Merry Christmas December2008/January2009 • www.LakeWedoweeLife.com •
Lake Wedowee Life 3
4 Lake Wedowee Life
Table of December 2008/January 2009
Vol. 1 No. 6
Special this Month 13. The Creative Side: Knight entertains the masses with song 19. How it All Begin: Building one lake home at a time 22. Around the area: Church faĂ§ade created from local rock and sand 27. Top notch Service: Wedowee Marine puts customers first 40. True Story: Developer inspires movie starring Dean Cain
Monthly Features 7. Enjoy Life! - Letter from the Editor 8. Beyond the Lake 17. Simply Fabulous 20. Lake Map 30. Readersâ€™ Photos 33. Southern Living House Plan 36. Hooked on Lake Wedowee 44. Wedowee Currents 48. Lake Levels 50. Redneck Adventures
Darlene Bailey, Reed Montgomery and Skeeter Lake Wedowee Life 5
On the Cover This is the first cover we have shot that does not have anything to do with a story, but we will call it our Christmas card to you. It was taken at H&M Drugs and we highlighted the cross so we could all remember the reason for the season! We hope you and yours have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Editor KELLY CALDWELL email@example.com (256) 276-7959
Advertising Sales LAVOY CALDWELL firstname.lastname@example.org (334) 863-0737
Lake Wedowee Life 18285 Highway 431 Wedowee, AL 36278
Even Lake Wedowee Life
Lake Wedowee Life magazine is published six times a year and available around the Lake Wedowee area which includes Randolph and Clay Counties in Alabama as well as parts of West Georgia. Distribution locations available by request. Paid mail subscriptions are available for $12 a year.
Christmas brings out the kid in all of us When we were discussing options for the cover of this issue, nothing was really working for me until I was driving home one night and saw the Christmas trees glowing from H&M Drugs’ front window. That’s when it hit me for the general idea. Then I was blown away by the finished image. It continues that Christmas magic that I so looked forward to as a child. Most of the things I remember about Christmas past are not about gifts found under the tree. As a child, my sisters and I would wake up at 2 a.m. to see what Santa had brought us. That lasted well into my teen years and we just thought it was normal until we met the Landers. We have lived in several houses in Randolph County and the first year we lived in the Quail Run Subdivision, we learned our tradition wasn’t shared by everyone. Jenny, Mary Lee and I woke up at our usual time on Christmas morning, played with all the new things we had received during the night and after a while, we wanted to see what the neighbors got. We kept looking out our window to see when their lights would come on… We kept waiting and then at daybreak we decided to take action. We couldn’t wait any longer to discover what Jenna and Clayton got from Santa . So we loaded up, making sure to grab the video camera and went to wake up our neighbors. Well, the neighborhood was never the same after that and I still laugh when I think of Miss Laura opening the door to Jenny singing the Miss America beauty pageant song. The Landers learned that day, Caldwells know how to make an entrance. Another favorite memory was just a few years ago when we adopted a family that also had three daughters. I can’t tell you anything that was given to me that year, but I know that we gave those girls scarves, hats and gloves that my sisters and I picked out. And, of course I love Christmas movies… Mary Lee’s favorite is “Prancer,” Jenny’s is “White Christmas” and mine is “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I love the message of George Bailey and the impact one person can have on so many. To this day, whenever I hear a bell ring, I think of Clarence and ZuZu’s petals. Remember to slow down and take time to enjoy this Christmas season because more often than not, people don’t remember the preparation, they remember the celebration! And, don’t forget… It is the biggest birthday celebration in the world because if it wasn’t for Him, it would just be another day.
Enjoy Life! Kelly Caldwell Lake Wedowee Life 7
Remembering the fallen: Wreaths Across America began at Arlington National Cemetery in 1992. The project has expanded to national cemeteries across the country as well as Puerto Rico, the Bahamas and the Philippines. (Photo courtesy of United States Air Force)
Paying tribute to freedom fighters At 11 a.m. on December 13 thousands of people will join together for one cause: honoring veterans with remembrance wreathes for the holidays. Wreathes Across America began simply as a way for Morrill Worcester and his company the Worcester Wreath Company to pay tribute to those that made the ultimate sacrifice defending freedom. In 1992, Worcester, along with some help from numerous volunteers, sent a truckload of wreathes to Arlington National Cemetery so they could be placed on gravesides for the holidays. The tradition continues at Arlington and in 2006 the effort expanded to Wreaths Across Amer8 Lake Wedowee Life
ica and it was at that time Patt High of Wedowee got involved.
Beyond the Lake Story by Kelly Caldwell “I had read about this online or something and thought it was really neat,” she said. “The mission statement is Remember; Honor; and Teach about the sacrifices made by our Nation’s veterans and for me its about giving something back during the holiday season.” Last year 286 locations hosted Wreaths Across America ceremo-
nies and placed more than 32,500 wreaths on headstones of those who served and sacrificed for freedom. High donates her time to the Fort Mitchell National Cemetery Wreaths Across America event. She also enlisted the help of the Randolph County High School Builders Club and numerous organizations in the area. “We will have close to 300 wreaths for this year‘s ceremony,” she said. “And we have so many donations to make it possible.” June Thackston and her son Isaac became involved in the project in the early stages and have continued to help with the cause. “It is a neat experience from
start to finish,” June said. “We make all these wreaths to take down there and then actually decorating the cemetery is special.” Fort Mitchell National Cemetery is one of four cemeteries in Alabama participating in Wreaths Across America and it is the closest one to Randolph County. There will be Wreaths Across America ceremonies in all 50 states as well as the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. And, they will all be at 11 a.m. central time. “That’s what is really cool,” High said. “To know our local contribution is helping a national project.” The event is open to the public and is free to attend. From Wedowee: Take U.S. Highway 431 South to State Highway 165 (south of Phenix City); turn left and go six miles to entrance.
Giving back: Patt High (left) enlisted help from people in the community to get Randolph County participating in the Wreaths Across America Campaign. The mission is to Remember the fall; Honor those who serve and Teach our children the value of freedom. There were 286 locations participating in 2007 and the Dec. 13 event is expected to be larger in 2008.
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12 Lake Wedowee Life
Knight entertains the masses with song K
nowing song lyrics to Murray Knight is like a school child reciting multiplication tables, if you do something enough you just know it. And after close to 50 years of entertaining Knight just knows it. He has been a front man for too many bands to mention but it all came very close to not happening because of his first experience on stage.
The Creative Side Story By Kelly Caldwell “I sang Sugartime with my sister when I was 7 years old,” he remembered. “And, I swore I would never get on stage again. You can see in the picture that I am twisting the button on my jacket. Before it was over I had it in a real knot.” Well, the Randolph County native should have never said never because he has been on more stages in his career than he can even remember and has played with musicians and bands like Edgar Winter, Bob Seger, Reba McEntire, Marshall Tucker, the Coasters and more. “I have too many lyrics in my head to remember the names of the people I have played with,” he said. His music career began shortly after his stage debut when he picked up the trombone and he joined the school band when he was in third grade. “I went home and started playing for my family,” Knight said. “I picked out some tunes and my whole family thought I was doing great.”
He went to band the next day and was in for a shock. “The band director jumped all over me and told me I was doing it all wrong,” Knight said. “He told me not to play that thing again until he taught me how. Well after two weeks, all he had taught me was how to play the C note. I got bored and quit. “So that was the extent of my formal musical training.” A few years later Knight picked
up the instrument that would bring him some of his greatest joys. “I first picked up the guitar when I was 11 or 12,” he said. “I learned quite a few chords but hadn’t really mastered the instrument.” And, when he was in seventh grade some guys approached him to join their band. “I didn’t really know how they knew I could sing they called and I joined the band,” he said.
50 years and counting: Murray Knight first performed on stage (above right) with his sister when he was 7 years old. He later gained regional notoriety with the group Rock Candy (left). That band was the Four Dimensions and Knight became the lead singer. He stayed with it for a while but at the time he as more interested in sports. “Music wasn’t always my passion,” he said. “I quit playing music to concentrate on basketball.” However, he came back to music and in his 20s he got serious about playing the guitar. “I played more and more and really taught myself how to play,” he said. “I have a good ear and I am a perfectionist.” One of the more successful groups Knight was a member of was the band Rock Candy, which also featured fellow Randolph County native Tom Ziglar. “We had a little bit of notoriety as Rock Candy,” Knight said. “We 14 Lake Wedowee Life
were the No. 1 band with SouthEastern Attractions (a booking agency out of Birmingham).” With Rock Candy, Knight was able to play the guitar more . The group played all over the southeast from proms to fairgrounds and opening for groups like the Coasters and the Drifters. “I was going to school at Jax State and a couple of guys were at Auburn and Tom was already out of school teaching back in Roanoke,” Knight said. “We would practice in the garage behind Tom’s parents house on Sunday after playing who knows where on Friday and Saturday nights. “Tom and I were pretty much perfectionists and we wouldn’t stop practicing until we got it right.” In the early years, Knight had
opportunities to go bigger, but there was something holding him back. “I had all kind of promotional type guys that wanted to make me into something, but most of them scared me,” he said. “Then I went to Nashville for a while and that scene scared me, so I just keep doing what I have been doing.” Now, Knight, at 58, is a oneman act that plays around Anniston, Jacksonville and Talladega. And, he is the first to tell you its not pride that has gotten him to where he is today. “If we didn’t have the desire to do well, no one would accomplish anything,” he said. “So it is not about ego or pride for me. It is the desire to do well that has gotten me to where I am.”
16 Lake Wedowee Life
A birthday fit for a King W
ith the hustle and bustle of the upcoming holiday season, it can sometimes be confusing for children to understand the true meaning of Christmas.
Simply Fabulous Story by Darlene Bailey Photos by Kelly Caldwell An easy way to show them what the holiday is really about is to throw a birthday party for our Savior Jesus Christ. No matter the age, we all still enjoy a birthday celebration of some kind and this can be just as special. When throwing any event let your personality come out, be creative and have fun! This issue I will share a couple of recipes and ideas for hosting a party "Fit for a King" Decorating doesnâ€™t have to be time-consuming either. Cover a small cardboard box in your party colors (can be used to hold napkins, party favors, cookies etc.) Weave long strands of shinny beads in and out of your display and throw some fabric on the table and there you go. Letâ€™s Get Cookin!
Grilled Rosemary Lamb Chops 2 lbs lamb chops 1 T chopped fresh rosemary
2 t freshly chopped garlic 3 T olive oil
**Season chops with salt and pepper. In a zip-lock bag put oil, rosemary and garlic. Add chops and coat with mixture. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight. Grill over medium heat to desired doneness. (6 min. for rare, 7 min. for med-rare) They will melt in your mouth!!
The reason for the season: For these cupcakes I chose to honor Him by going with a purple and gold theme. Purple is the color of royalty and the gold stars were made with white chocolate and sprinkled with edible gold dust. Yellow Cake with Icing 2 cups flour 1 cup water 2 cups sugar 1/2 cup oil 1 stick butter 2 eggs
1 t vanilla 1 box powdered sugar 1/2 cup Crisco 1 t vanilla Water
Stir sugar and flour together. Over med. heat bring to a boil your butter, water and oil. Pour and mix into flour and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until blended. Divide into cupcake cups. Bake on 350 for 12-15 min. Let cool. Cake Icing: Cream powdered sugar, crisco vanilla and tiny amounts of water at a time until you have a creamy icing. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes.
Building one lake home at a time This is the third of a multipart series on how Lake Wedowee has evolved into what it is today. In future issues, Lake Weowee Life will reach out to other pioneers around Lake Wedowee that have seen the transformation of this area. When it comes to building houses on Lake Wedowee, Allen Taylor has done it all. From the first house he built off of County Road 240 in 1983 to his latest in Mad Indian, he has seen Lake Wedowee progress to its current state. “Building houses was great back then especially compared to the expense of building now,” he said. “I used to build small houses in the $100,000 to $150,000 range now I build houses in the $500,000 to over a million dollar range.” The price of construction isn’t the only thing that has changed for builders on Lake Wedowee in the last 25 years. “There were only about three builders on this lake when I started,” he said. “There are more builders in this county than ever before. I couldn’t tell you how many people are calling themselves builders around here now.” Randolph County doesn’t have a building code on record but it is state law for builders to have a general contractors license, how-
ever, Taylor will be the first to tell you not all of the builders around here are licensed.
How it all began Story and Photos by Kelly Caldwell “I don’t think it’s right for other builders to come in that don’t have general contractor’s license,” he said. “The consumer doesn’t know what liability situations they are putting themselves in by not using a licensed builder. “My advice to the consumer
that is wanting to build is to make sure that builder has his general contractors license. If he doesn’t, I would send him on down the road. The consumer might save a few dollars on the front end by using and unlicensed builder, but he will pay for it down the road.” For Taylor, like most people, the biggest change has been the cost. “The lots in 1983 were $5,000 to $10,000 and now those lots are anywhere from $200,000 to $300,000 and you are lucky if you get a good lot for that now,” he said. “The other difference is the style of homes people want built. Back then we were building cabins, now people coming here are building $750,000 homes for their second homes and not even thinking about a cabin.” He has also noticed the slow down of construction in the last year, but isn’t too worried about it. “Up until last year, I couldn’t build all the houses I was getting calls for,“ he said. “The economy is holding the lake back right now, but it will come back. The lake is clean and we need to keep it that way. I would like to see the lake continue to develop as it has and keep it clean.”
20 Lake Wedowee Life
Built Randolph County tough Church facade created from local materials stands after more than 75 years N
ew Home Methodist Church was founded in 1892 and while it is considered one of the older churches in the county, it is also one that has one of the most unique façades. Located on County Road 82 less than a mile from U.S. Highway 431, the church sits back from the road but demands attention from passers by on a daily basis. The building, the second in the church’s history, was built after the 1932 tornado destroyed the first one.
According to the National Weather Service the March 21, 1932 storm that destroyed the original New Home Church is considered the worst tornado event in Alabama history. At least two waves of storms struck the state, producing at least 15 strong or violent tornadoes in which more than 300 people were killed according its website. Cecil Lindley a member of New Home Methodist Church recalls the night it happened. “It blew our house off the pillars
just like it did the church,” he said. “I will never forget that night. I was in that storm. We were in the storm shelter and my father had the door open and we could see the storm push our house off the pillars.” The F4 tornado destroyed more than 75 homes and 110 farms reported buildings being destroyed. After the dust settled the members of New Home Methodist Church had a decision to make. When the church decided to rebuild, Dorris Handley and Brenace
Story and Photos by Kelly Caldwell
Birdsong’s father (Hoyt Boyd) had the idea to do something different with the outside of the church. “Our daddy is the one that came up with the idea of using rocks,” Birdsong said. “ Daddy had the idea that he wanted something that wouldn’t have to be any maintenance on it.” The rock façade, almost 75 years later, holds strong for the members of New Home. Birdsong, now 90 years old, recalls going to her grandmothers home place and picking up rocks for the building. “The rock came from my mother’s mother’s place right across the creek,” Birdsong said. “Brentford (her younger brother) was driving the wagon and I was riding in the back picking up those rocks. “The whole church community got together to gather rock.” The sand for the mortar came from what is now know as Lake Wedowee but then was just a creek you could ford. “It was also during the depression and materials weren’t readily available,” John Harmon, grandson of Brentford Boyd and church trustee said. “This rock and sand was all over the place and it was free.” According to church records, Billy Kitchens headed up the carpentry inside the church and Boyd handled the rock work outside. “I was excited watching every little rock go into place,” Birdsong said. “You didn’t just grab rock and stick it somewhere, the man that helped daddy had a real eye for how it all fit together.” While the church building has stood the test of time, the congregation has dwindled through the years, it currently has 12 members, but the heart is not gone. There services every second and fourth Sunday and they have plans to grow. “We know it will take some time to get our numbers back, but we aren’t giving up on this church,” Harmon said.
75 years later: Cecil Lindley, top, lived through the tornado that destroyed the first New Home Church in 1932; Brenance Birdsong, left seated, and her sister Dorris Handley helped gather rock to go on the church. Their father Hoyt Boyd came up with the idea of the rock façade.
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Customers come first at Wedowee Marine Although Randy and Kathy Morris have only been in the boat business for a little more than five years, they do know the key to success. “We pride ourselves on the service we provide to our customer,” Randy said. After 18 years working in the automotive service industry in Atlanta, Morris bought the marina initially as an investment in the land itself. “We initially bought over here in 1988,” he said. “And, have always enjoyed Lake Wedowee. At the time we bought the property, we didn’t know that we were going to keep it as a marina.” The marina once known as Lake Wedowee Marina opened in the late 80s but once Morris decided to keep the business in tact
he had definite changes in mind and most of them were geared to providing exceptional customer service. “One of the first things we did was work with Alabama Power to build a seawall on the property,” Randy said. “We have 1,500 feet of waterfront here and we worked with the Army Corp of Engineers and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to get the wet slips.” Initially, Morris had 42 slips installed but now Wedowee Marine boasts 96 wet slips and 60 dry storage spaces available. “For our dry storage customers, we provide in and out service,” Morris said. “They can call and tell us when they will be here and their boat will be gassed up in the water waiting on them. It is
something we have always offered here and its part of the service we offer.” Another big change for Wedowee Marine was the ship store. Morris demolished the original building and replaced it with a 6,000 square foot store. “We are a one-stop shop for the boating enthusiast and we have several price levels to meet a variety of needs,” he said. “We have all the safety equipment that you need for your boat. We have gotten into the apparel and we sell underwater lights, too.” Wedowee Marine is also in the business to sell boats and offers a wide variety to meet the demand from its customers. “We have a full line of bow riders, deck boats, pontoon boats, jet boats, fish and ski boats,” Mor-
Story by Kelly Caldwell
ris said. “We have a great selection and another big hit here is the crossover boats that are great for fresh and salt water.” The marina is full service and certified in Mercriser, Mercury, Yamaha, Evinrude and Yamaha Waverunner. “It really is about being full service,” Morris said. One of the unique things Wedowee Marine offers is lake service which means if a customer has a problem with his boat, a service technician will come to the dock to fix it on site or tow it back and work on it at the marina. “That’s something a lot of people don’t know about, but it’s a service we have always offered here,” Morris said. “We also can come to your house and winterize your boat.” Wedowee Marine continues to expand and one day will have a larger presence on the lake. In addition to the main site, Wedowee Marine purchased 40 acres on U.S. Highway 431 just north of Fosters Crossroads and recently purchased 90 acres close to the dam in Cragford. “Our service center is located north of Fosters Bridge and we purchased the land in Clay County because we want to be ready to have a presence there when it is needed,” Morris said. The service center is run by Bill Henderson, who recently won the International Hot Boat Associations stock eliminator championship at the national level. “He works on his boats and all kinds of boats here,” Morris said. “He has been in the business many years and our technicians have too. We probably have 100 years of service all combined. We have a talented crew that knows what they are doing.”
Lake Wedowee Life 29
Mary Ann Engstrom
Mary Ann Engstrom
Mary Ann Engstrom
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Lake Wedowee Life 35
Catch the big bass, donâ€™t let it get away I
glers in their preparat happens, even to the tion for this trip, to be best bass anglers sure and spool up around. Yes, the one that their reels with fresh got away! new line, at least 17-20 A guided trip with pound test monofilaReeds Guide Service in ment line. One early October ended with showed up with a some nice pictures of small open-faced some decent sized bass. It spinning rod and reel could have ended with a outfit, maybe loaded picture of a -- lets see how with 10 pound test can I put this to emphaline, a rod and reel size-- a trophy, monsterthat looked good for sized largemouth bass! A crappie or bream. The huge bass, that would other angler had an span the entire length of open-faced bait caster any well taken picture. reel, on a 6 foot rod. I Two anxious anglers think he said it had 12 had called me and booked pound line...that had this trip a few weeks been on there for a prior. One of which had a while. house on Lake Wedowee Even though I knew and was regular fan of my "Hooked on Lake WeBig day on the lake: You should always be prepared to snag the they should have heavier equipment, I dowee" column I began big one on Lake Wedowee. also knew there was writing in February. The hope. So off we went. As I idled Prior to this long to be rememother angler, was obviously a the boat out of the small pocket at bered day, we discussed how we long-time companion of his. were going to fish that day, where the 48 bridge launch, I gave both I could immediately tell that of them some topwater lures to we were going to fish, what lures these two guys had fished tostart their day. and equipment we should fish gether many times before. ObviWe entered a timber filled with and most important when ous by the ribbing that occurred pocket and they began fishing just between the two as they loaded after the crack of dawn. Shad and the boat at dawn, on that now small bait fish of all kinds were not-so-eventful day. A day that everywhere skipping across the would sadly be known among waters surface and occasionally these two friends as the day," the by Reed Montgomery we heard a big bass explode on an Big One Got Away." obviously frightened school of As you know by now this story bait fish. Suddenly right in the planning a trip to any Big Bass is all about an angler losing that middle of the exposed trees a big Impoundment, the size of the line "bass of a lifetime". Its here for bass made what is called a "boil" to be spooled up on the reels to be your reading pleasure, not for me on the waters surface. used. Make no mistake about it to try and ridicule anyone and no As the big bass rolled to the there are some big bass in Lake names will be called. They both top in an attempt to eat another Wedowee. This is one lake when know who they are. Really nice an angler can leave the light tackle gizzard shad, the escaping meal gentleman and lots of fun to fish skipped across the calm surface of outfits at home. with. After all isn't that what fishdeep clear water. A big meal that So I instructed these two aning is all about?
Hooked on Lake Wedowee
36 Lake Wedowee Life
looked just like the iridescent colored Zara Super Spook the angler beside me was fishing. So like any guide would say, I said, "throw over there!" We were a good cast away. Not really all that far, if you are accurate in your long casts and used to fishing with such a big, overbearing topwater lure. So I trolled the boat as fast as I could towards the huge boil without disturbing the big bass that had shown itself. Having seen this occurrence hundreds of times before, my adrenalin was already pumping as we neared our destination. It was if I was actually fishing for this bass myself! Still, to be sure, I quickly checked the anglers frozen drag and adjusted it, pulling off some line to where it would not lock up. Most reels are frozen tight on cool mornings and always they need the drag adjusted before testing it to its limits, on a big, tackle-testing largemouth bass. As always, I was concerned about the client even getting a bite, so I instructed him to throw past the sight of the huge boil and then walk the Zara Super Spook up to the bass. Landing a big topwater lure right on top of a bass can often spook it, especially in clear water situations, where the water clarity / visibility is at 3-4 feet deep, like it was that day. So he did. A per-
Prize winner: Getting the best of a heavy-weight is one of the biggest accomplishments for an angler. fect cast, landing just past the stickups of several trees of standing timber left in Lake Wedowee when it was impounded in 1983. As the angler walked the Spook perfectly through the stickups, it happened. Not just any Big Bass blow up. One that would be etched in all three of our minds for as long as each of us would be here on this earth. Or at least long enough to be remembered by me, for it had been years since I saw a bass of this magnitude clear the waters surface displaying an acrobat of fighting fury. As the huge largemouth bass cleared the surface of the water leaping two feet in the air and ex-
posing its entire body, it looked to be every bit as long as the 12 1/2 pound largemouth bass on my den wall. To our dismay the huge bass missed the zara super spook topwater lure. The unknowing angler exclaimed " that was a pretty good bass! " I just turned to him, (obviously sounding like a know it all) and just sadly said, "that my friend, was the bass of a lifetime." Most anglers only get a few chances at such a huge bass in an entire life of fishing for bass. His obviously befuddled friend exclaimed, " he loses big bass all the time but usually they are not that big." Knowing most anglers are not as serious as I am about landing these "bass of a few casts", I tried to just shrug it off. I also knew if a big bass does not touch a topwater lure or you do not hook it and lose it, it may strike the very same lure again. Often they can be fooled into striking the lure again, usually in just a short period of time, after things settle back down. Still, both of these now very anxious anglers thrashed the water to a frazzle, with a severe pounding from all directions that was possible. A dozen casts to the immediate area by both anglers that only left a good pile of bubbles in the after math of their topwaters, to show for their efforts.
Lake Wedowee Life 37
So we left. Only to return in five minutes. By now the angler in the back of the boat was having a drink. The angler that had lost the chance at hooking into this monster bass was now ready, willing and able. Again, like always, I said, "make sure you throw your lure far past the spot where the big bass has shown itself" and the I instructed him to just slowly walk the topwater lure to its destination. Then, both you and the bass you are after are ready. He made a long cast, the oversized topwater lure rocketed far up in the air, landing right on top of the basses lair! In my mind I was already thinking, that bass is spooked and we will not get another chance to see it. I have been wrong before in my assumptions. Again, to my utter disbelief, the huge bass exploded on the topwater lure. This time it was hooked and the huge bass plowed its way
38 Lake Wedowee Life
towards the lakes bottom. The anglers rod bowed up, looking like some bow (without the arrow) and the fight was on! But only for short period of time. His line broke and off went the huge largemouth bass, with my zara spook in his mouth, both of which we would never see again. I was literally sick to my stomach (as I'm sure the angler was too), as I slowly laid down the net I had grabbed as soon as he had hooked up. Then I just poured myself a soothing cup of coffee as both of them had the most peculiar look on their faces. Just like the big bass, I would remember that "look" for a long time. After getting a second look at this huge bass of a lifetime, I estimated it to be even bigger than my wall hanger. A bass in the "teens" any angler would be proud to do battle with. Afterwards I trolled the boat over to the top the mangled
clump of trees and saw my depth finder read 50 feet deep! The trees were sitting on a small hump (surrounded by this deep water) that rose to within 13 feet of the waters surface. A perfect Big Bass hideout So it goes. This is the only lake in Alabama where an angler should be ready on every cast he/she makes. After this true story, maybe readers will now know what I mean when I say, " you don't go after an elephant with a B B gun." Looking for that perfect Christmas gift, Fathers Day gift, Birthday surprise (or any occasion), for those loved ones that love to fish? Go to www.fishingalabama.com and E-mail Reed for information on getting a certificate for your loved ones gift, "A Guided Fishing Trip to Lake Wedowee (or any Alabama lake). A perfect gift for any angler year round!
Lake Wedowee Life 39
Developer inspires movie Simpkins’ family avoids tragedy, embraces life
Turning around to find couple of things. I was inside your child not there could be maybe three or four minutes, one of the worst feelings a but when I came back Joe’s parent experiences. Most of tricyle was on its side and he the time, the child has wanwasn’t anywhere to be dered off and is quickly lofound.” cated but for the Simpkins Joe was found much later family that that day, but was not the the experience case eight impacts Story by Kelly Caldwell still years ago. Randy’s life, so Randy and Photos by Renita S. Folds much so that a Christal movie is being Simpkins were about to leave made about it. for a family vacation with “You can look back at the their three children when the news footage from that day,” youngest Joe, 2 ½ at the time, Randy said. “I am holding Joe went missing. and I look at the camera and “He was riding his tricycle say ‘I made a lot of promises beside the van,” Randy said. today and I intend on keeping “I told him to stay put and I every one of them.’” went inside to take care of a Filming wrapped for “Our
News to Know
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Sharing a story: The cast of “Our Child is Missing” gathers for a photo with Randy Simpkins, top. Pierce Ganon, above, plays Joe in the movie.
Child is Missing” in mid-October and is currently in post-production. It is not slated to be released until late 2009. It stars Dean Cain, famous for his role as Clark Kent in the television series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. “I read the script and thought it was fantastic,” Cain said. “You read a lot of scripts in my line of work and I thought this one had a lot of heart. “As a parent to little boy, I can cer“I read the tainly relate and that made it all the more script and personal for me. thought it was That’s why I chose to fantastic… I be a part of it.” During filming, thought this Cain stayed at Chimney Cove on Lake We- one had a lot dowee, where of heart.” Simpkins is one of primary developers. Dean Cain “It was a little bit of a drive, but it is so calm and peaceful that it was worth it for me,” Cain said. “It is beautiful, calm and peaceful. That is necessary for me to escape with the work I do.” Simpkins is the executive producer of the movie and even has a small cameo. The screenplay was written by Lance Dreesen and the production company is Red Five Entertainment.
True stories sometimes make the best movies: Dean Cain, (top) will portray Randy Simpkins (above second to left) in “Our Child is Missing” a movie about Randy and Christal Simpkins (Above, third to left) son Joe (left, center) being missing for several hours eight years ago and the impact it had on Randy’s life.
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“I am cautiously optimistic about the future of this movie,” Randy said. “The key for us is to get the word out to as many people as possible about this movie. I think this is the kind of movie America wants to see. It is a true story and its filled with Faith and life messages. The movie was filmed on Simpkins’ property in Carollton, Ga. where the actual events occurred. “I didn’t really panic to begin with,” Randy said about the day Joe went missing. “I figured he had went down the trail to my parents house or was some where close by.” However, after about 20 minutes Randy and Christal had not found Joe and panic was beginning to set in at least for Randy. They began calling friends and neighbors to help search for Joe and word spread throughout the community. “Any parent that has lost a child even for a split second automatically starts thinking worse case scenario,” he said. Minutes turned into hours and Randy got off by himself and prayed. “I just fell and prayed to God,” he said. “I remember saying ‘Whatever I have to do, please don’t take one of my kids. Don’t punish my family because of the things I have done in my life. I will do whatever I have to do, just bring my son back.” Simpkins, even though it has
Lasting impressions: Cain, center with Randy Simpkins and his father Larry, enjoyed his stay on Lake Wedowee saying the people of the town were “extremely friendly.” been more than eight years, still gets choked up as he recalls the scene he witnessed walking back to his house. “I was blown away by the community,” he said. “There were four helicopters and probably about 400 people here. We weren’t big people in the community but the people here dropped what they were doing to come look for my little boy.” After Joe was found, Randy could have easily fallen back into old patterns but he kept to the promises he made out in the woods that fateful day. “I promised that I would put Him first in my life, my family second and I would give back to my community,” he said. “Everything else would be secondary.”
He stayed true to his promises coaching his sons in football, becoming the announcer for the high school baseball team and even becoming a Carroll County Commissioner. “When most people lie on their death bed they don’t say I wish I spent more time working,” Simpkins said. “I haven’t worked probably more than a dozen Saturdays since the ordeal, and that was eight years ago. I know what my priorities are now.” According to Randy, Joe remembers very little about that day. “He remembers being lost and the helicopters,” Randy said. “He thinks all of this is pretty cool and I think when he is older and more mature, he will appreciate it more.”
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Wedowee Currents Holiday Sound, Light and Water Show at DeSoto Carverns Park Childersburg - Now through Jan. 1 Celebrate the holidays in a beautiful and unique way. For more information call 256378-7252 or visit http://www.DeSotoCavern s.com East Alabama Arts Society Christmas Gala Alfa Buiding, Wedowee - Monday, Dec. 1 Limited number of tickets available. 256-3572361 Southern Union Sound and Dancers Annual Christmas Show Southern Union, Dec. 2-5 For ticket information, call 256-3952211. Showtime 7:00 p.m. Sanders' Family Christmas at the McClellan Theatre Anniston - Dec. 4 - Dec. 21 CAST welcomes back the musical Sanders family. For more information call 256820-2278 or visit http://www.castalabama.c om . 8 p.m., Thursdays Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. on Sundays. Christmas Heritage Tour Valley - Friday, Dec. 5 The Valley Historical Commission sponsoring the 2nd annual Christmas Heritage Tour. Displays of interest are the Kiwanis Club lifesize Nativity, West Point Pepperell Madonna & Child light display, City of Valley Christmas Merry-Go-Round and more. For more information call 334-756-5220 or 44 Lake Wedowee Life
Looking back at 2008
visit http://www.cityofvalley. com Free admission Christmas in a Mill Town at the Historic Langdale Theatre Valley Saturday, Dec. 6 The Valley Historical Commission and the Greater Valley Arts Council sponsor "Christmas in a Mill Town." This original play tells the story of Christmas through the eyes of the men and women who worked in the local textile mills and their children who grew up in the mill villages. For more information call 334-756-5220 or visit http://www.cityofvalley. com. Free Admission. Wehadkee Trade Days Rock Mills - Saturday, Dec. 6 At the Historic Old Mill in Rock Mills on Highway 22. For more information call Matt or Tammy at 706884-0461. Roanoke Christmas Tour of Homes Selected Roanoke Homes - Saturday, Dec. 6 Tickets $15.00 in advance - $18.00 day of tour. From 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For more information call Roanoke Schools Association at 334-863-2926 or 334-8636570. Breakfast with Santa at Cheaha State Park Cheaha State Park - Saturday, Dec. 6 The Cheaha Restaurant will host its annual "Breakfast with Santa from 8 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. For more information call 256-488-5115 or visit
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www.alapark.com. From 8 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Wedowee Christmas Parade Wednesday - Saturday, Dec. 6 The parade will take place through downtown Wedowee, starting at Wedowee Village Shopping Center at 5 p.m. Christmas Tour of Homes - Ashland and Lake Wedowee Ashland and Lake Wedowee - Sunday, Dec. 7. The 7th Annual Cornerstone Club Christmas Tour of Homes. The tour will include 4 beautiful homes. Two homes in Ashland, Mrs. Barbara Krumm and Mrs. Ann Gaither and two homes on Lake Wedowee, Mrs Angela Wellborn O'Neill and Mrs. Betty Welborn. From 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Ticket cost $10.00. Contact 256-276-1257. Preceeds will be used to benefit local charities. The Nutcracker at the Anniston Performing Arts Center Anniston - Sunday, Dec. 7 The Alabama Ballet returns to Anniston to perform its 27th annual holiday offering of the Nutcracker. The opulent sets and dazzling customes create a vision that will enchant children and adults alike. Time 2:00 p.m. Ticket prices: $30, $20 and $12. For tickets call 256-832-4554 Lineville Christmas Parade Lineville - Tuesday, Dec. 9 The Lineville Christmas parade downtown Lineville, Grand Marshall, James Spann. 6:30 p.m. Ashland Christmas Parade Ashland - Thursday, Dec. 11 Community Wide Carolers 5:30 p.m. in front of court house Ashland Christmas Parade at 6:00 p.m. Victorian Front Porch Tour Opelika - Dec. 9 Dec. 13 See the historic Victorian homes of Opelika transformed into an Ole World Christmas wonderland. Over 60 turn-of-the-century homes are adorned with life size Santas, angels, toys, teddy bears, carousel horses and other figures. A self-directed driving or walking tour, the event includes live entertainment, carolers, costumed homeowners and other festivities. 334-887-8747. Free Admission. Roanoke Christmas Parade Roanoke - Saturday, Dec. 13 The annual parade will take place on Main Street at 11 a.m. Woodland Christmas Parade Woodland - Saturday, Dec. 13 The annual parade will begin at Woodland High School and looping through downtown. Other activities include live entertainment, food and visits with Santa. Cheaha New Year's Buffet Cheaha State Park Thursday, Jan. 1 Join Cheaha Mountain Restaurant for a traditional New Year's Day buffet, 11:30 a.m. 3:00 p.m. Peas and greens are waiting. 256-488-5115. www.alapark.com 46 Lake Wedowee Life
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Red the party. This all was sounding pretty good until in dawns on me, I aint never airplane and we had done shook on it. Two months later, we are back on I85, but this time headed for the airport in Atlanta. Now this probably doesn’t seem like anythibeen on no ng out of the ordinary to most of you, but I’d planned on going to my grave with my feet having never left solid ground. Well, after a Zanex or two, finally figuring out that Kiosk is not an airline, gittin’ nekkid for them folks in security, we are off. WHOA!!!!! Hey not too bad, after getting leveled out and the seatbelt light goes off, I’m ready for a window seat. The landing in New York was uneventful and just like he said, Jr was waitin’ on us at the gate. We walk through the airport and outside to a black stretch limo that was just about as long as a football field. Off we go to the motel, where we all took time to catch our breath, take a nap, and get ready for supper. Again we’re picked up in another one of them limo’s and driven to the Blackstone Restaurant where we’re waited on hand and foot by about a half a dozen different waiter. Now this meal took about three hours to complete, and it’s a good thing cause we never could have consumed that much great food and wine in any less time. George Jr. really knows how to entertain guests and his friends at the Blackstone really made us feel welcome too. Now back to our rooms where we all crash, full of food and slightly….anyway we did drink a lot of wine.
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Next morning, after a big breakfast, then back in a new white stretch Escalade. Boy, this thing must be at least a football field and a half long, full bar, mirrors on the ceiling, lights everywhere, the works, what a ride. Now we are off to see the BIG APPLE! I can’t begin to describe New York City, I thought downtown Atlanta was big, but if you stuck Atlanta in the middle of New York City you would have a pretty hard time finding it. My sense of direction is pretty good, but upon entering that maze of skyscrapers I was hopelessly lost. The vas magnitude of buildings was overwhelming. Jr told us to let him know if we wanted to stop anywhere and occasionally we did , but the limo felt like our sanctuary and we never ventured too far from it. Such a diverse place and people, we went to Chinatown, to Little Italy, the Fisherman’s Wharf, to Central Park and of course Times Square. What’s the thing with that NEKKID COWBOY fellar? We also made a stop at GROUND ZERO, of course there was nothing to see, but we parked briefly and stood in silence like so many others was doing. The whole block was surrounded by a privacy fence and some sort of work was being done on the inside. We didn’t stay but a few minutes, but while there I couldn’t help but feel a great force, not a bad feeling, but a very strange feeling to say the least. Everywhere we stopped there where always a bunch of tourist, and us being in a limo always caught their attention. I guess they thought that we wuz some sort of
VIP’S or movie stars or something, cause as soon as we would stop they would begin snapping pictures and continue as we were exiting the car. We all thought it was rather amusing, but I kept a pen handy, just in case one of them happen to want my autograph. Finally the day of Mr. George’s birthday party arrives. We haven’t seen Sr yet because it’s a surprise party. Of course, it’s no surprise to him, but he was quite surprised to see the ALABAMA GANG. What a shindig! Food and entertainment such as Caesar and Cleopatra never could have imagined. Hundreds of friends and family, food and beverage inside and out. The Chateau La Mer was a spectacle. Ice sculptures were everywhere, waiter’s in white gloves carrying trays of lamb chops, shrimp, lobster, oysters, sushi, food of every description, and this was just for appetizers, the main meal come later, followed by a dessert which was so elaborate that it took another complete dining room just to hold it all. After this there was still the birthday celebration itself, more entertainment, more wine, more dancing, even a belly dancer who was quite talented to say the least. All this time they had video’s of Mr. George’s past with friends and family as well being shown on a big screen. WHAT A BLOW OUT…..WOW. Now Jr and Sr. are coming down south for a visit January, and there aint no way that we could ever show them the time like they showed us, so I guess we’ll just … “GO HUNTIN” Skeeter Lake Wedowee Life 47
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Index of Advertisers A & E Metal
Randolph Co. Industrial Development Council
RE/MAX Lakefront, Kelly and Leisel Caldwell
RE/MAX Lakefront, Josephine McGuire
Ashland Family Care
RE/MAX Lakefront, Tony Motley
Ava Hills Assisted Living
RE/MAX Lakefront, Linda and Grady Stone
Bank of Wedowee
Rice Pavilion and Boat Storage
Roanoke City Schools
Russell Do-It Center
Satellite Specialists of Alabama
Clay County Chamber of Commerce
D & S Marine
Southern Home Comfort
H& M Drugs
High Point Coffee & Books
Jimmy Stephens Construction
Thackston & Son
Lake Wedowee Bait and Tackle
Lake Wedowee Rentals
Tallapoosa River Electric
Mac McKinney Properties
W & M Grocery
Meadows Farm Equipment
Wedowee Building Supply
M.L. Awbrey Inc.
Partnersâ€™ Pit BBQ
Wellborn Cabinet Factory Direct
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aving spent a lot of my life doing things that involve the outdoors, has led me to become involved in the lives of a lot of people with similar interests. One of these acquaintances was a Greek gentleman originally from the isle of Hydra located somewhere in that body of water with the boot sticking down in it. Mike and I became associated some ten or twelve years ago on a deer hunting adventure and over the years he became a close and much loved friend. Last hunting season was the last time I saw Mike as he passed away this spring due to congestive heart failure. He had made a lot of friends in Randolph County, besides myself and will be truly missed by us all. Mike’s death caught us by surprise to the least and not having a lot of time to make plans, we found ourselves on I 85 headed to Long Island. After about a thousand miles, a few turnpikes and several toll bridges , we arrived in time to visit with Mike’s family and friends, many of whom we had become good friends with throughout the years. The next day we attended the funeral services for my friend Mike. The service was held in a beautiful Greek Orthodox Church, having been raised up in Baptist and Methodist Churches here in the south, we felt and looked just a little out of 50 Lake Wedowee Life
place. It was a beautiful and moving service that I will always remember.
Redneck Adventures By Skeeter After the service, we were invited to attend a dinner in Mike’s honor at the Chateau LaMer, which was a restaurant owned by another Greek gentleman whom I simply call Mr. George, because I can’t pronounce his last name. I met Mr. George and Mike at the same time, but due to some health problems, Mr. George had not
hunted in Alabama for several years. It was good to see him and retell some good huntin’ stories. I also got to meet Mr. George’s son, George Jr., who had always stayed behind on Long Island to run the restaurant while Sr. was “Down South” huntin’. I could tell right away the Jr. and his dad were very close and that he loved managing the restaurant for his father. Jr. let us know how much he appreciated us taking his father huntin’ over the years and how much he would have loved to have been along. Now listen close cause this is where the “twice” part comes in. After a few bottles of a good merlot, and an inspection of the new addition on the roof, where I enjoyed probably the only Copenhagen that had ever been chewed in the restaurant , Jr. hits me up to come back in two months to celebrate Sr’s surprise 80th birthday party. Jr kinda caught me off guard so I simply told him we would if him and Sr would come to Alabama this winter on a huntin’ trip. He simply stuck out his hand and we shook on it. Then he begins to tell me how he is gonna fly us up to New York, pick us up at the airport, and put us up in a fancy hotel until the day of
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