By: Lynne Hart
There are many things to love about Athens and Limestone County. Some of my favorite things include the friendliness of the people I meet, the increased awareness and concern people have about our local environment, and the efforts to keep Athens the lovely bedroom community it has always been.

There are some things, though, that concern me. I cringe when land is purchased and prepared for building new developments and every single tree is removed and none are replaced. The neighborhood I live in is one example of that. There is more concrete than there is green space. It was necessary for me to move to such a neighborhood when my husband was still with me and needed a safe, handicap-accessible home.

If it were up to me, I would have trees lining our streets, which would be no problem because we have underground utilities. Because of all the concrete, there is nowhere to plant them even if the development agreed to it.

Benefits of Green Spaces
Close your eyes and picture your favorite park or other green space. Now imagine that place with no grass, no trees, no flowers, and no green. The tranquility of the place you imagined most likely vanished along with everything green. It has been proven that green spaces provide stress reduction, lower crime rates, improved mental health, and increased self-esteem. It also increases community appeal, drawing people to come to shop, visit restaurants, and participate in community activities.

Human beings are not designed to live in sterile, concrete environments. I personally feel a noticeable difference in my mood when I leave my nearly treeless, minimally green neighborhood and enter an area with trees, birds, flowers, and other signs of nature.

Submit Nominations
Our Athens-Limestone Beautification Board is all about the beauty of green space. This board enjoys rewarding those responsible for the most beautiful landscaping of businesses, industries, churches, and public buildings located within Athens and Limestone County.

This is where we ask for help. We count on Athens-Limestone residents to help us find the best landscaped properties and nominate these businesses, industries, churches, and public buildings for consideration to receive a Beautification Award sign, which they will display for one year.

Nominations will be accepted through May 15, 2018. Judging will take place in June by Master Gardeners who live outside of Limestone County.

Nominated properties do not have to be elaborate. The board is looking for landscaping that displays the following characteristics:

  • Suitability of landscaping to the site, interesting design, and use of color and texture in plant selection
  • All constructed walls, walks, etc. in good condition with materials used being suitable in color and size (if present)
  • A variety of healthy, well cared for plant materials exhibiting color, texture, and interest
  • Active maintenance evidenced by properly trimmed trees and shrubs; properly mowed, healthy grass; proper trimming and edging; no evidence of weeds or debris; and neat and perfected appearance.
  • No visible litter, with bulk trash containers concealed (if present)

Properties may be nominated online by visiting www.KALBCares.com. Click the Beautification icon and scroll to Beautification Awards. You can also find the form by going directly to www.KALBCares.com/beautification-award-nomination-form-business-and-industry.
Nomination forms will also be available at the KALB office. Please provide the address of the property and, if possible, a contact at the business, church, or public building being nominated.

We’re in this together, and together we can make beautiful things happen.

Please call the KALB office if you have any questions about this or any of our other programs or projects.
By: Lynne Hart

By: Tim Lambert
Limestone County athletes wrapped up their winter seasons recently. Some even made it to state competition with mixed results. We’ve got highlights from the closing weeks of each of our local schools:

Ardmore
The JV Tigers won the Limestone County tournament with a victory over East Limestone. The Ardmore girls were put out of the area tournament with a loss to Mae Jemison.

Athens Bible School
The Trojans topped St. Bernard on the basketball court. They also dominated Paint Rock and a last-second shot put them over Heritage Christian. The ABS girls had their season ended by Paint Rock in the area tournament.

Athens
The Golden Eagles’ basketball team downed Hartselle and came out on top with a buzzer-beater against Cullman, while the girls also got a win. Athens varsity teams also swept Tanner. An overtime loss to Muscle Shoals in the area tournament ended the boys’ year. The girls were eliminated by McAdory in the sub-regionals. Deacon Cowart and Thomas Carter each finished second in their weight classes at the 6A state wrestling tournament. Trent Young and Ryan Tibaldo placed third.

Clements
On the basketball court, the Colts beat Danville, the girls turned back Brooks in the regular season. The Lady Colts sent Elkmont packing in the area tournament’s first round and, following a loss to West Morgan, moved on to the sub-regional tournament where they fell to Carbon Hill.

East Limestone
The varsity Lady Indians edged Tanner 47-44 in overtime to claim the Limestone County basketball title. The middle school boys also beat Tanner in their championship game. The Lady Indians posted a 42-31 win over Brooks. Varsity teams also swept Elkmont in regular season action. The East girls took Brooks out of the area tournament and won the area title with a victory over Lawrence County. Pleasant Grove upended the Lady Indians in sub-regional play. At the state 1A-5A wrestling tournament, Sam Allred was third in his weight class.

Elkmont
The Elkmont boys defeated Carbon Hill in the sub-regional basketball tournament, but fell short against Lauderdale in the regional semi-finals. Chase Prater was third in the 1A-3A 1600 meters at the state indoor track meet.

James Clemens
The Lady Jets downed Columbia and both teams slipped by Grissom in regular season games. The James Clemens boys topped Buckhorn in the area tournament first round, and then lost to Sparkman in the finals. A loss to Hoover in the regional tournament ended the Jets’ season. At the state indoor track meet, Vada Samuels won the 400 meter dash, Nolan Smith was second in the 400, the Lady Jets 4×200 meter relay team finished second, Shataeya Ligon placed third in the triple jump and 60 meter hurdles, and the 4×400 team came in third.

Lindsay Lane
The Lions held off Addison in the regular basketball season. In the area tournament, they eliminated ABS in the first round and advanced to sub-regional play despite a loss to Decatur Heritage. The Lions were sent home after a loss to Sacred Heart.

Tanner
The varsity Rattlers outlasted West Limestone 43-32 to win the Limestone County basketball tournament, while the JV girls defeated East Limestone. Varsity teams went on to down Ardmore when the regular season resumed. In the first round of the area tournament, the Lady Rattlers clobbered Hatton. In the sub-regional tournament, the Tanner girls lost to Cold Springs, while the Rattlers smacked Falkville. The boys made it to the state semi-finals after beating Sulligent and Mars Hill, but a comeback fell short against St. Luke’s Episcopal.

West Limestone
The middle school Lady Wildcats topped Clements in the title game of the county tournament. In later season action, the West boys topped Elkmont 37-31. The Lady Wildcats’ season ended in the area tournament against Danville. The boys’ team came up short to Fayette County in the sub-regional tournament.
By: Tim Lambert
Tune in for the PlayAction Sports Update, three times each weekday on 1080 AM WKAC. Visit us online at www.pasnetwork.net!
email: playactionsports@hotmail.com

By: Cayce Lee
Social Media Specialist, Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association

Easter comes early this year, landing on Sunday, April 1, and the chances to make family memories, take photos with the Easter Bunny, welcome spring, and celebrate the reason for the season are many and start mid-March.

Here are a few opportunities for you to enjoy:

Mar 17, 2018 — Spring Gathering with Mooresville Mercantile (5081 Mooresville Road in Mooresville, AL) Welcome spring by enjoying the crafters, artists, small businesses, and community organizations that join them under the trees from 9:00 A.M.-Noon.
Mar 17, 2018 — Sheep Shearing Demonstration with Gary Lawson at 1818 Farms (24889 Lauderdale Street in Mooresville) starting at 9:30 A.M. Free. Reserve your space at 1818Farms.com
Mar 17, 2018 — Limestone County Master Gardeners workshop at Lowe’s Receiving Area (1109 U.S. Highway 72E in Athens) from 10:00 A.M.-11:00 A.M. for “Fruit Trees” with Chris Becker of Limestone County Extension Office. For additional information contact Janis Dill at 256-771-0031.
Mar 21, 2018 — Storytelling Hour Easter Egg Hunt at the Ardmore Public Library (25836 Main Street in Ardmore) starting at 10:00 A.M. For more information: (931) 427-4883
Mar 24, 2018 — Easter Spring Fling Craft and Vendor Show at the Vietnam Veterans Building (17915 West Elm Street in Athens) from 10:00 A.M.-3:00 P.M. Free admission.
Mar 24, 2018 — Easter Open House at Welleswood Venue (1005 Elkton Street in Athens) from 1:00 P.M.-4:00 P.M. with treats and the Easter Bunny. For more information: Lisa 256-616-2052
Mar 24, 2018 — Friendship Flashlight Egg Hunt at Friendship United Methodist Church (16479 Lucas Ferry Road in Athens) starting at 5:30 P.M. with food and activities followed by egg hunts for everyone starting at 6:00 P.M. More information at friendshipumc.org

Mar 25, 2018 — Friendship North Campus Flashlight Egg Hunt at Friendship North (21960 Easter Ferry Road in Elkmont) starting at 6:00 P.M.
Mar 30, 2018 — Good Friday Observance — local governments, area agencies, attractions, restaurants, and shops may be closed or have modified hours of operation in observance of this holiday. Please call ahead to confirm availability and hours.
Mar 31, 2018 — Easter Egg Hunt at Joe Wheeler State Park (4401 McLean Drive in Rogersville, AL) from 11:00 A.M.-Noon for ages 11 and under with over 2000 eggs to find, games, arts and crafts, and the Easter Bunny.
Apr 1, 2018 — Easter Sunrise Service with the Athens-Limestone Ministerial Service on Beasley Field of Athens State University (Hobbs Street one block past the Athens Police Department) from 6:30 A.M.-7:00 A.M. For more information: Jason Parnell 256-232-6119
Apr 1, 2018 — Easter Sunrise Service with Full Gospel Tabernacle (17470 Seven Mile Post Road in Athens) from 7:00 A.M.-8:00 A.M. with Sunrise Breakfast to follow in the fellowship hall.
Apr 1, 2018 — Easter Sunday Buffer at Danielle’s at Joe Wheeler State Park Lodge (4403 McLean Drive in Rogersville, AL) from 11:00 A.M.-2:30 P.M. Adults: $15.95; Children $7.95

Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association offers a unique trail, Glory Road, which visits 35 historic and community churches. The brochure for this driving trail is available at the Athens-Limestone Visitors Center located at 100 North Beaty Street in Athens.

Don’t forget the upcoming April Historic Walking Tours each Saturday available in Athens, Elkmont, and Mooresville. These free, guided tours step back into the history of each community and will be marking our Bicentennial for Athens, Mooresville, Limestone County, and the State of Alabama. For more information on the tours, visit: www.visitathensal.com/saturday-walks.html
For more events to fill your calendar throughout the year, please check out our website: VisitAthensAL.com
By: Cayce Lee
Social Media Specialist, Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association

Are You A Hero Or A Zero?

By: D. A. Slinkard
Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Seriously, stop it! Now, I want you to tell your family to stop feeling sorry for you and stop with the excuses they keep making for you. We have too many people running around with the victim mentality, blaming others for their own life failures — excuse after excuse when the truth points back to the person staring back in the mirror. The place you are at right now in your life is because of life choices you have made; but this is reality for too many people who are afraid to admit it.

When I look at the world, I notice our society is teaching our men to be more feminine and our women to be more masculine. Values we once treasured are but a distant memory of the way things used to be when our men were men and our women wanted a hero, not a zero. To get back the mentality that made America great, we are going to have to change the way we think. Honestly, the only feminine thing about me is my wife. Sadly though, we have role reversals throughout society in which moms are having to be dads and dads are having to be moms. If only we could keep the core nucleus of the family together, and we do that by making better choices.

Life is all about choices, and if you make a bad decision, then you are going to get bad results. If you make good decisions, then you are going to have positive results. If we had our moralities back when it came to choosing our spouse, and if we did not rush to make decisions, just maybe we would not live in a society with a divorce rate greater than fifty percent. How different would our society be if parents stayed married because when they said, “I do,” they actually meant until death do us part? Don’t believe me, ask the child who has been impacted by divorce.

There is a misconception that somehow people wake up one day and they are in a bad situation. This is not how life works. The person who is down and out is at this point in their life because of a culmination of decisions they have made over the course of time, yet the same can be said for the person who is thriving in life. We all want to find success in life, and we all have different definitions of success. The question becomes are we going to make good decisions or bad decisions?

We need to pay attention to the daily decisions we make because the results of today are directly related to the choices we made yesterday. There are too many people out there looking back on their life wishing they would have done more with their life, taken advantage of the opportunities they had. These are nothing more than the choices they made. When you hear someone say they regret the things they did not do, they are saying they regret the choices they made.

Start today with the mindset of being intentional. I wonder how different my life would be if someone would have told me twenty years ago to be intentional in my decisions because, no matter what, I would eventually have to live with them. Good or bad choices – we reap what we sow, and some of us like what we are getting while the majority of people go through life with dread and wondering, “What if…”

Do not let this be you. Decide now that you are going to do something with yourself and the choices you make. Most notably, though, is getting past feeling sorry for yourself. Everyone on the planet has had something horrible happen in their life, and just because something bad happened to you, it does not make you special. It is a tough reality that was hard for me to understand, but I eventually got it through my head that someone else had it rougher than me. I no longer played the victim and decided I would do something different.

I think about who I am today versus who I was as a teenager, and I cannot begin to tell you the difference. Youth is wasted on the young because of the stupid decisions they make; but you can decide now whether you are going to be the hero or the zero. The decision is always yours.
By: D. A. Slinkard
D.A. Slinkard is the manager of the Athens Staples store

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Mayor Ronnie rolled in, greeting everyone on the way, full of enthusiasm about the Poke Sallet Follies which had been held the previous Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The Follies were by all accounts a big hit. City Councilman Frank Travis had taken on the role of director, and the theme for this year was “The Book of Athens,” with specially produced vignettes from the past 200 years of our city and county history.

“We have gotten so much positive feedback from people,” said the mayor. “Frank and his crew—the actors, the people who built props, did the sound and lighting, all the volunteers, everyone did a fantastic job,” he added. “There was a lot of live music this year. Usually Poke Sallet raises between $18,000 and $20,000 for the Council on Aging,” he said, and while he had not been told the amount of this year’s take, he expected it to be good. Since we have been doing a series on Steve Gilliam’s book, Enjoy The Ride, it was gratifying to know that because once again Athens had come together for a worthy cause, our town had a great chance to put “legs” to the title of the book as well as its theme, and create something both enjoyable as well as memorable for our whole area.

Since our last meeting two weeks ago, Mayor Marks and the finance team had been to New York City to face down the financial industry “powers that be” with respect to our bond rating as a city. “It went well, and because of everyone’s hard work, we have one of the highest ratings of any city in the state of Alabama,” he said. The result is that we now have approval for the $20 million dollar package that will serve to build the new Sportsplex facility, the new Parks and Rec building, and to build the Pilgrim’s Pride Park.

We moved on to the newest section of Enjoy The Ride, and Mayor Ronnie read me some of the things that had been speaking to him. As always, the end game with anything that he reads is to cultivate a cognitive lifestyle that is doggedly positive while being realistic, along with being solid with respect to biblical principles. Understanding the actual phenomenon of motivation, how it works, and when it is either misused or misapplied is most important. The kind of motivation that comes from the half-time pep talk or Sunday morning sermon is at best short-lived if people are not inspired to think then act in a way that fosters long-term habits. Gilliand says it this way:

“Most motivation is like a bowl of cereal—it just doesn’t last long, and you end up hungry in a few hours. As a speaker and author I firmly believe my primary purpose is to get a person thinking. When I can penetrate a person’s heart through their mind, I have found the ultimate source of their motivation. Motivation is an inside job that is determined by the individual person. The greatest thing you will ever learn is to use what you learn.”

We then talked about wanting to be the kind of people who could provide more than the motivational equivalent of empty-calorie cereal, and growing on to become self-motivated so that we could inspire ourselves as well as others when we need to. Once again Mayor Ronnie had a “fire” to put out, so he put on his “Smokey the Bear” hat; we prayed for wisdom, protection, and strength for the task; and then it was time for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

By: Holly Hollman
The Friendship Quilters Guild issued a challenge to its members to use their sewing creativity to symbolize historic sites in Athens and Limestone County for the bicentennial. Both Athens and Limestone County are 200 this year.

The quilters drew the name of a historic site and had to research the site and then determine how to interpret the site through a quilt.

Carole Hamilton won first place with her star design for Cambridge United Methodist Church. Hamilton said the Cambridge community was among the areas in consideration for the seat of Limestone County. When Athens became the seat, Cambridge lost its “star” on the map and never materialized into a city. During her research, Hamilton said she discovered that worshippers sometimes used quilts on the walls to block wind after the Union Army used some of its planks for firewood during the Civil War. Although Cambridge is not a city, the church still conducts services.

Jane Clark placed second with her depiction of Athens State University. She used the bear claw pattern and added the school mascot, Hebrew the Bear. Clark also included two columns to represent Founders Hall.

Kim Johnson and Cecelia Bradford tied for third place. Johnson made the Limestone County Courthouse and painted cotton bolls on her quilt. Bradford made the steeple of Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Downtown Athens because the steeple is an iconic part of the downtown skyline.

Other quilters also made creations for the Presbyterian Church, Athens State, and Gulf Station.

The bicentennial quilts will be on display starting late March through September at Athens City Hall. The quilts then will go to High Cotton Arts for the “Art As Our Narrative: A Bicentennial Exhibit,” from October through December.

By: Holly Hollman

By: Sarah Oliver
The following article tells about Mary Ellis, a delightful flying ace from WWII who is still able to man the controls of a Spitfire and fly with the best of them. This was written by Sarah Oliver for the British publication “The Mail On Sunday,” from February 5, 2017. Enjoy!

100-year-old woman who flew spitfires during the Second World War celebrates her centenary by getting behind the controls again

Tearing through the skies above the South Coast, two Spitfires evoke powerful memories of Britain’s wartime resilience. But this stirring image holds a further poignancy – for in the cockpit of the lead aircraft sits Mary Ellis, celebrating her 100th birthday by recreating her time as one of the ‘Ata-girls,’ the select gang of female pilots who flew Britain’s fighters during the war. And over her shoulder is one of the actual Spitfires she flew during her 1,000 flights as a First Officer with the Air Transport Auxiliary.

“Wizard, this is wizard!” yelled the delighted centenarian through her intercom. Mary was handed the controls of the 275 mph twin-seater as it swooped over West Sussex. After about 15 minutes, she turned for home, and told her co-pilot Matt Jones: “Goodwood on the nose, you have control …” Then she settled back to enjoy the ride back to base.

Earlier, Mary watched in delight as Spitfire MV154 took its place beside her in an
extraordinary airborne tribute. It was a plane she had delivered to RAF Brize Norton from Southampton on September 15, 1944, and it hides a sentimental secret. For at the end of the 25-minute wartime flight, she signed the cockpit, scrawling her maiden name Wilkins and the initials ATA. She hoped her tag might be spotted by a handsome pilot and lead to a wartime romance – although the impulsive act, a career one-off, didn’t bag her a boyfriend.

Mary, originally from Oxfordshire, had her first flying lesson in 1938, and flew for pleasure until 1941 when she heard a BBC radio appeal for women pilots to join the auxiliary service and so release male pilots for combat duty.

Speaking at a surprise birthday party on Thursday, Mary said: “The war was a challenge and one had to do something about it. I went on and on until I flew everything. I love the Spitfire – it’s my favourite aircraft, it’s everyone’s favourite, it’s the symbol of freedom.”

For four years she ferried warplanes from factories to frontline squadrons. The 166 women of the ATA – about one in eight of the total – have been dubbed ‘The Female Few,’ echoing Winston Churchill’s description of the RAF airmen who fought in the Battle of Britain.

Mary was usually found at the joystick of a Spitfire or a Hurricane but ultimately flew more than 50 types of aircraft, logging 1,100 hours of flight, much to the astonishment of some colleagues. As she sat on the airfield ready to deliver her first Spitfire, the mechanic standing on the wing asked how many of them she’d flown. When she said it was her first, he was so startled he fell right off. The largest aircraft she flew solo was the Wellington bomber. After landing at an East Anglian airfield, Mary was greeted by the ground crew who asked where the pilot was. “I’m the pilot,” she said. They insisted on searching the aircraft before they believed her.

It was dangerous work. Mary was sometimes ordered to move combat-damaged planes that were not officially fit to fly, but had to be taken for repairs. She crash-landed twice and was shot at once. Fourteen of her fellow ATA female flyers lost their lives, including aviation pioneer Amy Johnson

Mary – who to this day needs no spectacles, nor a walking stick – was one of the last six women serving in the ATA when it disbanded after the war. She remained a private pilot and then became managing director of Sandown Airport on the Isle of Wight. She married Don Ellis, a fellow pilot, in 1961, but was widowed in 2009.
Matt Jones, who flies Spitfires for Goodwood-based Boultbee Flight Academy, reunited Mary with MV154 after first meeting her in 2015. He conspired with the plane’s current owner, pilot Maxi Gainza, to bring it to the UK from its base in Bremgarten, Germany.
He said: “I gave Mary control of our Spitfire. I wasn’t sure where we were but Mary was very clear. She pointed us towards Thorney Island, up through the Witterings, flew on to Selsey Bill and then Bognor Regis, never losing a foot of altitude.
“She showed me precisely how she was able to deliver all those aircraft with just a map, a compass and a stopwatch. I was utterly humbled by a superior aviator who also happens to be 60 years my senior!”
By: Sarah Oliver

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
It’s been a month since 17 people, 14 students and three teachers were gunned down at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida by a messed-up young man by the name of Nikolas Cruz. The aftermath has been fairly predictable, and there is little in this latest school shooting that can in any way be considered unique. Broward County Sheriff’s Department has been nicknamed “Coward County” because no officer went in to take the shooter out and save the lives of the kids and teachers. FBI has come under fire because of all the warnings that were given that indicated that Nikolas was dangerous and ready to explode. SSRI-style anti-depressants, (the ones that carry the black box warning that they are not suitable for adolescents because they cause suicidal and/or homicidal thoughts or actions) have once again come under scrutiny, and the National Rifle Association has been not surprisingly portrayed as the League of Lucifer itself.

What is different this time is that there has been a groundswell movement of students who are justifiably upset about what happened, and have bought into the idea that the problem is guns and not the gunner. I used to believe that gun control was the solution, and I no longer think that is the case. I also used to think that people who believed in the 2nd Amendment as intended by the Founders were Neanderthals, while I was the embodiment of enlightened, transcendent, morality because I was a pacifist. I am no longer that, either.

The kids also are real worried about the idea of having highly-trained people in their halls or classrooms who can protect and defend them. My guess is that their belief is that the presence of an armed person would somehow sully the purity of their academic experience. That would have been my thought 50 years ago. After all, it was the era whose battle cry was, “Make love, not war.” By contrast, Federal legislation has been passed to help prevent more school violence, and Florida will be requiring that would-be purchasers of long guns be at least 21 years of age.

So, with emotions high and activism on both sides fomenting, it is encouraging to know that our own Athens High School students have made the news for their mature response to the walk-out that was held across the country on Wednesday, March 14, 2018. Rather than leave school to express their outrage over school shootings and violence in particular, the Athens High kids came up with some ideas that were not only as marvelous as they were measured, they involved Post-its, as well as acts of kindness. They wrote ideas for doing all manner of kind things on Post-its, and put them on what they called the Kindness Wall. Then they had some moments of silence for the fallen. One by one, students went up to the wall, picked up a Post-it, went and performed the deed, and when they were finished put the Post-it on the right side of the wall, which had been set aside for the finished act of kindness.

Sophie Greenhaw is the AHS Student Council Secretary. About their plan, she said, “We’re… hoping that it just creates a better school environment where more people just feel involved and feel loved on.” We are hoping so, too, Miss Sophie, and Athens High, you have done us proud. Thank you.

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
It’s time once again for the annual Athens-Limestone Hospital Foundation Gala, which will be held on the evening of Saturday, April 28. By popular demand, Denim n’ Diamonds is back, which is a concept that makes it possible for you to come in a tux, a formal, or your best denim and boots. You cannot over or under dress for this event! There is something new this year, and that is that the entire venue has been changed to include a professionally produced murder mystery dinner. Also new this year is the location—the Jackson Center in Huntsville will be the site where you will be able to bid on auction items, feast on a gourmet double entrée, have your picture taken by professional photographers, and try to figure out, “Who dun it?” All the fun is for a worthy cause, and this is the Foundation’s biggest fundraiser each year. Over the years, they have raised thousands of dollars in order to purchase important pieces of medical equipment, upgrade rooms, and provide new services at the hospital.

The focus of this year’s Gala is to raise funds for sleeper healthcare recliners for each room. Being able to have family members comfortably stay in the hospital rooms right near their loved ones helps in the healing process, as well as makes a positive impact on Patient Satisfaction indexes, which has never been more important. The work of the Athens-Limestone Hospital Foundation has been instrumental in helping our local hospital grow in size as well as caliber. In the last 67 years, the hospital has become a 71-bed acute care facility, and will be soon opening a new outpatient Surgery Center. While keeping pace with technological advancements in healthcare, they are maintaining the hometown atmosphere that makes them the award-winning hospital that they are today.

I spoke with Jessica Jones (who is once again chairing the Gala), Amanda Hamlin, and Leah Beth McNutt of the Foundation about everything from the menu to the auction items to the perfect shoes for the soirée, and enjoyed listening to how much they are looking forward to this year’s event. All three of them were particularly enthusiastic about the murder mystery dinner, and are confident it is going to be a big hit. Jessica said, “We are excited about the change of concept that we’re taking the Gala in with the murder mystery.” Leah Beth mentioned that it will also be possible to play a table-side version of “Clue” that is related to the performance, but it won’t be interactive. You don’t have to play the part of “Colonel Mustard in the library with a candlestick” in front of the rest of the attendees!

Another new feature of this year’s Gala will be having four artists from High Cotton Arts posted around the room creating live art while the evening’s festivities are occurring, and each piece of art will be available for purchase. In addition, High Cotton will be producing a custom piece for the auction which will be framed by Camilla Gaston of Timeless Frames.

There are always high-end auction items which have been generously donated, and for these women, this year the raffle for a genuine Louis Vuitton handbag looks to be the most intriguing. Hamlin Homes has partnered with Dream Key Realty to make it possible to own an haute couture bag for a relative song—for $25 a raffle ticket, or five tickets for $100. Whether you are a diamonds gal, or you’re choosin’ to just be rockin’ the denim, you are going to want to buy enough tickets to give yourself a fighting chance at baggin’ this bag.

Once again there will be a Big Green Egg outdoor Kamado grilling/smoker system, a Yeti cooler, lots of fine jewelry, destination vacations here in the states as well as abroad, and goods as well as services of all kinds. “We still have room for more items as well as more sponsors,” said Leah Beth, but stressed that with only a few weeks until the Gala, if you are interested in donating, sponsoring, or purchasing tickets you need to call her soon at 256-233-9557.

Jessica, Amanda, and Leah Beth wanted to thank the corporations, businesses and private donors who have come together to make this Gala possible. They include Alabama Farm Credit Union, Federal Mogul, First National Bank, Steelcase, Pathology Associates, Robins and Morton, Morell Engineering, and the Lioce Group. They hope you will save the date and join them for a most memorable evening!
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
It was over 50 years ago that Doug Maund, founder of Athens Pharmacy, and the late Dr. William Pennington, a well known and beloved “country doc” in the truest sense, teamed up to found the long-term and rehabilitation facility at 611 Market Street, now known as Athens Health And Rehabilitation, LLC. In April of 2017, AHR broke ground on a new facility on the east side of the existing set of buildings that is called the Restore Therapy Pavilion. It is now 11 months later, and the beautiful, state-of-the-art facility is open for business.

Lory Walmsley, the Admissions Coordinator at AHR’s Restore Therapy Pavilion, told me, “People don’t understand that the importance of therapy is greater than just about anything else in this type of facility. There is speech therapy, occupational, physical and memory therapy, and more. Those services are what make it possible for people to go home and live well.” Speaking of therapy, let’s talk about the art on the walls and in the rooms. I have never seen anything like it in a place like this. There are photo/paintings on the wall that are so mesmerizing that if I worked at Restore I would probably get fired because I wouldn’t be able to keep from finding an excuse to look at them. Art this beautiful can have a profound effect on people as they are recovering, and Lory and I joked that we would fight each other over the one hanging on the wall on the way to the dining room.

Ahhh… the dining room. There are crisp linen tablecloths on the tables, and in the kitchen, there is a marble counter that has convection heating elements below and completely removable chafing dishes on the top. The marble stays cool, and the food stays hot. The sign outside the serving room simply says, “Nourishment.” It is indeed that, and so much more. Sitting in a lovely dining room is another type of therapy; one of community, enjoying food together, and perhaps sitting up just a little straighter while placing a cloth napkin in one’s lap can serve as a form of occupational therapy.

I spoke with Nathan McGriff, who is Restore Therapy’s Physical Therapy Director at AHR. Nathan’s parents are both nurses, and he grew up in Sulligent. “I was always around the medical profession,” he said, “and at first I thought I would do high-level sports rehab and therapy.” He has a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Jacksonville State, and then received his PTA certification from Wallace State. He has 12 years of experience with everything from athletes to geriatrics. The new Restore Pavillion is like a dream come true for Nathan. “First of all, it’s huge. There is room to do everything,” he said. He then showed me a harnessed-based movement system that is suspended from the ceiling and travels along tracks. Four people can be receiving therapy at once, and there is no possibility of any of them falling. Because they are not dependent on the therapist for balance, the therapist is free to be more observant as to their movements and improvements. Being in the harness also makes it possible for rehab patients to do movements earlier because of the support from the system. It speeds up recovery.

Another exciting feature of the new Restore Therapy Pavilion “gym” is a full kitchen, complete with a washer and dryer and bathroom. This will be the testing ground for those that are good candidates to return home to unassisted living, and it’s a fun one. “They might make brownies,” said Nathan, and have the satisfaction of creating something delicious, as well as demonstrate the level of their recovery. They do not go home until they can do a load of laundry, and take care of all their personal hygiene needs.

Lory told me that AHR has many special features that set it apart. There is no charge for a private room. There are flat screen TVs in each room, and in the only two semi-private rooms, each person has their own TV and controls. Each room has a mini-fridge. Most importantly, AHR accepts an unusually high number of insurance programs, including Medicare, United Health, Blue Cross, Humana, Health Spring, and more. If this is the kind of care for which you are looking, either for yourself or a loved one, then call the Restore Therapy Pavilion today at 256-232-1620 to schedule a tour, and be sure to take the time to thoroughly enjoy the care and beauty of the staff as well as the facility.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner