By: Rosemary Dewar
Former Ambassador John Bolton has finally joined the Trump administration as the National Security Advisor. No one could ask for a more informed and objectively successful expert. Regardless of John Bolton’s decriers, he will become a proficient scalpel filleting the bureaucracy that has haunted our intelligence community for the last two administrations. The Left has openly expressed their displeasure with John Bolton’s appointment. There could be no better indicator of how beneficial Bolton’s leadership will be than to see those who have abused the system shudder.

John Bolton’s experience includes being an attorney general in different departments during the Reagan administration, as well as his appointment as United Nations Ambassador during George W. Bush’s administration. Throughout his career he lectured and advised on the perilous relationship that was manifesting between Iran, Syria, Russia, and North Korea. Before the Middle East was eviscerated by the vacuum the Obama administration created, John Bolton was unapologetically inquiring as to why North Korean diplomats were visiting Assad. Bolton’s adept knowledge will be a needed change for the intelligence community.

Due to General McMaster’s consistently mismatched priorities with President Trump’s agenda, including the United States’ relationship with Israel, John Bolton’s appointment becomes more understandable. President Trump had many documented meetings with John Bolton before and after the inauguration. When President Trump was building his cabinet, everyone was waiting to see Bolton take the seat as Secretary of State. Because of the structure managed by the Chief of Staff at the time, it didn’t seem like a possibility. Now that many transitions have taken place, and Mike Pompeo is now Secretary of State, John Bolton’s position with national security is a well-deserved advancement for both President Trump’s agenda and Mr. Bolton.

When it comes to John Bolton’s detractors, there are two perceptions that are quite unfounded. On the Left, we have those like former President Jimmy Carter who has stated that President Trump’s decision “may be one of the worst mistakes that President Trump has made since he’s been in office.” What this could only mean for conservatives is that John Bolton’s appointment is one of the most exceptional executions of President Trump’s administration. Others in the Pentagon have expressed that they are “bracing themselves” for Bolton’s arrival. The American public can look forward with assurance that John Bolton’s leadership will serve them better than the bureaucracy. Secondly, those on the right who under the misconception that John Bolton is a rabid nation-builder do not know him well enough. To label Bolton as a paleo-con or neo-con would be to not truly know the meanings of those definitions. Paleo-cons are nation-building interventionists, and neo-cons are specifically democrats who have become conservatives. Bolton fits neither category. Regardless of Bolton being in favor of being involved in other conflicts over the past two decades, his strategy differed greatly from others who advised getting involved in civil conflicts.

President Trump’s agenda to improve our foreign affairs policy now has a higher probability of success with John Bolton’s partnership in coordination with Mike Pompeo’s placement. Supporters’ reservations of the many transitions need to take into account that most of the newer appointments are improvements in comparison to those seated before. The American public can look forward to an intelligence community that will be better aligned with the President’s priorities to adequately defend the county he is relied upon to protect.
By: Rosemary Dewar

Everyone is gathered around the table at Granny’s house on Sunday afternoon. You all sit, laughing, enjoying each other’s conversation and waiting in anticipation of warm, comforting, delicious Chicken Pot Pie. She’s rolled out the crust, she’s boiled the chicken and cut it just so, she’s chopped and cooked all the vegetables, and made an unbelievable gravy. You hear the oven open and the smell of pot pie heaven fills the entire house. You try to play it cool, but you are sitting on go to make sure you get the perfect piece. You know the one…the perfect ratio of filling to crispy crust.

Homemade chicken pot pie is delicious, we all know that it is delicious. However, not many of us have the time to make chicken pot pie like Granny. We all want comfort food, but not many of us have time to make everything from scratch. You can still make comfort food with today’s busy schedule, you just have to take short cuts.

This comfort-food short cut is a simple four ingredient dish. Who can’t make a recipe with only four ingredients! So, one evening after a long day of work and school, make these fun and oh so yummy chicken pot pie cupcakes. The smell from them baking will take you right back to Granny’s table on Sunday afternoon, without all the fuss.

Chicken Pot Pie Cupcakes

1 (10 oz) packed frozen mixed vegetables, cooked
1 cup diced cooked chicken
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can (16.3 oz) refrigerated biscuits (the one with the flaky layers)

Heat oven to 375F degrees. In a medium bowl, combine vegetables, chicken, and soup; mix well.

Press each biscuit into 5 1/2-inch rounds. Place 1 round in each of 8 greased regular-size muffin cups. Firmly press in bottom and up side, forming 3/4-inch rim. Spoon a generous 1/3 cup chicken mixture into each. Pull edges of dough over filling toward center; pleat and pinch dough gently to hold in place.

Bake at 375F degrees for 20-30 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from pan.
By: Anna Hamilton

By: Lynne Hart
Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful is proud to be hosting our 10th annual Earth Day & Outdoor EXPO on April 28. It will be held at Friendship Church in Athens from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with free admission.

Earth Day is a day worth celebrating. Here is a bit of history.

Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin was witness to the devastating effects of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, and was inspired to organize a “teach-in” to educate the public about the environment. The first official Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970.

According to “History of Earth Day” by the Earth Day Network, “groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.”

Earth Day continues to be an event to celebrate and reflect and raise public awareness about pollution and how we can become part of the solution. KALB staff and members of its boards hope to keep this deep concern alive by bringing attention to the issues right here at home. We want to make sure our citizens are aware of the dangers and negative effects litter has on our ecosystem and our economy, how recycling will benefit future generations, and why adding beauty to our communities can improve our health.


Since 2009, KALB has been honoring Earth Day with a celebration for all to enjoy. We have worked hard to keep the event free of charge so everyone can come to see, learn, play, and enjoy.

Is this event just for kids? Absolutely NOT! While the children love the event, we have had many adults comment on how much they have learned and how much they look forward to future celebrations.

Come and learn about the importance of pollinators or why rain barrels are helpful and how you can build or purchase one. Get answers to gardening questions from local Master Gardeners, find the perfect piece of jewelry or your favorite essential oils. Receive a free plant from the Athens-Limestone Beautification Board (while they last), and learn what happens to your plastics after being processed at the Recycling Center. There is so much more to this event than you can imagine!

Free gifts will be given to guests at the admission gate, compliments of WOW! Internet+tv+phone, while supplies last! KALB is proud to have WOW! as our Presenting Earth Warrior Sponsor this year! Thanks to WOW!, an Earth Day t-shirt design contest was offered to students in 5th through 12th grade. The winning design will be featured on this year’s t-shirt for sale at the event. KALB has also added inflatables and will have both birds of prey and reptile programs, thanks to their generous sponsorship.

There will be plenty of live animals, including raptors from Wings to Soar, reptiles from Camp McDowell, and a variety of animals to pet and feed from the Tennessee Valley Zoo. The kids will stay busy with the addition of inflatables, vehicles to explore from the Limestone County Sheriff and Athens Police Departments, as well as crafts, games, and hands-on activities.

There will be complimentary hot dogs and Pepsi, treats, and door prizes thanks to our generous sponsors, which also include Custom Polymers, PET, Friendship Church, Bank Independent, Redstone Federal Credit Union, Clem Tire, Pepsi, News Courier, Athens Now, and TVA.

Each guest will receive a free door prize ticket upon admission. Exhibitors will have their door prize at their tables, so guests can enter to win the item they choose. If you’d like to win more than one, additional door prize tickets will be available for purchase.

Although admission is free, there will be donation jugs at the gates. The jugs will be designated for Alabama (Roll Tide!), Auburn (War Eagle!), and Any Other Team fans. At 2:30 p.m. we will announce which team’s fans have been most generous to KALB’s mission to empower the citizens of Athens and Limestone County to take greater responsibility for enhancing their community environment.
Come ready to have some fun!
By: Lynne Hart – Executive Coordinator – Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful

By: Sandra Thompson
Memorial Day, formerly known as “Decoration Day” was started to honor Union soldiers who had died during the American Civil War. After World War I, it was extended to include all men and women who died in any war or military action.

Each year the Alabama Veterans Museum holds a ceremony to remember our fallen brothers and sisters in the year since the last Memorial Day. This year, in addition to our guest speaker and our laying of the wreaths ceremony, we would like to honor each veteran individually with a picture and information about their military service. The following is a list of heroes who have passed since last Memorial Day. While we do have information on some of the individuals, we are seeking military information such as branch of service, picture of individual in uniform, dates of service, campaign information, and any medals/awards. We are also updating our archive database, so any information will be appreciated. Also, if there is someone that you know of who has passed and they are not on this list please let me know.

Anthony Lawrence Allen
Dr. Larry Clinton Atha
Charles Stevenson Ball
Felix Edward Bates
Joel Andrew Beasley
Jack Blalock
William Edward Blevins
Jack Bowers
Bernard Lynn Bridges
Walter David Brooks Jr.
Charles Randolph Chittam
Christopher Wayne Cockrell
Robert Collier
Hubert Lee Crow Jr.
Earl W. Davis
Kenneth William Davis Jr.
Richard “Dick” DiLulo
Michael Anthony Dollar
Odie Duggar
George William Fetter
Jim “Bo” Fletcher
Larry Leo George
Garland Tony Gibson
Charles Edward Gilliam
James D. Girdley
Dr. Frank McDonald Graham
Carl Edward Hall
Billy Neal Hammond
Jack Edward Harris
Harold B. Holt
Wayne Hovis
James Bradley Johnson
Roger Nolan Kyer
Vallie F. LePre
Jimmy Harold Lewis
Mark Edward Litzenberg
Roy Wayne Long
Thomas Wilson Lovell
Jack Hansen Manry
Robert Joseph Mans
Larry Michael McCurry
William Ronald Meadows
William Grady Mitchell
Gerald Lee Morris
William Nance
David Lee Norton
Elbert Leroy Owen
James Garland “Nick” Patterson
Cecil Reese
George Edward Richardson
Phillip Dale Rooker
Harold Lawson Ryan
Edward L. Sandlin
James Fennel Sandlin Jr.
Gerard Joseph Sansone
James Wesley Sasser
Ned Ray Sloan
Leonard Smith
David Earl Snoddy
James L. Stewart
Robert Glen Strong
James (J.D.) Swanner
Newton “Bo” Tillen
Randall Dean Tribble
Lawrence McDaniel White
Clifford Wilford
James Edward Wilson
Robert Stewart Wilson
Clifton Edward Zirbel

Information can be sent by mail to The Alabama Veterans Museum, PO Box 1500, Athens, AL 35612 or emailed to or brought to the museum at 100 W. Pryor St. in Athens. Our program will be held on Memorial Day, Monday, May 28, at 11:00 a.m. at the Limestone County Event Center. Please join us in honoring our fallen heroes. Questions may be directed to Sandy Thompson at 256-771-7578.
By: Sandra Thompson, Director, Alabama Veterans’ Museum

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
It was the day after a glorious Resurrection celebration weekend, and all of creation was tellin’ it: Spring is bustin’ out all over! There had been inspiring sermons, family gatherings, and the reminder once again that no matter how hard winter tries to hang on, new life will insist on being as triumphant as it is beautiful, perfectly manifested in strength and tender creativity.

There were so many things to celebrate, so Mayor Ronnie got right to it. First off, he called Ben Wiley, Director of the City of Athens Parks and Recreation Department, to finalize plans and get the numbers for Opening Day. “We have around 1300 kids who are going to be on the teams this year,” said Ben. He continued, “There are 387 kids playing softball, 485 playing baseball, and here’s a surprise—555 kids are playing soccer.” After they got off the phone, I asked, “More kids playing soccer than ball? Wow!” The kids will get started with playing on Saturday, April 7, but on Friday night, the 6th at 6 p.m., the Opening Day ceremonies will take place. The mayor will be throwing out the first pitch on the new fields, and there will be face painting as well as other activities for the kids.

That night was also going to be the kickoff for Autism Awareness in our area, and was also World Autism Awareness Day. The Limestone County Courthouse was going to be lit up in blue, and both the City and the County were issuing proclamations. In addition, there are several walks/runs for Autism Awareness in North Alabama during the month of April.

The Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast and fundraiser for the Boy Scouts of America was on Wednesday, April 4, and please see Holly Hollman’s article for more information on the successful event. Limestone County Archivist Rebecca Davis took the breakfast attendees through a brief history of our area in connection with the 200th anniversary celebration of both our city as well as our county.
Mayor Ronnie and I moved on to the fact that growth in our area is just “bustin’ out.” There is going to be an Italian restaurant in the location where LuVici’s is now. There is a possibility that another restaurant will be opening in the former location of Carole Foret’s art studio and gallery. There is also movement toward putting in a major truck stop at I-65 and the Tanner Road. “It’s happening,” said the mayor. “The growth we have talked about is really starting to take off,” he added.

We shook our heads over the fact that it is only six weeks until graduation, and how fast the year has gone. The Mayor’s Youth Commission is finishing up its 5th year, which was just as hard to believe.

Then it was time to pray, which we did, and it was time for Ronnie to roll, which he did, but not before he topped off his coffee in preparation for hitting the road for a day full of meetings.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

By: Holly Hollman
Limestone County Archivist Rebekah Davis led a bicentennial hiking trip that did not require bug spray, boots, or a backpack.

On Wednesday, April 4, Davis was the guest speaker at the annual Athens-Limestone Community Breakfast. She took spectators on a trek called “Hiking Through History,” as a tribute to Athens, Limestone County, and the town of Mooresville turning 200 this year.

The City of Athens and Limestone County hosted the breakfast as a fundraiser for the Arrowhead District of the Boy Scouts. The Scouts presented Heart of an Eagle Awards to Limestone County, Mooresville, and Athens in honor of each entity’s bicentennial, as well as an award to the Limestone County Archives for the department’s work in preserving local history.

Members of the Athens High School Choir ‘Things in Common’ and the Ardmore High School Jazz Band performed during the breakfast portion of the program.

The event was held at the Limestone County Event Center, with a buffet breakfast served by Endless Catering from 7 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. The program started at 7:30 a.m.

Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks said that Scouts have contributed to the community through numerous endeavors, including projects that preserve local history.

“At Scout Music House alone, four Scouts have worked on Eagle Scout projects as part of the renovation work on that WPA-era building,” Marks said.

The City of Athens is leasing what was the Scout House to Athens Arts League, which is renovating it into a music venue known at Scout Music House. Boy Scouts have unveiled the original stone fireplace, added a handicap ramp and entrance, and removed paneling to allow for insulation.

Marks said such opportunities give youth the chance to learn leadership skills, working together to accomplish a goal, and how to invest in their community.

Limestone County Commission Chairman Mark Yarbrough said those attributes create future leaders.

“I am honored to co-host this great event each year with the City of Athens,” Yarbrough said. “The life skills that are taught through Scouting are crucial for the development of our young leaders today.”
By: Holly Hollman

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
If there is one thing that the Middle East does for us, it keeps us off-balance, and I mean that in a good way, as in keeping us sharp. And, if there is one thing that can change on a dime in the Middle East, it is alliances. When I was in Iraq, I was able to travel briefly to Jordan and spend some time with a family whose father was a consultant for King Abdullah. Prior to my going, I studied, as best as one can on the internet, the king and his family, and was fascinated at the time to discover that at least one of Abdullah’s children had done the unthinkable, which was to write an essay about the prospect of better relations between Israel and Jordan.

Additionally, while I was in Iraq I worked with a man who had flown with Abdullah back in their Jordanian Air Force days, and I used to go to church with a man here in Athens who had the same experience when he was still in. From time to time I find myself praying for Abdullah, as I sense he has an important role to play on the eschatological stage, and he functions at all times in a veritable mine field.

Abdullah got our attention back in 2015 when he stated he’d be willing to fly sorties against ISIS; this after a Jordanian F-16 pilot was burned alive in a cage by ISIS in Syria, and the execution video went viral. Let’s just say the king was not pleased, and was allegedly willing to both quote as well as become the Jordanian version of Clint Eastwood in “The Unforgiven,” where Eastwood’s character was ready to “burn his d- – n house down!” The “his” was in reference to ISIS, wherever Abdullah found them being their dastardly selves.

Interestingly, what has happened since 2006 between Israel and Jordan appears to be the realization of Abdullah’s daughter’s dream, and while they don’t advertise it, both nations have been involved with the U.S. in what are called Red Flag training exercises held in, wait for it… Alaska. What is significant about this shows up in the sheer logistics of getting to Seward’s Folly, as it took Israeli Air Force tankers to re-fuel both IAF and JAF fighter planes on their way from the Great Sandbox to the Great Ice Box.

This is a big deal, as the level of trust as well as the technological compatibility and familiarity to re-fuel over the sea demonstrates that Jordan and Israel have entered into something far more intimate than “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” And, well they should, as they now have common enemies in the form of Syria and Iran. Israel hosts a similar war games training event which is called Blue Flag, and while it is strongly intimated that Jordan has shown up there, if only for observational purposes, both Israel and Jordan have declined to comment as to whether that’s true.

We do know this, however. Israel has demonstrated to both Syria and Iran that its USA red-white-and-blue-made F-35s have been able to penetrate both Iranian and Syrian airspace completely undetected and make it back to “tell the tale” in a whisper. There is great speculation as to what Israel’s plans are, but air defense magazines theorize that such moves are necessary the closer Iran gets to going nuke, and Israel and very possibly Jordan have to act defensively against Iran, Syria, or both. Iran’s covert ops in Jordan have been exposed and denounced. Iran’s threats against Israel would fill an old NYC phone book. The threat against Israel’s very existence, whether it is from ISIS or Iran, has forged a fascinating alliance, and my spidey-sense tells me that this is much more than the aforementioned “enemy-enemy-friend” scenario. Stay tuned, my friends, as there is a new sheriff in town, and his name is John Bolton, our new National Security Advisor. He was a Churchillian crier against the Iran deal, and he just might make it easier for Israel and Jordan to be friends publically. That would surely do for the red, white and blue.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
There are certain days you just don’t forget. In my life, as far as difficult national days are concerned, they have been the days JFK, RFK, and MLK were assassinated. And, of course, the “biggy” was 9/11, but the difference was that those assassinated were not public figures. They were just Americans. As we go to print, there is the predictable retrospective media treatment of that horrible day when MLK was cut down at a Memphis motel.

And while there are those who feel that so much of what he stood for has been forgotten, or that those who claim to stand for the things for which he was shot are not cut from the same cloth as was he, precious few know what he really believed. The purpose of this Point is two-fold: to teach you some things that you may not know about the man, and to remind you that I still believe in the dream, 50 years later, and why you should, too.

Fact number one: Martin Luther King Jr. was a strong proponent of the 2nd Amendment. When the lives of his wife and child were threatened as a result of the home where they were staying being fire-bombed, MLK applied for a gun permit in order to exercise his constitutional right to self-defense. He was denied, but he did the next best thing for them. He made sure that there were those who did have weapons and permits and were ever at the ready. Does this contradict his belief in non-violence? No, that would be apples and oranges, in my opinion. Non-violent protest is an expression of the 1st Amendment, self-defense is an expression of the 2nd Amendment. Both are constitutional, and both are biblical.

Fact number two: Martin Luther King Jr. was pro-life. While the great irony is that he was awarded the Planned Parenthood Margaret Sanger Lifetime Achievement Award in 1966, the racist, holocaustic agenda of Ms. Sanger, as it later came to be expressed through Planned Parenthood, had not been made manifest yet. And I truly believe he was ignorant of it all. He thought he had bought into the concept of what is typically referred to as natural family planning. What he did believe, and after literally millions of African Americans have been aborted, I think he would still believe, and is crystalized by the following: “The Negro cannot win if he is willing to sacrifice the futures of his children for immediate personal comfort and safety. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Did you realize that this was the context of the iconic “injustice anywhere” statement? I sure didn’t. King clearly felt that abortion-on-demand was tantamount to injustice, and I don’t think he would have been okay with the fact that Planned Parenthood centers are purposely placed in traditionally African-American neighborhoods in order to make it easier for black families to destroy themselves.

Fact number three: King did most of his work in the pulpit, and that is why I believe the dream can make a comeback if it is reconnected to its roots. It was the pulpit that was, and still can be, a place where true change that is biblically-based is birthed, sustained, and revived when it goes awry. “The church,” King wrote in Strength to Love, “must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.” If King had seen what has become of his dream today, I think he would be sad and mad. But this I know, if he were alive, he wouldn’t give up on it, and neither should we. We need to get our minds right, and our hearts right, get the dream right, and get back after it for another 50 years.

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Glenda Legg, the new owner of Garnet’s On The Square on Jefferson Street in Athens is someone who loves to “match the piece to the person.” For people who are creative re-purposers, watching someone’s face light up with delight when they have “found it” is worth all it takes to run a store such as Garnet’s. The shop, which also has several vendors in their custom-decorated stalls, was first started by Garnet King and her husband Mike back in March of 2014. They had a good run, and the time came, however, when they just really wanted to retire, spend time with grandkids. Glenda had been one of their original vendors, and essentially Garnet and Glenda traded places. Glenda is quick to point out that she is grateful to Garnet for making the transition to shop owner so smooth.

Glenda has always been interested in decorating, and used to paint custom-designed wall murals when she was a stay-at-home mom. She has a real eye for “finds” and possesses a whimsical approach to re-purposing all kinds of items for a myriad of uses. I have found over the years that certain Athens Now customer’s shops have been a welcome haven while I have out been doing deliveries, and Garnet’s has always been that – first, with Garnet herself, and now with Glenda. “We want this to be a fun place to come and shop, as well as visit,” she said. Glenda added that she gets great pleasure seeing mothers and daughters come in to shop together, or families come in, find the perfect piece, and plan their next step toward finishing their project together.

When I talk about “matching the piece to the person,” what I mean is that over and over in the realm of home décor, decorating, antiques and re-purposing, those with a true passion for their craft will go to seemingly unreasonable ends to find just what their clients are looking for. They also love educating their clients about how life (and things) were in the “good old days.” On two occasions I have had the joy of being a participant in these impromptu “educational sessions” that are held at Garnet’s. One time was when I came into the store to deliver the paper, and saw in the window an old wire-mesh crib that had a locking lid on it. I squealed out my usual “No way!” as is my custom when something fills me with surprised joy. Then, Glenda and I giggled about what it was like to sleep in one of those things, and I told how my experience had been limited to occasionally taking naps as a three-year-old in one that belonged to the neighbor across the street. The young woman who was in the store listening to us carry on was aghast at the thought of such a piece of furniture having ever been near a child, and I can’t say that I blame her. Then, there was the time a vendor learned about TVs of old, the ones that had about 3 channels, had a horizontal and vertical button to play with when the picture went sideways or was overtaken by “snow,” and had antennas, perhaps adorned with a bit of foil to increase their power. And, of course, no “session” would be complete without a detailed discussion about what it was like to travel cross-country and take a nap up under the back windshield of one’s parent’s car, obviously before the days of car seats and seat belts.

As fun as the trips down memory lane are, what is far more important is how hard Glenda and her vendors work to keep their stalls stocked, make Garnet’s a wonderful place to shop, brainstorm, get help with a project, or have their name on the list in case someone in the store comes across what they are looking for.

There are old tools and antique signs, tractor seats turned into bar stools, lovely pieces of traditional furniture, lamps, an antique wagon, paintings, wall words, custom T-shirts, heat vinyl transfers, embroidery and monogramming, fun lighting, antique furniture, chalk paint, and milk paint. The chalk paint is made by General Finishes, and Garnet’s is one of the few shops in our area who carries it.

Glenda loves to help people realize their decorating dreams. If people are not do-it-yourselfers, for a fee she will paint and distress furniture for her clients. If people are do-it-yourselfers, Glenda will get right in there and consult with them as they plan their project. No matter which you are, come to Garnet’s and watch Glenda carry out her credo, which is, “honor the past, and give something a new life.”
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
On two separate occasions, Gotcha Covered, located near Jimmy Gill Park at 389 W Sanderfer Rd. in Athens, has made me into a returning raving fan customer. The first time was several years ago when I had a dozen Athens Now T-shirts made for our crew. Now due to the fact that newspaper ink comes off on everything, and because we wanted to look as professional as possible in the middle of being “inky and stinky,” (which just goes with the territory when you are delivering 4,000 newspapers) we decided to go with black as the color of the shirt. We also knew that we needed to be easily identified as “Athens Now-ers” when we came striding into a business to drop off bundles. So, Gotcha Covered used a large version of the font that is the header for the paper, put the letters in white, put the website on the back of the shirt, et voilà, we were in business! We had worn the shirts out, and I had happily come back for more.

Recent,ly I spoke with Michelle Hartsfield, the office manager, and Rachel Lauderdale, the office assistant, screen printer assistant, and sales manager for Gotcha Covered while they were between customers coming to place or pick up orders, and in my case, getting a “goober” taken care of completely to my satisfaction. More on the “goober” in a second, but first, a view into the world of custom-printed T-shirts and what sets Gotcha Covered apart.

Michelle, Rachel, and screen printer Dakota Ball were sent by the new owner out to Vancouver, WA, for an intensive weekend workshop at Ryonet, Inc, the premier trainer and supplier of all things screen print. There they learned about inks, temperatures, graphics, screens, fabrics, what works with what, and how to fix goobers. It was lecture as well as lab, and as part of their training and certification, over the course of the weekend they made about 20 T-shirts as well as other “screenables,” which were scrutinized by their trainers. All three are certified, and all three are able to be a part of the production process as needed; however, Dakota is the one who produces the lion’s share of the shirts. Ryonet also remains available to their graduates to advise and troubleshoot when problems arise. “They want us to succeed,” Rachel told me.

In my case, the capital “A” on one of my new shirts had a bubble in it. It wasn’t the end of the world; I just knew that over the course of time that “A” would be the first to have its ink break up, and I was hoping there was something that could be done before that became a problem. I showed it to Rachel, and with a confident smile she went over to the heat press, inserted some pressing fabric between the plates, pressed the shirt for just the prescribed time, and when she was finished, the goober was gone. It was as smooth as silk. “We really try to get the ink in the shirt, not just on it,” she said and went on to tell me this was one of the things they learned at their Ryonet training.

So, how was it that these three got involved in “screening” the folks of North Alabama? Michelle had worked for years at Champion Chevrolet, loved it, and eventually it became a challenge to her health to be on her feet all day long. Rachel says the job came to her. She was approached about working for Gotcha at a baseball game. Dakota is kin to Michelle, and together they have built a great team. Michelle does all the art and graphics through CAD (Computer Aided Design) and makes it printable. Rachel wears several hats between helping Michelle in the office, Dakota in the “screen room” and doing outside sales. Dakota is the one who produces the shirts, and as stated before, they are all cross-trained and can assist each other when needed. It is obvious that they enjoy each other’s company, which is a plus in any small business.

I asked them, as I always do, why, when I have choices in this area, should I come to you? Here are their collective answers: “We offer 5 color process, which is unusual, and is not often available at a reasonable price. We are local and are very involved in our community. We treat customers like they are family, and we take every order personally, like it’s our own shirt that is being made. We are in tune with what our customer wants, and we thrive on customer service. The prices and the quality can’t be beat, and we want to be everybody’s screen printer.” I say, “Amen” to all of it, and strongly suggest that you get on down to Gotcha Covered to find out what I am talking about.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner