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

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
It is hard to believe, when you meet her, that Dr. Sharon Bush-Coaxum has been a doctor long enough to have delivered at least 700 babies. “I don’t keep count,” she said with a smile, “but I know it’s at least that many.” As of this writing, Dr. Bush-Coaxum has been at the Valley Women’s Center, located just east of the Athens Publix Shopping Center on Hwy 72, for a little over a week. She is a young doctor who has wisdom and experience beyond her years, and a passion to help her patients in ways I’ll explain further below.

Dr. Bush-Coaxum is a native of Mobile, Alabama, and always knew she wanted to do something that would truly make a difference. It was her pediatrician who planted in her the seed of possibility with regard to becoming a doctor, and indeed, she is the first physician in her entire family! Dr. Bush-Coaxum received her undergraduate degree in biology from Tuskegee, and went to medical school at the University of South Alabama. She did her residency and internship at Tulane University, and practiced in Enterprise, Alabama, for four years before coming to Athens. She had strongly considered becoming a pediatrician, but it wasn’t until her OB rotation while in medical school that she knew she had found it, the specialty she was put on this earth to practice.

Dr. Bush-Coaxum is a fellow with the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, holds an Alabama Medical license and is a member of the American Medical Association. During her residency, she was the recipient of the Council on Resident Education in Obstetrics and Gynecology (CREOG) 2013 Excellent Performance Award. She did research while at Tulane on the differences in perspectives between the North and the South regarding Caesarean deliveries. While at SUNY in Buffalo, NY, she wrote papers on the effects of methamphetamines on sperm, and the effects of the endocannabinoids in marijuana on human umbilical cord blood.

To say that Dr. Bush-Coaxum has many interests and that her CV is fascinating is an understatement. We talked at length about her love for flying, which has translated into her currently completing the process of joining the United States Air Force Reserves. She’ll be serving out of Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, and will train there one weekend a month and two weeks a year. She wants to become a flight surgeon, is interested in expanding her skill set by studying field medicine, and she also wants to fly airplanes! “That (piloting a plane) won’t happen for a few years,” she told me, but I am sure it will be worth the wait, given her love for flight. With regard to the unusual things she has done as a result of studying medicine, Dr. Bush-Coaxum is also certified as a medical examiner.

Dr. Bush-Coaxum is married to Louis Coaxum, who is a lawyer in partnership with his brother. They met in college and she says, “It was love at first sight.” At the moment they are the proud parents of “fur babies,” but are looking forward to someday raising a family here in Athens.

Dr. Bush-Coaxum has a vision for her patients that has in part been “birthed” as a result of the high level of obesity amongst women in the state of Alabama. She makes it her responsibility to educate her patients as to the risks in pregnancy that are increased by obesity, and the effect it has on mothers as well as babies. “I use a lot of handouts, and do my best to make sure my patients’ questions are answered. I found early in my career that many women would go to the doctor and not have a clue what they were being told about their medical condition or the treatments they would receive. They wouldn’t even know what questions to ask, and weren’t comfortable in asking anything,” she said, and that was something she set out to change. “I had to deal with a lot of misunderstandings that women have, such as the idea that exercise is not good for you when you are pregnant. I am all about preventative care, being active, and getting good nutrition, because it makes such a big difference” she said.

Interestingly, Dr. Bush-Coaxum’s vision is the same for women who are dealing with menopause. “It’s still about prevention and fighting obesity,” she said. “Anything that women face is going to be affected by obesity, but it’s not about the weight, it’s about building health,” she added. She also has a great interest in adolescent gynecology, and loves to help young women really understand what is happening in their bodies. After all, it was her own pediatrician that set this whole dream-come-true of becoming a doctor in motion, and out of gratitude, Dr. Bush-Coaxum wants to keep paying it forward here in Athens. If this is the type of OB/GYN that you have been looking for, then call the Valley Women’s Center today at 256-233-5000, and make an appointment to see Dr. Sharon Bush-Coaxum.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
I first encountered Sherrol Troupe Gideon, Vivian Troupe Jefferson, and their mother, Ada Troupe, when I began my adventures as the publisher of Athens Now in March of 2011. It was always one of my favorite stops on my delivery route, a place where my stomach, spirit, and soul could find sweetness. I am so pleased to have a chance once again to tell you their story, and invite you to their Tea Room on the north side of the Square in Athens. It is there that I can tell you from experience that you will have good food, good news, and good times.
Sherrol and Vivian are the owners of the Tea Room, and it is definitely a family affair, down to a small granddaughter functioning as a tiny helper in between coloring and playing with her grandmother’s cell phone.

The success of Sweetest Things is something for which all of them give God the glory, as no one in “the Troupe” had any restaurant experience at all prior to 2006 when they opened their previous location on North Jefferson, right across the street from Frame Gallery. What Sherrol did have, however, was a degree in Business Administration from Athens State University, experience as a trainer for a large corporation in Huntsville, a lifelong love for cooking started by her grandmothers, and a vibrant prayer life.

I asked her, “How did you start?” “Well,” she said, “We have always cooked.” Now please understand, when she makes that statement, you need to know a bit about their heritage. The grandmothers on both sides were legendary as bakers in Limestone County, and are the sources of the recipes used in the Tea Room. For one grandmother, it was customary during the holidays to have every square inch of counter space lined with cakes and pies that people had hired her to bake for them. It didn’t stop there; she would improvise by making more flat surfaces by putting pieces of plywood across armchairs to accommodate her creations, and it wasn’t until everyone came to get their “sweetest things” that she could take back her own home for the holidays.

For her part, Sherrol used to make cakes at home and sell them at work, and at the time, she also was decorating cakes on the side, something she no longer has the time to do. Her husband, Ronnie, was career military, and it was during his first deployment to Iraq during the Operation Iraqi Freedom assault phase in 2003 that she began to feel an inexplicable shift inside. “I was restless, and didn’t know why. Everything was okay, my husband was safe, and so was my daughter. Nothing was wrong, I just had the feeling that a change was coming, but I didn’t know what it was,” she said.

For about two weeks straight, Sherrol got up in the wee hours to pray, and basically told God, “I don’t know what to do; so, please just put me where You want me to be.” At the end of the two weeks, the powerful, manifest presence of the Lord came into her prayer room, and she just knew that everything was going to be okay, but had no idea what was next. It was a good thing, too, because when she got to work that day, she was informed that she had been laid off. What she felt the Lord told her was that this was the answer to her prayers, and though she loved her job and the people she worked with, she was being “moved on to move on.” People expected her to be upset, but she truly was at peace.

For about a year she baked from her home – things like “million dollar chocolate chip cookies,” which she would produce 30 dozen at a time. They always sold out. She baked for a hotel in Huntsville, for her friends, family, church, and community. In 2006, another set of miracles occurred that just might need another story, and Sherrol, Vivian, and Mother Ada opened up the Tea Room on Jefferson Street. “Then,” she told me, “we outgrew that,” and it was time to pray again. “We began to thank God for a new location before one ever opened up, and we moved to our new place right around the week of Thanksgiving 2016.” Faith most definitely had been rewarded once again.
As mesmerized as I was by their story, I knew that some of our readers would need to know what the “Troupers” bring to the table, literally. I asked Sherrol, “Why should I come here?” She replied, “We have three generations of recipes, and the meals we prepare for our customers are like what we prepare for our own families. We make things in small batches, specifically for you. We pray over the food before it goes out, we pray while we’re working, and at the end of the day, we ask God to bless our customers for coming here. We know they don’t have to come here, and we are thankful.” They also keep a prayer request list on the wall in the kitchen, and I put myself on it. I can tell you that I am the recipient of an amazingly speedy answer, and not a moment too soon. I asked Ada what she enjoyed the most about the business, which is her third career, and she said, “I LOVE to cook.” Vivian’s answer to the same question was, “I love meeting new and interesting people.”

It is apparent that someone at Sweetest Things loves Paris, France, and that would be Sherrol. There is a glass model of the Eiffel Tower in the front display window, and there are pictures of Paris all through the restaurant. As someone who knows firsthand just how beautiful the City of Lights is from experience, I hope Sherrol gets to visit someday, and lets somebody cook for her.

Business has been good, and they have had to hire extra help. In addition to the lunch crowd, people were coming in to pick up their custom dessert orders. “We can’t make enough caramel cakes,” she said, and that is also the case for the coconut cakes. In addition, they make pies, including caramel pecan, chocolate, chess, buttermilk, and sweet potato. Their daily specials include champagne chicken, smothered pork chops, and chicken stew, and when Pablo’s on Market was in the same location serving lunch, it was Sweetest Things that prepared the chicken salad. Every time I have eaten there, the place has been packed, and somehow they always find a way to give me a hug.

Sweetest Things does high teas by reservation only, on- and off-site catering for baby showers, bridal showers, community and church dinners, and more. But, truth be told, the “sweetest things” in the building are Sherrol, Vivian, and Ada, lovely women, all. Come and find out for yourself.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Several years ago, Elaine Long and Michelle Easterbrook learned the hard way that often there are huge gaps in the standard of care available in the home health industry – each of them having had a dependent family member who had received care that was patently sub-par. Though their own backgrounds couldn’t be more diverse, with Elaine’s career as a nurse having taken her all over the country, and Michelle’s career in automotive and electronic manufacturing pretty much keeping her in the Atlanta area, they knew that someday they wanted to see if they could join forces and improve things. Their idea was born out of necessity, and their respective experiences caused them to conclude that “something just isn’t right.”

That determination to make things better came true just a few months ago when both families moved to North Alabama, and the proof of it is now located at 803 South Jefferson in Athens. The name of their outfit is Diverse Home Care of Alabama, and they are up and open for business. Let me tell you a bit about Elaine and Michelle, and my desire is that you will be able to see what a unique, high-quality, and positive enterprise they have brought to our community.

Elaine has decades of experience in a number of types of nursing. She has done neurosurgical intensive care, critical care, and case management; she has taught nursing, helped with vehicle adaptation, been consulted when home remodeling is necessary, and testified in courtrooms. In a word, Elaine has done pediatrics to hospice, and everything in between. She is also a trained trauma case manager. To avoid burnout from the rigors of intensive and critical care, she became a travelling nurse. One thing was common to all of her experiences, and that was the bureaucracy that gets in the way of giving outstanding care, and it troubled her.

By contrast, Michelle’s background might not appear to be a great fit for the home health field, but being both an operations and a plant manager in the automotive and electronic manufacturing industries, brings with it many transferable skills. She loves things like logbooks and metrics, as well as KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), which helps greatly with staying on top of the mountains of records that are a part of today’s health care system. More importantly, the passion for excellence and continual improvement is what Michelle loved about her former career. She loved to train people well, encourage as well as coach, and watch with satisfaction as they grew in skill, confidence, productivity, leading to successful outcomes. She also loves to quilt, and will happily do so with any of Diverse Home Care’s clients.

This blend of experience and philosophy and how it is applied to the staff is what sets Diverse Home Care of Alabama apart. “We screen and screen and screen again,” says Michelle with regard to the background checks. They also “train and train and train some more” the CNAs who join their team. Elaine takes the Certified Nursing Assistants and turns them into what she calls PCTs, or Patient Care Technicians. “The PCTs are taught how to interact with the patients, not babysit,” says Elaine. She added, “They are not allowed to be on Facebook while they park their patient in front of the TV, either.” Elaine has regular roundtable meetings with the PCTs, and they need to be able to tell her something they have learned about the patient, as well as be willing to work together to come up with creative ways to stimulate their memories and cognition. “The three areas we emphasize are mobility, socialization, and nutrition, and we encourage the PCTs to speak up and give us their ideas and feedback,” said Elaine. The mission statement for the PCTs is to “know and promote the well-being of the client,” and to demonstrate it.

Patients get a chance to get out and go shopping, if they are able, cook with supervision, and “break bread together,” said Elaine and Michelle. Diverse Home Care does everything they can to help clients live an empowered life while still in their own home. They have a special heart for veterans who have served our country and treat all seniors the way they would want to be treated themselves.
But Diverse Home Care is not just for elder care. They will take care of special needs babies so a mom can get a break, or help working parents where there has been surgery and their at-home child needs extra care. A further list of areas where they are happy to serve includes: companion care, personal care and homemaking, transitional care from the hospital, rehab or after surgery, transportation, Mom’s day off, social engagements, medication management, disability assessment, dementia and Alzheimer’s care, and end of life care.

I asked Elaine and Michelle why I should pick Diverse Home Care for either my own needs or those of a family member, and here’s what they told me, “We believe in holistic care, as in the care of the whole person. And, because of our experience, we have a high level of compassion, and we understand the importance of connection.” If this type of affordable, specialized in-home care is what you are looking for, then call today for a no-obligation assessment, and you’ll see that you need look no further than Diverse Home Care of Alabama.
803 South Jefferson Street, Athens, AL 35611
Office: 256-444-2182
Cell: 706-968-7553
Hours: M-F 8-5, Sat by appointment
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
It’s time once again for the annual Greater Limestone County Chamber of Commerce Home and Garden Show. This expo has grown every year, draws attendees from all over the Tennessee Valley, and is the perfect way to prepare for spring. The event is also going a bit earlier this year, so you need to mark your calendars so you don’t miss it!

More than 50 exhibitors come together to make the event happen, and the price for admission is $2 for the whole weekend. Some of the 2018 sponsors include: Redstone Federal Credit Union, Limestone County Sheriff’s Office, Persell Lumber & Mill Shop, Inline Electric Supply Company, AFS Foundation & Waterproofing Specialists, Lowe’s, Distinctive Landscaping, Inc., Valley Mowing Company and Hamlin Homes.

Attending the show is a way to learn how to turn all of your home and garden dreams into a reality! If you’re looking for inspiration, new ideas, or a little encouragement for your upcoming spring projects, you need look no further than the 2018 Limestone County Home and Garden Show! Join more than 2,000 of your fellow do-it-yourselfers on February 16 and February 17 at the Limestone County Event Center, located on Pryor Street in Athens. Event hours are from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. on Friday, February 16 and 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 17.

This is your opportunity to explore the latest trends in a variety of home-related exhibitors including custom home building and remodeling, home decorating, bathroom and kitchen ideas, home repairs and amenities, outdoor living and landscaping, flooring, windows and doors, and so much more. You are guaranteed to find the products and services you are looking for, and will have the chance to speak to the area’s finest professional service providers who will help you with all your home and garden projects. Don’t forget there are prizes, hourly giveaways, and the kids’ activities for your little ones!

Keep Athens Limestone Beautiful’s trusty mascot, Sparky, will be providing photo ops with the kids, and KALB’s Director, Lynne Hart, mentioned that “Sparky will have goodies to give to the children.”

“We always have such a great representation of exhibitors showcasing a variety of home and garden related product and services.  It’s really a great weekend to get out and get your ideas and inspiration ready for spring,” said Jennifer Williamson, who heads up the Greater Limestone County Chamber of Commerce.

Representatives from every aspect of home improvement will be present, from HVAC to roofs to windows to siding to plumbing to financing to more. For your garden, there will be people from a big-box store as well as a large local nursery. For your home’s interior, you can find help with custom picture framing, lighting, furniture selection, remodeling, and radon detection.

All in all, there is something for everyone at a price that can’t be beat, and the annual Limestone County Chamber of Commerce Home and Garden Show is one of my favorite ways to wait for spring to finally spring.

The Limestone County Chamber of Commerce Annual Home and Garden Show
Friday, Feb. 16 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 17 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Limestone County Event Center, 114 West Pryor Street, Athens, AL 35611
Admission is $2 for the entire weekend
For more information, visit or you can find the event on Facebook at Limestone County Home and Garden Show. You can also call the Chamber at 256-232-2600.

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
On Thursday, February 8, the Athens Boys and Girls Club is going to be celebrating its 25th annual dinner at 6:30 p.m. at the Beasley Center, and you are invited. So, what’s this shindig all about? For 80 years, the Boys and Girls Club has had a helpful presence in North Alabama, beginning in Huntsville and Decatur. Planning for the Athens start-up began in 1993, so that’s when some of the founders–Glenn and Martha Blackwell and Susan Parker– consider the Club to have been conceived, and the Athens chartered Boys and Girls Club opened up in May of 1994. Glenn had been a part of the Decatur Club as a child, and he knew from firsthand experience the difference it had made in shaping him for success as an adult.

Suzanne Rainey Thompson heard Susan Parker speak, and she knew she wanted to be a part of the ground-floor effort to establish a charter. She was there at the old Athens Elementary School gym to help sign up those first 100 kids, and to this day remembers every one of them. She also was in charge of arts that first summer, a most important part of a kid’s development that is all too often ignored these days. At the time, Suzanne was just completing her degree in education from Athens State University, and this became her career instead. In order to become an officially recognized club, the national organization requires 100 members to start, and the Athens club got chartered in time to offer summertime services to kids who were out of school.

Suzanne has worn many hats during her time with the club. From 1994-1998, she was the Education Director for the Athens Club. She was Unit Director of Boys and Girls Club Athens-Limestone County from 1998-2000, and Executive Director beginning in 2000. During that time, clubs opened in Ardmore as well as Tanner, and now they are all merged with the Huntsville Clubs and have been renamed Boys and Girls Club of North Alabama (BGCNAL). Suzanne is now the vice-president of the re-organized group, and she is quick to say that she loves her new position, but sorely misses working face-to-face with the kids.

I asked Suzanne to tell me about some of the kids from the early days, and she said wistfully, “There has been great success, and some heartbreak. April Houston Collins was a young single mom as a teen, and went on to get her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees, become a lawyer for HUD, married a Birmingham man who is a school principal, has four kids, and has started her own successful law firm,” she said. “Wow!” I replied.

“Then there is Marcus Stanley,” said Suzanne. “He’s deployed, he is a true artist, he is Mass Communications Specialist for the United States Navy, and his wife is one of the charter members as well,” she added. “Greg Hacker is currently serving as First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, and British Malone is serving ABH3 in the U.S. Navy. I am so very grateful and thankful for their service, and it makes me very proud for their leadership and commitment.” The heartbreak, it turns out, came about in the form of a promising young man getting shot to death in a restaurant, along with some others. “It still hurts,” she told me.

Other successes have been David Williams, who is a barber here in Athens, and Stephen Harris, who is in real estate. They collaborated on producing some rap music which was sold to a label. “All in all over the years I would guess we have helped around 2500 kids,” said Suzanne. They have ranged in age from 5-18.

I asked Suzanne why I should choose the Boys and Girls Club as a place to send a child, and she replied, “We have a proven track record for helping kids, and we provide fun with a purpose. Kids learn leadership skills, the arts, sports, and we offer all kinds of hands-on learning. We have our own facility, which is important, and are a safe place for kids to be after school. We work to truly change lives, help them grow, and we have a vision for the future. Kids have needs today that weren’t the case when we first started,” she said. For this year’s fund-raising dinner, the focus is on getting a fulltime STEM lab as well as teacher-director, she said. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, and that is an area where kids all across the nation need a boost.

Other financial needs include the fact that the school calendar is changing, and kids are going to need to have access to BGCNAL until August 30 when they go back for fall term. If investing in the future of our children through the Boys and Girls Club is something you want to be a part of, then please consider sponsoring a table for $325, or get individual tickets for $25 each by calling Minnie Leonard at 256-232-4298. You can also go to for more information. Dress for the event is business casual. See you on February 8!
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

By: Michelle Williamson Limestone County Community Relations Coordinator
In 1919, the citizens of Limestone County welcomed the completion of their Limestone County Courthouse. This historic beauty located in the heart of downtown Athens quickly became the “house of our people.” In March of 1976, once again, the citizens came together to welcome the renovations to the Courthouse that included, just to name a few, the installation of the building’s first elevator, a central heating and air conditioning system, and a second courtroom. The strong and resilient symbol that the Courthouse has displayed throughout the years derives from our people who have walked the hallways inside this beautiful building.

On February 6, 2018, Limestone County will celebrate its 200th birthday. On Wednesday, January 10, 2018, the citizens of the county were presented with an early bicentennial gift that will change our future. This gift was the announcement of the $1.6 billion Toyota-Mazda plant to be built in the county that will initially bring 4,000 new jobs to the area. “This is a multi-generational gift for our community,” stated Limestone County Commission Chairman Mark Yarbrough. “It comes as no surprise that a large part of the decision making came down to our people.”

As the citizens of the county celebrate the old by blowing out the candles for their Bicentennial, they will also celebrate the new opportunities that have been given to them. While agriculture has been prominent in the county for hundreds of years, the County welcomes the addition of our industrial family.

The Limestone County Commission and the Limestone County Bicentennial Committee would like to invite the public to a Bicentennial Celebration on Tuesday, February 6, 2018, 5-8 p.m., at the Limestone County Event Center. This celebration will include a free concert by area musicians, historic scenes of Limestone County, special exhibits, contents of a 1993 time capsule that was discovered during the recent renovation of the Limestone County Courthouse, and much more.
By: Michelle Williamson
Limestone County Community Relations Coordinator

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
It’s January of 2018, and if you are like many Americans, you have made resolutions once again to “lose weight and get in shape.” These are worthy goals, but after 30 years of working with the natural health industry and dealing with every type of disorder you can imagine, I am here to tell you that Americans are living with a serious level of toxic overload, and one of its most frustrating side effects is super-stubborn fat which seems nearly impossible to get off and keep off.
Part of the problem stems from the fact that the FDA has approved so many questionable chemicals which are allowed into our food, water and even in the air, and their interactions are causing all kinds of health issues. In my opinion, the approval and use of these chemicals is immoral, but I am here with good news that can help you to genuinely have a Happy New Year, and be victorious in your personal, longstanding “Battle of the Bulge.”

Instead of trying to change the FDA, I have dedicated my life to helping the public overcome their health issues through God-given foods and herbs that will help the human body to heal. My belief is that when you supply your body with the raw material that is necessary to detoxify and heal, it will do just that.

Because of the products and information that we have introduced to the public, people come to us from all over the U.S. and seven other countries to improve their health. The proof of our success is in the peoples’ own medical reports. Those medical reports show everything from normal blood levels in every category to thousands of clients coming off their prescribed medications and even avoiding surgeries that their doctors told them were absolutely necessary.
Our goal for you is to educate you on how to detoxify, balance, and eliminate most of the disorders that are associated with toxicity. Your body knows how to heal. Your body knows how to balance and remain healthy once the toxins are removed.

We will show you which products support your body as the chemicals, prescription drug toxicity, yeast, molds, fungus and even parasites that cause bloating, inflammation, pain, sluggishness, weight gain, fatigue, depression, anxiety, mental fog, cancer, heart disease and even diabetes are removed. As your body becomes clean from the inside out, amazing things happen. These include more energy, less pain and stiffness, clearer skin, weight loss, clarity of thought, a reduced need for prescription medications, and better medical reports.


According to experts, Americans are exposed to over 1000 toxins every day, and many of those toxins can cause:

  • Bloating: stomach swelling, gas, belching, burping.
  • Weight gain: craving starchy carbohydrates and sugar.
  • Tiredness: exhaustion, low energy, waking up tired.
  • Mood swings: hormone imbalance, low sexual desire, aggravation.
  • Mind fog: cloudy thinking, memory problems, lack of clarity.
  • Skin disorders: rashes, eczema, psoriasis, acne.
  • Digestive disorders: gas, bloating, ulcers, polyps, cancer.
  • Stress disorders: anxiety, depression, high cortisol levels, frustration.
  • Yeast overgrowth: weight gain, sugar or junk food cravings, pain, stiff joints.


  • Begin with Detoxification: MSM+C, 7 Day Cleanse, pH Drops.
  • Bloating: Probiotics, Super Enzymes, pH Drops.
  • Weight gain: Slender, Apple Cider Vinegar, pH Drops.
  • Tiredness: MSM+C, Simply Energy, Test/Up for men & women.
  • Mood swings: Feminine Factors for women, Test/Up for men, Restore.
  • Mind fog: MSM+C, Test/Up for men & women, True Focus.
  • Skin disorders: MSM+C powder/capsule, MSM+C Full Body Lotion.
  • Digestive disorders: Probiotics, Super Enzymes, MPS-70.
  • Stress disorders: Slender, True Calm, Whole Body Vibration, Infrared Sunna.
  • Yeast overgrowth: Terminator, IS-3, MSM+C.

Our goal for you is to educate you on how to detoxify, balance, and eliminate most of the disorders that are associated with toxicity. Your body knows how to heal. Your body knows how to balance and remain healthy once the toxins are removed.

NEWtritional Health Care LLC has developed over 40 products of which 38 are patented and proven in their specific ability to support a healthier body. Herbs & More not only offers a great line of products, we also have one of the best massage therapists in North Alabama. LMT Jason Mitchell offers deep tissue massage, which will rid the body of toxins as well as reduce stress.

You say you can’t exercise? Discover the Whole-Body Vibration system which reduces cellulite by increasing blood flow, improving circulation, and helping to build stronger bones. For those who either don’t have time to exercise, or simply can’t because of health issues such as a knee or hip replacement, our Infrared Sauna reduces inflammation and eliminates toxins, and our Ionic Foot De-tox removes toxins from every organ in your body.

The right regimen of supplements and the devices at Herbs & More is changing peoples’ lives. Part of the detoxification is done through the use of the Whole-Body Vibration machines which help clean the lymphatic system, develop coordination, improve circulation, burn body fat and strengthen bones, ligaments, and tendons. We may also use the foot detox and Zeolites to help remove poisonous heavy metals.

No matter what type of detoxification you may need, Herbs & More can help you live a more balanced life. Our methods are always safe, the side effects are positive (a healthier body), and they do not interfere with any prescribed medication you may be using. Removing the toxins is the first step to losing weight, improving energy, reducing inflammation, and avoiding many of the disorders that are plaguing Americans today.

With over 50 years of combined knowledge in natural health, we are here to help you reach all of your health goals. Remember, the chances are great that YOU ARE NOT FAT … YOU ARE TOXIC. Let us guide you in learning more about natural health, how to safely come off some of your unnecessary prescription drugs, feel better, and live to your genetic potential. Come see us soon and let’s get 2018 started with building your health. Can’t make it to Athens? Then come see us at NHC HERB SHOP in Killen, AL, or we will ship the product to you.

Herbs & More carries most of the best known and most used supplements from all over the world, and we never charge you for the personal time or advice we provide. We also ship all over the world! Visit our website Like us on Facebook at herbs&more.athens. Roy is LIVE every Monday at 7 PM on our Facebook page. Our goal has always been to, “Make America Healthy One Person At A Time.” The only question left is, “Will you be next?”
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Two years ago, Athens Now did an article about a friendly and fascinating hearing center located in the Hobbs Plaza on Hwy 72 called One Love Hearing Concepts. Since that time, due to a great deal of hard work and outstanding customer care, there are now six locations in North Alabama. The hearing industry is highly competitive, and Zeke Creasy, the owner of One Love, is no stranger to competition. In fact, he thrives on it because he knows it just makes him better.

Zeke graduated from East Limestone High School, and was a “determined” point guard all throughout middle school. For a while, he was a member of the ELHS basketball team. He went on to graduate from Auburn in Hotel and Restaurant Management, and additionally in Business Management. He also completed his course requirements at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School, and built up a highly successful catering business. All of those skills were successfully parlayed into a business that has not only grown quickly, but has built a reputation of “treating you like family.” Zeke told me, “I know that sounds kind of corny, but that really is how we all feel. We love our clients.” I can speak from experience that the staff thoroughly enjoys working at One Love. Even the Auburn grad and the Alabama fan work in peace together!

One of the things that makes One Love work so well is that Starkey, their parent company and supplier, sets the tone when it comes to employee support, as well as serving their clients. “I have a single mom who works at one of the other locations who did not tell me until she had been working for me for three months that she was hearing impaired,” Zeke said. Starkey sent her some state of the art hearing aids at no charge, and she is able to connect with clients as a “fellow traveler.” She can say from experience that she has never heard better, and it has been life-changing for her.

Speaking of “state-of-the-art,” hearing aids have even improved so much in the last two years that it almost seems like something out of a sci-fi movie. “We now have hearing aids that can read your emails to you while you are driving down the road,” Zeke said. There are also hearing aids that are connected to a GPS service that will locate them for you if you misplace them. “In probably no more than five years, there will be hearing aids that will function faster than your brain, and turn the directional microphone toward the sound before your brain does. They exist now, but they are still being perfected,” Zeke said. Hearing aids are now able to distinguish between noise and voices, and adjust how they process sound to the hearer.

While all this high-tech stuff is genuinely interesting, the lion’s share of One Love’s clients are elderly; many are on fixed incomes; and they are wanting something perhaps less fancy. It is apparent that Zeke’s heart toward seniors is that of a warrior, and he is unashamedly protective of those who walk through his doors. “It’s true that there are a number of big box stores and pharmacies who are offering less expensive merchandise, but their customers get just that, merchandise. At One Love you get us, we are on this journey with you, and you are our family. We do not sell hearing aids, we sell better hearing,” he said.

The concept of “journey” even shows up on the Athens staff’s business cards, which describe the various team members as “Patient Hearing Journey Specialist” on the top line, and then their specific duty description below that, such as Executive Manager of Operations, or Executive Personal Assistant. On a more whimsical and nearly humorous note, the newest millennial member of the crew is described as “Humble Hearing Angel, Sales Assistant and Social Media Guru Specialist.” The affectionate camaraderie amongst the staff is passed on to the client, and if the time ever comes when I need help with my hearing, this is where I am coming! “If you need to improve your hearing, we will find a way to make that happen,” Zeke said. One Love has in-house financing, and one woman on a fixed income designates her $40 monthly payment as her “hearing budget.”

In 2017, Johns Hopkins University released a study which proved that hearing loss has a number of negative side effects one would not immediately conclude are related. Here is some of what they found: those with untreated haring loss have significantly higher incidence of depression, have a shorter lifespan, have a 30-40% faster decline in cognitive abilities, are up to 5 times more likely to develop dementia, and a 3 times greater risk of falling. What I learned from Zeke is that hearing and balance are intimately linked, and there are even examples of commercial fishermen greatly diminishing their vertigo symptoms when they wear their hearing aids.

In a word, if you hear better, you are going to live better. And if you want help on your hearing journey, call One Love Hearing Concepts in Athens today for your no-obligation appointment and hearing test. They will be with you all the way.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner