By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
When Joe Jasmon, CEO of Shepherd Living at the Range, was 16 years old, his grandma was put in what can only be described as an old-style “nursing home.” It was not a pleasant experience for anyone, his grandma or his family, and as he puts it, “It was a horrible situation.” He could not have known at the time that his family’s difficult experience would set in motion what would eventually become his calling: to develop the type of senior care and carefully designed community system that is the premise of what will be North Alabama’s brand-new Shepherd Living at the Range on County Line Road.

Shepherd Living at the Range, which from here on out I will refer to as The Range, came out of Joe’s 30+ years of experience in the hospitality industry, as well as the health care industry. He was a resident manager for several Hyatt Hotels, and he also worked for Quorum Health Resources. The blend of both backgrounds caused Joe to see a huge need for senior care that was designed to be empowering to the residents as well as their families. Eventually Joe was in charge of over 40 such communities in Texas, pioneering a change in senior care philosophy that he wished his grandma could have experienced when she was battling dementia.

Two years ago, Joe, Christine Menedis, and Naveen Trehan developed the “Shepherd Living Concept,” and their soon-to-be-completed local community is in a beautiful setting at 10801 and 10803 County Line Road in Madison. It will be opening in January, and if the number of serious inquiries and tours that occurred while I was at their construction trailer is any indication of their success elsewhere, I expect it will fill up soon.

When Shepherd began to see their dream materialize, there was one non-negotiable thing that served as their “why”– the residents had to be empowered to live vibrant, autonomous lives in the midst of a carefully designed community. That same commitment held fast for those who were also in the Memory Care portion of this wonderful “small town for seniors.” Joe says it this way when it comes to meeting the needs and desires of the residents, “The answer is yes.” What he means is that his staff is trained to function almost like a concierge in a hotel. They will find a way to make “it” happen, as long as it is not immoral, illegal or dangerous!

So, what is the walk-out of that kind of commitment to your residents? Amenities that are no more than 20 steps away; high-staffing ratios to ensure extraordinary resident care; an attractive single-story community that boasts smart phone capabilities to lock doors, receive messages, and turn on lights; a restaurant that is open to the public; a spa and wellness center that friends can join; diverse wellness classes; state-of-the-art physical therapy; and more. There are medical professionals, a trained chef, meals are when you decide you are hungry, and an endless list of possible activities. The “Shepherd Approach” asks this question: “How do we do it? Simple. We offer it all and allow you to craft your perfect day.”
I told Joe about my parents’ mostly positive experience in a similar type of senior community in the Pacific Northwest, and asked him about The Range’s policy with regard to visiting adult kids or grandkids. At my parents’ residence, no one could come and visit for more than 30 days, so there was no chance for a memorable “summer at Grandma and Grandpa’s.” At The Range, those kinds of restrictions don’t exist. If an adult child suddenly becomes a single parent and needs a place to land while they get back on their feet, that is something that can be accommodated with the staff ready to assist. Dogs are welcome; in fact, the name Shepherd comes from the understanding that canine therapy is powerful for seniors and their families.

We finished our time with Joe telling me an utterly heartwarming story of Shepherd’s strong serving presence in Port Orange, Florida, prior to, during and after Hurricane Irma. They cared for over 250 individuals which included their residents and staff, family members of both the residents and staff and many members of the community who were displaced, and kept them for days. A doctor called prior to Irma making landfall and transferred a patient who needed special care because the Shepherd community was designed to withstand Cat-4 level winds. They were a skillfully prepared self-contained community that reached out like neighbors to those in need, and they did it well because of the caliber of their staff, as well as the resulting commitment to their residents. If this is the kind of place you are looking for, either for yourself or your loved ones, then call 877-GO-MADISON (466-2347) today to make an appointment for a tour. Remember, Shepherd is more than a home. It’s a way of life.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Construction of our new Athens High School on Hwy 31 North is well underway, and the Athens City Schools Foundation is inviting all Athenians to become a permanent part of its legacy and to impact our community long after we are gone. How? By purchasing what they are calling a Legacy Brick.

By way of background, the late Jackie Greenhaw, himself a former coach and teacher, started the Foundation in the 1970s as a way to provide supplies and opportunities for students that teachers had paid for out of their own pocket and the goodness of their hearts. My husband and I know one such teacher in another state who has nothing like a Foundation to support her. Our friend, who teaches 4th grade in the mountains of the Carolinas sometimes stays at her school ‘til 11 p.m., even with her devoted husband’s help; they routinely sacrifice for kids who are not their own because they understand the necessity of investing in education and their community. I wish our friends had people such as Dr. Chris Hamilton, who heads up the brick project, or Dr. Trey Holladay, Athens City Schools Superintendent in their corner!

This year the Foundation has already given 20 thousand dollars in order to grant every third grader in the Athens City Schools the opportunity to learn to play the violin. They are taught by members of the Huntsville Symphony, and the students also get the chance to go see performances as part of this program. The powerful and positive role of music in education is inarguable, and this is an example of what a community can do to get behind the development of their future leaders.
Dr. Chris Hamilton taught Business Marketing at Calhoun and was a college administrator for many years. She then became part of the launch of the Athens Schools’ Power Up Program. She saw the need for students to become and remain current with technological trends if they were going to be competitive, which was Power Up’s focus, school by school and student by student. There came a time when Chris felt that she needed to do something different while continuing to be involved in the field of education, and the Foundation was the perfect fit.

Dr. Hamilton told me, “The idea of offering the legacy bricks came about soon after we knew there was going to be a new high school, and we wanted to make them affordable for everyone. Some ‘paver projects’ start at $250.00, and ours start at $50.00.” She went on to say that there is going to be room for a full 5,000 bricks at the back gymnasium/auditorium/event entrance dedicated to the legacy bricks. “If we get more than the 5,000, we’ll go around the sides to the front,” she added with a smile.

If you purchase a 4”x8” brick, you will be able to have three lines with up to 18 characters per line to fill. This means that spaces between words count as characters, and your wording will be in capital letters centered in the middle of the brick. An 8”x8” brick costs $100, has up to six lines with up to 18 characters per line. A 12”x12” brick costs $225. It may contain up to 10 lines of copy with a maximum of 23 characters per line.

The Foundation Legacy Brick informational material also noted, “Engraved on your brick can be a family name, current student, alumni, teacher, staff member, business or organization. You can choose to honor someone special or place a brick in memory of a loved one. Bricks can be donated to memorialize a special achievement, a memorable event or a graduating class. Engraved bricks make wonderful gifts. Every brick has a story. Write yours. History is in the making. Your brick will be a place where the past meets the future in a perfectly preserved moment as a permanent part of Golden Eagle History. Proceeds will go to the Athens City Schools Foundation to support our teachers and students. Together we make a difference.”

Students are welcome to purchase the Legacy Bricks as well, in the event that they want to say thanks to a special teacher, coach, or staff member. The possibilities are nearly endless, so don’t miss this opportunity to build a memory and a legacy, literally.

All orders for Legacy Bricks must be placed by January 1, 2018. You can order online at For more information, please call Chris Hamilton at 256-233-6600. You may also stop by the Athens City Schools central office entry foyer at 455 Hwy 31 North to pick up an order form.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
For the past eleven years, the City of Athens has been blessed to host what has become what the Southeast Tourism Society has called one of its “top 20 annual events,” and truth be told, it has grown into a giant family reunion. This year’s festival will be held once again under the big tent on the east side of the Courthouse, and the official festivities begin on Tuesday, October 24, and finish up on Saturday, October 28.

Many of our old favorite ‘tellers will be back, such as Donald Davis, Carmen Deedy (for the Tues.-Thur. School Days presentation only) and Bil Lepp, along with Bobby Norfolk, who has won three Emmy Awards for his work. The ‘tellers all rave about the Athens event because of the legendary hospitality and honor that they experience each year, and our town has become one of their favorite stops as they travel the storytelling circuit.

New to this year’s lineup, but not at all to the craft, are Bill Harley and Geraldine Buckley. Bill is a two-time Grammy Award winner, as well as a commentator on National Public Radio. He is also the recipient of the Beverly Cleary Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award on the national Storytelling circuit. Geraldine hails from the UK and has “told” all over the world, including in New Zealand, Canada, Holland, South Africa, and Spain. Her trademark British accent and dry humor make her a favorite wherever she goes, and interestingly, she has also served as a chaplain in Maryland at a men’s prison. She has taken three golds at the awards given by Storytelling World.

Once again, the Birmingham-based musical and theatrical group, The Dill Pickers, will be performing. The Dill Pickers have been together since 1999, and got their start as part of the cast of the off-Broadway musical Smoke On The Mountain. One of their trademarks, besides being able to do a number of styles of music, is that they each play several characters apiece in their full-length stage presentations.

For the fifth year, the Dan Williams Local Tellers Competition will be part of our “family reunion,” kicking off the festival on Tuesday night the 24th. This is a juried event, with the professional tellers serving as the judges, and the winner will go on to “tell” interspersed amongst them at Thursday night’s “Olio,” or “sampling,” of the ‘tellers’ whimsical wares. If you are interested in competing as a local ‘teller, please contact Wendy Bobo at for more information.

Former local ‘tellers have included the late Dan Williams, Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely, Athens City Councilman Frank Travis, City of Athens Attorney Shane Black, Charlie Hughes, and others. Anyone can enter, and the Tuesday night event is a chance to get to know a side of “members of our family” that doesn’t always show up at their “day job.”

As previously mentioned, several things stand out about our festival, not the least of which is that out of 300 national events, ours is the only one where local school students, as well as homeschoolers, get to attend free of charge during the day Tuesday through Thursday. Our state legislators, including Senator Bill Holtzclaw, Representative Danny Crawford, and Alabama State Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, work hard every year to get funding to make that possible. And as someone who has had the opportunity to attend all of the “School Days” presentations, hearing the kids squeal with laughter as they are being taught priceless life lessons is one of my favorite parts of the festival. The phrase “They won’t know what hit ‘em” was never more appropriate, as is “just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.”

People and businesses alike pitch in to make the Storytelling Festival something that, according to Wayne Kuykendall, one of the festival’s founders, “has an 80-100K dollar financial impact on our community.” There is more than just financial impact to be celebrated, though.

The purpose of the Athens Storytelling Festival is greater than making people laugh, or providing a safe place for families to enjoy themselves, or putting money in the coffers of local businesses and the tourism industry. Telling stories preserves cultures, gives a sense of history as well as future, and is the basis of everything from gathering around a campfire in order to roast marshmallows, to imparting divine truths. Come and see what folks have come to love so much, and “hear tales that make you laugh and cry.”

Tickets can be purchased online at, or for more information, call Wayne Kuykendall at 256-232-0400.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
On October 18, the Athens-Limestone Hospital Foundation will be sponsoring their 10th annual Pink Elephant Luncheon, an event whose purpose is to raise funds as well as awareness in the fight against breast cancer. Because one in eight women will be faced with this horrible disease, the Foundation would like to help lower this statistic, and find better methods for detection, care, and increasing life span. This year Athens High School Choir will be singing, and the Athens Fire Department will be bringing the pink fire truck as part of the day’s events. The special guest speaker will be Athens’ own Suzanne Brooks.

Suzanne spent 25 years as a teacher in our schools and recently retired. It was in the middle of her teaching career that breast cancer stepped into the “ring” of her life, and Suzanne fought back. She has been cancer-free for 17 years, and is going to share her story with the hope of gathering other warriors to fight, and encouraging those in the battle along with their families.

There was a time when breast cancer was considered to be the disease of only elderly women, affecting those who were 65-years old and above. Some oncologists say that with each passing decade, the age of women diagnosed by breast cancer has itself dropped a decade, with teenagers being stricken in the years 2000-2010. Sadly, two years ago an eight-year-old girl in Utah became the youngest person on record to have been diagnosed with it, and latest available information states that she is in remission.

In addition, it is now entirely possible for men to have breast cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2017, 2400 men will be stricken with the disease, and of those 2400, 400 will die. While it is true that 97% of the women who actually die from breast cancer are over the age of 40, still the death toll this year for female breast cancer will be close to 40,000, and from every age group. Thankfully there are more than 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S., and the Foundation is doing all it can to see that number increase.

Because early detection is one of the keys for survival, Athens-Limestone Hospital Foundation has raised funds specifically designated to provide scholarships for mammograms, as well as procure the newest technologies to find it sooner. ALH Foundation started the Pink Elephant Fund ten years ago because they wanted to make sure residents of Limestone County who either have no medical insurance or whose insurance does not cover mammograms would have the opportunity to have this test at no charge. This has been especially helpful in recent years as insurance costs have sky-rocketed, or mammograms have been dropped from coverage altogether. However, this year they will be focusing on making it possible for the hospital to begin utilizing what is known as stereotactic breast biopsy, a much more accurate and minimally invasive out-patient diagnostic procedure.

In case you are not aware, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, something that is now signified nationally by everything from pink garbage cans to football helmets, and the ALHF Pink Elephant luncheon is the best way locally to make a statement. Individual tickets for the luncheon are $30 and, in addition, there are a number of opportunities to be a sponsor. If you would like to be a mammogram scholarship sponsor, you can do so for $125. You will receive one ticket to the luncheon, and will be designated as a “Pink Table Top” sponsor.

The “Tickled Pink” designation is for a donation of $500, which includes 2 luncheon tickets, event day recognition, and having name/organization posted on the Pink Elephant Sponsor Board for the fiscal year.

The $1500 “Pretty In Pink” designation includes a luncheon table for 8, the same event day and Sponsor Board recognition, as well as inclusion in a full-page color ad in the Sunday News Courier. For $2500, the “Passionate Pink” sponsors will have 2 tables of 8, the same event day recognition, Sponsor Board recognition, News Courier recognition, name/organization posted on hospital digital donor wall, as well as further recognition in Foundation marketing campaigns.

With this opportunity to join the fight and honor those who have fought it, the Athens Limestone Hospital Foundation sincerely hopes you will come to the Limestone County Event Center on October 18 for the Pink Elephant Luncheon. For more information on purchasing tickets, being a sponsor, or getting a pink garbage can, please call Leah Beth McNutt at the Foundation Office at 256-233-9557.

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
We can now say that it has been more than a half-century since some old-timey musicians convened in a private home in West Limestone for the very first regional gathering of fiddlers, guitarists, singers, and buck dancers from the Valley. Back then no one could have dreamed that it would grow into what is now being called the “Granddaddy of Mid-South Fiddlers Conventions,” and has gone on to become one of the most important musical festivals in the region. It is estimated that more than 15,000 people will pleasantly invade Athens for the event, and some will stay clear through til the end of the month for the rest of our fall celebratory season.

This year also marks the 90th anniversary of the beginning of the Delmore Brothers’ career, and in their honor, a duo called The Farmer and Adele will be performing a tribute concert to the brothers. It will be held on Oct 7 at 3:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. in McCandless Hall. The Farmer and Adele perform all over the country, and their songwriting is described as “uplifting, heroic and simple, but hearkens back to the time of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers.”

I spoke with Terry Stepp and Chris Latham of Athens State University about the 2017 Convention, and found out what is new for this year. “We are bringing back the free Thursday night concert,” said Chris, who was hired about six months ago as Director of Marketing, Public Relations and Publications. The free concert will be held at 7:00 p.m. on October 5. It will be performed by Mark Kuykendall, Bobby Hicks, and Asheville Bluegrass. The Thursday night free concert will be held on the Alabama Farmers Cooperative Main Stage in front of Founders Hall.

Seeing as this is Chris’s first “Fiddlers,” he said that he is looking forward “to see how the campus is transformed.” Terry, who is the advisor for the Student Government Association at ASU, told me about how the Convention has been used for scholarship programs and other student projects. “The Fiddlers Convention is our main fundraiser,” he said. Through the years, over $460,000 has been raised, and this year will put the total of endowments considerably closer to the half-million dollar mark.

Another of the celebrity concerts will be performed by Dailey and Vincent, whom Chris has seen at the Grand Ol’ Opry. “They are really good,” he said, “and are a bit more geared to the younger crowd.” They will perform on October 6 at 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

There are typically more than 200 musicians participating each year, and there will be a total of $17,750 given away in prize money. There are 20 different categories, including several fiddle and guitar categories, harmonica, mandolin, bluegrass banjo, dobro, dulcimer, old-time singing, banjo, and buck dancing.

While the focus at Fiddlers is always going to be the music and the musicians, one of the best parts is having the chance to see the vendors and sample their wares. Approximately 150 booths featuring old-fashioned arts and crafts will be part of the festivities. Convention goers will see everything from traditional artwork to coal-fired metal works. There will be 25 food vendors on hand to provide everything from a quick snack to a full meal, and there are 8 new food vendors for this year’s festival. “There are 42 new craft vendors,” said Terry, “and some of them will offer such varied items as products from a lavender farm, as well as coffee that is custom-roasted.”

From the standpoint of logistics, another new feature of this year’s convention is that all Fiddlers attendees will have to wear wristbands while they are on campus. Blue will be the color for a single-day ticket, which will cost $15.00. The two-day will be a red wristband, and the cost for that one will be $20. “There are also group rates,” Terry said. “For every group of 20 or more, $3 will be knocked off the price of a one-day ticket, and $5 from the two-day ticket,” he added. There will be what they call the Cash Gate Prize, which is a drawing from ticket numbers at the ticket booth. “Friday’s will be $200, and Saturday’s will be $300,” said Terry. The Boy Scouts will be helping with litter control, and an army of volunteers will be on duty to answer questions as well as help see to it that the convention goes smoothly.

The Fiddlers Convention really is one of the best things to happen in Athens all year long, and there is something for everyone. It is also a family-friendly event which is more than reasonably priced. To see people who have never met before come together to make music, tell stories, and make friends is simply heartwarming. The convention culminates on Saturday night when the 2017 Alabama State Fiddle Champion is announced, and we would like to invite everyone to come and join us for the entire weekend to celebrate “the Granddaddy of ‘em all.” For more information please go to
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Carlos Shannon was born at home in a two-room log cabin near Holland’s Gin in Elkmont on October 30, 1943. The “midwife” was Dr. Clifford Vernon Mayhall, whose practice was at the time located in the charming, renovated teal-colored building with the deep porch located across the street from Belle Chevre Creamery on Upper Fort Hampton Road. The Shannons were sharecroppers, and Carlos worked mules and cotton all the years he was growing up. He attended a one-room school located on Beulah Road in Elkmont, and it literally was called Hillbilly School!

He told his daddy, “There’s got to be a better way to make money than sharecropping,” and went to work for Community Gas in Huntsville, getting under houses and wrapping duct work with insulation. He worked several different jobs for various businesses, large and small. They included selling Dr. Pepper, selling cakes for Dolly Madison, and working at L&S on North Jefferson.

When Carlos was 16, he met his sweetheart, Anne, at a swimming hole at Vernon Ford. Anne was 15 at the time, and they were married four years later on Valentine’s Day, 1963. They have two children, Paula and Carlos II, three grandkids, and a great granddaughter who calls Carlos “Grandy.”

Carlos and Anne lived out their own version of the American Dream by opening a convenience store in Piney Chapel in 1975, and they sold it in 1986. Interestingly, Carlos loves all things Western, and on the same property built a cowboy town, which boasted a lovely log cabin in which they lived for several years after their home burned down in 1994. During his “cowboy era,” he used to go to Old York to participate in the cowboy shootouts for the tourists. “I got shot off a mule more times than I can remember,” Carlos said with a grin. Carlos fashioned his Old York character after Festus on Gunsmoke, who was played by veteran actor Ken Curtis. Festus named his mule Ruth, and Carlos named his mule Gertrude.

After Carlos and Anne sold the convenience store, they travelled the country for several years, and became an early version of “American Pickers,” finding all kinds of small antiques, knives and artwork that would be a treasure to just the right person. “We would go places, find stuff, bring it back and sell it. We would go out again, and bring our finds back again,” Carlos said. Because they had limited space, they sold smaller things like antique corn huskers, and other items that could loosely be called American Primitive. For a while, Carlos sold pocket knives, and he told me, “Used to you could bite down on the handle of a horn-handled knife and tell if it was real. Then they got so good at making plastic handles that you couldn’t tell any more, and I wasn’t going to sell anything that wasn’t authentic.”

With regard to the care he has received at Limestone Health as a rehab patient, he and Anne had many positive things to say. “When I first got here after breaking my hip, I couldn’t hardly move,” said Carlos. Anne added, “He’s made a lot of progress. Now he can get into a truck.” Carlos has played Bingo and won, and he loves the food prepared by the kitchen. His favorites at the facility are biscuits and gravy, and cornbread. He also said, “If I need help, they come quick.” Through misty eyes he added, “I love all my nurses, and I think they love me.” He is hoping to be released from rehab at the end of September.

We moved on to the topic of favorites.

Favorite color? “Red.”
Favorite food? “Shrimp, all kinds. Boiled shrimp, grilled shrimp, you name it,” said Carlos.
Favorite food to cook? “I love to grill, and make stews. I would make a pot of stew in a big wash tub,” he said.
Favorite scripture? “Psalms 23.” He and Anne have attended Hobbs Street Church of Christ for many years.
Favorite President of the United States? “Ronald Reagan.”
Favorite actress? “Debbie Reynolds in Tammy And The Bachelor.” I sang him the chorus from Tammy’s In Love, one of the first songs I learned as a kid. He also loves Loretta Lynn.
Favorite actor? Ken Curtis, who played Festus in Gunsmoke.

Biggest change in his lifetime? Most of the time, residents will say things like “the Internet,” or “landing on the moon.” For Carlos, it was this: “Having all the Sun Drop I wanted because I owned my own business, vs. getting a 12 oz. RC Cola when I walked with my granddaddy to get a GI haircut.”

Advice to young people? “Honor thy Father and Mother, and get a job!”

‘Nuff said; that is some wise counsel from a man who has lived a full life with his sweetheart by his side.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

By: Holly Hollman
It won’t be long now before we’ll all be celebrating at the Athens Grease Festival! On September 30, throngs of toga-clad guests will take one day to honor everything fried. We’ll be looking for Twinkies, Oreos, Nutter Butters, pies, okra, fish, and anything else that can be battered and dropped into a vat of hot grease!

Come out to enjoy the food, fun, and music. We can eat responsibly the other 364 days of the year.

As you can see, Annie has her toga and crown ready. If you aren’t familiar with Annie, she is my dog and has her own Facebook page – Annie’s Canine Litter Patrol. Annie invites other dogs to encourage their owners to take two bags when they go for walks. One is for, well you know what it’s for. The second bag is for litter the canines sniff out along the way. Annie would love for you and your pooch to become part of her patrol. Just post a photo of you and your dog picking up litter on her Facebook page and you are IN!

So what does the Grease Festival have to do with KALB? Well, we will be there to have a good time just like hundreds of others. We will also be there to share information on the FOG Recycling Program provided by the City of Athens Wastewater Department. We will also ensure that all vendors have a proper way to recycle their used grease.

If you are not familiar with the FOG Recycling Program, here is an explanation. FOG stands for Fats, Oils, and Grease. FOG can originate from vegetable or animal sources, such as dairy products, vegetable oil, olive oil, or fats from cooking meats. Fats, oils and grease poured into the wastewater system (sewers) will cool and become a sticky layer on sewer pipes. The sticky mess then attracts and holds other food particles and debris that flows through the drains causing blockages or clogs. These clogs can then cause overflows. Removing these blockages is very costly, both financially and to the health of the environment.

The Athens Wastewater Department spends tens of thousands of dollars removing these clogs, the cost of which is passed on to the consumer, and we all know who that is! Although we celebrate grease at our annual festival, we don’t want all those little fatty party animals partying in our pipes!

How To Participate
FOG Collection and Recycling containers are available free of charge to Athens and Limestone County residents. Just pick one up from the white FOG cages located at the following locations:

  • Athens-Limestone Recycling Center – 15896 Lucas Ferry Rd.
  • KALB Office – 125 East Street
  • Utility Building – 1806 Wilkinson St.
  • Various apartment complexes in Athens (check with apartment management)

Once the container is full, return it to the bottom shelf of any of the collection cages. It is not required that you use a FOG container to collect your fats, oils, and grease. It can be recycled in any container with a secure lid. The contents will be processed and used in a variety of products.

With the holiday season approaching, we want everyone to be aware of this program and ready for all the fats, oils, and grease created by roasting turkeys, hams, and other delicious holiday foods. Stop and visit with the KALB folks at the Grease Festival to learn more about this program.

Don’t forget your toga!
By: Holly Hollman

By: Holly Hollman
Comic book fans have their favorite heroes and villains. Batman and Robin vs. Poison Ivy. Superman vs. Lex Luther.

Local artists are encouraging our community’s youngest heroes in their own battle against the villain known as childhood cancer by hosting a Comic Book Art Contest and Exhibit at High Cotton Arts. For example, one art student submitted a painting on cardboard that shows a bald boy looking in the mirror. Instead of a cancer patient, he sees a superhero.

“As a community, there are so many ways we can support families fighting this disease,” said Athens Arts League Board Member Holly Hollman. “In the arts community, we can provide a creative outlet and give children and adult artists an avenue to inspire us to act whether that is supporting cancer foundations, increasing awareness about prevention and treatment, or doing something as simple as collecting cola tabs to send to St. Jude’s.”

Kristie Williams with Eli’s Block Party Childhood Cancer Foundation approached Athens Arts League about hosting a Comic Book Art Contest and Exhibit for Childhood Cancer Month in September. The Foundation hosts an annual Superhero Day in Athens to uplift those impacted by the disease and to raise funds to support the Foundation.

“Comic book art seemed like the ideal theme to coincide with Superhero Day,” said Athens Arts League Board President Amy Golden.

Kristie Williams’ son, Eli, recently died from his battle with childhood cancer. This week, Leah Seibert, an Elkmont teenager, died from her battle with childhood cancer.

“High Cotton Arts is humbled to have a part in honoring our community’s youngest heroes like Leah Seibert and Eli Williams for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month,” Golden said. “The artwork students have submitted have evoked strong emotions in the organizers of the contest. I think the public will be impressed with how students have creatively captured the fight to stop cancer.”

The contest and exhibit were open to students and adults and drew submission from as far as Yonkers, NY. The artwork will be on display starting Wednesday, Sept. 6, and through the month of September. The winning submissions will be displayed at Superhero Day on Sept. 9 at Big Spring Memorial Park from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and then will return to High Cotton Arts. Steelcase joined Athens Arts League in sponsoring the contest.

In addition to the contest and exhibit, High Cotton Arts will host a Marvel-ous Fridays After Five event on Sept. 8 from 5-8 p.m. The event name is a play on words for Marvel Comics to highlight the Comic Book Art Exhibit. There will be music and activities including a visit from one of the superheroes from Eli’s Block Party Childhood Cancer Foundation.

For more information about Eli’s Block Party and Superhero Day, go online at
For more information about Athens Arts League and its efforts to support art for the community, go online at
By: Holly Hollman

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Coming off the biggest year ever for U.S. solar installations, local installer ACE, LLC. SOLAR is proud to be named one of the top solar contractors in the United States by Solar Power World magazine. They achieved the rank of 44th for top solar developers in the country. ACE, LLC. SOLAR also achieved a rank of 328 out of over 5000 solar companies.

Chuck Boggs, CEO of ACE, LLC. SOLAR shared with me that, “We take care of every part of the project, not just the construction and installation. We make you a 3D picture of what your project will look like. We write the grants. We work with TVA to achieve the correct program. We craft the agreement with your local utility company; we guarantee the system bumper to bumper for 6 years.” He was joined by Terri Sutphin, the Customer Relations Manager, who added, “We do not subcontract any part of a project; we own our own equipment, and we do all the work. We also monitor your energy production as well as usage 24/7, and produce a report once a month so you can track your savings.”

Chuck has watched the bugs get worked out of the solar industry to the extent that he and his partners have been able to start three industry award-winning businesses that are all solar-related. They are located in a historical building right across from the Giles County Courthouse in Pulaski, TN. The first is ACE, LLC. SOLAR, which is the commercial construction outfit that is doing a brisk business all over the Tennessee Valley on down to Cullman. The second is ACE ENRGI SOLUTIONS LLC., which monitors every aspect of the client’s energy usage, production and savings. The third is ACE INSURANCE LLC., which provides insurance for their clients at greatly reduced rates because there is no middle man.

Speaking of projects, Athens Now featured an interview with Dan Mankins, owner of PSI, earlier this spring showcasing their coming on board with solar energy, beginning with their own company. Dan said that he expected to shave at least $6,000 dollars off of his utility bill. On September 15, the Cinemagic Theater in Athens, AL will host a celebration of their newly installed solar system. Other projects include package stores, liquor stores, funeral homes, poultry farms, storage facilities, welding shops and auto related commercial facilities with over 2 mega watts of solar panels installed. ACE, LLC. SOLAR will save their customers millions of dollars on their electric bills. Solar is for everyone who pays an electric bill each month and wants to reduce or eliminate it.

Chuck brings substantial experience to the table, which stems from not only having had a long and successful construction career, but in educating public officials about the viability of solar energy. As an active member of the National Small Business Administration, he has spoken with every sitting U.S. president starting with Ronald Reagan, has been a part of solar seminars held various high profile venues, and even has spoken with Alabama’s own U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. Chuck also served for eight years as the president of the Pulaski Boys’ and Girls’ Club.

I asked Chuck to tell me why, when people have choices in the region as well as nationally, should they pick ACE, LLC. SOLAR as the contractor for their project; he smiled and answered, “Most people are not aware that sunlight striking earth’s surface in just one hour delivers enough energy to power the world economy for an entire year. We believe in the sun! As Annie said…‘the sun will come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there’ll be sun.’ ACE, LLC. SOLAR does all the work for our customers so they can concentrate on their day-to-day activities. We make it easy; we are a one-stop shop and your total, active-energy partner.”

We finished our time with Chuck telling me about a new service they will be showcasing in December. “It’s an electrical storage system that will take you off-line, and it is EPA-friendly,” he said. That will clearly need to be the topic of another discussion, but for now, if you are considering going solar for your business, you need to call ACE, LLC. SOLAR today at 931-638-4639 for your complimentary consultation. You can also go online at for more information.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
For nearly 20 years, the Athens Limestone Hospital Foundation has held a golf tournament for the purpose of raising money to purchase highly-specialized medical equipment for our award-winning “Hometown Hospital.” This year the tournament will be held on Thursday, September 14, at the Canebrake Golf Club, with a rain date of September 18. Canebrake is a championship course, and the Foundation wants to thank them once more for hosting the Cup. This year’s format will again be a 3-person scramble. Entry fee includes per player, a mulligan package (one power drive and two mulligans), a gift package, access to the practice range.

Lunch will be provided by 306 BBQ and begins at 11:30 a.m. The pizza will be specially made by Joe Carlucci of Joe’s World Famous Pizzeria, and will be served during the awards ceremony. There is a shotgun that begins at 1 p.m. There will be a 50/50 cash drawing, and according to Ray Neese, Athens Limestone Hospital Foundation Board President and Crystal Cup Golf Tournament Chair, “There will be two flights, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place winners in each flight.” The Crystal Cup is one of 3 major annual Foundation fundraising events, all of which have served to upgrade the Emergency Room, purchase state-of-the-art “smart beds,” procure a special table used in joint replacement surgeries, and provide the means to make the mother and baby wing one of the best in the area. Leah Beth McNutt, who organizes the charitable events for the Foundation said, “Last year we were able to meet our fundraising goals, and want to thank everyone who supported us. We could not do what we do without the continued involvement of this community. We are excited about this year’s project and looking forward to meeting our goals once again.”

The proceeds from the 2017 Crystal Cup will go towards the purchase of a brand new GE Panda iRES Infant Warmer for the Mother/Baby Unit. The unit will replace, and upgrade, the warmer in the hospital’s C-section Room, and will make it easier to care for healthy as well as sick or compromised newborns. The scale automatically weighs the newborn, which negates the need to remove the baby from under the warmer. Its design keeps the baby warm while keeping the caregiver cool, and the Panda is portable. This unit will also improve resuscitative efforts when and if the need arises. The warmer utilizes the latest technology in providing thermoregulation of the newborn. The design is sleek, and increases ease of access to the infant for both the caregiver as well as the family. The iRES is equipped with a color display screen to improve communication among the care team, and features a hands-free alarm system for infection control. The cost for the new warmer is $20,000.00, and there are several levels of sponsorship available for the Crystal Cup as well as the other fundraising events dedicated to its procurement.

For more information about this year’s Crystal Cup, please contact Leah Beth McNutt at 256-233-9557, or We hope we can count on your continued support, and thank you for believing in your Hometown Hospital!
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner