LIVE Lee - Lee County Spring - April 2023

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PHOTOBYROBERTNOLES

ISSUE NO. 16 — MARCH/APRIL 2023
And Buff — PAGE 51
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The Opelika Police Department would like to thank the community for their ongoing support of the Together, OPELIKA campaign. Through our combined e orts, we have been able to add resources, solve crime, and make the city a safer and happier place to live.

We remain focused on strengthening relationships within the community and encourage citizens to join us at our upcoming events and programs. For more information, visit opelikapd.org.

TEXT 9-1-1 NOW AVAILABLE

Citizens can now text 9-1-1 when they need police, fire or rescue. This is a great resource for those who are unable to call dispatch or may have di culties communicating over the phone. It also features translation services to allow dispatchers to easily communicate with all citizens. Please be prepared to provide information regarding what type of emergency you have, your location, and other important details.

@opelikapd CONNECT WITH US 501 S. 10th Street, Opelika, AL 36801 334.705.5200 View online at opelikapd.org • Submit a Tip • Push Notifications • Agency Programs • Most Wanted • Additional Resources OPELIKA POLICE DEPARTMENT F E ATUR E S M ob i le Ap p
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CONTRIBUTORS

Shaye Baker

Ann Cipperly

Virginia Young

DESIGN / LAYOUT

Michelle Key

Hannah Lester

MARKETING

Woody Ross

Michelle Key

PHOTOGRAPHY

Wil Crews

Kendyl Hollingsworth

Hannah Lester

Robert Noles

Karlee Teel

STAFF BIOS

Michelle Key, Publisher

Originally from Albertville, Alabama, Michelle Key and her family moved to the Opelika-Auburn area in 2011 after her husband’s retirement from the U.S. Navy. She is a graduate of Troy University, and she joined the Observer in 2014 as an office administrator before assuming ownership of the newspaper in January 2018.

Hannah Lester, LIVE Lee Editor

Hannah Lester is an Auburn University 2019 journalism graduate who is originally from Birmingham. She started with The Observer in July 2020 and began as the Associate Editor for the LIVE Lee Magazine. She assigns, writes and edits pieces for the magazine, as well as helps to design the pages. She was named editor of LIVE Lee in July 2021.

Wil Crews, The Observer Sports Editor

Wil Crews is an Auburn University 2020 journalism graduate originally from Prattville, Alabama. He works as The Observer’s sports editor and assists in developing the weekly paper and LIVE Lee Magazine.

Kendyl Hollingsworth, Staff Reporter

Kendyl Hollingsworth is a Huntsville native and 2018 journalism graduate of Auburn University. She interned at The Observer in early 2018 before returning to north Alabama to work at two newspapers and a magazine. Following a brief hiatus to serve as a missionary, Kendyl has returned to The Observer and LIVE Lee to help tell the unique stories of people across Lee County

Robert Noles, Photographer

Robert Noles is an award-winning photojournalist who has been with The Observer for more than 10 years. Originally from Tallassee, he is a graduate of Alabama Christian College and Auburn University.

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CONTACT US Key Media, LLC 223 S. 8th St., Opelika Phone: 334-749-8003 www.LiveLeeMagazine.com editor@opelikaobserver.com. LIVELee is a publication created by Key Media, LLC.

Letter From The Editor

We’re trying something new, loyal readers. Up until now, each of our magazines has been “themed”. You’ve seen “Food and Entertainment,” “Downtown,” “Christmas,” “Art,” “History” and more.

But this issue of LIVE Lee is not themed at all. Instead, we just wrote about a variety of topics.

There are sections to this issue. Inside, you’ll find a personality section, a food section, a story on the university and others on local businesses, travel and even a section devoted to creativity within the community.

It’s going to look a little different — but we hope you’ll like it.

As we experiment with this, we will still have some themed issues throughout the year, but we will also be having these “nonthemed” issues.

This allows us to cover and share stories that don’t fit under a “theme”, and make sure we’re all-inclusive to our communities!

We love Auburn, Opelika, Smiths Station and Lee County, and we want to cover it to the best of our ability. We want to share YOUR stories and the things that matter to you as residents of these communities.

Within all this, we still want to have fun and be creative, and we hope you’ll love this first new issue.

If you ever have questions, want to get in touch or have story ideas, don’t hesitate to reach out at editor@opelikaobserver.com or to me directly at hlester@opelikaobserver.com.

Thanks for reading!

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6 LIVELee 404 S. 8th Street Opelika, AL 36801 Call me today. (334) 559-5836 Perception Therapy LLC Leslie Carol Gaultney – LPC “Unexpected events happen to people causing depression & anxiety. I'm here to listen, help you through & promote healing.” Over 31 years of experience in providing therapy. Offering in-person as well as Telehealth therapy. Table
Contents Upcoming Events ................................................ 8 A Heart For Community ................................... 10 The Beauty of Limitations .................................. 16 Another Knockout Punch ................................. 20 Spring Forward with Spring Luncheons ........... 30 Foodies for the Soul ...................................... 36 “On Tap” Is On Point ........................................ 39 Ever To Conquer ... Never To Yield ................. 46 Clean and Buff ................................................... 51 Racing For A Cause ............................................ 56 Around Town With Shaye Baker .................... 60 Into Kombat ...................................................... 64 Beyond Huntsville’s Space Frontier .............. 70 Music City Magic ................................................ 74 Calling The Creators ........................................... 78 Advertiser’s Index ................................................ 82 2020 Gateway Drive, Opelika
Of

The Opelika Azaela Wings Mural is located across the street from the Museum of East Alabama (121 S. 9th St., Opelika).

UPCOMING EVENTS

EVERY SATURDAY — O GROWS FARMER’S MARKET

APRIL 13 — SUNDILLA PRESENTS THE ROUGH & TUMBLE

APRIL 14 — TRINITY IRISH DANCE COMPANY AT THE GOGUE

APRIL 14, 15, 16 — ALABAMA SENIOR OLYMPICS: PICKLEBALL

APRIL 15,16 — AUBURN SPRING JR. CHAMPIONSHIP

APRIL 15 — NERF WAR ZONE

APRIL 15 - GLOBAL COMMUNITY DAY FESTIVAL

APRIL 15 — WALK FOR LIFE

APRIL 15 — THIRD ANNUAL SOUND WALL GARDEN PARTY

APRIL 20 — THIRD THURSDAY POETRY SERIES AT PEBBLE HILL

APRIL 20 — THE HOSPITALITY GALA

APRIL 21 — FOOD TRUCK FRIDAY

APRIL 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30 — OPELIKA HIGH THEATRE SOCIETY PRESENTS DISNEY’S “FROZEN”

APRIL 22 — SMOKEY ROBINSON AT THE GOGUE

APRIL 22 — BO BIKES BAMA

APRIL 22 — SPRING OLD 280 BOOGIE

APRIL 28 — SUNDILLA PRESENTS ABBY POSNER

Spring Events

APRIL 28 — RELAY FOR LIFE

APRIL 29 — AUBURN FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL

APRIL 29 — AUBURN CITYFEST

APRIL 29 — AUBURN RODEO

EVERY SATURDAY — O GROWS FARMER’S MARKET

MAY 3, 4 — “CHICAGO” AT THE GOGUE

MAY 5,19 — FOOD TRUCK FRIDAY WWW.AOTOURISM.COM

Photo By Robert Noles

MAY 5 — SPRING SUNDOWN CONCERT SERIES

MAY 6 — JOHNNY RAY CENTURY BICYCLE RIDE

2023

MAY 6 — SECOND SATURDAY AT PIONEER PARK

MAY 12 — SOMOS AMIGOS AT THE GOGUE

MAY 12 — SUNDILLA PRESENTS NOAH

ZACHARIN

MAY 18 — THIRD THURSDAY POETRY SERIES AT

PEBBLE HILL

MAY 18 — DOWNTOWN AUBURN FAMILY SUPPER

MAY 20 — HAY DAYS AT THE FARM AT ROCKY TOP

EVERY SATURDAY STARTING MAY 20 — AUBURN’S CITY MARKET

EVERY SATURDAY - AUBURN’S CITY MARKET, O GROWS FARMER’S MARKET

JUNE 2 — SUNDILLA PRESENTS DEIDRE MCCALLA

JUNE 2, 16 — FOOD TRUCK FRIDAY

JUNE 3 - SECOND SATURDAY AT PIONEER PARK

JUNE 6 THROUGH 11 — USA ATLANTIC SOUTH DIAMOND REGIONAL (PICKLEBALL)

JUNE 9 — SUMMERNIGHT DOWNTOWN ART WALK

JUNE 16 — SUNDILLA PRESENTS MICHELLE MALONE

JUNE 17 — FOOD TRUCK SATURDAY

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LIVE
Photos By Robert Noles and Contributed By Leigh Krehling

A Heart For Community

Leigh Krehling’s heart beats for three main things: family, friends and community.

If you’ve attended a local fundraiser, ribbon cutting, celebration or other community event in Opelika, chances are you’ve seen her there.

“I love doing things in the community and being active in it,” she said with a smile.

A native of Sylacauga, Alabama, Krehling has had her roots planted firmly in the Auburn-Opelika area since the 1990s. She attended Auburn University from 1991 to 1995, then ended up moving to Birmingham for a couple of years with her husband

Leigh Krehling

Community Relations Officer City of Opelika

Jamie after graduating.

But as it turns out, the call back to The Plains was too strong to ignore. The Krehlings returned in 1999 and haven’t looked back.

“[I’ve] been here longer than where I grew up,” she mused. Today, Leigh lives in Opelika with Jamie, who works at Auburn University, and her two sons: Whitt, a pharmacy school student at Auburn, and Gus, a junior in high school.

Krehling’s professional background includes communications, public relations and advertising. She worked for an ad agency in Auburn for about 17 years before an

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opportunity presented itself with the city of Opelika.

“The funny thing was I kind of had always joked with Jan Gunter — who was in this position before me — about ‘I want your job someday,’ and so when it opened up, I applied and was so fortunate that it worked out because it’s an extremely rewarding position,” Krehling recalled. “Joey [Motley, city administrator] and the mayor have just been wonderful to let me take the ball and run with it, and to develop new and exciting ways to reach the public.”

Last November, Krehling celebrated six years as Opelika’s community relations officer. It’s her job to serve as the liaison between the city and the public, making sure citizens, businesses and local media stay up to date on what’s happening in the community. In addition, Krehling handles social media and helps organize events.

It’s safe to say Krehling wears many hats, meaning no two days at her job are exactly the same — but you won’t hear her complaining.

“That’s what I like,” she said. “There are days that are absolutely crazy and you’re jumping from one thing to another, and then there are days where you can focus and be creative and do the fun side of the job. It is a good balance.”

What makes her job even more enjoyable, she said, is the chance to form new relationships — and enhance current ones — with other organizations in the area.

Hence her strong presence in the community.

Krehling has been involved with the Opelika Chamber of Commerce, volunteering for its total resource campaign each year. She has long volunteered with Opelika City Schools, in which both of her children have grown up. She is an active member and past board president of the

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Gus, Leigh, Whitt and Jamie Krehling

Public Relations Council of East Alabama and served on the board at Red Cross.

But there’s yet another cause near and dear to her heart.

“My heart is full for United Way,” Krehling said. Her involvement began while she was working with the ad agency in Auburn.

“We did all of the collateral marketing materials for them, and so over the years, I was able to know the employees and to know the impact United Way makes in our community,” she explained.

When Krehling started working for the city of Opelika, that involvement grew — leading to five years on the board and taking on the role as current board president.

“I’ve really indoctrinated myself into United Way and tried to do new and exciting things as board president this year to get our agencies and our board members to collaborate more throughout the year,” she said.

What’s even better, Krehling sees two worlds collide in her current job. Her department happens to be responsible for the city’s United Way campaign each year. And given her unique perspective as a volunteer, campaign chair and board president of the nonprofit, she has been able to help take fundraising to the next level.

“When I came in, the city was raising about $17,000 through the campaign,” Krehling said. “Each year we’ve improved, and we’ve done new things. A couple years ago, we decided to start

having an event at Monkey Park in the summer to raise more money and to raise awareness for United Way.”

That event was Summer In The Park, hosting Burgers and Badges. The showdown pits the Opelika Fire and Police Departments against each other to see who touts the best burgerflipping skills. Despite the intensity of the name and game, it’s all in good fun.

“I am excited to say that this past year, raised just over $54,000 for the city’s campaign, and I think it was about $12,000 came from that event at Monkey Park,” Krehling said of the 2022 Burger and Badges.

Those successes haven’t gone unnoticed by United Way Executive Director Tipi Miller, though Miller has been singing Krehling’s praises long before now.

“I have worked with Leigh since she started working for the city and I was working for Keep Opelika Beautiful,” Miller said. “When I considered applying for the United Way director position, I was thrilled to find out Leigh was incoming president of the Board of Directors.

“Leigh was the Campaign chairperson for the 2022 United Way Campaign. She was very organized, creative and did a wonderful job raising money for our 20 agencies.”

With a foot in both worlds, Krehling said she has enjoyed watching the magic unfold from behind the scenes. And with her ever-growing network of connections, she’s adept at helping connect people with the resources they need.

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After all, that’s the goal of the United Way.

Krehling is also quick to give credit to those who have influenced and supported her along the way, such as Pam Powers Smith.

“She was one of those people that I could bounce things off of and confide in,” Krehling said. “I miss her being in Opelika.”

But there are several others who have touched her life in more than a professional way — connections she can now call close friends and confidantes, such as Miller.

This “Board of Friends,” as she calls it, supports one another in a way that helps them grow both personally and professionally.

Becky Brown, who Krehling has gotten to know through Opelika City Schools (OCS), is also part of this unofficial board.

“We started working together over 13 years ago, and in addition to working really well together, we’ve become friends,” Brown, who is the public relations coordinator for OCS, said. “It’s great to have a person to talk business with and then be able to catch up on a personal level, too.”

Although Krehling stays busy, she said she still enjoys spending time with family and friends as much as she can.

One of her favorite places to visit is Lake Martin, where her parents have a lake house that has been the setting of many treasured family memories made over the years, she said.

“It’s a lot of fun when my sister comes in with her family,” Krehling said. “We’ve watched the kids grow up there.”

Around Opelika, Krehling also frequents several downtown hotspots, but she has a soft spot for nature, often spending time

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at Monkey Park and Saugahatchee Creek.

Still, there’s no place like home — especially when curled up in front of the fireplace with a good book. And after some R&R, it’s back to work in the city of Opelika.

This year, Krehling said her department hopes to enhance its communication efforts.

“Our number-one goal is to make sure that the public has knowledge about things that are going on in the city, whether that is a project going on, about laws that may have changed, about meetings and public hearings,” she explained. “We’re the folks that get to touch all of the departments, which I also like because I get to work with so many different people in the city in trying to find a way to get that information to people where they are.”

Citizens can expect to see more video series as part of those enhancements, as well as a new podcast. And sometime down the road, Krehling said she hopes to start up a Citizens Academy in Opelika.

“There is no one that works harder to promote Opelika and all it has to offer,” Brown said.

At the end of the day, Krehling said, it helps that Opelika is a special place with a special sense of community.

“It is interesting to hear people from other cities — they’re in shock when I tell them how well different agencies and departments work together in this community, whether it be emergency management or fire and police; it’s a culture that is rare, I think,” she said. “So it really is a great community. I adore Opelika.”

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The Beauty of Limitations: Redefining Freedom

Ihave a single tattoo, a large feather with four tiny birds flying from it, but the feather is being used as a quill to write the word “free.”

I have a thing for feathers — and birds — going back to my great-grandmother who painted birds on ceramic, and the memory of “tiny me” swinging in her backyard while someone sang a song about a “Little Birdie in the Tree.”

I mostly love the imagery around birds. In fact, my mom once gave me relationship advice, saying that I needed to find someone that would not “trap my bird.” I understood that I was the bird, individual and free, and I needed a partnership that honored the beauty of that freedom instead of trying to change or control me.

So, when I was to choose a single word to permanently inscribe on my arm, I was thoughtful. I looked at all the things that raised up passion in me: things like authenticity, value, worth, love and awe of ALL humans and the differences they bring to this world and the concept of a Creator.

I realized that it all converged into freedom.

As an American, it can be easy to conjure up images of patriotism, but freedom in this sense is rarely sat with, thought through, mulled over and defined. It is simply accepted as the universal idea of not being trapped or controlled. However, understanding something only by what it is not is inadequate.

So, how then might we think about freedom?

In searching the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, even in the long list of meanings for variations of the word “free,” you would be hard-pressed to find any definition that doesn’t begin with the word “not.”

Amongst the 20-plus possible definitions, here is a collection of the more generalized definitions: “not subject to the control or domination of another,” “unrestricted,” “choosing or capable of choosing for itself” and “ease.”

It’s that last one for me though, “ease” — like a bird in that perfect wind, soaring. Being carried along, the bird is nearly floating. This kind of freedom creates in me a heavy sigh of release.

This freedom, this “ease,” is the picture of peace — a concept that is entirely difficult to “create” for ourselves. In fact, striving for peace likely brings you further from it. Striving points to a constant state of heightened attention and arousal, a feeling that we are not done, that things are incomplete, that we need to keep working or that it is not enough.

In my own personal quest for peace, I recently trialed a sensory deprivation float. The idea is to allow your body to have as little input from the senses as possible, like a type of restorative meditation. The water is treated with salt, among other things, to allow you to float effortlessly.

Wax earplugs are provided to greatly reduce the sound input and to keep the water out. The water is set to approximate body temperature, and the room is entirely dark, and I mean entirely. Then you lay for 90 minutes.

The experience was interesting. At first, my mind and body actively searched for sensory input.

Then, my mind started wandering into fear of the unknown. I had feelings of inadequacy of my mind and body to truly

process the passing of time. I had fears that 90 minutes might feel like five hours or that my brain would take me into wild places.

I was concerned that the unknowing of how much time remained might create a heightened anxiety response similar to claustrophobia.

After allowing my mind to acknowledge the thoughts, I began to notice the remaining sensory input. If I lay as still as possible, there was still a little water bumping up against my skin. But in my fear of boredom, I began to explore what I could experience if I moved my body in this way or that. I began bumping up against the parameters of the pool.

As I noticed how far each side was, my anxiety began to diminish. I had a concept of the boundaries of my undirected floating. And then I was able to settle in, both to allow my thoughts to come and to allow them to leave in a meditative rhythm.

Why do I recount this experience?

Because it wasn’t until I had a sense of the boundaries in my floating experience that I was truly able to relax and let go — to rest and experience peace. I could not create that freedom or strive for that peace, but I could rest in it, as it was always there and available.

So, if peace is the type of freedom you are looking for, then it may best be found within a clear understanding of your humanity or finitude. Acceptance of the limits that are already there could lead to releasing the entanglement of unfitting expectations. It might take some undoing, as nothing is actually one-size-fits-all.

You see, American culture is heavily reliant on individualism and self-sufficiency, the flip side of which is competition. The individual longs to stand out or be noticed by their greater ability (or by having fewer limitations).

Let me acknowledge that testing limits and competition pushing us toward growth can be great, but we are not meant to be limitless superheroes or mythological gods (who all technically also have limitations. Am I right?).

While striving is not innately unhealthy, limitless striving for ever-greater ability and fewer and fewer limitations can create comparisons that connotate limitations as some kind of moral failing (Kelly Kapic You are Only Human pg. 10).

But the reality is that we are human, and humans are finite beings. We are meant to have limitations that vary per individual and that is not bad.

In fact, embracing this as reality can create the perfect boundary for the freedom and peace you long for. Learning your limits allows you the opportunity to explore and challenge your abilities within a safe and healthy framework, but to also let go of judgment around these limits.

If you ignore your limits in order to meet some social expectations, you are living outside your limits and cannot be the best version of yourself.

Taking it further, if you make a habit of ignoring your limitations for too long, real harm can occur — harm that involves mental, physical, social, emotional and spiritual health. Think depression, hopelessness, low self-esteem, social isolation, anxiety, strained connection in social relationships

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and shame.

The path of throwing out limitations — of pushing, striving and climbing to be more under the ever-moving bar of comparison and judgment — can never be satisfied.

Raise your hand if you have ever wished you could stop what feels like a runaway train and get off. Me too.

Because true freedom comes from embracing the reality that you are human and that humans are finite, with limitations, and that because you are an individual, your limitations will be distinctly individual.

More importantly, it is necessary to realize that it is okay to

embrace imperfection. It is beautiful, in fact, because when you accept and embrace your limits, you release a bondage of shame and experience peace from the newfound freedom of self-understanding and radical acceptance.

Virginia Young, ALC works under the supervision of Dr. Misty Smith. She has a bachelor’s degree in music — voice performance, a master’s degree in arts in worship ministries and a Master of Science degree in clinical mental health counseling. She will be featured as a regular columnist in LIVE Lee non-themed issues from here on out.

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Trip Walton, III

‘Another Knockout Punch’

Local attorney Trip Walton III is a fighter. Not in the traditional sense — at least, not anymore. But in the field of law.

“My approach is that I’m just a regular guy,” Walton said. “It wasn’t about the money when I first started [practicing law], it was about helping people.”

Walton, 65, has a deep-rooted family connection to legal practice. His father was an attorney; his grandfather was a judge; his uncle was a lawyer and senator; his sister is an attorney herself. He spent his undergrad at Auburn University before earning his law degree from the University of Alabama in 1984.

“I guess if they had all been brick masons, I’d be laying brick,” Walton said. “I did [law] mainly because they thought I couldn’t do it.”

Following graduation and after many years of practicing law with larger firms, Walton decided to build his own practice in 2001 — Walton Law Firm, P.C. The goal: to stand up and fight for those who cannot defend themselves.

“If you’re not into helping people, you might as well not do it,” Walton said. “We take our time; we meet the clients. We are going to do it the right way.”

While some practices will pick and choose which cases they take with an eye on the payout, Walton said it’s often the smaller cases that he most fondly reflects on.

“The ones where we help people be able to survive major injuries are probably the most rewarding,” he said. “Even just helping people through their daily problems and little criminal cases [are rewarding]. When someone gets arrested on a DUI, it’s big to them.”

Personal Injury Attorney Catherine Moncus, who has worked with Walton for 15 years, shares a similar sentiment. She expanded on the efforts she; Walton and the rest of the firm make for their clients.

“A lot of it is patience and communication skills,” she said. “You have got to be able to relate to the client, and a lot of times they just need someone to listen. I love what I do. I love helping people. That’s what we are here for.”

According to Marketing and Public Relations Manager Betty Burns, who has been with the law firm since 2010, the unique and personal way in which Walton and his firm interact with cases stretches into the workplace, too. In fact, Walton is so big on helping people that he built an in-office gym to encourage his employees to work on their physical and mental health.

“It can get stressful,” Burns said. “We try to keep it fun and light because sometimes we can deal with some really heavy stuff. And Trip is a big proponent of health, so he built that gym for all of us. It’s just a great place to work. We are really cohesive; we care about each other. For clients, sometimes going

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to a lawyer or attorney can be really intimidating, so to be able to come in our office and experience a relaxed, caring environment, I think it’s a sense of peace that comes over you, it’s like you’re going to be okay.”

In addition to his efforts to try and improve workplace morale, Walton and his firm are regularly involved in community outreach. The firm does a number of things such as volunteering at the food bank and working with community organizations like Opelika Kiwanis, The Boys and Girls Club, United Way, BigHouse Foundation and more.

“We live in the community that we work in, and it is so important to us that we do as much as we can actually serving the community in more ways than one,” Burns said. “Our whole brand is about helping people. Really being there out in the community builds that bond and trust. If we don’t know the

community we work in, why are they going to come work with us?”

Over the course of his long and distinguished law career, Walton has earned a reputation in the personal injury, tractor trailer collision, traumatic brain injury and mediation arenas. He has spoken all across the country at professional conferences and tirelessly stood up to big insurance companies, winning multimillion-dollar settlements for his clients. Recently, Walton was named to the 2023 Best Lawyers List by usnews.com, the oldest and most respected peer-reviewed publication company in the legal profession.

Walton is rated AV Preeminent by the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Rating Service, which means he has been rated by his peers as having the highest level of legal ability and ethical standards. He has also been selected yearly as an Alabama

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Walton won the 1982 Alabama Golden Gloves Heavyweight Championship.
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Super Lawyer, Top Attorneys in Alabama and 100 Top Trial Lawyers since 2011. In 2020, Walton joined the American Bar Association, joining a global honorary society of attorneys, judges, law faculty and legal scholars.

“We didn’t know what Super Lawyers was,” Walton said. “It’s supposed to be the top 5% of lawyers in the Southeast. Most of these groups are pretty exclusive, so those are nice.”

What many people do not know, however, is how Walton’s law practice is intertwined with fighting. No, not the scrappy, parking lot or bar-type scuffle. Nor the verbal courtroom fight he puts up for the interest of his clients. But the one-on-one, within the rules and ring, “padding on the gloves with a referee” kind of fighting. That’s where the surprising intersection of combat sports and practicing law meets for Walton.

During college, Walton explored combat sports and enjoyed

a successful amateur boxing career, going 20-1 and becoming known for his knockout punch (which earned him his first 18 victories).

“You have to have an aggressive nature for [boxing],” Walton said. “Which is good for being a trial lawyer. That’s why now we use [boxing] as a part of our marketing.”

Growing up in LaFayette, Alabama, Walton admired LaFayette native and Heavyweight World Boxing Champion Joe Lewis.

“We have a statue of him there now,” Walton said. “I had heard about my whole life a famous boxer who was born and raised 10 miles from [my] house. So that was just why early on I was interested [in boxing].”

Walton’s boxing record includes the Auburn University and Southeastern Regional Intercollegiate titles in 1978, a win in the Georgia Golden Gloves Tournament in 1980 and the Alabama

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AAU Open-Class Heavyweight Championship in 1981. He concluded his boxing career in 1982 by winning the Alabama Golden Gloves Heavyweight Championship.

“I was doing all that while I was in law school,” Walton said. “I was a natural at it. I guess it would be like people jumping out of airplanes … it was exciting. We had to shut it down because I always told my parents if I lost I would quit.”

Though long retired from his days in the ring, Walton is still fighting. He has carried the values he learned in the ring over to his law practice, into the courtroom. Some of those values include honor, dignity, pride, persistence and diligence. It’s those qualities that Walton said helped him win over $100 million in verdicts and settlements. Of all his cases, Walton’s “Granddaddy of Them All” was an insurance fraud case which resulted in a $17.5 million verdict.

“We have been very fortunate in that regard,” Walton said. “But that being said, none of that really matters. It helps those people, and hopefully we can help some more.”

Aside from his commendable law and boxing careers, Walton is by all accounts a down-to-earth, good person. In his down time, Walton enjoys working out and spending time with his dog, Coco. He is an Eagle Scout and even appears on a recurring television talk show on BEETV where he and co-host Kevin Dunn chat about everything from sports and current events to law. The show can be found on Youtube by searching the “Trip Walton Show”.

“It’s fun; we talk about everything from serious cases across the country to what we are doing,” Walton said. “It’s just sort of entertainment.”

Walton Law Firm, P.C., serves the counties of Lee, Chambers,

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Macon and Tallapoosa in Alabama and Troup and Harris Counties in Georgia. In the end, Walton’s practice is about more than just “winning” the next big case. It’s about putting your best foot forward and helping others. That’s what Walton Law Firm is all about.

“We don’t start the fight, we finish it,” Walton said. “It’s just another knockout punch.”

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The Food Lee County

Food of County

Springing Forward with Spring Luncheons

As spring’s pageantry of colors unfolds in azaleas and dogwoods in East Alabama, celebrate the season of rebirth with a scrumptious menu capturing the flavors of the season. Whether it is Easter, a bridal shower, club luncheon, friend’s birthday or getting friends together to savor the season, plan a menu to include fresh spring favorites.

To avoid spending time in the kitchen the day of the luncheon, rely on make-ahead recipes. Entertaining is stressfree when all of the dishes are prepared ahead and waiting to be placed in the oven or removed from the refrigerator and served.

Set the table a day ahead, and bring in a bouquet of spring flowers from the garden for a simple arrangement for the table. Have as much done ahead of time as possible in order to relax on the day of the luncheon.

Invite family and friends for a wonderful meal to share together either indoors, on the patio or porch while spring flowers are in bloom. Linger over a yummy dessert, enjoying conversation and time together.

Select from the following recipes to create a celebratory occasion. Welcome the arrival of spring with a luncheon or supper, featuring the flavors of the South.

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Smoked Salmon Mousse Tarts or Spread

- 4 oz. pkg. smoked salmon

- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice

- 1/2 cup heavy cream

- 4 Tbsp. butter

- 1 pkg. miniature phyllo pastry tarts

- Capers, dill for garnish

Combine salmon and lemon juice in food processor; blend until smooth. Add butter and then cream; process until smooth. Can make ahead.

Bake pastry tarts as directed on package; cool. Fill pastry cups. Top each one with a caper and sprinkle dill over top. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Smoked Salmon Spread:

Instead of pastry tarts, place salmon mousse in a small bowl and serve with crackers or toasted bread squares. Offer assorted toppings, such as capers, dill and finely chopped red onion.

Tomato Pesto Tarts

Laurie Gilbert

- 1 pkg. miniature phyllo tart shells

Filling:

- 1/3 cup mayonnaise

- ¼ cup mozzarella cheese

- 3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

- 2 tsp. basil pesto

- 1/8 tsp. pepper

- 2 chopped plum tomatoes

Combine filling ingredients. Spoon filling evenly into miniature phyllo tart shells. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes. Makes 15 tarts. Easy to double.

Marinated Fresh Asparagus Salad with Toppings

Makes a lovely luncheon dish and can be prepared ahead.

- 1 lb. fresh asparagus

- Leaf lettuce

Dressing:

- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar

- 2 tsp. salt

- 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

- 2/3 cup olive oil

- 1 ½ tsp. sugar

- ½ tsp. Tabasco, optional

- 3 Tbsp. chopped green onions

- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice-

- 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley

- Dash of pepper

Topping options:

- ¼ cup pimiento stuffed green olives, sliced

- Small jar chopped pimiento, fresh chopped tomatoes or sliced boiled eggs with parsley for garnish

Steam asparagus until just tender; plunge into ice water to stop cooking. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine vinegar, salt and mustard. Slowly add oil, beating well. Add remaining ingredients. Pour over asparagus; refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, line platter with leaf lettuce. Arrange asparagus on lettuce and garnish with topping of choice. Can serve remaining dressing on the side, if desired. Serves 6.

LEE COUNTY SPRING 31

Baked Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Fresh Tomato Balsamic Sauce

Nancy Loper

Can be made ahead.

- 4 (6 oz.) boneless chicken breast halves or thighs

- 4 thin slices prosciutto, trimmed of fat, or ham

- 4 slices Swiss cheese

- 4 basil or fresh spinach leaves, optional

- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Fresh Tomato Balsamic Sauce:

- 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

- 1 bunch green onions, sliced

- 1 1/2 to 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved

- 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

- 1/4 cup or more chicken stock

- Salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken cut side up on cutting board; salt and pepper both sides. Place a piece of clear plastic wrap over or put in a baggie to make it easier to handle. Working from the center out, pound lightly with a meat mallet. Remove wrap.

Place a slice of prosciutto on each piece of chicken and cover with cheese. Top with basil leaves, if desired. Tuck in sides; roll up jelly-roll style, pressing to seal well.

Place chicken breasts into baking dish. Drizzle about 2 Tbsp. olive oil over chicken. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

To make sauce, add 1 Tbsp. olive oil to skillet along with green onions and cook over moderate heat until softened. Add tomatoes and cook, tossing until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add vinegar and cook until nearly evaporated, about 30 seconds. Add stock, season with salt and pepper and simmer until slightly reduced for about 2 minutes. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve.

To make ahead: assemble chicken and store in refrigerator until ready to bake. Prepare grape tomato sauce ahead and reheat before pouring over chicken.

Serves 4.

Individual Strawberry Shortcakes

Carol Duncan

- 3 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced

- 1/3 cup sugar (or more to taste depending upon sweetness of strawberries)

- 1/3 cup fresh orange juice

- 2 tsp. vanilla

- 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

- 3 Tbsp. sugar

- 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla

- 1 loaf of good quality pound cake (homemade or Sara Lee)

- Fresh mint leaves for garnish, optional

Mix one cup of strawberries with 1/3 cup sugar, orange juice, 2 tsp. vanilla and 2 tsp. lemon juice and pulse in food processor. Slice remaining strawberries into 4ths and mix with the strawberry/vanilla juice mixture. Keep refrigerated if using later.

Slice pound cake into 3/4 inch slices and then cube.

Whip heavy cream, 3 Tbsp. sugar and ½ Tbsp. vanilla in a mixing bowl until soft peaks form.

To assemble: Layer pound cake cubes in martini glasses or individual bowls. Top with about 2 Tbsp. of strawberry mixture and whipped cream. Garnish with mint sprig.

LIVELee 32

Coconut Tarts

- Two 8 oz. pkg. frozen tart pie shells

- Bake shells as directed on package; set aside.

Custard:

- 4 egg yolks

- 1½ cups sugar

- 1½ tsp. vanilla

- 2½ cups milk

- 4 Tbsp. cornstarch

- 2 Tbsp. light Karo syrup

- Dash of salt

- 1 can shredded coconut, divided

- ½ stick butter

Combine dry ingredients; add egg yolks, vanilla, milk, syrup, coconut (reserving some for topping) and butter. Cook in heavy saucepan until mixture thickens. Pour into baked tart shells.

Meringue:

- 4 egg whites at room temperature

- ½ cup sugar

- ¼ tsp. cream of tartar

- ¼ tsp. salt

Beat egg whites with remaining ingredients until soft peaks form. Top pie tarts with meringue and press on reserved coconut. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about five minutes until golden brown. Makes 16 tarts.

Spring Coconut Cake with Lemon Filling

- 1 3/4 cups butter, softened

- 1/4 cup Crisco shortening

- 2 cups sugar

- 4 eggs

- 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour

- 3 tsp. baking powder

- 1/4 tsp. salt

- 1½ tsp. coconut flavoring, optional (can use vanilla extract)

- 1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, Crisco and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Stir together remaining dry ingredients. Add flavoring to milk. Add milk and dry ingredients alternately to batter.

Bake in three 9-inch greased and floured pans for 25 minutes. Allow to cool. Remove from pans and spread lemon filling between inner layers and coconut icing on the top.

Lemon Filling:

- 1 cup sugar

- 1/4 cup cornstarch

Mama’s Lemonade Tea

Vondalyn Hall

- 5 cups water

3 family size tea bags

- 6 oz. frozen lemonade concentrate

- 1 to 1 1/4 cups sugar

- Lemon slices

Place five cups of water and three family size teabags in a large container and microwave on high for 10 minutes. Remove teabags. Add frozen lemonade concentrate and sugar to the tea mixture. Stir until sugar is dissolved and concentrate is completely blended.

Pour into a 64 ounce pitcher and add as much water as is needed to fill the container. Add almond extract, if desired. Refrigerate until chilled. Add lemon slices just before serving.

- 1 cup boiling water

- 4 egg yolks, lightly beaten

- 2 tsp. grated lemon rind

- 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

- 2 Tbsp. butter

Combine sugar and cornstarch in saucepan; whisk in one cup boiling water. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until dissolved. Slowly whisk in 1/4 of hot sugar mixture into egg yolks, then add back to sugar mixture in pan. Continue to whisk; add lemon rind and juice. Cook until mixture is thickened, just a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter. Let cool and stir occasionally.

Coconut Icing:

- 1/2 cup butter, softened

- 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese softened

- 16 oz. pkg. powdered sugar

- 1½ tsp. coconut flavoring

- 1 pkg. angel flake coconut

Beat butter and cream cheese until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar and flavoring. Spread on top and sides of cake. Pat coconut to cover.

33 APRIL 2022
34
Lee
LIVE

two performances

Wednesday, May 3

Thursday, May 4 7:30 p.m.

Woltosz Theatre

LEE COUNTY SPRING 35

Foodies for the Soul

Foodies Gourmet Café and Bodega in Auburn is my new favorite lunch spot.

I first visited there at the turn of the new year, fresh off a grueling, two-hour pickleball match that rivaled the intensity of the U.S. Open Tennis Championship finals. My energy was depleted and I wanted something fulfilling but healthy. Foodies fit the bill.

Upon parking in front of the establishment located at 1212 Gatewood Drive in Auburn, I’ll admit, I didn’t expect much. “How good can a sandwich place really be?” I thought to myself.

Well, a sandwich shop can only be so good, but Foodies is much more than that. The food options are fresh, diverse, modestly priced and audaciously delicious. Ohh, and the vibes — immaculate!

Overall, Foodies serves coffee, hot teas, curated cold

drinks, breakfast, lunch, dinner, pizzas, pastries, charcuterie, sweets and snacks, too. Additionally, the in-house store offers an olive oil and vinegar tasting bar, along with a wide array of local and international food and snacks available for purchase. They also cater to gluten-free and low-calorie diets.

Back to my lunch. Walking through the front doors, my eyes were immediately opened to the uniqueness of the quaint eatery. Catching my attention to the left was Foodies’ small but eclectic food market. Most everything was either locally or organically sourced. Different flavors of oils, aiolis, sauces, spices and pickles; a variety of soaps, candles and pastas; a plethora of kitchen-cabinet-musts that I didn’t know I needed until I saw them, had me looking like a kid in a candy store. And the best part? They had a large selection of actual candy inside, too.

36 LIVELee
Foodies is located at 1212 Gatewood Drive,Suite B1, Auburn.

Eventually, I digressed from the enticing, individually packaged goods to turn my focus on ordering lunch. We were too late to order breakfast, which would have included options like muffins, bagels, biscuits and a wide assortment of sandwiches.

But since I had just finished a workout, my eyes glossed over the pizza selection (Although there was a gluten-free cauliflower option that would have sufficed as a low-calorie substitution.), and landed on the sandwich section. A selfproclaimed pursuer of the perfect sandwich, my eyes grew 100 times bigger than my stomach when I learned of my options. Seventeen different sandwiches, all available on croissant, bagel, five grain wheat, sourdough or gluten-free bread elicited saliva out the side of the mouth.

Once I conquered my gluttonous urge to order multiple menu items, I settled on the Great Gatsby — on sourdough. Smoked turkey, bacon, avocado, Roma tomato, fresh chunks of mozzarella and chipotle aioli — I couldn’t have tailored a sandwich more to my liking.

Fast forward five minutes and Foodies’ Great Gatsby sandwich made me feel how I felt when I read its counterpart novel of the same name — it was over too soon.

My girlfriend, who opted for a more diet-appropriate salad, ordered the Hail Caesar Salad (I always enjoy going

out to eat with her because she rarely finishes her meal — a circumstance that I reap the benefits of often.).

At the risk of being sesquipedalian, I’ll just say both our meals were fit for an emperor. I’m kidding. A little. But since being back and trying more lunch options, I’ve decided everything at Foodies gives the customer ample bang for their buck.

Foodies, on the surface, is a very modest establishment. Once in it, however, it’s stunning how much quality is packed into such a charming, artsy store. There’s even a TV inside that has inclined me to stick around and watch the end of an Auburn basketball game.

If you’re looking for a new breakfast, lunch or dinner spot — one that caters to every diet and provides unique, fresh food options — Foodies may be the spot for you.

LEE COUNTY SPRING 37
Stephen Bradford, Siryn Bradford, Jeremy “Smokey” Brooks
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“ON TAP” Is On Point

LEE COUNTY SPRING 39
Photos are from a previous year’s On Tap event.

For the fourth year in a row, Opelika Main Street is gearing up to host its annual craft beer event in the historic downtown. On May 13 from 1 to 6 p.m., local craft beer lovers are invited downtown to taste and sip and enjoy an afternoon together

“A lot of breweries come from all over and bring us different types of beers,” said Melissa Munford-McCurdy, interim executive director of Opelika Main Street. “You get 50 choices of beers in a 2-ounce pour, so it’s pretty much like a beertasting festival. And we’re going to have food trucks out there as well so you can have some food to digest all that beer.”

Despite the premise of the event, Munford-McCurdy said that actually, On Tap is a fun time to bring anyone to downtown Opelika — specifically 1st Avenue.

“It’s a big, fun event,” she said. “It brings a lot of people out to the city, and it helps bring people in so then they can go out and try our other shops and eateries once the festival is over.”

Munford-McCurdy said they expect between 700 to 1,000 people to attend this year. This number has grown over the past four years.

Main Street has been planning this year’s event since January.

Tickets will be available at Eventbrite or www.opelikamainstreet.org. Local downtown stores in Opelika, such as Red Clay Brewery, will also have tickets available.

“It’s a family-friendly event, even though it’s, you know, a beer festival,” Munford-McCurdy said. “… Opelika Downtown is an entertainment district, so a lot of people do bring their whole family out with them when they do come.”

40 LIVELee
LEE COUNTY SPRING 41
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Around

Around Town

Ever To Conquer

46 LIVELee
Photos Contributed By AU Athletics Photos from last year’s A-Day game

... Never To Yield

LEE COUNTY SPRING 47

It’s time for A-Day!

Auburn’s football team has a chance to gear up and show off for fans long before September shows its face.

A-Day is the annual spring football game on The Plains in Jordan-Hare Stadium. On April 8 at 1 p.m. fans are welcomed back into the atmosphere of a fall in Auburn.

“A-Day weekend is an opportunity for everyone to come together on The Plains and enjoy kind of a spring homecoming of sorts with so many events home in a short period of time,” said Rhett Hobart, deputy athletic director for external affairs. “[I think] it allows fans to enjoy everything they love about the fall and game days on campus for one full weekend of spring with many sports and events happening all over that same weekend.”

It’s not just football taking place the weekend of April 8. On April 6, Auburn baseball hosted Texas A&M at 7 p.m and will also play on April 7 at 6 p.m. and April 8 at 4 p.m.

Fans can also take in the Auburn men’s tennis team playing against Arkansas at 3 p.m. at the Yarbrough Tennis Center. Admission is free,

48 LIVELee

Hobart said.

There is an extra bonus for baseball that weekend.

“Additionally, Auburn will honor National Baseball Hall of Famer Frank Thomas with a statue unveiling ceremony at the exterior entrance of Plainsman Park on Saturday at 10 a.m. CT,” a press release said.

Thomas came to The Plains in 1986 for football but made his mark on the diamond.

“Frank Thomas will be in town; we are unveiling a very large statue of him right in front of the main gate to Plainsman Park,” Hobart said. “That ceremony will be free and open to the public right out front of the stadium. So fans can come up and hear him speak, hear a number of Auburn special guests speak and talk about Frank and the legacy he left at Auburn and throughout his professional career.

“Then on top of that, we also will have a special pop-up store that will be offering vintage baseball and other apparel and memorabilia honoring Frank Thomas that will be located right out [front of] the baseball stadium. It will be a really, really cool kind of experience, more than just a store.”

Then on Saturday, following the unveiling of Thomas’ statue, fans will step back into football.

Although the game will kick off at 1 p.m. in Jordan-Hare, no one, of course, wants to miss Tiger Walk. Tiger Walk will take place right after the ceremony for Thomas, Hobart said.

“Tickets to attend A-Day in Jordan-Hare Stadium are on-sale now through the Auburn Ticket Office for $10 to the general public and free for current AU students,” the press release said. “All $10 seats are general admission. Tigers Unlimited premium seat holders will receive information via email ... regarding tickets for their respective club spaces. Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance to avoid waiting in line on April 8.

“A-Day tickets can be purchased here on AubTix.com or in-person at the Auburn Ticket Office located at Neville Arena, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.”

So, between three different sports and ceremonies, it will be a busy weekend.

“The goal for Saturday was trying to create a schedule in which fans could attend every event without having to choose what to go to,” Hobart said. “… For me, always the opportunity to experience a game day in Jordan-Hare, I think, is special. You know, you only get usually seven or eight times you can do that in a year. When you add this opportunity, it gives you one more chance to get together with your friends, with family, with other members of the Auburn family to just enjoy a game day on campus.

“… It gives an opportunity for fans to come and enjoy what they love about Auburn on a game day experience one more time throughout the year.”

LEE COUNTY SPRING 49

Clean and Buff

LEE COUNTY SPRING 51
Photos By Robert Noles

One of Auburn’s newest businesses smells great. That’s because Buff City Soaps makes its own products — soaps, bath washes, scrubs and more.

The new store at 312 W. Magnolia Ave. opened right before the Iron Bowl, Thanksgiving and Black Friday — a.k.a, a busy weekend.

Of course, then comes the Christmas season and then Valentine’s day.

So it’s been a busy season for this baby business.

“We had a lot of sales for Christmas,” said Kathryn Crocker, store manager of the Auburn location. “Then we did our VIP opening, it was really good. We kind of got our name out there. We’ve worked on our social media to get our name out there as well, to get even more business.”

The business held an official ribbon cutting in January with the Auburn Chamber of Commerce and Auburn Mayor Ron Anders.

Crocker moved here in November, when the store opened, but her fiancé grew up in Auburn.

“It’s just been a really nice community to be a part of,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed being here.”

But, what exactly is Buff City?

“Frustrated by commercial soaps’ harsh chemicals, detergents and animal fats, we set out to create a better way,” said Buff City’s website. “Buff City Soap — delightfully scented plant-based soaps, handmade daily, in each of our local Soap Makeries. We’re on a mission to create handmade products that are free of harsh ingredients and full of nourishing plant based goodness.

“We take tremendous pride in handcrafting each and every bar of soap in our Soap Makery. Each one is truly unique. One of one. Just like you.”

52 LIVELee

Crocker said that all products are “handmade daily” in store. And if there’s something you’d like, they can personalize it.

“When you come in the store, you’ll see us making our body soap or our bath bombs,” she said.

However, it is actually the laundry soap that is the top-selling product.

Although there are lots of locations, Crocker said the owner knew he wanted one in Auburn.

“Rick, the owner, has always wanted to expand his stores all over South Alabama, and he thought that Auburn would be a great location because of all of the students, all of the families and he just really wanted to be here in Auburn. And it’s just been really nice.”

This isn’t the owner’s first location in a college town — he also owns one at Clemson.

While the store is mostly popular with students during the week it is very close to campus — many families come in on weekends.

There is an Auburn personalized line of products on the way, too, Crocker said. One already exists, a soap — Tiger Stripe.

“I absolutely love Buff City; I fell in love with it the first day I started working,” she said. “… The most rewarding thing for me is getting to come in the store and make the products and actually be like hands-on and working with them and to know that when I get finished making it, it’s going to be on the shelf and someone is going to buy it.”

LEE COUNTY SPRING 53
Buff City Soap is located at 312 W. Magnolia Ave.,in Auburn.
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Dylan Pegues

Racing For A Cause

Lace up your shoes. Whether you’re an avid runner or down for a one-mile fun run, the D1 Life Foundation is hosting its first-ever D1 Life 5K on April 22.

“The benefit is to raise money for the D1 Life Foundation, which is an organization that we started in memory of my nephew, Dylan Pegues. He passed away from a car accident back in June of 2022,” said Jessica Green, Pegues’ aunt and a board member for the foundation. “A goal of the foundation is raising money for seniors toward college scholarships.”

So, the money from this 5K will go toward local scholarships. The foundation (D1Life.org) hopes to eventually provide scholarships to other types of things too, Green said, like photography seminars and church camps.

Pegues was only 17 when he died in a car accident.

“He was at Auburn High School; he was a junior,” Green said. “He loved soccer, he loved the Lord, he loved his family,

he loved photography and he just lived life very intently and purposefully. And that’s kind of — at least for me, as his aunt — that’s been a strong reminder of what I want to do going forward in my life to help honor him and remember his legacy.”

The foundation was formed a few months after his passing.

“We were — Gary, Dylan’s father, and his mother Debbie, as well as his sister Alexis — had been talking about finding a way that we can turn our pain into purpose and kind of channeling our grief into something that we feel like gives back to the community,” Green said.

This is not the first event that the D1 Foundation has held. Green said there have been other fundraisers in partnership with other local associations and entities.

“We’ve raised money to go toward a soccer scholarship for the Auburn Thunder team that Dylan was a part of throughout his life, and we gave that at an awards banquet from the foundation,” she said. “And we’ve done fundraisers here and there, but this is

LEE COUNTY SPRING 57

our first big event.”

The events, held in his memory, will begin at 8 a.m. on April 22 at Town Creek Park (1150 S. Gay St.) with a one-mile fun run, followed by the 5K at 8:30 a.m. There will be local business vendors onsite as well.

Green said there is no set amount the foundation hopes to raise from the 5K.

Join others in Auburn as they laugh, run and raise money in

Pegues’ memory.

“Dylan loved deeply and fiercely,” Green said. “He was so kind to all people.”

Register here: www.d1life.org/events/inaugural-5k.

“I know it’s a run and sometimes people think that you have to be a runner to come out or you have to be super athletic, and we really want to make this day a fun, family event so you don’t have to be a runner to participate in the day.”

58 LIVELee
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Around Town With Shaye Baker

Financial freedom? A concept that never even crossed my mind until a couple of years ago. If you’d asked me what it meant back then, I would have likely conjured up from my consumeristic mind, “Being able to buy whatever I want.”

We live in the most accessible generation in the most advertised-to society of all time. With social media, billboards and 10 popup Google ads on every screen we look at, it’s impossible to know how many advertisements we see a day, but estimates range from 4,000 to 10,000. And that number will only grow with time until we have to listen to an ad before we can answer an incoming call — not to give the marketing maniacs any ideas.

So how do we become financially free in a culture where we’re constantly having our heartstrings tugged on by some company that’s telling us we can never find true happiness until we purchase the thing that only they have to offer? Well, financial freedom really isn’t about buying more stuff. It’s more tied to gratitude, contentment and delayed gratification.

My financial journey was altered drastically and forever when I ran into the woman who is now my fiancée. She was a good bit younger than me but had a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, money in the bank and zero debt.

Meanwhile, I was saddled with roughly a quarter-milliondollar yoke hanging around my neck.

The odd thing, it really didn’t feel that heavy at the time. Or at least I didn’t feel the full weight of it until I met Savannah. I was in debt, sure. I had some back taxes I was paying, a business loan, a personal loan, some debt that had hung around since college, a truck loan, a financed lawnmower and a mortgage on my house and land. And that’s just the way I thought it was for everyone.

But somehow, this young lady had a lot of accomplishments, no debt and had only had a big girl job for about a year at the time I started getting to know her. I had probably made a million dollars in my life by then, or close to it, and I was in a deep hole.

This newfound information, along with the current phase of sanctification that the Lord had me in at the time, sent me searching for answers as to how I had gotten it so wrong. I could have blamed someone else. Could have blamed the public school system, of which I graduated valedictorian in my class and don’t believe I was ever taught as much as how

to write a check in school as it pertained to finances.

But it wasn’t time to blame anyone. I was sitting in my own mess and suddenly could see it for what it was. The first step out came by way of exposure to Dave Ramsey. I had heard of Dave Ramsey several times along the way but had not aimed much attention in his direction. However, as I started asking questions to people in my small groups and church, his name kept popping up.

I wrote all of my debts down back on June 20, 2021, to the penny as best I could tell. The tally came to $239,237.71. That’s a number I can recite by heart now, not because of shame or guilt. But because that was the starting point of my financial journey to get out of debt, and therefore the baseline that I often go back to to subtract the total debt I’ve paid off from.

But before we get into that, I want to tell you a little more about the process it took to make the progress I’ve made. For starters, I didn’t do it alone. It took humility, which is not always my strong suit. A lot of pride is tied to things in this life, especially money. So we don’t like to talk about finances with one another. But the more I opened up to friends that were close to me, the more I was able to benefit from their past mistakes and successes.

We are not supposed to live this life alone, in any regard. Isolation is the devil’s playground and if he can get us alone, he can wreck our lives. One of my favorite passages from the Bible that illustrates this is Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”

And then there’s the wisdom that comes from Proverbs 24:16, “… for though the righteous fall 7 times, they rise again … .” It’s important to note here that this verse does not read that the righteous never fall, but instead that they rise again.

Armed with these truths, I joined Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU) small group led by a member of my church. This class opened my eyes to what it referred to as the eighth wonder of the world — compound interest. I learned for the first time just how much money my money could make, once I had some. But to begin with, I had to pay off my debts.

Using Dave’s Debt Snowball game plan, I started paying my debts off from smallest to largest. Then I would apply the payment I was making on the lesser one to the next one. This had me gaining momentum very quickly and I started to see how this could actually work. I could pay off debt.

Pretty soon I had paid the mower off, paid off the personal loan and was chewing away on the back taxes. But that was just enough to get me good and excited. I wanted to take a quick and big bite out of it, so I sold my Silverado for the $12,000 I owed on it and bought a little $2,000 1999 Buick Century that I’m still driving today.

Now before you start telling me you can’t drive a car like that, you’d be surprised what you can do when you make your mind up. My mind was made up. I didn’t want to live the way I was living anymore. Another impactful verse I heard for the first time while going through FPU, “… the borrower is slave to the lender.” - Proverbs 22:7

That landed pretty solid with me when I heard it almost a year and a half ago. At the time, seven different lenders owned the majority of my most valuable asset, my time. I was a slave chasing my tail in seven different directions. I’ve since paid off $44,232.62, gotten rid of all my consumer debt and only owe on my house and land. All glory to God.

It hasn’t always been easy, but you’d be amazed at how

fun and satisfying it has been. After the impact that FPU had on me, I wanted to pay it forward and co-led the small group with a friend last fall. I enjoyed getting to be a vessel used to shine some light for those that attended.

I also enjoy being creative and looking for new ways to save money and live within my means. I’ve always been a hard worker, willing to cut grass, clean toilets or whatever it took to make a dollar. I’ve always been good at making money, but I was always better at spending it. That’s how debt is created.

I didn’t have a money-making problem, I had a moneyspending problem. The road to financial freedom isn’t paved by the money you make, but instead by the money you keep. Now I meal prep, operate within a budget, and by the grace of God, through a few more years of intentional decisionmaking, my wife and I will be completely debt-free in 10 years.

A lot can happen in life, and I certainly can’t plan for everything. But that doesn’t mean living life without a plan is the way to go either. That was the line of thinking that got me into a mighty big hole to start with. I try to live more along the lines of Proverbs 16:3 now, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” And Jesus is definitely anti-debt.

My advice if you find yourself in a similar position to the one I was in two years ago: Take a long look in the mirror. Realize there’s a better way. Talk to people who care about you and are in a better spot than you are financially. Listen. Learn. Grow. Don’t focus on the money for the sake of the money. Don’t become greedy. Be generous during the process. Tithe throughout the process. And watch what happens.

LEE COUNTY SPRING 61
62 LIVELee Give one of our lenders a call or apply online. We’ll find a mortgage loan that’s right for you. Barry Bryant 334-524-5835 NMLS #1480499 Jay Hovey 334-319-6654 NMLS #1496469 Celeste Smith 334-559-9845 NMLS #1720117 Eli Rearden 706-518-8113 NMLS #1767849 Our home team means winning for you.
LEE COUNTY SPRING 63
Jarvis Hamilton

INTO KOMBAT

Jarvis Hamilton said he hopes he’s opened the newest “place to be” in Smiths Station.

Hamilton opened The Kombat Zone in November 2022.

“[The Kombat Zone] was something that I could do to get kids in the building and have something for them to do,” he said. “And I went to Smiths Station ‘cause they didn’t have anything.”

There are Nerf guns and targets, an area for “battle,” opportunities for parties and more.

Hamilton took care to get involved in the community and participate in community events so as to spread the word about his business. Word of mouth has been big too, he said.

While the business has grown since November, Hamilton said it’s far from where he wants it to be.

“I want it to be the place — the place to go to,” he said.

There are arcade games, in addition to the Nerf.

He has ideas in the works, such as glow parties with glow-inthe-dark bullets.

Kombat Zone is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 4 to 8 p.m. EST for open shooting; Saturdays is a day for parties — which must be booked (walk-in or online on the Facebook page).

Shooting targets costs $27 for one child during the week, or two for $40.

“They can just come in and shoot targets and play arcade games I don’t usually put a time limit on it unless I’m jampacked,” Hamilton said.

Children just light up when they see the store. It offers not just Nerf guns, but a variety, which appeals to children, Hamilton said.

“I see [kids] get to come in there, and in there, everybody is alike because all the kids are going to act the same way inside there,” he said.

Hamilton said that his main goal is not making money.

“Your number-one reason, it has to be a passion,” he said. “Either a passion for what you’re doing or a passion for who you’re helping.”

LEE COUNTY SPRING 65

Opelika, Alabama

Memorial Day Services

MONDAY, MAY 29, 2023 10 a.m.

Courthouse Square

South 9th Street Opelika

Reception to follow: 11 a.m.

Museum of East Alabama 121 South 9th Street

Bill Trant, Coley Trant, Gene Ward, Allison Owens, Ginger Gray-Busby, Paul Kemp, David Phillips, Roger Hughes, Lee Smith, Linda Stewart, John McCollum, Bobby McBurney

In the event of rain, services will be moved to Opelika Municipal Court Building at 300 MLK Boulevard.
Our family serving your family
ALLEN ASPHALT SERVICES 4590 Co Rd 430 Rd430 4590CRd430 Smiths Station, AL 36877 Tallen@allenasphalt.com Office: (334) 297-5725 www.allenasphaltservices.com Paving the way to The Cross

Travel Here

And There

Beyond Huntsville’s Space Frontier

Photos By Kendyl Hollingsworth

If you picked up a copy of last year’s LIVE Lee summer issue, you may remember that I’m a born-and-raised Huntsvillian. In that issue, I recalled my Space Camp experience and shared some of the city’s rich history in the aerospace industry — hence its nickname, “the Rocket City.”

And while I’m fascinated by the STEM side of Huntsville, there’s another side of it that, dare I say, is even nearer and dearer to my heart: its artistic side.

Huntsville’s best-kept secret is coming to light more and more these days. The city’s artsy streak isn’t necessarily new, but with the rapid growth of the area, its arts scene is exploding. From gigantic downtown murals, to the renovated Lowe Mill art center, to the Huntsville Museum of Art, there’s bound to be a little something for everyone.

For these reasons — and the food, of course — you can expect me to head downtown at least once every time I’m in the area.

I’ve made many memories there throughout my life, some of which I can recall from as far back as when I was 5 years old. I used to draw with my dad when I was little, and while he’s pretty modest about it, the truth is that he’s more talented than he lets on. I can thank him for nurturing my interest in art, and when I started school, my horizons started to expand beyond paper and pencils.

Thus, my parents signed me up for an art camp one summer at the Huntsville Museum of Art. The theme: Ancient Greece. I learned all about the kinds of art and architecture for which that period is known — everything from columns to clay pots — and we even got to make our own mixed media masterpieces.

Just a few steps away, right in the museum’s backyard, is Big Spring Park. If you’ve walked or driven down Spring Street on the outskirts, you might have noticed the now-iconic koi fish mural along the wall of the parking garage.

Created in 2016, the mural pays homage to the colorful fish swimming along the streams and ponds throughout the park, and I admit it — sometimes I like to imagine the “personalities” of the painted fish based on their faces. Bonus: If you look at it from just the right angle, it looks 3D.

Over on Clinton Street, if you peek down a side alley, you’ll find the Clinton Row Colorwalk. It’s truly a hidden gem — one I discovered with my boyfriend on one of our first dates back in 2019 (We still poke our heads in anytime we walk by.). The tiny, urban gallery features the colorful works of a few local artists.

On the left you’ll find a large painting of cats — my cat-lover boyfriend’s favorite — as well as a caricature of Mick Jagger and a portrait of a certain famous female astronaut.

And watch your step — don’t fall into the huge “crack” in the pavement.

Downtown is full of murals, with new ones popping up

frequently. But if you want to find that and more, I suggest heading to Lowe Mill.

The ever-growing hub for local artists and makers is housed in an old mill that was given new life a few years ago, and I swear by it as one of my favorite places in town.

There are international cuisines and artisan teas and impeccable confections. There are painters and jewelry makers and photographers. There’s a plant shop on the second level. There’s even an elevator operator to help you get there. If you like Dungeons & Dragons, visit the first floor to find a shop where you can paint your own figurine.

One of my favorite spots, however, is that of painter Julie Crews. You’ll often find her painting away by the windows in the back of her second-floor studio. A few drawings by her 6-yearold daughter also grace the walls. My boyfriend and I have gotten to know Julie a bit on our visits, and not only does she create beautiful, impressionist masterpieces, but she’s also such a kind and funny person with a passion for what she does.

That’s another part of the magic of Lowe Mill — the opportunity to break down that barrier between artist and consumer and get to know the real people behind the product. It creates a special sense of community that I adore.

And if you’re an audiophile like me, no visit to Lowe Mill is complete without a stop in Vertical House Records. I’ve been an avid vinyl collector for about 10 years now — also inspired by my dad — and Vertical House was my first real experience with an indie record store.

I always discover something new in there, and as I have delved deeper into this hobby of mine, it has been fun to watch them grow and expand over the years as well. I’m already counting down the days until Record Store Day in April!

My boyfriend and I also frequent Maxwell’s Music on Clinton Row downtown.

Jarrod, the owner, is always down to chat and give you some genuine recommendations for music and equipment. We’ve picked his brain and walked away with some true gems on more than one occasion.

His is also the only record store where I was able to track down a nice, used copy of a Graham Nash album for my dad after we saw him perform at Mars Music Hall. I could go on about Huntsville’s growing live music scene as well but that’s a topic for another day.

Admittedly, I used to take my hometown for granted. I think we all can be guilty of this at some point or another. I hope you’ll take a moment to ponder some of your own treasured memories in your hometown — whether that’s here in Lee County or elsewhere — and be open to getting to know it a little better. You might be surprised at what you’ll find!

Kendyl Hollingsworth

M U S I C C I T Y M A G I C

74 LIVELee
Review and Photos By Wil Crews

When I visited Nashville, Tennessee, for a concert last summer, I didn’t expect to return having had one of the best weekends of my life.

And I’m watching the sun go down this evening. And soon it will wake this town that’s made of dreams. But before it does, a new star will be shining. And that’s the way it is on the Nashville scene.

The journey began when I traveled down I-85 from Lee County, Alabama, crossed over and up I-65 and spent the next five hours manifesting how the ensuing days would rock my “Honky-Tonk Badonkadonk’”world.

Upon my arrival at a friend’s house where I was lucky enough to secure free lodging, there was no time to waste. While I had envisioned a perhaps quiet Friday night, preparing my mind, soul and body for the 24/7 party that is Broadway (the major thoroughfare and entertainment district in downtown Nashville), my friend had other plans.

Almost immediately, we skated out onto the town and traded in the cozy, serene townhouse environment for the chaotic, eyecatching and thrilling strip. The next 36 hours would have made even Hank, Waylon and Willie proud.

The latter two once sang about how Mamas shouldn’t let their babies grow up to be cowboys, but Nashville had me singing “Mama Tried.”

Ever since that trip, my biggest regret is that I didn’t bite the preverbal bullet and purchase the most glorious, rhinestoneencrusted white cowboy hat that just screamed out to me: “I’ll make you a star.” But I digress.

My friend, my girlfriend and I grabbed a quick bite to eat that was two parts grease and one part high-class Southern delicacy.

From there, it was a less-than-leisurely escapade through the seemingly endless road of local dives. We sang, we danced, we lived.

But before long, our tuckered bodies — which were tired from a day of traveling — headed home. Friday night, it turns out, was just the hors d’oeuvre section of our five-course tasting experience à la the Music City.

Following a much needed night of rest, our bonded trio got up early Saturday in anticipation of the night’s zenith: the concert.

It seemed as if the entirety of Nashville revolved around banjos instead of clocks as the city boasted a contagious, energetic rhythm.

We grabbed brunch on the east side of town at a chic café called Portland Brews. All I have to say about that is that Johnny Cash may have never gotten his act cleaned up — and been stuck in Folsom Prison — if he had tasted that sinfully delicious breakfast sandwich and cold brew coffee.

We then took a short drive and found parking downtown before strolling through the streets which have been lined with decades of history and greatness. For many who visit Nashville, it’s the libations and music that appeal to them the most. But I’m no die-hard country music fan — although I know my history and always appreciate a stripped-down performance from just an artist and their guitar. And while I do occasionally dabble in curious concoctions, Nashville has plenty to do for the nondrinkers among us, too.

LEE COUNTY SPRING 75
Wil Crews and Karlee Teel

There’s the Nashville Zoo, the Gaylord Opryland Resort Gardens, Nissan Stadium (where the Tennessee Titans of the NFL play), parks, museums and hiking trails, among other things.

Anyways, the Saturday coasted along like the soothing breeze that rose off the river banks and through my hair. Bouncing from various saloons and taverns, the Country Music Hall of Fame to an afternoon meal at The Hampton Social (the shrimp tacos themselves [see page 75] were worthy of a country ballad), the time for the concert finally arrived.

We were there to see Brandi Carlile, a female Americana artist who has taken me by the bootstrap recently. On multiple occasions, she has ripped out the guitar strings of my naïve heart.

In short, under the stars of the stunning Ascend Amphitheater, it was my favorite concert ever.

Following Carlile’s closing performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” — and the encore that was feverishly demanded by a crowd of emotionally moved fans — there was no need to continue on in search of fun. The weekend was complete. And honestly, it was perfect.

We stumbled out Sunday morning and said goodbye to my friend, and her cat Finch, as we begrudgingly headed back to real life. But that is that special thing about Nashville. It is as real as it gets. But somehow, almost everything there feels like a dream.

Music City Magic — I found it — and I encourage you to do the same.

76 LIVELee
Call 334-203-4296

Calling The Creators

We will be featuring work by local Lee County residents in each issue of LIVE Lee that does not have a dedicated theme. We would love to feature short stories, poetry, artwork, paintings and more. If you are interested in sharing with us, please email us at editor@opelikaobserver.com.

Piece of Peace

Some losses aren’t measurable; Not with a ruler, Or a clock, Or a scale, Or any tool under the sun.

Some losses are transcendental; They take you above yourself, In such a way,

That you become a new self: Never the same again after it.

Some losses devour your peace, So steadily and so deeply, That even after years of dealing with it, You’ll never have complete silence within your soul ever again. You attentively hear the intense, constant humming sound, while completely isolated Echo through the stillness, In such a way, That it becomes a horror ballad, Of a love loss, That cannot be replaced, Erased, Or faced, Directly, Because it directly Rerouted your whole life, In a blink of an eye, FOREVER.

Nothing feels the same. Your joy becomes something lesser, After some losses, Despite you having all the divine fortune Under the sun

Poetry From Susanna Freeman:

Our Jesus is to us a true friend For His love will never, ever end He is always by our side In Him we can confide

When we come to Him in prayer

Radiate onto you, In unimaginable blessings. Your song of joy, Now has a reverbation of intense melancholy Intermingled in it, In an inseparable manner, That no tool can pry the darkness or pain

From the melody that suppose to make you dance with no restraints.

Some losses

Make your heart slump, Even after rebuilding it, — Piece by piece, Second after second, Minute after minute, Hour after hour, Day after day, Week after week, Month after month, Season after season, And year after years, — with all your will power, All your strength, All your determination, All your persistence, Just to realize, That your heart will never be the same! Therefore, Unwillingly and begrudgingly, You compromise, For the hope of a Piece of peace...

Since whole peace, After your life-changing loss, Cease to exist.

Piece of peace...

Without fail He’s always there He turns to us a list’ning ear He bottles every single tear

We can give Him all our pain

He redeems it for our gain Although right now we may not see He’s weaving a beautiful tapestry

Our lives will tell the perfect story That He is writing for His glory

Allen Asphalt, 66

AuburnBank, 62

Ballard Pest Management, 26

Beauregard Drugs, 82

Better Bodies Massage Institute, 38

Budget Blinds, 43

Butcher Paper BBQ, 42

City of Opelika, 66

Closet’s By Design, 3

Cusseta Laundromat, 82

Day Hair Salon, 5

Edward Jones, 38

Foodie’s Gourmet Cafe and Bodega, 37

Frederick Dean Funeral Home, 63

Glynn Smith Chevrolet-Buick-GMC, 84

Goree’s Furniture Express, 27

Harvest Thrift, 63

Hilyer & Associates, CPAs, 42

Huddle House, 6

Insurance Solutions Group, 78

Jay & Susie Gouge Performing Arts, 34,35

Jeffcoat Trant Funeral Home, 66

Market St. Paint Shop, 26

Meals Chiropractic, 55

Oline Price, Lee Co. Revenue Commissioner, 19

Opelika High Theatre Society, 50

Opelika Main Street, 78

Opelika Police Department, 2

Opelika Sportsplext, 83

Orthopedic Clinic, 7

Perception Therapy, 6

Price Small Engine, 59

Sheriff Jay Jones, 77

Simply Media, 26

Stitch Therapy, 82

Summer Village, 55

Sweet Gee’s Restaurant and Catering, 43

Taylor Made designs, 38

The Growing Room, 55

Trinity Presbyterian, 38

Tripp Walton Law, 42

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There’s something for everybody, at a price for anybody.

The Opelika SportsPlex and Aquatics Center is more than just a gym. In fact, you might call it a “Life Enhancement Center”. Here you can enhance your health, fulfill your fitness goals, enlarge your life and fraternize with fun folks from the community. From basketball to racquetball, pickleball to disc golf, swimming pool to splash park, cardio to weights, indoor and outdoor tracks for walking to running, there are facilities, equipment and activities to get you fired up! Join now and get involved. Come be a part of the Opelika SportsPlex family.

OPELIKA, AL 36801 1001 SPORTSPLEX PKWY 334.705.5560 WWW.OPELIKASPORTSPLEX.COM
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