April 29 marked yet another Gala sponsored by the Athens Limestone Hospital Foundation, and when I stopped by for the interview, I think it is safe to say that everyone at the Foundation was thrilled with how it went, understandably a bit tuckered out, and deeply grateful for all of the support from many sectors of the community to make Puttin’ On The Glitz a roaring success. There were about 300 people in attendance, mostly from Athens, and mostly medical professionals, as well as other businesses and private citizens who understand the value of the Foundation’s mission.

The fund-raising focus for this year’s Gala was to purchase what was described as “the most recent, advanced equipment for the Athens-Limestone Hospital Outpatient Surgery Department.” Hospital President David Pryor said the project will be a “medical office building, include a surgery department with six operating rooms, imaging and laboratory services, and physician office space spread across 75,000 square feet. Construction is expected to take about 1.5 years to complete. The project is considered an expansion of the Athens-Limestone Hospital surgery department.”

This was Leah Beth McNutt’s first year to chair the event, and she told me her story about the evening from the perspective of working the event as well as simply enjoying the evening. “People LOVED having the Red Carpet photo shoot, and they were smilin’ big and feelin’ famous for a minute.” She mentioned that the backdrop for the photo op was designed well, and showcased the logos of the sponsors, which pleased them. The ticket price also included a photo booth so attendees could capture the evening just like an A-lister, and it was one of the more popular features of the event.

The Gala Committee members helped with centerpieces, which were created by Dugger’s Florist, the black and white Hollywood style linens, the tea lights, and the logistics of getting the auction items placed so the room would look stunning. “I could go on all night about the auction items,” she said. “Jewelry, bags, trips, and more. It was amazing. And, Gracie found a home.” Gracie is a shelter dog who had been rescued and placed in a loving home, and her adoptive owner needed to find a new home for her. Mission accomplished, and everyone benefitted.

Some of the “hot items” of the evening were the trip to Ireland, as well as the trip to Napa Valley, California. Osborne’s Jewelers had a game that involved each guest having a puzzle piece to a large puzzle. The person with the missing piece won either a bracelet or a watch.

Prior to the auction, just from tickets and sponsor donations, the Gala grossed over 73,000 dollars. They have not finished tallying up the final results of the evening, but the Foundation did not want to wait to express their gratitude for all that made the evening a success.

Leah said the food was “gorgeous. The guests had their choice of Beef Wellington, snapper or chicken, and the desserts were a sampler plate. All of it was delicious.”

Other things that Leah Beth enjoyed were the Erik Blue Band, which provided what she described as “cool music during dinner and for the dance.” She told me they are an outstanding cover band from Nashville. She enjoyed the fact that the people attending felt comfortable either getting really dressed up, “puttin’ on the Glitz, if you will,” or dressed a bit more casually. “I enjoyed watching everyone else enjoy the evening. Some people were there for ‘date night.’ Some were there representing their corporation, and everyone had fun. Radio personality Abby Kay from 96.5 FM was the emcee for the evening, and she was a GREAT emcee,” said Leah Beth.

Of course in this digital social media age there was coverage on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. The “hashtag handle” for the evening was #ALFHGala2017, and there were selfies galore invading cyber-space from the Rocket City. You can check them out on any of those platforms.

At the Gala it was announced, “Because of generous donors like you, our 2016 event fundraisers provided Athens-Limestone Hospital with advanced technology and helped further our women’s health programs. Our three events grossed a total of $131,040. Thank you. Thank you Thank you!”

Leah Beth finished our interview with a happy sigh and the following comment: “It was, I guess the best word is ‘heartwarming’ to see people being so generous and supporting our mission,” and she along with the rest of the Foundation members want everyone to know that they are glad to be “puttin’ forth the gratitude.”
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Limestone County is celebrating its 35th consecutive Sheriff’s Rodeo beginning the week of May 13 and ending May 20, and everyone involved is sure that this year’s is going to be bigger and better than ever! As always it will be held at the arena which is located on Hwy 99 in West Athens. The rodeo has grown to be an impressive, multi-award winning event from its humble beginnings 35 years ago, and helps the economy, promotes tourism, supports the special needs community, provides equipment such as squad cars for the Sheriff’s Department, and brings our town and county together for what has been called “impressive entertainment.” It has other affectionate nicknames as well, such as “The Greatest Show On Dirt,” and Deputy Sheriff Paul Cain says it is “the last bastion of true family entertainment.”

From the perspective of serious rodeo industry standards, our rodeo is one of the top 5 International Pro-Rodeo Association outdoor rodeos in the entire nation, and this year Paul says we’ll have “the biggest program in 20 years.” He went on to say how much he appreciates the support of the local business community and that of local government. “Just this morning Mayor Marks and Commissioner Yarborough were here to sign a joint resolution declaring ‘Rodeo Week,’ and we could not do it without everyone getting involved,” said Paul. He added that we have over 624 businesses supporting the rodeo through ads; there are 30 skyboxes and 26 sponsors contributing to the prize money.

One of the goals for this year’s event is to get two new squad cars, as well as to continue making improvements and renovations on an arena that has literally withstood some fierce storms. The renovations include installing aluminum bleachers, which handle the weather well, along with installing handicapped access and seating. “We are entirely dependent upon the weather,” said Paul. We all know from years gone by that at times the rodeo has been rained out. Even with the weather occasionally throwing a crank in the works, the show does go on, and Paul says, “We just about have this down to a science.” He then proceeded to explain some of the logistics involved in getting the riders slotted, the Rodeo Queen Pageant, the Slack Rodeo and the Special Needs Rodeo organized, as well as the dance and parade in place.

I learned something about “Slack” that I found interesting and pass on to you. I had been under the misunderstanding that people who competed in the Slack Rodeo were kind of like a junior varsity version of a sports team, and this was their chance to gain experience before they “hit the big time.” Not true. There is a complicated process of working around the schedules and registration sequences of the professional riders, and sometimes a champion rider needs to ride Slack on Thursday night so he can get to other events held on a Friday or Saturday. This means that if you cannot come to the Rodeo on Friday or Saturday night, you’ll still see just as good of a show. Paul describes it as a “full blown rodeo without the frills.”

The Sheriff’s Rodeo is not only nationally known for its caliber of riding and roping competitions, it has produced several national Miss Rodeo USA winners. “I want people to know that Debbie Blakely works just as hard on the Pageant as Sheriff Mike does on the rodeo,” said Paul. This year’s Rodeo Queen is MacKenzie Harrold, who hails from Ohio. “She is one of the best ambassadors we have ever had,” said Paul, and the people of Athens-Limestone County have welcomed her with open arms.
She had a situation where she was in a tough Miss Rodeo USA competition in Oklahoma City, and her parents regretfully could not be there with her. Much to MacKenzie’s relief and delight, she looked up and saw a whole passel of folks from Limestone County sitting in a row, just there to support her. In this Pageant, MacKenzie won First Runner-Up, as well as the Photogenic and Speech awards. She narrowly lost the Miss Rodeo USA title to Brittany Howard from Kentucky, also one of our Limestone Rodeo contestants, and who will be joining MacKenzie for this year’s Rodeo. MacKenzie says she’ll never forget our kindness toward her, and is planning on returning here for the Rodeo long after her reign ends in a few weeks.

One of the most important parts of the event is the Special Needs Rodeo. “This year we are going to have 500 kids participating,” Paul said. It’s another part of the Rodeo that just would not happen without community support. He went on to tell me that “the Athens Gas Department grills all the hot dogs. The Fire Department shows up, puts on displays, and the kids can climb on the trucks and see them. The Lions Club brings the little train and gives free rides, and we rent a second train as well.” Of course, there is also the parade that does not charge a fee to enter, the free pony rides, the dance, and the Slack event that serves as a reward program for winners of the reading contest. Paul finished our time by saying, “If you’ve never been, you need to come. You’ll never miss another one.”

For the first time, tickets to the rodeo will be able to be purchased online at www.limestonesheriffrodeo.com, and full information on prices and schedules can be found there.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Dr. Daniel Daley, D.C., of the chiropractic clinic, HealthSource on Hwy 31 in Athens, is pleased to announce both the graduation from Logan University and the addition to the HealthSource staff of Dr. Devin Eernisse. Devin “walks” in her cap and gown on Saturday, April 22, in St. Louis at the Logan University campus, and will be back in Athens on Monday to officially launch her career. Technically, she finished all her course work in January, and spent this semester getting in her requisite 300 hours of internship, as well as her 200 supervised chiropractic adjustments, in order to become certified as a Doctor of Chiropractic.

Devin has been an active athlete all her life, and it was at the age of 14 that she experienced life-changing relief from severe lower back pain through chiropractic treatment. Though still a teen, she began to think seriously about pursuing a career in the chiropractic field. Her family is from Minnesota, and her mom worked in a building where there was a chiropractic clinic. When Devin was having to take herself out of fast-pitch softball games due to unbearable pain, her mom took her to the clinic, and it was there that they discovered that Devin had scoliosis. That condition is technically defined as “abnormal lateral curvature of the spine,” and the chiropractic treatments were so successful that Devin to this day participates with passion in a number of sports, including beach volleyball. I asked her, with just a tiny touch of skepticism, “So, you can dive right on into the sand?” She grinned and said “Yes,” without a smidge of hesitation. However, she does get regular adjustments, so that she can maintain her high level of activity.

Devin also enjoys golf, hiking, running, and being on a lake, and her soul and spirit enjoy being on mission trips. We talked for awhile about the joy of being on the mission field, and the inexplicable pleasure that comes from giving back to those who are in great need. Logan University has a program where students and clinicians go to underserved countries to give chiropractic care; as can almost always be predicted, Devin has been permanently bitten by the “missions bug.” She went to the Dominican Republic with seven classmates and two clinicians, and served in the Santo Domingo area. She would like to go back, and perhaps help out in Jamaica or South America.

Devin holds a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from the University of Wisconsin, Eau-Claire; a Bachelor’s in Life Sciences from Logan University; a Master’s in Sports Science and Rehab; and as of Saturday, a Doctor’s in Chiropractic, also from Logan University.

I asked Devin why, if I were in need of chiropractic care, I should choose her for my practitioner. She thought for a moment and said, “I listen, I put patients first, and also have the background of having been a patient. I was the first in my family to go to a chiropractic doctor, and I know how much it helped me.”

We discussed her commitment to educate her patients about such things as the proper way to carry a backpack, or switching hips when you are carrying a toddler. I also learned something, and it is that guys can throw their backs out over a long period of time just by sitting on wallets being carried around in their jeans back pocket. Sometimes it is the slightest tweak that can make the biggest difference, and Devin gives her patients the depth of care that can facilitate great change as well as relief.
Devin has seen a number of patients’ lives changed since she has been at HealthSource Athens. “One woman was in so much pain from a car accident that she could only wear her hair up in a bun, and it hurt too much to put on even a little bit of makeup. As she got better, her appearance changed greatly,” Devin said. She also told of a patient telling her with triumph, “I put my socks on today.” Because Devin has been in that kind of pain, she also has an unusually high level of compassion for her patients. Devin has observed patients that were in too much pain to talk at all, and as they got better, they also became “a lot more chatty,” and that was a good thing!

Devin’s goals for the present are to build her patient base, and she loves working with Dr. Daley and the rest of the staff at HealthSource. It is also clear that they feel the same about Devin, and are enormously proud of her. “Maybe someday I’ll have my own clinic,” she said, “but that is a long ways off.” Devin loves Athens, and has been “blown away” by the welcome she has received here. She is excited about accepting new patients who would like to receive the benefits of chiropractic care.
HealthSource Athens is well known in our area for the way they give back to the community, whether it’s the “dollar-a-minute” massages that are so welcome at events such as the annual Lawn and Garden Show or charity events such as Relay For Life, doing “teacher breaks” at schools, adopting schools and donating funds to worthy causes. I believe Dr. Devin Eernisse will fit right in, and we wish her and HealthSource Athens all the best!
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Athens attorney Bill Mathews moved here from Russellville when he was six months old. The youngest of five, Bill graduated from Athens High School, and went on to get his undergrad degree in finance from Auburn University. He attended Samford University’s Cumberland Law School and finished his degree in 1989. He said that as a young man he always wanted to help people, and figured the best way he could do it was to be what he now describes as our “home-town lawyer.” As we chatted in his conference room Bill told me, “I could see people needed help, and I knew I wanted to help.” He got his wish and opened his own practice in Athens in 1997. Bill has practiced law for 26 years in Athens. His practice is located right across the street from the east side of the Courthouse at 117 South Marion Street, Athens, AL 35611, and they are opened Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Bill and his wife Heather have three children: William Jr., Caroline, and John David. Caroline and William Jr. are students at Auburn, and John David is still attending Athens High School. Bill is a member of Lindsay Lane Baptist Church. He has taught 5th and 6th grade Sunday school, and has also been very active in the community. While in high school, Bill played tennis for the Golden Eagles and also played football, basketball, and ran track. In addition, he has been the coach of several of his children’s sports teams, including soccer, basketball and baseball.

Bill was the Chair for the United Way, and is a past Presidentof the Limestone County Bar Association. He belongs to the Greater Limestone County Chamber of Commerce. In addition, Bill served as the Chairman of the Limestone County Indigent Defense Commission. He is also a municipal judge for the City of Ardmore. He was voted by the readers of the Athens News Courier as the Readers’ Choice Winner for 2015 and 2016.

Being a “small-town lawyer” is a bit like being a general practice physician; you do a little bit of everything. While a substantial portion of Bill’s practice is centered around real estate, he also does divorces, adoptions, personal injury, work related injuries, domestic relations cases, deeds, wills, power of attorney, bankruptcies, uncontested divorces, Social Security Disability, Department of Human Resources child support enforcement cases, probate, estates, automobile accidents, and wrongful death cases. When I asked him about some of his favorite areas of law, Bill told me he especially enjoys real estate and adoption cases.

I asked Bill why I should come to him if I find myself in need of legal services. He answered, “I believe a local lawyer will do a better job for a client because of the small-town factor. Word gets around if you have done a good job, as well as if you haven’t. I always wanted people to be able to have the kind of access to their lawyer to where they could walk in the office and ask, ‘How’s my case going? Do you have any new developments?’ You just don’t get that with a big city firm.” His clients have given him high ratings as well as positive reviews. One client said he was “very kind and thorough. Quick to respond to any messages/questions.” Another mentioned, “Bill has the experience and the creativity to get your legal situation solved quickly and easily. I recommend calling them when you need a legal team in the area.” In 2017, Bill was awarded the Martindale-Hubble Attorney Award, which designates him as “Distinguished” and “peer-rated for high professional achievement.” Call Bill’s office today for getting highly-rated help with all your legal needs.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Mandatory Disclaimer #1:
“No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.”

Mandatory Disclaimer #2: “These recoveries and testimonials are not an indication of future results. Every case is different, and regardless of what friends, family, or other individuals may say about what a case is worth, each case must be evaluated on its own facts and circumstances as they apply to the law. The valuation of a case depends on the facts, the injuries, the jurisdiction, the venue, the witnesses, the parties, and the testimony, among other factors.”

When I got home from Iraq nearly 10 years ago to the day, my husband Steve took me home to a charming two bedroom apartment he had just rented for us, located on Nick Davis Road in Athens. Some of the first neighbors I met were Todd and Tammy Tomerlin and their son Gage. Gage battles with autism, and his struggle was something that was and is intense for all of them. The Tomerlins’ story is not at all that unusual as far as autism families are concerned. Sometimes I would go with the Tomerlins to autism support group meetings in Huntsville, and there I met a single mom who had two daughters, both on the spectrum. I remember being overwhelmed with trying to imagine what she was going through, and so impressed with her passion to find answers for her kids.

Gage was diagnosed with autism at the age of two, and both parents have been fierce advocates for his development as well as his destiny ever since. They have also become quite involved in the lives of other families in Alabama as they all seek to raise awareness and funds to triumph over this heartbreaking condition. Recently, Todd told me on the night of Tammy’s birthday dinner, “She is the glue that holds us together. Without her, we would all fall apart.” I have always loved the way Todd loves his family.

Todd made me laugh as he told me about some of Gage’s current adventures, now that his son is 17. “He can read, but it’s tough to tell how much he comprehends,” Todd said. Then he proceeded to tell me about Gage’s involvement in this past presidential political cycle. Much to his dad’s surprise and even amusement, Gage became a passionate Bernie Sanders supporter. Gage listened to all of Bernie’s speeches, watched the debates with Hillary Clinton, and matter-of-factly told his father that, “Just because I’m from the South doesn’t mean I have to be conservative.” Gage found out that Bernie was going to be speaking in Birmingham, and Todd took him to the rally. It was a breakthrough for Gage, especially because of having to be in a crowd of people, and Todd was thrilled with his boy’s courage. There has never been bad blood between the two of them for having opposing political views, and they talk about everything. As he told me this tale, I thought back to ten years ago when there was a sticker on the window of Todd’s truck advising first responders that an autistic child was on board who might not be able to respond to their inquiries or commands in the event of an accident. Certainly progress had been made, and all of it has been a tough road for everyone. As of now, Gage will be able to be a part of our school system’s resources for special needs kids until he turns 21.

For years the Tomerlins have been involved, especially in the month of April, in the various autism awareness and fund raising events occurring around Alabama. On April 2nd, Todd was on hand at the Limestone County Courthouse for the lighting of the blue lights used to signify the fight against autism. The lights will be on every night all month long.

One of the ways Athenians can help, whether or not their lives have been personally affected by autism is to get involved in “the Walk.” Here is some information on what is going on locally this April 22nd.

Our Walk for Autism throughout cities in Alabama is more than just a Walk or 5k – it’s a fun time for families, friends, coworkers and communities to come together. It’s a time for awareness and acceptance of those on the spectrum.

Since the Walk for Autism and 5k began over a decade ago, the Autism Society of Alabama has raised funds that have been returned to the community in the form of education, advocacy and support. Individuals on the spectrum, their families and communities throughout Alabama have benefited from the generosity of our many donors and supporters. We celebrate them as we look forward to taking our event to even greater heights!

In Athens, there will be a walk held at Athens High School at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 22nd. The cost to register is $30, and the Athens event it is a walk only, not a 5-K run. If you are not up to a walk, the event can also use donations as well as volunteers. You can register as a single participant or part of a team at www.walkforautismal.com. Registration closes at noon on April 20th. Come and be a part of “solving the puzzle” and get to know a community within our community that are some of the bravest amongst us.
By: Ali ElizabethTurner

For nearly 18 years, Dr. Darryl Osborn had a successful chiropractic practice based in Decatur, and as a man of faith, felt deeply blessed. He was doing what he loved, had a beautiful family, and was grateful for the freedom to follow his dreams. He took none of it for granted, but like so many Americans these days, he also felt highly stressed. When he got home from work each night, he was “tapped out.” He had virtually no energy, and to his dismay the couch became one of his best friends.

One day Dr. Osborn was giving an adjustment to a long-time patient who, along with her husband, was a friend of the Osborns. “Please be careful, my hip is a little bit tender,” she said. The doctor asked her if there was a problem, and she replied, “Oh, no, there’s no problem. I just had a bio-identical hormone treatment.” Intrigued, Dr. Osborne got more information from her, and decided to check out a bio-identical hormone clinic in Nashville for himself. He became an enthusiastic patient and his life changed, along with his energy level, muscle mass, body fat percentage, and more. At the time, the only two cities in our area that offered bio-identical hormone treatments were Nashville and Birmingham. At the strong encouragement of his wife, Dr. Osborn began to look into opening a facility of his own, and studied extensively before being personally mentored by one of the experts in the field. The search began to find a MD that wanted to make the journey with him. Dr. Jeffrey Markham joined the team and began training.

Complete Hormone Solutions opened on Danville Road in Decatur in March of 2013, and they are hoping at some point to open their next facility in Athens because, as Dr. Osborne says, “Athens is a very cool place.”
Dr. Osborn gave me a brief lesson on bio-identical hormones, and the needs of men and women. What few people know is that men have naturally occurring estrogen that is needed in their bodies, and by contrast, women have naturally occurring and necessary levels of testosterone in theirs. Both are essential for optimum health; however, just as male testosterone levels diminish with age, female testosterone and estrogen diminish, as well. When these hormones reach less than optimum levels, health is compromised, and a multitude of symptoms follow.

The following is a list of hormone deficiency symptoms we don’t have to live with: Restless sleep, anxiety, depression, irritability, painful intercourse, night sweats, mood swings, unexplained weight gain, high cholesterol, hair loss, dry skin, memory lapses, erectile dysfunction, no sex drive, poor focus, heart palpitations, hot flashes, achiness, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, lack of energy, restless leg syndrome, migraines, and low exercise tolerance.

The first step in the process of incorporating bio-identical hormone treatment into a patient’s life is a thorough interview. This is conducted by Dr. Osborn, and he takes a great deal of time to educate a prospective patient, get their history, and answer any questions. Next, Dr. Markham orders blood to be drawn which is then sent to Cleveland Heart Lab. The testing is extensive. “Cleveland Heart is the best there is,” Dr. Osborn said. Blood work is not part of the package, but is part of patient care, and is billed separately.

Once the exact hormonal treatment has been determined, the hormones, which are derived from yams, are put in pellet form by a compounding pharmacy. They are then shipped to the patient, who brings them to the clinic, and they are put just under the skin by Dr. Markham. Each treatment lasts for about 3 months, and functions essentially as a time release medication. Occasionally there are minor side effects, but not the ones that gave hormone treatments such a bad rap years ago.
Interestingly, one of the women who works at Complete Hormone Solutions is a breast cancer survivor, and became a “raving fan customer” before she ever started working there. That and the fact that Dr. Osborn continues to get treatments himself intrigued me, as he is essentially functioning as his own “guinea pig,” something you don’t often encounter.

Complete Hormone Solutions also offers medically supervised weight loss plans which start at $97 per month.

Complete Hormone Solutions offers three different payment options, and there is a 5% discount for paying up front. Financing is done in-house, and the team is ready to help you, as one satisfied customer said, “Get your life back.” Call today for a complimentary consultation at 256-350-9880.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

For nearly two decades, the Athens-Limestone Hospital Foundation has sponsored an annual gala event for the purpose of raising funds for various needs at our award-winning 66-year old hospital. Some of the proceeds from previous galas have paid for the Jackson surgical table, a mobile C-arm surgical platform, the “Smart beds,” which can tell if patients have gotten out of bed, and other upgrades. This year, the Foundation’s focus is the new Outpatient Surgery Center. As Leah Beth McNutt, who works for the Foundation stated, “While keeping the pace with technological advancements in healthcare, we are maintaining the ‘hometown’ atmosphere that makes us the hospital we are today!” All of that takes money, and Putting On The Glitz is a memorable way to meet some important needs in our community for years to come.

The Gala will be held on Saturday, April 29th at the Westin Hotel at Bridge Street, and if you have never walked a red carpet, this will be your chance. Upon entering the hotel lobby, there will be a photo op backdrop custom designed to look like those you would see at a televised awards ceremony. It will have the logos of the Foundation, the Gala, and the sponsors for the event. The theme of the evening is “Old Hollywood Style,” and as far as fashion is concerned, anything out of the ‘40s will be perfect. This is an evening where a tux and evening gown is appropriate, as is a street-length cocktail dress and a suit, or dressy casual, either gender. The room can hold 300 plus people, and will be filled; so you need to get your reservations right away.

There will be a beautiful meal, a silent auction, and the evening will be finished with dancing which will last until 11 p.m. I spoke with Jessica Jones, the Chair of the Gala, who also works for Federal Mogul, one of the sponsors of the event. She became involved several years ago as a volunteer, and has a vision for this event. “I want to see new faces, the new generation coming up becoming invested in the hospital.” We discussed the fact that it’s time for the younger ones to step up if they are going to have a stake in the hospital’s future. Leah Beth McNutt said, “Our goal is to make the whole town invested in the hospital, to rally behind the projects.”

One of the things that has made the Gala a success in years gone by is the silent auction, and this year will be no exception. In the past there have been trips, luxury hand bags, jewelry, items from Bridge Street stores, custom framing, a Yeti cooler and more. Last year the hit of the night was a gorgeous Labrador mix by the name of Buddy. Buddy didn’t come empty handed; he had a number of extras to sweeten the deal. They included: a cage worth $150, the cost of being neutered, toys, and an underground electric fence system. All in all he was worth close to $2,000, and this year we are hoping there will be another beautiful rescue dog for someone to take home.

In addition, last year there was a Green Egg cooker system, college basketball tickets, $500 worth of graphic design, furniture, home décor, lamps, a mirror, a pair of rocking chairs, and much more. Another highlight was a guitar donated by Railroad Bazaar and autographed by the Alabama Shakes. This year, once again, Brittany Howard of the Shakes will donate a special item, still to be determined.

The list of items from last year is an example of the kinds of things that are available at the auction, but the sponsored items for this year are still being gathered. Leah Beth had the following to say with the hope of inspiring you to call her office to make your reservation:

“We are excited to be part of the largest healthcare project of its kind thus far in our area. We hope you will join us as a partner for our 2017 Gala, Puttin’ on the Glitz, Old Hollywood Style!”

To make reservations, or for more information call Leah Beth McNutt at the Foundation office at 256-233-9557.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

It was the fall of 2015 when I first had the privilege of telling readers of Athens Now about Rocket City Barns, and few things give me more pleasure to know that since then they have significantly “increased their costs,” and by grace have done their part to defy the Great Recession. In other words, they are thriving and flourishing.

Rocket City is several things, including a successful “buy-here-pay-here” pre-owned auto lot on Hwy 72 called Rocket City Motors, and they carry the Cotton States barns and Metal Max buildings there as well. Rocket City Barns West is located on Hwy 72 near Collins Supply, and now there are two more new locations. Rocket City Barns is now in Huntsville as well as Guntersville, and they still stand by their promise of being the “cheapest and the best.” If you can find a comparably built cabin, barn or metal building for less, Rocket City will meet that price.

Now for a bit of story about Marcy Baker, the owner, and her husband, Daniel. Marcy was born in Canada, and got her degree in computer science from the University of Toronto. She wasn’t sure what she wanted to do; so she came to the States and also became a Mobile Certified Electrician. Marcy and Daniel met when they were both working at a major auto dealership in Decatur. Both were single parents who married and blended their families a year later, and Marcy started the Rocket City Motors “buy-here-pay-here” auto dealership, as well as the barn dealership. Daniel is quick to note that Marcy started the businesses, is the owner of the businesses, and Rocket City is “on the radar” with several suppliers as an outstanding female-owned business.

What I enjoy about Marcy is that while she is clearly a talented, experienced, and motivated entrepreneur, her husband and family are definitely her priority, and her faith is her foundation. She is hard-working, smart, funny and fun, and it’s obvious she enjoys what she does.

With regard to the barns, the parent company is Cotton States, and the buildings are built by Mennonites here in Alabama. It is possible to rent to own the cabins and barns, and there is no down payment required for barns up to 12’x32’. Rocket City is the only barn dealer that will make it possible to get in for zero down. Rocket City/Cotton States will also match any price lower than theirs. They absolutely guarantee that they have the lowest prices.

People use the cabins for everything from storage sheds to at-home offices to actual homes, reflecting the current popular trend in housing. There are also garages, and they can be built with lofts if so desired. Cotton States/Rocket City Barns will deliver and set them up nearly anywhere, including in RV parks. Sometimes Rocket City gets re-pos, and there are significant savings for paying off early.

New to Rocket City Barns is a brand of metal buildings known as Metal Max. They have Rent-To-Own regular, boxed eave and vertical carports, garages and barns ranging in size from 12’x21’ to 48’x100’. They come in 14 standard colors and 5 premium colors. They can be installed on bare ground or cement, but the surface must be level. Rocket City will oversee all aspects of delivery and set up. It costs 25K on average to stick-build a garage, and you can figure on any of the Metal Max buildings costing less than half their stick-built counterparts. “In fact,” Daniel said, “A very nice two car garage runs only about $5,000. He also stated that, “The sales of the Metal Max buildings have just taken off, and that’s one of the reasons we have two new locations.”
The third new development at Rocket City is playground equipment made by Backyard Playsets. They range in price from $1399 to the large Ark, which is $4495. The large Ark is on display at Rocket City Barns East, located at 26912 Hwy 72, Athens, AL 35613, and includes two swings, a gang plank, a trapeze bar, steering wheel, ladder, telescope, and a slide. The Backyard Playsets are also rent to own, and they as well as the Metal Max buildings require a small down payment, depending on the size of the building.

If you are in need of a cabin or storage building, a portable metal structure or a playset for your children, you need look no further than Rocket City Barns for the best!
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Habitat for Humanity of Athens/Limestone County has had a challenging few years, which thankfully are just about wrapped up. One of the toughest parts of the rough patch was that the “builds,” the community-supported house building projects for qualifying families, had to be put on hold for a bit. However, Habitat is moving toward being able to start the builds back up, and there is no more fitting way for them to celebrate their 25th anniversary in Limestone County than by getting our community out on the “dance floor” at the Pincham-Lincoln Center at the Trinity-Fort Henderson Complex. “Trinity seemed a natural fit. They have been good to us, and we are excited to work with them,” said Deborah Kohlhase, the Executive Director of the Athens/Limestone County affiliate.

You say you don’t know how to dance? Well, Deb and her husband David Foreman – who is both an engineer and a certified ballroom dance instructor – are pleased to announce that Habitat is sponsoring a ten-week class for everyone in our community who is interested in learning Swing, Waltz, Foxtrot, and Rumba. All proceeds go to Habitat, and here is why you are going to celebrate your new skill. It’s found in the following statement:

As a faith-based organization, Habitat seeks to put God’s love into action and to bring people together to build homes, communities, and hope. Using volunteer labor and donations of money, materials, and services, Habitat builds and sells decent, affordable houses to people who would otherwise live in substandard conditions. Partner families are selected based on the level of need, ability to pay, and willingness to partner with Habitat.

The classes will begin Tuesday, March 21st, and will be from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. The cost is $50.00 per person. You don’t need a partner, and the class size is limited to 20. I can say from experience that I watched Deb and David dance at Chili Challenge, and they are both very good. The classes are one of the ways Habitat is “trying to generate funds to start construction again,” Deb told me. She also said, “Ballroom dancing requires partnership; so does building a house.” In ballroom dancing, there is a term known as “framing,” which explains a dancer’s body position in terms of how she stands, holds her arms and physically connects with her partner. It’s what “builds” the dance. In construction, “framing” is the fitting together of pieces to give a structure support and shape. In this case, having our community learn how to “frame” on the dance floor will pave the way for Habitat houses to be first framed, and then finished.

Dancing has long been known to bring people together, and after the dance classes are completed, there will be an actual dance! The Boogie Shoes Bash and will be held on Saturday, June 3rd, from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. The band is Trippin’ Dixie and the place is Revival, recently renovated by First Presbyterian Church and located right across the street at 303 West Washington in Athens. Cost for tickets for age 10 and up is $10, $12 at the door, and children under 10 can get in for $5. All proceeds go to Habitat.

Another way that Habitat for Humanity builds community is through the ReStore, which is located at 17505 U.S. Hwy 72 West in Athens. The ReStore has three primary goals/functions:

  • Generate revenue to fund the construction of decent affordable homes in Limestone County
  • Reduce the pressure on local landfills by accepting donations of useable building materials, furniture, appliances, and household goods
  • Help customers save money by offering items at affordable prices

The store is open to the public Monday-Friday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on Saturdays 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. Donations are accepted during store hours, and Habitat is now able to process vehicle donations. The ReStore is managed by William Darracott.

The largest Habitat project is located on Adell Place, a cul-de-sac of variously styled homes located just off Brownsferry Street, not far from the Wellness Center. “We have one more lot on Adell (which is also known as Hope Place subdivision) and we also have property located in other areas of the county,” said Deb.

Habitat for Humanity is indeed all about true hope. If you want to be a part of it, come learn to dance, or, if you already know how, come to the dance. Your “frame” will help frame the next build.
To register for the dance classes or for more information on anything mentioned in this article, please call the Habitat office at 256-230-6001 or the ReStore at 256-444-1050.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

For over 20 years, Athens Limestone has had at least one board certified physician dedicated to specifically improving the function of our lungs as well as the quality of our sleep, and now we have three. One is truly homegrown and an Athens High School graduate, one is from the sub-continent of India, and one is from Peru. As far flung from each other as are their backgrounds and countries of origin, they all share one thing, and that is a passion for radically improving the quality of life of their patients. Their names are Dr. Al Scherff, Dr. Eduardo Bazan, and Dr. Ravali Tarigopula, who goes by “Dr. Tari.” Here is a bit about each of them, and why what they do is so important.

Dr. Al Scherff practices out of a clinic just behind Athens Limestone Hospital on the north side, called North Alabama Pulmonary & Sleep Consultants. It is located at 902 West Hobbs, near the ER parking lot. Dr. Scherff graduated from Athens High School in 1977, got his undergrad degree in chemistry from Auburn, went to medical school at University of South Alabama, and did his internship in Savannah. He did a fellowship in pulmonary and critical care at the Medical College of Georgia. He told me he “always wanted to be a doctor,” and finds sleep to be “fascinating.” One thing Dr. Scherff told me, as did Dr. Bazan, is that “no one really understands why we need to sleep.” We know what happens when we don’t get enough sleep, but much of the topic of sleep is still a mystery. “It’s one of the few ‘miracles’ left in medicine,” said Dr. Scherff, and he gets enormous “personal satisfaction out of seeing peoples’ lives change.” Dr. Scherff says that one of the things he strives to do is “educate our patients. We try to be truly patient oriented, and it’s important for them to know what we are doing and why we are doing it.”

Treating sleep disorders is a relatively recently developed specialty, and the CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines, used in the treatment of sleep apnea, have greatly evolved since Dr. Scherff began his career. If you have sleep disorders, a CPAP machine may be prescribed for you, or you may just need to learn and practice what Dr. Tari calls “good sleep hygiene,” which I’ll explain in a moment.

Dr. Ravali Tarigopula was born in India, in a city called Bellery (near Hydrabad) in the state of Karnataka. She graduated from Mahadevappa Rampure Medical College, and did her residency in Internal Medicine as well as a fellowship in Pulmonary Diseases and Critical Care Medicine in New Jersey. She also completed a fellowship in Sleep Medicine in Philadelphia. She is the one who spoke to me about what she calls “good sleep hygiene.” It is important, especially if you are a shift worker sleeping during the day, that you have a room that is dark, quiet, and undisturbed. You need to avoid caffeine close to bedtime, and she may prescribe melatonin (a natural sleep inducing hormone) to help you sleep.

As a female doctor, Dr. Tari is interested in helping women who are having difficulties with sleep that are related to hormonal changes such as menopause. Other complaints such as restless leg syndrome, depression, acute and chronic coughs and asthma can also be associated with sleep disorders. She educates her patients about the need for sunlight during waking hours, as well as embracing a healthy lifestyle. As is the case with Dr. Scherff, Dr. Tari loves what she does because “sleep is a problem that can actually be fixed,” and that is not always the case with other disorders. “Their lives change,” she said. She smiled as she told me, “People become married to their CPAP and tell me they can’t live without it.” Dr. Tari’s office is located in the new medical building just south of the hospital at 101 Fitness Way, Suite 2500.

Dr. Eduardo Bazan is a native of Lima, Peru, and went to medical school at La Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia. He did his internship at Metropolitan Hospital Center in New York, his residency in internal medicine at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, and his fellowship in sleep medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

Dr. Bazan is also a hospitalist, a physician who is trained to help patients who have been admitted to a hospital. His office is at the Sleep Center, which is located at 205 Sanders, just northeast of the hospital. The Sleep Center is where you go when your doctor feels that you need to have a sleep test, and the facility is available to sleep patients 7 days and nights each week.

Dr. Bazan became interested in sleep medicine when he was in Detroit, and finds it particularly interesting because of all the problems that are caused or aggravated by poor sleep.

Some of the conditions the Sleep Center treats are what is known as narcolepsy as well as parasomnias. Narcolepsy is a condition that defined as excessive and uncontrollable daytime sleepiness, and can actually be dangerous if it hits while you are driving or operating machinery. Parasomnias are things such as night terrors, sleepwalking, teeth grinding, and PTSD episodes, sometimes with the patient having no memory of any of it. As is the case with his colleagues, Dr. Bazan also enjoys the fact that sleep disorders can be treated successfully, which makes a big difference in peoples’ lives. Teresa Fields, who is the Sleep Center Manager as well as a technician, says that the sleep physicians “take a lot of time with their patients.”

If you are in need of pulmonary care, treatment of sleep disorders or sleep related conditions, then Dr. Scherff, Dr. Tari and Dr. Bazan are interested in helping you. The Sleep Clinic is rated as one of the country’s best sleep centers, so you will be in excellent hands. Call their offices today for an appointment.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner