The Lakeside Life - Lewis Smith Lake - Spring Issue - 2018-QTR2

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A Lake Living Lifestyle Magazine




2 0 1 8


V O L . 1

I S S. 2


Kurt & Cathy

The Roberts Home

Wakeboarder and Coach, Colby Bernier, Brings Mitchell Militia to Smith Lake

The Answer: Smith Lake’s Lasting Love Story

Get to Know Jeff Roberts and Enjoy a Guided Tour of Bebbie’s Pointe


Wh at ’ s I n s ide S P R I N G


2 01 8

Something About Smith ��������������������������������������3 M AY


Lewis the Thief ����������������������������������������������������������4 Lake Reads ��������������������������������������������������������������������5 How I Lake ������������������������������������������������������������������15


Rentals on Smith ����������������������������������������������������37

Jeff Roberts

Kat Daddy’s ������������������������������������������������������������� 39


Mr. Joe’s Snackers ������������������������������������������������� 43


Kurt & Cathy ����������������������������������������������������������� 47


Matt Lee ��������������������������������������������������������������������� 65

The Ostrich

Spots on Smith �������������������������������������������������������73

Arley Women’s Club ������������������������������������������� 59

Wake the World Alabama ��������������������������������77 M AY

Restoring Women Outreach ����������������������������81


Concert Series �������������������������������������������������������� 89


Advertiser Index ���������������������������������������������������� 97

Smith Lake Kids ����������������������������������������������������� 95 Smith Lake Pets ����������������������������������������������������� 96

Haley May M AY

SPOTLIGHT ON THE WATER PAGE 51 Colby Bernier. Mitchell Militia Wakeboarding School 1

The Lakeside Life |



RECIPES ON SMITH D elightful D ock D rink �������������������71 C hicken , O rzo , & V egetables ������85 G rilled C hicken & M ushroom ����87

A Lake Living Lifestyle Magazine

Partner/Editor in Chief: Syndi Sumner Hanna Partner/Managing Editor/Creative Director: Haley May


Partner/Managing Editor/Sales Director: Scott Hanna

Lead Photographers: Cullman Aerial Photography (Dave Warren) - Hudson Photography (Craig Hudson) Contributing Photographers: Sandra Adams - Arley Women’s Club – Carl Beckman – Kurt & Cathy Bowden – Andrew Brasfield John Coffman – Megan Cook – Bobby & Pam Dodd - Ashley Ford – Emily Gamble - JWB Photography (Jennifer Beckman) – Chris Luker - Beth Rigg - Deborah Rigsby Jeff Roberts – Brandon Sumrall Photography - Terry Turner – Wake the World Alabama – Joe Walker - The Greater Lewis Smith Lake Community – The Lakeside Life Team Contributing Editorials: Sandra Adams - Tom Bailey – Paula Harris - Stephanie G. Lepore – Rebekah Oglesby - Beth Rigg Ellen Roberts – The Lakeside Life Team Contributing Graphic Design: Stephanie Raymon – Sandra Slate – Matt Tanner Printing: Debbie Patton of Cornerstone Media Published by: The Lakeside Life – www�thelakesidelife�com For Subscriptions call: 256-708-7679 or complete the subscription form @ www�thelakesidelife�com/magazine-subscription�html For Advertising inquiries call: 205-470-8250 or complete the advertising form @ www�thelakesidelife�com/advertise�html Interested in submitting content? Please e-mail thelakesidelife@gmail�com to obtain a content submission form and agreement�

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@thelakesidelife www�instagram�com/thelakesidelife/ | The Lakeside Life


SomethingAbout Smith I

It’s where I spend my seasons – winter, spring, summer, and fall. It helps me provide for my family, it’s where I am growing my career. It’s where my husband and I choose to raise our children. It’s where friendships seem closer with the ease of boating dock to dock. It’s where I pride myself for being a local. But I haven’t always loved this place. I wasn’t always proud of where I was from. And for that, I am ashamed. Photo by Terry Turner



Cullman, Alabama to “teenage me” was a dull small

down the lake on our pontoon boat, riding an inner

town. It didn’t have skyscrapers tickling the clouds.

tube and pulling up on islands for afternoon picnics.

It wasn’t full of nightlife and social activities. Its

The lake looked much different then, but I am still

name was often replaced by saying “a town just north

unsure of what hid its beauty from me. So many

of Birmingham.” And it's somewhere that I carefully

summers on this lake. And at that time it was more

planned my escape from, to run away and never look

of a hidden gem, so I never knew this lake would

back. It was a safe town. It was knowing the names

eventually put my town on the map. I grew up, or

of everyone - waving at all the cars that passed, with

I thought I had, moved away to college and kissed

smiles in return. It was thinking I finally got away

this small town goodbye. I came back from time to

with something sneaky, only to walk through the

time, more so in the summer, but it wasn’t until I

door and find mom standing with arms crossed

was out in the real world working that I realized my

because someone had already made that call. I was

heart belonged to this place. I didn’t want to admit

raised outside of the Cullman city limits, an area

it. I couldn’t. How could I go back there?! And that’s

sandwiched between Dodge City and Bremen, two

when fate stepped in and I realized after just one

towns that offered only small gas stations and a bent

date that the man of my dreams called Cullman

and dent thrift/grocery store at the time. Smith Lake

his home too...Bremen to be exact. This isn’t a love

was a happy place, but it still seemed part of “small

story. Or maybe it is. My eyes finally opened to see

town” to me. Our summers were full of cruising

that I was so blessed to be brought up in a town

The Lakeside Life |

Lewis theThief


We did a recent poll, and it seems that most folks have lost at least one of these items: sunglasses, tools, phone &/or jewelry. Yep, Lewis knows to get the good stuff!!

“We lost a canoe!” - Frances Ana Blake Murphy ere, cap down th ff ll a b se a b e o k u “There’s a D ral camp chairs that blew ur o ve a glass that along with se te d e ic n a d nny, our dock , an ld float. It was pretty fu e.” k ou son swore w he has a MBA from Du ce especially sin ice McMahan R - Rosemary

“They heard me Birmingham whe scream, Noooooooo!” in into the lake!” - Dn I dropped my iPhone 7 onna Brunson

The Lakeside Life wants to�hear�your�sto�y.


Use the #lewisthethief on our Facebook or Instagram, and tell us what you have lost in the lake, how, and if you got it back?

that was safe, secure and full of people who loved

the same. I pray that small town values remain a

wholeheartedly. My heart swells for the community

top priority; and that no matter how big we grow,

who roots me on, celebrates success and goes to

and how far spread our roots may become, that

war for me when someone is trying to put me

we always practice foremost the southern hospitality

down. We are all lucky to be a part of somewhere

that attracted people here in the beginning. May

so small that has an impact that is so large. People

you always take pride in where you live, where

come from all over the world to our beautiful lake.

you visit, and teach the later generations to do the

But it isn’t just the beauty that brings them here,


it’s the southern hospitality, the sense of community,

while coasting across the beautiful water. Appreciate

and the genuine relationships that come along with

the “traffic” caused by the local farmer driving his

it - all the things many are blinded to in youth, or

tractor down the road in all the small towns around

take for granted. Indeed, this small town and the

the lake. And allow yourself to genuinely love Smith

areas around it have grown so much in the past ten

Lake, with all your heart, and don’t be afraid to let

years. Although this makes me happy, it also makes

it show.

me nervous. My hope for this lake is that as it grows, as it continues to be somewhere that people from all over the world enjoy, that its heart still remains

Embrace the way time seems to slow down


May | The Lakeside Life



The long languid days of summer draw near and invite you to sit back lakeside with a good book in hand… on the dock in a chaise lounge… on the porch in a bedswing… on the deck in a soft pillowed wicker settee… on the patio in a wide outdoor chair and ottoman… under an umbrella in a soft swinging hammock… or just kicked back on a slow boat ride.

The Lakeside Life Team asked our readers for some suggestions, and we’ve created an eclectic list of some books you might enjoy for summer reading. There’s something here for everyone! So grab your favorite drink, snack, a book, and prop those feet up and enjoy the adventure that awaits from your favorite reading spot on Lewis Smith Lake! (Listed alphabetically by title)



by Elizabeth Strout

by Diana Gabaldon





by Ali Smith

by John Gunther

‘EAT PRAY LOVE’ by Elizabeth Gilbert



by Mary Kay Andrews

‘LITTLE BIG MAN’ by Thomas Berger


by Shauna Niequist

by Joe Hagan

‘STRAIGHT MAN’ by Richard Russo

‘THE NIGHTINGALE’ by Kristin Hannah

‘THE ESSEX SERPENT’ by Sarah Perry



‘MAYBE SOMEDAY’ by Colleen Hoover


The Lakeside Life |

by F. Scott Fitzgerald



‘THE WHITE BONE’ by Barbara Gowdy




a series of 11 books by Diane Duane

What’s the Story Behind the Hilariously Funny, Local



The Lakeside Life |

Loved, Hated, Celebrity

The Ostrich?


s we come in from our beautiful lake we often

sit back and log in to social media to unwind, catch up, and hopefully share a laugh. One of Smith Lake’s very own, The Ostrich, was ahead of his time bringing instant entertainment and Twitter drama to our small community since 2012. This parody account, based out of Walker County, originally started as a joke between 3 locals. One night they simply opened a Twitter account under the handle @dailymtneagle and started posting random satirical stories playing off the century old local paper, The Daily Mountain Eagle. With real images accompanied by shocking headlines, some people fell for the stories hook line and sinker. Even though the page stated, “This is not the official Twitter account of the Daily Mountain Eagle. Please don’t confuse our tweets with real news. That would be awful. Awfully hilarious,” and had an ostrich gracing the header instead of an eagle, some people still could not decipher the real from the fake. People began calling the Daily Mountain Eagle and asking them to remove offensive material...material they had no control over.

Author: Ellen Roberts Photographer: Craig Hudson | The Lakeside Life


The Ostrich:

The Followers @ALostrich has 27.8K+ Twitter followers 6.7K+ Instagram followers 54.8K+ Facebook followers Unable to find the identity of the anonymous Twitter

Mitchell graduated with a Bachelors in Social Sciences

account, the Jasper Daily Mountain Eagle printed in their

from the Baptist College, The University of Mobile and

paper on May 8, 2012: “The Daily Mountain Eagle regrets

later obtained a MBA from Liberty University. He was

it has been the victim of a pirated Twitter page.” If they

a social worker with the Walker County DHR where

thought this would put an end to it, they were wrong.

he started as an Adult Protective Service worker then

Very wrong. Instead, they put a spotlight on the tiny

became a Service Supervisor. By the end of his career

spoof news account and The Ostrich took flight growing

there, Mitchell was the Program Supervisor where

their few local followers to thousands overnight.

he oversaw the entire Family and Children Services

Twitter was gaining popularity in 2012 and people were


perplexed by the fact you could open any untaken account

“I loved the job,” Mitchell said. “Because I knew I was

and spurt out whatever you wanted in 140 characters

making a difference in my community.” It was a difficult

or less. The Satirical Daily Mountain Eagle split the

job, but Mitchell truly enjoyed helping others. “There are

community into two sides. Some people were offended,

a few of my Adult Protective Service clients that I still

even furious, and wanted it taken down immediately.

think about pretty regularly. It feels good to know those

However, thousands of others found it absolutely hilarious

people are safe now thanks to whatever accommodations

and could not seem to get enough of the slapstick comedy.

I could help put in place for them. They deserve comfort

Loved or hated, it was still an attraction and the local buzz quickly spread. The parody news immediately became news itself. Who was the person responsible for the Daily Mountain Eagle parody account? No one publicly knew. However, the mastermind wasn’t a journalist, did not have marketing experience, and had no plans for the site to ever hit mainstream media. Quite the opposite. It was a local professional, Matt Mitchell, who had graduated from Sumiton Christian and grew up in the area. “For

and safety on a daily basis, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to help them achieve that.” However, with his unexpected writing career taking off, Mitchell knew there could be controversy between his day job and his newly found fame. Even though the site was created to make people laugh, some people felt it was bringing a negative light to small town Alabama. For this reason, Mitchell chose to keep his identity anonymous in fear of losing his job or offending one of his beloved clients.

anyone that’s vaguely familiar with the area, I would just

This anonymity only intensified the popularity and

tell them we live a couple miles from The Boobie Trap,”

intrigue. The Satirical Daily Mountain Eagle grew so fast

Mitchell said.

and large Mitchell could no longer secretly handle it.


The Lakeside Life |

It was only a matter of time before the maker’s identity would be discovered and revealed, so on March 3, 2016 @dailymtneagle shut down and disappeared. Although The Real Daily Mountain Eagle was glad to see it go, thousands of the satirical news followers were truly upset. So, on April 5, 2016 with the assistance of and John Archibald, The Ostrich decided to bring his head out of the sand and break the story. That is when @dailymtneagle officially became @ALostrich and Matt Mitchell began another phase of his life. Mitchell now works for Red Clay Media. “It sounds fancy, but what I really do is create and post content on two of our brands: It’s a Southern Thing and This is Alabama.” Mitchell said. He writes a weekly satirical news article for as “The Ostrich,” and since joining Red Clay Media he has written the comedy sketches such as Southern Alexa and The Southern Night Before Christmas for It’s a Southern Thing. Mitchell now commutes to Birmingham for work. “I work in Birmingham, and I love the great food and entertainment the city offers, but I would never call Birmingham home. I need a place far away from the hustle and bustle where you can see the stars in the sky and listen to the chorus of crickets and frogs every night,” Mitchell said. “I know that sounds cheesy, but that’s home to me. Dang, I think I just wrote a country song there.” Those of us familiar with lake life can easily relate to the blessings of having such a jewel as Smith Lake in our back yard... | The Lakeside Life


The Ostrich: Photo by Andrew Brasfield

Keep a look out For the Ostrich

“My favorite lake memory from my childhood is easily all of the trips to Clear Creek Park at Smith Lake,” Mitchell said. “My grandparents would take us when I was younger. It was a great place to swim, ride our bikes, and picnic. It was a short drive from the house, and I know my grandparents loved letting us run around there and get worn slap-out. It’s hard to misbehave when you’ve

You can also find Mitchell drinking his favorite beer, the Gavel Porter, and hosting a local trivia night every Thursday at Tallulah Brewery in Jasper. Trivia night with “The Ostrich” has quickly become a local favorite bringing in close to 100 people each week to socialize

collapsed from exhaustion,” Mitchell said.

and play the game. The once ostracized Ostrich is now

Mitchell and his wife, Lisa, have been married for 10 years

and community.

in June. “We have 2 fur-babies Memphis and Major, that are beagles, and a real baby (hopefully not furry), that will

bringing people together though the power of laughter Everyone is welcome, it’s a family friendly event. In fact,

be here in August,” Mitchell said.

“We have a good bit of non-beer drinkers show up and

“Whenever we go to the lake now I just enjoy riding on

Drew is one of the seven owners, and the Mayor of

the boat and watching other people desperately cling to the giant inflatable ring we’re dragging behind us. That’s too much work. I come to the lake to relax, not have neardeath experiences,” Mitchell said. “I love to swim. God and Little Debbie have blessed me with a very buoyant body, so I can float around in the lake for hours.....and I

they just buy a soda or two from us,” Drew Gilbert said. Cordova. It’s a great gathering place to sit back and relax. “ We have had families come in, and mom and dad have a beer while the kids drink from our selection of glass bottle sodas,” Gilbert said. Although Tallulah Brewery is not able to serve food due

usually do whenever we go out there.”

to state law, you are welcome to bring your own food or

Mitchell says he mostly frequents the Curry area of Smith

outside. In addition, some of the downtown restaurants

Lake now because, “ One, my friend with the boat lives there, and Two...Cujo’s Pizza.”


The Lakeside Life |

grab something from the fairly regular food truck parked will even deliver directly to the Brewery door.

The Ostrich: So far, trivia night has become a huge success to

Gilbert said. However, ” His dry dead pan delivery

bring the community together in a family friendly

has been such a great addition to social media,

atmosphere. Besides, “We have a popcorn machine, and now our trivia night.” When asked how

and it is always free!” Gilbert said.

The Ostrich linked up with Tallulah Brewery, Gilbert

Tallulah Brewery opened October 13, 2017 by 7 members of the Bagwell/Gilbert Families with a passion for beer and a mutual love for our community and lake. “After Jasper adopted the Main Street program,

said “I first made a relationship with Matt after he wrote a fake article about my Sweet Sixteen party being funded by the taxpayers of Cordova, and I thought it was hilarious.”

we saw a good opportunity to get the brewery off the

Even though The Ostrich has ruffled some feathers,

ground, and everything fell into place from a building

he truly loves this community and making people

to investors,” Gilbert said.

laugh. “People will always find something to be

Trivia with The Ostrich topics vary from week to week, and typically run about 2 hours every Thursday. “Matt has a humor that I wasn’t sure if Walker County was ready for yet, and about half of them still aren’t,”

offended by,” Mitchell said. “I do take the time to read people’s criticisms and I will usually respond back to them and try to have a conversation about whatever it is they take offense to, but I can’t make everyone happy.” | The Lakeside Life


The Ostrich:

Mitchell said he tries to be fair in his criticism and considers himself politically moderate. “I want people to know that, despite all the jokes I make about this state, I really do love Alabama. I love that we’re weird and quirky, and I don’t want that to change. I think that kind of stuff makes us special. We need to embrace it. And laugh at it.” As far as where The Ostrich and Mitchell are heading, “I love what I do now. I think we have something really special with It’s a Southern Thing and I look forward to helping grow that brand. As long as I’m doing something that is making people laugh, I’ll be happy,” Mitchell said. The Ostrich also mentioned he would definitely be interested in hosting “Trivia on the Lake,” if the opportunity was to present itself. In addition, The Ostrich has come full circle and is now on great terms with The Real Daily Mountain Eagle. “I’ve been talking with James Phillips, the paper’s

His message is simple. “Have fun and leave the world a better place than you found it. Stay in school. Don’t do drugs... and if you see someone trying to haul a washer and dryer on top of a 1997 Honda Civic, take a picture of that and send it to The Ostrich. ” Smith Lake is surrounded by small, amazing towns with lots of local flare and character. That’s what makes an Alabama lake an Alabama lake. Be observant, be amused, be proud to be experiencing the south in its truest forms. And if you don’t want to be featured to The Ostrich’s nearly 90K followers...don’t wear your pajamas to Walmart. Please look up The Ostrich on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, you’ll be so glad you did.

Enjoy a few

laughs at the expense of normal southern life, catch a beer with him @ Tallulah Brewery in Jasper, AL, and tell him you heard about him here at The Lakeside Life magazine.

publisher, and we’re trying to collaborate on an event. Hopefully we can get that off the ground and show the great people of Walker County that anything is possible – even becoming friends with the newspaper you relentlessly parodied for years,” Mitchell said.


The Lakeside Life |

You can find Matt Mitchell as follows: @ALostrich, @onlyinalabama, @itisasouthernthing, @tallulahbrewery and on @aldotcom / | The Lakeside Life


How I Lake

Th e Catal i n a B obb e rs


n any given Saturday in summertime, if you

too far from the dock. Their slough is filled with fellowship

are traveling along Simpson Creek, you may

and laughter as they all de-stress from their week.

come across The Catalina Bobbers. A group of friends who all live full-time on the lake, each

have boats, but spend their weekends doing the same thing... “bobbing” - relaxing and bobbing up and down in the water on floats. During the winter months the group of friends spend a lot of their time traveling - whether it be somewhere close by like Gulf Shores or Panama City Beach, or like their most recent adventure, an Alaskan cruise. But in the summertime, their weekend routine has been the same for almost ten years. Saturdays they pull up, boat by boat, to the regular gathering dock, with the plan to hang out at the dock for the whole day. They unload their signature floats, hit the water and “bob.” The dock has a rope attached, which all the ladies run through their floats so that random wakes do not push them


The Lakeside Life |

“The water gets really busy during the summertime. We prefer to cruise down the lake during the week and spend our weekends just relaxing in the water enjoying each other’s company.” The day is usually ended with a boat cruise to watch the sunset, and followed up with dinner at one of their homes. Their way of “laking” may seem simple to some, but that is the beauty of lake life, we all love and enjoy it very differently.

See ya lakeside!

The Lakeside Life Team

Keep sending us your favorite Smith Lake activities with family, social groups, business, by yourself, with your pets, anyone who “lakes.� We want to hear your Smith Lake experiences! Use the hashtag #howilake on all your social media platforms - and feel free to follow our IG accounts:

@thelakesidelife, @smithlakepix, @smithlakeal, and @howilake or send us ideas/stories by email to: We look forward to hearing from you! Liked by mrs.chamblee, dianesharron and 112 others howilake A great day to #getoutside #repost @lakesidegear ... #howilake #smithlakepix #smithlakeal #thelakesidelife #smithlakesports #smithlakefun #thingstodoinalabama #spring2018 #alabama #alabamalakes #alabamalife #alabamaoutdoors #thisisalabama #onlyinalabama #lakeliving #lakeside #lifeonthelake #lifeonsmith #livelifelakeside #lewissmithlake #smithlakemagazine #thelakesidelifemagazine View all 5 comments masterproaudio Today has been perfect!! | The Lakeside Life



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“My whole life I have wanted a boat and a house on the lake,” says Smith Lake resident Jeff Roberts. Growing up in a water family, Jeff had early aspirations of being a professional skier. Life led him to a career as a private wealth manager instead, but still: “I wanted to be on the lake so bad it hurt,” he says. So Jeff set out with realtor team Terri and Tommy Waldrop and found his slice of waterfront heaven more than a decade ago. Before building, he even jumped on a Sea-Doo to explore Smith Lake inch by inch to see if the house he envisioned already existed. “I wasn’t sure I had it in me to build,” he says. But gliding past an under-construction home on the second half of the lake, Jeff experienced a “that’s it!” moment when he saw the architecturally inspired shape he had in mind. He immediately called the number of the architect he saw on the sign. Realtor Justin Dyar helped secure two more lots giving 500 feet of shoreline on which to build the home he had been dreaming up for years.

Author: Stephanie G. Lepore Photography by : Dave Warren and Chris Luker

The property features three entrances to the water—unusual for the area—with a sandy beach (when the water is down), a cliff for diving, and a natural stone shelf stair-casing into the water. | The Lakeside Life

18 | The Lakeside Life

19 | The Lakeside Life



Photo Credit: Chris Luker After securing the first Bear Pen lot, it was eight years

bathrooms, and closets—the only spaces Jeff didn’t mind



sacrificing a view—toward the front of the house. The

Cotton Construction. Jeff had worked with Christopher

result is a narrow—one room and a hallway wide—

Architecture for two years of back-and-forth designing as the

5,000-square-foot dreamboat home with sweeping lake

team worked to “get everything from my crazy head down

views—and also deep personal friendships.







on paper,” says Jeff. “I knew what I wanted but didn’t know how to describe it.”

“I started with a team I didn’t know and ended with friends for life,” Jeff says of working with Trey and

It took dozens of meetings, drawings, and brainstorming

the designers on

to create the final design. Even when Jeff laid down a bold

retreat (the home recently won HGTV’s Faces of Design

mandate that water must be visible from the front door

Editor’s Pick, Waterside Retreat Category). “There

and through every single room and window in the house,


they rose to the challenge, positioning hallways, stairs,

me. I’d build another house with them in a second!”


The Lakeside Life |









lakeside will

architect for

While the back of the home offers the most stunning views, the front is the gateway to the impeccable architecture found throughout. A mix of materials, including stone, metal, and wood, adds texture and interest, but staying true to natural elements and earth-tones means the home complements its surroundings. That same concept carries into the interior design too. Neat and thoughtful landscaping — installed



Smith of Curb Appeal in Birmingham— completes and rounds out the home’s welcome committee.

Photo Credit: Chris Luker | The Lakeside Life


THE ROBERTS HOME “During the day, I didn’t want anything inside to compete Jeff worked with interior designer Emory Ratliff of Christopher Architecture and Interiors in Birmingham to fill his home with airy but cozy furnishings in calm neutrals and natural finishes.

with the lake,” Jeff says. “But at night, I wanted the interiors to come to life.” ”To start, the width of the living room was designed around two comfy club chairs Jeff chose to position in front of the windows.


The Lakeside Life |

Matching sofas round out the seating so that the lake view takes center stage during daylight, giving way to the floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace at sunset.


discovered the iron chandelier that crowns the space, but wasn’t happy with the symmetry of the original design, which featured the smaller ring below the larger one. Emory stepped in to have the entire fixture flipped and rewired. | The Lakeside Life



Before Jeff relinquished dining room design decisions to Emory, he purchased this oversized table for family meals. Double antler chandeliers add balanced lighting and a nod to nature, while chairs upholstered in a cool blue recall the water with a touch of sophisticated color.

Photo Credit: Chris Luker

Creamy colored shiplap, a handsome leather ottoman/coffee table, and a natural-fiber rug ground the living space that flows seamlessly between the dining room and kitchen. Emory chose the nautical-inspired sconces—hung high on the walls—to wrap the room in warm light. The architectural styling of the windows offers a jaw-dropping view from here, as well as from the open-air seating area above the living room on the second floor. (see page 35)


The Lakeside Life |

The kitchen packs a big punch in a compact space, with dreamy finishes like a gleaming oversized marble island, herringbone brick backsplash, and shiny copper vent hood. “I knew, despite my protests, that my mom would spend lots of time in the kitchen taking care of everyone else when our family is here—which is often,” says Jeff. “So it needed to have a dynamite view for her.” The trio of molding-clad windows behind the sink provides a straight-on view of the lake, the perfect vantage point for a mother’s watchful eye over all the outdoor activity.


Double doors give way to a pretty but minimalist entryway because the real focus is the half-moon window beyond, which achieves Jeff ’s goal of being able to see the water from the home’s entryway.

The Lakeside Life |

Photo Credit: Chris Luker


Just like every other space in the house, Jeff paid extra-close attention to the details in the upstairs guestroom specifically designed for his mother. Following the signature look of the other bedrooms, neutral linens and pillows dress the bed, while a tufted headboard in the same color palette adds texture—the key to keeping neutrals feeling fresh and modern. A cream dresser flanked by rolled spindle chairs and ottomans with fluff y cushions lends pretty function to the room. Plush carpet underfoot is welcome at the end of the day—as is the water-for-miles view from the large transomed window.

On the other side of the second-floor landing is the perfect private retreat for Jeff ’s brother and sister-in-law to spread out with their family. Beneath the bedroom window, a built-in daybed adds room for one more (pint-sized) sleeper while also taking advantage of otherwise wasted space to serve as extra storage. Brass wall sconces on either side round out the symmetry of the draperies. Bonus: They also provide focused light for curling up with a good book after sunset. Off the bedroom is a spacious bath that features pull-out steps so younger ones can reach the sink. The short hallway includes a handsome set of built-in bunks in a nautical style (a wooden boat-inspired ladder, shiplap), again taking advantage of unused nooks—there is basically no wasted square footage. “I don’t even have a basement,” says Jeff. “I wanted every space to have a use.”


The Lakeside Life | | The Lakeside Life


THE ROBERTS HOME As it turns out, the shower is positioned to have a straight view out the master window when the bathroom door is open. A sitting area in front of the window is outfitted with two swivel club chairs and an upholstered ottoman, creating a cozy spot to wind down before bed. To the side of the room, an alcove with a fainting couch provides a quiet spot to catch an afternoon nap; below the floor is a tornado room Jeff added at the last minute, again making the most of every inch of the home.

Jeff ’s master suite encompasses a quiet, spacious bedroom with a killer view, a smartly designed bath, reading alcove with access to a “tornado room” below, and an office upstairs in the tower that crowns his wing of the house. Watery blues and natural elements color the room, prepping it to take a passenger seat to the huge floor-to-ceiling window view. During the building process, Jeff jokingly said the view was so good from the master that he wanted to put the shower right in the middle of the room so he never had to look away from the water.

From the alcove, a twist of stairs lends a cool architectural touch as you climb to Jeff’s home office. Though it might be hard to get any work done with the bird’s-eye view at the top, it’s a peaceful, tranquil spot to handle business.


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Off the hallway leading to the master is a cozy, sleek-tiled covered porch with a dreamy bed swing — the ideal spot to curl up with a book or nap in the balmy breeze. Jeff admits the porch doesn’t get much use during summer — “Everyone wants to be on the water!” — but the TV and fireplace make it usable yearround (read: football season - Jeff’s allegiance is to the University of Tennessee). Inside just across the hallway is a half-bath with a large, porthole-shaped window.

Photo Credit: Chris Luker | The Lakeside Life


THE ROBERTS HOME Playing off his fun uncle title, Jeff had a kids’ dream space designed at the top of one of the home’s towers. Four curtained, built-in bunks, complete with mirrored “portholes” are adventurous spaces to sleep. An extra-long upholstered bench beneath the windows is as up-close to the water as you can get from inside; a hidden bookcase at the end


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of the space holds reading material for afternoon book breaks. The driftwood color palette and striped ottomans combine for a more playful look here, but still lend an air of sophistication that is in complete alignment with the rest of the house.

Splitting the second-floor bedrooms into two wings is a laid-back, loft-style seating area that looks out to the lake and over the downstairs living room. To achieve the desired aesthetic without overwhelming the space, a heavy round table was cut in half to create two half-circle end tables. | The Lakeside Life


Photo Credit: Chris Luker

Tapered stacked-stone columns frame a postcard-worthy vista of Smith Lake at sunset. Neutral furnishings continue outside so as not to interrupt the sightline, and the pitched roof carries the same vibe as high ceilings inside, making the view feel expansive and cozy at the same time. 33

The Lakeside Life | | The Lakeside Life



Jeff, the designated fun uncle to four nieces and nephews, set out to build his lake house as a “fun place to bring everyone around me and share the blessing,” he says. And, as they say, if you build it, they will come. Spaces for his mom (known lovingly as “Bebbie” to family, close friends, brother and sister-in-law, and their kids) were thoughtfully planned out during the design process. “It is a big draw for my family to come here,” says Jeff. “I want a place for them as much as I do for myself—especially my mom.” Betsy Roberts, who retired from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville as Women’s Associate Athletics Director of Development, is the one who, Jeff says, “never quit on me.” The water is the perfect place to honor her, too, as Jeff grew up watching her teach at a girls’ camp as well as teaching “half of Knoxville how to swim.”

“My mom saw the foundation poured, but didn’t return until the house was complete,” Jeff says. “I brought her down the driveway,

“In addition to naming his boat Ms. Bebbie, Jeff had a large brass bell

told her thanks for not giving up on me, and

installed near the kitchen. “Bebbie’s Bell” indicates lunch and dinner

then handed her the keys. You live your whole

are ready for those frolicking down by the lake. Bebbie’s upstairs

life to have a moment like this to share with

bedroom and bath open up to a porch where she can enjoy the water

someone. It meant the world to me to be able

view with a side of morning coffee.

to give that gift to my mom.”


The Lakeside Life | | The Lakeside Life




No boat,

no problem.

Need water toys,

no worries.

Whether you are visiting from out of state, or the lake is in your front or back yard, these businesses have a boat or water toy for rent to help facilitate your day on the water, and provide a convenience that makes trying new lake activities that much more attainable, enjoyable, and stress free.

BOAT RENTALS AT SMITH LAKE 483 County Road 224, Crane Hill, AL 35053 Phone: 205-613-7808 Email: or Website: Facebook: @rock creek stripers Rentals: Call Mike for more information on rentals, Tuesday night ping pong club and fishing tours. The one stop fun shop! He also offers towables for rent @ $40/day – tubes, wakeboards, kneeboards and skis – all come with a rope. Rentals: Price: $300 per day - 22’ Pontoon with 115 hp motor, Capacity is 13 persons, Bimini top, & Ski Pole Price: $250 per day - 19’ Bayliner with 135 hp motor, Capacity is 8 persons, top speed is approx 35 mph. Perfect for tubing, skiing, or just cruising. Complete with a Bimini top for shade. Price: $300 per day - 21’ NauticStar with 260 hp motor, Capacity is 10 persons. Top speed approx 45 mph, 260 hp v8 i/o. Has a Bimini top. Great for tubing or cruising. Includes 2 ladders. Price: $300 per day - 23' Harris Deck Boat with 300 hp motor. Capacity is 12 persons. 5.7 L with 300 HP duo prop. This boat also includes a Bimini top with 2 ladders. Fuel for all rentals is extra. There is a $200 deposit required and pickup/delivery fees. Ask about a weekly discount rate. A 3% fee is applied when using credit cards.

PINE VALLEY OUTDOOR LIVING 3088 Curry Hwy Jasper, AL 35503 Phone: 205-221-PINE (7463) Email: Website: FB/IG: @pvoutdoorliving Rentals: Don’t hesitate to call for moreinformation! (Daily/Weekends) Water Trampoline (D) $125 (W) $250 Paddleboards (D) $25 (W) $50 Bicycles (D) $15 (W) $35 Paddle Boats (D) $45 (W) $90 Lake Mats (D) $20 (W) $45 Hydrobikes (D) $50 (W) $100 Knee Boards (D) $15 (W) $35 Banana Boats (D) $75 (W) $125 Wakeboards (D) $15 (W) $35 Kayaks (D) $25 (W) $50 Tubes/Towables (D) $20 (W) $45


403 County Road 386, Cullman, AL 35057 Phone: 256-739-2916 or 256-338-8367 Email: Facebook: @smithlakepark Rentals: Kayaks, canoes, and SUPs. Seasonal availability – Memorial Day thru Labor Day. 2 hour rentals, usually during the same times the pool is open, roughly 10am-6pm. Please call for pricing.


364 E Lakeshore Drive, Double Springs, AL 35553 Phone: 205-489-2462 Email: Website: Facebook: @LakeShoreRestaurantMarinaLodge Rentals: 3 Pontoons available 1⁄2 day 8am-12pm or 1pm-5pm is $200 plus tax or Full day 8am-5pm is $300 plus tax


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175 County Road 312, Cullman AL 35057 Phone: 256-737-7131 Email: Website: Facebook: @SmithLakeMarinaResort Rentals: 3 pontoon boats. Fuel is extra. $250 per day. Take off $50 per day if rented for 3 days straight. $175 for ½ days 8am-12pm or 1pm-5pm. $100 for a sunset cruise, gas provided, 2 hours. Must secure and pay ahead for holidays.

LAKESIDE SPORTS & RECREATION 767 County Road 437, Cullman, AL 35055 Phone: 205-470-8250 Email: FB/IG: @lakesidegear Rentals: Ask about wakeboards, wakesurfers, and SUPs. Call for pricing & availability. They also have coaches for beginner-intermediate and intermediate-advanced for wakeboarding, wakesurfing, wakeskating, and wakefoiling or hydrofoiling. Daily excursion packages also available and a portion of that becomes a discount/ credit towards your future product purchase in the store. SQUIRREL’S MARINA 65 Marina Drive, Jasper, AL 35504 Phone: 205-387-8616 Email: Facebook: @squirrells marina Website: Rentals: 19’ Pontoon @ $225/day 20’-22’ Pontoon @ $250/day 23’ New Tri-toon @ $300/day


21680 County Road 222, Crane Hill, AL 35053 Number: 256-286-0050 Email: Website: (& navigate to the RENTALS tab) Facebook: @tridentmarinas Rentals: 3 Sea Doos and 3 Pontoons - All rentals are now listed on their new system from the website, and at the time of this article, this was the only online rental system on the lake, making the process easy and stress free. Pick out a boat, and pay for it online, and it will be waiting for you in the water at 8am. Boats are to be returned at 4:45pm for check-in. Price: $350 per day ($2,100.00 per week) – 2016 Harris Pontoon with 150 hp Mercury four stroke motor, Capacity 12 persons. Includes all required life jackets, safety equipment and ice chest. Water Package includes: a 2-person towable raft, a 2-person tow rope, a knee board, and a ski rope price: $45.00 per day ($225.00 per week). A 4% Alabama rental tax is applied to all rentals. Price: $275 per day ($1,650.00 per week) – 2016 Sea Doo GTI SE130 with Rotax four stroke 130 HP engine, Capacity 3 persons, top speed is approx 55 mph. Includes 2 life jackets. A 4% Alabama rental tax is applied to all rentals.

Whether you need extra water toys for entertaining your guests, or you simply want a boat for cruising all over Smith Lake to enjoy the sights, The Lakeside Life has you covered as a one stop contact spot.

Have fun! The information collected for this article was correct to the best of our research at the time this article was written. If you know of any changes in pricing, products offered, or contact information for these establishments, please advise as soon as possible so we can update our internal records. If



of any businesses that rent who are not listed in the article – please contact us so we can update the listing and make sure everyone knows where to go. Never hesitate to reach out to us at for additional information, or with questions or comments - we are here to serve our Smith Lake community. In the meantime, check out these local businesses and be sure to tell them The Lakeside Life sent you. | The Lakeside Life



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Many lake locals and weekenders drive up County Road 222 to get to their slice of paradise on Smith Lake. If you are one of those regulars, you probably pass the restaurants known as The Crazy Rooster and Kat Daddy’s BBQ.

We recently had time to catch up with the owners of these restaurants, the Watson/McClendon families (Pat & Kat Watson and Drew & Hannah McClendon). We knew there had to be a big, fun personality behind restaurants called “The Crazy Rooster” and “Kat Daddy’s BBQ & Grill” and we were completely correct in that assumption. We asked Pat to tell us a little about himself, his life, and a bit of history behind the restaurants.

Growing up

Pat grew up in the town of Arkadelphia in Cullman County. He was raised by his daddy who was a coal miner. His dad always lived by the philosophy “work hard, play hard”. So after a long work week, Pat and his father would spend weekends skiing on Smith Lake. Pat has grown up on Smith Lake, and remembers a time when there was nothing on either side of the lake but trees all the way to Big Bridge. Scenery has sure changed since but he loves the lake just the same. His daddy always taught him the importance in the chemistry of cooking and Pat soon discovered that he was right. As Pat says ”there’s some magic in it”. Pat loved to cook and he would practice a recipe over and over until he got it right. He wasn’t satisfied until the dish was just “perfect”. After high school Pat knew he was too immature for college and that college wasn’t for him. He decided to venture out and join the Navy. After years in the Navy, visiting many countries, and living in different places, he finally made his way back to Cullman | The Lakeside Life


County to take care of his father whose health was declining. During this time he met and fell in love with his bride Kathy. His heart truly was always in Cullman County.


love for his daughters is unlike any other love. At a point, one of Pat’s daughters was becoming frustrated in school and struggled due to a learning disability, and she realized that college was not for her. Pat decided to venture out and open Kat Daddy’s BBQ & Grill Company. Not only is the restaurant named after the family, the restaurant is also run by Pat, his wife, his daughter and her husband. It is truly a family owned and family run business.

Life after Love

The Restaurants

Not long after meeting Kathy, Pat decided to make it “official” and they were married. They now have four daughters, Heaven 26, Haven 23, Hannah 20, and Hayla 11. Pat initially started in the catering business. While everyone knows that raising kids is hard work, it’s the kind of work that is the most rewarding, and a daddy’s

Kat Daddy’s BBQ & Grill was the first restaurant they decided to open in Bremen, AL. They live “within a stones throw” of the restaurant so it was a perfect location. As Smith Lake started to grow and “boom” they opened up The Crazy Rooster about 3 miles down the road. Pat will tell you he’s the “meat guy” (and

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BASIL WHISKEY SOUR The perfect spring beverage... it’s a good mix of summer and winter, hot and cold. The whiskey warms you up, and the natural fruit juices cool you down, then the freshness of the basil is so cleansing and reviving! Muddle: • 1 oz simple syrup • .5 large orange

• .5 oz lime juice • Basil - to taste

Add • 1.25 oz rye whiskey • .5 oz Grand Marnier • Stir and strain • Pour over ice • Top with club soda Top secret - we obtained this wonderful recipe from a highly skilled bartender at 5 Point Public House and Oyster Bar in Birmingham, AL. The drink was not yet on the menu, but if you tell them you want a “Greensprings” they will know what you want or will find a bartender who does. Ask for it and tell them The Lakeside Life sent you!

the fried pie man too...but that’s not in his “contract”). His wife, daughters and son-in-law help with the rest of the cooking and running of the restaurants. Kat Daddy’s BBQ & Grill has slow hickory smoked pulled pork bbq, chicken and pork spare ribs, burgers, catfish and many other “down home” BBQ restaurant options. They also have a variety of homemade sides and desserts that are sure to please the eye and the tastebuds. The Crazy Rooster has more steak options on the menu. They also have shrimp and a variety of chicken and seafood options. Pat couldn’t leave the chicken off of a menu for a restaurant called “The Crazy Rooster” right? No matter which restaurant you choose you are sure in for a treat - great food with a side of “awesomesauce”. There’s no going wrong either way.

Plans for the future

grows he has hopes of possibly opening up more restaurants maybe closer to the water. Whatever the future holds it’s sure to be a family affair with the Watson family. When you talk to Pat it’s clear that his favorite part of the business is the community and the customers. He loves to see the variety of people that come in to the restaurants and he enjoys talking to everyone. No matter where his customers come from he’s always going to make sure that they have the best meal and experience possible. Like Pat says “these people give up time in their day to come eat at our restaurants, so we are going to make it the best time that we can.” So if you’re needing a good meal, good company and a great time, head on over to see the Watson & McClendon families in one of their restaurants. The food is home cooked and the service and personality is one of a kind. You’re sure to get the “awesomesauce” no matter which location you choose.

Naturally no one knows what the future holds, but for Pat, Be sure to tell Pat that The Lakeside Life Team sent you. hopefully it’s exciting. As the community around Smith Lake | The Lakeside Life


Water, sun and fresh air - the perfect combination to result in a boat full of hungry people. For six years now, Mr. Joe has been taking care of all those hungry bellies on Smith Lake with his snack boat, “Snackers on the Water”.

Snackers is a pontoon boat that has been retrofitted with all the equipment needed to run a floating cafe. The menu consists of hamburgers, hot dogs, chili cheese dogs, nachos, soft drinks, Milo’s tea and water. Snackers also offers ice cream for the perfect afternoon treat. Mr. Joe Walker, the owner of Snackers, loves meeting new people out on the water. His favorite part about operating Snackers is getting to see the joy on the faces of children when they get their ice cream. When Mr. Joe is not on the Snackers boat, you can find him exploring the lake for himself on his Chaparral. In the off-season, he enjoys riding his motorcycle, flying his Cessna airplane, camping and taking trips to the beach. This year the Snackers boat will be located on the Smith Lake Park side of Goat Island. The floating snack bar will open Memorial Day weekend and will remain open every Saturday and Sunday from 1-6pm until Labor Day. Snackers will also be open additional days and hours during holiday weekends. We are very excited to have Mr. Joe and his Snackers boat on the water with us for a sixth season. Make sure you stop by, even for a wave or “Hello,” and tell him The Lakeside Life team sent you!


The Lakeside Life | | The Lakeside Life









Lakeside Life, and your local real estate agent. These are a few of the titles that Haley May, long time Smith Lake local, holds. When meeting her, the first thing you notice is her contagious bubbly personality, huge smile and deep passion for her family and career. She is a talker, there is no doubt about that, but it is pleasant to sit and chat with Haley, because she has such a natural positive energy. It seems everyone we encounter knows our popular hometown partner. Syndi often says that for Haley to be the youngest in our group, she sure is wise

Q: Tell us a little about yourself, Haley. A: Well, I am a born and raised Smith Lake local who has been hanging out around the lake my entire life. I call Bremen, AL home with my husband, Justin and our two year old twin boys, Cash and Camber and our dog, Yeti. I am a University of Alabama graduate where I focused heavily on internet marketing and social media. I never in a million years thought I would end up in real estate, nor living in Cullman - oh and I definitely didn’t expect being a twin mom; it sure is funny how God’s plan is much different than ours.

beyond her years, and carries herself with class and grace.

Q: How did you end up in Real Estate?

We sat down with Haley to talk about her real estate career:

A: Total accident. When I was working in the internet marketing industry, I spent all my time building websites and developing marketing plans for small businesses. Many of those were real estate companies. I began working one on one with a very successful Smith Lake Realtor©, who in turn influenced me to get my license. I was super interested in real estate, but the idea of jumping ship from a cozy weekly paycheck career was crazy and impossible - especially since I had just found out I was pregnant... WITH TWINS! I knew I wanted to be the kind of mom who brought cupcakes to all my kids’ school parties and was very hands on with my kids, but I also dreamed of having a successful career. I had planned to build up my real estate business enough to go full time within a few years; but again, God had a totally different plan. In August of 2016, I was working full-time as a marketing director locally and doing real estate on the side. My tiny 9 month old twins got really sick and I had to miss a lot of work. Between my husband’s schedule, the health of our babies and my work schedule, I found myself stressed and real estate on the back burner. One Monday morning I walked into work to find that they had decided to delete my position. I was shocked. Angry. Scared. I had no idea what we were going to do. We were a two-income family. We depended heavily on both of us bringing in an income, we couldn’t survive without it. It was the end of September and I had one closing lined up in real estate - the house we lived in. Honestly I wanted to just lay in my bed and cry. But I got this fire in me instead. I was going to make

EM.D.Design & Photography

the beach. We like it because we can get out there and can touch the bottom so it makes it easier with our boys. Cash and Camber love to play on the shore, too. We normally pack a picnic and eat our lunch there. It’s been our favorite for as long as I can remember. Q: So you’re a wife, mom, Realtor© and a partner in the magazine, how do you balance it all?

my life the life I wanted. I was going to be a Realtor©...a successful Realtor©. I bet I called and messaged over one thousand people over the following days. It wasn’t going to be easy, but I knew it was what would be best for my family. I worked SO HARD. Every single day I was working, learning and growing my business. But I also was there for my kids. With a lot of hard work, support, determination and prayer, I closed right under one million dollars worth of real estate between September and December of 2016. My career was taking off. Q: What would you say sets you apart from other Realtors©? A: My number one priority in business is building relationships. My business model is based around the customer service I am able to provide my clients. At the end of every transaction, my goal is to have a client who felt informed and as stress free as possible throughout their process. The point of hiring a Realtor© is to make things easier on you and to have a professional take care of the process. That is exactly what I do. I treat all of my clients like VIPs, no matter their price point, and I educate them through the process. Because of that, I am already working heavily with repeat clients and referrals just two years into my business. Of course my educational background gives me a one up on my marketing skills, but relationships are still my biggest focus. Q: Where is your favorite “Spot on Smith”? Since we have little ones, our favorite spot on Smith is the little beach over by Smith Lake Dam. It’s a really neat spot in a slough where we can pull our boat right up on


A: Very, very carefully. I have always been a planner addict and loved a nice, strict schedule. I joke that God gave me twins to help me be a little more laid back. I normally time block my day and use an app called Focus Keeper to help me stay on task. The more structured all of our days are, the better. I am also very strict on myself about turning work off. It is so hard to do with the career I have, but since I set stricter limits I work harder during my work times and get to spend more quality time with my family during off times. I am also very blessed with an awesome support system. Real estate involves a lot of afternoons and weekends, so having a village is a must. Q: What advice do you have for someone who is looking to buy on Smith Lake? 1. Get to know the areas that you are looking to buy in. Ask about local businesses and community activities nearby and schools, etc... Using an agent who is a local is always a plus! 2. Check out the property you are going to buy by both boat and land. Navigating the lake is confusing and you want to make sure you are in the location you want both by car and boat. 3. Know your water levels. Luckily we have a very deep lake and don’t have to worry about seasonal water in most places, but you always want to double check with your agent.

A special thank you to all of my clients, friends and family who have gotten me this far. You all are such a blessing! And a big thank you to my hometown, you guys have showed up and showed out for me so many times! I am so lucky to call Smith Lake home.

Haley May Lakeside Real Estate 256-590-1467 | The Lakeside Life


by Ellen Roberts


KURT & CATHY BOWDEN Guess who we found, happily married…ironically living on Smith Lake? None other than the Big Bridge legends themselves, Kapt. Kurt and Cathy Bowden. They are the two behind the now infamous “KAPT. KURT-N-CATHY 1995” mural on Smith Lake’s very wellknown bridge, Big Bridge, overlooking the main channel of Ryan Creek. For decades Big Bridge has attracted adrenaline junkies who swing, jump and hang from the high ledges of its sides. “We used to do the big swing trapeze off the bottom of the bridge and do back flips off the top of the bridge,” Kurt said. “You had to walk the ledge to get to the swing.” Kurt and his buddies would stand on the ledge, grasp the rope, swing down towards the water, up into the underbody of the bridge, swing backwards up into the air and let go for a back flip dismount. This was not your modern day bridge swing. This was old-school, dangerous, crazy, and only for the truly adventurous. It was known to locals as “The Death Swing.”


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JWB Photography and Carl Beckman

Big Bridge is also famous for its graffiti from decades past.

“Wild-Man Jeff,” one of his bridge jumping buddies, to paint

That is where this story begins:

a mural on the side of Big Bridge. “It was easy. I paid him $40

It was June of 1995 and recently widowed Cathy was visiting

so he could go buy the paint and it was done,” Kurt said. At nightfall, Wild-Man Jeff walked the small ledge and painted in bright red, capital letters, “KAPT. KURT-N-CATHY 1995”, with a heart and arrow, on the side of Big Bridge. Kurt soon took Cathy to see the mural, and as true to the lyrics as the song is to their story, Cathy asked, “Why didn’t you paint it John Deere Green?” You’ll understand…next time you ride on a boat under the bridge play Joe Diffie’s song “John Deere Green” and the story will tell itself. In fact this lyric says it well, “On a clear day…if you look and know what to look can still read his words of love.” On Valentine’s weekend of 1996 Kurt took Cathy out to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. They were circling the airport

her sister at Ken Lanom’s Trailer Court just northwest of Big Bridge, on County Road 330, and Kurt was visiting his parents who also owned a trailer there. Cathy was riding on her young nephew’s bike, with her knees awkwardly cranked up to her chest, when Kurt spotted her and their eyes met. “She had long, beautiful legs,” Kurt said with a smile as if it was yesterday. The next weekend Kurt hand-picked blueberries and returned to win the heart of his new found muse. That is when the love affair began. Although Cathy was from Fort Payne and Leeds-native Kurt now lived in Meridianville, just

above Atlanta when Kurt got in the aisle, on one knee, and proposed. “He had me trapped,” Cathy laughed recalling the memory. But this sweet surprise enabled the Bowden’s to celebrate the trip as an early honeymoon before the wedding. The vacation was even more memorable because their daughter, Dianna Bowden, was also in attendance – so it was a true heartfelt family celebration. Less than two months later, on April 6, 1996, Kurt and Cathy came back to Smith Lake and got married on a pontoon boat belonging to their friends, Stewart and Debbie Brown. That morning was cold and rainy, but it didn’t deter the bride and

north of Huntsville, distance could not keep the two apart. (Fun fact: Kurt graduated from Leeds High School, Class of 1981, with Charles Barkley). Their first official date was 4th of July when they met up to celebrate at Smith Lake Park for the annual fireworks extravaganza, riding in Cathy’s sister’s boat to the fireworks. Needless to say, it went off with a bang. “Kapt. Kurt,” who often wore a captain’s hat given to him by his mother, Anna Bowden, was smitten. Soon enough, he wanted to profess his love for his lady and could not think of a better way than plastering it high above the lake for the world to see. So, about two months into their relationship Kurt asked | The Lakeside Life


and they have truly transformed the yard into their very own private oasis. “There is always something to do here”, Cathy said. “You just have to want to get out and do it.” Decades later, the couple is still as fun-loving and adventurous as their mural might hint – they stay on the move, and savor their mini-escapes together. When the two aren’t traveling, Cathy and Kurt actively hike trails around the lake, and continue to thrive in watersports. Cathy enjoys paddle boarding with Todulz and still shreds the wake on two skis. Kurt continues to push the limits of adrenaline and excitement while surfing behind his Malibu or zipping across the lake in “Fast ‘N Loud”, his ‘87 Mirage River Racer, which can reach speeds of up to 100 mph. groom. They put on camouflage coveralls up until the time they were to “walk down the aisle.” They were determined to make the most of the day. “Luckily, Mother Nature smiled on

As for Wild-Man Jeff, we are unsure about his whereabouts. Legend goes he is also responsible for the “Heaven or Hell” mural on the other side. No matter his true identity or

us and the sun began to shine later that afternoon!!” Anna

location, one thing is for sure…his art lives on.

Bowden said. The ceremony was held on the pontoon, in the

When asked what mural the two would paint today…Kurt

second cove 1 mile northwest of Big Bridge in Pigeon Roost Creek, with friends and family surrounding them in boats of

answered, ”Life is good.”

their own. A reception followed at Brushy Pond’s “BBQ Joint”.

This mural means so much more to us now, having met this

Although they loved Smith Lake, Kurt’s job took them to

They are a living testament to a lasting love begun right here

Meridianville for a time. The first day there, Cathy “mowed the grass, washed clothes, fixed dinner, and got a job,” Kurt laughed with love. “I knew I had married the right girl!” Over the last 23 years, the Bowdens have continued their adventurous spirit and traveled all over the United States often toting “Blue Bomb”, their 1961 Cherokee aluminum boat with a 20 horsepower motor, and for almost 16 years always bringing along “Todulz" their very lovingly spoiled 8 pound Yorkipoo. From waterskiing to cross-country skiing, the Bowdens continue to live life to the fullest. Although they travel the world, Kurt and Cathy decided 9 years ago to make their roots in Smith Lake’s Brushy Creek area. Their house is true to their style with beautiful lakefront views, peaceful surroundings, and stunning personal landscaping that has made a house into a home. Cathy has a passion for gardening


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amazing “famous” couple, and learning more about them. on Smith Lake, so we hope that mural stays put as a constant reminder. As Joe Diffie said, “There ain't no paint in the world that'll cover it, the heart keeps showing through.” Do you have a love story that includes Smith Lake? Has this lake played a big part in your family’s life in another way? Please share with our community how this treasured lake has been pivotal to your story. Email us at thelakesidelife@gmail. com - we’d love to hear from you! | The Lakeside Life



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Brandon Sumrall Photography


For anyone enjoying Smith Lake watersports, or watching from a shoreline home, the dramatic growth of wakeboarding is obvious. Popular with children barely school age to adults of every age, the practice of attaching a fifteen- to seventeeninch wide board to their feet and skimming along— and leaping above—the lake’s surface seems to grow more popular by the day. That growing popularity, and the desire of some wakeboarders to see just how far they can go with the sport, is bringing Colby Bernier’s Mitchell Militia Wakeboarding School to Smith Lake. Bernier, two time national collegiate wakeboard champion and winner of numerous professional wakeboard competitions, will offer classroom instruction at Russell Marine plus on-lake lessons. An Internet key-word search of the name Colby Bernier offers a hold-your-breath glimpse of what Bernier has accomplished and what he is capable of teaching. Several YouTube videos capture Bernier’s gravity-defying leaps, flips, rolls, spins and other gyrations that he performs from the end of a tow rope behind his boat. Some of the highflying tricks may not appeal to every aspiring wakeboarder. That’s all right with Bernier. His goal is to help make the sport even more fun, and to help every wakeboarder— beginner or aspiring pro—become more proficient. Some of Bernier’s ability looks like magic. Some is certainly the result of an uncanny sense of body control.

But much of it comes from long hours of hard work. Not drudge work, but work of pure joy born from the love of a sport that he was introduced to at age nine. That was at a lake near Overland Park, Kansas, where his family— mom Julie, dad Pete and brother Adam—then lived. In the intervening sixteen years, Colby’s father’s work took the family from Kansas to Hendersonville, Tennessee, where Colby wakeboarded on the Cumberland River’s Old Hickory Reservoir, and then to a home on the Coosa River’s Lake Mitchell, near Verbena. Colby still lives on Lake Mitchell, thus the name of his Mitchell Militia Wakeboarding School. He isn’t leaving Lake Mitchell, but thanks to his reputation as a top national wakeboarder, the school has expanded, now including the training sessions at Smith Lake. That Bernier finds himself in such a position is, to him, a natural life progression. “I really grew up on the water,” he said. “Some of my first memories are having the best boat naps…” “My first business venture was called Free Service,” he jokingly adds. “That was me getting drinks for everybody out of the cooler.” “All I remember (from those earliest days) is good times on the water,” he continued. “We were commuting to a lake at that time (in Kansas). So we would take trips, thirtyto forty-five minute commutes to the water trailering the boat and that’s really what got it started.” “The river rat family was huge for me,” he said. “And to this day we still are. Some of my best memories (are from the) times spent on the water.” | The Lakeside Life


Colby’s brother Adam, eight years older, was enthusiastic about watersports. So Colby’s water activities “were just following in his footsteps. He was the first one to ride the tube, ride the kneeboard, slalom ski and then, ultimately, wakeboarding.” Wakeboarding was just becoming known in the early 90s, and Colby was born in 1992, putting him in a generation of watersports enthusiasts who have been in and around the sport all their lives. Because of that “I have really seen the progression (of the sport),” said Colby. When Colby’s father’s work took them to Tennessee, they were anxious to find a home nearer the water. They found a home near, but not on the water, and lived there four years, until a job change brought the Bernier family to Alabama. This time, he said, “my mom’s stipulation to move was that the next house had to be on the lake.” Colby’s dad, Pete, spent a year researching the real estate market, looking for the perfect lake home. “The dream home, really,” said Colby. “We found it on Lake Mitchell.” The family did not know then that Pete’s passion for finding the perfect lake home for his family would later drive his now very successful career path in real estate as a lake property specialist. Before leaving for Alabama, Colby had continued wakeboarding on Old Hickory, working hard at getting better and began entering tournaments, the first when he was eleven. He did it, he said, because older brother Adam did it. “He was excited about it,” recalled Colby, “and I was just glad to tag along.” It was there on Old Hickory Reservoir, he said, “that I got to see the potential in wakeboarding.” Colby’s wakeboarding journey has had its ups and downs, he said. “The difference in seeing and doing is huge. Being able to get past the hard fall or the chance of one…just the thought of taking a hard crash makes a lot of people shy away from wakeboarding.” Wakeboarders feel the falls more than water skiers because those crashes sometimes begin high over the water during a trick…“because you are defying gravity,” explained Colby. Still, he added, “It is water. Hitting the water might seem scary to some, but it shouldn’t. It is still just water.”

Brandon Sumrall Photography

That issue of concern over failing, and falling, led Colby to wonder about his wakeboard abilities, and his skills hit a plateau. It wasn’t altogether the falls—although Colby has had his share of them. Rather, other things began taking up more of his time. He explains, “It was right in the middle of my adolescence. From eleven to fifteen, almost sixteen, my riding 53

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Megan Cook Photography | The Lakeside Life




Megan Cook Photography

News of Colby Bernier’s decision to move from a top wakeboard competitor and instructor to full-time wakeboard professional is traveling fast. His decision to become a full-time wakeboard professional came just this spring, based on his growing wakeboarding training program, and the continuing support from sponsors, friends and followers. Wakeboarding lessons, taught through Bernier’s Mitchell Militia Wakeboarding School, will be a key component to his move to full-time professional in the sport of wakeboarding. There also is the possibility of additional sponsorships, and a greater presence at wakeboarding events where he will be able to market his offerings through appearances and demonstrations, one of which will be at Lake Guntersville this year. Moving to full-time will allow Bernier to widen his horizons, providing him the opportunity to branch out with his training throughout the southeast. It also will allow him to tailor his training to the schedule of his students rather than having them work their schedule into his. Previously, while working full time as a manufacturing engineer, he had to work around his job to schedule lessons. “It has just been a dream of mine to do this full time and the fact that I am able to do that right now

was at a standstill. And I knew why. My brother had the tricks and he knew what to tell me, but it took me reaching down inside myself and telling myself I could do it. There was so much doubt... I remember on a couple of occasions riding a wakeboard with tears in my eyes because…in the boat I wanted to do it. Then as soon as I got on the water I was scared to death. Shaking in my boots.” He continued, “I’d never been a quitter; if I were to quit wakeboarding it would have been torture. My focus just shifted more 55

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is awesome,” he said. “And I am so grateful for those who have been on this journey with me and continue to support me.” He said he planned to be in Orlando two or three weeks this year, meeting with others who are highly skilled in the sport, learning and gaining inspiration. One of those wakeboarders may well be Bernier’s old and good friend Hayden Fike from Smith Lake. Fike also recently transitioned to full-time professional wakeboard status and moved to Orlando. Wakeboarders—aspiring or enthusiasts—can meet Bernier at events on this year’s Southern Wake Series, where he will be in attendance. Those include: • Mountain Wakeboard Games - May 19 and 20, Flipside Watersports at Oak Mountain State Park near Birmingham. • Spring 2 Summer - June 9 at Lake Guntersville. • Wake Battle - July 14 at Smith Lake. • Wake the Dock - August 19 at Gulfport, Mississippi. Those wishing to learn more about the Mitchell Militia Wakeboarding School or to schedule lessons can check out Bernier on Facebook or contact him in the following ways: • Telephone: (205) 299-7060 • Email: • Website: mmwakeboardingschool

toward organized sports…wrestling, football. The way those sports fell, I never got tired of wakeboarding because it was a break from the structure. Football practice always felt like practice. Wrestling practice sometimes felt like hell and always felt like practice. Practicing wakeboarding, you’re just riding. Just go out and ride.” Thus, even when he plateaued, quitting never crossed his mind. And, as he advanced and continued riding into his late teens, he improved. Dramatically so.

Father Pete pressed his son to go to college and wakeboarding could have taken a back seat, but it did not. If anything, his wakeboarding skills advanced along with his college career. “My dad has played a huge role in my life,” said Colby. “He has always stressed to me that wakeboarding can be taken away from you in an instant. Education and a college degree needed to be the first priority. And so that’s what I did.” While at Birmingham’s Jefferson State Community College, Colby continued wakeboarding and discovered that as a full-time student he could represent his college in the wakeboarding intercollegiate tournament. Which he did. And won.

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Headquartered on Lake Martin, the Smith Lake location is at 690 Alabama Highway 69, Hanceville 35077. Colby offers clinics at the location, which is a dealer of Nautique boats, often considered the best wakeboarding boat on the market.



Alabama’s only cable watersports park is at Oak Mountain State Park, Pelham.

Promoted as the longeststanding brand in the sport of Wakeboarding, Hyperlite is known as an innovator of wakeboards and wakeboarding equipment.

NAUTIQUE BOATS: Built by a company with roots dating back to 1924, the first Ski Nautique was built in 1957. The first wakeboard-specific boat was introduced in 1997 and innovations have continued continuously.

He transferred to Jacksonville State University to pursue a manufacturing engineering degree, but suffered a setback in his plans to defend his championship. Only days before the competition he broke his leg while practicing on a trampoline. The next year he was again ready for the intercollegiate tournament, and won it again. For some years, Colby had been helping others, particularly friends, learn the sport of wakeboarding and improve their skills. All the while he was earning recognition at wakeboarding tournaments. It was in 2010 that his growing skills and his desire to help others had sparked an idea. “I put out signs at a couple of gas docks and went from there,” he said. “Very simple. All it said was Wakeboard Lessons: Beginner to Expert.” Graduating with a manufacturing engineering degree from JSU in 2016, Colby went to work for a Clanton manufacturing plant, which allowed him to continue living on Lake Mitchell. This allowed more time for wakeboarding, enjoying the lake with friends, and growing his wakeboard training program, all while continuing to compete and win competitions. Thus was the beginning of growth for Mitchell Militia Wakeboard School and Colby’s auspicious growth as a talented wakeboarder and teacher of wakeboarding. Colby has found that there is no better proof of coaching skills than the success of his students, and their ability to progress in the sport. “As silly as it sounds (wakeboarding) tested me. And now it defines me as a person. A wakeboard follows me around wherever I go,” he said. “Before that I was chasing it.” And now, this spring, Colby has taken his next step, his biggest step to this point in his chosen sport, as he announced a decision to become a fulltime professional in the sport of wakeboarding. | The Lakeside Life


A summer of lessons, he said, would be five or six on-water classes, spread out over the season and separated by intervals during which the student practiced the skills taught in the lessons. Between lessons, Colby is available to students via the Internet: question-and-answer sessions, tips, tactics, troubleshooting. “I want the Mitchell Militia Wakeboarding School to be a constant progression,” he said, “and a collaboration of riding.” How long can the lessons last? “Until they can do a trick that I cannot do,” he said with a laugh. “Then they get the homie discount.” Interested in a clinic? Check with Russell Marine - Smith Lake @ 256-841-6365, or check them out on Facebook: @RussellMarineSmithLake - and don’t hesitate to call on Colby directly to take your ride to the next level, he’s unwaiveringly supportive, offers a very family-friendly approach, and he’s truly capable of helping you attain any level of boarding you want to achieve. Here are a few ways to contact Colby. Phone: 205-299-7060 Email: Facebook: @mitchellmilitiawake Instagram: @colbybernier Website:

RUSSELL MARINE: Smith Lake, one of five Alabama Russell Marine locations, is a center for wakeboard boats and equipment, and hosts wakeboard clinics by champion wakeboarder Colby Bernier. “He is the top (wakeboard) rider that we have,” store manager Daniel Uline says proudly. “It is tough to find a young gentleman who can go out there and do these crazy tricks, and then teach them to kids and talk to them and their families (in such a pleasant and effective manner). Not everyone can do that.” In addition to co-sponsoring Bernier and hosting his clinics, the Russell Marine - Smith Lake location sells the extremely popular wakeboard boat, Nautique. The store also has a pro shop that sells wakeboards and a number of “towables” such as skis, tubes and other devices that can be ridden and towed behind a boat. Stand up paddle boards and other equipment are also available. Additionally, the Smith Lake location, open for three years, offers Godfrey pontoon boats, Key West center console fishing boats and Hurricane deck boats. There is a complete service department on site where technicians are skilled in maintenance and repair of a variety of watercraft and motors. Russell Marine – Smith Lake location directions – Going West off the Dodge City Exit 299 on I65, Smith Lake is on the north side of Alabama 69, a half mile west of I65 in the Dodge City, AL area. The actual address is 690 Alabama 69 South, Hanceville AL 35077. The store telephone number is (256) 841-6365.


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Megan Cook Photography

Already, his instruction clinics are expanding to Smith Lake. Russell Marine serves as a home base while teaching onwater clinics is the focal point. The classes are for anyone interested in the sport, he said, from the youngest, perhaps as young as four or five, to adults. A common age for beginners is nine to fifteen. | The Lakeside Life


Arley Women’s Club R umor has it, if you want something done in Arley,

on getting their town a new library. The

AL, your best bet is to speak with the Arley Women’s

ladies grouped together with their talents

Club “AWC”. This organization, now 100 women

and backgrounds and found one member

strong as of this past March, has been committed

had experience writing grants. Between donations from

to improving the community of Arley and its surrounding

local citizens, the Arley Town Council, state senators and

areas since inception in 1973. They are a non-profit service

corporate grants, plus received funding, the ladies were able

corporation who seek to specifically emphasize education and community growth in their area. The women who make up the club come from all over the United States, most were drawn to Arley primarily due to it being located in a particularly beautiful area around Smith Lake. Ladies range in ages - some are retired while some are still active in their careers. The mesh of personalities, backgrounds and education is what makes this club so unique. Normally, when you think of a club, you imagine a group of similar people. This club is much different. So many walks of life brought together in one room with the same goal; to make this community feel like home to all who experience it. The women of the club are so passionate about their area. Their main goal is to make Arley a better place to live. If that means building a library, they build it. If Arley needs a park for all their citizens to use, they make it happen. If their schools need help, they volunteer. When their roads get littered, they organize clean-up. They support their local fire department as well as the local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Bottom line, if their town has a need, they do whatever it takes to make it happen.

The Arley Public Library The AWC had been supporting the library for over 30 years, back to when it was just a single trailer with no running water. Over time, the floor began giving way and sinking in, and the women of the club felt very strongly about the need for a better library for their community. So, in 2003, the group concentrated its efforts


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to make their dream come true building a two-story library for their community. The library offers an array of resources including a computer room, a circulating southern authors’ section, a children’s section and a meeting area.

Education The AWC has always been actively supportive of Meek Elementary and the High School. The schools look to the Women’s Club for financial help, physical help and tutoring. For many years, AWC has provided scholarships to deserving students who will further their studies after graduation. Scholarships are offered for vocational and college bound students. The club also supports the Winston County Arts Council, which provides art, music and drama teachers as well as supplies to the local schools. This has been a huge asset to the schools since the district does not | The Lakeside Life






Laura Ulz thanking Katie Murphy of Camp McDowell (Nauvoo, AL) for her wonderful presentation of the Environmental Camp, facilities, and workshops available.

Saturday - May 19, 2018 – in Hamner Park - Hwy 77, Arley, AL. Truly a fun family-friendly day of fellowship for this area, one not to miss! Go ahead and mark the date on your A visit to Mooresville, AL, est. 1818. As a way to explore Alabama and learn more about the area, monthly day trips are organized. From 2

calendar, and bring your friends and family, for a unique small town celebration here in North Alabama.

to 20 members will usually participate. AWC members have visited historical sites and towns, museums, nature trails, retail exploration – with new and interesting destinations always in the works. It is an excellent way for newer members to meet and mingle -- and lots of great ideas have been formed during some of these trips.

allocate funding for visual and performing arts. Whenever the schools need assistance, the women of AWC are proud to assist.

45th Annual Arley Day Festival Arley Day is an annual event organized by Arley Women’s Club as a kick-off to summer. It began 45 years ago because a small group of women wanted the town to celebrate itself and the area’s favorite season with a festive day of fun & games and musical entertainment. Since then the AWC has partnered with the Arley Town Council and continues to improve the event each year. Arley Day is a great event for families – you’ll find specialty arts & crafts vendors,

If you have additional questions about Arley Day or would like to be a contributor or a vendor, please contact Beth Sargent, Publicity Chair, at 205-902-6745 or try Ilene Barnett @ 205-305-5592, or email:

arleywomensclub@ You will find more information on social media as well - look them up on Facebook, there is a dedicated page for the Arley Women’s Club (@Arley Women’s Club) and a group page for Arley Day 2018 (@Arley Day 2018), and their web address is

food booths, games, and more – but you just can’t miss the all day live entertainment, car show, and parade! A fun new thing they’ve added for 2018 is the Bubblegum Contest - featuring guest Chad Fell (of Northwest Alabamian fame) – he holds the Guinness Book World Record for “Largest Bubblegum Bubble Blown!” Also, a 5K run is being planned by the Meek Band to coordinate with the weekend’s festivities. Arley normally sees 4,000+ people come through the small town for the event. This year’s Arley Day will be held on


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February 2018 meeting, President Laura Ulz (right) with visitor Janet Holloway, who shared her inspirational and entertaining stories of biking cross country.

Meet Some Ladies of The Arley Women’s Club Who are the Members of the Arley Women’s Club? When asked recently about the members of the AWC – now over 100 strong - an impromptu survey by The Lakeside Life Team asked the ladies to share where they came from, and a bit about their careers. Most members are retired, many are not, some see their involvement as a second or third chapter in their career.

Sylvia: Systems Manager, Retired from AT&T Network

Juanita: Retired Psych Nurse (from Vero Beach, FL)

(from Atlanta, GA)

Favorite thing about lake life: The natural beauty of the lake.

Favorite thing about lake life: The People, People, People! After I lost my home due to a tornado, I found the true meaning of friendship. The AWC and their husbands came to our rescue in a multitude of ways. Their help, kindness, love, and support is something I still cannot fathom. Words do not do their deeds justice. The community of Arley was supportive as well. Strangers came and helped with clean up.

Best quote: “I love the Women's Club, because you have so many friends to interact with, lots of things to be involved with in the community. Lots of fun things offered, as well as the library and of course, Arley Day. Helping others in the community is an asset to one’s well-being.”

Hobbies: Travel, especially overseas, I love the diversity. Best quote: “After living all over the United States, I can honestly say there is no place I’d rather be!”


Varied positions with a large telecommunications company for 37 years, retired (from Birmingham) Favorite thing about lake life: It is a beautiful place with spectacular views. Especially love weekdays on the lake! Best quote: “Love getting to know new people and forming friendships.” | The Lakeside Life



The Arley Women’s Club

Retired, Chief Financial Officer for


a hospital, and adjunct Professor (from Mt. Olive)

The Arley Women’s Club is constantly planning events and fundraisers for their community. Be sure to mark your calendars for these annual events. Watch AWC’s Facebook page for updates and details on all events

Favorite thing about lake life: The beauty of it, and living in our little area reminds us of a “Little Mayberry.” Everyone knows you, or if they don’t, they make you feel like they know you.

(@Arley Womens Club).

Best quote: “AWC has awesome women, great


friends, people who want to make a difference in their town, and DO IT!”


Retired Teacher (from Minnesota, St.

Louis and Chicago) Favorite thing about lake life: Smith Lake was

AWC CHILI FEST January 2018: The second annual Chili Fest, a fundraiser organized by the club, boasted 15+

Scholarships awarded ($7000+ in 2017)


chili recipes with tasting, voting and a

• Presidents Luncheon

delicious dinner for all who attended.


the treasure we were looking for - clean water, beautiful forests and a bounty of interesting people to share the surroundings. We love the varied backgrounds of the locals living on Smith Lake and the surrounding areas. You will always find a helping hand when you need one! Sure we wish we had better Internet and more eating establishments but we make do, Smith Lake folks learn to enjoy the area with or without some of the luxuries from our "other life." Best quote: “I love taking pictures of our sunsets and sharing them with friends and family far and wide. I can say most everyone now understands why we moved so far away, and why we have lots of visitors.”

Gail: Retired Associate Degree Nursing Program Teacher and RN for 39 years (from Decatur) Favorite thing about lake life: I love the lake for beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the reflection of the trees in the water, and seeing my family enjoy boating, tubing, and skiing on the lake. Hobbies: I guess my hobby is working in my yard - I am probably in a small minority of people who love cutting grass! Best quote: “There are a lot of retired nurses in AWC who had really impressive careers - who touched a lot of lives in a variety of settings. Some that I remember are head of a surgery center, head of a neonatal intensive care department, health careers teacher, hospital Director of Nursing (now that's usually called a Vice President), maternal nursing specialist, and a home health nurse, to name a few. It would be interesting to see how many nurses we actually have in AWC. I love AWC


• Arley Day

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• Kick Off Meeting Welcome new members


• Arley’s Longest Yard Sale • Paint the Town Orange w/Meek Elementary


• Bake Sale before Thanksgiving

DECEMBER • • • •

Person of the Year Award Silent Auction Sponsor Christmas Parade Cookies with Santa

for several reasons - I would be lonesome without meeting all these women. It has helped me feel part of our community and I like contributing to the improvement of the community.”


Not yet retired from Contract Management &

Compliance (from Nashville, TN) Favorite thing about lake life: Easy living, the beautiful views! Hobbies: I enjoy crafting and antique shopping. Best quote: “My favorite thing about our Women’s Club is the fellowship we enjoy and community service.”

Scholarship recipients: In 2006 the Women’s Club established the “Outstanding Citizen” Scholarship program with a $1,000 award going to a select Meek student who had demonstrated good citizenship by “giving back” through community service hours. Ever expanding, the program in 2017 reached $7,000 with multiple scholarships to Meek High School seniors.

About our Mission: The Arley Women’s Club, Inc. is a non-profit service corporation, with all proceeds going back into the community. Projects are funded year-round, including a scholarship program established in 2006, contributions to local fire departments and other non-profit groups. The club’s mission statement reflects the goal of encouraging use of the Arley Library, supporting the local schools and parks. The Women’s Club consists of hard-working and caring individuals who make a positive difference in the lives of area residents. | The Lakeside Life



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Like any little boy from a family with a built in love for fishing, Matt Lee grew up learning how to fish from a very early age. Whether he was fishing at his grandparents’ farm, off a dock, or on the banks of any body of water, 9 times out of 10 he could be found with a rod in his hand or with a fish on a hook. Early in life Matt realized that his hobby was more than just that – it grew from a pleasurable pastime to something much bigger, something with a future. Growing up with his younger brother, Jordan, meant all things were a constant competition in the Lee household – after all, boys will be boys. Why would fishing be any different? Fishing became the biggest contest of all! Matt’s parents owned a 26’ Chaparral that they used on Smith Lake, and later purchased a 36’ Carver referred to as “the big boat”. The Lee’s kept “the big boat” on Lake Guntersville for easy access to a boat when spending time there. The big boat they have now is actually named “Knot on Call” – a play on words as his dad is a very busy local veterinarian. Matt remembers anchoring down “the big boat” and fishing for hours. Of course, the Lee brothers would play in the water too, like all young kids, but their favorite activity was definitely fishing. As Matt grew older, other sports started to pique his interest. Playing baseball was one of those aspiring interests. It soon became a serious obsession and Matt was playing ball year round, and focusing less on fishing. He played baseball for Cullman High School and was very successful with team championship wins, but those wins came with a sacrifice like all youthful aspirations. There just wasn’t enough time on the water. Despite the shift of focus to baseball for a time, fishing remained a buried passion for Matt. He went on to college on an academic scholarship. During that time, he came to terms with the war within himself, and resigned himself to knowing for sure that fishing was his first love, and not to be denied. He then decided to take on a challenge, because what 18 to19-year-old guy doesn’t like a challenge? Matt helped form the very first fishing team at Birmingham Southern College. It was a challenge since the student body was made up of 2,000 students from around the world, some | The Lakeside Life


not even knowing how to operate a rod and reel, much less

taking him to the Bassmaster Classic in 2013. He then qualified

having a boat to fish from or an opportunity to do so. Yet,

to fish in the Elite Series in 2014 through the BASS Open

with persistence, Matt succeeded in the effort of establishing

Series. In the meantime, along the way, he met Abby Myrex,

a team.

a hometown girl, and now his right-hand woman. Fishing has

Matt later transferred to Auburn University where he pursued his Industrial Engineering degree and joined the fishing team there. Luckily for Lee, his first year at AU the Bassmaster

always been a part of this young couple’s relationship. It is their norm. “It has become who we are,” states Matt. “We feel more normal on the road than we do at home,” he says.

Classic started there. The contest allowed one lucky college

During the Elite Series Tour this past year, in 2017, Matt

student to compete in the tournament. The Classic is made

decided to propose to Abby. He wanted it to be a surprise

up of 36 professionals, 14 amateurs and 1 college student.

and knew that would be a challenge. There was a tournament

Matt’s second year at Auburn he won the college seat in the

coming up in upstate New York on the St. Lawrence River,

Classic by winning the B.A.S.S. College Bracket. It was then

better known as Thousand Islands. Since Matt always travels

Lee truly realized he would go further in the chase for his

by vehicle in order to transport all the equipment needed for

dream as a professional fisherman. The tournament that year

the tournaments, it made for a perfect excuse for frequent pit

was in Oklahoma on Grand Lake. Lee remembers it being an

stops. Matt informed his family, and Abby’s, of his plans prior

awesome experience in spite of “being thrown to the wolves.”

to the tournament departure. Abby recalls telling their families

Lee knew he wanted to fish for a living but completed his degree in Industrial Engineering as “Plan B.” The same year he graduated, 2012, he also won the B.A.S.S. College Bracket


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goodbye and that her mom, local Smith Lake real estate agent Cindy Myrex, and Abby’s sister Georgia, were very emotional - so overly emotional that Abby thought her mom and sister must have had some kind of nightmare and thought she and

Matt would not be returning home. She had no idea of the wonderful life changing events in store. While traveling, the couple made a stop at Lake Ontario for some sightseeing, or that’s what Abby thought. She remembers being at the water’s edge and Matt was requesting a photo opp while simultaneously breaking out in a sweat. “That never happens,” exclaimed Abby, “I am always the one initiating selfies.” When she turned around from gathering Miles, the

Abby and Matt plan to be married June 2 in her childhood church, Ryan’s Creek Baptist Church. This is the same church where Abby was baptized, and has fond memories of growing up in with her sister, Georgia. The reception will also be in a very memorable location, her grandparents’ land on Smith Lake, “The Farm.” The same place Abby rode 4-wheelers with her mom and sister and went for rides along the lake’s edge in their little flat bottom boat.

couple’s beloved dog, Matt was down on one knee with ring

Since the engagement, Abby, who is a Registered Nurse,

in hand. He then asked Abby to marry him in one of their

having recently practiced at Huntsville Hospital in the NICU,

favorite spots.

and Matt, have decided that it’s time for Abby to tour full time on the road alongside Matt. After a lot of prayer and consideration, they felt lead in this direction since Matt has ramped up his fishing career. Since taking time off of nursing, Abby will be able to help Matt with basic needs, preparation and general support. It is not unusual for Abby to be seen backing Matt’s fishing boat down a boat ramp. Abby recalls grown men asking her if she would like them to take the wheel. Abby just snickers and replies, “No thanks, I’ve got this.” She is seriously Matt’s right-hand woman in every way. She will soon be managing all of Matt’s sponsorships as well. | The Lakeside Life


At this time, Matt Lee is in the middle of the 2018 Elite Series tournament. At the writing of this article, he was ranked 32nd in the Series. Staying in the top 36th ranking will qualify Lee for the Bassmasters Classic in 2019. In this year’s 2018 Bassmaster Classic at Lake Hartwell in South Carolina, which was underway March 16-18, 2018, Matt placed 4th while his brother Jordan Lee captured 1st place. Like Déjà vu from the previous year, where Jordan also placed 1st, the Lee brothers hold on to top ranking for another year. You may have seen information about that event on our blog, through our website, or on our social media FB/IG @thelakesidelife - but you can also see the winning video on the B.A.S.S. Nation site or FB/IG: @bass . Truly this life long passion of Lee’s has turned into a family career for himself and his young brother, Jordan. Lee attributed all his past experiences and success to his Mom and Dad for the hard work and dedication they have provided, and exemplary example they have set for him and Jordan. His experience in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic taught him to “practice smarter and to prepare better,” states Matt. Lee also contributes “the Good Lord” for his success thus far, and holds to his faith to guide his future. “I feel I am meant to be doing this. I stopped worrying and started enjoying fishing and ended up having a great year,” states Lee. Matt believes if you simply enjoy life and trust in the Lord through the ups and downs you will be successful. When conducting the interview for this article, Matt was interrupted by a fan to autograph his fishing rod, which of course he did. Matt states, “It is a humbling experience to have so much support from family, friends and Abby.” Abby is and will constantly be by his side. Along with managing Matt’s fishing tour, Abby has started a new endeavor, personal training with a twist. Abby now has a social media account and an app


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The Elite Series

is the tournament trail that narrows down the top 36 fisherman that will go on to compete in the Bassmaster Classic in the following year. It is based on a points system. It is an extensive tournament starting in February and ending in September. The fishing week begins on Thursday at daylight and ends on Sunday of the same week at 3pm. Fishermen get two and a half days of practice at the beginning of the tournament week. They cannot be on the lake in which they are fishing at least one month prior to the announced tournament start date. Fishermen keep the 5 biggest catches in the live well where a cumulative weight is taken with penalties given to any fish not making the journey back to the platform alive. It’s pretty cut and dry. The top 36 fisherman with the heaviest cumulative weight advance to the Classic. The lucky first place winner of the Elite Series receives a $100k prize.

that will give members daily exercises and meal suggestions. Learn more about it on her Instagram @nurseabbyfitness. In the meantime, Matt and Abby are putting finishing touches on their wedding. A fun parting gift at the reception will be none other than fishing tackle. What a great way to end a celebration of matrimony for a love brought together by Bassmaster fishing - a fishing career couple on the cusp of a great life in the industry. Follow our hometown fishing hero as he embarks on his season by checking his Facebook and Instagram account: @mattleefishing. Matt’s tour schedule can be followed on his website www. (You can find his brother Jordan online at and FB/IG: @ jleefishing ) Good luck for 2018 Matt & Jordan! We’ll see you lakeside! The Lakeside Life Team | The Lakeside Life


No lake day is complete

without the perfect arsenal of snacks. There is something about the sunshine, wind & water, and just good ole southern hospitality, that makes even the non-snacker start reaching for the bag when boating. Are you looking to stock up on your snacks for the summer? We reached out to our fellow Smith Lakers to see what snack staples they keep on their boat, and here’s what they suggested. • Chips & Dip – try individual servings of hummus with pretzel chips (can find these at Publix) • Smucker’s Uncrustables - perfect for the kids - throw a frozen box in the bag and they are thawed & ready when the kids are! • Cheez-Its - is any lake day really complete without Cheez-Its? • Fried Chicken! - this one is a picnic staple - nothing beats a bucket of chicken on the water. • Cheese Ball with Ritz Crackers - S&S Foods in Dodge City sells some awesome ready-made cheese balls. • Sweet and Salty Bars - for those who can’t decide if they need something sweet or salty. • Fresh Fruit - apples, pineapples, strawberries, grapes, watermelon, etc. And don’t forget bananas to prevent swimming cramps (so they say)! • Spicy Chex Mix with a side of Dill Pickle Spears - the perfect combo for all you spicy boaters . • Pistachios - or any nuts for that matter! • Pringles - these are always a great go to because they are so portable and easily stored on the boat! • Pinwheel Sandwiches - for those who like their snacks to be mini meals. Wrap lunch meat, cheese and spinach leaves in a tortilla and you have the perfect, filling snack! Anyone else hungry? If you find yourself out and about without a bag full of goodies, you can always swing by Rock Creek Marina! Open now Sat & Sun 10-5pm, and also on Fri 12-5pm beginning in May. And remember, all times subject to “ish” - however, weather permitting, you might find them open on some Fridays before May - just look for “the flag” to confirm they are open or call 256-747-1148. There you can gas up, enjoy feeding the fish, pick up some ice cream, grab some drinks and stock up on snacks – all while supporting a small local business on the lake. Tell Sammy & his dog Juke that The Lakeside Life Team sent you!


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Bridges of Smith

Many of the bridges of Smith Lake may look pretty average when driving over them. And, truth be known, you don’t really notice anything but that inviting sparking-fresh-clean deep emerald water anyway. But when you are lake bound by boat, the bridges can be quite beautiful from the lake’s point of view. Not because some of them are particularly beautiful in construct, but because they have their little “things” that only die-hard Smith Lakers know about. Maybe it’s that little piece of graffiti here or there, or the height or shape of the piles/footings, or that perfect spot for climbing up to find a spot to jump from, or that secret fishing/hang-out spot on the bank underneath to escape the sun’s heat. As a Smith Laker there are just those certain things that make them near and dear to your heart for one reason or another. No matter what, they are markers for exact spots on our lake, and you know exactly where you are when you see one after turning a bend in the lake. Go ahead, gas up the boat and see how many of the bridges you can scratch off your list in one weekend. Make your own special memories at each of them. Look for these bridges to be marked on a map on our website along with many #spotsonsmith.


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off Hwy 222, on County Road 813, passing over the north end of Ryan Creek towards Smith Lake Park from Hwy 222, across from Whitlock’s Grocery

WILLIAMS BRIDGE off Hwy 222, on County Road 946 passing over the north end of Crooked Creek | The Lakeside Life


3 4


on Hwy 222 passing over Ryan Creek @ Trident Marina


on Hwy 22 passing over the north end of Rock Creek at the mouth where White Oak & Crooked Creek meet


S WAY B A C K B R I D G E on Helicon Road passing over a north end of Rock Creek


on Hwy 41 “Curry Highway” passing over Sipsey by Duncan Bridge Marina


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on Hwy 63 passes over a north end of Brushy Creek

LAKESHORE BRIDGE on Hwy 278 passing over a most northern lake section of Sipsey

8 | The Lakeside Life


From the Heart of Lewis

Wake the World “WTW” is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2008 by Greg


Hodgin in Asheboro, NC. (waketheworld. org)* The event and organization eventually grew to a size that needed subdividing, so it naturally separated out by each state. Today, Wake the World Alabama “WTWAL” is the second largest division of this organization. When asked about WTWAL, Hodgin responded, “I would say second largest in the U.S. There are a few that are similar in size to Alabama’s group, like Kansas City, Houston, Oregon, and Washington. Largest this side of the Mississippi for certain.” When founded in 2008, “WTW” was the very first watersport event with its kind of unique twist. Although it is a watersports event, it is not about competition for a title; instead, it

is about local watersports enthusiasts taking kids of all ages, who they do not know prior to this day, out for a day on their boats. The participating kids have been faced with real life challenges that most of us would pray to never experience or imagine. The Alabama division of WTW has teamed up with the Big Oak Ranch “BOR” over the past seven years for this action-packed, funfilled, nothing-but-smiles day! Most recently, WTWAL has taken over the neighborhood of Windemere at Smith Lake, courtesy of Windemere at Smith Lake COA, and the surrounding area. Jeff Roberts, of Jeff Roberts and Associates, has opened up his home and boathouse during the event to be the point of rest, general dock recreation, swimming, or simply the “hang out” spot to break up time spent on the water. Volunteer drivers, along with volunteers who function as look-outs/boat-hands, take a day


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off of work, gas up their boats and head to Smith Lake

run!!! Already looking forward to next year!” – Rhonda

to share their toys and their knowledge of watersports

Hindman, BOR Staff.

with some 100+ kids. These kids have been dealt an unfortunate hand and are given a second chance at a happy, normal life through BOR. Volunteers come into WTWAL not knowing

The event also would not be a success without the many volunteers that help serve and assist on land during lunch, dinner and in between. They keep the drinks iced down and the food coming, which is

or needing to know the childrens’

a huge job considering the



hundreds of people they



driving factor behind wanting to be a part of

well as help from local

few hours spent on the the

restaurants with donations


of, or discounts on, food


and drinks – including

get to inspire these kids

our very own Crawdaddy

to try something new,


to accept the challenge they are faced with, and to NEVER GIVE UP, in hopes they will carry this mentality with them in their day-to-day life. “The motto of the day is - YES YOU CAN.” states Julius Bloomston (WTWAL Co-Organizer along with Cary DeWitte). Volunteers are from the Smith Lake area, some coming from Mississippi and Tennessee, just to give these kids an opportunity to enjoy the lake in the same way the volunteers are able to on a regular basis. Since the first year of WTWAL, they have been blessed to have a core of volunteers that have come back every year to see the group of kids from previous years, as well as meet new kids that have entered BOR. Not only is this a time for the kids to have a day of excitement, but it's also a day for their house parents to sit back, relax, enjoy the show, and quite possibly participate in the watersports themselves. “Shout out to Wake the World AL and all of the amazing boat drivers and their families, and all of the volunteers who organized and made Wake the World AL happen! We absolutely LOVE this event and look forward to it every year! The kids had an incredible time and can't stop talking about it! Home


donating monetarily, as

child's life in just those



from silent contributors

that they can have on a



obtains financial support

this event is the impact






pontoon which was well stocked for all to enjoy throughout the day – refreshing the smiles of everyone! In a greater sense, WTWAL offers a day full of fun for children who could use one. As a first time volunteer and participant, one can be anxious as to how the day will unfold, and one may have a lot of “what if ” questions pop up, but as soon as the boat is loaded and underway, all the uncertainties seem to disappear. At the end of the day, the kids have all had the time of their lives, some not even able to make the trip home without falling asleep from pure exhaustion. The name of the event lends itself to assuming that the volunteers and the sponsors are going to “wake the world” for the BOR kids; but in truth, the BOR kids are the ones who “wake the world” of the volunteers. It's nothing short of humbling to see the joy on the faces of these kids and receive the countless words and actions of appreciation throughout the day. “These kids were from an unfortunate background. However, they were the most respectful, thankful, and well-mannered kids I had ever been around. I could immediately see God’s love all over their faces. I came away from that first experience with a new | The Lakeside Life


appreciation of what God had done in my life. I also learned from these kids that even in the toughest situations of life, God’s love remains constant.” - L.D. Guillespie, Volunteer. The volunteers, along with the numerous individual

2018 EVENT INFO WHEN: Friday, June 15, 2018

donations and local sponsors, allow this event to be

WHERE: Based at Windemere at Smith Lake, but the

a success. From the “goody bags” provided for both

entire lake is used for the fun

children and volunteers, to the location, food, drinks, ice, tents, tables and chairs – all are essentials that make this day memorable. Bringing joy to these faces and filling each heart with happiness would not be possible without our Smith Lake community and the continued support from sponsors like those listed below. It is truly a day of joy for each and every person involved. If you would like to donate through your business, as an individual, or as a volunteer, please contact our area WTWAL coordinators; Cary DeWitte (charvey629@msn. com) or Julius Bloomston (julius@rightturnpromotions. com). You may also donate on their Facebook page “Wake the World Alabama” @Wake-the-World-Alabama-179901908709555

WHY: To bring smiles to the faces of kids and house parents, filling their day with happiness, laughter and good family fun!

SPONSORSHIP LEVELS BRONZE: Up to $249 (social media recognition, small company logo avertised on t-shirt and event banner) SILVER: $250+ (everything above, but medium sized company logo) GOLD: $500+ (everything above, with WTW logo decal gift) PLATINUM: $1000+ (everything above, large sized company logo, and WTWAL t-shirt as a gift)

OR at “Go Fund Me”: Any and all donations will be greatly appreciated, and used solely to help these Alabama kids experience a day full of laughter and fun, something that every kid deserves! You can learn even more about WTW from its headquarter website at The parents and staff at BOR are doing a wonderful job taking care of the children. Every day is a stepping-stone to a better life for these kids. We can all be a part of that blessed opportunity whether it is by donating or volunteering. Any and every offer of help makes a difference. Come “Wake” with WTWAL, get involved in your community! See you lakeside! The Lakeside Life Team NOTES: *Website Source: Wake the World, – accessed 2/11/2018 **Website Source: Big Oak Ranch, 2017, http:/// history/ - accessed 1/20/2018


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Big Oak Ranch mission statement: “Big Oak Ranch exists to meet the needs of abused, neglected and abandoned children by giving them a solid Christian home and a chance to realize and fulfill God’s plan for their lives.” Since 1974, the “cornerstone” and name of Big Oak Ranch has remained rooted in Isaiah 61:3, “And they shall be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that He may be glorified.” Today the Boys’ Ranch and Girls’ Ranch combined consist of 20 homes including a transition home at each of those going to college or transitioning into the workforce. The Boys’ Ranch is located in Gadsden, AL and sits on 474 acres. The Girls’ Ranch is in Springville,



AL and is sitting on 325 acres. BOR started as just a boys’ home, but in 1988 the Girls’ Ranch was established and now they have given more than 2,000 kids a chance at becoming productive members of society. One thing we do know from first-hand experience is that these children are polite and extremely thankful for every given opportunity. You can tell that they are happy and well loved. Children that come through Big Oak Ranch are verbally promised 4 things the moment they set foot in the door. “1) We love you (love and emotional support), 2) We will never lie to you (truth and honesty), 3) We will stick with you until you’re grown (security), and 4) There are boundaries, don’t cross them (discipline). From that foundation, we raise every child to know God’s love.” (**

Donations can be given through the Big Oak Ranch website: | The Lakeside Life


A Smith Lake resident writes a 12-step, sober living recovery program for women in addiction in the Cullman area—and it’s changing lives across the close-knit community. When local Carol Berry felt the pull to develop a program for women with the disease of addiction, she describes it as a bit of a spiritual tug-of-war. “At the time, I had a real conversion of heart—I had two children in addiction and it was just a tough time in my life,” she says. Still, she felt compelled to do something—but the idea of writing a stepby-step recovery plan for a disease she didn’t completely

understand seemed, frankly, absurd. “I said, ‘Lord, I can’t even help my own children. I am not the one.’”

With not an ounce of personal recovery experience, Carol set out to educate herself on the process these women face as they attempt to start a new, sober life. She first volunteered at The Lovelady Center, a women’s residential transitional program in Birmingham, which gave her hands-on training and also allowed her to observe and ask questions. Then, Carol put the rubber to the road, zig-zagging the south to visit recovery centers in Alabama, cities such as Athens and Mobile, then crossing state lines into Georgia and Tennessee. Sometimes she was alone, a sleuth on a mission; other times her pal Lisa Eckenrod tagged along for moral support and two-is-better-than-one brainstorming.

was bothered that, through the years, the same women kept coming back to jail. Dorothy didn’t have any personal experience with addiction either, but, like Carol, she wanted to do something—her purpose fueled by a mother who had suffered from mental illness. So, Dorothy offered Carol a house she owned, fully believing in Carol’s program.

“Lisa would go with me to tour facilities, and once I was ready, her husband, Mike, rented us a condo at the beach for a week,” says Carol. Taking bits and pieces from her observations, they sat down to write the program. “We never left that condo except to eat,” she says. “And some nights we just ordered in pizza.”

Carol and Dorothy partnered up, and the very first house Dorothy donated to Restoring Women Outreach—she’s now given a total of four homes to the program—became known as The Frady House, after Dorothy’s late husband. She charged Carol rent of just $12 per year. “Without Dorothy, there would be no RWO,” says Carol. Northbrook Baptist Church in Cullman paid all of the utilities for one full year.

All week long, Carol and Lisa took turns typing—”I’d type, then she’d type, then I’d type some more,” says Carol—until finally she had a binder filled with a step-by-step plan that had been covered in prayer. What she didn’t have, however, was a house. But that was about to change. Perhaps the most important meet along the way was Cullman resident Dorothy Frady, a woman who had been going into area jails for 25 years to visit women. Dorothy


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Addiction among women in the Cullman area was and still is a problem that needs to be addressed. A lack of understanding and education bred a head-in-the-sand mentality that Carol wanted to break. “It’s only a choice the first time,” she says. “After that, your brain changes and you’re never the same. The disease takes over.”

“Neither of us even remembers how we met,” says Carol of her dear friend. “And no one has ever come forward to say they introduced us. So we just say it must have been an angel.”

Carol Berry, Founder; Summer Blalock Burden, Director; Betty Dunn (Betty is the very first RWO graduate who was successfully hired to work for RWO and still going strong!) PHOTOS provided by: Craig Hudson (Hudson Photography)

Five Fast Facts about RWO 1. The initial program is one year long, but RWO staff encourages women to stay two years. “Between year one and two, the success rate increases to 80%,” says Carol. 2. Women must complete community service hours during their stays. Explains Carol: “We want them to be involved in the community and meet other women who are involved. Being around those women increases the likelihood that they’ll want to become like them.” 3. Graduates are asked to give back to RWO in the form of eight volunteer hours per month, assisting current participants by driving them to doctor’s appointments, among other helpful tasks. 4. All RWO staff and house mothers are Certified Peer and Family Support specialists. 5. 80% of graduates typically stay in Cullman, re-entering life sober and making a difference in the local community.

by Stephanie Lepore Photo: Craig Hudson, Hudson Photography

Summer Blalock Burden, Director, Restoring Women Outreach

“Summer is so good at helping those in recovery, because she’s in recovery,” says Carol. The newly minted director of RWO has completed extensive training beyond her personal understanding of recovery, making her more than qualified to guide the program. Below, her incredible credentials: Certified Peer and Family Support Specialist Certified Peer and Family Support Trainer Entry-level Counselor Certification Associate Addiction Professional Certification (“This required one year of work under an Ed.D-certified clinical supervisor, 150 hours of classroom work, and a written test” says Summer.) Currently pursuing national and state certification as an Alcohol and Drug Counselor, | The Lakeside Life 82 which requires another two years of supervision and 150 more class hours

They started in 2011 with four women in that one house. Back then, says Carol, all it took for her to pick up a woman from jail was a written promise to the judge saying that the woman was with her, and then all restitution, court fines, probation costs, and child support were deferred for a year. That “didn’t make good sense to me,” says Carol. “You don’t rehab someone and then send her back out into the world facing a mountain of debt.” An accounting background had prompted Carol to write something extra into her program—something she hadn’t seen anywhere else. Within 30 days, all women enrolled at RWO must have a job and begin paying back their debts. “Because our rent is based on a percentage of what a woman makes, there’s enough leftover to start chipping away at fines and restitution,” says Carol. “We’re here to help, not make money off rent.” To date, participants have paid back a collective total of more than $100,000.

Today, RWO boasts five homes: The Hope House, The Frady House, The Faith House, The Joy House, and The Destiny House. Each serves a specific purpose in the rehabilitation process.

Every participant starts out here, where they learn focused structure and stability, including the following: Start the process to obtain appropriate documentation (IDs, social security cards), as well as confirm court dates and DHR appointments Set personal goals Secure sponsors and attend 12-step recovery meetings Start anger management and parenting classes at The Link of Cullman County Enroll in the Ready to Work program through Wallace State Community College Begin community service and attend Bible studies and church


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After 3 months, residents of The Hope House move to The Frady House. At this point, they are all required to have jobs and must be able to incorporate teamwork to keep the house functioning. This house is overseen by House Mothers—women who are advanced in their recoveries and have proven to be trustworthy. Here, participants begin checking off goals and continue working for the next five to eight months.

Once the women move here, they need less supervision and begin to prep for re-entry into the real world. Cell phones and cars are allowed. “This is actually my favorite part of the program, because I’ve watched these ladies grow throughout other parts of the program, and now I get to watch them bloom and help the new women [in The Hope House] by sharing all they have learned,” says Summer Blalock Burden, director of RWO and a woman living in recovery herself. “It really is a beautiful thing!” “Since the opening of The Faith House,” says Summer, “RWO’s success rate has shot up to a whopping 84%.” “That brings me to tears,” she says. Transition to the two houses after The Faith House is for graduates.

“Going to The Joy House is a choice,” says Summer, of the safe place graduates can live after completion of the initial program. Here, women can also have their children over to spend the night. The Destiny House is a single-family house for a graduate who lives there with her children. “Right now, we have a graduate who lives there with her daughter,” says Summer. Regardless of their recovery level, all women are expected to comply with requirements in place at all five houses, including attending recovery meetings, having a sponsor, drug and alcohol testing, and staying up to date with all fine payments. No men are allowed overnight and curfews are imposed.

Everyone on staff at RWO is in recovery. “It has made our program so much richer. If you find someone in true recovery, you won’t find a better person,” says Carol. “People in recovery have to live every day happy and healthy. They can’t live in the past, and they can’t live in tomorrow—every day is new. And that’s beautiful. ”That is especially true for Summer, who took over as director after Carol decided to run for probate judge earlier this year. She first got involved with RWO by sponsoring women in the 12-step program and attending recovery meetings with them. “Carol had gotten word that I used to work at a recovery house in a different county, and she asked me to meet with her,” she says. “I had been praying for God to open a door for me to be able to help women in our community, and Carol had been praying for God to send her someone.” ”God is using Summer in a mighty, mighty way” says Carol, who calls writing her resignation letter “the hardest thing,” because RWO was her heart and soul. Only after much prayer, Dorothy’s approval, and more prayer did Carol decide she would give a run for office a go. “When I

went to talk to Dorothy, she asked me if I could help more people as probate judge,” says Carol. When Carol said “yes,” Dorothy’s response was, “Well, what are you waiting for?” “I promised Dorothy I would always steward RWO and the houses she gave us,” says Carol. “And I needed her to tell me it was okay.”

Now at the helm, Summer is continuing to water the seeds that Carol and Dorothy planted seven years ago. “My dreams and hopes for RWO are that we continue to grow and help as many women as God sends our way,” says Summer. “I am nothing more than a vessel that He uses to reach these ladies where they are. As long as He’s in charge, RWO is going to be more than I could ever imagine. It already has been!” “God laid the groundwork through me,” says Carol. “And Summer is moving mountains. The whole staff is.” ”I am still amazed that Carol knew nothing about recovery but has such a heart to help these women and their families,” says Summer. “Restoring Women Outreach has changed the lives of so many.” | The Lakeside Life


Chicken Orzo & Veggies 1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add orzo pasta. Cook until al dente, around 9-10 minutes. Drain and then return to pot. 3. Wash, dry and chop tomatoes and peppers into strips. 4. Toss tomatoes and peppers with 1 T of olive oil, 1 T Italian seasoning, salt & pepper and place on a baking sheet. 5. Roast veggies in the oven for 10 minutes or until tender. 6. Season chicken with remaining Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. There’s nothing better than snuggling up with the ones you love on chilly winter fireplace or a fire pit. 7. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.nights Add while the gathered chickenaround and acook until Top that off with a warm delicious beverage in hand, and you are set no longer pink (approximately 4-5 minutes per side). Remove fromevening. pan and aside a plate. for a wonderful Thisset is one of ouron all-time favorites, and we want it with you.Once Grab athe bottleveggies of Tuaca, apple Chop mozzarella into cubes, half the lemon and chop theto share parsley. havecider, and some cinnamon, and you’re in for a real treat. roasted for 10 minutes, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Heat broiler to high. Sprinkle



veggies with panko, mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Broil until the panko is golden brown and

10. Divide the orzo among plates and top with lemon 11. Add veggies over orzo and then top with chicken. 12. Drizzle

all of the cheese is melted. (3-5 minutes) juice and chopped parsley.

with any remaining chicken juices and a squeeze of lemon and serve.

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts 2 Roma tomatoes 1 green bell pepper 1 red bell pepper 2 T Italian seasoning salt & pepper to taste 6 oz orzo pasta 8 oz fresh mozzarella 1 lemon 2 T parsley 1⁄2 cup panko breadcrumbs 1⁄2 cup parmesan cheese olive oil | The Lakeside Life

85 | The Lakeside Life


Recipe contributed by reader Sandra Adams

Garlic Butter Mushroom Gril led Chickenn Mushrooms: 4 T butter 8 oz sliced mushrooms 8 minced cloves of garlic 2 T chopped parsley Chicken: 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts 1 t onion powder 1 t dried parsley 8 slices mozzarella cheese 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Chicken instructions: Preheat oven to 400° F. Melt butter in pan, add garlic and stir for about 1 minute or until fragrant. Add in mushrooms and parsley. Stir occasionally until soft. Set aside and allow to cool. Pat breast dry with paper towel and season evenly with onion powder and parsley. Slit the thickest part of the breast to create a pocket. Place two slices of mozzarella in each pocket. Fill the slits with equal portions of the mushroom mixture leaving juice for later. Top breast with 1 teaspoon parmesan cheese per breast and seal with 2-3 toothpicks to keep it all together while cooking. Heat the pan with the mushroom juices until brown and producing a nutty flavor. Add chicken breast and sear on each side until golden. Transfer chicken and extra sauce to a baking dish, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes, or until pink is gone in middle.

Garlic Parmesan Cream Sauce: 1 T olive oil 4 minced cloves of garlic 1 T Dijon mustard 1-1 ½ cups half and half, or use reduced fat cream or evaporated milk ½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese ½ t cornstarch 2 t chopped parsley


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Garlic Parmesan Cream Sauce: Sauté the garlic in leftover pan juices until fragrant. Reduce heat to low and add half and half (or cream) and mustard. Bring sauce to gentle simmer and add in remaining mushrooms and parmesan cheese. Allow sauce to simmer until cheese is melted (if it gets too runny add the cornstarch, and stir in fast to thicken up). Add parsley, plate and serve. | The Lakeside Life




Concert eries Apparently, the Smith Lake Concert Series has been in

This year’s Smith Lake Concert Series will feature the

production a while, now going into its 5th year. It started out

Grammy nominated band “The Secret Sisters” who are

as a small event pulled together just for fun by Ashley Ford

originally from Florence, AL. Brian Dunne will be the

and Deborah Rigsby. Attendance was primarily family and

opening act for The Secret Sisters.

friends, but soon grew to incorporate the neighbors. Ashley and Deborah started the event to merge their love of the lake with their love of music. They attend music festivals

Check out The Secret Sisters:

and concerts all over the U.S., and enjoy seeking out musicians


that are up-and-coming, the kind of musicians that give the

Facebook: @TheSecretSisters

audience chills when heard for the first time - there’s that

Instagram: @thesecretsisters

certain something. They also seek out musicians who are pleasant with fans. Ashley states “the one thing that sets this

Find Brian Dunne: Website: Facebook:@briandunnemusic Instagram: @briandunnemusic

The gathering has now grown to 150+ in attendance. This year the event is open to the public, but tickets are very limited. The event date is currently scheduled for Saturday, event apart from any other is the closeness it brings.” The artists play, but it’s not like your average concert. The invited musicians get to mingle with the concert attendees, and are invited to stay in the home of the hosts for the weekend – a fantastic perk to enjoy Smith Lake while growing their fan base.


July 21, 2018. Along with concert tickets, a food ticket can be purchased. Dinner is provided by Shindigs Catering, a Birmingham based food truck company. They serve an appetizer, main course, and provide soft drinks and water. Dinner will be served all night with entrance beginning at 5pm, and the concert starting around sunset and lasting until about 10pm.

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More details can be found on the event Facebook page: @SmithLakeConcertSeries. Also, look for posters at local marinas, or email for more info. Ticket price: $50, Food Ticket price: $18. Listening by water is absolutely free! So if you are not one of the first 200 to snag a ticket to attend by land, gas up your boat and follow the music on Rock Creek in Crane Hill, AL. The night is known to be super casual, memorable, laid back and fun; a great chance to hang out with the community while relaxing lakeside experiencing new music under the stars. One good thing about our lake is that everyone feels welcome everywhere, so join in, seems you never meet a stranger on Smith Lake. | The Lakeside Life


Thanks for extending an invitation to the whole lake Ashley & Deborah! Smith Lakers - have fun and let us know how you like the experience - use #thelakesidelife

What’s going on around you? Email us about events around the lake:



Concert eries


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THE PATIO by Paula Harris

The cover shot for the spring issue of The Lakeside Life is a view from the incredible Dodd property, “The Patio.” The Lakeside Life Team highly recommends this venue. It offers unforgettable bluff-top views, an intimate peaceful and natural setting, with soft lighting and a fire pit for a reception. In addition

“The Patio” was founded out of love and compassion for others� Owners Bobby and Pam Dodd have opened their home and backyard to strangers, who soon become close friends, for creating fairytale weddings and events� The venue sits atop a 100 ft bluff overlooking the glistening emerald green waters of lovely Lewis Smith Lake in Crane Hill, AL� “God used his masterful hand when He painted our intricate backdrop,” says Pam, “it is our sanctuary and we want to share it with the world�” One day while enjoying their beautiful view, Bobby simply said to Pam, “Why don’t we build a patio down on the bluff overlooking the lake?” From then on it became a place of refuge that offered peace and calm� Though Pam never had children, she treats the children of friends and family as her very own� In fact, the vision for “The Patio” was created when, on two separate occasions, two of the ‘adopted’ children mentioned that one day they would like to get married on her patio� Pam says “I never dreamed that years later it would become a reality with an intimate setting for weddings and receptions�” The couple wants families to feel the peacefulness it exudes� In fact, Pam shares that the best compliment she has ever received was when a young girl visited her house� After opening the door and before walking inside, the girl said, “I feel the presence of God in this place�” Pam agreed, as they had in fact dedicated it to Him� Pam had recently been diagnosed with cancer from which she was recovering� But, miraculously during the writing of this article, the news came that doctors from M�D� Anderson have now declared her cancer free, and she was given copies of her pet scan to prove it! They fully believe it was prayers and the healing power of Jesus Christ� Though He does the healing, faith must go into action in order to work� They feel that as they got on the road to Houston, TX, it was on that road where Jesus met them� Pam said, “It reminds me of the story of Paul on the road to Damascus� He was walking and Jesus met him there� That’s exactly the way we feel� He touched us on our road!” So, now more than ever, the amazing view of the lake from the patio has made them feel the presence of God� Living by the water reminds them every day of David in the Bible saying that water is a refresher of our souls� They feel deeply that offering their home isn’t really anything they have done, but are thankful that God opened their hearts in order to bless others�

to weddings, The Patio also hosts birthday parties, anniversary events, baby showers, baby gender revealing parties, class reunions, etc… just let them know what type of event you are interested in for the venue.

256-318-4555 Facebook: @thepatiosmithlake thepatiosmithlake FUN FACT: You might enjoy reading the following books by the Dodds: “Be the Man” by Bobby Dodd. “And Now is the Time” by Pam Dodd.

Bobby and Pam both teach at Living Light Church in Jasper� They minister to people of all ages and strive to incorporate the Word of God at every given opportunity, be it at church, on their patio, or in passing with a stranger they have met while traveling� They love being able to share their story and pray with others� Though physically, they live on a huge rock above the water, they undoubtedly believe that Jesus is the rock of their own marriage and foundation� They believe that through Him they have an opportunity to share the joy of living and celebration of life� Without a doubt, The Patio is a place to relax and celebrate new beginnings� Families are what make this a special place� The soon-to-be brides and grooms are always welcome to come visit and bring their families along to decide if it is the perfect place for them to share their vows� Obviously Bobby and Pam help by offering affordable prices for the big event, but truly, experiencing love, laughter and celebratory fellowship with guests is a blessing they enjoy�


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Pam is a Bible Teacher at Living Light Church in Jasper, AL. Bobby is the Senior Program Manager at Leidos in Huntsville AL.

To a couple of small kiddos, $1,000.00 is a LOT of money. It was a huge goal to reach for 2 aspiring young philanthropists. Meet Konner & Kenzie Chamblee, son & daughter of Skyler & Emily Chamblee of Cullman, Alabama. Last October these two young folks put their fundraising talents to work for a great cause, Wake the World Alabama “WTWAL”. (See our article on this incredible organization on page 77.) Earlier in 2017, their family had been invited by friends to participate as volunteer boat drivers for a day of fun on the lake specifically for the benefit of other kids from Big Oak Ranch, kids who they had never met before that day. It was a memorable experience for this family, one they felt they had learned as much from as they had given. So, Konner & Kenzie particularly thought about that experience as they chose a group to aim their charitable contributions towards. The Chamblees attend Temple Baptist Church in Cullman, and they had recently learned during mission week about “giving back”. The children wanted to do something unique, so they decided to do the fundraiser to raise money for others. “We just felt lead as a family to give back after WTWAL let us be involved. It was an amazing event that touched our lives beyond words and we just truly wanted to give back. Skyler and I want to teach our children to serve and not be served. And, we were blessed with everyone that helped the children reach their goal,” stated Emily. The children decided to operate a stand selling lemonade and cookies outside their mom’s place of work, Pamela Jean Studio, in the warehouse district area of downtown Cullman. They also had some handmade items to sell, such as natural scented laundry additive. WTWAL pitched in some extra t-shirts, hats and banners to help the effort. In addition to these methods, the children elected to build a basket to be given away to a lucky winner. A ticket to win the basket was given for those who bought items or lemonade & cookies, or donated to the effort. With mom’s help spreading the word on social media, items to fill the basket for the giveaway came quickly from lots of contributors. It wound up being a very nice prize, full of goodies! And rightfully, as blessings always seem to return to the giver, the winner of the basket just so happened to be a very dear friend of Konner’s from Tennessee – Mr. Mark Blankenship. Konner was over the moon to learn that Mark won the basket after all their hard work. Mark, in turn, sent a sweet “thank you” package - he was super proud of the kids for their efforts. Konner & Kenzie successfully passed their target goal, and they were truly delighted to donate the money to WTWAL. Way to go Konner & Kenzie – what a great way to exercise the spirit of giving! #smithlakegives


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Meet: Cota Breed: Bernese Mountain Dog Home Base: Memphis, TN Human: Kevin Reed Lake Pastime: Learning how to swim this year! Enjoys hikes through the woods, and naps on the dock under the hammock. Favorite Lake Treat: Chewing bones by the fire while dad makes s’mores!

Meet: Hank Breed: Collie/Spaniel/Retriever Mix Home Base: During the winter he hibernates in Gardendale and in the summer he likes to spend his weekends in a fun slough in Crane Hill on Smith Lake. He considers it a treat if mom can get away to the lake on other days besides the weekends. Human: Laura Yates Lake Pastime: Hank loves hanging out on the pier, taking naps on a “parked” pontoon, barking at boats and jet skis, watching for the neighbor dog and sneaking off for a visit when mom isn’t looking (he thinks she is pretty), and watching for the geese. On the way to the lake he always sits up in the car when approaching the exit so he can look for the cows in the pastures. Favorite Lake Treat: Definitely not dog food - hot dogs and burgers on the grill. He loves to chew on sticks and twigs found by the water.

Meet: Flash Home Base: Lives in Priceville, AL, but spends weekends on Crooked Creek Humans: Chris, Cindi and Evan Gilliland Lake Pastime: Relax and fish on the dock, boat rides to feed the fish and get ice cream at Rock Creek Marina. Favorite Lake Treat: Potato chips!! When the bag opens he comes running.

Do you have a favorite picture of your pet at the lake to share? To nominate your pet for #SmithLakePets, send a photo to and tell us in 100 words or less why he or she deserves to be featured. All our beloved pets deserve their 15 minutes of fame! #SmithLakePets | The Lakeside Life


A Lake Living Lifestyle Magazine



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Dixie Duds and Décor �����������������������������������������66

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Elevate �����������������������������������������������������������������88

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Bradford & Hines Custom Metal Fabrication �����97

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MasterPro Audio �������������������������������������������������54

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ERA (Sony Freeman, ERA) ����������������������������������72

Mulberry Excavation ������������������������������������������50

Buettner Brothers Lumber Co., Inc. �������������������92

Flotation Systems Inc. ��������������������������������������70

Mustard Seed Nursery �����������������������������������������50

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Cabin Fever Beverages ����������������������������������������86

Hudson Photography (Craig Hudson) ���������������76

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Cabinet Creations by Joe �������������������������������������72

Huddle House ������������������������������������������������������42

Russell Marine - Smith Lake ������������������������������58

Campbell’s Cleaning Your Way, LLC �������������������56

Humble Abode �����������������������������������������������������88

Seibels Cottage ����������������������������������������������������28

Chick fil A �����������������������������������������������������������50

Hydrohoist of Alabama �����������������������������������������6

Smith Lake Rentals & Sales �������������������������������92

City of Cullman (Cross Creek Golf Course) ������72

J & D Auto/Tire Service ���������������������������������������14

Southern Roots Fashion �������������������������������������24

City of Cullman (Cullman Wellness and Aquatic Center) ������������������������������������������������������������i

Jeff Roberts & Associates ��������������������� inside cover

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Cornerstone Beverage, Inc. ���������������������������������90

John’s Pressure Washing and Home Service ������68

The Patio at Smith Lake �������������������������������������93

Cornerstone Construction �������������������� inside back

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Valley Heating & Cooling �������������������������������������ii

Cruise Planner ����������������������������������������������������70

JWB Photography ������������������������������������������������36

Cullman Aerial and Real Estate Photography (Dave Warren) ������������������������������� back cover

Kat Daddy’s BBQ & Grill Co. (& Crazy Rooster Café) �������������������������������������������������������������44

Vintage West Home ���������������������������������������������34

Cullman Savings Bank ���������������������������������������12

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Dewey Barber Chevrolet ��������������������������������������62

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Van’s Sporting Goods ������������������������������������������54 Wayne’s Package Store ���������������������������������������42 Werner’s Trading Company ��������������������������������64 White Willow �������������������������������������������������������24 Whitlock’s General Store and Café ��������������������10


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