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WEDDINGS special section

‘Tribute To a Great Person’ Randy Smith Remembered for His Courage, Love of Life

Photo by Sarah Partain

By Rubin E. Grant

Major Adjustment

Couples; Wedding Pros Share Stories and Tips for Planning a Wedding in Pandemic Times

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During Homewood’s 1974 state championship football season, Patriots co-captain Murray Legg always felt a little taller when he walked onto the field for the coin toss before games. Legg’s valiant posture was because of Homewood’s other co-captain, Randy Smith. “I was honored to be a co-captain with Randy,” Legg said. “It was an honor to walk on the field before each game beside him.” Legg was “on the field” with Smith one last time Jan. 2 when Smith’s memorial service was held at Homewood’s Randy Smith Waldrop Stadium. Randall “Randy” Versie Smith, 63, died Dec. 28 at UAB Hospital, following a fall at his home in Vestavia Hills the day after Christmas. Smith was a former Birmingham police officer who was accidentally shot in the head and permanently disabled while on duty in 1995. According to the medical examiner, the injury he suffered 25 years earlier was likely a contributing factor in his death. The shooting occurred March 22, 1995, when Smith and other officers were dispatched to a domestic dispute in Ensley. While responding to the call, officer Smith rescued a toddler, but a fellow responding officer accidentally shot Smith. Smith was unable to return to duty and retired from the force in 1996. Smith served in the army for six years before joining the Birmingham Police Department in

See SMITH, page 13

Fresh Gulf Seafood

2 • Thursday, January 14, 2021


Murphy’s Law

T LITTLE MIRACLES Pandemic inspires Vestavia Hills neighbors to band together for Bible club, more activities for the kids PAGE 12

HOLIDAY PARADES Chabad of Alabama hosts first Car Menorah Parade; Vestavia Hills hosts annual Liberty Park Christmas Parade PAGE 15

HEATING UP THE DINING SCENE Birmingham Restaurant Week’s Winter Edition is set for Jan. 14-31 PAGE 27


otmj.com With everything that’s happening “Over the Mountain,” it can be difficult to keep up. That’s why we have launched the OTMJ newsletter. Published every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday - we’ll give you a quick recap of the latest news, sports and social events as well as a heads up on upcoming events so you won’t miss any of the interesting and fun happenings in the Greater Birmingham metro area. To sign up for our newsletter, visit otmj.com. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram, @overthemountainjournal, for daily updates on what’s going on around town, too.


J O U R N A L January 14, 2021 Publisher & Editor: Maury Wald Copy Editor: Virginia Martin Features Writer: Donna Cornelius Staff Writers: Emily Williams-Robertshaw, Sam Prickett Photographer: Jordan Wald Editorial Assistant: Stacie Galbraith Sports: Rubin E. Grant Contributors: Susan Murphy, June Mathews, Emil Wald, Marvin Gentry, Lee Walls, Bryan Bunch Advertising Sales: Julie Trammell Edwards, Tommy Wald, Gail Kidd Vol. 30, No. 11

Over The Mountain Journal is a suburban bi-weekly newspaper delivered to Mountain Brook, Homewood, Vestavia Hills, Hoover and North Shelby County areas. Subscriptions for The Journal are available for $24 yearly. Mail to: Over the Mountain Journal, P.O. Box 660502, Vestavia Hills, AL 35216. Phone: (205) 823-9646. E-mail the editorial department at editorial@otmj.com. E-mail our advertising department at mwald@otmj.com. Find us on the Web at otmj.com. Copyright 2021 Over The Mountain Journal, Inc. All rights reserved. The Journal is not responsible for return of photos, copy and other unsolicited materials submitted. To have materials returned, please specify when submitting and provide a stamped, self-addressed envelope. All materials submitted are subject to editorial review and may be edited or declined without notification.

Home In The Range

he vaccine is coming! The vacsugar. Achieving “less” status won’t be cine is coming! I have my difficult given how many sweets I ate sleeve rolled up already … over the holidays, but I don’t think except, of course, on days when it is that’s a true measure of your blood too cold and being thus exposed would sugar health. Eating fewer cupcakes be detrimental to my overall health. than the ridiculous amount you had To me, it seems patently unfair that before your last visit will never get we still have to think about the “overyou a sticker from the doctor. all.” Trying to protect ourselves from a The same is true of the weigh-in. viral pandemic is enough for anyone, Sure, if you bulk up clothes-wise at but your blood pressure, blood sugar your first visit and simply take off and cholesterol levels don’t take a your coat when you come in again, COVID holiday, which puts me right you look like you’ve made progress, back where I always am in January: but it won’t get you into that magical Sue Murphy making health improvement resolurange. tions.   You know the “range,” those numIt’s the right thing to do, of bers in the green area on the chart course. I believe that part of my job on the back of the exam room door, as a functioning human being is to the one you try not to think about I believe that part be a good steward for the body I while you’re sitting there waiting of my job as a was issued. It’s the only one I’ll get, for the doctor to walk in because and whatever ill-use I heap upon it you’re afraid your score will be red functioning human will become baggage I have to carry and foreboding. When the door being is to be a good finally swings open, you whisper a forward. Extra baggage, I don’t need. steward for the body desperate, “Come on, stale yellow!” So, here I am with the same old Last time, my numbers were in I was issued. more-or-less song and dance. the “we’ll keep an eye on it” range, This time around, my “more” not great, but not bad enough to goal is water. You wouldn’t think change my medication. I used to be drinking water would have to be an in the cholesterol happy zone, but item on the to-do list, but apparently, as you get older someone changed the range a few years back. The (those painful words), when it comes to the matter of blood pressure scale held firm, but my blood pressure thirst, your body increasingly says, “Nah, I’m fine” did not, so I have to take medication for that, too. when it really isn’t.   Blood sugar? So far so good, although I’m not volunI must not be alone in my pursuit, either. At the teering any blood samples until I’ve had a few weeks of DMV last year, I noticed that one of the assistants had a post-holiday sugar detox. giant vat of water on her desk that included goal marks, A1C, BPM, systolic, metabolic … I just keep clunki.e. “Halfway home” and “Just about there.” I immediing along with all of those numbers rattling around ately presumed other watermarks like “Visit the restinside me. Mostly, I try not to think about it, but room” and “Visit the restroom again,” although I’m because it’s my job to at least try to be within range, I guessing your body would remind you about that soon will walk a little more, substitute an apple for a brownenough. ie now and again and drink more water. Maybe I’ll get In the less column? Well, I could do with a little less a sticker.

Over the Mountain Views

“First to Fight”

Journal photos by Jordan Wald

FIND YOUR STRENGTH Local fitness coach publishes book to provide long-term roadmap to a healthier lifestyle PAGE 8




BIRMINGHAM VA ADMINISTERS COVID-19 VACCINE TO 100-YEAR-OLD MARINE CORPS VETERAN Col. Carl Cooper, a 100-year-old Marine Corps veteran, received his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 23 at the Birmingham VA Clinic. Cooper is a resident of Vestavia Hills and has been receiving health services from the VA since 1980. In addition to serving in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, he is a retired educator and the first principal of Mountain Brook Junior High School. For more information on the vaccine, visit va.gov/healthcare/covid-19-vaccine/.


Thursday, January 14, 2021 • 3



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4 • Thursday, January 14, 2021

One in 26

Epilepsy Foundation of Alabama to Stream 50th Anniversary Event

Raising Money and Spreading Knowledge

The foundation helps fund research but also works to break down social stigma through education and to provide patient support. The foundation’s outreach efforts include seizure first aid training and certification for the public, as well as training for school personnel and school nurses. There are a lot of misconceptions about what to do to

JAN 14 - JAN 28 Through Jan. 31 Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team in Training’s Re(Solution)

By Emily Williams-Robertshaw

What: Join the LLS in the second installment of its 31-day experience. Customize your own experience by choosing your sport (running, hiking, cycling, etc.) and choosing your mileage goal. When: The month of January Website: lls.org

Tues., Jan. 12 Photo courtesy Garland Standlell

The Epilepsy Foundation of Alabama logs in to host its 50th birthday party via livestream on Jan. 26. It’s an important date, chosen to represent the statistical prevalence of epilepsy. According to the foundation, 1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy in their lifetimes. It’s a large portion of the population, said Garland Stansell, who serves as the chapter’s advisory board chairman. “Most of the people involved on the board as members are either a person with epilepsy themselves or they have a child with epilepsy,” Stansell said. “I’m a little different and I may be the only person on the board who is the child of a person with epilepsy.” Stansell first became involved with the foundation in 1999, before the Alabama affiliate offices were moved to Mobile. When the foundation moved the offices back to Birmingham in 2018, Stansell was asked to join the reestablished chapter as a board member. He said his effort is in honor of his mother. She has dealt with epilepsy since she was about 12 years old. At the age of 11, she fell from a tree and suffered a significant head injury, and as puberty set in and her hormone levels began to change, she began experiencing seizures. “That’s not really unusual for women,” Stansell said. “(Research has found) that the hormones do kind of dictate the severity.” When his mother began experiencing menopause, the hormonal change led to the dissipation of her epilepsy symptoms. “I’m happy to say that she hasn’t really had a seizure in probably 18 years or so,” Stansell said, though she does still experience auras, moments where she feels she’s on the verge of having a seizure. “She’s in her late 70s now and has been on medication for most of her life.” One of Stansell’s first memories was of his mother experiencing a tonic-clonic seizure, also known as a grand mal seizure. It’s a severe form of seizure, characterized by loss of consciousness and convulsions. “I remember her having the seizure and not really knowing what to do,” he said. “It was in our home bathroom and I wet a washcloth and put her head in my lap and was just wiping her forehead.” Throughout his mother’s 20s, 30s and 40s, she experienced a range of seizures, from absence seizures – short staring spells – to the more severe tonic-clonic seizures. “Her seizures were primarily controlled through medications over the years, and what she struggled with most were the side effects and the social stigma, depressions and the limitations of living with epilepsy.” Even now, Stansell said, his mother deals with the residual effects of the medications and feelings of isolation. “The things that I have seen in my lifetime are the advances in medication, the advances in treatment, advancements in diet,” Stansell said. He has seen those advancements through his mother’s treatment as well as his work at Children’s of Alabama, where he is chief communications officer. “Our epilepsy center sees so many patients, some who are having hundreds of seizures every day. It’s so debilitating, not only for the child but their family as well,” he said. “Now, if they qualify, they can have these robotic surgeries that pinpoint the area in the brain. They are noninvasive, and almost overnight those seizures stop.”



Bearing Witness: Stories of the Holocaust

Garland Stansell, far right above, with his wife and parents, serves as The Epilepsy Foundation of Alabama advisory board chairman.

help a person experiencing a seizure. “You don’t try to restrain the person,” Stansell said. “They’re not going to hurt themselves. You don’t put something in their mouth.” Education clears up both the misunderstandings and helps eliminate some of the social stigma. “Unfortunately, as humans, we fear what we don’t understand,” he said. “So many times, people are fearful of somebody who is having a seizure and they feel helpless. As much education as we can get out there, that really helps everyone.” In addition, the foundation offers a variety of patient and caregiver support activities. There is a 24/7 helpline, monthly support groups, the Epilepsy Foundation Kids Crew, the Sudep (sudden unexpected death in epilepsy) Institute, summer camp scholarships, information and referral services, and educational conferences for people with epilepsy and caregivers. “There are programs that help with emergency medications if someone’s prescription runs out and a resource center where people could get help with transportation,” Stansell said. The foundation also is dedicated to advocating for patients at the state legislative level, lobbying on topics including seizure safe schools. At the federal level, the foundation advocates for needs through the Teens Speak Up program and Public Policy Institute. 

Celebrating Accomplishments

At the 50th birthday celebration, many of these accomplishments will be shared along with the Alabama chapter’s history and information on what the foundation is working on now and what is happening at the national level. “We’ve also got some amazing families who will be highlighted and will be sharing their own stories,” Stansell said. Registration for the livestream event is at epilepsyalabama.org/50th. While there is no mandatory fee, households are encouraged to donate $126 or more if they are able. Staples also noted that there are other ways to get involved, including buying the chapter’s new custom license plate. “When renewing your license plate, people will now have the option to purchase the custom End Epilepsy tag and support the Epilepsy Foundation,” he said. “It costs, like any of the other ones, $50 extra, but $41.25 of that comes back to help Epilepsy Center at Children’s of Alabama and to help education efforts through the Epilepsy Foundation of Alabama.” For more information, visit epilepsyalabama.org.

What: Birmingham Holocaust Education Center presents Brenda Hancock, second generation, educator and author of 2 books about her family, “One of the Lucky Ones” and “Talent-Luck-Courage: My Family’s Story of Survival.” When: 7-8:30 p.m. Where: Zoom Online Website: bhecinfo.org

Sat., Jan. 16 January Blessing Day

What: Join Be a Blessing Birmingham in distributing monthly hygiene kits, clothing, shoes, snack bags and a hot breakfast to our homeless neighbors. When: 8:45-10:15 a.m. Where: Linn Park, 710 20th Street N. Website: “January Blessing Day” Facebook page

MLK Day 5k Drum Run

What: This year’s virtual race provides a safe social distanced alternative from the in person event. included will be a soundtrack of the drumline in an electronic format, a warm up, music, timing through online apps, a race goodie bag, a shirt and race medal. When: All day Website: mlkday5kbham.com

Saturdays in the Gardens: Source Your Seeds What: Join Birmingham Botanical Gardens in a class led by Hope Long and Brooke McMinn as they discuss which seeds, varieties and sources are best suited for your ganden and its needs. Novice and seasoned gardeners welcome. When: 10 a.m.-noon Where: Online via Zoom Website: “Saturdays in the Gardnes: Source Your Seeds” Facebook page

Mon., Jan. 18 MLK Day Food Drive

What: In the spirit of service, the Zoo will hosts a food drive in partnership with the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama. Guests are encouraged to bring a non-perishable or canned food item and will receive half-price admission to the zoo. Limit one admission ticket per guest. Where: Birmingham Zoo Website: birminghamzoo.com

Fri., Jan. 22 Vegas Style Murder Mystery Dinner and Spirits of the Past Hunt

What: Enjoy dinner prepared by Chef Matthew Murphee and participate in an exclusive ghost and spirits of the past hunt using state of the art paranormal investigation equipment. When: 6 p.m. Where: Arlington House Website: “January Vegas Style Murder Mystery Dinner & Spirits of the Past Hunt at Birmingham’s Arlington House” Facebook page

Sat., Jan. 23 2020 Recovery 5k Trail Run

What: Spring Valley School hosts a 5k featuring three staggered start times with no more than 50 runners each. Start times are chosen by runners at online registration on a first come first serve basis. A virtual run option is available. Proceeds benefit the schools COVID-19 relief funds. Where: Red Mountain Park Website: springvalleyschool.org


What: Join McWane Science Center in its newest 5,500 square foot exhibit. Visitors will explore and be amazed by science, engineering, art and math concepts using construction block play. included will be building tables, a giant jump ramp for testing any vehicle you dream up, earthquake tables, displays and more. When: During normal hours of operation Where: McWane Science Center, 3rd floor Website: mcwane.org

Wed., Jan. 27 Finding Matilda: Uncovering the Life & Death of a Jewish Lithuanian Poet

What: The Birmingham Holocaust Education Center in partnership with the Vilna Shul and its partners will convene a panel to discuss the search for a little-known Holocaust victim, Matilda Olkin, and her extended family who were killed in an isolated location in northern Lithuania in the Holocaust in 1941. When: 6 p.m. Where: Zoom Online Website: bhecinfo.org

Thurs., Jan., 28 The Vulcans Community Awards

What: Vulcan Park and Museum will honor 10 selfless individuals who exemplify civic pride, leadership and make a difference in the lives of people, places and organization within the city and surrounding areas. When and Where: Virtual program, 6:30 p.m.; Exhibit opening on the same night inside the Linn-Henley Gallery Website: visitvulcan.com

Jan. 28-Feb. 3 Sundance 2021 - Satellite Screens What: Sidewalk is excited to participate as an official Satellite Screen Partner for Sundance Film Festival 2021. Join Sidewalk in downtown Birmingham at its cinema or Starlite Pop-up Drive-in. When and Where: Check the website for films, event spaces and times Website: sidewalkfest.com


Fri., Jan. 29 What: LifeSouth will be holding a blood drive in remembrance of Mike Gilotti, who was killed at 33 outside of his home in January of 2016, leaving behind a wife and two children. When: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Where: Hoover Recreation Center Website: hooveral. org

Frostbite 5k and Fun Run

What: Young Life Birmingham South hosts its annual run including music, snacks, male and female age group winners with prizes and customized medals for winners. When: 7:45-8:50 registration Where: Veterans Park Website: “Young Life Birmingham South” Facebook page

BTC Adam’s Heart Runs

What: One of the BTC’s premiere races, participants have the opportunity to select a 5k, 10k or 10-mile distance. Strollers and leashed dogs welcome. When: 10-mile, 8 a.m.; 10k, 8:30 a.m.; 5k, 9 a.m. Where: Oak Mountain State Park Website: runsignup.com

Sun., Jan. 31 Grand Slam Sunday

What: Each adult ticket includes

Journal photo by Jordan Wald

SAVE THE DATE Sat., Jan. 30


What: Guest will enjoy stunning lantern creations of wildlife from around the world on select nights Wednesday-Sunday. Watch the zoo come alive with hundreds of animal shapes and sizes. When: 5-9 p.m. Where: Birmingham Zoo Website: birminghamzoo.com

Blood Drive in Honor of Mike Gilotti

Thursday, January 14, 2021 • 5


admission, food and two drink tickets. All proceeds support the Miracle League Field at Wald Park. When: 5 p.m. Where: The Ridge Eat & Drink parking lot Website: “Grand Slam Sunday benefitting the Miracle League Field” Facebook page

Thurs., Feb. 4 GriefShare

What: This 13-week series features trained facilitators who have experienced grief, available to guide you through one of life’s most difficult experiences and provide you with the tools and resources to move forward.

When: 7-8:45 p.m. Where: Online and at Faith Prebyterian Church, lower level Website: griefshare.org/ groups/129438

Fri., Feb. 5 Virtual Artblink Gala

What: The Advisory Board of the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center hosts its annual gala including virtual artists studio experiences, bidding on auction items, dinner from Iz Catering to enjoy at home and more. When: Dinner pickup, 4-6 p.m.; Pre-show, 6:30 p.m.; Virtual event, 6:45-7:45 p.m. Website: artblink.org

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6 • Thursday, January 14, 2021

Developers Envision a New Brookwood Village

By Sam Prickett

feels more like a downtown promenade. Stuermann said he hopes the finished development will feel like a three- or four-block stretch of Greenville, South Carolina, “a walkable, mixed-use place where people live, work and interact,” he said. Though most of the current mall will be demolished, the parking decks will remain intact underneath new residential structures. There’s a large, open-air event plaza planned for the center of the development, with other, smaller green spaces dotted throughout the property. “We picture it being like a living, breathing place … . That activity, that liveliness, will draw people in and make it really feel like the destination it needs to be. We picture having a brewpub, live music, farmer’s markets,” Stuermann said. “In the winter, I’d like to have a temporary ice skating rink. We’d love for it to be as active of a place as you could think of.” That plan largely lined up with

Homewood’s much-anticipated Valley Hotel will be opening in a few weeks, and it will bring with it a restaurant, a bar and a coffee shop. The Valley Hotel has been in development since 2016, when Capstone Companies founder Michael Mouron bought the property that formerly housed Hatfield Auto and Little Professor Bookstore. A year later, it was announced that the Valley Hotel would be part of Hilton’s Curio Collection, an upscale brand with more than 30 locations worldwide. After lengthy negotiations with the city of Homewood, construction got underway in 2019, and now the hotel is nearly prepared to open its doors — and the doors of its three new eateries. The ground-floor restaurant, Ironwood Kitchen + Cocktails, will connect the Valley Hotel with the rest of downtown Homewood, while the second-story Terrace Bar will overlook the 18th Street corridor. Valley Coffee Co., a smaller bistro, will be inside, near the hotel’s front desk. Danny Hiatt, the hotel’s regional director and general manager, said he hopes the new food and beverage venues will generate a large local following and “add a lot of charm and quaintness to the Homewood community.” The branding for Ironwood draws on the history of the area. “Really, Birmingham was forged by fire and the city was fueled by a robust coal and iron industry,” Hiatt said. “We wanted to speak to the origins and roots of Birmingham, and we really looked at developing a menu that honors those elements.” Ironwood will be led by Doug Zuk, a chef with years of experience in the food industry, particularly in Las Vegas, where he worked at Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak restaurant at the MGM Grand.

what the community wanted, Stuermann said. “People are really passionate about more open space and parks, and we have some of that contemplated in our plan.” Organizations representing Shades Creek and Jemison Park, both of which neighbor the mall, also reached out. “There are a lot of stakeholders in our community that have a vision for what Shades Creek can be,” Stuermann said. “If you think about Shades Creek, in front of Brookwood is the only place where it’s not a natural creek. If you go past Highway 280 to Jemison Park, it’s a meandering creek. And once you get past Target (on the other side of Brookwood Mall) it takes on that character too. I don’t know all that we can do, but I do know it can be improved, and I think there are a lot of people in the community (who) have a passion for it.” Stuermann said he hopes to have a

love for those businesses to stay open, but there will be a lot of construction and traffic.”

Connections to the Past

rezoning plan submitted to the city of Homewood by early next month. Once that’s approved and construction begins, the project will take between 18 months and two years to complete.

‘A walkable, mixed-use place where people live, work and interact.’ MARK STUERMANN, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF ARLINGTON PROPERTIES

Construction will displace some of the current tenants, though Stuermann said he hopes they’ll be able to return once the redevelopment is finished. “There’s certainly a period of time where it will be under construction and there’s not really going to be any space to occupy,” he said. “The retail parcels along Brookwood Village Lane, those will remain, and we’d

New Valley Hotel Includes Three Eateries “He was kind of a pioIronwood Kitchen + neer in the Vegas industry Cocktails, Terrace Bar, for a while,” Hiatt said, “but Valley Coffee Co., are he’s got ties to Birmingham located inside the new and family here. He’s origiValley Hotel. nally a Southern boy at heart, and he’s just so excited to really bring these offerings and these flavors to Birmingham.” The menu will feature “honest food,” Hiatt said, which he described as “reimagined Southern comfort staples (and) an elevated cuisine.” One specialty, for example, will be grouper and grits, which Hiatt called “kind of a play on shrimp and grits with cheddar grit cakes and Conecuh sausage.” Inside, Ironwood will have a “cozy” atmosphere, with dining nooks and castiron finishes. The restaurant also will feature a large outdoor patio abutting 18th Street, which Hiatt closed off separately for separate events, but it’s anticipates “will be very popular.” all beautiful floor-to-ceiling windows. It has a lot Above Ironwood is the Terrace, a second-stoof incoming light right there at the corner, so we ry bar overlooking the corner of 18th Street and think that will be a very high-energy location for 28th Avenue. That bar also will feature indoor us.” and outdoor seating areas with a patio that Hiatt The Terrace Bar will serve cocktails and small anticipates “will be the place to be.” plates; it also will be adjacent to the Red “We’re excited about the indoor/outdoor com- Mountain Ballroom, a second-story venue inside ponent of the Terrace Bar,” he said. “It can be the hotel that will offer 7,000 square feet of

Journal photo by Jordan Wald

By Sam Prickett

Late last year, Colliers International and Arlington Properties conducted a series of listening sessions around Homewood about the future of the Brookwood Village Mall. The two companies had just signed a contract to redevelop the flagging mall but wanted to get feedback from the community before moving forward. Colliers and Arlington already had some idea of what they wanted to do with the property, of course, reimagining Brookwood Village as a multi-use development including retail, restaurants, high-end apartments, office spaces, a luxury hotel and a conference center. Shopping malls have been on the decline for years – Brookwood Village is almost half-empty – and a nationwide pandemic didn’t help things. “I think COVID has accelerated what’s happening nationwide to malls, and I think it’s maybe pushed the timeline for this project maybe sooner than it otherwise would have been,” said Mark Stuermann, executive vice president of Arlington Properties’ development division. “But our vision for it hasn’t really changed.” That vision is to do away with most of the traditional mall structure and replace it with something that


Stuermann said the community listening sessions highlighted to him how important the Brookwood mall is to people in Homewood and the surrounding areas. “I would say that people are passionate about Brookwood,” he said. “I heard so many great stories from people about their experiences growing up there, going there. “We got one email from a lady who said she truly grew up at Brookwood. Her father was the first manager of the property, and so she spent a bunch of time in his office at the mall, which is really neat. … I’ve even gotten funny stories about how there was an Applebee’s inside the mall, and if you could get seating in the atrium outside the restaurant, that was the thing to do.” Though plans are now moving forward, developers still welcome community feedback at brookwoodvillagevision.com. “We want this to be a place that the community supports and wants to be there,” Stuermann said. “We’re open for feedback.”

meeting space. “It’s a beautiful, gorgeous ballroom, and we think it will be the ideal setting for weddings and social events as well as corporate meetings,” Hiatt said, noting that the venue already has received a slew of wedding inquiries. Also inside the hotel is the Valley Coffee Co., a lobby-level bistro that will feature upscale coffee offerings. In the morning, the bistro will offer pastries and savory items; in the afternoon, its menu will expand to include a variety of gourmet salads and sandwiches. Hiatt also highlighted a small courtyard area outside the bistro, which he said “has a really beautiful feel with a lot of foliage” and will feature customer seating. “It’s kind of an escape into its own little setting,” he said. The prospect of launching three new eateries – along with a new hotel – during a pandemic can be “a little daunting,” Hiatt admitted, but he pointed to the safety protocols mandated by Hilton as a reassurance. “We take COVID very seriously, and we’ll be following all the CDC guidelines with social distancing and masks required,” Hiatt said. “Hilton is a world-class leader in sanitation, and they’ve taken the lead in the hotel world with a couple of programs, like CleanStay for the guest rooms and EventReady for the event spaces. We just want everyone to feel very comfortable and safe, and there’s a lot of protocols we follow with very detailed cleaning and sanitation. “We don’t want to scare anyone away. We want them to feel comfortable and relaxed and (as though they are) coming into an environment that’s really going to be razor-sharp as it relates to sanitation.” The opening date for the development has not been set. To keep up with progress and find more information on the Valley Hotel, Ironwood, Terrace Bar and Valley Coffee Co., visit valleyhotelbirmingham.com.


Homewood and Hoover Libraries Named National Stars The Hoover and Homewood public libraries both have been named to the 2020 Star Libraries list by the Library Journal. Only six libraries in the state, 11 in the Southeast and 262 in the country made the list, out of 5,608 qualified libraries nationwide. Hoover made the list among libraries in the $5 million to $9.9 million budget range. Homewood is on the list for libraries in the $1 million to $4.9 million budget range. This is the 13th year the Library Journal has awarded Star Library ratings. The awardees are judged on seven measurements: physical circulation, circulation of electronic materials, retrieval of electronic information, library visits, program attendance, internet use and Wi-Fi sessions. “It’s been a challenging year. So to be recognized for doing something right is extra special during this time,” said Hoover Public Library Director, Amanda Borden. “Every day, patrons tell us what the library means to them. But to be recognized nationally is a special honor. We could not do it without the financial

support from the city and the citizens using our services to suit their lifestyle. It’s because of that relationship and working together that we’re about to do something bright for the community.” —Virginia Martin

Homewood Chamber Taps Four Businesses for 2020 Awards The Homewood Chamber of Commerce wrapped up 2020 by handing out awards to four local companies for their performance and service last year. Business of the Year awards were given to two businesses – Jack’s Family Restaurants, a fast-food chain that originated in Homewood in 1960 and has since spread to 182 locations across the Southeast, and wireless communications carrier C Spire. For the Rising Star Award, which is given to a business less than two years old, the chamber named Big Spoon Creamery, an ice cream shop that opened its first Homewood location in February 2019. The Community Patriot Award, which goes to a business that has “demonstrated exemplary community service,” was awarded to Classic Wine Company, a staple of the Homewood

JLB Hosts Virtual Anti-Human Trafficking Event Series

The Junior League of Birmingham is hosting several virtual events statewide throughout January, which is designated as Anti-Human Trafficking Awareness Month. The “Human Trafficking Awareness: What You Need to Know to Help End it Now” series will include three virtual events. The series is being sponsored in partnership with chapters in AnnistonCalhoun, Mobile, Montgomery and the Shoals and presented by Regions. According to a release, the purpose of the series is “to promote awareness of the prominent issue and debunk common myths surrounding it.” The first installment, “Human Trafficking 101,” was presented Jan. 7. Upcoming installments are “Social Media Predators: What Parents Need to Know About Online Human Traffickers,” to be presented by Bark on Jan. 19; and a panel discussion “Truckers Against Trafficking and the Junior League of Birmingham Present: Be the Voice to Help End Human Trafficking,” on Jan. 26. “Human trafficking is largely successful because of community apathy and denial of its existence,” said Julia Meyers, chairwoman of the JLB’s Anti-Human Trafficking Committee. “That doesn’t mean it isn’t happening right under our noses – and on an enormous scale. With I-20 and I-65 both major human trafficking corridors running through the Birmingham metro area, this issue should hit home

Thursday, January 14, 2021 • 7


with those that live, work and play in or near Birmingham.” According to league officials, human trafficking is listed as the second-largest, fastest-growing enterprise in the world and occurs in every U.S. state on a daily basis. The Department of Homeland Security estimates the commercial sex industry generates $110 million each year in the Birmingham metro area, the league notes. This does not include illegal activity that occurs in massage parlors or strip clubs, nor does it include child trafficking, which is more difficult to quantify. “Ending human trafficking will require working together on a state and communitywide response, and the Junior League of Birmingham is committed to bringing awareness to this issue in any and every way possible,” said Toni Leeth, JLB president. To register for the events, visit jlbawareness.swell.gives. — Emily Williams-Robertshaw

Antiques • Vintage Industrial

Community since 1988. During its final meeting of the year, a virtual luncheon Dec. 15, the chamber also changed board leadership. The chamber’s 2020 president, Jodi Newton of Samford University, handed over the gavel to her successor, the Welch Group’s Matthew Savela, who previously had served as the chamber’s treasurer. The chamber’s next virtual luncheon will be Jan. 19 and will include a State of the City address from newly elected Mayor Patrick McClusky. For more information, visit homewoodchamber. org. —Sam Prickett


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8 • Thursday, January 14, 2021

Find Your Strength

Local Fitness Coach Publishes Book to Provide Long-Term Roadmap to a Healthier Lifestyle By Emily Williams-Robertshaw


Finding Strength

Finley wasn’t born with a love of exercise. It wasn’t a part of her life in any significant way until she was an adult. “It would be fair to say that I was not remotely athletic,” Finley said, adding that she recently flipped through an old yearbook and was surprised to find that her high school had a track team while she was there. “My parents were both school teachers,” Finley said. “We didn’t have a lot of money. The money that they had to put into my sister and me they put into piano lessons, which of course was more sitting down.” The family took care of themselves in other ways such as doctor and dental exams, but the notion of building strength to live a healthier life was not at the forefront of anybody’s mind at the Finley house. It wasn’t a societal norm either. “I remember my mom saying, quote, ‘Don’t stand when you can sit. Don’t sit when you can lie down.’” Finley also found exercise in her youth to be a bit degrading – changing clothes in front of classmates and the self-consciousness that can come with group exercise. Her interest in exercise began to develop as she watched her parents age. There were many aches and pains they dealt with that could have been avoided had they lived a healthier lifestyle. Finley’s mother struggled with obesity and many orthopedic issues. Toward the end of her life, she needed two knee replacements and two shoulder replacements. “Now I know that a lot of her knee pain came from lack of hip strength and balance in her hips,” Finley said. “The fact that she was overweight pulled her pelvis forward. That internally rotates the knees, which causes pressure down on the feet, which causes bunions, which she had.” At the time, Finley couldn’t figure out why her mother’s shoulders were so worn out. Shoulder replacements were something heavy trainers like swimmers and tennis players have, she thought. “At one point, I asked her,” Finley said. “Once her knees got bad, when she climbed up stairs she would grab the hand rail and try to pull herself up.

‘As Common as the Common Cold’ New Nonprofit Aims to Raise Awareness of HPV Vaccine and Battle Cervical Cancer

Journal photo by Jordan Wald

aking control of your health and fitness doesn’t have to be miserable, according to local fitness guru Susan Finley, owner of the fitness coaching studio TrainSmarter in Crestline Park. In her recently published book, “The Smarter Way: To Exercise Eat Move Think Live,” Finley strives to debunk myths that surround the notion of what it is to live a healthy lifestyle. Throughout Finley’s 35-year career in fitness, she has cultivated her own method that isn’t focused on short-term results. The Smarter Way is a roadmap to find strength over time, resulting in less pain and better health. “If you exercise and eat well, you might not live longer, but it’s going to bring so much more life into the years that you have,” Finley said.


Susan Finley, owner of the fitness coaching studio TrainSmarter in Crestline Park.

“She didn’t have the muscle strength for it so she just yanked on the joints.” She now sees just how much her mother could have benefited from strength training to manage those symptoms early in their development, before they worsened. Beyond back problems and joint issues, Finley’s mother dealt with many cardiovascular issues as well – high blood pressure and cholesterol, to name two. “If (my parents) had just known. If we hadn’t eaten the way we did and if we had moved and moved well, worked on posture,” she said, maybe they would have lived without so much pain.

Building Strength

While Finley had the drive to become stronger, it took her a while to begin to love the practice. It took finding the right method. Over time, she began teaching and learning and eventually found strength training. It was exciting, and she was good at it. “The part that really changes your life is the strength training,” she said. “This is where you find out you don’t get as tired when you are doing things.” Finley noted that as your muscles strengthen, you feel it in your everyday life. You don’t get winded when you climb a few flights of stairs. It’s easier to move that heavy box without throwing your back out. When you wake up in the morning, things just hurt less. Finley also stresses that it’s not about how long you exercise, it’s about making sure you do it. “Say tomorrow, ‘I’m going to work out,’” she said. “If you only have a little bit of time, then do a little, but don’t say I don’t have enough time to do anything, because that gets in the way of progressing.”

Exercising Strength

As TrainSmarter adapted to the pandemic, Finley and her clients discovered just how easy it is to exercise.

The vast majority of her clients are working out with her virtually from their homes, sometimes without the need for any specialized gear. “We train based on five movement patterns and one of the most important ones is pulling, because your pulling muscles are also your postural muscles,” she said. “So, you can pull against gravity, but it’s a little bit limiting. “If you have bands, that’s another way to pull,” she said. “A TRX suspension trainer is another way to pull.” People can invest in these things slowly as they progress. “The cool thing is that a lot of people have just discovered that, if it is a rainy day, if the car breaks down, if the babysitter didn’t show up, it’s no worry,” she said. “What do you have nearby? Grab it and let’s get to work.” There are so many reasons to remain stationary in our technologically advanced world, Finley noted. You can outfit your home in such a way that a simple “Alexa, please …” turns on the lights and the television or does many other things you might otherwise have moved to do.  “We have to make up for the movement we lose somehow,” Finley said. Adults bear the burden of teaching by example, she noted. Having grown up in a family that didn’t exercise, Finley finds it critical to show her kids how important it is. “Instead of saying, ‘Let’s go to the movies,’ take a walk,” she said. “It takes a little bit more effort to get yourself to do it, but it’s worth it.” In addition, prove to your kids that exercise doesn’t have to be as miserable as it was when you were a fifth grader in PE class. “If you don’t stay strong, you’re going to pay the price sooner or later,” Finley said. “We need to show that (exercise) matters because your health matters.” If you’re just starting out, Finley said to take away the pressure. Start out with a little. Once you see the progress, you may just find yourself wanting to invest more. “Your health is something that is really easy to take for granted until you don’t have it. You’ve got to tend it the same way you would take care of your body.”

By Emily Williams-Robertshaw

Alabama tops the country for cervical cancer deaths and comes in third for the rate of cervical cancer diagnosed in patients, according to a new, Birmingham-based nonprofit organization, Vax 2 Stop Cancer. Organization founder and Executive Director Barbara Schuler believes those numbers can be lowered significantly. It all starts with a vaccine. According to the American Cancer Society, 99.9% of all cervical cancer cases are caused by human papillomavirus, or HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that infects both men and women. HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women get the virus at some point in their lives, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes. “It’s as common as the common cold,” Schuler said. She and her board members founded Vax 2 Stop this year to provide information about HPV and the vaccine that controls it to doctors and to parents in an effort to increase vaccination rates. HPV can be symptomfree, and infections, for the most part, resolve within two years. But for Tracie Richter some people, the infections remain as abnormal cells in the body and cause the development of cancers. In women, HPV can cause cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancer. In men, it can cause penile cancer. In both men and women, it can result in anal or oropharyngeal cancer.  The good news is that, since 2006, a vaccine has been available that protects against cancercausing strains of HPV. It is more than 90% effective when taken at the recommended age of 11 to 12 years. But only 21% of Alabamians are vaccinated. Vax 2 Stop is on a mission to raise that number. 

Life-Changing Effects

Had the vaccine been available when Tracie Richter was an adolescent, her adult life may have been vastly different. Richter, an advocate for Vax 2 Stop and

See VAX, page 10


Gunn Dermatology

Thursday, January 14, 2021 • 9


Gunn Dermatology, now open in Crestline Village and accepting new patients, offers dermatology care for all ages and specializes in Medical, Pediatric, Surgical, Cosmetic, and Laser Dermatology. Holly Gunn, MD FAAD and Board Certified Dermatologist above, has over 13 years of experience purely in diagnosing and treating skin conditions. “We treat all skin alignments and growths including acne, rosacea, skin cancer, psoriasis, eczema, cysts, scars, and many more,” Dr. Gunn said. “Come in and book your yearly skin check with us today (we take all forms of insurance) and make sure you keep up with us by signing up for our email list on www.gunndermatology.com! “We are also aware of the recent spike with COVID, and are taking telehealth appointments to offer you care from the safety of your home. You can book appointments online at www.gunndermatology. com or by calling us at 205-415-7536. “We are currently offering a ‘New Year, New You’ special until Jan. 31, with $150 off the purchase of any two Restylane fillers with Dysport. In February, Gunn Dermatology will be having a special for Valentine’s Day offer coming up for luscious lips & lashes, so make sure to keep a lookout on their Social Media pages (Facebook and Instagram) for upcoming specials.  To book an appointment visit our website or call 205-415-7536.

Mountain Brook Olive Co. New Year New Name

Lane Parke’s go-to gourmet store is just as happy as ever... with a fresh new name for the new year. The Happy Olive is now Mountain Brook Olive Co - a name that reflects more than ever the store’s celebration of its home in Mountain Brook, Alabama. “We had planned the new brand for more than a year, and the community’s response during these past challenging months reinforced that decision even more,” says owner Vickie Bailey, above with husband Richard. “Customers, fellow merchants, the chamber and friends supported us and one another - and stayed determined to shop local. Every small retailer purchase - whether curbside or online - made a world of difference. We truly live in a special place.” Look for new products, expanded varieties of the store’s gourmet small-batch mustard on tap along with Ronaldo’s Collector Club selections and seasonal gift ideas featuring Etta B and other local makers. To celebrate - how about EVOO for an entire year? Like and tag a friend on FaceBook (@ mountainbrookoliveco) for the chance to win - three names will be selected Feb 1! Mountain Brook Olive Co. is located at 261 Rele St. and their phone number is 205-703-9003.




10 • Thursday, January 14, 2021

Rehab Reality... by Judy Butler

Drug and Alcohol Treatment Home

Once we had a client who thanked me for allowing her to come to our “Treatment Home”. I thought this was unusual until I realized that Bayshore Retreat is exactly that. The home environment with the small number of clients (no more than 6 at a time), the individual attention and the aroma of wonderful meals coming from the kitchen all contribute to health and wellness from addiction. We prove everyday that life can be good without drugs and/ or alcohol. Before going to one of the big box drug treatment centers with vending machines, cafeteria food and twelve step meetings consider the difference. Our “treatment home” is different and can make a difference. Most importantly the home environment adds a touch of self-esteem for our clients. Likewise, we allow clients to bring their cell phone and laptop and stay in touch with family, friends and business. Our holistic approach to health includes dry sauna and massage therapy, as well as vitamins and gourmet prepared food. Our 30 hour of counseling include at least two individual sessions weekly, group counseling, and Life Skills coaching that covers real issues such as irrational thinking, relationships, anger, self awareness and other real life issues. Clients love it at Bayshore Retreat as is proven by the client thanking me for allowing her to come to my treatment home. If you or someone you love needs help with addiction, compare everything when looking for a rehab. No one compares to Bayshore Retreat. Its difference can make a difference. Give me a call anytime or visit our web site at www.bayshoreretreat. com.



amped up her efforts to give back to help you if they do not know how you the cervical cancer community. are truly feeling. “Through Cervivor, I started workRichter is celebrating Cervical From page 8 ing with the Society of Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month, in January, member of the cervical cancer surviOncology,” she said, participating in by reminding women to stay on top of vor support community Cervivor, was one of the organization’s lobby days their wellness visits. first diagnosed with Stage I cervical in Washington, D.C. “It’s extra hard right now during a cancer at 27. She was later connected with pandemic,” she said. “There are so Richter and her husband were Schuler and Vax 2 Stop through the many people who have not gone for busy raising two sons – one 3 years UAB Division of the Gynecologic their pap test, but it is so important to old and another 5 months old – when Oncology Director Dr. Warner Huh, have those yearly visits. she received her diagnosis. It was the also president of the Society of “Stay in tune with your body, night before Thanksgiving. Gynecologic Oncology. Among his don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor The family’s plans for the future many accomplishments, Huh was and, please, show up for those annual visits,” she said. changed immediately. Plans for a among the first oncologists to test third child were pushed to the side as Gardasil as an HPV vaccine. she underwent treatment, including an Richter said she was more than Rapid Growth abdominal radical hysterectomy and ready to join the Vax 2 Stop mission, Despite a year filled with disruplymph node removal. not only as a cancer survivor and tion and health and safety concerns “It took me a while to get to a advocate, but as a mother to two surrounding the pandemic, Schuler place where I felt like I could share young boys who are nearing their and her board members were able to my story,” Richter said. She found vaccination age. create and launch Vax 2 Stop Cancer. strength through the Cervivor com“I’m so drawn to getting reliable “I never thought we would accommunity, where she was able to conand accurate information out into the plish all that we have accomplished nect with other survivors. public about the vaccine,” she said. this year,” she said. “It’s easy to find a cancer survivor, “My boys are 7 and 10. Many people The organization received six of course, but if you find someone don’t realize that boys need to be vacgrants in 2020, starting with Blue who is in a similar stage of life as you cinated, too. Cross Blue Shield. with the same cancer diagnosis as Her advice to parents seeking “Blue Cross is extremely aware of you, it makes a huge difference,” more information to make sure THE ACESisSTUDY Richter said. “I didn’t have that durwhat you are reading is reliable medi- this epidemic,” Schuler said. “They Themy ACES is a randomized, controlled UABbeen to working on this issue and ing my first diagnosis and first Studycal information. If you aren’t suretrial the at have have not had great results, because the surgical treatment. Looking back, that sources are reliable, ask your doctor. determine if blood pressure medications combined with regular vaccination rate is so low.” would have been so helpful.” “Just be open with your doctor,” exercise can improve health and quality of life. When the Vax 2 Stop team preAfter three years in remission, she said. “Talk with your doctor about sented its mission and plan, the comRichter experienced a recurrence. any concerns you have about the way receive: Youshe May bechemoEligible If: you are feeling.” Enrolled participants willpany was on board. During her treatment, had  You are age 60 or older  Supervised exercise training at no “When you have somebody like therapy treatments as well as internal Cultivating an open relationship cost Blue Cross supporting you, it’s really and external radiation. with your general practitioner is  A doctor has diagnosed you with easy for the others to jump on board.” In the three years she haspressure something about which Richter is pas-medication highnow blood  Blood pressure she said. been clear of cancer, Richter they can provided You arehas able to walk sionate. across a She smallwonders how room without the use of any type of  Complimentary parking It led to recognition and support from other national companies and assistive device (cane/walker)  Compensation for your time organizations, such as the Prevent Sponsored by the Reed Foundation and the Cancer Foundation. “They had never given a grant to For more information, THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM the state of Alabama,” she said. “It please call: knocked me off of my feet. I was so 205-996-3005 humbled by that.” Schuler believes that one of the big reasons parents don’t choose to have their children vaccinated is because they don’t believe their child needs it, especially the boys. “The vaccine is recommended for If you have a plan for surgery or have had ages 11 to 12,” Schuler said. People can get the vaccine as young as age 9 surgery within the past 3 years for cancer of and up to 26, but that is when it is the liver, bile duct, gallbladder, esophagus, most effective and builds the most immunity. In fact, Schuler noted that stomach, or pancreas then you may qualify a recent study stated that people up to for UAB’s PACE study. age 45 can get at least some small benefit from it. You will receive exercise and nutrition counseling When given at the correct age, it is provided by trained dietitian and exercise specialist. typically administered by a doctor at the same time as a Tdap vaccine – which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis – and the meningococcal vaccine. Both vaccines have a much higher rate of usage than does the HPV vaccine, according to data Schuler pulled from the Alabama Department of Public Health. Tdap has a 71% usage rate and is required for school, while the meningococcal vaccine has a 58% usage rate. The vaccination rate for HPV is Contact our staff to see if you qualify: 21%. “There are layers of problems that (205) 975 – 0002 contribute to the low rate,” Schuler Or email: moveforward@uab.edu said. Parents think their kids don’t need it, they don’t think their kids are

Do you have high blood pressure? Do you want to start exercising regularly this New Year?



having sex.” Many parents find it hard to imagine their child contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Additionally, the vaccine receives a large amount of criticism due to misinformation. “This is FDA-approved,” Schuler said. “It’s safe, effective and it’s one of the most highly studied vaccines available.” Schuler’s own sons never received the vaccine. “I didn’t know about it,” she said. “The pediatrician wasn’t calling me about it, so we just didn’t know.” It doesn’t help that the vaccine fights a disease that could show up so many years in the future. “If it was a breast cancer vaccine, prostate cancer or what have you that is more widely talked about, people would line their kids up around the block,” Schuler said. “This is something that they are vaccinated for that they usually wouldn’t get until decades later. Schuler doesn’t fault pediatricians for lack of awareness. Pediatricians and general practitioners have a lot on their plates, she said. Through Vax 2 Stop, Schuler and board members are working to equip internists with the information they need to tell their patients about the importance of the HPV vaccine. The organization was inspired by Schuler’s recent work with the Alabama Department of Public Health. The ADPH conducted a program to raise HPV vaccination rates, working with 50 practices across the state to train doctors on ways to effectively recommend the vaccine. “We’ve seen their rates come up almost 10%, which was the goal,” Schuler said. “Some of them didn’t quite make it and others surpassed the goal, but we’ve made a huge dent with those 50 practices and brought over that experience.” In the ADPH’s program, 10 pediatricians each mentored five practices. “My program is that we are working with 14 pediatric or family medicine practices,” she said. Guided by a program developed by the Gillings School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina, Vax 2 Stop provides doctors with cards that showcase how to impart vaccine information and answer parents’ questions. “One of the biggest things about this program is that it has made doctors feel more confident in their recommendations, which is all they really needed,” Schuler said. With the new non-profit, Schuler also is working on social media campaigns to raise awareness and combat the spread of false information on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. “We’re trying to reach 500,000 people in Alabama through social media so that they understand the importance of (the vaccine), the efficacy of it and the safety of the vaccine – parents, adolescents, just general public.” For more information, visit vax2stopcancer.org.


Thursday, January 14, 2021 • 11



You may qualify if you:

Journal photo by Jordan Wald

– Are 18 to 65 years old – Have multiple sclerosis – Can walk but have some diffculty – Do not exercise regularly – Have not had a relapse in the past month – Can commit to exercise 2 times a week for 16 weeks – Can drive to study site – Have reliable internet access Brookwood Baptist Medical Center nurse Lauren Lewis, left, helps Ellie, Gracie, Laura and Dalton Hollis unload books.

Local Family of Six Donates 500 Books to Brookwood Baptist NICU The Hollis family of North Shelby County presented a donation of more than 500 books to staff at Brookwood Baptist Medical Center on Dec. 14. Through their Four the Love of Books and Babies campaign, a nod to the family’s four kids, one book will be given to every family with a baby so that they can read to their infants. After struggling with infertility, Natalie Hollis, her husband and their eldest daughter, Addie Jo, welcomed triplets at Brookwood Baptist Medical Center in February. Following their birth, the triplets spent more than a month in the NICU at Brookwood. The parents experienced the same anxiety many parents go through of not being able to hold their babies receiving a high level of care in the NICU. To pay forward the support they felt during their babies’ stay, the family created the Four the Love of Books and Babies drive. Reading materials were donated by family, friends, businesses and members of the community.


Mask required during visit Symptom screening 24hrs before study visit Symptom screening on arrival to study site Extra in-lab cleaning procedures

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Pandemic Inspires Vestavia Hills Neighbors to Band Together for Bible Club, More Activities for the Kids By Emily Williams-Robertshaw

Little Miracles

which says God loved the world so much he gave us his only son, Jesus. So, as Christmas approached, she took the idea to the kids, who loved it. Parents were all-in, helping coordinate costumes and set designs, and every child had a role to play in the scene, including that of Mary and Joseph, the three Wise Men, angels and the star. Pritchard counted 69 cars in line to view the live Nativity on Dec. 18, along with 25 people who walked over to the event. “After it was over, I said to the kids, ‘You realize that you have touched 69 families with the story of Jesus’ birth?’ And they were all amazed,” Pritchard said. She hopes to do the same thing next year, maybe on a larger scale with more children involved. “It’s teaching them a little bit about the reality of everything and the simplicity of everything,” she said. “I think that’s the beauty of it.”

“Quarantine Miracles”

It’s not all about the Bible study.

Journal photos by Jordan Wald

Though the pandemic shrouded 2020 in darkness, the Vesthaven neighborhood in Vestavia Hills made a silver lining as neighbors came together in ways they had never experienced before. Over the summer, with no end to the pandemic in sight, Carol Pritchard decided she could do something for the neighborhood kids who spent their days playing out in the yard while their parents worked from home. “We got to talking in (the) front yard one day and I said, ‘Hey, do y’all want to have a vacation Bible school.’ I’ll put it together and we can share the teaching responsibilities,” Pritchard said. So, she began handing out little bags with scriptures, lessons and arts and crafts activities. After summer had ended and school was back in session, one of the first graders in the Bible study, Jude, reached out to Pritchard hoping to learn more. “He wanted to know more about the story of Daniel and the lion’s den,” Pritchard said. “His church was closed. He was supposed to get his Bible this year and he was supposed to be dedicated, but that wasn’t going to happen.” With the desire for a continued Bible study in place, Pritchard reached out to her neighbors with the idea that she would run an hour-long children’s Bible club once a week. As Christmas approached, Pritchard found a way to use what they had been learning throughout the summer and fall by making a live Nativity.  Pritchard’s chosen theme for this year’s Bible studies was John 3:16,

The families have found joy watching the children feed off of each other and find ways to thrive in a dark year. “(The pandemic) has allowed the kids to be kids,” she said. “These children, their job has been to play outside, to get along, to enjoy learning to ride a bike, to have fun on a simple swing and a tree, to have clubs in the clubhouses, play hide and seek and learn to throw a football. These

are the things that we take for granted every day.” The kids also had plenty of free time to hone skills that would have otherwise taken a long time to develop. “We had bike races in the street in front of the house during the summer, because four of those children learned to ride a bike during quarantine,” Pritchard said. Pritchard’s neighbors, the Fangs, moved to the area from Taiwan a year ago in September. “The boys literally came off of the plane and went to school the next day,” Pritchard said. The two sons, Vincent and Connor, were both born in the United States while the parents were continuing their education. While the older son, Vincent, could speak English, Connor, eight years old at the time, had a language barrier. “Well, now he’s in the gifted program, because all summer long we spoke English to him,” Pritchard said. In addition, Vincent, now in seventh grade, struggled with United States history, having spent most of his school years in Taiwan. “I had the opportunity to teach him civics while he was still in the (staggered) schedule, so on his days at home we would work on it,” she said. “Now he’s got a 99 average.” Their entire group also had the chance to watch Vincent nurse a blue jay, named Squeaky, back to health. For weeks, he fed the bird with chopsticks to simulate a beak, getting up throughout the night to care for Squeaky until they were able to fledge the bird. “Blue jays never live,” she said. “Usually, if you find them by the nest, they die within 24 hours,” Pritchard said. These are the experiences Pritchard defines as little “quarantine miracles.” Before the pandemic, Pritchard and her neighbors communicated online for the most part. Pritchard founded the Friends of Vesthaven group, which now exists as a Facebook group online, in 1993. Several of the children from her

Members of the Vesthaven neighborhood bible club, from left, Connor Fang, Vincent Fang, Wilson Sneed, Brantley Noto, Jude Thaxton, Libby Smoot, Reese Thaxton, Townes Smith and Nicholas Noto.

Bible study had lived only about five doors from Pritchard, but because of their parents’ work schedules, day care and everyday life, she hadn’t met most of them. “Being here during this lockdown brought our neighborhood so close together and allowed us to do food trucks and have 4th of July with just (the) little street,” she said. Community has been especially important as the pandemic separated families. Pritchard’s children are grown and were quarantining on their own, and the children in neighboring families couldn’t see their grandparents during lockdowns. One of Pritchard’s neighbors who works as a nurse educator at Grandview Medical Center has been hunkered down with her family during the entire pandemic. “They still have all of their groceries delivered,” Pritchard said. On Halloween, the neighborhood hosted an alternative to traditional trick-or-treating. The live Nativity gave people a save way to celebrate, and the neighborhood organized a caroling night to reach out to other quarantining families. “It’s been the most wonderful season for this neighborhood,” Pritchard said. As 2021 brings with it the hope of a new year as well as a vaccine, Pritchard is looking forward to the potential of safely opening the Bible club to other children in the neighborhood. “The Bible club has been just the group of kids that play together,” she said. “Hopefully, next year we can expand it and include the other kids in the neighborhood who are interested, because parents have reached out. “We’d love to have them, but we just want to have a little more control over what is going on in the world,” she said.



Homewood High School Yearbook

From Page One

1988. He worked as an officer for eight years before being shot in the head. He spent weeks in a coma after hours of surgery. The shooting left him deaf in one ear and blind in one eye, and he experienced difficulties with speech. Legg grew up with Smith, and they were teammates on sports teams and friends throughout the years. “I first met Randy when I was 10 years old, playing Little League baseball at West Homewood Park,” Legg recalled. “He was a competitor and a fighter. I’m not talking a fist fighter, but just a tough, tough competitor. “But he was also one of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet. He was a wonderful teammate and friend.” Former Homewood football coach Alvin Bresler, who led the Patriots to that 1974 championship, complimented Smith’s longtime friend and fellow police officer Jim Henderson for helping plan Smith’s funeral service. “Jim Henderson and the Birmingham Police Department did a beautiful job with the ceremony celebrating Randy Smith’s life,” Bresler said. “It was well attended by a lot of players who played with him at Homewood. “We paid tribute to a great person. He not only played offensive line but inside linebacker on our 1974 championship team. He was about 6-foot-1,

Thursday, January 14, 2021 • 13


Homewood co-captain Murray Legg, right, said he always felt a little taller when he walked onto the field with Randy Smith, left, for the coin toss before games in 1974.

185 pounds. He was not just strong, but a tough cat. You could see it by how he took things on.”

A Loyal Friend

Bresler remembered Smith for just loving life. “Randy loved to kid, but he didn’t just dish it out, he could take it,” Bresler said. “When his accident happened 25 years ago, it didn’t change him. He had a strong will to live and he had to overcome a very tough situation.”

In his obituary, Smith’s family wrote: “Randy’s spirit, optimism, and love for others remained unharmed. Randy was very involved with his family and loved spending time with his children and grandchildren. A true hero, he also enjoyed investing his time and giving back to others by visiting patients at the Lakeshore Foundation and the Alabama Head Injury Foundation sharing his story of hope and survival.” That didn’t surprise Legg. “Randy was always a giver,” Legg said. “He was loyal to his friends and family. I know he loved his family and dearly loved his children. After his accident, he never complained and never said, ‘Why me?’ He took life as it came and made the best of it that he could.” Smith was a recipient of the city of Homewood’s Quality of Life award and was appointed grand marshal of the We Love Homewood Parade in 2008. “The last three years, several of us got together with Randy for lunch and you could tell how he tried to stay positive after all he had gone through and was going through,” Bresler said. “He had a way of making you feel good.” About 10 years ago, the Homewood High School athletic department established the Randy Smith Courage Award Scholarship to be given during its Senior Awards Day. “It’s voted on by the coaches,” Bresler said. “I haven’t presented it yet, but this year I want to be the presenter as a tribute to Randy.”

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Santa Came to Town Holiday in the Hills Breakfast With Santa Goes Drive-Thru

There was no way COVID-19 would stop Santa from visiting good girls and boys throughout the Vestavia Hills area. But the visit was tweaked a bit. This year, the city and the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce coordinated a drive-thru Breakfast with Santa. As community members drove up to Vestavia Hills Elementary West, Santa and his helpers greeted the children and passed out free Dunkin’ Donuts.


SANTA’S HELPERS From left, Isabelle Jackson, Mary Catherine Morrow, Sarah Jane Richardson and Emily Wigley.


Thursday, January 14, 2021 • 15


Family Friendly Holiday Parades

Above, the Vestavia Hills High School Marching Band. Left, from left, Blake, Claire and Rachel Thomas and Ann Adele, Alice, and Woods Allen.

Right, back, David, Carissa and Ben Larimer; front, Daniel, Genevieve, Michael and Matthew Larimer. Below, Crystal and Rhett Dew.

Above, the first-ever Car Menorah Parade makes its way through downtown Crestline Village. Left, Ilene and Ezra Kosoff.

Right, Rabbi Yosi Friedman and Rabbi Levi Weinbaum. Below, getting parade ready.

Vestavia Hills Hosts Annual Liberty Park Christmas Parade Vestavia Hills’ Holiday in the Hills celebrations culminated Dec. 13 with the annual Christmas Parade in Liberty Park. The parade traveled from Liberty Park Sports Complex to Alston Meadows with audiences lined along the street to watch while socially distanced. In addition to decorated floats, the parade included performances from groups such as the Vestavia Hills City Schools marching bands and the Vestavia Hills High School Rockets and Majorettes. Special guests at the parade included Santa and Mrs. Claus.


Chabad of Alabama Hosts First Car Menorah Parade A parade of cars lit up the streets of Birmingham Dec. 17 as Chabad of Alabama hosted its first Car Menorah Parade. The parade celebrated the second-to-last night of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights. Led by a motorcycle crew organized by Jefferson County Sheriff Mark Pettway, a lead truck carrying a big menorah was followed by a number of cars decorated with magnetic car menorahs or Chanukah flags.


16 • Thursday, January 14, 2021


No Time for Tea



he Birmingham Chi Omega Alumni Association hosted a service project Dec. 6 instead of its annual mother-daughter Christmas tea. “With COVID in mind, we decided we couldn’t host our traditional event. So we contacted the United Way about opportunities to serve our community,” said Lindy Walker, a member of the alumni leadership board. So, instead of sipping tea, Chi Omegas assembled self-care kits for the homeless. They were masked during the project and shifts were limited to 10 people. “It was a great way to get into the Christmas Kelly Evers. spirit,” said Ashley Condon, who hosted the event at her home. More than 200 kits were donated to the United Way to benefit the YWCA and First Light Women’s Shelters. Those in attendance included Amy and Maggie Beans, Lois Bradford, Leigh Belcher, Jill Edwards, Kelley Evers, Lani Graphos, Susan Gray, Kristi Logan, Laura Smith, Lee Ellen Sharp, Leigh Ann Smyth, Sally VonEshenbach, Julie Wade and Amy Young. ❖

Photos courtesy Birmingham Chi Omega

Chi Omega Alumni Shift Focus to Helping Homeless

Clockwise, from above, Lee Ellen Sharp, Sally vonEschenbach, Leigh Belcher, Lois Bradford and Jill Edwards. Amy and Maggie Beans. Ashley Condon, Kristi Logan and Susan Gray.

The Bazaars of Avondale

Journal photos by Jordan Wald

Local Vendors Lined Up for Cahaba Brewing Holiday Market

Dewon Moton.

Abby Kilmury and Karlin Fleming.

Asher, Ashleigh and Arabella Bowen.

The annual CahaBAZAAR Holiday Market took place Dec. 12 at Cahaba Brewing, featuring more than 70 local vendors and a free hot chocolate bar by Filter-Coffee Parlor.

Live music by JD & the Man and Steel City Jug Slammers set the mood as shoppers perused vendor offerings or visited with Santa. In addition, a food truck bazaar featured

Chrissy and Eric Benney

Simone’s Kitchen ATL, Eugene’s Hot Chicken, Cajun Steamer, Cantina Tortilla Grill, Alloy Thai Restaurant, Little London Kitchen and Aww Shucks, LLC. ❖



Thursday, January 14, 2021 • 17

Photos courtesy Antiquarians Society

From left, Amy Tully, Rev. Rich Webster, Elouise Williams and Becky Keyes.

Historical Perspective

Antiquarians Hear About Jesus’ Family During Holiday Luncheon The Antiquarians Society of Birmingham celebrated the holiday season with a meeting and luncheon. The Rev. Rich Webster, rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, spoke to the group, offering a historical perspective of Jesus’ family. Mandy Adams decorated the luncheon tables with antique Santas and fresh greenery. Members wore masks and observed social distancing guidelines during the event. At the luncheon were society President Becky Keyes, Amy Tully, Nancy Terrell, Dottie Hoover, Jan Smith, Janet Krueger, Linda Stewart, Carolyn Delk, Kirke Cater, Nancy Skinner, Cele Dillard, Nan Teninbaum, Elouise Williams, Mary Jean Myers, Carolyn Drennan, Judy Long, Marsha Duell, Rebekah Taylor and Marjorie Forney. Also attending were Betty Northen, Beverly Phillips, Lucianne Pugh, Kay Clark, Emily Blount, Liz Warren, Redonda Broom, Nancy Jones, Barbara Klyce, Gail Pugh, Margie Preston, Susan Bell, Fran Fendley, Ann Sanders, Janeal Shannon, Judy Anderson, Carolyn Satterfield, Elizabeth Wallace, Rhetta Tatum, Cookie Logan, Helen Pittman, Lynda Whitley, Anne Lamkin, Mary Lynda Crockett, Barbara Wall and Jean Hendrickson. ❖

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Walking in A Winter Wonderland



The first-ever Siegel’s Winter Wonderland took off Dec. 19, raising funds for Cedartown Animal Rescue, Education and Sterilization. Hosted at the Mountain Brook home of Tiffany McCalmont and Dr. Herrick Siegel, the event honors the couple’s late dog Herrick Siegel and Rudy, who Tiffany McCalmont. passed away suddenly during the pandemic, and one of their newest family members, Zulu, who was adopted through Cares. “Snow” rained down on visitors as they viewed the holiday light and decoration display.

Journal photos by Jordan Wald

Holiday Light Display Raises Funds for Cedartown Animal Rescue

Dale, Kyle, Liam and Kliss Monk. Cassie Moore, Tiffany McCalmont and Kristi Musgrove.

In addition to a hot cocoa bar, Santa was on site to greet children along with some of Santa’s reindeer, which looked a lot like horses. A mailbox was set up to collect donaLaura Smith and tions while a Leah Jackson. silent auction featuring sports memorabilia and experiences raised funds for Cares. ❖

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Thursday, January 14, 2021 • 19

Journal photos by Jordan Wald


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bread dressing, sweet potato casserole, green beans, cranberry sauce and pumpkin cheesecake topped with candied pecans and whipped cream. In addition, the club throughout the festivities collected donations for Support Our Soldiers to mark Veterans Day. Items also were brought for donation, including beef jerky, lip balm, baby wipes, drink mix packets, hair ties, bobby pins, travel-sized deodorant, Gold Bond powder, shampoo and body wash. ❖


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Engaged Wedding Library


Pandemic Planning

for your one-year anniversary. We recommend taking a “mini-moon” in the states, instead. Have you seen any new trends emerge this year that you love? 

Vendors Adapt to Wedding Planning in 2020, Prepare for 2021 By Emily Williams-Robertshaw

Summer Tate, associate planner and marketing manager, and Sidney Nomberg, lead wedding planner and project manager

Like wedding planners, Engaged Wedding Library seeks to educate brides on the wedding planning process, guide them through the four steps of planning and help them build an excellent vendor team. Unlike traditional wedding planning services, Engaged is financially supported by our amazing group of Birmingham wedding vendors. The more than 100 local vendors in the group have been vetted by the Engaged team and represent all styles, locations and budget. In addition, the company offers “Day-of Coordination” services as an add-on.


he wedding industry is made up of a variety of specialized companies a couple matches together to create their special day. It is a multibillion-dollar operation, even in 2020. But there is no doubt that the industry has fallen victim to the economic impact of COVID-19 as couples scale back, postpone and even cancel marital plans in response to the threat from the pandemic. The industry lost an estimated 45% to 50% of weddings in the first four months of the pandemic, according to research conducted by The Wedding Report Inc. and presented by founder and CEO Shane McMurray in a video conference in November. McMurray said more recent data showed Hawaii had taken a more than 60% hit in its industry by late fall. Couples’ needs and desires for their big day have been shaped by the pandemic and the safety measures set out to slow the spread of the virus. For a local perspective, we reached out to several vendors in the wedding industry to ask about their 2020 experiences and their forecasts for the future.

Carla Gates Photography

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, our main focus was making sure our brides were doing OK emotionally. It seemed in the span of a few days, lots of plans, hard work and expectations were broken for spring and summer 2020 weddings. When meeting with our brides, our first task was telling them their options: moving their entire wedding, having an intimate ceremony and reception at a later date, or simply choosing to elope. After making these decisions, we were able to advise each bride based on their situation with how to move forward with securing a new date with their vendor team if needed.

At the beginning of the summer, we were able to continue planning and coordinating weddings for our brides. There were five main wedding categories we saw mainly affected by the pandemic. Venue: Your venue will be following serious guidelines and regulations, one being requiring your guest count to be at half capacity. To a more serious extent, some are taking temperatures, requiring signed waivers and asking guests to wear masks while social distancing.

How do you believe COVID-19-related wedding trends will affect the future of the wedding industry?

Going along with the smaller weddings, we believe brides are able to offer a more personalized experience for a limited guest count. For example, many have chosen to host a seated dinner at a restaurant, rather than renting out a venue for a larger reception. Also, many brides and grooms have offered a virtual experience for guests who are (immunocompromised). They still incorporating their loved ones by mailing goodie bags or inviting them to join a Zoom link to join the big day!  

Canvas & Glass

In the early stages of shutdowns, what was your main focus as you adapted to serve brides?

What are some of the most notable limitations you have had to deal with throughout the pandemic?

Pre-pandemic, our average wedding guest count was around 200. Currently, most of our weddings have had 100 guests in attendance. We feel the smaller guest count has allowed for more special moments and intimacy, less stress on the bride (and) on their family, and just as much fun!

Food and beverage: The most cost-effective way to feed your guests has always been buffetstyle, but most caterers (now) require hosts to pick between a seated dinner or attended stations. Both of these services will raise your catering cost, requiring more labor. Expect to see plexiglass at both your dinner buffet and bar. Vendors working with food and beverage are required to wear a mask. Dress shopping: If you are looking at a sixmonth engagement, it may be best to be on the lookout for a sample gown. Communicate with your consultant about the expectations on the

arrival of your gown when ordering. Bridal gown shops and alterations (shops) aren’t allowing as many people in the store. Get your appointment on the books so you don’t have to sweat it. Entertainment: Most entertainment vendors require guests to maintain a six-foot distance from them, allowing the party to continue while also keeping themselves safe. Also, guests are expected to social distance on the dance floor. Honeymoon planning: Some brides and grooms are not comfortable leaving the country. Consider a Plan B for your trip or rebook it

Emma and Daniel Phillips

We are a husband-and-wife photography duo based in Birmingham who love documenting family milestones. While we specialize in lifestyle photography, we love photographing the first major milestone of a family – the wedding day! We want to do more than capture the beauty of the day. We want to tell the story of who our clients are. We’re always honored to come alongside couples as they start their lives, and we love continuing to document their families as they live out their vows. In the early stages of shutdowns, what was your main focus as you adapted to serve your brides? 

Flexibility, flexibility, flexibility. Planning a

See PLANNING, page 24


MAJOR ADJUSTMENT Last-Minute Venue Change Provides Perfect Atmosphere for Homewood Couple’s August Wedding PAGE 22

A PERFECT MATCH Lauren and William Love Celebrate Wedded Bliss in Atlanta PAGE 24

LESS IS MORE Vestavia Hills Couple Downsizes Wedding Amidst COVID-19 Risks PAGE 26



Birmingham Museum of Art

The Birmingham Museum of Art is an elegant and modern venue, suited to host any wedding event, such as engagement parties, bridal luncheons, teas and showers down to the ceremony and reception. “If you choose the Museum for your wedding, you can utilize all of our event spaces – Oscars Café, with the dramatic spiral staircase; the Eighth Ave. Lobby, which has the colorful, Dale Chihuly blown glass adorning the wall; and the multi-level Charles Ireland Sculpture Garden outside,” said Special Events Manager Jestina Howard, above. “All of the galleries in the Museum will also be open during your event, and we only book one event per evening,. So, you and your guests will have the entire Museum to yourselves,” Howard added.

planning your wedding stress free. Planners handle all of the details from beginning to end such as logistics, event design, contract negotiations, booking vendors and the day-of execution of your event. Coordinators handle some day-of logistics, but on a shorter timeline. They usually begin helping you prepare a week or month before the wedding and function as your day of point person.” “Two: What are the three most important aspects you want for your special day - food, drinks, dancing, entertainment, etc.? Prioritize the three things and stick to them.” “Three: What is your wedding style/theme classic/traditional, contemporary, rustic? Focus on this so you stay aligned with your complete event vision.”

“One: Do you want to hire a wedding planner or coordinator? They can make the process of

Birmingham Museum of Art is located at 2000 Rev. Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd., 205-254-2681.

Howard’s Wedding Planning Tips

There is an art to creating the perfect wedding. Let us be your canvas.

artsbma.org · 205.254.2681 plananevent@artsbma.org

Image courtesy Eric & Jamie Photography

Weddings at the Birmingham Museum of Art


Did you end the challenging year of 2020 with a happy holiday engagement? Despite a global pandemic, the holiday season was still the most popular time to pop the question! While planning a wedding in 2021 will continue to have some of the same hurdles of 2020, creating a wedding registry at Bromberg’s remains a delightful and easy part of wedding planning. While you can create an online wedding registry, nothing compares to the helpful service you will receive working with our expert bridal consultants. With an unmatched selection of fine china, casual dinnerware, crystal, silver, and home décor, every couple that registers at Bromberg’s will be expertly guided to set a table that will be the focal point of cherished memories for years to come. Additionally, your guests will appreciate the ease of selecting from a wide variety and perfect combination of gift choices. Bromberg’s Gift Letter program reduces the amount of returns and duplicate gifts. For each gift purchased from a registry, a beautiful gift letter is sent to inform the couple which gift was picked out for them and whom it’s from along with a personalized message. After the wedding, the couple can redeem the total value of the gift let-

Thursday, January 14, 2021 • 21

ters they have received for anything they want in the store, allowing them to take advantage of special offers, including a free place setting with the purchase of seven place settings or our seasonal sales. Other benefits of registering at

Bromberg’s include discounts for attendant and hostess gifts and 20 percent off on non-diamond wedding bands. Bromberg’s is located in Mountain Brook Village, The Summit and BrombergsBride.com.

22 • Thursday, January 14, 2021



Major Adjustment

What the couple wanted had been steadily changing during the shutdown, but what they knew was that they wanted to keep their original wedding date.

By Emily Williams-Robertshaw

Newlyweds Sydne and Jeffrey “JJ” Shaffer met while attending college at Auburn University. Both were involved in collegiate athletics, Sydne being a softball player while JJ played baseball. Sydne moved to Birmingham right after graduation, while JJ remained in Auburn to pursue a master’s in business before making the same move. On Jan. 18, 2020, under the guise that they would be celebrating a year of living in Birmingham, Jeffrey made a reservation for dinner at GianMarcos, within walking distance of Sydne’s home. “My best friend flew in, and while we were at dinner, she and her husband decorated our backyard with twinkle lights and music,” she said. When they returned from dinner Jeffrey proposed. “I had planned the whole (wedding) in about three weeks,” Sydne said. “Things were slow at work and I was just on it.” Little did she know, the plans would dissolve in just a matter of months. Once the longevity of the pandem-

ic was realized, the couple and their families had to discuss what to do about the wedding they had envisioned. “Our previous vendor was being super strict on their rules and guidelines, which we totally understood,” she said. What the couple wanted had been steadily changing during the shutdown, but what they knew was that they wanted to keep their original wedding date. “We had been dating for six years and we knew we were getting married, whether it was just us and the pastor, us at the courthouse or in our parents’ backyard. That was it.” The guest list was cut in half, from about 330 to about 120. “The venue we initially picked was completely indoors,” she said. “Late June, we re-planned the whole thing and switched to the HooverRandle Home.” Originally, she had been against the idea of an outdoor wedding in the middle of August because of the weather. On Aug. 22, 2020, the couple wed at Mountain Brook Community

FROM THE FIRST KISS TO THE LAST DANCE 205.354.0171 valleyhotelbirmingham.com

Photo by Sarah Partain.

Last-Minute Venue Change Provides Perfect Atmosphere for Homewood Couple’s August Wedding

Church in a ceremony officiated by Ben Telfair, followed by a reception at the Hoover-Randle House. “For some reason, it was 70 degrees on a weekend in August. It only rained on the ride back from the church to the reception, just a tiny little shower. It ended up being perfect. There were also some special surprises that the restructuring offered. While they were quarantining before the wedding, Sydne and her father decided to choreograph a fun father-daughter dance. It was an act that was quite out of character for her very reserved father, whom Sydne said rarely smiles in pictures, let alone

breaks out into dance. “We didn’t tell anyone,” she said. “My husband didn’t know, nobody knew that we were doing it. Probably for the first hour and a half of the reception, people could not get past the fact that my dad had just done that. We’ve got a lot of good candid shots of him dancing and we have the video of it.” A benefit to switching their venue, the couple’s French bulldog and golden retriever both got to be a part of the day, posing for pictures alongside the bride as she got ready. “We didn’t feel like we were missing out or like we compromised on

anything,” Sydne said. The bride’s parents are Denis and Kelly Waldrop of Springville. She was given in marriage by her father and wore a crepe silhouette gown with an open back and button detailing, enhanced with a small belt by Essence of Australia. Courtney Shea Smith served as matron of honor. Bridesmaids included Cara Limoges, Savannah Caswell, Madison Pearce, Madi Reese, Hayden Bender and Kendra Watson. Flower girls were Lane and Sutton Leachman. The groom’s parents are Jeff and Jenny Shaffer of Auburn. Jacob Drescher was best man. Groomsmen included Austin Williams, Justin Camp, Matt Morris, Brayden Housel, Steven Barranca and Blake Logan. Following a wedding trip to St. Lucia, the couple reside in Homewood.



Thursday, January 14, 2021 • 23


HOOVER-RANDLE home & gardens

Whether it is a diamond engagement ring, anniversary earrings or a special piece for your day, JB & CO can help you collect your heirloom.



Birmingham’s most unique address for your wedding The perfect venue for your wedding ceremony and reception or your... Bridesmaids’ Luncheon

JB & CO is a jewelry boutique owned and operated by John Bromberg, above. His boutique honors a return to an old-world artisan approach to fine jewelry. In an industry that is increasingly focused on mass production, JB & CO chooses instead to focus on the unique, with specialties that include bridal, custom and estate jewelry. Bromberg personally works with his clients to select or create just the right piece for the occasion, always adhering to their style and budget. Whether it is a diamond engagement ring, anniversary earrings or a special piece for your day, JB & CO can help you collect your heirloom. His selection of jewelry comes from destinations far and wide, from the finest houses such as Bulgari, Cartier, Hermes and Tiffany, as well as designers Elizabeth Locke, Raymond Yard, Lalaounis, Judith Ripka, Mikimoto, David Yurman, John Hardy, Rolex and more.   Bromberg, a sixth-generation jeweler, is a member of the prestigious Diamond Dealers’ Club of New York, The American Society of Jewelry Historians and a graduate of The Gemological Institute of America, (GIA). “Collect with us,” said Bromberg. JB & Co. is located at 1 Office Park Cir., Ste. 201, 205-478-0455.

Rehearsal Dinners


Showers/Teas or Engagement Parties

For more photos visit us on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest

205.957.9540 Tahara@HooverRandleHome.com 2255 Tyler Road, Hoover, Alabama 35226

One Office Park circle, Suite 201 MOuntain BrOOk, al 35223 205.478.0455 • JohnBromberg@JBandCoJewelry.com www.JBandCoJewelry.com

24 • Thursday, January 14, 2021



A Perfect Match By Emily Williams-Robertshaw

The saying “love means nothing to a tennis player” is far from the case for newlyweds Lauren and William Love. Lauren, a University of Alabama graduate and Vestavia Hills native, and William, a University of Georgia graduate of Marietta, Georgia, met in Atlanta on the tennis court.  They were paired by their mutual friend, Will Varnado, for a casual game of doubles in the fall of 2017. “A few months later we got together for our first date and, naturally, played tennis, which led to many dinners, soccer matches, hikes, concerts, etc.” Lauren said. For their first trip as a couple, Hammonds and Love traveled to New York City for the U.S. Open. Their proposal took place during a hike at Sawnee Mountain in Georgia. “Everyone who has ever been part of a wedding can agree that, at times, there feels like an overwhelming amount of uncertainty and details to work through, along with an endless amount of decisions to be made,”

PLANNING From page 20

wedding means making a lot of decisions, and a pandemic only adds to

Lauren said. “We experienced this challenge firsthand when we first got engaged in September 2019, but the pandemic exponentially multiplied the amount and sensitivity of every decision.” Following the proposal, Lauren and her mother went on a European vacation, buying something in each country they visited to be used during the wedding. While in London, they bought a “Love Birds” bandeau silk scarf by Louis Vuitton at Harrods, worn by the bride as a nod to the “lovebirds” wedding theme. Lauren found her gown at Blanc Couture in Paris. Van Clef and Arpels mother of pearl earrings were bought in Rome and, while at the Vatican, Lauren had her engagement ring blessed. As shutdowns and continued health and safety restrictions colored the year, the Love’s wedding plans changed on a weekly, occasionally daily, basis. “In that spirit, simply the act of getting married itself was what made our wedding more special to us than we had originally envisioned. We that stress. We wanted to be flexible and accommodating as our clients made unexpected decisions in their wedding planning process. What are some of the most

Carla Gates Photography

Lauren and William Love Celebrate Wedded Bliss in Atlanta

missed some friends and family at the event itself, but strangely this helped put into perspective what mattered most and what the entire event was all about – two people committing to each other for life,” Lauren said. “We feel stronger and more prepared to take on life’s challenges because we, with the support of our family and friends in person and in spirit, overcame obstacle after obstacle to make our special day happen.” What remained the same was the couple’s desire to get married on their chosen wedding day, Oct. 17, 2020. They chose that date based on the football schedules of their alma maters, hoping to avoid a big game

weekend. “Due to COVID-19, the SEC moved the football schedule around and our schools actually ended up playing on our wedding date,” Lauren said. “We just laughed, as it was somewhat fitting, because we started dating shortly after the Alabama versus UGA National Championship game in 2018.” Lauren recalls her mother stating on the wedding day that, no matter the score, the couple were both winners for coming together in marriage. The couple wed in a ceremony at Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta in front of a limited audience of family and friends wearing custom

notable limitations you have had to deal with throughout the pandemic?

selective with what they actually want. Whether they go big or small, they can celebrate in a way that is reflective of their love, and we think that is a beautiful thing.

Photography relies on people and places to shoot. Because of the pandemic, people were less available and many spaces were closed. There were – and still are – so many unknowns that celebrations had to be canceled or postponed, and even outdoor venues were closed to the public. It has been quite a phenomenon, as we have all experienced, and it has definitely affected the way photographers are able to do business. Have you seen any new trends emerge this year that you love? 

Most definitely. The pandemic has been incredibly difficult on many levels, both personally and professionally, but a lot of good has come from it, as well. Families have spent more time together, people have reevaluated what is important in life, and engaged couples have been far less burdened by traditional wedding expectations as they plan to join their lives. Of course, many experiences were lost or at least different than expected. Overall, we think that couples have been able to marry in a new and refreshing way, specially focused on love, family and togetherness. How do you believe COVID19-related wedding trends will affect the future of the wedding industry?

One thing is for sure, the wedding industry isn’t going anywhere! We think brides and grooms will be more

The Happy Catering Company

Holly Barton, marketing and wedding specialist

We are a locally owned, Homewood catering company. We’ve had the pleasure of serving the greater Birmingham area for 28-plus years. You’ll see our vans all over town, as we serve everything from small corporate breakfast and lunch deliveries to large weddings and corporate galas. Bill Bouloukos and Robbie Dyson along with their Happy team are proud to be a part of the Birmingham wedding and corporate market.  In the early stages of shutdowns, what was your main focus as you adapted to serve brides? 

We focused on the safety and health of our clients and team while simultaneously trying to keep the wedding receptions as close to the original plan as possible or working with the clients to reschedule when necessary. Our main goal was to be available to the brides and their families to make adjustments as necessary and to keep the stress level as low as possible for them. What are some of the most notable limitations you have had to deal with throughout the

silk masks made by the bride’s aunt Lili Cruz. A reception followed, held in an open tent at Canoe, Atlanta. The bride’s parents are Ms. Maria Cruz and Mr. Elton Hammonds of Vestavia Hills. She was given in marriage by her father, mother and brother Alex. She wore a V-neck, white, shimmer lace sheath Miss Kelly gown by The Sposa group with pearl-beaded roses and white feathers on the straps. The gown had a removable belted tulle train with matching pearl beaded roses and feather details. Matrons of honor were Julie Hardin of Huntsville and Katlynn Mummert of Atlanta. Bridesmaids were Sarah Beringer, Lauren Dinges and Allison Love O’Neil, sister of the groom, all of Atlanta. The groom is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Love of Marietta, Georgia. Best man was Roberto Taylor DaSilva of Atlanta. Groomsmen were Alex Hammonds, brother of the bride, of Vestavia Hills; and Steven Kviklys, Matthew Liedberg, Stephen Malone and Carey O’Neil, brother-in-law of the groom, all of Atlanta. Due to the pandemic, the couple delayed their honeymoon plans to visit the Greek Islands. After a wedding trip to Amelia Island, Florida, and Savannah, Georgia, the couple live in Atlanta. pandemic?

The most notable limitation has been not being able to have selfserve catering stations (or) buffets. We’ve also had to ensure that we are providing the PPE necessary to keep our team safe as we serve guests at multiple events each weekend. We’ve been sad to see some of our more elaborate hors d’oeuvres displays scaled back to accommodate the single-serve-style service but have also been grateful for the clients who have been understanding about the required adjustments.  Have you seen any new trends emerge this year that you love? 

Despite the initial struggle of figuring out how to serve in a new style, we’ve actually enjoyed the creativity in some of the single-serve items we’ve discovered! Passed hors d’oeuvres and chef-attended stations have also been a big trend that we love; they can really elevate the guests’ experience at weddings and corporate events. How do you believe COVID19-related wedding trends will affect the future of the wedding industry? 

We would love to see a return to the style of some of our events preCOVID-19 but want to keep the health and safety of our clients and guests in the forefront of our minds. I believe we’ll continue to see more chef-attended stations and smaller guest counts at venues that don’t have a lot of open or outdoor space at least for the next few months.



Aldridge Gardens

Aldridge Gardens is a 33-acre public garden nestled in the heart of Hoover, featuring beautiful woods, gardens, walking trails and a serene fiveacre lake. “I’ve been in this industry for 20 years,” said Sales Director Amanda Baker, pictured, “and around here we like to say ‘If you can think it, we’ve done it.’ And this year that includes a pandemic. We are thrilled to be hosting events, and have been since May.” Ceremonies can be held with plenty of social distancing at one of nine picturesque garden sites on the 33 acre property including the Pavilion, a covered, open-air facility and small ampitheater - all of which accommodate up to 200 guests. The arbor, shade garden lawn and pavilion provide a beautiful backdrop of garden foliage. Lakeside, woodland stream and patio sites offer stunning water and garden views. The Pavilion and Kay and Eddie Aldridge Art and Historical Museum are perfect reception venues. The museum opens to a large brick patio, offering a spectacular view of the lake, while the gallery features works of noted local and national artists - including a large collection of Frank Fleming sculptures. “Weddings can be inherently stressful but they don’t have to be. In these unusual times people still want to celebrate life’s special occassions and we have the venue and experience to make it happen.” Baker said. Aldridge Gardens is located at 3530 Lorna Rd., Hoover, 205-682-8019.


Kelly Ingram Post No. 668 Veterans of foreign Wars Ph. 205-252-2696

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Thursday, January 14, 2021 • 25

Levy’s Fine Jewelry

For more than 99 years and four generations Levy’s Fine Jewelry has been providing the people of Birmingham with the finest quality of new designer jewelry and the largest selection of antique jewelry. “We sell loose diamonds, engagements rings, wedding bands and bridesmaids and groomsmen gifts,” said Todd Denaburg, pictured far right with his cousin Jared Nadler, left. “Jared and I have been working together in the bridal jewelry business full time for 31 years. Counting part time work as a child, I have been in the business for 45 years. “Levy’s not only carries an encompassing selection of modern diamonds, engagement rings and wedding bands, but also has one of the most comprehensive selections of antique and estate bridal jewelry in the United States. From the 18th century throughout the Georgian, Victorian, Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Retro period, we offer a selection to fit every taste,” Todd said. “The best advice I can offer in the selection of bridal jewelry is for the bride and groom to work together to select the perfect pieces of jewelry,” Jared said. “We know that often the element of surprise is a large factor in this, especially when selecting an engagement ring. If working together is not possible, try to gather what her tastes and wishes are through her friends or family members.

The engagement ring will be worn for a very long time, so it’s best to ensure it is the perfect ring for her. If you have a long engagement, don’t buy the wedding band until four months before the wedding, as styles and minds change over a period of time.”

Levy’s is taking every precaution to insure both it’s customers and employees are safe from the COVID pandemic. Cloth masks are required for everyone in the building, with no exceptions. The store is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected throughout the day. Occupancy is limited to ensure plenty of social distancing room. Any piece of jewelry that is touched by either and employee or a customer is disinfected before being put back out on display. Levy’s Fine Jewelry is located at 2116 2nd Avenue N. in Birmingham, 205-251-3381.

26 • Thursday, January 14, 2021



Less Is More

Vestavia Hills Couple Downsizes Wedding Amidst COVID-19 Risks tion at Iron City, however, were moved to March 2021. Instead, the couple celebrated with a small gathering of about 40 family members and friends in the billiard room at the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Mountain Brook. The bride’s parents are Scott and Susan Williams of Mountain Brook. The bride was given in marriage by her father. Never one to wear all




REGISTER! 2841 Cahaba Road Mtn. Brook Village • 879-5277 M-F 10-5 • Sat 10-4 www.thecookstoremtnbrook.com

5299 Valleydale Road, Suite 111 980-9030 southeasternjewelers.net (1/4 mile off 280)

To: From:


Renee Over The Mountain Journal, 205-823-9646 ph., 205-824-1246, fax To: thecookstore@msn.com November From: Over The Mountain Journal, PHONE: 205-823-9646 This is your AD PROOF from the OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL the Date: for December

November 15, 2018 issue. Please contact your sales representative as soon as possible to approve your ad or make changes. You may fax approval or changes to 824-1246. This is your AD

Please make sure all information is correct, including address and phone number!

PROOF from the OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL for the Jan. 14, 2021 issue.

Please initial and fax back within 24 hours.

Please make sure all information is correct, including address and phone number!

Thank you for your prompt attention.

Thank you for your prompt attention.

If we have not heard from you by 5 pm of the Friday before the press date, your ad will run as is. We print the paper Monday.

“ My wedding reception was held at Inverness Country Club and it could not have gone better. Holly, who coordinated the event, went over and beyond what we were expecting. The format is versatile, and accommodates people who want to dance, dine in the background, or just want some quiet time outside while overlooking the golf course. It was a great experience, and I highly recommend Inverness Country Club for any event you may have.” - Jordan Johnson www.iccalabama.com Holly Kuck, Event Director 1 Country Club Drive 205.991.8608 Holly@diamondclubs.com Birmingham, AL 35242

Photo by Bryan Johnson

Emily and Ben Robertshaw were married Nov. 14, 2020, at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in a ceremony officiated by the Rev. Robert J. Sullivan. Dedicated to the art of planning, the bride and groom set their wedding date weeks before their July 2019 engagement, and it remained unchanged despite the pandemic. Plans for a large band party recep-

white, the bride wore a sweetheart ballgown made with a metallic Jacquard fabric in a soft mist hue by Brooklyn-based designer, Rebecca Schoneveld. The dress was found at Wedding Belles in New Orleans, chosen with the help of three generations of “Bishop women,” including the bride’s grandmother, Connie Burke Bishop of Mountain Brook; mother, Susan Bishop Williams; aunt, Marilyn Bishop Pointer of New Orleans; and cousin, Shelby Pointer. The trip took place less than two months before the pandemic lockdown. Maid of honor was Elizabeth Ann Naro of Mountain Brook, whom the bride has known since elementary school. Bridesmaids were Melissa Blasingame of Chattanooga, Tennessee; Emma Phillips of Vestavia Hills, sister of the groom; Shelby Pointer of New Orleans, cousin of the bride; Claire Reid of Birmingham; and Kendall Sieron of Atlanta. The groom’s parents are Tom and Janet Robertshaw of Vestavia Hills. Best man was Frank Lopez of Vestavia Hills. Groomsmen were Silas Robertshaw of Sacramento, California, brother of the groom; Gordon Williams of Atlanta, older brother of the bride; Sam Williams of Mountain Brook, younger brother of the bride; Rip Britton of Homewood; Bailey Hill of Fultondale; and Andrew Kolb of Mobile. Readings were given by Andrew Pointer of Atlanta, cousin of the bride, and the couple’s close friend Wilson Yerger of Nashville. Due to health and safety measures, a limited number of guests were in attendance for the ceremony, with the audience masked and socially distanced throughout the church. Music for the ceremony was graciously provided by pianist Vera Britton, close family friend to the groom, accompanied by Sarah Dennis on the violin. In addition, the maid of honor’s cousin Lauren Marino served as the soloist. Plans for a European honeymoon also were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After a wedding trip to Cashiers, North Carolina, the couple resides in Vestavia Hills. – Emily Williams-Robertshaw



Families Own

Thursday, January 14, 2021 • 27

OvenBird is one of the many restaurants participating in BRW.

Neighborhood-Owned Ice Cream Shop Coming to West Homewood

For the Community

The shop will be the first community-owned business in Homewood. “We’re looking forward to it,” John McElheny said. “We think the ice cream shop will be a benefit to the community. We’re not concerned about any financial award. We think it will be a great place to gather, socialize and foster relationships.” Simmons is overjoyed Neighbors will be an ice cream shop. “I worked for Baskin-Robbins at one time,” Simmons said, “so this a passion for me. It’s in my blood. Besides, who doesn’t love ice cream?” Derek Waltchack, owner of the Westwood

See NEIGHBORS, page 28

HEATING UP the DINING SCENE Birmingham Restaurant Week’s Winter Edition Is Set for Jan. 14-31

By Donna Cornelius

While COVID-19 has taken a heavy toll on the food and beverage industry, one of Birmingham’s tastiest events isn’t just surviving but thriving. Birmingham Restaurant Week set records in the fall and provided much-needed support not only for the city’s restaurants, bars and food trucks but also for the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama. BRW organizers are working hard to make the winter version of the event, set for Jan. 14-31 with Spire as its title sponsor, equally strong. Birmingham Restaurant Week is an opportunity for food and drink lovers who want to experience new taste adventures or revisit favorite spots to choose special two- and three-course breakfast, lunch and dinner prixfixe menus ranging from $5 to $50 per person. BRW has adapted to COVID-19 concerns and restrictions by adding to-go and curbside pickup options to traditional dine-in experiences, which will be limited with health precautions in mind. Many participating restaurants are preparing to expand their outdoor and patio seating with high-powered heating, cabana tents and other innovations designed to keep guests safe – and warm. BRW’s slogan, “For the Love of Local,” is

Journal file photo

School activities at Hall-Kent Elementary in Homewood had become get-to-know-yourneighbors events, and as some of those families got to know each other better, they decided to open a business to benefit the community. Sometime in March or April, Neighbors West Homewood, a new neighborhood-owned ice cream shop concept, will open. Neighbors recently signed a lease in the newly renovated Westwood Shopping Center. Thirteen West Homewood families came together to start the business, making it the first neighborhood-owned business in the area. The shop will serve a variety of flavors of ice cream, candy and other sweets. “The families who are a part of this are all connected,” said Paul Simmons, who, along with his wife, Apryl, are part of the ownership group. “A lot of our kids go to Hall-Kent, and when we attended an event, we got to know each other, and as our relationships grew, we decided since we love our neighbors and our neighborhood, why not invest in it.”  The families hope Neighbors will bring more value to the neighborhood.  “We’re excited to bring a local ice cream shop back to the West Homewood neighborhood,” said Michael Eady, spokesman for the ownership group. “However, we’re most excited to have an ownership group that properly represents the true diversity of our neighborhood. Each of the families investing in this business desires to serve our neighbors well and recruit others to eat, shop and live in West Homewood.” The following families own Neighbors: the Simmons, John and Leslie McElheny, Will and Jana Flinkow, Payton and Heather Junkin, Jonathan and Maria Fleisher, Carlos and Mercedes Alemán, Bernard and Stephanie Mays, Michael and Sarah Beth Eady, Christopher and Jenna Bailey, David and Rebekah Ytterberg, Andrew and Trista Wolverton, Erik and Lauren Gibson, Johnny and Courtney Grimes, Brittany and Robert Sturdivant, Matt and Amanda Leach, J.W. and Becky Carpenter.

Photo Courtesy Birmingham Restaurant Week

By Rubin E. Grant

‘Restaurants need help more than ever right now, and Restaurant Week provides that.’ AL RABIEE, OWNER OF VINO IN ENGLISH VILLAGE

particularly apt during these times. “Spire is once again excited to partner with Birmingham Restaurant Week in supporting our local restaurants,” said Joe Hampton, president of Spire Alabama, Gulf

Coast and Mississippi. “As we enter into the winter months, these local restaurants need our support more than ever. With plenty of curbside and to-go options available, this winter’s event will be a great example of how we can continue to move forward and get through this – together.”   Alabama’s $9 billion leisure and hospitality industry has been hit hard during the pandemic, accounting for more than 40% of all jobs lost since March, according to the state Department of Labor. About 75% of Alabama’s 8,620 eating and drinking establishments are independently owned, and those restaurants are far more vulnerable to potential closure because of lost business during the pandemic, analysts reported in a study published in National Restaurant Week. Because of the negative effects that COVID-19 had on the restaurant industry, BRW 2020, held Aug. 14-31, stepped up its efforts so that participants saw meaningful results. Post-event surveys showed a 54% average increase in sales for participants compared to recent non-BRW weeks. With almost 60 participants, BRW 2020 came up with a whole new recipe for to-go and curbside pickup options. Only locally owned businesses were allowed to participate, as nearly 65% of the revenue from local inde-

See BRW, page 28

28 • Thursday, January 14, 2021


Photo courtesy Michael Eady


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NEIGHBORS From page 27

Shopping Center, is glad to see Neighbors become a part of it. “I haven’t been this excited about a new tenant for one of our properties in a long time,” Waltchack said. “Michael Eady has a strong business and branding background. I can’t wait to bring my kids to Neighbors West Homewood. This could be a new model for retailers going forward.”

BRW From page 27

pendent restaurants recirculates in the local economy compared to about 30% for chain restaurants. Other new additions included family-style meal options, cocktail kits and to-go alcohol, which were some of the biggest hits of last summer’s event. Dining in still was an option for some restaurants and bars, with mandates for socially distanced tables, limited capacities and masks to ensure safety for guests and employees. For the first time, BRW extended the normal 10-day event to 18 days, offering more time for patrons to participate and more opportunity for businesses to make sales.

BRW Boosted Sales for Restaurants

Matt Viscaino, owner of Tortugas Pizza, which participated in BRW for the first time last year, said the pizzeria had a 125% increase in sales during BRW compared to a previous non-BRW week. He also said that, when comparing the restaurant’s

Thirteen West Homewood families came together to open Neighbors Ice Cream Shop.

Neighbors plans to open once construction and renovations to the former Magic City Sweet Ice space are complete. For more information, updates on construction and grand opening, visit neighborshwd.com and follow @ neighborshwd on social media.

sales during the period it was participating in BRW 2020 to its sales from the same time period in 2019, he saw a 141% increase. “This has been an incredible experience, and I am so thrilled we joined up this year,” Viscaino said. “Our sales have been incredible, and I could barely keep our cheesecake stocked. I made more cheesecake in the two weeks of BRW 2020 than I did all summer.” Al Rabiee, owner of Vino in Mountain Brook’s English Village, said the event “gives us the opportunity to get our name out to the community even more and to continue to serve our guests, through curbside service or dine-in.” “Restaurants need help more than ever right now, and Restaurant Week provides that,” Rabiee said. “Because of COVID-19, we have added heavy duty heaters on our 95% enclosed patio along with a medically graded filtration system for inside seating. Aside from distanced tables, we are making sure that all of our inside seatings are airy and sanitized.” Among the BRW offerings at Vino will be favorites such as the Grouper Farfalle Bowl, Pork Scallopini, Capellini Vino and apple

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fritters along with the new Peppermint Mocha Tito’s White Russian. The list of BRW 2021–Winter Edition participants thus far includes: 5 Point Public House, Ash, Ashley Mac’s at the Pizitz, Avondale Burger Co., Basil Pizza & Bar, Bay Leaf Modern Indian Cuisine & Bar, Birmingham Candy Company, Blueroot, Bobby Carl’s Table, Chez Lulu, Crestline Bagel Co., Dreamland Bar-B-Que, Edolyn’s Pies, El ZunZun, Eli’s Jerusalem Grill, Farrelly’s Southern Bar and Kitchen, Filter Coffee Parlor, J Wings at the Pizitz, JuicedUp Essentials and Kamali Creole Kitchen. Also participating are La Tía Paisa Taco Shop, Lou’s Pub & Package Store, Michael’s Restaurant, MO:MO, Piper & Leaf Tea Co., Porky’s Pride Smokehouse, Ocean, Ono Poke at the Pizitz, Ovenbird, Pho Pho Vietnamese, Rojo, Roots & Revelry, Silver Kati, Slice Pizza and Brewhouse in Lakeview and Vestavia, Sol y Luna Restaurant, Spring Street Bar & Grill, Taj India, The Fig Tree, The Gardens Cafe by Kathy G., The Louis Bar, The Lumbar, The Standard, The Yard, Tortugas Pizza–Birmingham, Tostadas, Tropicaleo, Unos Tacos, Vino & Gallery Bar, and the WOED Experience (Ways of Eating & Drinking.) More establishments may be added as the event nears.

Helping Food Banks Help the Hungry

Giving back to the community has always been an essential part of BRW, with more than $75,000 raised for local nonprofits in the event’s 11 years of existence. After BRW 2020, organizers donated $2,500 to the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama. The food bank each month feeds more than 80,000 people at risk of hunger and supplies food to 250 food banks, shelters and children’s programs in 12 counties in Central Alabama. “Right now, donations are very important from the community because we’ve almost doubled the amount of food that is going out into the 12-county Central Alabama region this year,” said Brett Meredith, the food bank’s CEO. “We have gone from about 1.1 million pounds a month to roughly 2.2 million pounds a month right now, so that makes such a difference.” BRW sponsors in addition to Spire include Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Birmingham Bud, Red Diamond, Fox 6 WBRC, Coca-Cola, Birmingham Mountain Radio, Bham Now, the Birmingham Times and the Birmingham City Council.  For more information about BRW and the Winter Edition, visit bhamrestaurantweek.com. Follow the event on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@bhamrestweek). The official event hashtag is #BhamRestWeek.


Each year, students from Mountain Brook’s Brookwood Forest Elementary School takes time during the holiday season to visit the Birmingham VA Medical Center and wrap gifts for veterans. The third annual Wrapping for America’s Warriors project grew this year to include participation from stu-

Photos courtesy Cherokee Bend Elementary

Mountain Brook Students Wrap Presents for Vets


Cherokee Bend Elementary students, above and below, participated in this year’s Wrapping for America’s Warriors project.

‘We believe it is important for students to serve our veterans ... our nation’s real heroes ...’ dents at Cherokee Bend Elementary, as well. According to a release, the holiday wrapping project helps students understand the importance of rendering service and giving back to those who have given their all to keep us safe. The gifts have been donated by outside agencies in past years and wrapped by students at the VA clinic. This year, the sixth grade students at the schools asked students to bring in toboggans, scarves, gloves and cloth

masks. With teacher guidance, the fifth-grade students at the schools wrapped the items. The students wrapped enough items to give every patient in the medical center a present. Left over wrapped gifts will be delivered to veterans in several transition homes. Founders of the project are Birmingham VA Chief of Voluntary Service Charmel Taylor and her sister Carla Dudley, assistant principal at Cherokee Bend Elementary.

“We believe it is important for students to serve our veterans ... our nation’s real heroes ... the ones who freely served our country in order for us to experience the freedoms that come along with being an American,” said Dudley. Both said this project is special to them because it allows their work paths to cross, but more importantly, it provides an opportunity for children to connect with veterans outside of Veterans Day.

Hoover High Sophomores Create Seasonal Coding Camp for Elementary Students Over the summer, Hoover High School sophomores Shaams Nur and twin brothers Leo and Victor Song hosted HooverCodes, the first iteration of what is now HooverCamp. The three close friends came up with the idea in the fall of 2019 during their freshman year while eating lunch. They remember the conversation down to the snacks they consumed – crispito bites and Oreos. Nur recalled asking his friends, “What was that website we used to build our own games with back in elementary school?” He was evoking memories of their time using Scratch, a free, online programming language geared toward young kids that allowed them to create interactive stories, games and animations. Leo mentioned that he still used the application on occasion. Together, the three friends came up with plans for a coding camp in which they could teach younger stu-

Photo courtesy Shaams Nur

By Emily Williams-Robertshaw

HooverCodes founders, from left, Shaams Nur and twin brothers Leo and Victor Song came up with plans for a coding camp in which they could teach younger students how to have as much fun coding as they had.

dents how to have as much fun coding as they had. Showcasing a little of the entrepreneurial spirit they now teach, they decided parents might even pay for the service. According to Nur, the mission of HooverCamp is to “stimulate kids’ creative juices and open their eyes to unique career paths through personal projects.” More than 40 kids ages 8-12 participated in the summer camp, in which the three students-turned-

instructors taught the basics of coding through Scratch. “In our experience, modern public education doesn’t allow us to practice divergent thinking and forces us to repeatedly learn the same thing with little room for creativity,” Nur said. According to the three founders, HooverCamp is unlike many other entrepreneurial coding classes out there because it is founded by teenagers. They find that they are able to

Thursday, January 14, 2021 • 29

Lettermen of the USA Provides Laptops for Gold Star Children New touch screen laptops and footballs were given to 25 Gold Star youth Dec. 22 during special presentations by Lettermen of the USA. The Shades Valley American Legion Post 134 in Homewood made the presentation to children who have lost a military parent in a time of conflict in an event that included words from Secretary of State John Merrill. Members also traveled to Hunstville for another presentation. According to Lettermen of USA founder and President Darryl Fuhrman, the group bought 25 laptops with a $15,000 grant from the Alabama Coronavirus Relief Fund. “Letterman of the USA is thrilled that the timing worked out perfectly to present the laptops to these families during the holiday season and are honored to make Christmas just a little brighter for these families who have suffered such a devastating loss,” said Fuhrman. The national organization is made up of former college athletes, as well as active and former coaches who have teamed up to offer support for honorably discharged veterans, wounded veterans and former college players to get back on track after facing hard times. “Being able to provide laptops for these kids who have lost a parent in service to our country has truly meant so much to our organization,” said Desmond Holoman, vice president of operations for the Lettermen of the USA. “This is why we exist, to help those who are in need. These servicemen gave all, so giving their children a laptop is just our very small way of saying thank you.” In addition to the laptop and football presentations last month, the group during the past year focused on providing mobility aids, home improvements and medical payments to several disabled veterans and former college players in need. Lettermen of the USA is now planning for the third annual “One Yard at a Time Gala” at The Club on Feb. 19 at 6 p.m. Guests will have the opportunity to meet former college or professional football players, coaches and war heroes while raising money for a great cause. Former University of Alabama and NFL running back Kerry Goode will be a special guest at the gala. Kerry was diagnosed five years ago with ALS, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit his organization, Goode Foundation, to fight against ALS and research for a cure. The military honoree for the One Yard at a Time Gala is Mike Durant, president and CEO of Pinnacle Solutions and a New York Times best-selling author. Durant is the pilot depicted in the movie “Black Hawk Down,” who was shot down during the Battle of Mogadishu, in Somalia, in 1993. Proceeds from the gala and a live auction will benefit discharged veterans, wounded veterans and former college players in need. tap into a level of understanding that adults just can’t. They know what drives kids as well as what they want from their learning environment. After seeing great results from the summer camp, the boys decided to expand and host a winter program. HooverCamp now offers not only HooverCodes coding classes, but a higher level HooverEntrepreneurs, which offers lessons in entrepreneurship, another area that isn’t focused on in school curriculums. While hosting the first two installments of the camp, Nur said, he and his partners have thoroughly enjoyed taking on the role of instructor. “It feels really great watching kids learn and progress, especially knowing that we fostered their education,” Nur said. Some of the works that their students have created have been inspiring. One of the summer students, Sara, sticks out in Nur’s mind. The students decided they wanted to create projects honoring George Floyd and the social movement his death inspired. Sara created an animation, “Love Knows No Colors!”, that depicted four young girls of different ethnicities and, in the background, Sara

played a song that she wrote. “The most remarkable part isn’t that she designed the animation in four to five days,” he said, “it’s how she expressed her creativity and combined it with her own (sense of justice).” “Her project also revealed to us the true potential of HooverCamp and how it’s not just another run-ofthe-mill camp,” he said. “This can be a big thing in our community.” After two successful seasons, Nur and the Song brothers are looking forward to the summer, with camp dates to be announced. The price of each course is $60, but students can sign up for both for a total of $100. The camp also offers opportunities for financial aid. “We plan on using half our profits to purchase laptops and donate them to libraries and schools around Birmingham,” Nur said. Money raised is put back into the program, used to fund prizes for the students and used to pay for service subscriptions needed to conduct the camp, such as website fees and a Zoom subscription. For more information, visit hoovercamp.com.

30 • Thursday, January 14, 2021





Charlie Goode, 6-3, 195, Sr., Homewood

Evan Smith, 5-11, 170, Jr. Oak Mountain



Joseph Sullivan, 5-11, 160, Sr., Vestavia Hills Blake Pugh, 5-10, 165, Sr., Mountain Brook Mathew Palmer, 5-11, 180, Sr., Hoover Zach Taylor, 5-10, 165, Sr., Oak Mountain Alastair Harris, 5-11, 185, Sr., Briarwood Christian


Journal photo by Marvin Gentry

Judah Tait, 5-10, 205, Sr., Oak Mountain Luke Reebals, 5-11, 175, Jr., Briarwood Christian


From page 32

Mountain coach Cris Bell said. “He has always been just a tremendous athlete and a great kid. With respect to what he did during the season, he showed tremendous leadership and great maturity.” Bell was voted the 2020 OTMJ Coach of the Year after leading the Eagles to a 7-5 record and guiding Oak Mountain to its first playoff victory since 2014. The Eagles won their first four games and were 6-1 for only the second time in program history before stumbling down the stretch, including narrow losses to Clay-Chalkville to end the regular season and to Hoover in the playoffs. “My staff and my kids did a heck of job, especially managing COVID,” Bell said. “The kids bought in and were really hungry that we got to play. It was probably the most enjoyable fall I have had since I’ve been coaching.” Bell knows Smith was the catalyst for what Oak Mountain accomplished. “The light came on for him after the first time we played Hoover,” Bell said. “In the aftermath of that game, he took ownership for it and took off. Up until then, he had allowed his athletic ability to make plays, but after that he started making plays with his mind. In the second half of the year, he was calling more than 50 percent of the plays, particularly in the running game, or was checking us into better plays at the line.” Smith is a low-key youngster who has been Oak Mountain’s starting quarterback since he was a freshman. He attributed his phenomenal season to his teammates. “The season was something I’ve never ever experienced,” Smith said. “I grew up so much. All the hard work me and my teammates put in paid off. We stuck together and fought for each other.” Smith heads the All-OTM offense that includes three of his teammates, running back Judah Tait, lineman Nic Rigdon and receiver Noah Young. Hoover landed three players on the offensive squad, lineman Nic Paradise and receivers R.J. Hamilton and Malik Thomas. Two Briarwood players made the team, running back Luke Reebals and lineman Carson McKeen. Rounding out the offense are Mountain Brook lineman Jack Smith, Vestavia Hills lineman Dawson Ray and Spain Park receiver Cooper Kelly. Spain Park’s Drake Tabor was named the placekicker.

GRANT From page 32

2002, Grant won first place in the Alabama Associated Press Managing Editors Competition for his columns on high school sports. Since 2004, he has worked as a freelance journalist, co-authored the book “Tales from Alabama Prep Football” with Ron Ingram in 2006 and he is a regular contributor to OTMJ. “The main focus of my work has always been the readers and sports fans,” Grant said. “Unlike today, when I started everything wasn’t broadcast, so I saw myself as the

eyes and ears for those who were not able to attend the games or had access to the players and coaches. I tried to paint word pictures so that they could feel like they were there. “My favorite thing to do is write human interest stories about athletes and coaches, featuring a side of them away from the field or the court, showing they are just people, too.” Grant will be recognized as the 2021 Mel Allen Media Award recipient during ASHOF’s 53rd Annual Induction Banquet and Ceremony, being held May 8 in the Birmingham Ballroom at the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel. —Virginia Martin


Luke Harris, 5-10, 163, Sr., John Carroll Catholic

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Braxton Wetzler, 6-0, 260, Sr., Mountain Brook Cris Bell, Oak Mountain Gavin Nelson, 6-5, 235, Jr., Oak Mountain Bryce Littleton, 6-2, 230, Sr., Vestavia Hills Markus Clark, 6-2, 270, Jr., Hoover Members of the OTMJ All-OTM Team Free Delivery Financing Lawrence Johnson, 6-1, 180, Jr., John Carroll Catholic • Free are selected by votes cast by the ALL MAJOR BRANDS ON SALE head football coaches at Briarwood, Homewood, Hoover, John Carroll, LINEBACKER Mountain Brook, Oak Mountain, Tyler Waugh, 6-0, 195, Sr., Briarwood Christian Spain Park and Vestavia Hills. Marcus Williams, 6-0, 194, Sr., Hoover *

WAUGH From page 32

ing two touchdowns. Waugh gave credit for his superlative season to his coaches and teammates. “I played well, but it was not a one-way show,” Waugh said. “Our coaches did a great job scheming for our opponents and we were fully prepared for whatever came up when we played. All my teammates did their jobs, helping me do what I did.” Waugh was grateful that he got to play football his senior season after it was threatened to be canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was a fun season,” he said. “I enjoyed every second of it, especially with everything that happened because of COVID.” It was the final football season of Waugh’s athletic career. A catcher on the Lions’ baseball team, he is headed to UAB to play baseball. “I will miss football,” Waugh said, “but in the long run, baseball is better for my future.” Waugh also excels in the classroom. He has a 4.73 grade-point average and scored 30 on the ACT. He was the Alabama male athletic winner of Wendy’s Heisman High School Scholarship. Waugh heads up the All-OTM defense that also includes Briarwood

Journal photo by Marvin Gentry




Journal photo by Lee Walls

Cris Bell was voted the 2020 OTMJ Coach of the Year after leading the Eagles to a 7-5 record and guiding Oak Mountain to its first playoff victory since 2014.

Nic Paradise, 6-0, 250, Sr., Hoover Jack Smith, 6-2, 240, Sr., Mountain Brook Dawson Ray, 6-5, 306, Sr., Vestavia Hills Nic Rigdon, 6-0, 225, Jr., Oak Mountain Carson McKeen, 6-3, 270, Sr., Briarwood Christian

All-OTM defensive back Blake Pugh, Mountain Brook

All-OTM offensive lineman Nic Raradise, Hoover

teammate Alastair Harris at defensive back. Hoover landed three players on the defense, lineman Markus Clark, linebacker Marcus Williams and defensive back Matthew Palmer Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills and Oak Mountain all had two players voted to the defensive squad. The Spartans’ representatives are lineman Braxton Wetzler and defen-

sive back Blake Pugh; the Rebels are lineman Bryce Littleton and defensive back Joseph Sullivan; the Eagles are lineman Gavin Nelson and defensive back Zach Taylor. Rounding out the defense are Homewood linebacker Charlie Goode and John Carroll Catholic lineman Lawrence Johnson. John Carroll’s Luke Harris was named the punter.

Thursday, January 14, 2021 • 31




Experienced Rebels Enjoying Bounce-Back Season As the Vestavia Hills boys basketball team entered the middle of January, it already had surpassed the number of victories it had during the 2019-20 season. The Rebels finished 14-14 last season but started play this week with an 18-2 record. Vestavia Hills opened the season with eight consecutive wins before a 62-56 loss to arch-rival Hoover. Since then, they have gone 10-1 with the only loss coming to HillcrestTuscaloosa, 55-44, in the Metro Tournament at the end of December. Last Friday, the Rebels opened Class 7A, Area 6 play with a 76-66 victory at Hewitt-Trussville. The Rebels are scheduled to play two area games this week at home against Gadsden City on Tuesday and Spain Park on Friday. Vestavia Hills coach Patrick Davis said several factors have contributed to the Rebels’ success this season, including how they have dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic. “I would say, first and foremost, one of the big things is getting to play 20 games when six to eight months ago it looked like we probably wouldn’t play any,” Davis said. “We

Journal photos by Jordan Wald

By Rubin E. Grant

Sophomore point guard Win Miller is averaging a little better than 17.0 points per game to lead the Rebels in scoring.

take every day we get to play as a blessing and we value every day. “We have a bunch of guys with a lot of experience who have bought into playing the way we want to play. We have six seniors who were not OK with winning only half of our

Grant Uldrich is the top scorer among the seniors, averaging 8.5 points.

games last season. They have put ego aside, they’re close and they enjoy being around each other. We challenge them to go out and be an allstar in their expected roles and they are committed to doing that.”





The Rebels’ seniors are guards Grant Uldrich, Nate Campbell, Charlie Hughes, Garrett Smith, Joey Caiola and forward Micah Roberson. But their top scorer is 6-foot-3 sophomore point guard Win Miller,

who is averaging a little better than 17.0 points per game. He reached the 30-point plateau in two of the Rebels’ past three games, scoring 31 in the victory against Hewitt and 30 in an 82-50 win over Woodlawn in the Metro Tournament on Dec. 31. “He’s real good and a lot of fun to coach,” Davis said. “He works relentlessly in a team setting and on his own. It’s very seldom when I don’t get a text from him asking me to come open the gym for him. He loves it. For a guy who loves it, it doesn’t seem like work. “He’s our point guard so he has the ball in his hands all the time, but he can score a lot of different ways.” Junior guard Jude Cleary is the only other Rebel averaging in double figures, scoring 10.0 points per game. Uldrich is the top scorer among the seniors, averaging 8.5 points. Junior Alex Armstrong, a 6-foot-6 forward, is another key contributor. The Rebels’ season ended last year with a loss to Mountain Brook in the area tournament. Mountain Brook has moved down to Class 6A this season, but that means little to Davis. He believes the Rebels are good enough to compete with anyone and have a good chance at a deep run in the postseason. “We try not to focus on what comes at the end of season, but we’re going to try to be as good as we can be,” Davis said. “I like our team. I think we can be good enough to compete for a regional championship and be a Final Four team.”

Meet the entire OTMJ 2020 All-OTM High School Football Team. Page 30

Shining Bright


Thursday, January 14, 2021 ❖ OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL

On a Roll: Experienced Rebels enjoying bounce-back season. Page 31

Waugh’s ‘Fabulous’ Season Earns All-OTM Defensive Player of the Year Honor By Rubin E. Grant

The Over The Mountain Journal’s very own Rubin E. Grant is being given the 2021 Mel Allen Media Award for his lifetime contribution to sports as a journalist. Grant will join previous winners Paul Finebaum, Cecil Hurt, Ron Ingram, Tom Roberts, George Smith and John Pruett who hold the award from the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. The award is named for Mel Allen of Birmingham, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1974 after being known as the “Voice of the New York Yankees” for two decades. “I am truly humbled and thankful for this award, that my body of work will receive this kind of recognition,” Grant said. “I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the sports writers who took a

Journal photo by Marvin Gentry


riarwood Christian senior Tyler Waugh tried to deflect the spotlight, but it shined on him nonetheless. That’s what happens when you lead the Birmingham metro area with 165 tackles, including 7.5 tackles for losses, make three interceptions, force four fumbles, recover three fumbles and score two defensive touchdowns. And in short-yardage and goal-line situations on offense, you rush for 257 yards and score 13 touchdowns. Over the Mountain football coaches certainly took notice, voting Waugh as the 2020 Over the Mountain Defensive Player of the Year. “He had an outstanding, fabulous year,” Briarwood coach Matthew Forester said. “He’s a gritty, hard-nosed player who plays the game the right way. “He was really our team leader, on offense and defense. He worked incredibly hard throughout the year.” The 6-foot, 195-pound Waugh also was

OTMJ’s Rubin E. Grant Earns ASHOF 2021 Mel Allen Media Award

Briarwood Christian senior Tyler Waugh (30) led the Birmingham metro area with 165 tackles.

named to the Alabama Sports Writers Association Class 6A All-State football first team. Waugh set the tone for the kind of season he

was going to have in the Lions’ season-opening 28-20 victory against Fort Payne, recording 27 total tackles, including 13 unassisted, and scor-

See WAUGH, page 30 Photo special to the Jouranl

Catalyst Oak Mountain’s Smith Unanimous Choice for OTM Offensive Player of the Year

Rubin E. Grant, in a photo taken in 2008 when he was inducted into the Birmingham Barons Hall of Fame, will receive the 2021 Mel Allen Media Award for his lifetime contribution to sports as a journalist in May.

By Rubin E. Grant

Journal photo by Marvin Gentry


oming off his worst performance of the 2020 high school football season, Oak Mountain junior quarterback Evan Smith became nearly unstoppable. Smith, a dynamic dual-threat quarterback, finished with only 67 yards rushing on nine carries and completed only 3 of 11 passes for 40 yards in a 42-7 game at Hoover on Sept. 18. After that, Smith exploded, with his most eye-opening performance coming in the first round of the Class 7A state playoffs when he ran for 320 yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries in a 41-28 victory at Austin in Decatur. He followed that with 217 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries in a narrow 24-21 loss to Hoover in the quarterfinals. The game ended when Smith was stopped on a questionable spot on a fourth-and-1 play at the Hoover 25-yard line with 1:14 remaining in the game. Smith finished the season with 1,719 yards on 171 carries (143.3 yards a game average) and was 44 of 103 passing for 620 yards and six scores. He was the unanimous choice by Over the

Oak Mountain junior quarterback Evan Smith finished the season with 1,719 yards on 171 carries (143.3 yards a game average) and was 44 of 103 passing for 620 yards and six scores.

Mountain coaches for the 2020 OTMJ Offensive Player of the Year.

“I certainly think he’s deserving,” Oak

See SMITH, page 30

young black kid from Montgomery under their wings when he was a student at the University of Alabama and showed him the ropes, men such as Al Browning, Jimmy Smothers, Bill Lumpkin, Alf Van Hoose, Clyde Bolton and John Pruett.” Grant, 63, began his media career as sports editor for the Crimson White at the University of Alabama during Paul “Bear” Bryant’s tenure as football coach. He then spent 25 years covering sports for the Birmingham Post-Herald, where he was prep editor, reporting on local high school football, basketball, baseball and other sports and chronicling such athletes as Bo Jackson, Charles Barkley and Cornelius Bennett and legendary coaches such as Bob Finley and Buddy Anderson. Grant was given the Herby Kirby Award, the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s highest award, in 1981. For his 25 years of covering the Barons, including the year Michael Jordan played for the team, he was inducted into the Birmingham Barons Hall of Fame in 2008. In

See GRANT, page 30

Profile for Over the Mountain Journal



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