first light until dark, so we eat when he gets home, although it might be ten o’clock, because we always eat together,” she explained. They farm cattle, corn, soybeans, wheat and hay. In the spring she helps wean calves. The summer finds her in the fields with Ben, cutting and baling hay. Winter brings other chores. There’s always something to do on a farm. The Haynes are active in the ALFA Young Farmers, where they help to spread the message of agriculture to other young couples. “We just started a new blog to explain what farming really is,” she said. “We want people to know that we care about our animals, and about the land that sustains us. We want to pass this land along to our kids, so we treat it with respect.” “I feed my children the things we grow, so I want it to be the best food I can

give them,” she said emphatically. Whitney is a member of the Farm/City Committee. This is her fifth year to serve on the committee, where she served as chairman for two years. “When they asked me to serve, I went to Ben and we talked about it. He said that I was so busy he didn’t know how I’d have the time,” she recalled. “’If I’m not an advocate for farming, then who will be?’ I asked him. Farm/City is so important. It helps to explain that farmers feed the nation and the world. We have guidelines to follow that make us the best food producers in the world,” said Whitney with pride. “We use the best and most effective farming methods found anywhere.” The family attends Mt. Olive Bible Based Fellowship in Simcoe, where she works with the youth choir on Wednesday nights, and Ben teaches a young adult Sunday Please see HAYNES Page 8

Government contractor Rusty Messersmith

AT WORK 4 | THE CULLMAN TIMES

AT WORK

CULLMANTIMES.COM | SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

A hard decision, prayer brings a change in life LORETTA GILLESPIE CORRESPONDENT

R

usty and Suzanne Messersmith of Holly Pond had a hard decision to make. Rusty worked in Huntsville and taught Auto Mechanics three nights a week at Wallace State Community College. He often took in jobs on the side to save for their retirement. He says he often felt as if he were a hamster on a wheel. Not only was he away from home most of the time, when he was home he was too tired to enjoy life very much. Suzanne says that she had been crying out to God for some relief from their situation. “Our pastor even called him up to the front one night to make a point about people who work hard,” said Suzanne. “The Hebrew word for someone who stands up for what he believes in and works hard to do whatever has to be done is ‘giber’ (pronounced gee-ber), and here is a man who works with his hands to do those things, the pastor pointed to Rusty’s hands as an illustration,” she said. She even wrote Rusty a long letter telling him that she felt as if God were about to do something in their lives in a big way, really fast. “Rusty just said thanks for the kind words and brushed it off,” said Suzanne. “No, you don’t understand, this is going to be big, and it’s going to happen soon.” The couple prayed together. “Because of that, we had a peace ahead of us because we felt that God wouldn’t send him anywhere and not take care of him,” she said. Then came the opportunity that changed everything for the Messersmith’s. It was an offer of a job with a contractor in Afghanistan. "I wasn't even sure where Afghanistan was, and knew very little about the country," said Suzanne. It pretty much boiled down to money. “Rusty said that only if they made it worth the risk would he accept the job — and they did,” said Suzanne. He spent two weeks in Florida, finishing paper work, including a security clearance, which he hopes will be a bonus for his next job. Fourteen days later, he was in the air over Afghanistan. As the plane circled he looked down on what was to be his home for the next year, he thought, “I'm not sure what is ahead, but what an opportunity!” Rusty was site manager over the motor pool on Bagram Air Field. It was a change for him, but he adjusted quickly. He celebrated his 61st birthday in Afghanistan. He jokes that he has a PHD or at least an MBA in management now. His contract with DynCorp was so new that it was like being thrown off in deep water and having someone yell ‘swim’! “It definitely stretched my skills and provided me with new ones for whatever comes next,” he says. The reality is that there was some danger in working in places that his job took him. There are still frequent rocket attacks in this war-torn country, but being on an American Air Field in Bagram offered protection to some extent. "Rusty was real low key about the danger to protect me," said Suzanne. "He never told me about the rocket attacks until I asked him." Their son-in-law,

CONTRIBUTED

Suzanne and Rusty Messersmith, shown here with their tenth grandchild, Davis Lefeve, just before Rusty left for Afghanistan. Richard Bradbury, 33, was contracted in Southern Afghanistan, first on Kandahar Air Field and later at Leatherneck. For Richard, it was a chance to further his career path in management. “It was something I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. It was actually Richard who paved the way for Rusty. It wasn’t easy to attain jobs in these areas. Richard spend hour upon hour entering his resume for overseas jobs. At one point, says his wife, he had put in thousands of applications in a period of about seven months. "Richard went in at entry level position and as he pursued a management position, he acquired training for heating and air conditioning along the way. He scouted the job applications frequently and would email Rusty's resume promptly. He was there for two years," Suzanne explained. Life in the states went on. Suzanne watched the news with mixed emotions. Both women had different ways of coping, and made if fairly well. Suzanne and Rusty have a combined family of

five children, and eleven grandchildren, with the twelfth on the way, so there was plenty to keep the herself occupied. Still, it’s never easy when families are separated. Emily, 37, was a single mom before marrying Richard, so she was used to holding down the fort alone. The couple is expecting a baby boy (due in May) so she is elated to be reunited with her husband. They prayed for many months prior to his accepting a job about whether or not it was the best choice for them. In spite of the distance and danger, they were at peace throughout that period. The "groundhog day" effect is how Richard always described his life over there. Frequent communication kept them close. "We talked, texted and emailed each other every day," said Emily. Listening to their home church, Daystar, on podcasts also kept Rich feeling connected to a life outside of the base. The opportunity to travel parts of Europe and the Middle East while on R & R has been an exciting perk that they always dreamed of and

have been able to experience. “Originally my perception of Afghanistan was so bad that I only wanted him to go to Iraq,” said Emily. “After Richard was there and worked with the local Afghans on base I learned so much more about them as a people,

not a perception.” “Many of the locals hate the Taliban. While they don't have a sense of pride in their country the way we do, it’s more of a tribal pride, which does work against a wholecountry-unified-goal,” said Emily. “Many view the Taliban

as an oppressive faction that keeps them from making progress, culturally and financially. They have to keep their jobs on base secret or they face death. Sadly, that very thing happened more than once last year. Family members of and/or the worker were killed by the Taliban,” she explained. “The money they make from working on base (small to us) makes them wealthy and able to provide luxuries for their families that would be unheard of for most.” Emily, unlike her mother, doesn’t watch the news much. “I rarely watch the news (it makes me nervous, all of it, not just the press on Afghanistan) but if I see flashes online I always ask Rich what he knows about it from firsthand observation,” said Emily. “They are not allowed to take many pictures on base, but Rich is a wonderful verbal documenter of events and has often told me of funny, tragic, or touching moments that he often says could only happen there.” She has learned much through her husband’s eyes. “The mix of cultures, personalities and observations of other peoples' lifestyles really opens your eyes to what we as Americans perceive as normal- all of which leads him to refer to life there as a ‘sitcom’ upon occasions,” laughed Emily. Suzanne, a talented decorator, teaches classes Please see MESSERSMITH Page 8

THE CULLMAN TIMES | SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

AT WORK

AT WORK 5

AT WORK 6

THE CULLMAN TIMES | SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

THE CULLMAN TIMES | SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

AT WORK 7

AT WORK 8 | THE CULLMAN TIMES

AT WORK

CULLMANTIMES.COM | SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

HAYNES

MESSERSMITH

FROM PAGE 3

FROM PAGE 4

School class and is the Sunday night training union superintendent. “My Pawpaw, Charles Dixon, still preaches there. He’s been my preacher all my life,” she said proudly. She sings with her family on occasion. “That’s such a sweet time for me,” she said. “Lots of times I take the kids and we just visit my grandparents and sit and listen to them tell stories. I recently gave my mom a blank journal and asked her to write down all the family stories, poems, songs, recipes and anything else she could think of so that I could pass it along to my children.” One of Whitney’s most cherished possessions is her grandmother’s cookbook. It’s torn and stained pages hold fond memories for her. “Some of its pages have been folded a hundred

times,” she mused. “There is red food coloring in some places, but that just makes it more precious to me. I’ve really been blessed,” she said softly. “It’s scary and overwhelming to be raising children sometimes, but it’s such a blessing. “I am who I am because of all these wonderful people in my life,” she said humbly. “I can see traits from all of them in Jack.” It is her goal in life to inspire others the way she has been inspired. “I want the light of God to shine everyday in my life so that others can see God in everything I do,” she said. “I want to be that light for the kids who don’t have that guidance at home the way I always did. I want to give them the guidance that my family and people like Doris Patterson gave me — even if it’s just one kid.”

one night a month in Hanceville at Lavender and Lace, and does in-home designing and rearranging. Keeping busy was the one thing that helped to pass the time. “I won’t say that it’s been easy,” she said candidly. “The first few nights that he was gone I was a wreck, but I finally adjusted. I was always careful, had protection, and watchful neighbors.” Richard is actively seeking employment. With new baby's arrival they plan to have a couple of months together before he returns to work. "This is possible because of being able to put money aside before contract ends," explained Suzanne. Rusty is pretty sure that his first year was enough. "He will continue to work, hopefully nine-to-five, at one job," laughed Suzanne.

CONTRIBUTED

Richard and Emily Bradbury in Dubai on Richard's R&R.

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012 | CULLMANTIMES.COM

AT WORK

THE CULLMAN TIMES | AT WORK 9

DAHLKE FROM PAGE 1 our future.” “I think that teaching is an ever-learning process,” she said. “I learn so much from my student’s everyday. The greatest of which is the unconditional love each individual student is capable of. In return, I learn to show that kind of true Christian love in all aspects of my life, as well as come to care for each of them.” Perhaps her love of teaching comes from her early childhood. “When I was a little girl, my mom babysat several children,” she recalled. “Each night I would prepare my lessons for the next day and set up my pretend classroom. When I played makebelieve, I was a teacher. The following morning, the other children arrived, and I became the teacher. Our favorite game to play was school.” She credits that early experience for the realization of what school should be. “I know it is more than a game, but if I can get the students to want to ‘play’, then I have them ready to learn. When it doesn’t seem like work, they can actually learn more. That is what teaching is about, getting the students to want to learn,” she explained. “My greatest strength as a teacher comes from God, my family, my students and the staff at St. Paul’s School. Their support keeps me going and going. I think the key to teaching is to remain energetic and upbeat, and in order to do that it takes all of those people in my life,” she said. People often comment on Dahlke’s amazing storehouse of energy. “If they only knew that it’s because I teach, I am energetic,” she explained. “Some days I feel like the Energizer bunny with dead batteries, but it doesn’t last long,” she laughed. “They recharge the batteries so I can keep going and going. I take that energy and use it to keep learning,” she said. “Even though I have taught sixth grade for eight years, I don’t think I have taught it the same yet. Although the content may be the same, the methods are different. Energy breeds enthusiasm,” she pointed out. “The more energetic I can be in class, the more enthusiastic my students will be about learning.” Dahlke channels that energy and enthusiasm into accomplishing all kinds of things, such as organizing and running St. Paul’s book fair each year. “I do that by getting the students excited about the books. It works, and they like all my character voices when I read. If I can get them to want to read, then learning naturally follows. After the enthusiasm for reading is evident, then I focus on the mathematical side.” That’s because she wears many hats at St. Paul’s, having also been the math

LORETTA GILLESPIE/THE CULLMAN TIMES

From left, Luke Marti, Dahlke, Logan Conner, Kacy Burroughs, Dylan Yankee, Carley Byerley, Zoe Kelsey, Alex Miller, Alan Crisologo, and David Dueland check out the books at St. Paul's annual Book Fair. The kids enjoyed setting up and decorating for the event. team coach for six years. “I start encouraging the students in the third grade by telling them I have noticed some of the math papers and classroom awards they get, then I let them know I am looking forward to them being on the math team and can’t wait to see how much they can accomplish,” she said. She admits that she is never satisfied with one particular way of teaching. “I’m always trying to find an even better way to present the content to the students,” she said. As a result, she spends much of her spare time viewing webinars on new educational techniques and ideas for the classroom. “Each teacher has his/her own unique way of presenting content, so I think we teachers can learn a lot from each other. I start out each year telling my students that intelligence is not measured by how much information you have in your brain, but knowing how to find the answers and having the desire to search is the true measure of intelligence. “ Dahlke has served in the teaching field in various capacities for more than 13 years and has had several previous leadership roles in her professional life. She also assists the technology coordinator at St. Paul’s, helping the other teachers and staff with using technology, serves as the yearbook

coordinator, and other capacities such as directing musicals, coordinating T-shirt sales, math team sponsor, Spelling Bee chairperson, and scheduling. “Mrs. Dahlke exhibits exemplary use of technology in her classroom,” said Instructional Technology Coordinator, Janice Newlin, with St. Paul’s Lutheran School. “She and her students use a wide variety of technology-based tools to enhance learning. Just a few examples include use of an iPad, iPod Touches, software and hardware to monitor and track her students’ classroom performance, and a s t a t e - o f - t h e ar t mobile interactive w h i t e b o a r d ,” N e w l i n explained. Parents are just as complimentary of Dahlke. Susan Brown, mother of a former student of Dahlke’s, says this of the young educator. “Under the influence and guidance of all the staff at St. Paul's and Mrs. Dahlke in particular, my daughter, Michayla, was extremely well prepared to transition into middle school. She is now enjoying her fourth year at St. Bernard Preparatory School, along with several other students who also benefited from Mrs. Dahlke's outstanding classroom presence. As a former school board member and chairperson, my experience with Mrs. Dahlke was

unparalleled,” praised Brown. “Mrs.Dahlke is a staunch advocate for education and one who is always willing to go the extra mile for her students. She raises the bar by continually setting such a positive example for others. She is a stellar instructor with enormous passion for her work. Having her teach sixth graders at St. Paul's enables the school to provide the perfect finishing touch for its students,” said Brown. Dahlke doesn’t view teaching as an 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. job, but as a lifestyle. “I want my students to know they are important and worth my time,” she stressed. “I think that all teachers should work together for a school to be a success and to create

students who are ready to face the world, the teachers must be willing to build each other up and help each other. At St. Paul’s, we work together. My strengths maybe someone else's weakness, so I know that it will benefit the students more if we work together to fill in those gaps. That is also how I teach. Students can learn so much from one another, every person isn’t going to be great at all things, but each person has something to contribute to the whole that will benefit everyone involved if given the right circumstance.” Dahlke is determined to make a change in the world. ”I have found where I can do that because I am a teacher. Each child I teach is my

responsibility, not just for the year he or she is in my class but the years that come as well. I am entrusted with these children by their parents, and I think that is the greatest thing about teaching,” she said thoughtfully. “It is my job to never break that trust and to help that child blossom into the best person he or she can be. My greatest accomplishment comes from just that, a student who wants to learn. “When a former student comes to me and wants to share something new he or she has learned with me, I feel truly blessed. That means another person is eager to learn, which means someone else is capable of making a change in this world.”

AT WORK

AT WORK 10

THE CULLMAN TIMES | SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

Presenting the Leadership of the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce

For 69 years, the Chamber has provided leadership promoting growth and progress for our Cullman area. Here are Officers for the 2012-13 Executive Committee:

Charles Nesmith

Melissa Cartee

Rickey Kreps

Chamber Chair Merchants Bank of Alabama

Chair-Elect Cullman Electric Cooperative

Immediate Past Chair Office Equipment Company, Inc.

Jim Willoby

Perry Shields

Vice Chair Business Development Alabama Cullman Yutaka Technlogies, LLC

Vice Chair Community & Workforce Development ATN-Cullman/Hanceville

Jim Weidner

Tonya Martin

Sammy Danford

Vice Chair Finance & Administration Cullman Regional Medical Center

Vice Chair Membership & Marketing Regions Bank

Vice Chair Tourism & Recreation Cullman County Economic Development

Here are our current leaders serving on the Board of Directors:

Nathan Anderson

Mark Bolin

Clay Borden

Billy Cooch, P.G.

Jeff Curtis

Randy Earnest

Cullman City Schools

Wallace State Community College

First South Farm Credit

Highland Technical Services

Cullman Area Career Center

Chick-fil-A of Cullman

Jason Grimmett

Susan Guthrie

Mike Hopper

Tim Johnson

Lars Krook

Drinkard Development, Inc.

Keith Lann

Royal Technologies, Inc.

Hopper Family Market

J2 Technologies, Inc.

REHAU Automotive, LLC

Guthrie’s

Karen McCluskey The Candle Garden

Randy Millar Computer Partners, Inc.

Bill Morgan The Cullman Times

Mayor Kenneth Nail

Bob Palys

Chris Sawyer

The Awards Palace

Peoples Bank of Alabama

City of Hanceville

Seth Thompson

Patrick Ward

Gloria Williams

Jeb Williamson

Thompson & Thompson Attorneys

Sparkle Automotive Detailing

Freedom Insurance Gloria Williams Insurance Agency

Jeb Williamson, CPA

These individuals -- along with roughly 1,100 member businesses -- are committed to expanding the Chamber’s program of work designed to make our Cullman area an even better place to live and do business. The Chamber is an independent, not-for-profit, membership-based organization. Membership is open to any business or individual. For information on how you can join the Chamber please call 256-734-0454.

AT WORK

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012 | CULLMANTIMES.COM

THE CULLMAN TIMES | AT WORK 11

LANIER FROM PAGE 2 naps. “Actually, everything goes really smoothly,” said Anna. “You can get a lot of school work done in a couple of hours a day when children don’t have to stand in line for 20 minutes to go to lunch or the bathroom several times a day, or take physical education classes,” she said. “Homeschooling can be a bit tricky doing three different grades each day, especially with a very demanding infant,” admitted Anna. “For us, it works best if I start the six-year-old first, because she has less work and then can help by playing with her little sister while I help the nine-year-old. The oldest works independently most of the time, but I still have her at the table with us in case she needs me and so I can make sure she isn't slacking off,” laughed Anna. “I love being the one to teach my children new things and I love being with them as they accomplish new goals and seeing how their face lights up when they finally ‘get’ any problem they've been having trouble with,” she said.

Clara and Liam have different learning patterns. “Clara was easy, with Liam it’s been a little bit harder, because they have different personalities,” she said. “Esther is just learning to read, and is coming along nicely.” One of the reasons homeschooling works for the Laniers is that Anna can quickly tell what their weaknesses are, allowing her to slow down, making sure that they have grasped the concept before moving on to something else. Anna says that she is probably fairly structured in her curriculum. “I teach the history, science, English, math and intensive writing courses, all of which are outlined in the Bob Jones University guidelines for homeschooled students,” she explained. She teaches them Bible courses as a part of their everyday lives. They also get lots of extracurricular instruction. “Liam isn’t into sports much although he takes gymnastics twice a week and loves that. He is also very artsy,” said Anna.

At 13, Clara is an aspiring writer, and the whole family loves to read. David teaches them music when they show an interest, although it isn’t part of their class work, and the girls take ballet. Working with her children has taught Anna much about the virtue of patience. “I’ve learned to be more patient, and I’ve also learned a lot about myself in the course of working with my children,” she said thoughtfully. “I’ve learned to take myself much less seriously — to laugh more often and to relax and enjoy life.” Part of those life lessons she’s learned deal with stress management. “When we have doctors appointments we don’t have school that day,” she said. “That’s really stressful trying to cram schoolwork into loading four children into the van for a drive to the doctor’s office. But we take those kinds of days off, which is another thing that makes homeschooling work for us — there are no make-up lessons like they would have in public school, no doctor’s

excuses, and I can schedule their appointments around my work schedule.” Since Anna teaches public school children in her ballet classes, she normally follows the public school break schedule, at least for major holidays. “I normally don’t break for President’s Day and things like that,” she laughed. Her children have plenty of interaction with other children and with other adults. Each Friday they join a co-op of other homeschoolers and their parent/teachers for extracurricular activities and other group lessons. Recently the co-op group studied astronomy, took drawing lessons and Clara, who is on the yearbook staff, met with her group to work on projects related to that. Anna closes her store on Fridays to be able to make these outings without having to rush back to work. “I’m really happy doing this, “she said. “There is so much less stress and we all get along and enjoy being together.” They even get in some cook-

ing lessons by helping to prepare meals and Anna teaches the girls crafting skills like sewing, quilting and knitting. “These are just parts of our everyday life,” she said. She also weaves moral lessons into the fabric of their lives because by being with them 24/7, she can point out examples whenever certain situations arise. “My mother-in-law, who is very supportive of us, is a public school teacher in Madison, so I know how hard teachers work and what they have to deal with on an everyday basis. I don’t mean to criticize anything that they do, it’s just that this is very important to me, and my work situation makes it possible for me to have the best of both worlds, so I feel very blessed to be able to do this for myself and my children,” said Anna. “If things change in the future, we always have the option of them going back to public school.” As for now, though, the children are surrounded on a daily basis by books, art, music, nature, Christian values and a whole lot of love.

America e pr o T CULLMAN COUNTY

Where Businesses Grow

Con Yuta ka 5 Ye gratula ars t in C ions o ullm n an!

HH Techno lo

❖ ALABAMA

Cullman is ranked #3 in the 2011 Top 100 U.S. Micropolitan Areas for New and Expanded Facilities according to Site Selection magazine. New and Expanding Industries invested over $159 million and created over 700 new jobs for the Cullman area.

g s ie

Webb W he e

The Industrial Development Boards wish to thank all of our existing industries which provide the jobs and investments that keep Cullman strong and prosperous!

l Industrial Development Board of the City of Cullman 256-739-1891 Cullman County Industrial Development Authority 256-775-4696

AT WORK 12

AT WORK

THE CULLMAN TIMES | SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

Open Enrollment Training Courses (each course price is per attendee)

April 4: NFPA 70E Electrical Arc Flash Safety (8hr) - $195.00 April 16-20: Introduction to Control Logix PLC’s with Troubleshooting (40hr) - $995.00 April 16-20: Hazwoper Emergency Response (40hr) - $695.00 April 27: Root Cause Failure Analysis for Maintenance (8hr) - $195.00 May 7-10: OSHA 30hr – General Industry Training - $495.00 June 8: Hazwoper 8hr Refresher - $150.00 July 24: Lean Manufacturing 101 - $295.00 July 30-August 3: Basic Hydraulics & Hydraulics Troubleshooting (40hr) - $1295.00 Other Trainings Coming This Year:

Forklift Train-the-Trainer - $195.00 OSHA 10hr General Industry Training - $195.00 OSHA 10hr Construction Industry Training - $195.00 Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) - $195.00 Siemens 300 PLC Training - $995.00

Note: All courses will have lunch provided if they exceed 4hr.

Business owner Geri Keefe

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012 | CULLMANTIMES.COM

AT WORK

THE CULLMAN TIMES | AT WORK 13

Days are always interesting at coffee shop LORETTA GILLESPIE CORRESPONDENT

O

ver the past nine years Berkeley Bob’s has won a place in the hearts of Cullman residents. It’s hard to put your finger on just what makes it so very different from your run-of-the-mill coffee shop, but it certainly is. It’s not particularly fancy, in fact it’s pretty laid back, almost like someone’s den/dining room combination. The fact that it’s filled with ‘60s memorabilia, coffee paraphernalia, wall murals and comfy seating areas might have something to do with the ambiance. But mostly it’s the people, including Geri Keefe. Geri hails from just outside Chicago. She came south for a job in 1971. She met Bob Keefe at the church they both attended in Birmingham. They married in 1976, combining their families and later had another child, Erin, who is a talented barista in the family business. They say that behind every successful man there is a good woman, and that sure seems to be the case here. For Geri and her husband, known as “Berkeley Bob” (so named because he used to live in Berkeley, California) the coffee house has been an evolution of sorts. “We said we were going to give this a try for five years,” she laughed. “Then it was six, now its nine years and we’re still at it.” They’ve seen strangers come in not knowing anyone, and leaving as friends. “We have a group of women who met here, not knowing each other to begin with, and now they come here to knit, drink coffee and talk. They’ve really formed a bond, and it started here,” smiled Geri.

LORETTA GILLESPIE/THE CULLMAN TIMES

Geri Keefe is definitely a multi-tasker — working behind the coffee bar, bussing tables, buzzing in and out of the kitchen and mingling with the crowd. Sometimes people sit and talk for hours, sometimes they eat and run. Often they sit hunched over their laptops, nursing a latte and looking up to say something to Geri occasionally as she passes by. Her days are always new and different. Often people say

they’ve come in off the Interstate, having googled “coffee” and Berkeley Bob’s popped up. Geri loves that. “I even had one couple ask for my autograph,” she laughed. She is definitely a multitasker, working behind the coffee bar, bussing tables, buzzing

in and out of the kitchen and mingling with the crowd. She may be having a conversation with one table about politics, swapping recipes with someone at another, inquiring about someone’s health or a college student’s grades, all at the same time.

Work is no stranger to Geri. She grew up working hard. As the only girl in a family of boys, she says the family never even owned a mop. “I scrubbed and waxed floors on my hands and knees,” she recalls. “And I Please see KEEFE Page 14

AT WORK 14 | THE CULLMAN TIMES

AT WORK

CULLMANTIMES.COM | SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

KEEFE FROM PAGE 13 always did all the baking from the age of eleven.” She still loves to bake, and her sweet confections are another reason people come to Berkeley Bob’s. She uses natural ingredients and fresh fruits and vegetables in her lunch menu. She makes it a point to serve healthy soups in season (including Bob's Classic New Orleans Cajun Red Beans and Rice on Mondays) and salads, including what is considered by many to be the best chicken salad in town — Gerri's Fruited Chicken Salad — which she makes fresh every day. “Gerri is an excellent cook and baker,” says Bob, proudly. The clientele Geri sees in a day runs the gamut from lawyers, teachers, chiropractors, newspaper reporters, retirees, and kids of all ages, from toddlers to college students. “I love it when college kids meet up here while they are home on break,” she said. “It’s like a reunion every time. A lot of those kids grew up coming in here and they are just like our own. ” Geri and Bob are par-

ticularly suited to this life. They both have the easygoing personalities that make people feel right at home here. Geri likes the ebb and flow of foot traffic. She enjoys meeting and talking to people, and her business savvy has helped to make Berkeley Bob’s what it is today. Probably the best thing about Geri is that she is so easy to talk to. Her soft voice and musical laughter make her seem like an old friend after the first five minutes. Bob says he is in the business because he likes the music and the coffee. The couple has open mic night a few times each month. Sometimes musicians just appear unannounced and play for a while. Students frequently share their poetry with the crowds. Recently they’ve had such celebrities as Microwave Dave and Roy Crawford, who was the Alabama Fiddle Champ for 12 years in a row. Some upcoming acts for the month of April are Delta Reign, Janet Hall, Steve Norris and Joe Carter. These entertainers play for tips. They come because they want to, because something about

this place draws them back again and again. For Geri it’s a little more complicated than simply the music. She loves the atmosphere of the coffee house, her customers, and the hustle and bustle of the lunch crowd. But mostly she’s happy because Bob is so happy in this business. It’s been a good thing for them, working side by side. In fact, it’s a real family affair, with Erin behind the coffee bar, too. “She’s really good with people,” Geri pointed out. It’s easy to see how she comes by that trait — it runs in the family. Geri encourages the family atmosphere at Berkeley Bob’s. It was their mutual decision not to serve alcohol here when the city went wet last year. She says that choice hasn’t affected their business one bit. “This is a family-oriented place,” she said. “We want to encourage that. Kids are welcome here, and we don’t want to do anything that might discourage parents from bringing them. We often have birthday parties, and there was even a

wedding on the stage one night,” she said. Asked about the secret to their phenomenal success, they both agreed that they hit the demographics just right. “A lot

of people move here from all parts of the country and have been accustomed to having coffee houses where they were from,” Bob pointed out. “Some people recognize

the ambiance as Californian.” “The thing is, you can’t get this kind of ambiance in a chain business,” said Geri. “It’s just not the same.” She’s right.

Retired teacher, business owner

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012 | CULLMANTIMES.COM

AT WORK

THE CULLMAN TIMES | AT WORK 15

Dr. Garlan Gudger Sr.

Memories of Mill Hill: One Man’s Journey LORETTA GILLESPIE CORRESPONDENT

Y

ou may have known Dr. Garlan Gudger Sr. as a Cullman city and county coach. Maybe you remember him as the dean of Wallace State Community College, or more recently as the man who founded Southern Accents Architectural Antiques in Cullman. But do you know where he came from? This is part of the story of how Dr. Gudger went from living in a mill village to owning the fourth largest architectural salvage business in the United States. It began in Salisbury, N.C. Mill towns cropped up all over the South in the early ‘40s. They were hardscrabble places, with houses built to keep the rain out and not much else. There was no landscaping, no individuality to speak of, so not much of anything varied from house to house. If you lived on Mill Hill, you either wore the fact like a badge, or you tried your best to hide it, which was of little use, because practically everyone you knew lived there, too. Your parents and grandparents worked in the mill, your best friend’s parents worked there and you were going to work there, too, unless by some miracle you escaped that foregone conclusion. Most people struggled their whole lives to get out from under the oppressive hand of the mill owners who held their very free-

dom in one hand and their bondage in the other. When payday came ‘round most of it was owed to the company store. There was always a mill store in each little community where mill workers could charge their groceries, gas and other necessities. These stores allowed people to “run up a ticket” or charge what they needed. Then they took the tickets to the mill office and got their money, leaving the mill to take the charges out of the payroll checks of their workers. It was a vicious circle of existing from one payday to another, only to bring home little or nothing because the check never lasted until the next payday. Then it was back to the store to charge another bag of groceries or a tank of gas. If you were lucky, you did a little more than break even each week. Maybe it was because the land was poor and farming wasn’t what it was along the fertile delta regions of the lower South. Perhaps it was easier and more cost effective for the mills to ship out their finished products from this area to the waiting sweat shops in the North. Whatever the reason, at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, mills cropped up like mustard seeds all over the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, into the lower part of West Virginia,

North and South Carolinas, Georgia and on into parts of Alabama. It wasn’t very long before people came out of the mountains in droves to claim the good paying jobs that they’d heard rumors of. For a farmer who had share-cropped 10 acres of someone else’s land for years with nothing to show for it, the offer of a house and an hourly wage seemed too good to be true. It would take a while for the reality to sink in. In Salisbury, there were six large cotton mills. They had a huge influence on the economy in the area. Almost everyone worked for the mills in one capacity or another. Within walking distance the mill owners built homes for its workers. Cheaply constructed of clapboard siding, some were single family dwellings while others were duplexes with paper-thin sheetrock walls and no insulation. Young couples with only a few or no children were assigned to a duplex. The Gudger family was no exception. Born in 1942, Garlan Gudger was the youngest of three children of Hoyle and Ruth Gudger. He never knew anything except Mill Hill until he was in elementary school. Around the time he was in the second grade, his father, whose one driving ambition in life was to get off the mill’s payroll and get his family off of Mill Hill, finally scraped and saved enough to buy a small plot of land,

about 25- x 30-feet in the no man’s land between the white and black sections of Mill Hill. It wasn’t far enough away, but it was a start. Hoyle always dreamed of having a store. When he was just a boy he often bought a Coke, split it in half and sold one of the halves. Now he bought groceries and sold them on credit to the honest folks who worked with him. If people got in a bad

way financially, they came to Hoyle. Young Garlan was an industrious little entrepreneur at the age of 10, walking all over Mill Hill pushing a cart fashioned from two bicycle wheels on either end of an axel he’d found somewhere, collecting discarded Coke bottles for the return deposit money. For Garlan Gudger, the prospect of working in the mills was always looming.

All of Garlan’s aunts and uncles, and even both sets of his grandparents worked at the mill. His friend’s parents worked there and his teenaged cousins dropped out of school to work in the mills. It was what everyone did. Teenagers of 16 and 17 years had no problem finding jobs as mill hands. Boys and girls alike left Please see GUDGER Page 21

AT WORK 16

AT WORK

THE CULLMAN TIMES | SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012 | CULLMANTIMES.COM

AT WORK

THE CULLMAN TIMES | AT WORK 17

Vinemont Staff Report

E

ven through a difficult economy, the town of South Vinemont continues to operate without debt. Longtime Mayor Melba Patton said the town chooses to pay as it goes on projects that benefit the community, relying as well on whatever grants can be secured. Work is still under way to devlop and improve ballfields for the community, which town leaders want as first-class, tournament-worthy facilities for the area. Patton said the town is continuing to make improvements slowly because it is not borrowing money for the project. “We’ve had a lot of teamwork in accomplishing what’s been done so far. We’re very proud of the work, but with the Vinemont mayor Melba Patton, seen July 2011, at two of the town’s five planned baseball fields. economy we’ve had to years, first as council anything good that hapPatton said efforts will tighten up some more,” member and for the past pens in one of our comcontinue to identify Patton said. 15 years as mayor. grants for the project, but munities is good for all, The park is located on The town also has two because everyone shares she added that will be Alabama Highway 31 storm shelters. They are in the tax dollars.” more difficult while North, just past the located behind the The town also added budget tightening occurs Vinemont Post Office. Vinemont Fire Station. restrooms to its walking at the federal and state The 32.5 acres of land is The storm shelter can trail area. levels of government. owned by the town. hold 86 people sitting She also said the town Town officials hope the Plans call for five baseand up to 110 standing. ball/softball fields, a con- park will not only be ben- is in a position to bring South Vinemont was the more retail business and eficial to the town, but to cession stand with resta small amount of indus- first town in the county all of Cullman County. rooms, and 240 parking to get one of these storm try because of improved “It will bring in revspaces. Patton and town shelters. infrastructure. enue for all of Cullman officials have been planThe shelter is a onePatton has served the County,” she said. “I’m ning the project for the room shelter which is town for more than 24 one who believes that past 12 years.

FILE

handicap accessible and has a restroom facility. The shelters are set and anchored to a reinforced, monolithic concrete pad foundation. They feature three heavy duty locks on the inside of the doors and a separate keyed lock on the outside for security purposes. The powered ventilation provides 15 cubic feet of fresh air per person per minute, per FEMA requirements.

Town of South Vinemont Est. 1961 A Community located in the Heart of North Alabama Close to Interstate 65 - 45 minutes to Birmingham - 35 minutes to Huntsville

A Community located in the heart of North Alabama, close to Interstate 65 on Hwy 31 (4 lane) two miles from Folsom Fields Airport with the capacity of handling corporate jets.

Melba Patton Mayor

The town holds a Jam Session once a month at the Scout/Community Center as well as an Annual Appreciation Day. JoAnn Oakley Place 1

Mike Reynolds Place 5

Terry Holcomb Place 2

J.D. Marcum Vice President Place 4

Municipal Park for South Vinemont Town of South Vinemont has submitted application for grant for center turn lane into park.Received grant for $250,000.00 for concession stand. Town will start building as soon as possible when weather permits. Plan to open late summer or early fall.

Robert Schweighart Place 3

Thank you to our town and community for your support and help in completion of this project. Tracy Hipp Maintenance

Mike Graves Public Works Director

Amy Johnson Town Clerk

AT WORK 18 | THE CULLMAN TIMES

Business owner AT WORK

CULLMANTIMES.COM | SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

Doug Doggett

Beginning with a big idea and no money, success follows LORETTA GILLESPIE CORRESPONDENT

T

hough Doug Doggett was born and raised in Cornersville, Tenn., he calls Cullman home. He came to Cullman because his brother-inlaw, Jimmy Smith, of Jimmy Smith Jewelers in Decatur, suggested that he open a business here. “I’d never even been to Cullman, but Jimmy was certain that Cullman would be a good place to open a business,” he recalled. “In 1974, I was going to the University of Alabama in Huntsville to be a medical technologist,“ he said. “I went to work part-time for Jimmy, just helping around his store in Decatur.” One day Jimmy asked Doug if he’d ever thought about opening his own shop. “I don’t know anything about the jewelry business,” he told Jimmy. But he learned, and he grew to absolutely love it. “All I had was a big idea and no money,” he chuckled. “And not enough sense to know that you couldn’t start a business on borrowed money.” In 1976, he got his degree as a medical technologist, but in the end, he decided that jewelry was much more fun. He opened Doug Doggett Jewelers in 1982, and he’s never looked back. Now it’s a family affair. Two of his three daughters, Kim Odom, Deanna Millican and her husband, Toby, work at Doug Dogett Jewelry, alongside their father. Doug's oldest daughter, Sherry Zoller, lives in Meridianville and helps out in the store occasionally. “Each of the girls came to me and asked if they could come to work here,” he said. “Occasionally sparks will fly, but we always hug and make things PHOTO COURTESY DEANNA MILLICAN

Please see DOGGETT Page 19

Sitting on the tailgate of his truck, Doug Doggett often welcomes in the day by listening to the world wake up near his garden.

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012 | CULLMANTIMES.COM

AT WORK

THE CULLMAN TIMES | AT WORK 19

DOGGETT FROM PAGE 18 right before we leave.” His wife, Janice, doesn’t work with them. “We’ve been married a long time, we really love each other and we want to keep it that way," laughed Doggett. “I don’t work in her kitchen and she doesn’t work in my jewelry store.” “I love working with my children,” he said, seriously now. “I have confidence that they could pick up and run this place if I retired today.” He’s thinking about retiring…or maybe just cutting back to four days a week. “Honestly, I’m a little nervous about retiring,” he confessed. “I love being in business and I’m not sure if I’ll be happy doing anything else.” He does enjoy his vegetable garden, though, and has big plans for spending a lot of time there when and if he does decide to cut back. “I love going out there early in the mornings, just sitting on the tailgate of my truck with a cup of coffee, listening to the morning sounds,” he said. He sits there at the beginning of most days, watching the horizon as

it turns from navy blue to pink, then orange and finally yellow as the sun breaks over the tree line. He hears birds welcoming the day, little animals beginning to stir in the bushes and wind whispering softly through the trees. He gives away most of what he grows. “It wouldn’t be nearly so much fun if you didn’t give it away,” he said. His first experience with gardening came from his childhood home in Cornersville. “My dad worked in town and he made us work the garden for him. If the rows weren’t straight, he’d make us do them over until they were just perfect,” he laughed. He recalls fishing all day in the summertime, and figures he’ll pick that back up when he retires, too. There is a painting in his office of an empty fishing boat that seems to be just waiting for him — you can almost hear the water lapping gently on its sides. It reminds him of those long summer days when he was a boy. “Where and when I grew up was just like Mayberry,” he said, thoughtfully.

Someone once asked Doggett if he would retire to the Gulf Coast. “You know,” he answered, “I can’t think of anywhere else in the world that I’d rather be than right here in Cullman.” He doesn’t necessarily describe himself as a workaholic. “I know how to have fun and relax, too,” he laughed his easy laugh. “I’ve got the relaxing part down pat.” One very important aspect of his life that has nothing to do with the store is his 29-year long membership in the Lion’s Club. “I love being a part of the Lion’s Club,” he said. “It’s one of the ways I’ve found to give back to my community.” Over the years he has held every office in the organization. “Now I just want to be a good ‘back of the room’ Lion,” he laughed. He was also past president of the Cullman County Fair Association. Doggett served on the board of Cullman Regional Medical Center for six years. He held the office of President of the Alabama Jeweler’s Association, as well as other several other offices in that organiza-

tion. Doug is an ordained deacon. He and Janice belong to Cullman First Baptist Church. The Doggett’s still have a farm up in Lewisburg, Tenn., where they spend time just hanging out together. The couple has three grandchildren with

another on the way. Doggett plans to spend a lot of time with them now. Perhaps he’ll show them how to make those perfect rows in the garden or maybe how to bait a hook with a wiggling worm, or just watch them as they grow up in a town not so much different from

Mayberry….just a little bigger. Doug reflects on the days when he was a medical technologist up until today. "I'm so thankful for my family, the store, and all the friends that I've met though the years. Life is good," he said with a big smile.

AT WORK 20

AT WORK

THE CULLMAN TIMES | SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012 | CULLMANTIMES.COM

AT WORK

THE CULLMAN TIMES | AT WORK 21

GUDGER FROM PAGE 15 school as soon as they were eligible to go to work. Collectively they had little ambition other than those weekly paychecks. His grandmother, Lizzie Gudger had gone into the mill as a spinner at the age of eleven. The child was so small that the mill foreman had to find a wooden box for her to stand on. She earned a whopping nine cents an hour. The mills were dangerous places, even for grownups. Many a finger, hand or arm was caught in the furiously spinning thread, cutting it off as effectively as a surgeon’s knife. There was always a cloud of lint in the air, collecting on every surface. Faces were covered in it, there were layers of it all over the town, in fact, and the lungs of the mill hands sucked it in with every breath. The truth was, if you wanted to eat, you had to work. If you didn’t own some kind of business, you worked in the mills or you starved. Garlan’s family encouraged him to study. His grandfather often told him, “Son, if you want to amount to something you get up and work hard, work honest, pay 10 percent of what you make in tithes, pay your bills and save 10 percent — and, Boy, if you don’t have enough left to enjoy life, you’re not working hard enough!” By 1952, Hoyle’s store had started hurting the mill store enough that they made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. He sold out to them for $5,000, using the money to finally escape with his family from Mill Hill forever. It wasn’t far, just out in the country a little way. But for the first time the Gudger’s had room to sling a cat without hitting a neighbor. The new ranch house was a

PHOTO COURTESY AUDREY LAND

Dr. Garlan Gudger Sr., former Cullman city and county coach and dean of Wallace State Community College, and the man who founded Southern Accents Architectural Antiques in Cullman, now the fourth largest architectural antique salvage businesses in the nation. dream come true for the family who had come up on Mill Hill. It boasted a spacious living room, three bedrooms, a shiny new kitchen with modern appliances, a bathroom

and a full basement. At the age of 10, Gudger was diagnosed with diabetes. The doctor, whose bedside manner was sadly lacking, gruffly told the little boy, “If you ever eat

another bite of sugar, we’ll have to cut your legs off!” He lived with that prediction hanging over his head for most of his life. His resolve to overcome dia-

betes and his love of sports were the combination that kept him focused on being bigger, better and stronger than other boys. Although he didn’t live on Mill Hill any longer, the stigma never left him completely. Somewhere in the back of his mind there was always the memory of walking a little girl home from school and having her father forbid her seeing him again because he was a “mill kid.” What he did have going for him as a teenager was something best described as spunk: A combination of brains, brawn and bravery. He wasn’t afraid of anything, he did well in school, and he was a superb athlete. Those attributes gave him the edge he needed to escape a future in the mills. By the age of 18, he was enrolled in Castle Heights Military Academy in Lebanon, Tenn., where he had landed a football scholarship under the direction of Jim Tatum, who has been referred to as the Bear Bryant of North Carolina. Gudger was All-Mid-South on the team. When Tatum died suddenly, Gudger’s scholarship was transferred to Tennessee Tech, where he was a guard on the football team that had won the Tangerine Bowl the previous year. On summer vacations, Gudger returned home to earn extra money by loading trucks for the mills. By the beginning of his second quarter at Tennessee Tech, Gudger was adjusting to life on campus and making a name for himself among athletic circles. His reputation as a hard-driving football player hid the fact that he still harbored deep-seated insecurities left over from his days on Mill Hill. He met his future wife at Tennessee Tech. Her name was Dot Denning.

AT WORK 22

AT WORK

THE CULLMAN TIMES | SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012


Profile 2012