Athens State University will host the 50th annual Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention on October 6-8 at the school’s campus in Athens, Alabama. The musical competitions will be held on the Alabama Farmers Cooperative Main Stage in front of Founders Hall and other locations throughout the campus. Over $18,000 in prize money will be awarded, and on Thursday evening there will be some additional special events added in honor of the golden anniversary.

The convention is sponsored annually by the Athens State University Foundation and the Greater Limestone County Chamber of Commerce. Proceeds from the convention fund student scholarships and other university projects.

The convention has historically attracted more than 15,000 people for the Friday and Saturday competitions, with more than 200 musicians participating. There are 20 different categories, including several fiddle and guitar categories, harmonica, mandolin, bluegrass banjo, dobro, dulcimer, old time singing, banjo, and buck dancing.


The Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention is the home to the Alabama State Fiddle Champion competition. The festival is also hosts other Alabama State Champion categories including Harmonica, Bluegrass Banjo, Dulcimer, Old-Time Banjo, Classic Old-Time Fiddler, Buck Dancing, Mandolin, Dobro, Old-Time Singing, Guitar – Finger Picking, Guitar – Flat Picking, Bluegrass Band, and Bluegrass Old-Time Band. The winners in all of these categories shall for that year be known as the Alabama State Champions respectively.

Mark Ralph was named “Fiddle Champion” at last year’s convention. He won the “fiddle off,” which now pits the top fiddlers from the junior, intermediate, and senior divisions. This year’s fiddle champ will earn a total of $1,200 in cash as well as a trophy.


On Thursday evening, October 6, there will be an unveiling of the fiddler sculpture in the courtyard behind Founders Hall at 5:30 p.m., followed by a dedication of the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention Memorial Room located in the lower level of McCandless Hall at 6 p.m. At 7 p.m. Bobby Osborne & the Rocky Top X-Press take the stage in McCandless Hall for a special anniversary concert. All Thursday evening events are free and open to the public.

This year’s special guests at the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention will be Riders in the Sky, performing on the Alabama Farmers Cooperative Main Stage on Friday, October 7 at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. For over thirty years, Riders in the Sky have been keepers of the flame passed on by the Sons of the Pioneers, Gene Autry, and Roy Rogers, reviving and revitalizing the Western musical field. Remaining true to the integrity of that genre of music, they have become modern-day icons by branding a group with their own legendary humor and wit.


Norman Blake, with Nancy Blake and James Bryan, will also be performing on the Alabama Farmers Cooperative Main Stage on Saturday, October 8 at 5 p.m. Blake is an American instrumentalist, vocalist, and songwriter. In a career spanning more than 60 years, Blake has played in a number of folk and country groups. He is considered one of the leading figures in the bluegrass revival of the 1970s and is still active today, playing concert dates and making albums with his wife, Nancy.

Approximately 150 booths featuring old-fashioned arts and crafts are part of the convention. Convention goers will see everything from traditional artwork to coal-fired metal works. Food vendors will also be on hand to provide anything from a quick snack to a full meal. Contests begin Friday, October 7 at 7 p.m. following the Riders in the Sky performance and resume on Saturday, October 8 at 8:30 a.m. Gates open at 8 a.m. Cost is $15 for Friday, $15 for Saturday and $20 for both days. Children under 12 are admitted free with a parent. Advance tickets are available from the Athens State Business Office located in Founders Hall at 300 North Beaty Street.

The festival culminates on Saturday night with the naming of the Alabama State Fiddle Champion. Being named Champion is highly competitive and is a coveted prize. Come and join us for this golden anniversary celebration of one of the highlights of festival season in Athens, AL, and for more information visit http://www.athens.edu/fiddlers.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner


Roger’s Portrait Studio is one of the landmark businesses on our Courthouse Square, and has been the source of more than 30,000 photographic sessions, both on site and off. Founded by Roger Bedingfield and his late wife, Vicki, several generations of families in the Tennessee Valley have found the comfy studio on Washington Street to be the perfect site for all their portrait needs.

Roger and Vicki opened up shop in 1984, however, there is much more to the story than just “hometown boy makes good.” Roger was born and raised in the area, having graduated from Tanner High in 1970. He had planned on a career as an architect, but realized that designing buildings wasn’t his true calling, but “designing memories” and capturing them on film was. Serendipitously, in 1972 he went to work for Olan Mills studios, spent a year there, worked for B&R Studios in Scottsboro, and then went into business for himself in 1980. For several years he travelled to various stores in North Alabama and took pictures of children. After opening the studio in Athens, was able to slowly phase out being on the road. He and Vicki built the business, raised their family, became grandparents, active in the community, and were by all accounts, “living the dream.” Then, disaster struck: Vicki was diagnosed with cancer, fought a long and brave battle against it, and died at their home in August with Roger at her side.


Roger and his daughters have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love in the aftermath of Vicki’s passing, and wanted to express their deepest thanks to our community. Roger feels the same with regard to the big change that he is announcing. He is closing the studio, but not the business, and he wants to thank literally more than eight thousand clients for their loyal patronage. This leads to two of the goals of this article: to invite people to make an appointment to come and get their negatives and to tell you about a promise he made to Vicki.

9-16-2016-8-16-19-amOver the years, as part of continually upgrading the shop’s level of service as well as professionalism, Roger and Vicki would attend trade shows all over the country. At one such show, they learned about a brand new technology called “Live Portraits.” Interestingly, Vicki was not someone who had a great love for computers, social media, or technology in general, but when they saw how “Live Portraits” worked, she made Roger promise that no matter what happened to her, he would add this service to his business.
He is making good on his promise, and Roger’s is the first studio in the country to make it available for general consumption. He gave me a demonstration, and it was amazing. You can have a professionally photographed portrait which is beautiful in its own right, but when you hold your smart phone up to it, the portrait will play a video on your phone of the person in it, literally bringing it to life. You do this by downloading an app to your smart phone, hold the lens side of your phone up to the portrait, click the app button, and prepare to be wowed. By way of illustration, after you download the Live Portrait app, if you hold your smart phone up to the front cover illustration of Roger in this edition of Athens Now, he actually talk to you via a pre-recorded video!

This technology has been used with business cards, resumés, Christmas cards, political materials, engagement announcements, baby announcements, just to name a few, and the list of potential applications is endless. He is partnering with North Alabama videographer Craig Shamwell to make Live Portraits available, and is excited about adding this service to his photographic tool kit. Roger is still going to do weddings, outdoor sessions, yearbooks, fire department shoots, daycare shoots – basically anything that doesn’t demand a studio setting.

9-16-2016-8-16-54-am“I am moving into a space that is about 1/5th the size of the studio, and need to have folks come and get their negatives, if they want them,” he said. The move is unusual, as most studios retain permanent rights to all negatives and files. By contrast, Roger is fully releasing ownership and is charging only $35 per session. This will be on a sliding scale depending on the numbers of sessions ordered, which doesn’t even cover the cost of retrieving them and getting them to the client. He hopes to have the job completed by the end of 2016. If you want those negatives, you need to call soon to make an appointment to get them. Currently, Roger’s is open on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10am to 5pm.

He is also going to have an auction of all the props he and Vicki collected over the years in November, so be on the lookout for that announcement. We finished our time talking about this huge transition, and he said with a wistful smile, “I have never gone to work, I always played.” He then added, “Vicki always decorated the windows each season.” The portrait of Vicki shown in this article is still on display in the window, and will be until the shop closes. But remember, Roger is not quitting, he’s just closing, and more importantly, he’s following through on a promise.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

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Nearly 30 years ago, Mary Stephenson, founder of the Heritage Children’s Choir of the South, saw a great need in our area, and poured her energy into meeting it. What was the need? Preserving the presence of choral music in the Tennessee Valley. Why is it so important? It has long been thought that music makes kids smarter, but that’s only the beginning of the benefits. However, before we talk about the perks of having your kids participate in the Chorale, let’s talk a bit about “Heritage’s history.”

The Heritage Children’s Chorale of the South is a professional children’s chorus made up of young people ranging in age from eight to eighteen. The Chorale was established in Pulaski in 1988, by Mary Stephenson, who continues today as the director, and through the support and sponsorship of First National Bank of Pulaski. In 1997, an additional chapter was established in Alabama. Mary has also been the director of music at First United Methodist Church for 22 years. Her accompanist is Canna Ricketts, who is a teacher at Athens High School. Together Mary, Canna, the kids, the volunteers, and the parents make the Chorale what it is: an extraordinary musical opportunity for kids at a more than reasonable price. Auditions are very low key, no prepared selection is required, and they are open to both girls and boys.

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Mary teaches the kids that their whole body is “an instrument you carry with you,” and I share her belief that being able to sing decently is an extremely important and attainable skill for all children. With as many choices for activities for kids these days, music lessons and voice lessons are often being neglected. With each Chorale practice being only 90 minutes, once a week, it is perfectly possible to pursue other interests without kids getting burned out. What is boggling to my mind is that the fee per year to be a part of the Chorale is only $150.00. To get vocal training and experience of this quality from a versatile, seasoned professional for such a low price is unheard of. These days, the going price for private voice lessons is $50 per lesson, and that doesn’t begin to provide the camaraderie, purpose, and “transferable skills” that can be found in being a part of something that is greater than one’s self, and produces such beauty for all.

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One of those “transferable skills” that kids develop as part of being a part of the Chorale could be loosely described as “performance skills.” Performance skills are things such as showing up when you have something else you’d rather do, being polite and professional when you’d rather not, learning how to stand, project your voice and be poised while you’re at it, learn about musical nuance, and most of all enjoying the fruit of your labors because you did your best. Through trial and error, Mary has developed what she affectionately calls “The Mary Stephenson Blitz Method of Music Education,” which is an immersion style of teaching music that has paid off greatly. The Chorale has performed throughout the South, at Disney World, in Nashville, has been a part of the recordings of famous artists, and has even been invited to perform all over Europe.

9-2-2016 1-09-58 PMOver the years, some of Mary’s “kids” stayed with her and the Chorale for 10 years, and the friendships made by the members last longer. She has this to say about what participants can expect to experience: “Children in the choir receive voice lessons each week, are provided performance opportunities to share their talent, experience the chance to work with various musical professionals, participate in tour engagements, and make lasting friendships.”

I have personally heard these kids practice as well as perform, and as someone who has been involved in music all my life, I can say they are very good. Mary and I share the belief that humans were designed to be musical, and I appreciate the fact that she is willing to work so hard to draw forth the talents she knows are in there. What sets this Chorale apart is that the pressures and “diva presence” that is often present in other groups just isn’t there. “They work hard, that’s true, but they enjoy it,” said Mary.

Right now Mary is toying with what will be in the musical line-up for Christmas. She said, “Every year I try to think about doing a new, delightful take on Christmas. The kids have to enjoy it if they are going to work hard and still love to sing, so we do a mix of sacred and secular. I am toying with the idea of “Christmas Around The World.”

She closed our time with a simple invitation and request to both parents and kids: “Give me an hour and a half per week.” I can say with conviction that you and your child will be glad that you did.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

9-2-2016 12-07-52 PM

When Drs. Patrick Boyett and Bill Lawrence were attending med school together at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, (better known as KCUMB,) they dreamed of becoming partners in a general orthopedic practice. That dream became a reality, and the first OrthoSports clinic opened at a beautiful facility in the Limestone Medical Village on Hwy 72, across from Publix. In the last 4 years, OrthoSports Athens has added team members and locations, and is putting the finishing touches on a new facility on Hwy 72 in Rogersville, due to open September 6th. Drs. Boyett and Lawrence have built a solid reputation as joint replacement surgeons, and the Athens Limestone Hospital OR purchased a special state of the art table for them to use for their surgeries. Dr. Boyett and Dr. Lawrence are excited about the growth of OrthoSports Athens, as well as their ability to serve the community even more.

There are three new physicians who are part of the OrthoSports team. Dr. Eric Standford, D.O., concentrates on sports medicine, and did a year long fellowship at the prestigious Hughston Clinic in Georgia. By the way, OrthoSports now serves as the team physicians for sporting events at West Limestone High, Athens High, Ardmore High, and Elkmont High schools.

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Dr. Blake Boyett is Dr. Patrick Boyett’s nephew, and his specialty is spine surgery. He will be joining the crew next week. He has completed two fellowships, and is the only member of the OrthoSports team that will do spine surgery. He will be able to greatly increase their scope of practice and service.

9-2-2016 12-08-04 PMDr. Jason Hatfield is the non-surgical physician at OrthoSports, and also deals with sports medicine and sports related injuries such as sprains and breaks, and for several years served as the Medical Director of Carraway Northwest Wound Care Center, located in Winfield, AL. He is now the Medical Director for the Advanced Wound Care Center as a service of Athens-Limestone Hospital. When you add it up, the OrthoSports physicians have more than 45 years of combined experience, and they all genuinely enjoy serving the people of Alabama.

I spoke at length with Eddie Ayers, who has been with them from the beginning, and who wears a number of “OrthoSports hats,” especially with regard to getting the Rogersville location up and running on time. While not a doctor, Eddie’s background is Emergency Room radiology, and he had a great deal of enthusiasm for all that is happening at OrthoSports. He still handles some of the X-ray work, and is the office manager at the Athens location, as well as the operations manager for all the clinics. In addition to Athens, there is a clinic in Winfield, the new one in Rogersville, and they consider the OR at Athens-Limestone Hospital to be their “fourth location.” A new service that OrthoSports now offers is through a company called Brace Yourself. With all the unsettling changes and cost increases that have occurred with medical insurance, Brace Yourself presents an opportunity for patients in need of various types braces, air casts, sleeves, etc, to pay cash for them at barely over cost. “It has saved our patients money and frustration, and they are very happy with it,” Eddie told me.

9-2-2016 12-08-26 PMRegarding OrthoSports and the new Rogersville location, Eddie said, “This is going to be a top quality facility in a rural setting, something that doesn’t happen often. The OrthoSports doctors are going to rotate so they are in Rogersville every week. That way, you are getting physicians who have won awards and who graduated at the top of their class taking care of patients who won’t have to make the drive into Athens, unless it’s for surgery.” He also told me that “OrthoSports has proven that you don’t have to go out of town to get the best care, in fact, because they are in a position to spend more time with their patients, word of mouth advertising has brought patients to them from all around.”

Eddie is in a unique position because he knows everyone so well, and can vouch for their level of skill, their integrity, as well as their bedside manner. “I have hunted with them, fished with them, and they really do things right. I know it might sound like a cliché, but they put the needs of the patient before their own,” he said. He added that he “has heard them even mention concerns for patients while they were supposed to be taking a break and eating lunch, and are known to go to the hospital after hours or call to check on patients. Their practice is truly their passion.”

In addition to the surgical table at the hospital, they have new ultrasound equipment that is much clearer, as well as X-ray services that utilize a fraction of the radiation formerly needed, and that also boast a clearer image. They will also be adding a mobile C-arm surgical platform to the hospital’s OR later this year. “We try to be on the cutting edge of technology while giving a level of care that is hard to find these days,” said Eddie. If this is what you are looking for in orthopedic care, then OrthoSports is where you going to find it, and now in Rogersville, too.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

8-19-2016 8-21-42 AM

On August 23rd, citizens of Athens will be casting their vote for the two City Council positions that have opponents. In our interview, I asked Charles Sample to tell me what had motivated to seek the District 5 position, and he told me that several people had encouraged him to run. It was after much reflection and prayerful discussion with his family that he decided to enter the race.

Charles spent his career as an electrical engineer, having graduated from Vanderbilt University. He worked for the TVA for 25 years at Browns Ferry and in their customer service department. At Browns Ferry, he helped to bring the nuclear plant back on line to produce electrical power for Athens and the entire Tennessee Valley. With regard to his duties in the customer service department, he said, “Basically, I was a high level trouble shooter. I solved electrical problems for end-use customers, did infrared scans and preventive maintenance.” Sometimes “trouble shooting” meant dealing with problems that were “hot,” and by that I mean, they were running at 480 volts!

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Another important aspect of his experience was serving on the Athens Personnel Board, which is the means by which City employees seek redress for job-related grievances. “If a City employee had a complaint, they would file it with us. We would hear their side, hear the City’s side, and then make a recommendation to the City Council.” This is a “transferable skill” that Charles feels will greatly aid him as a council member. As part of his TVA job, he had to deal with costs, and found ways to solve problems well, while spending as little as possible. That is another strength he feels he can bring to the table if elected as the District 5 City Councilman.

Here are some more things that Charles has to say about who he is, and how he will serve Athens:
“I will oppose and vote against any new or increased taxes. I will evaluate any expenditure against two criteria: 1 .Is this an expenditure the city should make? 2. Is this the proper amount? Economic growth and job creation require a favorable economic climate. Over-regulation and over-taxation are an impediment to both. I will work to keep regulation and taxation to the minimum necessary. In order to maintain contact with the people of the 5th District and give them access to me, I will schedule periodic town hall type meetings. I believe government’s first priority should be serving the people they represent. We should focus on roads, public safety, and education. Pet political projects are not the proper way to spend taxpayer money.”

I asked him to tell me more about his platform, and he said, “I am very conservative, and I know I need to be fiscally prudent with the people’s money. I want to conservatively and responsibly represent the people. The money is the people’s,” he added. He also said, “I believe that government must learn to live within its means as you and I must.” He mentioned that when he has been out knocking door to door, he has found that one the biggest complaints that people make is that after the election is over, no one ever sees their representative. One of the most important promises he is making will be to stay in touch with the people of District 5. “I will see to it that District 5’s interests will be represented,” he said. Charles mentioned that he is the only candidate who opposed last year’s property tax increase. He also made it clear that he is “not a politician or part of the Athens political establishment. My goal is to serve the people of the 5th District as their voice on the City Council.”

By way of background beyond career, Charles served for several years as a reserve police officer, and is a member of the National Rifle Association. He is also a member of Madison Street Baptist Church. “I am a Christian, husband, father and grandfather who cares about the future of our community. I will fight to be a voice for responsible spending, family values, and our 2nd Amendment rights.”

With regard to the possibility of legalizing Sunday liquor sales, he said, “The recent discussions about legalizing Sunday liquor sales have saddened me. I truly want to keep Athens a city that places a high priority on family values. Therefore, I would oppose and vote against legalizing Sunday liquor sales. I reject the premise that Sunday liquor sales would significantly increase revenue. I am sure those who want to drink on Sunday already do. They just buy it on Saturday.”

His final statements were:
“My family and I have been residents of Athens for 29 years. I raised my children here, and my son and daughter-in-law are raising my grandchild here. I love Athens and want to serve its people. Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments, or concerns.”
If you are a resident of District 5, and this is the type of leadership for which you are looking, then vote for Charles Sample on Tuesday, August 23rd.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

8-19-2016 8-14-16 AM

It is time once again to get ready to “tee it up” for the annual Athens-Limestone Hospital Foundation Crystal Cup Golf Tournament. This year the tournament will be held on Thursday, September 15th at Canebrake Golf Club with a shotgun start at 1:00 pm and a rain date of September 19th. Canebrake is a championship course, and the ALH Foundation would like to thank them again for hosting the Crystal Cup. This year’s format will continue to be a 3 person scramble. As part of the entry fee, each player will receive a mulligan package (one power drive and two mulligans), one free ticket for the Golf Ball Throw, gift package, and access to the range. The awards ceremony will be immediately following completion of play.

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There will be over $5,000 in prize money with a lunch provided by 306 BBQ from 11:30 am to 12:45 pm. Pizza will be specially prepared by Joe Carlucci of Joe’s World Famous Pizzeria at 6:00pm. Jimmy Smith Auto Group is the presenting sponsor and will offer a vehicle for the first hole in one on designated holes of the tournament. There are also other sponsorship opportunities still available. The Crystal Cup is known for great fellowship and fun and for the purpose of raising money to re-invest in Athens-Limestone Hospital, which was voted this year as one of the Top 10 hospitals in the state of Alabama. All money raised stays in Athens. The Crystal Cup is one of 4 major annual ALH Foundation fundraising events. Funds raised 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.

8-19-2016 8-13-51 AMThis year’s Crystal Cup proceeds will go towards the purchase of a refurbished OEC 9900 Elite C-Arm. The OEC 9900 Elite mobile standard C-Arm maintains a 12 inch II and is equipped with the ESP (Expanded Surgical Platform), the Basic Vascular Platform, as well as the Imaging Dynamic Range Management (DMR) software to help provide outstanding image quality. This combination completes this comprehensive system which allows you to select the product features that best meet your clinical needs. This high-performance mobile C-Arm is for use in general surgical procedures and provides flexible mechanical features such as a rotating anode x-ray tube, a user friendly touch screen user interface, and a superb image quality. The physical dimensions and the open design of the CF-Arm allow the system to be easily transported throughout the hospital and provide unobstructed imaging access around the patient and procedural table.

In addition, this year’s Crystal Cup is featuring another way to have fun, raise funds, and you don’t even have to be a golfer to win! For $10 per golf ball, the Foundation is offering you a chance to THROW A GOLF BALL to win a cash prize. After the conclusion of the Crystal Cup Golf Tournament, all participants will go to the driving range and throw, roll, loft, kick or heave a golf ball. The closest ball to the hole will win 50% of the proceeds of the total number of balls sold. You do not have to be a participant in the Crystal Cup to purchase a golf ball, but if you are unable to attend, you must get someone to throw your ball for you. This is yet another great way to support the ALH Foundation in their quest to make Athens-Limestone Hospital an even better community hospital.

For more information about this year’s Crystal Cup, register for the event, or be a sponsor, please contact Laine Terry at 256-233-9557, or email lainet@alhnet.org. We hope we can count on your continued support, and look forward to having you join us for a day of fun, fellowship, food, and great golf.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

8-19-2016 8-14-32 AM

8-5-2016 10-24-14 AMWhen Kelly Nave, owner of Kelly’s Studio of Dance talks about “her girls,” her eyes, voice and heart spill over. She clearly loves her students, and is dedicated to drawing forth the best in them, as dancers, as involved members of the community, and as young women of faith. In a word, she wants to prepare her students to “dance well with life.”

Kelly is 34, a wife and mother, and has been continually involved in the world of dance for the past 30 years. She began her training and career as a multi-platinum and gold medal winning dancer at the ripe old age of 4. Kelly has had the opportunity to dance nationally and internationally in competitions and foreign student exchange programs, is a partner in a studio in Huntsville, and owns Kelly’s Studio of Dance, located at 809 US Highway 72 W Ste H, in Athens, right next door to One Love Hearing Concepts.

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The day we met for coffee, Kelly had just come off of two intensives, which are like day camps where you work very hard. One was for students of hip hop, the other, classical ballet. She had hired two master teachers from outside the area for each intensive. The “hip-hopster” is named Hannah Wintrode, who has been part of “Monsters of Hip-Hop,” and is currently dancing on the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis concert tour. Judy Rice headed up the ballet intensive. Judy is a graduate of the National Ballet School of Canada, and has danced with the Joffrey Ballet. Judy has a specific proven system of teaching that she has developed over the years, and travels extensively in order to help dancers improve dramatically in a short period of time.

8-5-2016 10-24-35 AMI asked Kelly what she thought were some of the best results from having the two experts work with her girls. “Hannah shot a short video, which was a thrill for them.” She also said that there were girls in both categories whose confidence just soared. “Their body placement improved so much,” Kelly said. I learned that “body placement” refers to the way you carry yourself and move in order express a particular dance style or genre, such as when people are imitating robots as part of their performance.

Kelly was like a proud mama as she told of the girls giving 100%, being focused, and heeding the advice of the experts. The work of the masters as well as the pupils definitely paid off.
Speaking of “positioning,” Kelly makes sure her students “place” themselves in the community for various volunteer endeavors. This year they are planning on being involved in a back to school drive, and have adopted Athens Elementary as their “target” for donating school supplies. They will also sponsor kids for Christmas who are students at Julian Newman Elementary, and will ride in the annual Athens Christmas parade. They have danced in Grease Festival in the past, and hope to again this year.

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Kelly’s Studio of Dance always has their recital in June, and this summer, in addition to their own performances, they helped facilitate Francita Mieux’s “Just For Me” Dance School students’ performance as part of the program. “Just For Me” is for students with various disabilities, and gives kids who would never get a chance to learn the art and discipline of dance an opportunity to do so. “I really want to promote what Miss Fran does,” said Kelly, and added, “I hope this year some of my dancers will volunteer at ‘Just For Me.’”

8-5-2016 10-24-53 AMSomething I appreciate about Kelly is that she is interested in far more than training dancers; she wants to bless the community by strengthening her students spiritually. This summer KSD has had a bible study for girls who are a part of the school, as well as their friends, whether or not the friends are dancers. It is called “Godly Girls,” and has been one of the best parts of the summer.

Kelly’s Studio of Dance has classes for children as young as 2 years old on up to 18. Registration is now open for fall classes, which will be starting on August 11th. If you are looking for a place for your daughter, son, or grandchild to learn to dance well, live well, and grow into a whole young person, then Kelly’s is for you.
Kelly’s Studio of Dance
809 US Hwy 72 W, Ste H, Athens, AL 35611
Phone: 256-233-2888
Web: ksd-athens.com
Facebook: Kelly’s Studio of Dance

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

8-5-2016 10-15-10 AM

As I sat waiting for my chance to conduct my interview with Cornelius and Kisha Mitchell, owners of BBG BBQ and Soul Food, I knew immediately from something Cornelius said to a customer just what the subtitle of the article was going to be: “Enter As A Guest, Leave As Family!” I watched that phenomena happen more than once as customers came in and out. The place was hopping, and at the time BBG had only been open 3 weeks.

Cornelius and Kisha are a blended family with a passion to minister to people, and BBG is their umbrella organization. It stands for Blessed By Grace, and includes a fellowship in Huntsville, a day care center, and more. Their hearts are big, as is their culinary expertise when it comes to authentic southern cooking.

Cornelius has been cooking since he was 12. He learned from his grandfather, who was the head cook for Big Bob Gibson for many years. Cornelius inherited the recipes, (including the one for the tangy, white “secret sauce”), tweaked them a touch to make them his own, and it is not at all uncommon for BBG’s to sell out on a daily basis. He also is the one who taught Kisha how to cook! Word is getting out, people are zipping up I-65 to Thach Road on their lunch hour, and the catering business is a going concern as well.

A woman named Cynthia came in for the first time, having met Kisha online. She wanted to try everything, so they made her a sampler. She and her husband stayed a long time, and she and Kisha talked as though “they went way back.” She even offered to send Kisha her family recipe for egg custard pie to add to the dessert line up.

Then Wesley came in to get supper. He was on his way home from work, and it was his third time in 3 weeks that he had made a “pit stop” at BBG’s. As soon as Wesley left, a couple came in wanting to know about the slabs of ribs. “My,” said the man. “This is real soul food.” He ordered a slab for a family event that was going to be held that weekend.
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Someone who works at a local high-end eating establishment, (and who wanted to remain anonymous), said, “All my co-workers have been talking about this place. I’ll take a sampler, please.”
I asked Cornelius and Kisha why they chose Elkmont, and as only people of faith can understand, they replied, “God opened the door.” Previously they had owned a food truck, and had also cooked at a gas station, but they really wanted to minister in this area, and saw this as the perfect venue. I asked him, “Why should I come to you, when there are already legendary BBQ places in the area?” He said, “The secret recipes, and the other thing is my mother’s special dressing, which they were out of the day I was there. I hear it is the perfect side to their chicken, which was provided a tasty end to a long day delivering papers.

8-5-2016 10-15-48 AMSo, what’s on the menu? For appetizers, they have wings and a stuffed baked potato. There are several types of sandwiches, dark and white meat chicken, ribs, neck bones, and various plate specials, which change daily. Then there are the sides; you get to pick two per plate. In season, there are turnip and collard greens. There are baked beans, potato salad, vinegar slaw, mac-n-cheese, pinto beans and green beans. The portions are ample, and I left full and happy, looking forward for a chance to return soon. For dessert, there is pecan pie, peach pie, apple pie, as well as blackberry pie, which is Cornelius’ personal favorite. The desserts routinely sell out as well.

I asked them what were some of their future plans, and as far as the menu is concerned, soon they will be adding beef ribs as well as veggie meals. They have had to hire three people in order to keep up with the demand, and this weekend is the soft opening of their new outlet in the Elkmont Red Caboose.

I know it is somewhat trendy these days for restaurant owners to talk about putting “love in the food,” but I personally think it is indeed a real thing that just makes anything you eat made for you by someone else taste especially good. So, if you are interested in tasting food that is “blessed by grace,” then get yourself on over to 23925 Thach Road. You will enter as a guest, and leave as family.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

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Frank Travis was born in Tennessee 66 years ago, and raised in a rural community by a hard-working family that was “long on love.” His parents instilled the values of faith, family, personal enterprise and responsibility, a respect for his community and country, and they always encouraged him to develop his talents. “I wasn’t great at sports,” he told me, “although I tried real hard.” He began to cultivate what have gone on to become award winning music, storytelling, and theatrical skills as a result of participating with his childhood church in what was known as “Children Day.” He told me, “It was the one time of the year that kids were to be seen AND heard in church, and I also sang in the choir.” However, it was a little hiding place that he affectionately called “Treasure Island” where he expressed his imagination, learned how to think outside the box, practiced his acting skills, sang to all of creation, wrote, and in general improved his craft.

His career was spent here working at Brown’s Ferry, from which he recently retired, and he came up through the ranks until he was the Assistant Unit Operator, certified by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He was also a licensed reactor operator, and became a trainer for other up-and-coming assistants. He taught safety, systems, logic, communication skills, and conflict resolution. He had to re-certify in all of those areas as part of his responsibilities, but he found that people began to look to him as an “unofficial arbitrator.” People came to him for counsel, and one of the things he loved to do was help employees who were at odds with each other reach resolution and reconciliation.

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The combination of all the skills he was certified to teach at Brown’s Ferry, coupled with having to be continually concerned with the safety of potentially millions of citizens, solidified his leadership skills. Additionally, he became the choral director for the Round Island Male Chorus, a deacon and a Sunday School teacher at Round Island Baptist Church, was chosen the 2013 winner of the local amateur competition held at the annual Storytelling Festival, and is known in our area as “Mr. Poetry” because of his tender and thoughtful poetic treatments of sometimes difficult subjects.

In February of 2016, Frank, along with Athens author Charlotte Fulton, produced a musical drama entitled “Arise and Build,” which was based on Mrs. Fulton’s book called, Hold the Fort. It told the wonderful story of the historic Trinity School, and played to sold-out crowds at the recently remodeled McCandless Performance Hall at Athens State University. That was no small undertaking, but Frank has long been involved in both performing in and directing other productions in the Tennessee Valley.

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Sometimes he puts on his Dr. Seuss hat at local elementary schools, other times he gives one-man presentations for older students, and always he tries to teach life lessons. “I was raised to respect the janitor to the CEO,” he told me. I asked him why I should vote for him. He replied, “My ability to communicate.” At Brown’s Ferry, as well as all the other aforementioned venues he became a master at “knowing his audience.” He said, “You may not get what you want, but you know that you were heard.”

He has a vision for serving Athens, and having it become such a model city that it serves to strengthen all of Alabama. Much of that vision comes from a desire “to provide young citizens the opportunity to grow,” especially through the arts. He understands that the arts are important because they constitute a “well-rounded education,” and he said with firmness that “God gives us talents, and allows us to see where they can be used, if we’ll allow Him.” In view of Frank’s passion for the arts, he wants to see the citizens of his district as well as all of Athens utilize Trinity to not only promote the arts, but teach etiquette, entrepreneurial and business skills, and develop well the citizens and leaders of Athens that will be here when we are long gone.
He has been spending this summer learning what is involved in being an Athens City Council member, and has been gaining an understanding of the by-laws, regulations, budgets, finance protocols, state laws, and requirements for economic and educational development in Athens/Limestone County.

He also wanted to express his love and respect for the late Athens City Councilman Jimmy Gill, whose position he seeks to fill. “I can never fill his shoes, but I will give my all to serve all,” he said, and he would appreciate your vote in order to do make that a reality.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

On Saturday, August 13th, from 10 am til 3 pm, the 15th annual Ardmore Quarterback Club Car Show is going to be held in John Barnes Park on the Tennessee side of Ardmore. Talking with two Ardmore High School graduates, Brad Stovall, and Eddie Gilbert, who both work hard every year to ensure the show is a success, I think I now understand for the first time just how much a car show should more accurately be described as an art show. Last year’s winner was a late ‘40s Chevy truck, and both Brad and Eddie took a good deal of time to explain the marvel of how an old truck could be simultaneously be a “blast from the past,” as well as being brought up to today’s standards. They described it to me as “today’s truck with the look of yesterday,” and it was a beauty.

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The first show was held back in 2000, and there were a grand total of seven cars which were entered in the competition. They could easily fit on the football field, and in 15 years the event has grown to where there have been as many as 1500 cars, and thousands of people come to see them. It is not just folks from Limestone, Madison, Morgan, Lauderdale, Jackson, Giles and Lincoln counties who attend; every year there are people from Florida, Mississippi, and beyond. It has been nicknamed “The Biggest Little Car Show in the South.”

Before I talk more about the show, please allow me to tell you a bit about the Quarterback Club, as well as the sponsors. The Quarterback Club was formed to raise money for the Ardmore High School football and cheerleading programs, and the show is the Club’s chief fundraiser. Brad Stovall’s Body Shop is the longest continual sponsor, and others include Ardmore Auto Sales, Air Care Systems, and Snap-On Tools.

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While the entire event is held on the Tennessee side, both sides of the respective state lines come together to make it happen every year, rain or shine. Sheriff Mike Blakely provides vans to shuttle people to John Barnes Park, as well as spots along the way. There will be music performed by Fender Bender, and the band is sponsored by Paul Davis, a home recovery and remodeling outfit. There will be concessions, and Brad says, “The entire event is family friendly. You can come here and have fun all day, even if you don’t like cars.”

The prize money is substantial. Brad Stovall’s shop is giving $1,500 for first prize, $1,000 for second prize, and $500 for third. There is a 50/50 drawing, and last year’s take was $4,700. This year there is a chance to win a gorgeous 1959 Ford Thunderbird, which is being donated by R&J Salvage.

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Another feature of the Ardmore Car Show is the Swap Meet. There is a brisk market for old car and truck parts, and the selection at this show is huge. It is entirely possible that the exact thing you are looking for is waiting for you, and for a restorer, the hunt is the best part.

Brad and Eddie went on to educate me about what is known as “Rat Rods.” This is a trend that began about 10 years ago, and in the car world, it is akin to “shabby chic” in the interior design world. They look somewhat like the old hot rods, but crazier. They can include trucks, and sometimes will make zany combos like an open hot rod front welded to an old Chevy rear. At times the bodies are actually newer, but have been painted and distressed to look old and rusty. “A Rat Rod is a bunch of junk, but they make it work,” Brad said with a laugh.

Clearly what makes Brad and Eddie smile the most when they talk about the event is what was referred to earlier as the “art show.” Each car or truck entered is a work of art, the result of a large investment, in terms of time, money, research, elbow grease, and the requisite “blood, sweat, and tears” that at the end of the day draws forth the “oohs and ahhs.” As Brad says, “each car tells a story, and the detail says it all.”

Come and experience what Brad is describing on August 13th from 10 am to 3 pm. If you are a spectator, the ticket price is $5.00, families are $15.00, and children 12 and under are admitted free. If you are interested in pre-registering, exhibiting, or for more information, go to www.ardmorecarshow.com, or email ardmorecarshow@gmail.com.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner