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Oxford

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THE LEGACY OF AN ICON A tribute to the life and leadership of Mayor Leon Smith Page 50

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Message from the

Oxford Mayor What a great summer it has been in Oxford. We have had so much going on, and our city is continuing to expand its reach across the Southeast. In August, Oxford had the honor of hosting to the 2017 Dixie Youth World Series. Thousands of people from states all across the South visited our city for the first time as they attended the World Series, and the response from those visitors has been amazing. Everyone was very impressed with Choccolocco Park, and the hospitality of our many volunteers and staff made all of our guests feel welcome. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you that helped make the Dixie Youth World Series such a tremendous success. Although we have great success, our hearts are saddened by the loss of Leon Smith, Mayor of Oxford from 1984 to 2016. All of us have seen how Oxford progressed under Mayor Smith’s leadership, and he will be greatly missed. He touched so many lives, and I am sure we have all felt the loss of this great man. We have dedicated a special section of this month’s magazine in memory of Mayor Smith, and I hope you enjoy reading some of the memories shared by those that knew and loved him. Captain Steve Palmer of the Oxford Police Department was another wonderful public servant that we lost recently. Captain Palmer will be remembered by all of us that had the privilege of knowing him as a person who loved to make everyone smile. He was a dedicated protector of the citizens of Oxford, and the loss of this great friend and fellow employee will be felt for a long time. It is such an honor and privilege to serve each of you as your Mayor, and I hope you will call on me or a member of my staff if there is anything we can do for you. Sincerely, Mayor Alton Craft

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CONTENTS SAVORY CUSTOMER SERVICE 6 SAFE SPACE 8 SPOTLIGHT: MIKE HENDERSON 12 OXFORD PROJECT 16 THE JOURNEY TO THE DIXIE YOUTH WORLD SERIES 20 SPOTLIGHT: JUSTIN ABERNATHY 26 DISCOVER LOCAL ARTIST JACKIE MORGAN 28 OXFORD CITY LIMITS - ART & PHOTOGRAPHY 30 SPOTLIGHT: DEBBIE NOTHDURFT 37 HISTORIC MAIN STREET OXFORD 39 SPOTLIGHT: TAYLOR SLOAN 40 MESSAGE FROM THE OXFORD FIRE CHIEF 43 A DAY IN THE LIFE WITH OXFORD’S FIREFIGHTERS 44 PRAYER QUILTS 48 THE LEGACY OF AN ICON: LEON SMITH 50 WHY I TEACH 70 MESSAGE FROM THE OXFORD LIBRARY 75 FROM THE GROUND UP 77 PUBLIC WORKS UPDATE 79 MESSAGE FROM THE OXFORD POLICE CHIEF 81 WHY I SERVE 82 OPAC’S HOLIDAY PERFORMANCES 86 OXFORD CITY SCHOOLS 98 THE HISTORY OF THE OXFORD ARTS COUNCIL 104 OXFORD HISTORY: BOILING SPRINGS ROAD BRIDGE 108 CHRISTMAS DECORATING CONTEST 110 SENIOR CITIZEN EVENTS 115

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SAVORY CUSTOMER SERVICE This story recounts a missing trash can, a call to Oxford’s 311, and cupcakes

F

ood gifts are a warm way to say thank you and provide a savory treat for someone who has done right by you. Glenda Miller knows this to be true. Food is one of the things that she does best and with the most love.

“I’ve always loved to bake. I’ve made wedding cakes, grooms’ cakes, graduation cakes, and baked for parties,” Miller said. Every year, she would bake for three days in preparation for Vacation Bible school at Lakeview Baptist Church. Glenda has now retired. “I hung my spatula up in March of last year. I decided it was time to stop and smell the roses,” she said. She only bakes two cakes a week and delivers them in person. The butter cake with chocolate fudge icing goes to a local Oxford family. Another cake, key lime or chocolate, goes to the nurse who took care of her mother and father when they were in the nursing home. “Dad died in ’86 and Mom died in ’91, but I’ll always remember people who were good to my children, to my parents, and to me. It’s just something within me. I’m thankful for it.” This brings us to the missing trash can. “It all started when the trucks came by and picked up the trash. I had gone down to Dorsey’s, and I was only gone a few minutes…and when I came back, my neighbor’s trash had been picked up, and my can was gone.” She called Oxford’s service helpline, 311, and a request was entered for a replacement trash can. “I went through the weekend and my neighbor told me to use his can. But Fourth-of-July was coming up and I had company coming in from out-of-town, and I did not want to have to run across the street to put my trash out. So I was trying to get something done.” She made another call to City Hall to explain her situation and the voice on the phone responded, “Let me see what we can do.” Glenda’s new trash can was delivered that day. “I baked cupcakes and brought them to city hall to say thank you. This 311 line is something that’s new. I thank God for it. They helped me out. ” The goal of Oxford 311 is help citizens and connect with them in a friendly, professional manner. “Well, they certainly did.” Glenda replies.

Glenda Miller and 311 operator, Christie

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SAFE SPACE

STORM SHELTER

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THE CITY OF OXFORD strives to be an ideal community for those wanting to raise a family, work, retire, operate businesses, play, or shop. In the city, the safety of our residents, visitors, and businesses is and will always continue to be our number one goal. The city will go great lengths in making sure the community is protected from any threat, whether that is from criminal activity, fire, or severe weather. There is no dollar amount greater than the value of saving one’s life. In the City of Oxford, residents can go to sleep at night knowing that they are protected. A few months ago, Oxford Mayor Alton Craft and Fire Chief Gary Sparks discussed ways to continually improve the protection of the city’s citizens. According to Mayor Craft, the City has had its fair share of life threatening weather and tornados and saw the need to provide additional safe places for residents. “Oxford is 18 miles long with several rural areas. The city’s administration, city council, fire and police departments, as well as emergency medical services teamed up with the county and the Calhoun County Commission to find ways to better protect the people in those areas,” Mayor Craft said. “In an effort to increase the safety of our residents in the rural parts of the city, we looked into the possibility of adding FEMA certified storm shelters in strategic locations, that are easily accessible by those in need.”

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ST O R M

It’s going to give the

citizens of Oxford in the Bynum, Coldwater, and DeArmanville areas a place to go when dangerous conditions approach.

Together with Calhoun County EMA Director, Jonathan Gaddy, Chief Sparks discovered B’Safe, an Oklahoma-based company priding themselves in providing the world’s safest, strongest, and most comfortable storm shelters. When speaking to Chief Sparks and learning more about the City’s emphasis on providing equal protection to all of its people, whether living in developed or rural neighborhoods, Tommy Goff, Owner and CEO of B’Safe, offered to provide two shelters–one, capable of holding 48 individuals, was to be purchased by the city for $70,000 while the other, a shelter valued at $59,000 and capable of holding 32 people, was given to the City at no cost in return of marketing material.

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S H E LT E R S

On September 27, the storm shelters arrived in Oxford. The larger shelter was installed in Bynum by the EMS sub-station (close to the post office) on a graded base prepared by Calhoun County. The smaller shelter was installed by the fire station in DeArmanville, also on a base prepped by the County. According to Chief Sparks, the storm shelters are mobile and solar powered with air conditioning and restrooms. They can withstand an Enhanced Fujita (EF) 5 tornado and 250 miles per hour winds. “It’s going to give the citizens of Oxford in the Bynum, Coldwater, and DeArmanville areas a place to go when dangerous conditions approach,” Chief Sparks said. “It gives the residents an option; a safe place to ride out a storm. I have seen what staying in modular homes or unsafe structures can do– which is one of the reasons we chose these particular areas, as they contain a lot of mobile homes.” Gaddy further explains why the selected shelters are such a great fit for the City of Oxford.

“Oxford was looking for a self-contained shelter that could be placed in some existing places around the community that would really be a turn-key solution. The B’Safe shelter provides that because it is not only an enclosed place to keep people safe during the storm, but it also has restrooms and other facilities to help people stay there as comfortable as possible,” Gaddy said. “Having safe rooms in Oxford will really give peace of mind to the residents here. With the strategic placement of the shelters, they are highly accessible to the people who resides in the area.” Gaddy also shared how Calhoun County and its Emergency Management Agency continues to look for options to expand the protective capacity of their shelter system in the County. “I think this is a great start, but it is by no means the end. We would love to see more prefabricated shelters brought in to give access to even more residents in the county. It’s not just the capacity, but also the travel time. By placing additional shelters around the community,


ST O R M

we can make sure people get in them quickly,” Gaddy said. “I think it will really help people when they look at Oxford and see how dedicated the City is to public safety. Oxford is very fortunate to have great police, fire, and EMS services in town. Mayor Craft and the Oxford City Council really wanted to be able to provide an additional layer of protection from something we did not already have. You know, first responders do a great job on a day to day basis, but fighting mother nature is more than any of us can do. Expanding the protection system with these shelters will really give a great option for folks.” Don Hudson, Oxford’s Parks and Recreation Director and Calhoun County Commission Chairman, said the area can never have too many shelters. “There will be a need. We don’t know when catastrophic weather will happen, we just want to be prepared for it.” Barry Robertson, Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce Chair and Calhoun County Commissioner of Licenses, shared how he hopes to see other areas around the county take note of what Oxford has done.

S H E LT E R S

“I think this is an opportunity for other municipalities, other local governments, and other communities, to use this as an example of how to protect their citizens,” Robertson said. “To know you have a place you can go during a tornado threat is incredible. I would like for this to encourage any chamber or any economic development of authority to be proactive in their planning. This is something else we can add as an incentive. This is something we can use to promote business and families.” Mike Roberts, Building Inspector in the City of Oxford and also a victim of the devastating April 27, 2011 tornado, said he gets a knot in his stomach every time he hears bad weather is approaching. “Shelters and safe places are life savers,” Roberts said. “We actually moved from our old place, closer to the shelter. It is important that the community knows where they are and where they need to go when they are warned. Get in there, be safe, and take your neighbors with you. These shelters can make the difference. I know what a tornado can do to one’s home. It only left a bar-b-que grill and

trash can when destroying my home.” According to Goff, Oxford has been the most pleasant city B’Safe has ever dealt with. “The City of Oxford and its leadership knew coming in what they wanted, and their number one goal was to protect the residents of their city. The planning on their part has been very thorough,” Goff said. “We felt Oxford’s needs were a good fit to launch our new tornado shelter and wanted to make a documentary film of it.” Mayor Craft closes by saying, “I really appreciate my city council, the Calhoun County Commission, and all my staff. The police and especially the fire department for helping put this together and EMS. Safety has always been a number one priority here in Oxford and will continue to be a number one priority. Our goal is to stratigically place an additional three shelters in the future. I encourage the citizens to be safe and use our storm shelters when needed.”

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MIKE HENDERSON City Council Spotlight By Joshua Craft

CITY OF OXFORD COUNCILMAN MIKE HENDERSON IS CURRENTLY SERVING HIS FOURTH TERM, HAVING BEEN PART OF THE CITY’S LEGISLATIVE BODY FROM 2000-2008 AND 2012-PRESENT. FROM 2004-2008, HE SERVED AS OXFORD’S FIRST COUNCIL PRESIDENT.

Henderson (known as “Hendu” to many) has been a resident of Oxford all of his life. Upon graduating from Oxford High School in 1975, he went to Auburn to begin his college career. Upon leaving Auburn, he moved back to the area and completed his degree in Accounting from Jacksonville State in 1990. Mike has been in banking for 40 years and has been the city president of the Oxford branch of Farmers and Merchants Bank for 18 of those years. When asked about his career in banking, he says that he went into the business because he saw it as an opportunity to help people. “I feel like I have a calling to help people and give back to the community I grew up in,” Henderson says. “Banking allowed me to do that, and it also led me to the political arena.” He says that he does not see himself as a politician, but as a servant of the people; banking and being a councilman have been very rewarding. Along with being

a youth sports coach in Oxford for many years, Mike is also a member of the Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame Board and the Kiwanis Club. He is married to Cyndy, who is a doctor of nursing, and they have two children, Laura and Matt, and one grandson. Former council member Greg Thrower, who has been a friend of Henderson’s for several years and served with him on the Oxford City Council from 2000-2008, had great things to say about his former colleague. “Mike’s heart is in Oxford, and he has cared about Oxford for many years, even before he was a councilman.” Mayor Alton Craft echoes Thrower’s sentiments. “I’ve known Mike since we were in school and he has always had the city’s best interests at heart,” Craft says. On behalf of the City of Oxford, we thank you, Councilman Henderson, for your willingness to serve our city.

“I FEEL LIKE I HAVE A CALLING TO HELP PEOPLE AND GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY I GREW UP IN.”

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THE CLASSIC STORY ON STAGE- THE NATIONAL BROADWAY TOUR 16

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PROJECT


World Changers A few months ago, 170 volunteers from across the Southeastern United States traveled to Oxford and its surrounding areas to help people with their home repair needs. The group consisted of volunteers ranging from elementary school students to senior citizens. They had one common goal: to lend a hand and better the lives of those in need while also growing in their faith and developing mission-minded lifestyles. The group spent a week in our local community assisting residents with home projects such as roof repairs, painting, and improvements to homes’ accessibility.

BY TAYLOR SLOAN

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According to Janice Sheitlin, the director of World Changers of Calhoun County, the volunteers completed 17 projects in the Oxford area. “We called it the ‘Oxford Project,’” Sheitlin said. “The ministry of World Changers includes three mission programs: construction projects, church planting projects, and urban projects. The Oxford Project was of traditional World Changers kind. We went in and did construction work to residents’ homes in the area.” Sheitlin shares that the Calhoun Baptist Association began working with World Changers around 2004 and that the city continues to appreciate their help. “The City of Oxford works very well with us and is always eager to have World Changers come help its residents.” This year, churches from Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Alabama sent volunteers to work on the Oxford Project and in other nearby communities. Upon arriving, teams of 10-12 were formed and given assignments based on their skills, expertise, and interests. Scheitlin refers to the morning after arriving on site as the “great send-off.” “Breakfast is served at 6:00 a.m., followed by a group prayer. We then spread out to the assigned projects. Before each crew leaves, they receive the homeowner’s name and address. Then, they work hard for the subsequent four days,” Scheitlin said. “Those receiving help look at it as a blessing, and they are very appreciative of what the volunteers do–especially the elderly with health issues. Without our help, they are not able to be as independent as they would like. If we build them a ramp, for example, they can get in and out like they want to and move around more freely.” According to Scheitlin, Greenbrier Road Baptist Church graciously opened their church and hosted the volunteers working in Oxford. They provided food, lodging, and other necessities. Greenbrier Road Baptist Church will again be the host in 2018 when World Changers continues their Oxford Project in the third week of July. To receive help, one must go through an application process with the City Clerk’s office. Applicants must meet certain criteria and be unable financially to make the repairs on their homes themselves.

For more information, please visit www.lifeway.com/worldchangers

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The Journey to the Dixie Youth World Series BY DENNY BAILEY

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he journey for the young Dixie Youth Baseball players began back in July when some 5,000 teams began tournament play in all age divisions of Dixie Youth Baseball. For three divisions, it ended the week of August 4 - 10 at Choccolocco Park in Oxford, Alabama, where the AAA, Majors, and “O” Zone Dixie Youth World Series champions were crowned. It is a World Series tradition to remove your state flag from the field when your team is eliminated from the tournament. Those were the last steps of the journey for all but three teams as they made the long walk to the center field fence to take down their state flag. The last flags remaining– denoting the age division World Series Champions–were flags from South Carolina, Florida, and Alabama. The journey ended with a World Series Championship for the AAA (age 10 and under) team from Hartsville, South 22

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Carolina, the Majors (age 12 and under) team from South Sumter, Florida, and the “O” Zone (age 12 and under with 70-ft bases) team from Fairhope, Alabama. These three teams, three host teams from Oxford, and 33 others from eleven states traveled through league, district, sub-state, and state tournaments to advance to the World Series. They brought with them a caravan of parents, siblings, grandparents, state Dixie Youth officials, and other fans to the city and surrounding area. The spectator attendance for the tournament was estimated at 4,500. The journey for Choccolocco Park itself began much earlier, as the home to Native Americans over 12,000 years ago. Only much more recently, however, was the park an idea in the minds of Oxford leaders, as they envisioned and built a world-class outdoor recreation facility. The park is home to youth, high school, and college sports, and boasts baseball, softball, soccer, track & field, walking tracks, playgrounds, and

outdoor classrooms. It was selected as the National High School Baseball Park of the Year in 2016 by the National High School Baseball Coaches Association. Oxford officials recently learned that the park placed second by voters in a national magazine poll of “Ballparks Every Planner Must See.” With plans to add more amenities to the facility, Choccolocco Park’s journey continues. Oxford’s journey to hosting the World Series began over two years ago, led by Oxford Fire Chief Gary Sparks, a former Dixie Youth Commissioner, who also served as Host Chairman. The City of Oxford bid on the World Series, and after being awarded the bid, began the process of raising funds, locating sponsors, finding host families, preparing the park’s fields to meet Dixie Youth specifications, and planning the six-day event. The committee included city officials, Parks and Recreation Department staff, Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce leaders, Calhoun County


Commissioners, Choccolocco Park staff, and officials from Dixie Youth. Michelle Mayfield, Oxford’s Baseball for Youth Commissioner, termed this committee “the best team around.”

Dixie Youth Baseball, Inc. is an all-volunteer organization that promotes the love of God and country, respect for authority and rules, honesty, sportsmanship and a love of the game. A scholarship program was instituted in 1961, and the only

The spectator attendance for the tournament was estimated at 4,500 The journey for Dixie Youth Baseball began in 1956 when a group of southern leaders started a new youth baseball organization known as “Little Boys Baseball.” It started with 122 leagues and 537 teams comprised of approximately 8,000 boys. Following a name change to Dixie Youth Baseball in 1962, it has grown to over 13,000 teams in eleven states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. It now has five age divisions for boys 12 and under, three divisions for boys 13 through 18, and five divisions for girls 18 and under.

requirement for application is that the applicant must have at one time played in a Dixie Youth Baseball league in any 12 and under age division. The program has grown to over 1,500 total scholarships given with an aggregate value of over $2.6 million. There were 80 scholarships awarded in 2017, with Oxford’s own Will Turley one of the scholarship winners. Will began his journey at the University of Alabama this fall. Next year, the Dixie Youth journey will be to Lumberton, North Carolina, the hosts for the 2018 World Series. While a few of

the players may be fortunate to return to the World Series, most will not. But this year’s journey won’t be forgotten. It will be remembered, for example, by the North Carolina team whose coach presented each of his players with a Bible, and each day they had a devotional. The Louisiana team will be remembered for bringing and sharing beads with the other teams, a la the New Orleans tradition. Many of the players brought state World Series pins and traded them with players from other states, providing a treasured memento of a memorable journey. The 2017 Dixie Youth World Series journey is now a memory. Three teams ended the journey as World Series champs, but every player was a champion, without question. And each participant will have other memorable journeys. But I venture to guess that every player, coach, and fan will remember the journey to Choccolocco Park and the 2017 Dixie Youth World Series.

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THE JOURNEY TO THE DIXIE YOUTH WORLD SERIES

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SPOTLIGHT JUSTIN ABERNATHY By Kristin Roberts

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eadership is defined as “the action of leading a group of people or an organization.” Justin Abernathy, the new maintenance supervisor for the City of Oxford, leads uniquely. From the guidance he learned from his former supervisor, Jack “Slab” Blakemore, Abernathy uses his leadership as an example to those who work for him. “Being a leader, to me, means leading by example, not just standing back and pointing to what needs to be done, but getting in there and working with them,” Abernathy said. “I do not ask my guys to do anything I would not do or have not already done before.” Abernathy began his journey with the city’s maintenance department in 2009 when he was 17 years old. Over the years, he grew with the city and became particularly close with his former supervisor, Slab. Bonding over Alabama football and their love for guns and all things outdoors, Abernathy learned valuable lessons and skills from Slab. “The best thing about him was his personality. He was a great guy and always told it like it was,” Abernathy said. “I learned a lot about leading from him because he was always right there in the middle of it with us. He would not just stand in the back and call the shots.” In his new position as the maintenance supervisor, Abernathy jokes that the only difference between his former position and being a supervisor is the paperwork involved and the fact that he now has to remember when projects are due. “The best thing about my job is being able to work with the City of Oxford. There’s always something different going on every day, and the people of Oxford are just great,” Abernathy said. “The people I work with and the people I encounter, they are just always there to help you. They are great people all around.” On his days off from work, Abernathy enjoys spending time outdoors. Whether it is hunting, fishing, playing with his two-year-old daughter, or working with his dogs to get them ready for hunting season–it does not matter what the activity is, his favorite pastime is spent outside. Abernathy also has a strong love for Alabama football. During the season, he enjoys watching games with his family. “I love spending time with my family. I like working on things and being outside, so if I am able to do all of this stuff simultaneously, I am happy,” Abernathy said. “Family is important to me. That is why Thanksgiving and Christmas are my favorite times of the year–because my family gets to come together and spend time with each other. I always see a chance to spend time together as a blessing.” Abernathy continues by saying, “I just want to thank God for all He has blessed me with, and for my former supervisor, Slab, for all he taught me. I want to thank Mayor Alton Craft for giving me the opportunity to take this job. I have great guys to work with, and it is just a great privilege to get to be a part of the great City of Oxford.”

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DISCOVER LOCAL ARTIST JACKIE MORGAN

YOUR JOURNEY AS AN ARTIST: I was born in Texas and had an unusual upbringing compared to my friends and acquaintances, but that will be a story for another day. I am a mother of three boys, all of whom have graduated from Oxford High School. I took art at Gadsden State and also worked under the instruction of Tommy Moorehead. YOUR FAVORITE ARTIST: Frida Kahlo. Her work is more based on her life experiences. She’s not painting for anyone else. She painted to release her emotions. YOUR ART: My style is a blend of impressionism, folk art, and abstract. I’ve done several group art exhibits, including exhibits in the New York and Fort Lauderdale areas. I paint all of my large abstracts at home. I go outside on my back porch and spread out. I really like taking commissions where the client gives me an idea and allows me to have my own take on it. I have one right now. It’s 30”x40.” I know it’s going to be a bird. And it’s going to be funky. AND FOR THOSE THAT WANT TO LEARN: I teach art classes and host “Canvas Parties.” I also work with other instructors to offer classes in oil painting, glasswork, photography, and sketching. jcmorganartgallery.com

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“I LOVE BRINGING ATTENTION TO THE TALENT IN OUR AREA AND WORKING WITH YOUTH TO EXPLORE ON THEIR OWN CREATIVE PATHS.” OXFORD ACCESS MAGAZINE |FALL 2017

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There’s no place like Oxford—and no one brings

Above: Oxford Ken Barrett

the city to life like you! Here are some of our favorite entries from the “Oxford City Limits” contest we sponsored in collaboration with J C Morgan Art Gallery.

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Right: Meadowbrook Baptist Church Kori Henderson


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Above: Mountain Dog Trina Barrett

Left: Lake Fountain Trina Barrett

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Left: Coldwater Bridge Kellie Lawler

The artists

KORI HENDERSON I live in Heflin, Alabama with my family, Josh Perry and my daughter Love Perry. I’m employed as a National Certified Pharmacy Technician at CVS Pharmacy in Jacksonville where I love helping people. My first love is photography and I hope to get the opportunity to do more and show the world through my lens. My daughter Lovie is the one that started my inspiration for doing what I love and continuing to capture memories and photographs every day, so that one day when she grows up she will learn to do what she dreams of doing and make it her reality!

KEN & TRINA BARRETT I am an OCD Project Manager for a local automobile manufacturer, and my husband is owner of a belove, local franchise of coin laundrys (shameless plug for Washin Coin Laundrys). One day we decided we simply did not have enough to do. Together, with my artistic genius and Ken’s laser-like focus (ok, it’s more like ADHD as a group sport), we blindly stepped into the world of photography! We immediately started buying equipment we had no idea how to use. (Well, I did, because I like accessories!) Three years and 10,000+ pictures later, we don’t stink as photographers. Life is chaotic, but we are enjoying a little quiet time with our cameras and hope to someday finance our love of travel through photography. Or maybe just our love of local craft beers.

KELLIE LAWLER I was very passionate about art in my youth and developed my skills at my high school in Baltimore, MD which provided an extensive elective art program. At Brown University, I played Division I Lacrosse, and my focus shifted to sports and my studies which didn’t leave time for much else. I left Providence in 1999 with a BA in Psychology and with a great man who later became my husband. Work has moved us around often and landed our family in the Anniston/Oxford area five years ago. As busy as we’ve been over the years, adding children into the mix along the way, something was always missing. It was only recently that I recommitted myself to the creative path, working mainly on graphite drawings and acrylic abstracts. I look forward to sharing my art with our community. OXFORD ACCESS MAGAZINE |FALL 2017

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By Amy Henderson

PUMPKIN CONTEST The Oxford Public Library’s Book Pumpkin Contest is Back

Last year, the OPL staff had a contest to see who could decorate the best pumpkin. There were only three stipulations: It had to be decorated as a book character, the pumpkin could not be punctured, and no one was allowed to know which staff member made which pumpkin. The staff was excited to show their love of books and crafts, and that excitement was contagious. Patrons were encouraged to vote for their favorite, and the competition was fierce! Voting took place in-house via ballot and online via Facebook. The book characters were varied and creative; patrons were inspired and amused. There were eight pumpkins on display; they were dressed as Harry Potter, Dumbo, the Tin Man (from the Wizard of Oz), The Pigeon (from the Mo Willems children’s book series), Dory (from Finding Nemo), Miss Spider (from the David Kirk children’s book series), Raggedy Ann, and Winnie the Pooh with his pal Piglet. Dumbo won the contest, but it was close. Patrons asked if they can do it, too, and we think that’s a wonderful idea! This year, we want to encourage patrons to join in the fun. Bring a decorated pumpkin of any size to the library. Choose a book character for your pumpkin. It can be from any book (even a book based on a movie). Most importantly, please DO NOT puncture the pumpkin in any way. (Remember that they will be on display for quite a while, and OPL will be forced to throw away a rotting pumpkin.) This is a fun way to share your love of reading with your community. It also invokes memories of beloved characters. Voting will begin October 9, and the winning pumpkin will be announced during OPL’s Fall Festival on October 31. The festival will be from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and will feature carnival-style games that will allow kids to win prizes.

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HISTORIC MAIN STREET OXFORD — SPOTLIGHT

DEBBIE NOTHDURFT Recently, the Oxford Access team had the pleasure of meeting Debbie Nothdurft over a cup of coffee in Downtown Oxford to learn more about her and her vision for Main Street.

Nothdurft believes the downtown streetscape project will play a significant role in having young professionals stay in Oxford.

Nothdurft, who is a member of the Oxford Main Street Board, is proud to call herself an Oxford product. She moved to Oxford when she was in the first grade. Her parents owned the original Tackle Box shop on Main Street, and her dad and grandfather cut hair at the old barber shop. “Growing up, Main Street was part of my playground, and I have always loved this place,” Nothdurft said. “I am so thankful for the vision of our leaders today. I see Main Street becoming a destination place; a place where one can shop, dine, and meet friends, and we are starting to see the beginning of that now.” After graduating from Oxford High School in 1968, Nothdurft attended Jacksonville State University. She returned to Oxford and spent 44 years in the Oxford City School System. She worked as a math teacher, assistant principal, principal, and ended her career in the central office of administration. She now serves on the Oxford City School Education Foundation and the Main Street Board, representing the school system. “I find it exciting seeing young people live out their dreams in Oxford. We educate these kids and wonder if they will come back. We know it depends on what field they go in and if we can offer that here in Oxford. It is important to encourage them,” Nothdurft said. “I am excited to see young people create a business that is important and matters to them, and we can help support their dreams. Whatever they do, we want Oxford to be an option for them–a place they can reside and work.”

“It is exciting. Think about all the traffic the Performing Arts Center brings in and how important it is for the whole area to look as nice as that building,” Nothdurft said. “The Main Street Board and the City Council have met to ensure their visions are on the same path for the streetscape. I know the Council gets many requests and they decided that this development would be in the best interest of the people of our great city. I am very appreciative that it matters to the Council and Mayor Alton Craft. I appreciate their love for Main Street Oxford!” Work downtown will begin after Oxfordfest. At the end of our conversation, Nothdurft said, “Oxford is a wonderful place, but you can’t stand still. You have to continue to grow. This is about bringing in people, adding businesses, and supporting young adults.” In two years from now, we would like to meet downtown and have coffee with Nothdurft again, likely with a much different view.

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HISTORIC MAIN STREET OXFORD

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istoric Downtown Oxford will be transformed into an inviting, pedestrianfriendly destination in the coming months, starting mid-October. The City of Oxford has already invested over $300,000 in utility relocations beneath the streets and a projected $2.2 million in new sidewalks, green space, benches, and lighting that is historically appropriate to the character and charm of Oxford’s quaint downtown. It is important to note that even though downtown may seem inaccessible for the coming months, daily operations will continue for every business. The Oxford Performing Arts Center will continue to bring first-class entertainment to its stage, Southern Girl Coffee will be roasting and serving its signature coffee, and Stinson and Howard Fine Jewelry will continue serving customers during the holiday season. To keep up with all things downtown, please “like” and “follow” us on our Facebook page at Historic Main Street Oxford and check out our website at MainStreetOxford.org P.O. Box 3383, Oxford, AL 36203 | 256-453-9298 | MainStreetOxford.org | hgentry@mainstreetoxford.org OXFORD ACCESS MAGAZINE |FALL 2017

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SPOTLIGHT TAYLOR SLOAN SPOKESPERSON & INFORMATION OFFICER

Originally from Warrior, Alabama, Taylor Sloan graduated from Jacksonville State University with a degree in Public Relations. She played third base and catcher on JSU’s softball team for four years, winning three Ohio Valley Conference championships.

lifting up others around you, more than likely they will respond better to you,” she added. “It is how you go about treating people. People are not going to remember your talent or skill, but they will remember the kind of teammate and the kind of person that you were.”

Sloan believes collegiate softball can teach athletes valuable life lessons. She learned what goes into making a good leader and that her coaches molded her to be selfless. “You want to be behind the scenes doing the dirty work. You want to lead by example, not just with your words,” she said.

Treating people well was further developed when Sloan did an internship with a Major League Baseball team, The Texas Rangers, in Arlington, Texas. She worked with the promotions team coordinating the pre-game shows and in-game experiences. “I was fortunate to meet a lot of very talented and neat professionals in many different fields of work,” Sloan said.

Other lessons included budgeting her time and mapping out what would benefit her the most. “Sports taught me to prioritize and manage my time and to understand the difference between needs versus wants,” Sloan said. “My day started at 5:30 a.m. with morning workouts in the weight room. Subsequently, I would eat, rest, study, and prepare for a long day of lectures, exams, onfield practices, as well as home and away games. The days would typically end with time spent at study hall with fellow classmates and teammates. In-between, I would make time for things that are important to me such as my faith, family, friends, and other hobbies.” Sloan shared how her coaches instilled in her that leaders are encouraging to others. “If you are

As a member of the city’s marketing and communications staff, Sloan has recently appeared in several videos promoting the City of Oxford, Choccolocco Park, and Oxfordfest. She is part of a team using a multitude of traditional and social media outlets to reach citizens, visitors, and business owners with news about Oxford. She enjoys the direct and indirect response from followers. “People can comment on our photos, and they can ask questions about an event, or anything else for that matter,” Sloan said. “We want to promote the city’s personality. Oxford is very welcoming, and we have an exciting future ahead of us. Good things are happening, and we want everyone to know they can be a part of it."

“I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW THAT I GENUINELY CARE ABOUT OTHERS. I AM A HARD WORKER. I AM VERY GOAL DRIVEN. I TRY TO DO MY BEST AT EVERYTHING I DO AND HAVE FUN DOING IT.” By Oxford Access Staff OXFORD ACCESS MAGAZINE |FALL 2017

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CITY OF OXFORD | FIRE DEPARTMENT

Message from the

Oxford Fire Chief Fall is a wonderful time of year. The leaves are turning, the temperatures are pleasant and there is FOOTBALL. Fall also begins three months of holidays and special events and it is our hope that each of you are fire safe. Here are a few tips to keep you safe this holiday season. Campfires and Outdoor Burning: Remember that with fall comes the dying of vegetation and leaves which increase the fire load in our yards and woods. Always keep the fires small and have a water hose handy. The City of Oxford has a burn ordinance and you must obtain a burn permit by calling Fire Station #1 at 256-831-3208. Halloween: Ghost and Goblins, The Walking Dead, Spiderman and Cinderella will all be out trick-or-treating. Drive carefully and look for little kids who are excited and may not use the best judgement when entering the street. Thanksgiving: The holidays are a special time for us to spend with family eating, fellowshipping, and watching football, and the last thing we need is to have a kitchen fire. Never leave your stove unattended and make sure you follow the instructions when using that turkey fryer. Christmas: Don’t overload circuits trying to win the Clark Griswald Christmas Lights Award. Use UL approved extension cords and lights. Also, be careful using candles and make sure they are out prior to going to bed or leaving your house. These are just a few of the reminders to help you to have a safe and happy holiday season. If you have any questions concerning any safety practice please give us a call. Also, make sure you have good, working smoke detectors in your house. Happy Halloween, Happy Thanksgiving, and Merry Christmas Chief Gary Sparks

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A DAY IN THE LIFE WITH OXFORD’S FIREFIGHTERS WORDS: TAYLOR SLOAN

PHOTOS: STACY BOOTH

R ecently, I had the honor of spending a day with the firefighters at the Oxford Fire Department to learn more about what a typical day, if there is such thing, of a fireman is like. First, let me tell you, I gained an enormous amount of respect for these men and their line of work. 24-hour shifts, physical fitness, mental toughness, selflessness, servitude, family, inside jokes, and teamwork are a few keywords that come to mind when reflecting on what I learned that day. Lieutenant Michael Walsh talked to me about how the fire department has become somewhat of a second family. “It is a good job; it is unique. Every third day is like a Friday. Every third day you get to hang out with your best friends for 24 hours,” Walsh said. “We have a good group of guys, and we are really close. Everybody cares about everybody.” As soon as I met the men at the fire department, I realized Lieutenant Walsh was spot on. This great group of guys took me in for a day, showed me the ropes of being a firefighter, and how the City of Oxford Fire Department operates. I met up with Captain Curtis Cupp on a Monday morning, excited to start my workweek in a not-so-typical way. The first thing Cupp said to me as I–maybe a bit anxiously–walked in the front door, was, “So first thing is first: have you had breakfast? A firefighter always has to stay fueled with food–you have never seen a group of grown men cry like us if they don’t eat their breakfast.” After breakfast, we were off to check all six stations for their sign-in sheets to monitor what had happened the week before. During our rounds, Captain Cupp gave me a lesson on the fire department and its operations. Oxford is a combination department, meaning they have both full-time firefighters and volunteer firefighters. Of the six fire stations, three are staffed at all times. The others are volunteer fire stations. There are about ten people on duty on each shift, two of those being paramedics. There are three 24-hour shifts (A, B, and C) and they are off duty for 48 hours in between their shifts. I asked Captain Cupp how they determine who works what station. He said it really depends on where they live and who they work best with. He added that he does not like for them to work at the same station all the time. He said, “I believe we have to get to know our city.” As a result, the firefighters rotate which station they work out of from time to time.

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They also showed me how they receive emergency calls. It can happen one of four ways: They receive 911 calls from Calhoun or Talladega County, calls through the Oxford Police Department, and direct calls to the fire station. Calls are either referred to as “all-page” or “on-duty.” All-page means everyone is to be on the scene, even volunteers who can get there. On-duty means everyone that is on the current shift. They run about 1,200 calls per year. After learning about the day-today operations of the fire department, the firemen wanted to see whether I had the necessary skills or was suited to be a firefighter myself. The first challenge they took me through was to see if I was scared of heights. They took me up as high as the bucket would go on the ladder truck. I could see all of Oxford. What a view! It was awesome–and apparently also the easy part. Next, they tested my physical fitness. Keep in mind, this is only the test that “qualifies” you to take the more comprehensive and challenging fitness test. They suited me up in a 75-pound vest, and I walked up flights of stairs for 90 seconds without touching the handrails. Then, the vest was adjusted to 50 pounds, and I had to drag a 185-pound dummy across the station, followed by raising and retracting a ladder from the far side of the station. Following that, I had to crawl through a narrow pipe (I am not sure how grown men can maneuver through it), raise a 35-pound tire (with a rope) up and down from the floor to the ceiling five times, and finish

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with 30 sledgehammer swings on a piece of wood. Phew, what a workout! I felt accomplished–I was eligible to take the real test. Even though I was not going to attempt the qualifying test to become a firefighter, all my natural instincts were about to be challenged. In the training tower, they were building a fire for me to put out. I was going to walk into—not out of—a burning building.

nothing about to save strangers’ lives. That takes courage, bravery, and selflessness.

They told me to suit up in some “turnouts” and other protective gear (I later learned firefighters must be able to get fully geared in 90 seconds...It took me a good five minutes). If you have never worn turnouts, let me tell you, they get super hot, super fast. So, here I am ready to put out the fire. The sooner it gets done, the sooner I get to take all this gear off.

Be sure to take advantage of all the services Oxford Fire Department offers such as free smoke detectors and inspections, car seat installations, burn permit issuance (Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. unless it is a windy day), home inspections, and free blood pressure checks. They would love to help you in any way they can.

My new friends gave me the water hose, showed me how to crawl into the burning building, and taught me how to put the fire out. I must admit I was in a bit of shock as I sat on the floor in a room on fire. It was 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and when we started to put the fire out, we could not see anything from all the smoke. Also, just as I thought I would be able to hear my partner beside me tell me what to do, everything he said was muffled, and it sounded like chaos, to me at least. Not being able to understand what the guy next to me was saying was nervewracking. I knew I was in a controlled situation and was completely safe, but I kept thinking what if the fire was happening in my own home. These guys go into burning structures that they know little to

These men train hard, know the true meaning of teamwork, and take pride in protecting the citizens of Oxford. They love what they do. I had a great time being a firefighter for a day. Thank you, guys, for everything and for what you do. God bless you all.


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PRAYER QUILTS BY AMY HENDERSON

Citizens of Oxford came together on May 4, 2017, at Oxford City Hall in a non-denominational call to prayer and meditation for our city, state, and nation. One of the ways that citizens were asked to pray was through strips that were created from cloth. The cloth was donated, and it was cut into 3�x 8� strips by Oxford Public Library staff. Prayer requests were then printed and attached to the back of each strip. The strips were attached loosely with yarn to panels grouped by the subject of the prayer request. The panels were on display inside Oxford City Hall during and after the ceremony. Participants in the service could go to a panel and pull a prayer request off. After meditating on the prayer assignment, the participant could keep the strip of cloth for future meditation, or he could return the strip to be made into a quilt by the Oxford Public Library quilting group.

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There were eight panels on display; each panel held 200 strips of prayer cloths. Each featured a topic of request for prayer or meditation. The eight subjects were Public Safety, Military, National Leaders, Supreme Court, Local Leaders, State Leaders, Schools, and Thanks. The strips each carried a request for prayer on a topic or person that fell within those categories. When Amy Henderson, Library Director, approached them about the project, the Oxford Public Library quilting group was excited to help. They felt this was something special they could do for their community, and the result was not one, but two beautiful quilts. The larger quilt is entirely hand-stitched. It will be on display at City Hall to remind those that work for the public that the citizens of Oxford have prayed for their safety and wise decision-making. They also made a smaller quilt as a surprise for the library. This quilt will be on display at the library.


The quilting group at the library started out as one of the hand-craft classes offered at the library about five years ago. (Crocheting and knitting groups also meet weekly.) Linda Brooks, one of the quilting teachers, started because “some ladies wanted to learn how to quilt and it started kind of that way, as a teaching class, and that’s what it really is. People call it a dying art. My mother and grandmother always quilted and most of these ladies would say the same.”

The group has a heart for its community; last year they made several baby quilts for newborn babies whose parents didn’t have anything to send home with them. They have also donated quilts to Oxford EMS’s ambulances so a child would have a little comfort when being transported.

The Oxford Library’s quilting group meets on Wednesdays at 10:00 a.m. Brooks says that the group welcomes “people coming in to observe, participate, and get help with whatever projects they have.”

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as mayor–over half of his years were spent serving our city. His leadership in moving Oxford forward will never be duplicated. While he was leading our city, our population almost tripled, we became the retail hub for Northeast Alabama, industry in and around Oxford grew, and that's just the beginning.

THE LEGACY OF AN ICON

this earth. Almost half of them

A TRIBUTE TO THE LIFE AND LEADERSHIP OF MAYOR LEON SMITH

Mayor Leon Smith. 77 years on

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BY JOSHUA CRAFT, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE OXFORD ACCESS TEAM

The many things Leon Smith did for Oxford, that, perhaps, no one knows about, the things he did that are part of his legend–let me assure you, they are all true. Leon Smith is the man responsible for putting Oxford on the map, and we, the citizens of Oxford, are thankful for him and all he's done for us and our great city. We will be reaping the benefits of his hard work for years to come. I’ll start off by issuing a caveat: this article, this story, is like no other. There are stories and excerpts from people that were with him at different times in his life and during his time as mayor, and I hope it’s enough to capture just a glimpse of what Mayor Leon Smith did for Oxford and us for over three decades. His career spanned half a lifetime and went through great successes and horrible tragedies. The career that he dedicated to the people he loved, to the people of Oxford, is illustrated through these stories.

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L

eon Smith was born in Tennessee in 1940. He was poor, and his family had to work just to get water. When talking to former councilman Marshall Shaddix, who served alongside Mayor Smith for 20 years, he spoke of the mayor and him sharing childhood memories back when Smith had just moved to Oxford. “Back in the 1960s, Leon was new to town, and he was selling trailers behind Buck’s Coffee Shop, which is where the Oxford Fire Department is today. We’d always share stories about growing up,” Shaddix remembers fondly. “We were riding up the street one night, and Leon asked me ‘Shaddix, were you raised a poor boy?’ I said I was, but I didn’t know it. We ate cornbread for breakfast because the peddler didn’t make it down to our end of the street all the time. Leon turned to me and yelled, ‘That wasn’t poor! We were so poor that Mama used to sit us on the potty and tell us ghost stories as a laxative!’” Mayor Smith was a man of his word and kept his promises. The following are a few examples of Leon staying true to his word... Marshall Shaddix reminded me that “Leon appreciated hard work and worked diligently to fill the city’s coffers.” Shaddix said, “I was in office two years before Leon was elected, and when he took office as mayor, he told me that when we leave the city, we will leave them with a million dollars. When I retired from the council, we had about 50 million dollars, so I told Leon ‘Mayor, I’ve done my part, now you do yours!’” The former councilman remembers how the mayor always had the drive to provide for senior citizens and children, which is true even today.

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Shaddix recalls that during his first two years on the council (before Smith was in office), Oxford had to borrow money to make payroll. He said that even Smith had to borrow money to pay the City’s employees the first month of his tenure. Leon quickly paid that back, however, and has added to the City’s funds ever since. Shaddix said Leon told him the City would never again have to do that while he was mayor, and it hasn’t happened since. When talking to one of Mayor Smith’s longtime friends, John Childs, he was reminded of a significant and important time in his career as a journalist. As Childs was beginning to publish The Oxford Independent (Oxford’s local newspaper), he said, “Mayor Smith told me ‘if you’ll tell the truth and tell it like it is, then I’ll help you.’” Shortly after, the mayor took Childs to the Oxford Quarterback Club and introduced him and his newspaper–a newspaper that thrived for 25 years. “Most importantly, this was the beginning of a lasting and faithful friendship,” Childs said. “He kept his promise, to the end. I told the truth and [Mayor Smith] stood by me.” Circuit Judge Bud Turner recalls a time not too long ago when Mayor Smith supported him. Judge Turner said, “I sat in my first term as judge as a Democrat and lost my seat on the bench. Leon called me and told me ‘Bud, I’m sorry you lost, but we need some help down here in Oxford at our municipal court. I need someone to represent the folks who can’t afford attorneys.’ I started as an indigent defense attorney the very next week, a position I held until I got my seat back as judge.” Judge Turner, even though he doesn’t live in Oxford, said he empathized with

the mayor when Smith held up Exit 188 on Interstate 20 being moved to Anniston because “Leon always looked out for the best interests of Oxford.”

Mayor Smith was loyal, and he kept his promises to all. As told by Mayor Alton Craft, at Smith’s funeral, there was a young man with special needs named Aaron Humphries. Aaron would roam the streets of downtown Oxford in his overalls and wave at everyone as they passed him, always yelling out “Hey friend!” as cars drove by. Former Police Chief Stanley Merrill and Mayor Smith took it upon themselves to take care of Aaron. Being an adult with special needs, he was having some difficulties at home and around town. The mayor got Aaron into his office one day and said, “Aaron, I’ll make you a deal. If you’re not mean to your mama and daddy, and I don’t get any calls about you, you can come by anytime you want and get a Diet Pepsi from my office. I’ll also have two Oxford football tickets to every home game at the end of the week,” and that went on for several years. Aaron would walk in, go to the little refrigerator in the corner, grab a can of Diet Pepsi, pop the top, and say, “Hey friend!” Then, he would shake hands with whoever was in the mayor’s office, approach the door that led to the lobby, exclaim “Bye Friend!” and walk out the door. The governor of Alabama and other prominent members of his cabinet were in the mayor’s office one day, and Aaron strolled into the room. He did the same thing he always did, and someone in the governor’s entourage asked as he was walking out, “Who was that?” Leon looked at him and said, “Who’s that? That’s


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the assistant mayor!” From then on, Aaron was known around City Hall as “Assistant Mayor.”

Leon Smith was active in Oxford even before he was elected mayor. He was responsible for saving Exit 188 before he was elected. He marched down to Governor Wallace’s office in Montgomery and “reminded” the governor that the citizens of his hometown needed that interchange, that they voted for him, and asked the Governor not to put it in Anniston. Governor Wallace made some phone calls and asked why the exit was bypassing Oxford; apparently, studies had concluded why it made sense, to which the Governor replied: “Why don’t we put that in Oxford for Leon?” Look at Exit 188 today. It features hotels, shopping, recreation, dining, and new things are still being added to the area–it has put Oxford on the map. Stanley Merrill, who was with Mayor Smith in Montgomery that day, would always bring up the question that Governor Wallace asked when the mayor wanted something done by saying, “Why don’t we do that for Leon?” Leon Smith was a volunteer for several different organizations in Oxford. Leon Albright, a longtime friend of the mayor, worked at Barber’s Dairy and coached little league baseball and little league football with the mayor for 12 years. Albright said, “Leon was raw as a coach, and he didn’t know anything about it. But he learned the defense, and he became great at it.” Albright said that Smith would call him almost every other night about football because he was so worried about the games and practices and wanted to make sure they were doing everything they could to beat their opponent. Albright started telling a story about pre-game activities. “I’d be up in the press box, looking at the other team and seeing what we would need to do to win,” Albright remembered. “And Leon would be down there in the stands circulating with the crowd. He’d always walk up to me in the press box and say ‘We got ‘em Cat, we’re going to beat these boys.’” Mr. Albright said their teams would go to Gatlinburg and other cities in neighboring states and play teams that were older and more athletic, “But they’d never beat us,” he said with a grin. “Because we weren’t that good, but we were always the meanest team they’d play. Leon did not believe in getting beat, and he’d find ways for our teams to win. He saw things none of us would see, and he used his grit and determination on our players to get them fired up.” He would even pick Governor Wallace up from the airport

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when he was flying up to our area. “I don’t know how he did it, but every time Wallace would fly into Oxford, Leon would pick him up,” Albright remembers. “Leon would miss practice to go pick the governor up. I never knew what they did, but I’m sure Leon was always trying to get Wallace to take care of Oxford the way he took care of Oxford as mayor.” On top of that, Albright recounted how they started the Quarterback Club in Oxford and was a member until the Quarterback Club dissolved in 2017. Mayor Smith has also served as commissioner for Oxford Baseball for Youth, past league president and coach of Oxford Football for Youth, and was a past Exultant Ruler for the Elks. He volunteered and wanted to be a part of Oxford from the time he moved here with his wife in the early 1960s; he became the symbol of what Oxford was about.

Mayor Smith was generous, and he took care of people; it didn’t matter if they had money or not, that was just his way. Albright shared stories about times when Leon gave money to the players on his team. “No kid on his team ever went without. If he had to pay for their clothes or meals or whatever, he’d pay for it, and he’d do it right.” Mayor Alton Craft told a story at Mayor Smith’s funeral about playing against his sports teams. “Some said he wasn’t a generous man, but most of us in Oxford knew him as the opposite. The man would give his money, his time, his effort, and anything he had to make the lives of the citizens better.” Craft continued with a grin, “He wasn’t al-

ways generous with the city’s money; he would never get [former Police Chief and Public Safety Director] Stanley Merrill a car, but he gave his own money to us if we needed it.” Mayor Craft continued to say that his fondest memories of Leon were when he was playing football for Smith. “He would feed us at Buck’s Coffee Shop after practice, and he’d buy us a Coke…and he always gave us bubble gum. That may not have been much for some folks, but for a poor kid like me, that was everything. We would go through a wall for Leon Smith.”

Mayor Smith was loyal, and he paid back the people that helped him in his time of need in ways that not many would think to do. I recall a time when I talked to Ricky Howell, Oxford Emergency Medical Services (OEMS) Director, about how the mayor has always been there for EMS even though his department is not owned or managed by the city. While we were reminiscing about all the things Mayor Smith has achieved in Oxford, Ricky remembered a particular time when they went to the state capital to fight for OEMS. He said, “I remember when he dragged your dad [Alton Craft] and me down to Montgomery to speak to the League of Municipalities to help get Oxford EMS on the state retirement program, and with the help of State Representative Steve Hurst, Stanley Merrill, and a few others, he succeeded. They got that for us, and I’m grateful to all of them, especially Mayor Smith.” Howell repaid that kindness by doing something for the mayor that many of us would not volunteer to

do. When the mayor’s eldest son, John “Big John” Smith, was having some health issues while on vacation on the Gulf Coast, Ricky volunteered to go get his son on a plane owned by one of Smith’s friends. The original plan was to fly to the gulf and transport Big John to UAB Hospital, but a tropical storm was slamming against the coast, and no flights were allowed in or out of the airports on the Panhandle. After discussing the situation with the mayor for a few minutes, Howell volunteered to take the ambulance down and go pick him up. Ricky said, “I told the mayor I could have him back up here in seven hours, and he said there was no way I could do that. I remember pulling up on UAB’s ramp seven hours later and telling the mayor, ‘I told you I’d have him here in time,’ and Leon replied, ‘I swear to God you do!’” Howell says that the mayor never forgot that, and even though he had supported OEMS before, he had a renewed commitment in making sure they were funded and given what they needed to perform their work. That is just one of the things Mayor Smith did to pay back his friends, on a personal and business level.

Mayor Smith’s service to the city may never be eclipsed. The longevity, the loyalty, the fierce defense he had for Oxford was something that’s rarely seen today. Even Mickey Shadrix had a great summation of Mayor Smith’s service to the city. He asked me, “Josh, have you ever seen that Andy Griffith Show episode when Andy is on trial and the man is asking Barney all those questions about Andy not doing his job right and not being ‘official’ all the time?”

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I told him I remember that episode well. Mickey continued, “After that man asking questions was quiet for a moment, Barney defended Andy with all he had. He mentioned that Sheriff Taylor had taken groceries to old ladies because they were sick and done other kind things for the people of Mayberry; Andy was not just a sheriff, but a friend helping his friends. The quote that I remember best is when Barney said ‘When you’re a lawman, and you’re dealing with people, you do a whole lot better if you go not so much by the book, but by the heart.’ Mayor Smith did that so well. He helped any way he could and did it because we were his friends, and he was ours.”

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I talked to Ronnie Smith (no relation), a longtime friend of the mayor, and he had great things to say about their business and personal relationship. “When they were building the Eastern Bypass, Congressman Rogers, Leon, and I went down to Montgomery to talk to the Alabama Department of Transportation officials. Leon walked into this man’s office and said that he wasn’t opposed to the bypass being built, but it was going to be built the way Leon wanted it,” he said while laughing. On the personal side, Ronnie remembered that when he first moved to town, the mayor came by to see him. “I happened to mention that my two daughters were into horseback riding and barrel racing, but I didn’t have any barrels.

I got home that evening, and there was Leon in my driveway with three plastic barrels to give me. I’ve still got those barrels, too.” On a final note, Ronnie mentioned that his wife, Betsy, and his daughter-in-law were riding horses along the quarry [where the Oxford Exchange sits now], and they heard the “rumble of a car engine coming through the overgrown, rough terrain. Leon steps out of his Lincoln Towncar and says ‘Mrs. Smith, wouldn’t you like to have a nice development right here?’” Sure enough, the Oxford Exchange was built there and is now the retail hub of Northeast Alabama and even some parts of Georgia. Ronnie said, “that was Leon; he was always forward thinking.”


Janet Stephens began working

for the city in 1989 and became Secretary to the Mayor in 1993, a role which she continues today. She mentioned that she began working at Parks and Recreation under PARD Director Don Hudson and that she didn’t know Mayor Smith like a lot of people. “He had a reputation of being a tough businessman, and I was very intimidated by him,” she said with a grin. “He and Stanley Merrill would come into the Civic Center, and I would act like I was not there and hope he wouldn’t see me.” She remembered how she was offered the job of his assistant. “Mayor Smith called me at the Civic Center when his secretary was leaving her job–it scared me to death! He told me what it was about, so when I came in and talked to him, and he asked me to consider working for him, I thought ‘do I really want to do this?'” she said as she chuckled. “I was still so intimidated by that man. Probably three or four years went by before I would say more than two or three words to him at a time. Smith always had this demeanor of being all business. He’d wear business suits and always dressed like a very important businessman, like a leader, a political leader.” Janet fast forwards a few years and remembers that Norma Martin had gotten on to him about the rough language he sometimes used around her. Mrs. Martin told him, “Janet came from a nice family, and that ‘none of them talked like that.’” Martin was a council member at the time and a very close family friend of the mayor’s. Her daughter, Susan, was one of the honorary pallbearers. “She was the only one that could

get on Mayor Smith, and he would listen to her. She didn’t mince words with him,” Janet remembers. “She wasn’t afraid to tell him what she thought about anything. I, on the other hand, would not tell him what I thought about anything for a long time. Once I was comfortable, he was to the point where he wished he could shut me up! It was such a good relationship. I loved the man. Mayor Smith could judge people so quickly, and he was a good judge of character. He also had a way of seeing the potential in people and pulling it out of them. I am very introverted, but I had to come out of my shell when working for Leon Smith, not only because of the type of person he was but because of the people that came into the office every day. You had to be able to deal with the public as well as political figures. You never knew who was going to come walking in the door when you were in Mayor Smith’s office because he knew so many people.” The most important thing she learned from Mayor Smith was that the citizens of Oxford come first, period. No problem was too small, and there were no small problems. Anybody that walked through his door had a big problem, and they needed it taken care of. They needed him to deal with their problem and fix it. There were days when it was just so busy and so many people coming in. He would be in an important meeting, and someone would come in, and he expected Janet to let him know–it didn’t matter who–if they needed him, he was there. That is one thing Mayor Smith instilled in every one of us. It was his town and his people. His citizens came first.

Janet then discussed his “old-school” process: “I was always his secretary. One of the first things Alton did was to change my title. Leon Smith was old school. I don’t mean to say that he lived in the past, because he was always thinking about the future. It’s just that titles were not a big deal to him. It didn’t matter what my title was. It didn’t make a difference in what he expected out of me. I was always proud and honored to be Mayor Smith’s secretary. I never did expect to be thought of as anything else. It was such an honor to work for that man and to be his secretary.” Janet said the side of Mayor Smith that he would hate for anyone to see was that he was soft-hearted. She said “He always appeared tough, and he was in a way. He would fight for everything he could get for Oxford, but he was kind-hearted. It would kill him if he ever thought he hurt someone’s feelings, he could not stand it. He would chew people out, but then it was over. He couldn’t stand it if he thought he hurt someone. He had such a generous heart and did not believe in mistreating anyone.” Janet went on to talk about how Mayor Smith fought for Oxford before he was mayor and even more when he was elected. The city had been good to him and his family, and he was going to be good to the City. The trips to Montgomery and the “challenges and fights” he had with the department of transportation to get every penny he could for the infrastructure of Oxford were memorable. She remembered a time when he approached a conflict with the Anniston Water Department to

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better the interests of Oxford. “The mayor was limited on what he could do regarding development because they controlled the area’s water supply. He knew that it couldn’t continue this way for Oxford to grow and develop–we had to have our own water system. Our growth would have been limited otherwise, and he had a fight on his hand from the beginning.” Now, Oxford does have its own water supply and we have continued to develop infrastructure and create jobs because of Mayor Smith’s vision. Janet talked about what a fierce leader Leon was. “You could not hold that man back. He loved a challenge. He loved politics. He loved campaigning. He thrived on challenges. He never took anything for granted. He worked hard for everything. There was never a time in this office where you could say ‘Oh, I am going to get a breather.’” Janet also fondly remembers the mayor growing Oxford through annexations. “I remember Mr. Bill Chitwood. He was a member of our church, and he was like family to me. I grew up right next door to him. He came in and talked to the mayor about being annexed into Oxford. Bill was a leader in the community, and Mayor Smith talked to him and others about annexing DeArmanville. The mayor bought the land where the Chitwood Fire Station now sits, and we successfully annexed DeArmanville into the Oxford city limits.” Bynum/Coldwater/Eastaboga was another great annexation. Many people that lived there wanted to be in Oxford, and of course, the mayor wanted the interstate exit. Now, that

area is in the Oxford City School District and has access to services provided to the city’s residents through its annexation. Mayor Smith was also the driving force behind the decision to annex the Bennett property at the Calhoun/ Cleburne County line a few years ago, which meant that Oxford had Exit 191 as well. Every Interstate 20 exit in Calhoun County–Exits 179, 185, 188, and 191–are all in the Oxford city limits.

very disappointed in all of us if we did not take care of these problems. And they weren’t small problems to him. He knew that when people got older, things bothered them more, so he didn’t want them up at night worrying about whether or not this grass needed to be cut. He didn’t care about private property lines. He would send somebody to take care of it. If there was an elderly person that needed something done, he was going to send one of his crews to help.

Mayor Smith knew and had already proven what being on the interstate could do, and his vision was to make sure travelers had access to Oxford on I-20. Quintard Mall was here many years before he was elected, the citizens thought Oxford was fine and had grown to its capacity, but Leon Smith’s vision and ambition took Oxford to new heights; he was never satisfied with Oxford being a “sleepy little town.”

Janet told one final story when she was asked what she missed most about Mayor Smith. “I miss his laugh; he loved to laugh. After Scott [Janet’s husband] was injured in an accident, he was in rehab for a long time over at Lakeshore in Birmingham.” After he came home, Scott was using a walker and progressed to crutches. “One day while I was at work, the phone rang, and it was Scott, and he asked me to come pick him up. I asked him where he was, and he said that he had been visiting a neighbor and had walked there but couldn’t make it back home.” The mayor was close to her when she replied to her husband, “Well, you have your crutches, don’t you?” She said that Mayor Smith never let her live that one down. She reminded us that even though he was “rough,” he loved to laugh.

Mayor Smith had a great business mind. Janet said that someone could walk into the office and present an idea for a business and the mayor knew–it didn’t take a genius, it didn’t take an analyst, it didn’t take a committee, and it didn’t take a board to see if it would work for Oxford. Here’s the rub: Mayor Smith was a genius, and the man didn’t have a high school education or a college degree… he was simply a genius. Janet went on to talk about the mayor dealing with citizens and visitors of Oxford. “There are still a few people that aren’t going to call 311; they are going to call the mayor’s office. I know Mayor Smith would be very disappointed in me if I put anything in front of taking care of these people. I just know that he would be

His family was so important to him. John, twins Gary and Terry, and Danny, were the lights of his life. It was always family first with Mayor Smith. The tragedies that befell him and his wife, Delone, were unspeakable. First, his youngest son, Danny, died in his 30s in 2003. Then his oldest son, John, known to many as

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“Big John” or “Johnny Raymond,” died in 2006. One of his twins, Terry, passed away in 2012. That same year, he lost the love of his life, Delone, right after he won his eighth term as mayor. No man should have to bury his sons. He had to bury three of them, and his wife. It took such a toll on Mayor Smith. He tried not to dwell on it, but I remember a time when I saw him out in the lobby at Oxford City Hall. I have gone through a few medical traumas in my 30 years on Earth, and I’ll digress just a bit right here, to show you the love Mayor Smith had for my family, a love like no other: I had a traumatic brain injury in 2003 while working for the city, and he supported my family in finding the best doctors and therapists the

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world had to offer. He took care of my father, who was then the city’s finance director and made sure he and my mother could spend time with me when I was in a coma at Carraway Medical Center in Birmingham and when I was undergoing rehabilitation at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. He made sure my twin brother, Aaron, and my sister, Hannah, were taken care of at home in our parents’ absence. What he did for me at that critical time in my life, and my family’s life is nothing other than love. The greatest thing Jesus Christ told us was, “Love others, as I have loved you,” and Mayor Smith did that for my family and me, as he has done for so many people. He loved us like no other. He told me so many times how proud of me he was,

and that I was a “tough kid,” which are two of the highest compliments he could give me.

Back to meeting Mayor Smith in the lobby of City Hall, I had just undergone cancer treatments in 2009 and the first couple of months of 2010, and, as happens to many patients who undergo chemotherapy, my hair had fallen out, and when it came back, it was the curliest hair in Oxford. He was joking with me about my hair: “Son, you need to get that perm out of your hair, or put more Jeri Curl on it, one or the other,” he said with a smirk. I told him, “Mayor, I can’t help it! It came back this way after chemo! But I’ll work on it boss!” He turned to me, grabbed me by the hand, looked


me dead in the eyes, and said, “You know, boy, be happy with that hair. I’ve got three sons that can’t have curly hair or straight hair.” I didn’t know what to say. I was shocked. I managed to squeak out, “I love you boss, and I’m so sorry.” He just nodded his head and walked on, with his head down. I could see his pain and his torment. I ran out of City Hall, got into my vehicle, and I cried. I cried like a week-old baby crying for his mother. I don’t know if I was crying because he lost his boys or because there was this man, this mighty man, who just poured out his heart to me, which is something I rarely saw. He was so broken after all he lost, but he soldiered through it, and he continued to lead Oxford. The truth is, his strength from December 31, 2003 (the day Danny died), to his final day in office came from being the mayor of Oxford and seeing his work here finished. His wife Delone, the love of his life, passed away after fighting many battles with her health in 2012. He always missed her after she passed away. It took such a toll on him, but he put on a strong front and tried not to dwell on it. He spent time with his son, Gary, and his close friends. He was even more loyal to the people that he was close to, but he had been rocked hard by the tragedies in his life. I was talking to Annie Shears, a great friend of Mayor Smith, who attended his Sunday School class and had worked for him on every campaign. She has been a staple at Oxford Parks and Recreation for almost 20 years. She told me of a time she saw the mayor that put a perspective on his life and her life as well. Like the mayor, Annie has been through tragedy, losing two daughters, one son, a grandson, and

her husband. She told me, “He was looking out the window of our Sunday School class one morning, just staring out there towards the sky, and I said ‘Leon, you alright?’ He just told me ‘Annie, no one has been through what we have, have they?’ And I went over and hugged him, and said, ‘You’re right, Mr. Mayor, but we’re strong.’” Two people that share a common thread that none of us want to be in, and the mayor and Annie stayed resilient and leaned on family and friends to carry them. Mayor Smith had friends like Stanley Merrill, Levon Higgins, Jack Roberts, Larry Gardner, Alton Craft, Ken Eaton, and Bud Burdette just to name a few, that helped him survive and carried him through each of the most tragic times of his life.

THE FUNERAL The respect that Mayor Smith had around the state could be seen at First Baptist Church of Oxford, his home church. Hundreds, maybe even a thousand, came to pay their respects to the man who did so much for Oxford. Dignitaries from all over the Southeast were there on Wednesday afternoon, to pay their respects. Dr. C.O. Grinstead, Pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in Oxford, and longtime friend to the Smiths remembered him fondly. Dr. Grinstead started off by saying, “If you mention the name Leon Smith, right away some things come to your mind. There are people in this auditorium that Leon Smith did something special for that helped in your life, and I’ll ask you to raise your hand if he did something special for you.” If you were in that room at

that moment, every hand was up. Dr. Grinstead mentioned an amazing thing: most of the time when Mayor Smith did that special thing, he did it with his money, his time, and not on the city. It was amazing to see what he had done. If everyone in the sanctuary of First Baptist Church had a chance to reminisce about all the things Leon Smith did for them, we would still be in the sanctuary. Dr. Grinstead had the chance to re-baptize the mayor as well. Smith told the pastor that he was a Christian and that he was so positive that he was a Christian, that he wanted to reinforce Christ in his life that he asked Dr. Grinstead to baptize him again. And the good pastor said that he did all of that just to make sure that the Savior was in his soul. Mayor Craft spoke next, and he told the stories of the man who was a father figure to him, and his best friend. I’ll share one of his stories: “I was still quite new to the finance director position when we went to Moody’s in New York City to a get a bond rating, and they started questioning the mayor. ‘How long are you going to run? What are your plans? What is this and this and that...’” Craft said they asked him, “Mayor, you’ve got $63 million in the bank. How much money do you think the citizens of Oxford should put in the bank?" Without Craft saying a word, Mayor Smith said, "$100 million.” Craft said, “I was thinking ‘don’t outkick your coverage, Leon.’” He said they laughed at him and said, “If that were true, you’d have the most remarkable people in the world.” Craft continued, “He walked around and sat right by this guy. He said, ‘Let me tell you why son. Oxford people have never

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had a lot. They are hardworking people, and they know there will come another rainy day one day. That’s why they will let me do it.’” In retrospect, in 2007, 2008, and 2009, when nearly everyone else in the nation was suffering and had their “rainy day,” Oxford kept going, we kept going because of the foresight of someone like Leon Smith. Kent Mattox, Pastor at Word Alive International Outreach, was the next speaker, and he was one of “Leon’s boys” back in his adolescent and teenage years. I shouldn’t say that, because once you’re one of “Leon’s boys,” you’re always one of his boys. “He spent all of his life, after he became successful in business, serving the community and giving back. We were talking today about his service, reminiscing back to when we were 7th and 8th graders. He took a real interest in our life. As we grew up and became adults, he was concerned about us and those that we would influence and the people in our city. I remember one of my conversations I had with him, and he told me, ‘Kent I always thought you’d make something, but I never thought you’d make a preacher!’” Leon Smith had a great funeral, and it was an honor to be there and hear Dr. Grinstead, Pastor Mattox, and Mayor Craft speak about the mayor. The memories that were conjured up left a smile on everyone’s face, if only for a fleeting moment. We celebrated Mayor Smith, and I believe that even God and the mayor were sitting close together and smiling down on us for remembering a life that was truly a blessing to all of us in Oxford.

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To show you the impact Mayor Smith had in Oxford, the state of Alabama, and the southeast, I’d like to share some stories and quotes from people that have known the mayor for different walks of life...

get with him.” He then handed me my appointment papers and hugged me and said, “I’m proud of you! Now get the hell back to work!” I will never forget that day.

Bill Partridge

Don Hudson

Oxford Police Chief I remember the day like it was yesterday. The date was July 13, 2007; the time, 2:05 p.m. Mayor Smith called my cell phone and asked, “Bill! Are you busy?” Of course, when he called you never said “yes.” When I said, “No, Sir,” he said, “Come down to my office now.” Immediately, I started wondering, “Okay, what has someone done and what kind of a butt chewing am I in for?” When I walked into the outer office, he was standing there waiting for me. I thought, “Oh, no. It’s going to be a bad day.” The mayor looked at me and said, “Captain, come on in the office,” and he shut the door. By this time, I was thinking, “Here we go. It’s going to be bad.” The mayor walked around behind his desk and looking up at me said, “Bill I’m promoting you to Chief!” I swallowed hard and asked, “Sir?” He looked back up at me and said, “I’m doing something I’ve wanted to do for some time. I’m going to be able to leave this city one day knowing the police department will be in good hands.”

Oxford Parks and Recreation Director, Calhoun County Commissioner Leon Smith was a great businessman and great leader. He could lead people in only the way he could. Oxford was his priority, and he had an eye for the future. He was in a position where he could help people, and he did.

Of course, I was in shock and blurted out, “Hold on just a minute mayor! We need to talk!” He regarded me and asked, “What?” I asked him, “Mayor, am I going to be able to do what I need to do to make changes as needed?” He looked at me and firmly stated, “Yes, and Stanley Merrill will be public safety director, so if you have any questions

Bill Curtis

East Alabama Planning Commission (1980 - 2015) I’m pretty sure Mayor Smith was the longest serving mayor in Calhoun County. He certainly was the “dean of mayors” in Calhoun County. He had an important leadership role, and quite frankly, he was a good friend of mine. He strongly supported the East Alabama Regional Planning Development Commission and its programs–including the programs for senior citizens. In fact, when he was first elected mayor, I went down and met with him to understand his priorities, and one of them was he wanted to get a grant to renovate a building in the downtown area for seniors, and he did that, and we assisted him in getting the application put together. He went and talked with Governor George Wallace personally, and the city was awarded the grant, and the senior center is still in the downtown area today. He supported transportation for seniors, meals for seniors, and over a period,


he was very aggressive in assisting us in taking to the seniors a wide range of services. That was just one aspect of the man. Beyond that, he recognized the importance of transportation. He supported the City of Oxford being an active part of the Public Transportation Program. It’s a matching program with federal funds. He took it to the council each year and supported it. One thing he believed in was good mapping for the cities. He knew it was important for the city to have the best possible mapping so they could make educated decisions about economic development and land use. Shortly after taking office, he aggressively approached the state highway department and the governor about completing Exit 188, so it could be developed into retail space. That was a major development. He pushed for development at that interchange. And push for redevelopment at the original interchange. The whole corridor development along Highway 78 was possible because of the interstate interchange development. The importance of four-lanes and interstate interchanges in promoting economic development can’t be overemphasized. Before Leon Smith, Highway 78 was not even a fourlane. He connected the two interstate interchanges with the four-lane highway. We worked very closely with the mayor on his goals. He was clear on what he foresaw for Oxford. One of his goals was turning Oxford into the retail center of not just Calhoun County, but for this part of the state, and that had the side effect of

bringing jobs and rapidly expanding the tax base of Oxford. He was a strong supporter for recreational facilities for the community. I worked with Don Hudson at the mayor’s instruction on seeking a whole series of grants over the years for improving the recreation facilities of Oxford. Don brought a professional’s understanding to the importance of recreation to a community, and the mayor tasked him with a whole series of improvements, including renovating and expanding Oxford Civic Center, which is an outstanding facility. Mayor Smith was not a person who focused on just one thing. He was highly effective in understanding the big picture and being effective in implementing his plans for that big picture. He had a unique strategy for investing in economic development for Oxford, examples being The Oxford Exchange and Oxford Commons, which were both possible because of the city’s preparation and because they were able to use their funds to stimulate development. He held every office at the East Alabama Regional Planning Commission Board–he was chairman, vice chairman, secretary, and treasurer over a period. He was a supporter of the East Alabama Planning Commission, he was a supporter of the Metropolitan Planning Organization, and he was a supporter of public transportation. Mayor Smith was outstanding in directing policy related to economic development. The growth of the retail sales tax acted as fuel for all the other things he thought were important and wanted to imple-

ment. He brought a type of leadership to the Oxford government that kept the city focused on its priorities rather than getting diverted into controversy. He was a leader in the city, in the region and the state. He was also very active in the National League of Cities and held offices in that organization. He wanted Oxford to be prosperous and to grow. He supported me, and he was my friend. Tom Abernathy

Abernathy and Timberlake Investment Group Mayor Smith was very progressive on bringing business to Oxford and helped promote a pro-business climate. In regards to our development (The Oxford Exchange Shopping Center), he helped offer us a package to bring national retailers to the market. The mayor and his team made our project a reality with their creativity and perseverance. This is quite an accomplishment for Smith and his office. We will always be thankful for him and his staff! Don Hopper

Executive Director, Calhoun County Economic Development Council We worked on a number of industrial projects with the mayor. It wasn’t something where you had to do some formula or feasibility study or something like that. The mayor had an uncanny way of determining if it was good for the city. If he felt it was good for the city, he was always, always supportive. He had a sense about it. He had a hand in bringing Kronospan and Bridgewater Interiors to Oxford, in the Tapecraft Corporation expansion,

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along with some other industries that have come to the area. This is in addition to all the other retail and commercial development. He always supported expansion. If it made sense for Oxford, he was 100% for it. John Merrill

Alabama Secretary of State As your Secretary of State, it has been my privilege to visit in all of Alabama’s 67 counties on multiple occasions. In all of my travels, I have never seen a more transformative leader of a community that Mayor Leon Smith of Oxford. Many times, Mayor Smith’s desire, strength, and character simply willed the positive changes necessary to continue to move Oxford forward. We are better people and a more complete community for having known him. John Grass

Jacksonville State University Football, Head Coach Mayor Smith was and will always be an icon in Oxford. He was a man that said what he meant and meant what he said. Very few of those type of people are left in the world we live in, and I think that’s why Mayor Smith meant so much to so many. He touched people and made a difference for so many citizens and families in Oxford, including my family during my tenure as head coach for Oxford High School Football. No one has had the longevity that Mayor Leon Smith had in Oxford, and he was able to keep Oxford going as its leader by serving others. He had such a special leadership ability and was a true friend to many, including me. My prayers are with the citizens of Oxford and Mayor Smith’s family.

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Timothy Meagher

ValStone Investment Group, Birmingham, Michigan ValStone purchased Cider Ridge Housing Development at auction in 2007 In September 2007, I first traveled to Oxford down from Michigan. When I first met Leon, he said to me, “I want you to know one thing: the most important thing for me is my citizens, my residents here in Oxford. I want them to be taken care of.” I replied, “Okay. That’s what we are going to do.” For the next hour, we sat in his office and talked, and then he took me around city hall and introduced me to all the departments. Leon told everyone, “This is Tim. He’s come to help turn Cider Ridge around. You make sure whatever he needs, it happens.” We returned to the mayor’s office, and Leon gave me his business card, and he had written his home phone number on it. “If you ever can’t get a room, or are just looking for a place to stay, you just call me. We have rooms up at the house, and we will take care of you.” I was blown away. I’m a stranger, a northerner, but I felt so welcomed by him, and I knew that he would be there to help me. We had tremendous issues to overcome at Cider Ridge, and overcoming them would have been impossible without Leon. We talked on a regular basis, and he helped me every inch of the way. Leon made sure any zoning questions I had were answered by the building department quickly. He was always very interested in what we were doing. He saw that we were making progress and he stepped in and brought in a management company to take over the golf course, which was a huge improve-

ment. Leon was behind that decision, and that was one of the best things he ever did for Cider Ridge Golf Course. Leon was amazing, and he was very no-nonsense. He saw the vision we saw–that Cider Ridge was a diamond in the rough. He was very professional with me, and we had a mutual respect. Leon was hands-on, and there was never a problem he wouldn’t help us solve. He really did understand the business side of what I was trying to do at Cider Ridge. Perry Roquemore

Former Executive Director of the Alabama League of Municipalities Mayor Leon Smith’s death is a great loss for Oxford, the state, and for me personally. Leon was a terrific individual; a unique individual, and he was very active in the League of Municipalities and was always a loyal supporter of the league. He was very attentive at meetings, and he would offer his wisdom–this was recognized by the city officials throughout the state when they elected him Vice President and the President of the League of Municipalities. Leon was even elected to serve on the board of directors for the National League of Cities–he was highly regarded throughout the country. I am very familiar with the things he did in Oxford. It’s amazing…I remember going to the groundbreaking for the shopping center on Leon Smith Parkway, and there was nothing there. It was just a vision that he had. He made that thing come together. Everything that has been built in the last four decades is because of the vision that he had for Oxford.


Leon worked at it, and he knew how to deal with people. He made these wonderful things happen for the city. He was very proud of his city and very proud of the people of the city. Leon was frugal with the city’s money, and for that reason, Oxford was always in good shape financially. When others were struggling, the City of Oxford was in good shape. He had a good rainy-day fund. “You’ve got to take care of the old folks. You’ve got to take care of the young folks. The rest of them can take care of themselves.” I heard him say that 100 times. He believed it. He was a terrific businessman. When you think about all the big stores that are out there on that interstate…that is quite an accomplishment to get those folks to come to a town the size of Oxford. It’s amazing, and he pulled it off. And Oxford will forever benefit because of it. Ken Smith

Executive Director of the Alabama League of Municipalities For most of his political career, Mayor Leon Smith was active in the Alabama League of Municipalities headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama. The league is comprised of nearly 450 incorporated cities and towns in Alabama. Mayor Smith was always someone you could depend on. If he told you he was going to do something, he did it. Leon enjoyed being involved, and he participated in any way he could. He was always very helpful to me–he provided advice and shared

his viewpoints. He never shied away but would give his opinion. You knew where you stood with him, and that’s something to be admired.

to new board members, and they looked to him for guidance. He was such a good leader.

Leon Smith served as the league’s president for one year (1997-1998) and was president of the Municipal Workers Compensation Fund Board, which is an honor because he was nominated and voted president of the league by his peers. Mayor Smith dedicated his life to serving the citizens of his community and to serving municipalities of Alabama. He was a true friend and will be missed.

Ken Eaton

Steve Martin

Alabama League Of Municipalities I worked with him on the Municipal Worker’s Compensation Board, and Leon was president of the workman’s compensation fund for several years. He was a good leader. The fund experienced lots of growth during his time on the board and as president. I always found him easy to work with. He was very supportive of most everything I would bring to the board. Of course, I would go over it with him before we got to the board meeting. Some people thought he was difficult to work with, but I never had an experience like that. He was always easy to work with. Mayor Smith had loyalty, and that’s a big word. He was very loyal to the league and very loyal to the worker’s comp fund. You couldn’t ask for anybody to be more supportive or more loyal to you than Leon. He would let you know if he disagreed with you, but that’s okay. Mayor Smith was a good mentor

longtime friend and supporter of Leon Smith I became friends with Mayor Smith in the mid 60’s. He had a retail store on Quintard Avenue. He was in business at a young age. I was commuting from Jacksonville and didn’t get off work till 8:00 pm, so at night I would stop and stay with him until he closed. We had a longtime friendship. The thing about Leon Smith I remember most is how he tried to help people, no matter who they were. He helped so many people! Even if he knew they probably didn’t vote for him, he would still help them. Leon helped lift people up and cared for everybody. There’s a lot of people he helped. And a lot of families he helped. People would come in and want to borrow some money and he would find them a place to go to work. He set goals, and he set them pretty high, and he reached those goals. Leon was a hard worker and he always dressed up, too–he liked his suits. Leon Smith was a great friend, and we will miss him.

CONCLUSION What a man! The man that moved Oxford forward was Leon Smith. How will he be remembered? As brilliant as he was and even with his rough exterior, he had a humble side. When they named Leon Smith Parkway for him, it was an honor for

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the mayor, but he said that recognition was for when he retired from office or after he passed away. Mayor Leon Smith will be remembered as a man who took care of his family and friends and stayed loyal to them, no matter what was happening in his life or their lives. He will be remembered by the citizens of Oxford and the surrounding area as a man who took care of Oxford, which is how he would want it. As Mayor Craft said at the funeral, "His philosophy was simple: Oxford first, Calhoun County second, Alabama third, America fourth, and to hell with everybody else!" There were also those people who didn't care for Mayor Smith, but he had a way of winning people over. If someone didn’t like him, that was fine with him. His actions would win them over. Leon Smith opponents were Leon Smith fans after a while because they would catch a glimpse of his vision. There were several times that citizens would have the opponent's sign in their yard during election time, and they would ask the mayor for help, and he would give it to them without question. He didn’t hold grudges; if you needed his help, he would go out of his way to give it to you. The ambition and the drive that came from Mayor Smith is in a league of its own. When he first became mayor, he did not have the respect of other area leaders, but he earned it and was the leader of not only Oxford but the area, for many years. As Mayor Smith and Oxford went, so did the rest of the area. He said it was Alton’s job to carry on, and as his time as mayor came to an end, he had earned that respect.

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I’ll close with a poem that I believe sums up his time on Earth, a poem by Dylan Thomas called “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.” Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night. Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Do not go gentle into that good night. Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. And you, my father, there on the sad height, Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Here we are, Mayor Smith. Oxford is in the position we are in because of leaders like you and others who have served with you. Even though your light is extinguished, we see the light you held for Oxford, and it’s still brightly burning, still lighting up our corner of the world. We have new leadership, and the torch you set ablaze has been passed to Alton Craft now, but we, the citizens of Oxford, will carry that light and continue to be that city on a hill, because as you taught us, we’re never finished, never quite finished...


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WHY I TEACH Oxford City School System Teacher Spotlight — Karen Reeder

WE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO CHAT WITH KAREN REEDER, ONE OF THE FIRST RECIPIENTS OF THE “EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH” RECOGNITION AWARDED TO STANDOUT OXFORD CITY SCHOOLS EMPLOYEES BY THE OXFORD CITY SCHOOLS EDUCATION FOUNDATION. MRS. REEDER IS A 1984 OXFORD HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE AND STILL RESIDES IN THE CITY OF OXFORD WITH HER HUSBAND, DENNIS, AND THEIR TWO CHILDREN, MADISON AND GRANT. MRS. REEDER TEACHES FIRST GRADE AND IS IN HER 29TH YEAR OF TEACHING IN THE OXFORD CITY SCHOOL SYSTEM. WE ASKED HER SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT HER TEACHING CAREER, AND WHY SHE LOVES TO TEACH. What made you want to become a teacher? Oxford is my hometown, and the children here will one day become my banker, my nurse, my mechanic, or even leaders in our community. I want to impact Oxford one child at a time by equipping them with a firm foundation in reading and math to help them become successful and productive citizens of our community.

What is the most satisfying thing about teaching first grade? I enjoy seeing that “Ah Ha!” moment when a child realizes they understand and can apply what you’ve taught them. I can see the impact that we, as educators, have by watching not only the students rate of improvements throughout the year, but they’re growing in becoming a productive part of a school community.

When you were in high school did you know you wanted to become a teacher? I knew I loved working with students and children. I started babysitting when I was 12 years old, and I would babysit tiny babies; I was surprised that parents would even let me babysit at that age; you know, newborns. But I guess they were used to seeing me at First Baptist Church of Oxford.

Have you taught other grades? I taught sixth grade my first year. Due to the lack of students moving to sixth grade the next year, I was moved to first grade. I knew after that first year in first grade that this was where I wanted to be.

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What do you look forward to most at the beginning of each year? It’s fun preparing the classroom with small details such as nameplates on each desk and thinking about how I’ll be able to impact that child in the best possible way. It’s exciting to see the smiles on the faces of the new students you’re about to teach.


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Oxford city school teacher Spotlight — KAREN REEDER

What’s the most challenging part about being a teacher? I want every child to be successful, but not every child learns the same way. So, it can be challenging to find creative activities that help each one to do their best. But, I also have a great support group. You’ve heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” It also takes a village to be a productive teacher. I'm fortunate for the support the City of Oxford and the Oxford Education Foundation gives to our school system and to be a part of a school that is surrounded by a great staff. Is it different teaching now than what it was when you first started? Yes, it’s so different. Things have definitely changed. The strategies have changed. Long ago the students couldn’t talk, they had to be quiet while we taught. Over the years we realized that it’s okay for these children to talk in their stations because they learn from their peers in that way. How do you want former students to remember you? I hope they remember me as being fair and respectful and being a teacher that encouraged them to explore new things and provided them with many ways to grasp the first-grade curriculum. I grew right along with my students over the years to become a better teacher. What methods do you use in your classroom to bring out the best in students? I like to think of my classroom as controlled chaos. I encourage my students to move around to help others when they’ve completed a task and to have conversations about what they’re learning. This strategy has always made a notable impact on their learning, and I see it carry over into other subject areas. When you see former students who are now adults, what’s one thing they typically say they remember about your classroom? They usually say, “Hi, Mrs. Reeder! Do you remember me?” They just want to be remembered, and they usually have a warm smile that’s hopefully reflecting fond memories from long ago. What do you look forward to doing once you retire? I haven’t really thought about that. I take it home with me. I work on things at home, I look on Pinterest for other ideas to bring back to the classroom, and I enjoy doing that. I love to read so I guess I will definitely do more reading. Also, I enjoy fishing with my husband and traveling. But I love what I do and will continue to teach because I love it.

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CITY OF OXFORD | PUBLIC LIBRARY

MESSAGE FROM THE OXFORD PUBLIC LIBRARY DIRECTOR The Summer Reading Program this year was fun! We built a better world through the summer, complete with safety vests for the staff. All had fun; the successful program saw high circulation numbers as people continue to look to the library for their reading materials. The Oxford Public Library checked out almost 24,000 items during the program. That is a lot of reading! There was an activity planned every single day during the program, most of which were designed to fit the theme of the program. Kids learned about reptiles, participated in a fun magic show, watched a ventriloquist, made crafts, and, of course, read. Back by popular demand, there was even a knitting camp for kids. Also, children in the library showed some incredible talents in a talent show. Adults participated, too. Instead of logging books, the adults played bingo to earn a nice bag as a prize. Many adults loved the bingo because the spaces suggested new books/ authors to read that might have been new to the patrons' reading repertoire. Adults could also enjoy programs designed just for them, like a Book Swap, Eat. Taste. Read., and Color Me Calm. Overall, the program was a lot of fun, and it fostered a love of reading for kids and adults alike. I am proud to introduce a new cooperation between the Oxford Parks and Recreation Department and the Oxford Public Library, which will increase services to the public. Each Community Center (the Bynum Community Center, the Civic Center, the Friendship Community Center, and the Senior Citizen’s Center) now features books to check out. The books offer a variety of choices; those who can’t come to the library may choose a book from the freestanding library in each center. A library card is not required. The patron is only asked to make a checkmark on the clipboard that rests on top of the shelf for each book taken.

Simply bring the books back whenever finished, and get more! There are adults in our community who do not know how to read. OPL wants to help them, and our Adult Literacy Program is making a positive impact in our community. We need your help, though. Our volunteers are wonderful, dedicated community members who want to make a difference. We need more volunteers to commit a few hours a week to working oneon-one with a student who needs your help. Your willingness to help will overshadow your inexperience if you have never worked with a student before. OPL has software that will guide the volunteer through helping the student. Please consider the opportunity to make your community a better place one person at a time. To volunteer in this program or to find more information, come into the library and request a volunteer application, or you may visit www.oxfordpl.org/adult-services. FALL EVENTS Star Wars Film Festival Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. October 7 - December 16 Fall Festival Zombie dance with us October 31 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Veterans Celebration November 9 2:00 p.m. Pete the Cat Saves Christmas December 21 10:00 a.m. Sensory Friendly Fun Time Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Watch it Wednesdays 2:00 p.m. For a full listing of events: www.oxfordpl.org or call (256) 831-1750 OXFORD ACCESS MAGAZINE |FALL 2017

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FROM THE GROUND UP By Chad Robinson, CSFM Director of Grounds Choccolocco Park

Cider Ridge Golf Club

H

appy fall everyone! With the season comes cooler temperatures, shorter days, and the all-important football season. In the grounds management industry, fall means we get time to exhale after a long summer and an opportunity to spend time with family and friends. However, there are a lot of important practices to complete to make sure our facilities are ready for the colder winter temperatures ahead. We have had a great summer at both Cider Ridge Golf Club and Choccolocco Park. Between the annual Sunny King Charity Classic at Cider Ridge and the Dixie Youth World Series at the park, our grounds crews have been very busy. The next time you are at the golf course or park, make sure you take time to thank any grounds crew you may run into as they work tirelessly to make our facilities the top in the state and nation. When we get cooler temperatures, it is important that we prepare our turfgrass and ornamentals for winter. I can recall one of my former turfgrass professors always saying, “the grass wakes up in the spring just like it went to bed in the fall.� This is a true statement, and it reminds us that the inputs of fall fertility, mowing practices, and reduction of drought stress is essential this time of year.

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FROM THE GROUND UP

When it comes to fall fertility, it is important to apply products that are higher in potassium (the third number in fertilizer analysis 5-5-25) than nitrogen (first number in the analysis 5-5-25). Potassium is a nutrient that helps aid in root development and increases stress tolerance. Winter dormancy (browning of turf in cold temperatures) is a very stressful period for turfgrass and all plants that go through it. Before applying any fertilizer yourself, be sure to take a soil sample to the county extension office to ensure you apply the exact amount of nutrients for your particular situation. As for mowing, it is imperative not to remove more than 30 percent of the leaf blade. This is particularly important this time of year. It is a common mistake to scalp your lawn during fall, when in fact it needs to be the exact opposite. I like to increase the mowing height slightly, which increases the leaf tissue matter in the top canopy and acts like a blanket for the turf through the winter. For example, if you are currently mowing your lawn at three inches, it would be a good idea to start mowing it at 3.5 inches beginning the first of October. After a wet summer, drought stress on turfgrass and plants may not be an issue. However, if your lawn becomes too dry during the fall, there is a good chance it will not properly “green up� in the spring. Also, make sure your lawns and gardens are properly watered during this season. At Cider Ridge, Choccolocco Park, and Honours Golf, we pride ourselves in our agronomic experience and expertise. I hope these few tips will help you get your lawn ready for the colder temperatures approaching. If you are confused or have any questions, feel free to talk to me or any of the superintendents at the park or golf course. We are always happy to discuss turf with anyone! I hope you have many opportunities to enjoy the grounds that we manage at Cider Ridge Golf Club and Choccolocco Park. We take great pride in these two premier facilities and love to see folks experiencing them!

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CIT Y OF OXFOR D | PUBLIC WOR KS

The culvert replacement project on Northwood Drive has been completed and the roadway reopened. Thank you all for your patience and understanding during this project. The capacity of the structure is capable of handling more than double the amount of the previous structure. This should help with the flooding issue that has occurred in the area.

MESSAGE FROM THE OXFORD PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR Dear Citizen, I hope this letter finds you well. It is an honor to come to you again with a quarterly update on Public Works projects in our great city. We have a few exciting new projects that you will begin to see soon. In an effort to do our part and be a little more energy efficient, we have a couple of lighting projects planned. The first project will replace the existing streetlights with efficient LED lighting along Highway 78 from Leon Smith Parkway to Watson Drive. This project will provide much cleaner roadway lighting that will increase visibility and help make our roads safer. The second project includes replacing the existing flashing school zone lights located on Highway 78. Instead of continuing to operate by electricity, they will be replaced with a high intensity flashing LED signs that are solar powered. Both of these projects save money and help promote the forward-thinking mindset that we are using to spend taxpayer dollars most efficiently. We also have a project to install a traffic signal at the Leon Smith Parkway and Crystal Waterway Drive in front of Home Depot and Publix. The signal should be installed and operational before the holiday shopping season. The scheduled work along Snow Street is progressing, and we anticipate utility relocation to begin shortly.

As you know, fall is upon us, and the leaves are falling as well. Our curbside leaf vacuum pickup will begin approximately November 15, 2017. This service only collects loose, non-bagged leaves. We will provide this service through mid-April 2018. Leaves that are bagged will be picked up year-round by our weekly curbside service. Due to demand, please keep in mind that our leaf vacuum trucks do not move at the same pace as our weekly curbside service. Our service begins at the western end of our city and progresses eastward. The route is repeated multiple times throughout the season but takes some time to complete a full circuit. Due to the operational nature of our vacuums, loose leaves must be placed in their own pile and not mixed with limbs, brush or other curbside pickup items. Leaves will not be vacuumed if there are other objects mixed with them. Help us spread the word, and help yourself stay informed by liking and following us on Facebook. Search City of Oxford Department of Public works or @oxfordpublicworks. Thanks, and I hope you have a great holiday season. God Bless.

Sincerely, Rusty V. Gann, P.E.

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Public Safety Night Out THURSDAY

November 2, 2017 4:00 - 8:00 at the Oxford Civic Center

THE OXFORD POLICE DEPARTMENT is hosting a community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnership and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, better places to live. This event is designed to get the community together with public safety in the area. We will have tons of equipment and personnel there. Other local agencies will also be represented. There will be police cars, fire trucks, bulldozer, ambulance, helicopter, command center, and more!

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Oxford Police Department

I want to thank the citizens of Oxford for their continued support of the Oxford Police Department. With each passing year, it seems to become stronger and more heartfelt, and for that, I am truly grateful. I like to think our agency provides a large impact on our seemingly small corner of the world. Throughout the past months, our department has taken huge strides towards the continued successful operation of the department. We are continually making an impact in our city as we consistently engage with our citizens. I understand the importance of the community’s trust, and we will do whatever necessary to continue to build strong relationships with you all. We are not a police department for the light-hearted, though. Even though we strive to ensure our community has full confidence in us, we still have the fundamental obligation to keep you all safe and to safeguard your property. During most times, police work isn’t glamorous. Our officers work tirelessly, see things we would wish on no one, and experience the cries of those in need. In short, your support is always appreciated, but it’s also a requirement. Our officers thrive on the fact that we are making a difference, and even more, that you, the citizen, support our efforts. In closing, this message is to commend the officers and employees of the Oxford Police Department, as well as those in our community who show your support daily. You all are an integral part of the success of Oxford, Alabama. As always, we are here to defend, protect, and serve; with whatever means necessary. Thank you, Oxford! Chief Bill Partridge

Message from the

Police Chief

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WHY I SERVE Q &A with Scott Glanze

Where did you grow up and where did you go to school? I grew up in Calhoun County. I graduated from Saks High School in 1998. What is your title? I am an investigator at the Oxford Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division. I have been working for the Oxford Police Department for about 15 years. I was hired as a patrolman in the Uniform Division when I was 22 years old. About five years ago, Chief Bill Partridge moved me to the Criminal Investigations Division. What made you want to go into law enforcement and how did you first get involved? I noticed at a young age that everybody has a talent or a gift. When I was a middle and high school student, I was always a mediator. I would always be the middle person between two people arguing. I found that people liked talking to me–perhaps because I was a good listener or something. People would speak to me and come to me with their problems. If two people had an issue at school, I would try to stay neutral and give the best advice I could for both parties. A bodybuilder may know at a young age that he is stronger and bigger than others, so he goes into a bodybuilding career; I knew I had a gift where I was able to read people, and to mediate, and to help people. With my early childhood fascination with police work and what a police officer did, I thought I would make a good police officer. That’s what got me into it–realizing I had a talent for befriending, talking, and helping people. What is a typical day like for you? When you are a police officer, you have a unique job and there are not many “typical” days. One minute, you are liable to sit in a parking lot, then the next minute, you are

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on the way to a burning house, a robbery in progress, or something much more severe. You will go “zero to sixty” like it is nothing. As an investigator, I will come in every day and check my cases, as we get new cases every day. I am apt to work on a theft of a wallet; next might be a theft at a grocery store, calling someone back about a report of stolen mail, and so forth. There is nothing typical about our days, but rather a variety of things. One consistent task, however, is to find a way to help somebody. Our ultimate goal is to solve every case one way or the other. Officers are usually investigators because they have a natural curiosity for things. They want to know and they want to put the puzzle together. From time to time, however, you might have a mystery that is unsolvable. As investigators, we really want to know the answer and it can be aggravating and frustrating if we can’t find out. Instances where you have, let’s say, a serious crime that you have not been able to solve, it will stay with you for awhile. It can be hard to let go of it. If we had the unthinkable happen, such as a murder or homicide, we have a great unit at the Oxford Police Department. Our investigative team comes together as a group, working around the clock until it is solved. It is a great teamwork–we make each other better. Are you part of any special unit? I am part of our Emergency Services Unit. I have been part of ESU for about ten years. If or when something gets really bad or ugly, the unit is called and we will approach the issue in full gear, also called “kitted out,” and with the tools needed. How is being in law enforcement rewarding? When you meet someone who has been victimized,


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WHY I SERVE — SCOTT GLANZE

people who are true victims and did not say or do anything to bring a criminal activity upon themselves, it is gratifying being able to help. Whether they had their car stolen, or their house has been burglarized, it is a rewarding feeling when you can recover their stolen items. If a person breaks into someone’s house and takes their heirlooms–which was passed down from generation to generation–it is great to be able to recover something non-replaceable like that as the victims are beyond thankful. What has surprised you the most about working in law enforcement? Sometimes, I am surprised at the impact law enforcement makes without being aware. I remember one time when I was at a bad accident scene, and this guy’s mother was involved. When I arrived at the scene, the medics were already assisting his mother. I put my hand on the guy’s shoulder and told him everything was going to be alright. I talked to him and told him I understood what he was going through. I do not feel like I did anything more than anyone else would have done. I simply talked to him. A week or two later, the guy came to the police department and thanked me and told me how much he appreciated me standing beside him talking to him. He thought he was about to lose his mother and the only thing he kept hearing was my voice in his ear–even when they arrived at the hospital. It floored me. I did not know what to say because I felt like I hadn’t done anything. So that is one thing that surprises me. The impact that police officers make without even knowing it. What might people be surprised to learn about you? I am a little bit of a “cut up.” I like to joke and talk. It might surprise people that I can have a very serious side to me. And I also like classical music–some of the more traditional and better-known works from composers like Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven. I find the music soothing, whether listening while driving down the road or going to sleep at night. Not many people would take me as a guy who likes classical music.

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What would you tell people who are interested in becoming a police officer? I would tell them that it is a career of servitude. We are here to protect, to serve, and to be loyal to the public. I would advise them that it is not just a job, but a way of life. They will eat, think, and sleep policing. Whether you are in investigations, patrol, or some other special unit, the department becomes your family. We are very close here. If you were not in law enforcement, what would you be doing instead? Perhaps I would work for an airline or the railroad, or even go to law school and become an attorney. What do you do when you are not working? I am a competition pistol shooter so I am usually doing something in the realm of competitive shooting when not working. I started competitive shooting about five years ago. It is very addicting–I probably shoot several thousand rounds per month so I reload my own ammo and everything. I also like teaching people and am a match director at a local shooting range. Favorite TV show, movie, and book? I like Grey’s Anatomy. My favorite movie is Wyatt Earp. The movie stars Kevin Costner who plays Wyatt, the greatest lawman that ever lived. He was a good and fair lawman–something you did not often see back in those days. I really like the way J.K. Rowling writes and her perspective on things. She is very creative and imaginative. The Harry Potter series would probably be my favorite books.


Professional Fact Finders The mission of the Criminal Investigations Division (CID) is to provide the highest quality criminal investigative support to the Oxford Police Department by conducting timely and thorough criminal investigations by using advanced investigative techniques and forensic equipment. Motivated only by a search for the truth, CID Investigators will search out and collect all available evidence surrounding each case to exonerate the innocent and substantiate the culpability of the guilty. According to Lieutenant Dewitt Ashley, the CID Division Assistant Commander, the division is responsible for all types of criminal cases, whether those include arson, child pornography, burglary, robbery, homicide–any type of criminal offense in violation of Alabama Code Title 13. Lieutenant Ashley shared that the division has investigators assigned to different tasks or types of cases, including rapes and sexual assaults, juveniles, arson, prostitution, kidnapping, narcotics, crime scenes, etc. Lieutenant Ashley said that "the truth is easier to see than a lie is to hide." As professional fact finders, CID Investigators will not form conclusions in advance; they will instead be committed to investigating all criminal allegations in a systematic, methodical, ethical, and impartial manner to determine what findings the evidence supports. The division is responsible for the supervision and conduct of all Oxford Police investigations of serious crimes, less serious crimes upon request or as needed, and to conduct sensitive or special interest investigations, as directed by the Chief of Police. CID Investigators primarily investigate felony level crime and provide criminal investigative support to the Uniformed Division. CID searches out the full facts of a situation, organizes the facts into a logical summary of investigative data, and presents this data to the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution. The division is led by Captain L.G. “Chip” Owens. Captain Owens has been employed with the Oxford Police Department since January 1989. He attended Jacksonville State University and majored in Forensic Science. He has specialized training in several areas, including computer evidence recovery, digital evidence acquisition, and mobile device investigations. He also holds additional forensic investigations certificates.

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To our Patrons and Fans, I am proud of the Oxford Performing Arts Center’s upcoming offerings; the quality and variety of the performances will entertain Broadway fans, music fans, and families, as well as ushering in the best Christmas season ever. We are especially proud of presenting our shows with admission as low as free and tickets costing between $8 and $59. As always, the Oxford PAC does not tack on the extra ticket fees that other venues charge (sometimes more than twenty or thirty percent).

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You can start your Christmas excitement on November 12 with the beloved and hilarious Elf! The Broadway Musical. Experience the tale of Buddy, a human who was raised as an elf, as he journeys to New York to find his birth father and restore the faith in the spirit of Christmas for everyone with whom he comes into contact. Five days later, on November 17, we are proud to present Shadows of the 60s, a tribute to The Four


Tops, The Temptations, and The Supremes. This show is stunningly choreographed with talented performers performing note-by-note renditions of some of the greatest groups of the sixties. Don’t miss enjoying and singing along with the three featured groups, as well as a grand finale with Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Martha Reeves, Junior Walker, and more! The next week, on November 20, we are presenting a new genre for OPAC in Dinosaurs Zoo Live! Children and adults will be amazed at the larger-than-life, realistic puppets which are brought to life by skilled performers and puppeteers. The performance was designed by professional paleontologists. This entertaining and educational live show will amaze children and adults alike. On December 3, be assured that “Nobody Puts Baby in the corner!” Dirty Dancing—The Classic Story On Stage takes us back to the summer if 1963 when Frances “Baby” Houseman finds love, excitement, and dancing in New York Catskill Mountains. We are particularly excited to present LeAnne Rimes: Today is Christmas Tour 2017. Rimes broke into country music as a 13-year-old prodigy and has sold out arenas for more than 20 years. Rimes has won many awards, including two Grammys, three ACMs, a CMA, 12 Billboard Music Awards, and one American Music award. She has had number one hits on both the country and contemporary charts. Don’t miss this modern-day musical diva. Mr. Popper’s Penguins, presented on December 11, brings Richard Atwater’s charming children’s book and movie to life on stage. You’ll fall in love with Mr. Popper’s most famous penguin as he learns to fly in what the New York Times calls “thoroughly hummable score and snappy lyrics, ingenious life-size puppets and plenty of visual surprises. . . . Its cuteness is hard to resist.”

Three days before Christmas be sure to enjoy Christmas with the Annie Moses Band. The band, made up of six siblings and named for their great grandmother, has released twelve albums, including two Christmas albums. They have performed at Carnegie Hall and the Grand Ole Opry. Their music is described as classical, Americana, progressive folk, and jazz influenced. This should be the perfect way to celebrate the Christmas season. As a unique, free, Christmas entertainment offering, the City of Oxford is proud to present the Third Annual OPAC Christmas Movie Festival. Each movie will have 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. showings. Each 5:00 p.m. movie will have captions. Offerings include: • Classic Christmas Double Feature with A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) Monday, December 18 – 5:00 p.m. (captioned showing) and 7:00 p.m. • ELF Tuesday, December 19 – 5:00 p.m. (captioned showing) and 7:00 p.m. • Christmas Vacation (contains adult language and themes) Friday, December 22 – 5:00 p.m. (captioned showing) and 7:00 p.m. • The Grinch (starring Jim Carrey) Saturday, December 23 – 5:00 p.m. (captioned showing) and 7:00 p.m. • A Christmas Story Sunday, December 24 – 5:00 p.m. (captioned showing) and 7:00 p.m.

This may be our best season yet at OPAC! We hope that you will make us part of your November and December months and, especially, be with us throughout the Christmas season. - John Longshore, OPAC Executive Director

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ELF – The Broadway Musical Presented by the NobleBank & Trust Broadway Series with support from BR Williams

12 NOV

ELF THE BROADWAY MUSICAL, is the hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York 90

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remember the fun of Christmas. This modern day Christmas classic is sure to make everyone embrace their inner ELF. The New York Times says that ELF is “Splashy, Peppy, Sugar-Sprinkled Holiday Entertainment!” USA Today calls ELF, “Endearingly Goofy” Variety proclaims, “ELF is happy enough for families, savvy enough for kids and plenty smart for adults!”


Based on the beloved 2003 New Line Cinema hit, ELF features songs by Tony Award nominees Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer), with a book by Tony Award winners Thomas Meehan (Annie, The Producers, Hairspray) and Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone).

tickets: $35 - $45 - $59 2:00pm and 7:30pm 256-241-3322 oxfordpac.org

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The Shadows of the Sixties

Presented by Edward Jones of Oxford-Anniston

17 nov

A TRIBUTE TO MOTOWN’S SUPER GROUPS SHADOWS OF THE 60’s pays tribute to the tremendous legacy of The Four Tops, The Temptations, and The Supremes. In this tribute production show, The SHADOWS OF THE 60’s perform hits that span several decades. Great care is taken to reproduce the

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tickets: $19 - $25 - $29 | 256-241-3322 music note for note and in the original keys and arrangements. Now, triple the memories and excitement with this tribute to Motown’s super groups. Stunning choreography and costumes on stage with a grand finale featuring the music of Motown’s Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Martha Reeves, Junior Walker, and more!


Dinosaur Zoo Live! Presented by Greg & Cheryl Potts as part of the Potts Children’s Theatre Series

20 NOV

tickets: $12 for adults and $8 for kids

DINOSAUR ZOO LIVE guides your family on a breathtaking tour through pre-historic Australia. You’ll observe, meet and interact with an eye-popping collection of amazingly life-like dinosaurs and other creatures presented in a theatrical performance that will thrill and entertain kids while stimulating their imaginations in ways that will forever connect them to their world. Brought to life by a team of skilled performers and puppeteers and designed

with the help of professional paleontologists, DINOSAUR ZOO LIVE’s puppets are so extraordinarily realistic you may feel the urge to run and hide – but don’t! You won’t want to miss a minute of this fun, unique, entertaining and educational live show created by Earth Visual & Physical of Sydney, Australia. While it may indeed have been 65 million years in the making, we think you’ll agree, it’s well worth the wait. OXFORD ACCESS MAGAZINE |FALL 2017

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Dirty Dancing – The Broadway Musical Presented by the NobleBank & Trust Broadway Series with support from BR Williams

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DEC

tickets: $35 - $45 - $59 | 2:00pm and 7:30pm

DIRTY DANCING – The Classic Story On Stage is an unprecedented live experience, exploding with heart-pounding live music, passionate romance, and sensational dancing. Seen by millions across the globe, this worldwide smash hit features the hit songs “Hungry Eyes,” “Hey Baby,” “Do You Love Me?” and the heart-stopping, “I’ve Have The Time Of My Life.” London’s

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Sunday Express says, “This crowd-pleasing stage adaption hits the jackpot.” Don’t miss your chance to see this record-breaking and adventurous theatre sensation. You’ll have the time of your life! This event contains some adult language and themes.


LeAnn Rimes: Today is Christmas Tour 2017 Presented by Webb Concrete & Building Materials

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DEC LEANN RIMES will play more than a dozen cities during her 2017 tour including stops in Nashville, Denver, and Salt Lake City. “Hard to believe we are talking about Christmas already,” said LeAnn. “It is one of my favorite times of the year—there is something magical about it, and being able to share it with my fans makes it all the more special.”

tickets: $35 - $45 - $55 | 7:30pm LeAnn Rimes is one of the most successful entertainers with a career spanning more than two decades. With 44 million albums sold, two Grammy Awards, three Academy of Country Music Awards, and 12 Billboard Music Awards, she has made her mark in the world of music. Unstoppable from the age of 11, LeAnn was the youngest person ever to win a Grammy Award and was the first country artist to win a Grammy for Best New Artist. OXFORD ACCESS MAGAZINE |FALL 2017

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Christmas with the Annie Moses Band Presented by Regional Medical Series, F&M Bank, and CARES

21 DEC

CHRISTMAS WITH THE ANNIE MOSES BAND is a high-spirits holiday tour-de-force, featuring fiery string playing and soulful renditions of enduring favorites and fresh originals, infused with that unmistakable instrumental sparkle that makes the Annie Moses Band experience so unforgettable. From the spirited rendition of “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen” to the breathtaking beauty of “O Holy Night,” this evening of Christmas music is invigorating, reverential, and transporting. 96

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tickets: $15 - $20 - $25 | 7:00pm Christmas With the Annie Moses Band is a perennial holiday favorite and stands on the PBS charts as one of the most played specials of the season. It’s the perfect way to spend your holiday evening. So don’t miss out on this cup of musical cheer, and experience the Annie Moses Band in Oxford and have a Merry Christmas with the Annie Moses Band!


FREE ADMISSION

Join us this Christmas season for a wonderful, budget-friendly night at the movies!

Christmas Movie Festival Presented by The City of Oxford

256-241-3322 | oxfordpac.org The Oxford Performing Arts Center’s fourth annual CHRISTMAS MOVIE FESTIVAL is back and bigger than ever this December! We will be presenting five movies including a first-ever showing on Christmas Eve. Admission to all movies is free. Popcorn and sodas will be available for purchase at our concessionaire. A fully captioned showing of each film will be presented at 5:00 p.m. The 7:00 p.m. showing will not be captioned.

Classic Christmas Double Feature with A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS (1965) and RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER (1964) Monday, December 18 – 5:00 p.m. (captioned showing) and 7:00 p.m. ELF Tuesday, December 19 – 5:00 p.m. (captioned showing) and 7:00 p.m. CHRISTMAS VACATION (contains adult language and themes) Friday, December 22 – 5:00 p.m. (captioned showing) and 7:00 p.m. THE GRINCH (starring Jim Carrey) Saturday, December 23 – 5:00 p.m. (captioned showing) and 7:00 p.m. A CHRISTMAS STORY Sunday, December 24 – 5:00 p.m. (captioned showing) and 7:00 p.m.

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OXFORD CITY SCHOOLS

Growth Mindset BY DR. GOODWIN The 2017-2018 school year has gotten off to another great start! Oxford schools welcomed over 4,000 students to our classrooms on August 9 to officially begin the academic year. It was exciting to see children of all ages coming back to Coldwater, DeArmanville, Oxford, and C.E. Hanna Elementary schools, as well as Oxford Middle and Oxford High and immediately engaging in high-quality educational experiences. Those educational experiences, crafted by the expertise of the teachers in our district, were the result of work done during June and July when many of our K-12 staff, along with district administrators, put in tireless efforts to make our classrooms outstanding learning environments for our students. Working together, program specialists and coordinators alongside elementary and secondary teachers mapped out plans of study and alignment of critical standards necessary for academic success at every grade level. This planning, crucial to Oxford’s recent “record-setting success,” has become a new tradition associated with our brand of excellence. Another relatively new tradition in our system marked the official start of the adopted school calendar as every employee in the district was treated to a “Breakfast for Champions” by the Oxford City Schools Education Foundation. Held at the Oxford Performing Arts Center, the 4th annual breakfast has become synonymous with the start of every new academic year. Greeted by the OHS cheerleaders and “Jack,” our Yellow Jacket mascot, all employees were able to enjoy an excellent morning meal served by members of the Foundation. It was a great way to begin Institute 2017 and set the stage for the rest of the day. Our theme for Institute 2017 was “Having a Growth Mindset.” The Growth Mindset, simply put, states that every experience is an opportunity to learn, grow, and improve. Failure can become a positive motivator for growth. From our civic leaders, including Mayor Alton Craft and Mayor Alberta McCrory, who spoke and praised our district to the live music that greeted

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and closed our session, a prevailing positive feeling permeated the facility. I believe our district has embraced this concept for all our young people. I also had the privilege of sharing publicly recent accolades earned by Oxford City Schools. Included in my presentation was Oxford High School’s recognition by U.S. News & World Report as a Top 25 High School in Alabama. In what has become yet another tradition, I was able to share the annual Niche® rankings for our district in this large group setting. In the 2017 Rankings, the Oxford City School District ranked (out of 137 school districts): #4 in Alabama for Best Teachers #5 in Alabama for Best Places to Teach #10 in Alabama for Safest School Districts #10 in Alabama Overall for Academics, Safety, and Extra-curricular Activities We are truly blessed to live and work in a community that values the education of young people above all else. Our Board of Education, working closely with our city government, prioritizes the learning opportunities of our students by providing resources and support in every possible manner. I am looking forward to the 2017-18 school year and all of the possibilities that exist for our students in the Oxford City School System. “Go Big O!”


OXFORD CITY SCHOOLS

WRESTLING

Marzano Conference BY HOLLEY HARMON On September 19-20, Oxford City Schools sent a team of administrators and teacher leaders to Robert Marzano’s Coaching Classroom Instruction Workshop. The team was able to explore research on strategies for effective instructional coaching and investigate Marzano’s model for Instructional Rounds. Marzano’s approach emphasizes, “effective leaders help those they lead feel more capable by helping them become more capable.” According to research, instructional coaching done well can almost improve your school instantly and enhance leadership and communication skills in professional practice. The secondary team who traveled to Denver, Colorado included Khristie Goodwin, Curriculum and Instruction Coordinator; Dottye Armstrong, Instructional Partner; Heath Harmon, Principal, Oxford High School; Michael Maniscalco, Principal, Oxford Middle School; Erica Smith, Technology Coach, Oxford Middle School; Krista Mintz, Math and Innovation Teacher, Oxford High School; Lynne Hammond, Science and Innovation Teacher, Oxford High School; Holley Harmon, English and Innovation Teacher, Oxford High School; and Adam Clark, Social Studies and Innovation Teacher, Oxford High School.

BASKETBALL

The training allowed the team to study new research in effective instructional coaching and enhance their existing instructional model at Oxford Middle School and Oxford High School. According to Mr. Harmon, one of the biggest takeaways from the conference is having all staff members set an individual growth goal, which connects perfectly with our district’s emphasis on continuous improvement.

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BREAKFAST WITH SANTA

THE OXFORD CITY SCHOOLS EDUCATION FOUNDATION PRESENTS

9th Annual Breakfast with Santa Saturday, December 2, 2017 at Oxford High School Cafeteria

Tickets are $10 may be purchased online at ocsef.ticketbud.com/breakfastwithsanta OXFORD ACCESS MAGAZINE |FALL 2017

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DOUG WERT NAMED PGA JUNIOR LEAGUE REGIONAL MANAGER

Honours Golf, the premier golf management company in the Southeastern United States, is pleased to announce that Doug Wert, Director of Golf at Cider Ridge, has been named PGA Junior League Regional Manager for the Mid-Atlantic, TriState, and Western New York sections of the PGA of America. In his new position, Wert will assist his fellow golf professionals in the promotion and implementation of the PGA Junior League program for the Player Development Department of PGA of America. The PGA Junior League program is a junior initiative of PGA Reach, the charitable arm the PGA of America.

“I am extremely honored to be selected by the PGA of America to help introduce more kids to the great game of golf and assist my fellow golf professionals in the promotion and implementation of this innovative program,” said Wert. “I thoroughly enjoyed my tenure at Cider Ridge and working for Honours Golf and the City of Oxford. This new opportunity marries all the things that I’ve learned over the last 25 years with all the things I am passionate about – junior golf, working for my association, and assisting my fellow professionals.” At Honours Golf, Wert reported to fellow PGA Member and Honours Golf Regional Operations Manager,

Evan Godfrey, who added, “Doug’s industry experience, his passion for the game, and enthusiasm for junior golf makes him the perfect fit for the PGA Junior League. We will miss having Doug as our director of golf at Cider Ridge. We look forward to having him assist our fellow golf professionals in the Mid-Atlantic, Tri-State, and Western New York sections and we wish him the very best in his new role.” Doug’s industry experience, his passion for the game, and enthusiasm for junior golf makes him the perfect fit for the PGA Junior League.

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OXFORD ARTS COUNCIL

The History of the Oxford Arts Council BY JANE BATEY

Norma Martin had a vision for the City of Oxford. She felt a need for a group of interested citizens to develop arts activities for the community. The idea was presented to her husband, Earl Martin, then Mayor of Oxford, and to Don Hudson, Director of the Oxford Parks and Recreation Department. The Oxford Arts Council was then established as a branch of PARD on April 28, 1981, with the purpose to aid, encourage, advise, and correlate all the activities dedicated to the promotion of cultural arts in Oxford, and to integrate such activities into the life of the communities served by the Council. Bobbie Lett was elected as President, and Norma Martin as Treasurer. These first leaders of the Council provided the catalyst for the continuing work of the Council. But Norma’s dream also included a performance venue and what she called a “little theater.” The first event sponsored by the Oxford Arts Council (OAC) was the Freedom Festival on July 4, 1981. Events included a golf tournament, softball games, children’s parade, arts and crafts displays, field events, a water ballet, a concert by the 14th United States Army Band, and the traditional fireworks at 9:00 p.m. The Freedom Festival continues as an annual event. By 1982, the OAC had organized the Oxford Community Chorus, hosted its first concert series, and sponsored Mardi Gras Madness with a 5,000-meter run, a two-mile fun run, and ending with a masked ball with a dance and costume contest! In 1989, the OAC had the privilege of hosting the 100th Birthday Party for Oxford Lake which was an Alabama Reunion Event. Activities included a historical mini-

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museum, slide presentations, photo displays, a fashion show with clothing from the 1800’s to 1900’s, concerts, and a birthday party with a huge cake feeding 1,000 people. The OAC presented a bronze historical marker commemorating the event. In 1990, the OAC sponsored the construction of a Victorian Gazebo in the downtown Simmons Park with the dedication of a historical marker. Various concerts and other activities have graced the gazebo. A historical marker was placed at the Oxford City Cemetery as well. The OAC has always been involved in promoting the arts and artistic performances for students in the Oxford City Schools. Performances by the Birmingham Children’s Theater, Birmingham Civic Opera, Mobile Children’s Theater, and other artists have been provided. Shows and contests featuring students’ art have also been promoted. Other continuing activities include countless concerts at the Oxford Civic Center and various churches within the area, publication of a historical coloring book, the annual Christmas Decorating Contest, even hot-air balloon rides, along with many others. But Norma’s dream became a reality with the opening of the Oxford Performing Arts Center on Friday, May 17, 2013, and the performance of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and Instrumentalist Bobby Horton. The OAC currently operates as a sub-committee under the auspices of the Oxford Performing Arts Center and its Advisory Board of Directors. It is charged with the purpose of providing arts and cultural activities throughout the City of Oxford.


OXFORD ARTS COUNCIL

On July 31, 2014, the Martin-Lett Gallery of Art opened on the main floor of OPAC. Continuing displays of art are available there for Oxford’s viewing enjoyment. Norma Martin and Bobbie Lett, founding members of the OAC, are honored and remembered for their dedication to the promotion of the arts. Their portraits, painted by Sandy Sparks, an Alabama artist, and wife of Oxford native, Ralph Sparks, are placed in the Gallery.

Are you interested in becoming a leader in promoting the arts in Oxford? Call the OPAC office at 256-241-3322. Current OAC members are: Jane H. Batey, President and Charter Member Mike “Tex” Carter, Vice-President Jean Schrader, Secretary Marilyn Lipscomb Clark, Parliamentarian Debbie Aderholt Melissa Craven Myrna Degner Elaine Edmondson, Charter Member Theresa Haynes Lou Lindblom Renee Rice Greg Turner Cindy Lett Williams

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WRITTEN BY HUNTER GENTRY

OXFORD HISTORY

Photo courtesy of Shirly Mellon Dewberry

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BOILING SPRINGS ROAD BRIDGE PRATT THROUGH TRUSS BRIDGE OVER CHOCCOLOCCO CREEK ON BOILING SPRING ROAD Status: Closed to all traffic Construction: Built 1930. (The portal bracing with circles in them are more typical to around 1890 than anything post 1900.) Design: Through truss Length of largest span: 106.0 ft. Total length: 170.9 ft. Deck width: 12.1 ft. Vertical clearance above deck: 15.3 ft. The bridge was officially closed to traffic in the fall of 2005 when the new road, known as Leon Smith Parkway, was cut from Friendship Road to the Oxford Exchange. The bridge presently stands today along the perimeter of Choccolocco Park rusting away in the shadow of time. It has been deemed unsafe for even foot traffic and is blocked with cement barriers and fencing.

For nearly half of a century, a local legend was recalled that the bridge was haunted. It was stated that if you drove onto the bridge at night, looked over your shoulder, the fiery pits of hell appeared, thus creating the nickname “Hell’s Gate Bridge.” This legend seemed to be popularized after the death of a young couple in the 1950’s. The couple’s identities and exact date of the accident are unknown. However, the other half of the spooky legend was that if you stopped your car in the middle of the bridge at night, the spirit of one of the two young people that had died would enter your vehicle and leave behind a damp stain in the car seat.

If you have a story, place, or person from Oxford’s history you would like Hunter Gentry to feature, or if you have a question you would like researched, contact him at hgentry@mainstreetoxford.org OXFORD ACCESS MAGAZINE |FALL 2017

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OX F O R D A R T S C O U N C I L

2017 Christmas Decorating Contest The annual City of Oxford Christmas Decorating Contest has been sponsored for many years by the Oxford Arts Council. The contest begins on November 26 and ends on December 13. The Awards Presentation for the announcement of winners will be at the Oxford Performing Arts Center at the OPAC Christmas Movies on Monday, December 18. A reception for the winners will be on the second floor of OPAC at 6:00 p.m. prior to the movie presentation. Nominations will be accepted at OPAC at 100 Choccolocco Street in Oxford or by phone - 256-241-3322. The Categories are: Business Lighting Award Main Street Most Beautiful Most Christmas Spirit Most Creative Most Traditional Reason for the Season The Coordinator of this event is Lou Lindblom | 256-835-1966 | 256-453-4018

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City of Oxford Christmas Decorating Contest Sponsored by The Oxford Arts Council

2016 WINNERS

Business Oxford Police Department Best Lighting Larry and Liza Grizzard Main Street Enzor and Maniscalco, Attorneys Most Beautiful Andy and Karen Stinson Most Christmas Spirit Shannon and Stacy Strickland Most Creative Richard and Kaitlin Barber Most Traditional Denny and Judy Besser Reason For The Season Mitchell and Mary Ann Owens LIFETIME HONOR ACHIEVEMENT AWARD Robert and Shelly Elmore The Friendship Santa, The Avery Robertson Family The Scott Shropshire Family

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OXFORD Senior Citizen Events “City of Oxford mayors have always loved and supported senior citizens. We always try to do as many activities as we can that are either low cost or free of charge so that they can get out in the community and enjoy activities.” - Pam Harris OXFORD CIVIC CENTER by Oxford Lake

SENIOR CITIZEN CENTER Downtown Oxford

SENIOR AEROBICS Free of charge. Mon-Wed-Fri It is a low impact class for men and women and is led by our certified instructor, Lyn Brown.

MEALS & FELLOWSHIP Through a government agency, meals are provided at the center for senior citizens that sign up for the program. • Have to live in the city limits • Have to meet a certain income and age criteria

SENIOR CITIZEN DANCE Every month except July 7:00-10:00 p.m. / Friday evening Call the civic center for exact dates $5 Admission Includes a full meal and a live band SENIOR ADULT DAY twice a year. Celebrate Valentines Day and Fall. Completely free. Free lunch, admission, and entertainment by the Ryan Robertson Band. He sings a variety of songs to appeal to everyone! Registration starts at 8:00 a.m. Event starts at 9:15 a.m. Lunch served at 11:30 a.m.

MEALS DELIVERED • We have two home-bound routes for the nutrition plan that serves about 70-85 people • Contact Anita Collier 256-831-5900 ACTIVITIES • Game days • Gospel singing on Thursdays • Cards, dominoes, and puzzles

BYNUM COMMUNITY CENTER Great for people who live in Bynum, Eastaboga, and Coldwater SENIOR AEROBICS Free of charge. It is a low impact class for men and women and is led by our certified instructor, Lyn Brown.

Would you like to receive our newsletter? The newsletter goes out quarterly and includes all the upcoming dances, trips, and events. It also has information on how to become a volunteer. Call 256- 831-2660 or come by the Civic Center.

Oxford PARD Basketball for Youth

Historic Main Street Oxford Gives Back!

Registration is at the Oxford Civic Center from

CANNED FOOD DRIVE INITIATIVE taking place

October 17 - November 17. Players must be 6 and NOT turn 12 before September 1, 2017. $60 registration fee / $70 after Nov 17. Forms are available at the Oxford Civic Center

Historic Main Street Oxford Gives Back is a in November and December. A listing of drop-off locations for canned food, non-perishables, and age-appropriate toys is listed on our website at MAINSTREETOXFORD.ORG More information will be available on our Facebook page and website.

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City of Oxford WASTE SERVICES The City of Oxford contracts with Republic Services to provide weekly residential garbage service for standard household garbage. To request new service, contact the Oxford 311 or 256-241-4311. Your service through the City includes one cart. Additional carts are available but not offered through the City. Residents needing an additional cart (up to 2 carts) must set up an individual account in their name with Republic Services (205-923-1650). Additional carts will be charged to the resident in the amount of $9.08 each, per month.

To acknowledge our nation’s holidays and allow our employees time with their families, your service may be impacted on the following days: THANKSGIVING DAY - November 23, 2017 Residential, Business (2-8 yd container) and Industrial - Service will run one day late. CHRISTMAS DAY - December 25, 2017 Residential, Business (2-8 yd container) and Industrial - Service will run one day late.

Carts are to be placed within three feet of the curb or street edge with the lid opening toward the middle of the street.

NEW YEAR'S DAY - January 01, 2018 Residential, Business (2-8 yd container) and Industrial - Service will run one day late.

Carts should always be at least three feet from any fixed object such as a mailbox, fire hydrant, cable box, electrical box, phone box, telephone pole or parked cars.

MEMORIAL DAY - May 28, 2018 Residential, Business (2-8 yd container) and Industrial - Service will run one day late.

Please bag all garbage items before placing in cart to avoid any spillage or from blowing out of the truck.

INDEPENDENCE DAY - July 04, 2018 Residential, Business (2-8 yd container) and Industrial - Service will run one day late.

Place carts out the night before service day to avoid a miss due to timing.

For more information on Republic Services and offerings, see our web site www.republicservices.com

Any Oxford resident can call 311 to inquire about waste services, schedule service, or report an issue. OXFORD ACCESS MAGAZINE |FALL 2017

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Oxford Access Fall 2017  

There’s no place like Oxford, AL—and no one brings the city to life like Oxford ACCESS magazine. We showcase our city, the people, places, a...

Oxford Access Fall 2017  

There’s no place like Oxford, AL—and no one brings the city to life like Oxford ACCESS magazine. We showcase our city, the people, places, a...