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David Adamo’s Olympic Quest

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{ contents }

On the cover: Meadow Run Farm trains champions, and David Adamo and “Prince Noah” hope there is a spot on the Olympic team for them. This issue celebrates people in the Shoals who are stretching and learning and working hard to make good things happen. We’re calling it the No’Ala Renaissance issue in honor of an area that has undergone a renaissance of its own.

March/April 2010 | 5

{ contents } 8 10 14 24 28 54 60

Contributors Calendar David Adamo’s Olympic Quest Shopping: Spring Break Renaissance Award Winners Fashion Forum Bless Their Hearts: Charles Wickwire Talks Some Trash 64 Twenty Questions for Giles McDaniel 66 Parting Shot

March/April 2010 Volume 3: Issue 2 ••• C. Allen Tomlinson Editor-In-Chief David Sims Managing Editor/Design Director Contributing Writers Charles Wickwire Contributing Photographers Danny Mitchell Contributing Designers Justin Hall Business Manager Matthew Liles Marketing Coordinator Jeff Linholm Interns Bethany Oliver Claire Stewart Printing and Distribution Printers and Stationers, Inc. ••• No’Ala is published six times annually by ATSA PO Box 2530, Florence, AL 35630 Phone: 256-766-4222 | Fax: 256-766-4106 Toll-free: 800-779-4222 Web:


Standard postage paid at Florence, AL. A one-year subscription is $19.95 for delivery in the United States. Signed articles reflect only the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors. Advertisers are solely responsible for the content of their advertisements. © 2008-2010 ATSA, All rights reserved.


Send all correspondence to Allen Tomlinson, Editor, at the postal address above, or by e-mail to Letters may be edited for space and style. To advertise, contact us at: 256-766-4222, or The editor will provide writer’s guidelines upon request. Prospective authors should not submit unsolicited manuscripts; please query the editor first.

No’Ala is printed with vegetable-based inks on 100% recycled paper.

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{ editor’s letter }



“A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve…” —Ayn Rand

I’ve got a little confession to make. I have always had a lifelong goal to be a Renaissance man—to excel in all areas of knowledge. And I’m frustrated that today we don’t seem to appreciate those same multidisciplinary talents that were revered in the 14th to 17th centuries. As a society we’ve lost appreciation for academic achievement in general. Politicians and athletes seem to get all the accolades; reality stars and mediocrity are celebrated. That’s why, in part, we decided it was hightime some high-achieving “polymaths” received the recognition they deserved. And so, we created the Renaissance Awards. For the past year, No’Ala has been accepting nominations from our readers for people who truly embody Renaissance qualities. There were five categories: Arts & Culture, Business & Leadership, Service & Spirituality, Education, and Science. We received 37 nominations in all, individuals—and even some couples—from all across the Shoals. We could not have hand-picked a more deserving group of people. After the nominations closed we put together a panel of residents whom we thought exhibited the very same qualities we admired in the nominees and we sent them a ballot and a directive: choose one winner in each category and one overall winner— one Renaissance Man, or Woman, or Couple. And to make it completely fair, we also sent a ballot to each nominator so he or she could vote for the person they nominated. The winners are profiled beginning on page 28. We think you will find their stories to be both inspiring and surprising. In any case, you will be proud of these Shoals residents who make such a vital contribution to our culture and community.

Our Renaissance Award was crafted in the Shoals by some very talented individuals. Alabama Metalworks cut and hand-finished the steel piece, Robin Wade crafted the beautiful walnut cubes, and Side Lines supplied the sterling silver “R” initial.

Recently, we were surprised to find that the Shoals is home to a world-class equestrian training facility, and two world class trainers and athletes. Jim Graham and David Adamo own and operate Meadow Run Farm just north of St. Florian, and Adamo is training to become a member of the 2012 Olympic team. Read more about Adamo and Graham on page 14 and learn how you can help Adamo reach his golden goal. You’ll enjoy our feature on color trends in fashion and interiors, which includes input from some of the Shoals’s very own fashionistas and decorating gurus. Find out what the “colors of the year” are (yes, there is such a thing), and whether or not our panel even pays attention to such things. Our shopping pages include some great spring break finds and and Charles Wickwire shares his thoughts and frustrations about our litter problem and how we can stop it. To round out this issue, Shoals Entrepreneurial Center Director Giles McDaniel answers our “Twenty Questions”. Thanks again to all of you who took time to nominate our Renaissance people. We will begin to take nominations again in 2011 and will award the second awards in January of 2012. Until then, maybe some of you will try a new venture or explore a new hobby—and maybe you will become our next Renaissance person.

March/April 2010 | 7

{ contributors } Looking for a home this spring? I’m Anne Bernauer and I want to be your Realtor® — for life.

Charles Wickwire

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Danny Mitchell

Email Visit

Charles Wickwire is a retiree from Norfolk Southern Corporation where he served as Senior Claim Agent. A resident of Florence, he has served on the Board of Directors for Shoals Habitat for Humanity and is now working with several Shoals area anti litter groups. He is a Keep the Shoals Beautiful (KTSB) Board Member. It happens almost every time we’re on a photoshoot with Danny Mitchell. Someone always recognizes him as the man who took their school pictures. For years Danny worked for Lifetouch, one of the world’s largest portrait photography companies. When he retired, he decided to try his hand at commercial and editorial photography, and we’re glad he did.

We’re always on the lookout for talented writers in the Shoals area, especially those who have a unique point of few on a variety of subjects and a great sense of humor. If you would like to be considered as a “Bless Your Hearts” guest columnist, send us a sample of something you’ve already written or a link to your writing samples. See our mast for details and addresses.

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Nothing sets the mood quite like the proper lighting. And even though we sell everything electrical for your home, it’s the lighting that will get the attention. Like the Bolla collection from Hinkley, just one of the many styles and brands we feature. If you want to set the proper mood for your home, visit our lighting showroom—or visit our website at

625 South Cherry Street, Florence, AL 256-764-8481 March/April 2010 | 9

Calendar of events March

March 1–5 Art of the State Juried art competition, open to all full-time and part-time art studio faculty at any Alabama college or university; 9:00am–5:00pm; adults $5/students $3; Group rates available; Tennessee Valley Museum of Art; 511 N. Water St, Tuscumbia, 256-383-0533 March 1–25 Watercolors by Clint Herring Monday–Friday, 9:00am–4:00pm; Free; Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts; 217 E. Tuscaloosa St, Florence; 256-760-6379 March 2–April 6 Artistic Renderings of Youth Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts; 217 E. Tuscaloosa St., Florence; 9:00am–4:00pm; Monday–Friday; No admission charged; 256-7606379 or March 6 Art for Heart Ball 2010 A black tie fundraiser for the American Heart Association 6:00pm; Marriott Shoals Conference Center, Florence; Tickets: $175 March 6 The Country Shindig Family-oriented country music show featuring the host band “Showdown” and a variety of Shoals Area talent; $7 adults/$5 children 6-12 years/5 & under free; 7:00pm; Deshler High School Auditorium, N. Commons East, Tuscumbia; For more information: Keith Davis 256765-2466 March 11 Reception for Artistic Renderings of Youth Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts; 217 E. Tuscaloosa St., Florence; 5:30pm–8:30pm; No admission charged; 256-760-6379 or March 12–13 Quilts by the River Edgemont United Methodist Church, Florence; Friday, 10:00am–6:00pm; Saturday, 9:00am–4:00pm; Admission $5; Contact: 256-757-1308 March 13 Huff & Puff 15K Race & Relay The 15k Alabama State Championship foot race is a fundraiser for the Northwest Alabama Red Cross; Free to the public/Fee to participate; 9:00am–until; Sheffield Recreation Center; for more information: (256) 366-0040, or

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March 14–April 2 Works from the Collection The Tennessee Valley Museum of Art features works from its permanent collection; Tennessee Valley Museum of Art; 511 North Water Street, Tuscumbia; Sunday, 1:00pm–3:00pm.; Monday–Friday, 9:00am–5:00pm; Contact: Lori Curtis, 256.383.0533, or;; Admission: Monday–Friday: $5 adults/$3 Students/ Sundays free; Group rates available; Group reservations required; March 15–April 2 Easter Eggstravaganza Meet the Easter Bunny. Tour of the museum. Easter Egg Hunt. Each student receives a gift from the Easter Bunny, teachers too! Refreshments served; $6 student/teachers and bus dDrivers are free; Rreservations only; Alabama Music Hall of Fame, Tuscumbia; Dixie Connell 256-381-4417 or 800-239-2643; March 16 Florence Camerata presents Haydn’s The Creation Christ Chapel, 3051 Cloverdale Road, Florence; 7:30pm; Admission $10 March 21 Princess and Pirate Party 2:00pm–4:00pm; Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa; Children of all ages can meet and greet some of the most famous princesses in the world—Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora, Tiara, and Tinkerbell; as well as one notorious pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow. Attendees will have tea with the Princesses, have their photo taken and spend one-on one time with the Princesses and Captain Jack all while helping to raise funds for the Children’s Miracle Network. Call 256-768-1751 March 30—April 4 George Lindsey/UNA Film Festival 9:00am– 4:00pm; various venues; see for details March 31 Empty Bowl Luncheon Marriott Conference Center of the Shoals, Florence; 11:30am–1:30pm; $12 per person in advance; $15 at the door; Benefits the Salvation Army

April April 2010 – Earth Month Concert Tickets $16, includes light refreshments; 7:00pm; Gas Commercial Photography Studio, 109 W. Sixth St., Tuscumbia; for more information: 256-767-2909 or 256 383-0783; April 2010 Earth Month Family Fun Walk Several walks are scheduled to culminate at the Old Railroad Bridge; Free; 5:30pm; Old Railroad Bridge, Sheffield; for more information: 256-767-2090; April 2 “First Fridays” Downtown Florence April 2–May 4 Ceramic Works by Paveen Chunhaswasdikul Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts; 217 E. Tuscaloosa St., Florence 9:00am–4:00pm, Monday–Friday; No admission charged; 256-7606379 or

April 3 Ritz Benefit Sale–Spring Sale The Ritz Benefit Sale supports the Tennessee Valley Art Association’s historic Ritz Theatre and educational outreach programs at the Ritz, Tennessee Valley Museum of Art and in local schools; Foodland Shopping Center, Sheffield; 9:00am–1:00pm; Contact: Keith McMurtrey, 256-383-0533;

From title searches and title insurance to loan closings in one of our three convenient locations, no one in the region has more experience than we do. Our honesty and hard-working values may date back 122 years, but our technology is strictly 21st century. Visit our website to see how easy we make it for you!

April 3 Rogersville First Saturdays Downtown Rogersville April 3 The Country Shindig Family oriented country music show featuring the host band “Showdown” and a variety of Shoals area talent; $7 adults/$5 children 6-12 years/5 & under free; 7:00pm; Muscle Shoals High School Auditorium, East Avalon Avenue; 256) 415-0803, Keith Davis: 256-765-2466 April 3, 10, 17 and 24 Landscape Painting Students will explore working with oil paints and learn techniques that are unique to painting on location in an outdoor setting. Class is appropriate for all skill levels. Class size is limited. Registration deadline is March 26. 1:00pm–3:00pm; Ages 16 and older; Instructor: Ann McCutcheon; Lori Curtis, 256-383-0533 or;; Cost: $50.00 for TVAA /for non-members April 8-11 Shoals Community Theatre presents the Zodiac Production Don’t Dress For Dinner Comedy directed by Michael Hill; Friday, April 9, 2010 Starts at 7:30pm; Sunday’s performance begins at 2:00pm; adults $10/students $8; Zodiac Theatre, 426 N. Court Street, Florence; 256-764-1700 April 15 On Stage presents “Bravo Broadway!” 7:30pm; Norton Auditorium, UNA campus; Admission charged; Tickets at Kennedy-Doulgass Center for the Arts and April 18 Opening Reception and Gallery Talk by “At Home in Alabama” Curator, Zac Abramson Tennessee Valley Museum of Art; 511 North Water Street, Tuscumbia 1:00pm; Contact: Lori Curtis, 256.383.0533 or;; Admission: FREE

Three locations to serve you: FLORENCE: 110 S. Pine Street (256) 764-2141

TUSCUMBIA: 301 N. Water Street (256) 381-2802

RUSSELLVILLE: 202 N. Jackson Ave., Suite 100 (256) 332-6092


April 18–May 28 “At Home in Alabama” “At Home in Alabama” is a decorative arts exhibition curated by Mr. Zac Abramson. The display will reflect the aesthetic and practical values of the north Alabama home from the late 19th century through the 20th century; Tennessee Valley Museum of Art; 511 North Water Street, Tuscumbia; Hours: Sunday, 1:00pm–3:00pm; Monday–Friday, 9:00am–5:00pm; Admission: Monday–Friday: $5 adults/$3 students; Sundays: Free; Contact: Lori Curtis, 256.383.0533 April 18–May 28 Hummingbirds of the Nineteenth Century An exhibit of fine art prints from the collection of Billy and Wanda Isom; Tennessee Valley Museum of Art; 511 North Water Street, Tuscumbia; Exhibition Hours: Sunday, 1:00pm–3:00pm; Monday–Friday, 9:00am–5:00pm; Contact: Lori Curtis, 256.383.0533 or;; Admission: Monday– FriContinued page 12

March/April 2010 | 11


Calendar of events

Continued from page 11

day: $5 adults/$3 students; Sundays: Free; Group rates available; Group reservations required. April 22 Celebrate Earth Day at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame Special Earth Day observance hosted by the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and the Colbert County Tourism & Convention Bureau. Outdoor event is free; Admission to the museum is half-price; Student field trips are welcome; 11:00am–1:00pm; Alabama Music Hall of Fame, Tuscumbia; 256-381-4417 or 256-383-0783;; April 24 Global Culture Night at UNA 10:00am–05:00pm; April 24 Tuscumbia Chili Cook-Off Tuscumbia’s first Benefit Chili Cook-Off; Over 17 chili chefs will participate; Tickets $5 to taste the chili entries and vote; free drinks; to benefit CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Colbert County; Noon; Main St., downtown Tuscumbia; 256-383-7492, ext.5 April 24 Shoals Earth Festival Festival events include music, arts and crafts, children’s art and activities, and public service booths; Free; 11am– 6pm; Wilson Park, Florence; Nancy Muse: 256-767-2090, April 24 Cemetery Stroll, Florence Actors from community theatre groups portray important, interesting personages who are interred at this cemetery which dates back to 1818; Admission charged; 10am–Noon; Florence City Cemetery 256-768-3031; April 24 Swampers 5K & 1 Mile Run/Walk, 4th Annual Flat, fast certified course. All runners will receive medal, duffel bag and t-shirt; Pre-registration requested, go to 8:00am; Muscle Shoals Football Field, off Avalon Avenue behind McBride Elementary; 256-314-4631 April 29, 30 and May 1 Center Stage: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Curtain Lecture: 6:30pm, Performance: 7:30pm; A stage adaptation of Mark Twain’s novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Ritz Theatre, 111 West 3rd Street, Sheffield; Contact: Keith McMurtrey, 256-383-0533 or; In Advance: $10 adults, $8 students/at the dDoor: $12 adults/$9 students;; 256-383-0533 April 30–May 1, 2010 Lagrange College Site “Recall LaGrange” A vignette of Civil War life and more; Friday & Saturday: 10am–4pm; 1491 LaGrange College Road, Leighton (7 miles southwest of Tuscumbia); 256-446-9324;; Email:

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March/April 2010 | 13

{ everybody’s business }


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alifornia is known as the Golden State, but native Californian David Adamo moved to the Shoals in pursuit of a different kind of gold—Olympic gold. David is training for the 2012 London Olympics in the hills just north of Florence at Meadow Run Farm. If you haven’t met David yet, it’s probably because training for the Olympics requires dedication and hard work, seven days a week, rain or shine, from sunup to sundown. It’s an all-consuming job. David’s partner and coach, Jim Graham, knows—because he’s no stranger to competition himself. Jim is a Shoals native, and he has been eventing for more than thirty years, even serving as a member of the 3-Day Team at The Hague World Equestrian Games in 1994. Jim has a resume a mile long, and a reputation as a first-class coach and teacher, and he thinks David has a real shot. “The rider is only part of the equation,” says Jim. “Equestrian events are team events, and the team is made up of the horse and the rider. David is working with three different horses, and it’s important that he bond with each of them. Athletes become Olympians because they pay attention to the smallest of details.”

David Adamo on “River King”

Meadow Run Farm, nestled in the hills above St. Florian, is an impressive place, with plenty of room and lots of activity going on. There are students there, practicing jumps on the stadium practice field or grooming their horses in the stable. David is riding cross country on the day of the interview, training “River King”, a young horse who is new to competition. “River King” is beautiful, tall and majestic and silvery in color, and even those of us who know nothing about horses can tell that there is something special about this horse.

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But for those of us who don’t know anything about horses, the whole prospect is confusing. Jim patiently explains. “There are three parts to a competitive event,” he says, “and each part is judged differently. The three parts are Dressage, Cross Country and Show Jumping.” On the circuit—that’s a series of competitions, held beginning in the late winter and running through the late fall—these competitions allow the horses and riders to accumulate points. Points determine who competes seriously, and, ultimately, who becomes an Olympian. The Circuit generally begins in south Florida, where it’s warm enough to ride comfortably even in the late winter, and moves

The second competitive event is called Cross Country. This is a fast sport, and dangerous; horse and rider are jumping over fixed jumps, much of the time at a gallop because this is a timed event and the course must be completed in six minutes. That means the horse and rider have to move at about 570 meters per minute. It also means that the horse has to completely trust the rider. Many of the fixed jumps are at the tops of hills or in locations where the horse can’t see what’s beyond them. Some of the time, the horse tops a hill, makes a jump, and lands in water. If the horse hesitates or balks, both horse and rider could be in trouble. The rules state that the rider can walk the course before competition—but the horse cannot. The horse just has to trust the other member of his team, the rider.

“The rider is only part of the equation. Equestrian events are team

events, and the team is made up of the horse and the rider. David is working with three different horses, and it’s important that he bond with each of them.”

up the East Coast as the weather gets warmer. Jim and David are preparing to travel to Florida to compete, because this will be an important year for David. “The first part of the competition, Dressage, is all about precision,” explains Jim. Everyone competing does the same routine, a combination of circles, sidestepping and figures. The horse and rider are judged on how well they work together as a unit, and it’s important for there to be a chemistry between them. The horse needs to be compliant, because not only are the horse and rider scored on how they perform the routines, they are even scored on how they hold their heads or move together as one unit. For the spectator, this is a beautiful competition; for the rider, it means one-third of the score. Riders are dressed in formal riding attire, complete with hats and riding boots. “It kind of looks like the riders are dressed like butlers,” says Jim, laughing. “But judging a dressage event is challenging because there are so many details involved… and Olympic athletes are made or broken in the details.”

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Jim pauses a minute to watch David and “River King” gallop up a hill, jump what looks like a tall fence, and then run down the other side of the hill into a pond. The horse is young, but already trusts David, and there’s no hesitation; it’s obvious David’s work is paying off. “I think a lot of people don’t realize what a dangerous sport this can be,” says Jim. “I’ve broken arms and legs, and have even broken my jaw, and other competitive riders I have known have been killed. The audience watching this at home just thinks it’s pretty to watch horses jump over things, but I don’t think they realize how athletic a sport it is, and how dangerous.” The final part of competition, Show Jumping (also called Stadium Jumping), requires agility. The horse and rider are jumping over rails, but the rails are loose, and if a rail falls the rider is penalized. If the horse refuses to jump, the penalty is even greater. This can be especially difficult after a Cross Country Event, because if the horse is tired he might make a mistake—or become stubborn.

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Adamo leads “River King” into a jump.

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Circuit events are three-day events, with each part of the competition on a different day. The competition is fierce, because the points earned in competition qualify riders and horses for the “Long List,” the list of riders who are qualified to become a member of the U.S. Equestrian Team. David has been riding horses since he was six years old, and he’s 42 now. He lived in San Diego as a child and then moved north to Sonoma County. “Riding in California is very different from riding in Alabama,” he said. “For one thing, much of California is desert, and here in Alabama there is a lot of grass for the horses to graze on. California is also a lot more urban, and business is easier there but there is not this kind of space.” He pauses a minute to look out

Jim Graham and “Prince Noah”

“Judging a dressage event is challenging because there are so many

details involved… and Olympic athletes are made or broken in the details.” over the pastures below the stables. “This place has long had a reputation for being one of the best facilities in the country for this sport, but I didn’t realize how great it was until I got here a couple of years ago.” Twenty six years ago, when David was 16, he was introduced to Eventing through his local Pony Club. Three years later, he achieved his USPC HA and A ratings. (For those readers who do not understand horses, suffice it to say that this is impressive.) At the University of California, Davis, he was captain of his

UCD Eventing Team and became a traveling instructor while he earned his degree in Agricultural Science and Management. David’s resume isn’t impressive just because of the competitions he won or the points he’s earned in circuits. It’s also impressive because he’s a trainer and a teacher, and he has helped mold horses and riders into champions. In fact, his very first working student, Gina Miles, was the 2008 Olympic Silver Medalist. This is not an inexpensive sport. “It costs about $90,000 a year to keep one horse,

not counting competition expenses, and we have three horses on this team,” said Jim. “Stabling and feed, horseshoes, veterinary costs and grooming supplies are part of it, and entry fees and event travel is another part. It will cost about $375,000 a year for the next two years to get David ready for Olympic competition, and other than the opportunity for corporate sponsorships, there are no subsidies in this sport.” “River King”, the youngest horse in the trio, has just been syndicated. That means he is owned by a syndication, a

March/April 2010 | 19

skilled in every aspect of competition.” The plan is to try for the 2011 Pan American team, and then win a spot on the 2012 Olympic team—a team that is only made up of four riders. And so, they work. Seven days a week, from sunup to sundown, David is working with his horses, and Jim is watching and coaching to make sure they are paying attention to every little detail. If eventing this year and next go the way they plan, you might see David Adamo going for the gold in a couple of years— from the Golden state of California to the golden hills of northwest Alabama, and finally to Olympic gold in London. N

Rebecca Midgett is the Groom at Meadow Run Farm, shown here with “Marveles”

group of investors who think he has Olympic potential. Syndication can pay off big if the horse becomes a champion, in stud fees and additional corporate sponsorship opportunities. “Marveles” is owned by Mike and Marion Martin, and “Prince Noah” is privately owned, although syndication is a possibility for him. A fourth horse, from Chicago, is available for syndication and David and Jim think he also has Olympic potential, but his initial cost is greater than the cost of a fine European sports car. Life at Meadow Run Farm is hectic, because both David and Jim juggle a full schedule of teaching, riding, and competing. Jim is an International Judge, which makes him in demanding at competitive events all over the world (although he is unable to judge any competitions in which David takes part.) He

20 | No’Ala

also travels to horse clubs around the country to give weekend-long seminars, and, according to one of his students, he is such a good teacher that he crams a lot of knowledge into a weekend. His abilities as a coach are evident in the quality of his students; Linden Wiseman, from Columbia, Tennessee, made the Olympic team, and Carolyn Woldenburg, Katie and Liza Clement, all from Florence, competed in the Junior Olympics. Patte Clement has competed all up and down the East Coast, and young students from all around the Southeast come to Meadow Run Farm for training. And David is working with his horses to get ready. “I spend most of my time on dressage, since that is the most precise competition,” he said, “but it’s important that my horses are comfortable and

Want to help? Any private gift is appreciated, but donations are tax deductible through an account set up for David Adamo with the American Horse Trials Foundation, a non-profit tax exempt corporation (Federal ID #52-145923). Please make checks payable to the American Horse Trails Foundation, and do not put David’s name on the check. The check will be deposited with the Foundation, and you will receive a receipt for any contribution greater than $50. Non-monetary donations, such as riding equipment, grooming and veterinary supplies, frequent flyer airline miles or any other item may be sent in care of David’s account. For more information, contact Donna Field at the American Horse Trials Association, 105 North Lake Drive, Stevensville MD 21666. Phone 410-643-2445 or fax 410-643-2598.

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March/April 2010 | 21

{ guess who I saw }

Hillard & Chery Sparks, Celia & Roy Rudolph Humphrey Lee, Whitney Heaps, and Nora Lee Ethel Staples and Sherry Allen Leigh Pyle and Susanne Wadsworth

Frankie Stanford, Kathy Yordy, Judy Armstrong, and Sherry Allen

Mary Settle Cooney, Pat McAlister, Pat Shoemaker, and Jane Pride

Sharon Wiese, Pat Shoemaker, Steve Price, and Kathryn Rice

Jeanne Summerhill and Deb Johnson PHOTOS COURTESY OF TVAA


Spri ng is G oing to be Special at Lol a’s

Floral Design, Event Planning, & Home Accessories (256) 383-2299 · 214 North Montgomery Avenue · Sheffield, Alabama

22 | No’Ala

March/April 2010 | 23

{ shopping } Bangles ($15) Side Lines Jewelry (256) 767-0925

Eclat Ring ($25) Addiction (256) 764-6890

Spring Break Gold & Wood Sunglasses ($270) Swarrovski Sunglasses ($209) Tomsik Eyecare (256) 767-5000

Wood & Pearl Necklace ($24) Cooper Chain Necklace with Charms ($40) Relique (256) 767-4810

Sun Dress ($59) Frolic Clothing (256) 766-6150

Melissa Campana Gold Flats ($80) Melissa Campana Blue Pearl Heels by Vivienne Westwood ($150) Marigail Mathis (256) 764-9444

24 | No’Ala

Bird’s Nest Salt Cellar ($20.95) Andy’s (256) 767-2800

Elle Easy Pack Duffle ($140) Elle Jewel Roll ($40) Halsey House (256) 764-9294

Johnny Was Silk Embroidered Blouse ($185) Audie Mescal (256) 314-6684

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks ($13.99) The Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss ($13.95) The Beach House by Jane Green ($15) Miss Julia Hits The Road by Ann B. Ross ($15) Coldwater Books (256) 381-2525

Baby Wipes Caddy ($19) Land of Lolly (256) 767-0097

Collegiate Coverups ($35) Xtravagance by Susan (256) 764-1018

Vera Bradley Tote ($88) The Village Shoppe (256) 383-1133

March/April 2010 | 25

{ guess who I saw }

James Baxley as “Angel” and Peter Peter Johnson as “Tom Collins”

Adam Bowers, Dixie Hill, and Leslie

Music Director Kristi Montero, Dave Futrell, Guitar; Jimbo Hart, Bass; and Thomas Risher Jr., Drums

Nick Franks as “Roger”

Laura Connolly and Dixie Hill

Audrey Cohenour as “Joanne” and Katie Cockrell as “Maureen”

Hunter Jackson as “Mark”

Happy audience members

Shoals Community Theatre’s Production of Rent


FEBRUARY 4, 2010  SHOALS THEATER , FLORENCE Brittney Letsinger, Sarah Jane Shaw, Emily Creasy, and Lyndsie McClure

Some of Rent Cast, Katie Cockrell, Peter Peter Johnson, James Baxley, and Hunter Jackson

An ensemble during the play

Katie Cockrell and Grace Ashley

Rent Cast and Crew

Alison Spangler and Nick Franks as “Mimi” and “Roger” Susan Puryear and Emily Creasy 26 | No’Ala

Director Nathan Clemmons and Jan Clemmons

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“I am still learning.” —Michelangelo For the past year, No’Ala has invited its readers to tell us about people you consider to be “Renaissance people.” Readers responded, and No’Ala received 37 nominations, all of them outstanding, and all who can be considered to be Renaissance People. After the nominations were received, we convened a panel made up of twenty community leaders and the people who made these nominations. Our panel narrowed the field to one winner each of five categories: Science, Education, Service & Spirituality, Business and Arts & Culture. We also asked each panel member to choose one person from the nominees as our Renaissance Person of the Year. Choosing one person in each category was difficult. After all, each person was nominated because they are considered by someone else to be a mentor, a teacher, a role model and an inspiration; it was difficult to pick one person from so many winners. In the pages that follow, you’ll get a glimpse into the lives of the five winners. We must also thank those who were nominated and did not win, who include:

SCIENCE Dr. Patrick Daugherty Dr. Amit Roy Dr. James Ryerson Dr. Mary Leigh Gillespie EDUCATION Carolyn Eck Gene Gooch Nicki Graham Bill Griffin Dr. Dorothy C. Hardy SERVICE & SPIRITUALITY Elba Barnes Dr. Carl Gebhardt Robert and Sybil Layton Sandra Stutts BUSINESS & LEADERSHIP Max and Terri Akin Joel Anderson Tori Bailey Francisco Guerra Jackie Hendrix Todd Ouellette Harvey Robbins ARTS & CULTURE Mary Settle Cooney Alan Flowers Audwin and Sandi McGee Edsel Holden Jean Gay Mussleman Jean Schulman Robin Wade Debbie Wilson

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MARY WHITE Renaissance Person of the Year/Renaissance Award for Arts & Culture Mary White is involved in the cultural life of the Shoals, but she doesn’t do it for the attention. She does it because she’s an artist, she loves music, and she wants this place she lives to be a better place. First, there are a few things you should know about Mary. She’s not originally from here; she grew up in New York City. Her parents were Southerners, though, so she went to college at Duke University in North Carolina. Tom was there, too, and they were married after her sophomore year; she finished her degree at Boston University, one of the many cities she and Tom and the children that came afterward lived in. And there were lots of cities: Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Charlotte, Durham, and Columbus Georgia, to name a few. Nineteen years ago, Tom took a job with Monarch Tile as President. “My first trip to the Shoals was in the pouring rain, with one of my children in the car.” There are three of them, all grown now: Marcy is married to a German architect and lives in Munich; Clinton just got married and builds wind farms from his home base in Anchorage, Alaska; and Spencer is a financial planner in Atlanta. But nineteen years ago, piled up in a station wagon trying to find her way around the Shoals in the rain, Mary had to wonder what life was going to be like in this new town. So, she got involved by doing two things. She volunteered with the Friends of the Kennedy Douglass Center for the Arts; and she enrolled at the University of North Alabama to earn another degree, this one in art. She loved every minute of her studies, earning a BFA and re-learning her love of painting, sculpture and drawing, under the direction of Elizabeth Walter and the wonderful art faculty at UNA.

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But that wasn’t enough. She also loves music, so she became involved in the Shoals Symphony, a group that had just started as a way for people who loved music to have a chance to play together. It’s grown, of course, and is now affiliated with the University; it’s also grown to be a full-fledge and respected regional symphony orchestra. “The relationship with UNA is a symbiotic one,” Mary says. “Our affiliation gives us free rehearsal space, and our musical director is a part of their music faculty. The growth of this organization is thanks to the hard work of a lot of people, like George Petty, Mary Settle Cooney, Robert Gonce, Nell Pendleton, Dave deWolfe, Harriett Edwards, and a lot of others.” Mary is President this year. So, Mary settled in to this place that had given her such a soggy first impression, and started working to make it a beautiful and musical place. But then fate took a turn; Monarch Tile failed, and Tom was looking for something else to do. The Whites were exploring in Franklin County and looking at limestone quarries there when they learned about a marble quarry outside of Knoxville, Tennessee, that was for sale. They ended up owning five of them. “Being in the marble business was fascinating,” said Mary. “Our quarries supplied the marble for the Clinton Presidential Library, the Newseum in Washington, DC, the Capitol Visitor’s Center, and many, many more.” For a sculptor and artist, it must have been heaven, to be surrounded by all of that stone, but it was also a demanding business, and although the Whites spent a lot of time in eastern Tennessee, they were determined to remain citizens of the Shoals.

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A couple of years ago, they sold the quarries and returned home to the Shoals. That’s when Mary set about creating her newest project—The St. Francis Fund at Trinity Church. “When we lived in Charlotte, North Carolina, our Episcopal Church there had a St. Francis Fund,” she said. “It started with a building fund, and the church raised $500,000 for a new building. Instead of building the church, they decided to give every penny of it away, and re-raised the money for their building. Today, that church has over five thousand members, and it is a revitalized, strong and growing group that does a lot of good.” When the Whites lived in Columbus, Georgia, their church there started a St. Francis Fund that transformed the congregation. They are on their second Fund project right now. Two years ago, Trinity Episcopal Church in Florence took a leap of faith and decided to start their own St. Francis Fund. Part of the reason was “to find a compelling way to connect ourselves to each other and to our community,” Mary said. “The timing was just right. We decided to raise and give away a million dollars over the course of ten years.”

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Last year was the first year of this St. Francis Project, and fundraising exceeded its $100,000 goal by $15,000… in a recession year. And not all of the participants are Episcopalian; “our goal is to make this a community-wide outreach program,” said Mary. Overseeing the bake sales and bazaars and fundraising parties that have to take place to raise a hundred thousand dollars or more is time-consuming… but Mary still finds time to work at the Help Center or volunteer at the Tennessee Valley Art Association in Tuscumbia. All because she wants to make this community the kind of place that’s always striving to be better, and all because she has the time and talent to get involved. “I think this area really needs a Community Foundation,” she said, citing examples from cities where she and Tom and the children have lived. “It just takes someone who can jump start something like that, and it would do so much good….” Of all the places they have lived, why choose the Shoals as their permanent home? “On reason is that Tom promised me we wouldn’t move ever again,” she says with a laugh. If you know Mary, though, you know it’s because this is the kind of place the Whites really love, and she is willing to roll up her sleeves and work hard to make sure it remains that way. We all benefit. N

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Above left: Mary stands next to an unfinished painting of her son. Above: The White family at Nags Head, North Carolina

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DR. NOLAN RICHARDS Renaissance Award for Science

Nolan Richards is a native of New Zealand, but he has lived in the United States longer than he lived there. After earning his Master of Science and Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the University of Auckland, on New Zealand’s North Island, he moved to the University of Pennsylvania for post doctoral work and then to England to study as a Research Fellow at the Imperial College in London. It was there that Basil Horsefield, from Reynolds Metals Company, found him and recruited him to come to the Shoals area. Mr. Horsefield wanted to hire someone with strength in basic research, and Nolan was the man. Nolan and his wife, Helen, decided to come for two years, to give it a try. That was in 1957. “We were immediately attracted to this place because of the lake,” Dr. Richards said, “because I am an avid sailor. When we moved here, we asked everyone we met ‘Where are the sailboats?’ and we were told there weren’t any because there was no wind.” One thing Nolan Richards is, above all, is a research scientist, so he set about determining just how much wind there really was. He discovered that there was plenty of wind —about 10.5 knots—but it wasn’t a steady wind; the variation between gusty and calm was great. Undeterred, the Richards began sailing the lake, and so did some of their new friends. Four years later, in 1961, they helped found the Muscle Shoals Sailing Club, an organization that today owns a beautiful clubhouse and 13 acres, and has 65+ members who own over 100 boats. The work at Reynolds was also going very well. Nolan’s job was to help determine how to extract aluminum more efficiently. The production of aluminum is a labor and energy intense process, and the research lab, which grew to 68 people under Richards’s direction, worked to create automatic controls, control the environmental impact around the Reynolds plants worldwide, improve recycling, develop and

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Nolan Richards in his lab at Reynolds Metals Company in SheďŹƒeld, and today (inset).

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refine electromagnetic casting, and make the entire process more efficient. Reynolds International was supported worldwide from the lab in Sheffield, Alabama. Prior to his retirement, in 1993, he was the second recipient of the Alabama Academy of Science Wright Gardner Award; the first recipient was a NASA scientist. After his retirement, he spent a great deal of time traveling the world presenting research papers and contracting with companies to assist them with their research, primarily in aluminum production. He holds 17 patents and has presented 65 papers, and was an instructor at the International School for Aluminum Technology in Trondheim, Norway, for more than fifteen years. In 2003, he was presented the Light Metals Award for the best international paper presented in Charlotte, North Carolina, based on work he had done in Norway. But let him tell you about sailing. Nolan originated a handicap system for sailboats in North America that is still in use today; it’s called the Portsmouth Yardstick for U.S Sailing, and was originally adopted by the Dixie Inland Yacht Racing Association. He holds all sorts of yachting honors, but a real sailing milestone happened in 2005, when Jim Loew, a retired Coast Guard officer who was the Florence-Lauderdale Port Director and a friend, recommended that Nolan be invited aboard the U.S. Eagle, a Coast Guard sailing ship used for training, for a trip from the Canary Islands to Bermuda. There were 155 Coast Guard trainees and five invited guests aboard, including Nolan, and the trip took 19 days. That was awesome. In his 50 or so years as a member of the Shoals community, the Richards have been very involved. They raised two children, Bruce, a family doctor in Nashville, and Robin, a water quality and environmental manager in Washington, DC. Nolan is a Rotarian, helped start the YMCA, worked with Habitat for Humanity, and served on the Board of the United Way and the Vestry of the Episcopal Church. And a hundred years from now, how would he like to be remembered? He smiles at the question. “I’d like to be remembered for what I taught,” he said, “and my ability to develop people to become competent and internationally recognized in their fields. I’d also like to be remembered for my contributions to sailing in North America, and most of all, as a responsive and responsible citizen of this place we love, Florence, Alabama.” N

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Renaissance Award for Service & Spirituality “Service is what you do,” says Arneda Heath. “Spirituality is who you are.” Arneda knows a lot about both. Arneda and Jim Heath moved to the Shoals in 1979 when Jim, a banker, got a job with First Colbert Bank (now Bank Independent.) Arneda had been working with the Council on Aging Services in Athens—her graduate work was in gerontology—and when she arrived in Tuscumbia she started looking for something to do over here. “Joe Ware, at Jim’s Bank, knew I was looking and he told me that there was a new group forming, called Safeplace, and that they were looking for an Executive Director.” The idea for Safeplace grew out of a task force committee meeting at UNA to assess the community’s needs. One area of need that was identified was a shelter for the victims of domestic violence, and the committee, including Betty McCutcheon, Nancy Gonce, Jean Gay Mussleman and others, was determined to do something about it. They literally met around Betty’s kitchen table, and were writing grants and making plans until Safeplace became a reality. Awarded their first substantial grant, the organization was able to select a location and get it ready. When Arneda was hired, the house, located at the corner of Walnut and Mobile Streets, was ready to serve. It had been painted and renovated and contained three bedrooms upstairs and two down. And it was filled to capacity the first night it was open. “I think we did a good job of letting the community know what we were doing,” said Arneda, “and the newspaper and local media helped us tell the community when our start date was going to be.” The location remained a secret as long as they were located there (Safeplace has long since outgrown this location and moved to a larger location), but the

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Heath (left) and Nancy Gonce in January of 1981

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organization spent a lot of time educating people about its mission, and, sadly, the need was overwhelming. How did Arneda stay upbeat and positive, when she was serving people who had such troubles? “We were so busy working to make sure the needs were met, we didn’t have time to concentrate on each individual sad story,” she said. “Instead, we worked to see that they were safe, helping to change court procedure to allow the victims to leave the court early so they didn’t have to face their batterers, and giving them shelter.” “The most dangerous time for the victim of domestic abuse is when that person decides to leave,” said Arneda. “These people are leaving their homes, many times with only the clothes and medicines they can take with them. That’s an upsetting process, and we discovered it can happen to anyone, regardless of their economic situation, their education level, or any other factor in their lives.” Even men can be victims of domestic violence, and Safeplace provides support for them as well. After twenty seven years of hard work with Safeplace, Arneda retired to spend time with her husband. They traveled, including a trip to Costa Rica, before Jim unexpectedly passed away, and Arneda decided it was time to tackle another project: she is now Community Relations Director for Hospice of the Shoals, a not-for-profit hospice.

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Hospice of the Shoals provides hospice and palliative to patients living in Lauderdale, Colbert and Franklin counties. Hospice provides in-home care, pain management, social workers and chaplains, to help the patient and their families. The organization also provides bereavement counseling for 13 months following the death of a loved one. The staff of 24 is headed by President and CEO Debra Pruitt with the help of Medical Directors Dr. Robert Webb and Dr. Ranel Spence. The difference with this job is that her work with Hospice is part-time. “I have always wanted to be more involved with my church, St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Florence, and now I can.” She is a chalice bearer, a Vestry member, a visitor to the sick and infirm, and is even involved at the diocesan level. Service is what you do; spirituality is who you are. Arneda wants to be remembered as a caring person who enabled changes in society to be made to help others. Then she pauses for a moment, and reflects. “I want to be remembered as a well-loved wife and mother,” she says. N

David Gardner, Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Properties

2093 Florence Blvd, Florence, AL 35630 Direct: 256.349.0514 March/April 2010 | 43

Marigail and Tommy Mathis, St. Remy de Provence

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TOMMY AND MARIGAIL MATHIS Renaissance Award for Business & Leadership

Ever been to the Shops at English Village in Florence? It’s a unique experience, with surprises in every store. The atmosphere there is upbeat and upscale, and the shop keepers there have transformed what could have been an ordinary strip shopping center into the Shoals area’s version of Rodeo Drive. Near the center of it all are store owners Tommy and Marigail Mathis. Marigail oversees Marigail’s, a stylish woman’s clothing store full of color, with the best window displays in north Alabama. Next door, Artifacts features beautiful art in every style, and proprietor Tommy offers artistic advice and expertise, along with a stunning selection of art from all around the world. Which, by the way, includes work he and Marigail have created. “When I was in the fourth grade, I was a swimmer, but I developed allergies and they eventually forced me to stop,” said Marigail. “To give me something new to do, my grandmother introduced me to a sewing machine, so at 8 or 9 years old I discovered the beauty of fabric.” The fact that her father was in the textile industry made it easy to study color and texture, and Marigail was fascinated by fabric design. Although she originally wanted to be a journalist, she ended up studying textiles. Tommy, on the other hand, was the oldest of three boys, and while his brothers got sports equipment as gifts, Tommy preferred paint by number, Etch-A-Sketches, and paints. He began his serious artistic work with pen and ink, but over time developed the bright signature acrylic and oil style he is best known for now. Two businesses ago—he owned an upscale men’s clothing store called “Albert’s Haberdashery” and a landscaping business before becoming a professional artist and art gallery owner—he picked up a paint brush, started painting, and he hasn’t stopped.

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Marigail and Tommy Mathis, Les Baux de Provence 46 | No’Ala

Tommy and Marigail met on Halloween of 1981, were engaged the following Valentine’s Day, and married on May Day. At the time, Marigail was a textile and fashion designer, responsible for the design direction of her family’s manufacturing business, and creating a woman’s fashion line that she sold to 600 boutiques nationwide. “While I was doing all of that, I began to see the potential for having my own retail stores,” she said, and as textile design and manufacturing began moving offshore, she phased out of the design world and into retail. “I love selling,” she said, “but mostly what I love is merchandising and display. Southern women respond to color, so I try to make sure there’s always a pop of color in the store, and I love to work on whimsical and beautiful displays and great windows. My slogan has always been ‘This Is Going To Be Fun!’ and it has been!” Tommy loves offering our region the opportunity to enjoy and own works of art from artists around the world. “Marigail and I love to travel, and when we travel we’re always looking for artists whose work we think would fit our market. Many of the artists we represent have become our friends, and we love the discovery of new beautiful things we can bring back to the Shoals.” It’s not often that galleries are owned by producing artists, and most galleries are content with what the artists give them. Artifacts, instead, practices “editing,” where Tommy picks what he wants to take into the gallery and offer to the public. It’s a concept that works, especially here in northern Alabama.

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As business leaders, the Mathis’s have helped set a standard for English Village. “Because of our makeup and because of our home ownership, we’ve been able to draw an amazing crowd,” said Marigail, “and the Marriott Hotel has helped because that’s an upscale audience who wants to shop while they’re on vacation or traveling.” Last year was challenging for the Mathis’s, because Marigail battled challenging health issues. Both Tommy and Marigail kept their positive and upbeat attitudes, and, according to Marigail, “it actually makes life sweeter. We remind each other to enjoy today, and do something wonderful each and every day, because we can’t do anything about the days that have passed, and we’re not guaranteed any days beyond this one. It’s the best day of our lives, today—even in challenging times.” And how would they like to be remembered a hundred years from now? Marigail wants to be remembered as a mentor. “I’d like to have someone say ‘she helped my great-grandmother get started,” she says. And Tommy? “I’d like to be remembered as the man who lived more than 160 years,” he laughs. N

1627 Darby Drive, English Village Florence, Alabama


Ask about our spring cooking classes! March/April 2010 | 47

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CYNTHIA A. BURKHEAD Renaissance Award for Education

“If you’re doing something you love, you’ll find time for it.” That is according to Cynthia Burkhead, the Renaissance Person for Education, to explain how she can be involved with so many different things at once, all successfully. And according to her students, she finds time to put them ahead of everything else and be an inspiration. Cynthia is not a native of the Shoals, and, in fact, she and her husband live in nearby Athens. They moved there in 1997 when her husband accepted a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) position at Redstone Arsenal, and they chose Athens because it was halfway between the Arsenal and the Shoals. Cynthia had finished her Master’s degree from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, and found work teaching at UNA. She teaches Freshman Composition, Sophomore Literature, and a class in Oral Traditions at UNA while she finishes her Ph.D. at Middle Tennessee State University in television and film. That’s the first thing she’s involved with: her students. According to the students who nominated her for the Renaissance Award, she brings a personal touch to teaching and makes the subjects relevant and interesting. Her teaching style is engaging, and she’s able to make a basic course like English Composition actually fun. When she was approached by Habitat for Humanity and asked to interview for the position of faculty advisor, it was a no-brainer. “In my life I’ve been a single mother, living paycheck to paycheck, and I certainly understood the need that Habitat fills,” she said. “Habitat home owners are working and struggling, and this organization provides a needed service with dignity.” Habitat for Humanity builds houses from the ground up for deserving families, who participate in construction and dedicate sweat equity to their

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Photo by Shannon Wells

Burkhead on site of a Habitat for Humanity house

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new home. Under her leadership as advisor, the UNA Habitat program has built two houses, including the first solar Habitat house in the state of Alabama. “I’m so proud of these students,” says Cynthia, “because they are so committed to this cause.” There are about 50 members of the campus Habitat organization, which meets every two weeks on campus and also participates in a spring break trip to build a Habitat house in another location. (This year, UNA students will travel to Meridian, Mississippi, to build a house during spring break.) Teaching, Habitat, and a commute every day from Athens would be enough for most people—but that’s not all Cynthia is involved in. “Four years ago I was asked to become involved in the George Lindsey Film Festival at UNA, and I agreed. I worked with Garry Warren until he retired, and then I cochaired the event with David Shields, the Vice President for Student Affairs at UNA. I’m so excited about this year’s Festival, because it will include the 25th Anniversary “Back To The Future” Reunion and will feature appearances by actors Lea Thompson, James Toklan and Claudia Wells, along with screenwriter Bob Gale.” This year’s Festival will be March 4 through 7. “I love teaching at the college level because I want to be in a classroom where the students are involved,” she said. “I was a teaching assistant when I went through my Master’s program, and I loved it because I learned from the students every day. At UNA, I find that the students are gracious, polite, and generally more adult than in other places, and that makes for a great relationship. This is a good place to teach.” And she considers the Shoals a good place to live; she and her husband will probably move to Florence when he retires as director of the airfield at Redstone. That should free up a couple of hours she spends behind the wheel; wonder what she will get involved in to fill the time? Teaching, Habitat, a dissertation and a film festival—what more can Cynthia cram into a busy week? Well, motherhood— she has twin boys who are both in college, and two stepchildren, a daughter in Austin, Texas, and a son in Los Angeles. And how would she like to be remember a hundred years from now? “As someone who made every minute count,” she said. And as our Renaissance Person for Education, she’s already there. N

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{ guess who I saw } Jean Schulman and Nancy O’Neal

Mary and Tom White, and Robin Wade

Dr. Carl and Susan Gebhardt Edsel Holden

Alan Flowers

Tori Bailey

Dr. Mary Leigh Gillespie


No’Ala Renaissance Awards JANUARY 14, 2010  DISH C AFÉ , FLORENCE Nicki Graham, Dr. David and Jean Gay Mussleman

Linda Wade and Sandi McGee

Dr. James Ryerson and Mary White

Virginia and Gene Gooch

Bill and Janet Griffin

Jackie and Debra DombrowskiHendrix 52 | No’Ala

Nicki Graham, Frankie Guerra and David Messer

Elba Barnes

Dr. Dorothy Hardy Frankie Guerra and David Messer Dr. David Mussleman and Mary Settle Cooney Arneda Heath

Tori Bailey and Edsel Holden

Tommy & Marigail Mathis

Inez Holden

Nicki Graham and Dr. David Mussleman

No’Ala Renaissance Awards JANUARY 14, 2010  DISH C AFÉ , FLORENCE

Dr. Nolan Richards

Odessa Bailey, Tori Bailey, Bill and Janet Griffin

Curtis Flowers and Dr. Dorothy Hardy

Marigail Mathis

Katy Wilson, Debbie Wilson, and Lola Fossett

Dr. James Ryerson

Mary Settle Cooney and Audwin McGee

Tommy Mathis

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Actor Josh Duhamel in a classic three-piece suit and purple tie

© Music4mix

“I’m seeing one shoulder shirts and dresses, lace, and also anything with color.” » Christy Dolly

Actress Devon Aoki in an asymmetrical off-the-shoulder purple gown

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© Cinemafestival

Three-piece suit and accessories from the Billy Reid Spring 2010 line

© Billy Reid, Inc.

Padma Lakshmi in an asymmetrical off-the-shoulder turquoise gown

© Rena Schild

“Classic looks are big right now, and it’s all about quality over quantity.” » Marigail Mathis

“My design work is inspired by cultural influences—the perfect ‘French’ chair, a great ‘Italian’ mirror or a fab ‘Moroccan’ pillow.” » Lynn Coleman

Blues and Greens are hot as well as architectural prints and botanical prints. » David Smith


What’s hot—and what’s not? No’Ala asked local design professionals four questions about directions in fashion, both for clothing and for the home, to get their opinions about national trends and to see if they thought Shoals shoppers would follow. The answers were varied, but revealed a lot about how the Shoals shops and whether or not we follow the fads.

What will be the “big thing” this year, and will Shoals consumers embrace it? Design Panel Edy Carlton Owner, Halsey House Leslie Cassady Owner, Audie Mescal Lynn Coleman Interior Designer Christy Dolly Owner, Frolic Suzanne French Owner, Halsey House Jenny Hill Interior Designer, The French Basket Marigail Mathis Owner, Marigail’s Tommy Mathis Artist/Owner, Artifacts Billy Reid Fashion Designer, Billy Reid David Smith Interior Designer/Owner, David Christopher’s Paige Thornton Interior Designer/Owner, The French Basket Susan Trousdale Interior Designer

Environmentally friendly designs are fashionable this year, and people in the Shoals want to be responsible, fashionable, and reasonable with their budgets. » Susan Trousdale Natural products are big this year, but we are buying them sparingly to make sure Shoals consumers will embrace them. » David Smith Vintage pieces add character and depth to any space, and it’s all about the mix of old and new. » Suzanne French & Edy Carlton People are entertaining more at home during this recession, so they are buying new dinnerware or freshening up their dining rooms and living spaces, with shades of purple and raspberry, mixed with shades of chocolate, blue and green. It just doesn’t get better than a large print of all of your favorite colors on a soft linen background. » Jenny Hill It doesn’t really matter what colors are hot—it’s all about how you use them. With the current economy, the really big thing is the ability to update, and we are all having to be more creative. » Lynn Coleman

The big thing I see this year is the introduction of comfort into the home, and allowing this comfort to be expressed in your entertaining. Relaxed slipcovers, old farm and pastry tables, refurbished hand-me-downs, a worn antique rug, mix and match tabletop, a refurbished sink or tub, earthy materials such as wood or stone, and candlelit chandeliers. I love the fact that we can make our own personal style.” » Paige Thornton Classic looks are big right now, and it’s all about quality over quantity. People want to buy quality, so they are investing in clothing that will look good, never go out of style, and will last a long time. » Marigail Mathis Boots have been appearing more this year and will continue to be a going trend for a while. I have also noticed a larger amount of white denim this year. » Leslie Cassady I’m seeing one shoulder shirts and dresses, lace, and anything with color. » Christy Dolly I’ve seen bright yellow feather suits and folks wearing brown uniforms…’Individualism’ is what is hot. People are being who they are and dressing by their own rules. People are more independent than ever, with every bit of information available at their fingertips these days. Trends are reaching the streets at microwave speed these days! » Billy Reid

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What colors and prints are hot right now? I see bold accent colors popping against a creamy natural palette of browns, grays and khakis. This allows you to be brave enough to accent with happy colors, such as shades of orange, bright yellow and kiwi green, or with “old soul colors,” the turquoises, violets and blues. » Paige Thornton Variations of oranges like coral and tomato red will be great accent colors with neutrals such as gray, rich browns and milky whites. » Suzanne French & Edy Carlton

“Vintage pieces add character and depth to any space, and it’s all about the mix of old and new.” » Suzanne French & Edy Carlton

Blues and Greens are hot as well as architectural prints and botanical prints. » David Smith Neutral colors with a pop of gold or bright color. Clean colors and clean lines are key. » Susan Trousdale Bright colors such as teals and blue variations are popular as well as muted floral prints and abstract designs. » Leslie Cassady Variations of yellows and teals are hot. Anything bright like hot pinks are also popular. » Christy Dolly In our stores, we always have a pop of color—it’s the “candy.” We’re seeing happy colors, like turquoise, coral, soft neutrals and orange and red—in fashion and in home design » Marigail & Tommy Mathis

How much are you influenced by trends? Do you tend to follow them, or do you rely on your own experiences, expertise, and intuition? Or do you rely on input from your customers? I am always excited by the newest fabric book with the latest colors and prints, or by a trip to market—that gives me inspiration. But at the end of the day, my intuition and my client’s needs dictate my overall design decisions. » Paige Thornton I like to watch and study trends but I tend to go more with my instinct. Most people can’t afford to redo their house every year, so I have to go with what they like and makes them comfortable. » Susan Trousdale I’m inspired lightly by trends, but I do watch them. I tend to do what I think is best. My main focus is what the customer wants because it’s their house, not mine. » David Smith I just do what I do, and hopefully people relate to it. » Billy Reid It’s hard not to be influenced by trends a little, but typically it’s by our own intuition. We do listen to the customers and focus on what they are telling us that they want. » Suzanne French & Edy Carlton I usually go half and half as far as following trends and going with my own intuition. I have to look for things that will stand the test of time and look for more of a style than a trend. I do rely on input from customers as well. » Leslie Cassady My design work is inspired by cultural influences—the perfect “French” chair, a great “Italian” mirror or a fab “Moroccan” pillow. » Lynn Coleman The race for disposable fashion is over. People are going back to basics, back to elegant style. It’s “slow fashion,” a return

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to classic style that looks good no matter where in the world you happen to be. We value good wardrobing that lasts, rather than hopping on trends. » Marigail Mathis I do pay attention to trends, but I also like to create my own trends too. Having your own style and edge is important. I also like to know what my customers want, so I listen to them as well. » Christy Dolly I love trends, but they are not for everyone. It really varies from client to client, and I definitely listen to what they want. I want to help my clients use the things they love and make it look fabulous for them no matter the style. After all, they are the ones living with it. » Jenny Hill We’re spoiled. We go to market and see things six months before anyone else, so we edit, edit, edit. We run more on instinct than trends, based on years of experience. » Tommy Mathis

Is the “green/environmental” movement affecting the choices at market? Is it influencing your design direction? Are your customers requesting green materials? Everything is beginning to lead more toward earthy tones and looks, but customers are not currently requesting green materials. » Susan Trousdale Very little choices are directed toward the “green” movement. Never had a customer ask for it. » David Smith Design is moving towards more organically inspired textile patterns, furniture and materials. » Lynn Coleman Organic linens are going to be popular as part of the going green trend. It’s also a color-trend. Moss green is going to play a larger role this year. » Suzanne French & Edy Carlton

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We are seeing a fresh organic movement in many of our lines. It gives us a sense of pride to know that the hand carved stool is salvaged wood, or tabletop linens are made from organic home grown cotton. The customer is attracted to organic and appreciates it, although we haven’t had a huge request for it. » Paige Thornton There are more items offered, but I am not getting any requests for any of it from customers. » Leslie Cassady I haven’t seen that the “environmental/green” movement has had a major impact yet, and I haven’t had any requests for it, but we may see an increase in it once consumers start to embrace it more. » Christy Dolly We are seeing it more and more, and more of our vendors are going green. A lot of our merchandise is made from recycled materials, and our customers notice that. They appreciate products that are environmentally friendly. » Jenny Hill

Color Forecast Right this moment, as you’re reading this magazine, people are meeting to decide what the hot colors are going to be for the next couple of years. This is not a joke, and it’s not a huge corporate plot against the consumer; instead, according to the Color Marketing Group, which is the largest organization that determines color trends, their members are gathering to “identify the direction of color and design trends.” CMG was founded in 1962 as a means by which design professionals could exchange non-competitive information about color, because, as they say, “Color Sells, and the Right Color Sells Better!” CMG is just one of many design direction groups—there is also the Pantone group and one called ICI (International Color Institute)—but all three predict “cool tones” for 2010. ICI has chosen “Icy Blue” as its color of the year; CMG chose “Mardi Grape,” a neutral purple, and Pantone has selected turquoise.

People appreciate it, but they aren’t requesting it. But they appreciate it— look at the success of Alabama Chanin, for example! » Marigail Mathis Our store in New York was built using 100% southern recycled materials, and much of our Florence store was, too. It wasn’t something we did to be “green” —it’s just something we believe in. » Billy Reid


“MardiGrape” “I see bold accent colors popping against a creamy natural palette…This allows you to be brave enough to accent with ‘old soul colors,’ the turquoises, violets and blues.” » Paige Thornton


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Corporate Partners March/April 2010 | 59

{ bless their hearts }

There’s Nothing Funny About Litter BY CHARLES


When I gave thought about a commentary on litter, I wondered if there was any humor in it. Other than good exercise picking litter up, there is not much good to say about it. As I think about it, however, I have picked up a total of $26.15 in change that was thrown out. In addition, some folks seem to forget to open their purchases before throwing the bags out the window, and cosmetics seem to be the most frequent find in that category. I don’t have any use for those, but I do have some appreciation for the discarded screwdrivers and wrenches.

“When we team up together to solve our common problems, we are in good company.”

There is not much humor in the eye-sore of litter and trash on our roadways and vacant properties. Instead, those plastic sacks, cans, bottles, cigarette butts, and food bags make us look lazy. The containers and plastic bags create a health issue as they catch water and breed mosquitoes. Animals search for food and spread the mess even farther. Mowers and bush hogs have no humor as they shatter bottles, shred paper and cardboard, mash the plastic into the grass, and send bits of metal flying everywhere. As the litter ebbs and flows across the landscape, it is sometimes caught in a rustic fence or is found hanging from utility wires or wrapped around a branch or found caught in a storm drain or culvert. The folks living in low-lying areas might want to invest in some flood insurance unless they are willing to pick up the litter that has washed into the storm drains surrounding their property. There is certainly no humor in our litter tax. Our cities and counties spend quite a large share of our tax dollars picking up litter. Of all our taxes, the litter tax would be the easiest to “vote down.” Simply stop littering and the tax goes away! There is no humor when litter jeopardizes our children’s future and the future of the Shoals. Litter costs us new jobs and services. Industrial recruiters and Quality of Life teams constantly survey communities for industries seeking new locations. Quality of Life teams arrive in areas unannounced and survey our community, looking at the quality of our schools, city services, health care, shopping, and in general the qual-

60 | No’Ala

ity of the community. They want their re-located employees to like their new hometown. Litter is also a consideration in this survey. If the community is littered, chances are the team will respond with a negative report. A nearby community is welcoming a new auto parts plant. All cities that were evaluated were equal in most respects, but this city excelled by having far less litter. Let us help our children remain in the Shoals with good jobs and a promising future by making our Shoals area presentable. While there may not be much humor in litter, there are some positive steps we can take to do something about it. The Shoals really is the one of best places to live. We can be thankful for our community of friends and neighbors in the Shoals. We can show our pride in our hometown by taking care of it. We can mow our lawns, care for flowers and shrubs, and rake our leaves. We can help our neighbors. There are numerous events throughout the year to remove litter. Let’s join together to stop the litter problem by not littering and if we see litter, pick it up. And, by the way, there really is some good in litter—or, more accurately the enjoyment of fellowship in common service. When we team up together to solve our common problems, we are in good company. We laugh and enjoy each other’s company as we work away the problem before us. We are in this together. Let’s get together and do something good about litter.

About Keep The Shoals Beautiful (KTSB) Since its founding in 1953, KTSB’s parent organization, Keep America Beautiful, has provided a replicable framework for community education and hands-on stewardship that reduces litter and waste, promotes grassroots volunteerism, and makes sustainable improvement possible for communities of all sizes, from coast to coast. For more information on becoming a member and getting involved with your local affiliate, Keep The Shoals Beautiful, contact the KTSB Coordinator at (256) 764-4661 or

March/April 2010 | 61

Miss Effie’s Hospitality House is a 100-year old guesthouse owned by Cypress Realty Group. It’s our way of inviting newcomers to get acquainted with the Shoals area and all the wonderful things the area offers to someone looking for a place to call home. The Hospitality House is fully furnished in a beautiful neighborhood with sidewalks in Florence and conveniently located to restaurants, churches, antique shops and more. Looking for a home in the Shoals? You are welcome to be our guest while you search! Please call one of us for reservations at Miss Effie’s.

{ guess who I saw }


Eagle Watch Cruise Aboard the Pickwick Belle · A Benefit for the St. Francis Fund JANUARY 23, 2010

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March/April 2010 | 63

{ 20 questions }

20 Questions for Giles McDaniel

Executive Director, Shoals Entrepreneurial Center

Most people think starting a business is more complicated than it is. The big deal is growing the business and clearing the obstacles you face in the first few years. The biggest mistake I see people make is over-estimating the amount of the market they can capture in the early stages of the business. Our greatest success story is the success rate of the companies we serve. 90 percent of the companies that have their roots at the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center are still in business and have created over 1,300 jobs. At the Entrepreneurial Center, we’re not just creating businesses, we’re fostering a culture of business innovation in the Shoals area. I never thought I’d see the vast number of small businesses with the ability to compete with much larger companies in international markets. Technology has leveled the playing field for small businesses. Applying this technology is critical for small companies to grow. The most rewarding part of my day is seeing one of our clients benefit from a resource that we have made available. This place would not have been successful without the foundation layed from the beginning by the original Board of Directors and Staff. They put quite a bit of time into educating the public and were blessed with early clients that grew rapidly, graduated and proved the concept to the community. When it comes to creating jobs, small businesses do it best. If you want to start a business, the first thing you need is a working knowledge of the industry segment in which you are going to compete and a niche to attack. My work is successful if I can witness a company creating a quality job that impacts a family and their community in a positive way. The best business owners are the ones who can manage all the details while keeping their eye on the big picture.

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The biggest misconception about owning a business is being your own boss. If the boss is not working and effective, no one gets paid. It’s not how smart you are, it’s how creative you can be in leveraging all the resources it takes to run a business in today’s economic climate. I think the Shoals area is ready for the film industry to emerge as an economic factor. I wonder why no one here has ever set up a recreational company providing access to the lake and river for activities such as boating, jet skiing and canoeing. It’s all worth it when we see an entrepreneur leave our facility and become a self-sustaining member of the Shoals area business community. They said it wouldn’t work, but look at EBAY, the Computer Chip and probably even the light bulb. All were ideas birthed and nurtured by entrepreneurs who changed the world. The most unique thing about the Shoals is the percentage and quality of small businesses that have impacted the national economy from here in the Shoals. I wish everyone knew the obstacles an entrepreneur faces daily and the efforts it takes to be successful. The three most important qualities a person needs to be successful in starting a business are knowledge of the industry, tenacity to succeed and good health to carry them through the long days.

Giles McDaniel is the Executive Director of the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center (SEC). Giles is a native of Mississippi and a graduate of Mississippi State University. He has served in multiple state and international organizations promoting entrepreneurial growth and asset based economic development.

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{ parting shot }

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Five convenient locations to serve you. MEMBER FDIC

From hospital beds and wheelchairs to oxygen, CPAP and more...we have 24-hour emergency service for all of your home medical equipment needs.

869 Florence Blvd., Florence 256-764-4700 202 W. Avalon Ave., Muscle Shoals 256-386-5220 2602 Hough Rd., Florence 256-740-5515

No'Ala Magazine, March/April 2010  

No'Ala's Renaissance Awards Winners, Profile of Equestrian David Adamo, Spring Fashion Forecast, Shopping, Party Pictures, Bless Their Heart...