Athens-Limestone Public Library Book Clubs
Enjoy reading? Like discussing books with others? The Athens-Limestone Public Library offers two book clubs each month. Join in with the Third Thursday Book Club every third Thursday of the month at 9:00 a.m. for coffee, baked treats, and good conversation. Various genres are read. You’re also invited to join the Mystery Book Club every 4th Thursday at 6:00 p.m. for tasty treats and an even tastier mystery! Books are available from the library. For more info, check at the Circulation Desk or call 256-232-1233.

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

Athens-Limestone County Alabama, has an abundance of trails, waterways, prime fishing grounds, and RV parks awaiting you. These marvelous gems are tucked among the emerald greenways and luscious landscape of our blooming and friendly communities. With Athens-Limestone County located along the Interstate 65 and U.S. Highway 72 corridors and centrally located in North Alabama, it makes for a perfect getaway from the havoc of the city, a base station for exploring the region or just a simple daytrip for a change of scenery.

No matter what your escape requires, you’ll find options in Athens-Limestone County. Whether it’s RVing, boating, fishing, swimming, water skiing, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, birding, or just simple relaxation – there’s a playground for everyone. Limestone County is served by not only the Tennessee River but the Elk River and offers water suitable for rafting, fishing, and water sports.

The Wheeler Lake and the Elk River have come to host several fishing tournaments throughout the year, including the Cabela King Kat Tournament, Alabama Bass Trail–Wheeler Lake, City of Athens Relay for Life Bass Tournament. There are the smaller tournaments for the weekend angler like the Friday Night Bass Tournament, Saturday Night Tournament, and the Heartland Anglers Bass Tournament. Anglers will enjoy the chance at three different kinds of catfish, three different kinds of bass, plus bream, crappie, sauger and other species.

From enthusiast to lazy day pacer, there’s a trail to suit your needs in the Athens-Limestone area with over 20 to choose from. If you’d like to keep things in an urban environment, the City of Athens offers several trails featuring the history and architecture of Athens, including the Columns and Culture Trail, Beaty Historic District Trail, and the Athens Historic Volksmarch, or enjoy the one of the tracks or Veterans Walk of Ardmore AL/TN.

The Richard Martin Rails to Trails is a 10.3 mile trail starting just south of the northern border of Alabama in Veto. It travels through the Civil War historic site Battle of Sulfur Creek Trestle before continuing through the heart of Elkmont to finish at Piney Chapel Road north of Athens at Coffman Park. Walkers, bikers, and horseback riders can enjoy this scenic trail through nature along the reclaimed railroad that once served as the L&N Railroad connection between Louisville and Birmingham.

The Noah Bike and Antique Car Trail winds its way through Limestone County for nearly 90-miles of history, scenery, and adventure – perfect for a road trip in the family car or testing the curves with your motorcycle. Several of Limestone’s communities are highlighted along the way with options to stop at sites including historic churches, cemeteries, and nature areas. The Noah Bike and Antique Car Trail is a great way to link the trails and attractions of the Richard Martin Rails to Trails, Marbut’s Bend Accessible Nature Trail, Athens-Limestone County African-American Heritage Trail, Athens-Limestone County Civil War Trail, and the Limestone County Canoe and Kayak Trail.

RVers have the option of views and locations in Athens-Limestone from the shores of the Tennessee River to the heart of Elkmont. RVers are always welcome in Athens-Limestone with RV parks conveniently located to attractions, waterways, and the interstate simply by choosing one of the conveniently located RV parks. Cowford Landing has access to the bass rich Tennessee River and boat launches, walking trails, and convenience station. Mill Creek Park visitors can choose to pull their RV in and enjoy access to the town of Elkmont, the Noah Bike and Antique Car Trail, the Richard Martin Rails to Trails, and Limestone County Canoe and Kayak Trail. While RV visitors looking to spend their time in historic Athens can choose to make their home at Northgate RV Park at Exit 354 or Swan Creek Park at Exit 347.

Athens-Limestone Tourism has created a brochure highlighting available trails and tracks in the greater Limestone County, including Ardmore, Mooresville, Lester, Elkmont, and Athens areas. This brochure is available at the Athens-Limestone Visitors Center, 100 N. Beaty St., Athens, AL, between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, or by visiting and using the contact form to request a copy. You can also reach the Athens-Limestone Visitors Center by calling 256-232-5411.
By: Cayce Lee Hutchins
Social Media Specialist

By: Holly Hollman
The annual Athens Mardi Gras Block Party was Tuesday, Feb. 13, in Downtown Athens. The Athens State Artheads had their costumes ready for this year’s theme, “Things That Fly.”

Festivities started at 5:30 p.m. at High Cotton Arts with a free mask-making craft session for kids, as well as a popcorn bar. There were also bead making and International Crane Foundation booths at the Athens State Center for Lifelong Learning.

The parade was at 6:30 p.m., with the Athens High Dixieland Band performing at the Center for Lifelong Learning and the East Limestone Band Ensemble at High Cotton Arts. This was advertised as a Parade With A Purpose, as groups decorated shopping carts on loan from Lowe’s that they pushed in the parade in order to collect canned food from spectators. All food was then given to the LCCI Food Bank in Athens. A total of 300 cans of food was collected and donated. Decorators included the Athens-Limestone Animal Shelter, who featured a cart that was flying animals to the rescue, and the Athens Arts League which had a cart called, “When Pigs Fly” as a tribute to Julia the Pig. Julia, you’ll remember, was the pig that was nearly ousted from the city limits in the 1980s, but who went on to become the Sun-Drop drinking queen of the Christmas parade. Her portrait also had a place of honor on the walls of LuVici’s.

The Limestone County Courthouse had Mardi Gras colors showing on the Courthouse walls and festive music as well, using the new speaker system which can be heard all around the Square.

This event was hosted by the Athens State University sculpture students known as the Artheads with assistance from Athens Arts League, and it turned out wonderfully.
By: Holly Hollman

By Wanda Campbell


3rd Annual Women’s Leadership Symposium
On April 11, the Center for Lifelong Learning will host the third annual Women’s Leadership Symposium: Honoring Women Who Serve. The event will be held at the Dynetics Solutions Complex Main Conference Room in Huntsville, from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Lunch is included in the $85 fee. A featured speaker for this program is Dr. Carolyn McKinstry of Birmingham. McKinstry is a survivor and eyewitness to the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing in September of 1963 that killed four young girls. Dr. McKinstry is the author of While the World Watched: A Birmingham Bombing Survivor Comes of Age during the Civil Rights Movement.

Understanding Why People Follow is offered on Thursday, February 8, from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. in the conference room at the Center for Lifelong Learning. The $49 fee includes lunch. This session will introduce a panel of leaders from diverse industry sectors, including government, education, and business, to discuss the evolution of their individual leadership styles, and how they worked to ensure the fulfillment of four essential criteria – trust, compassion, stability, and hope.

Soft Skills for Leaders
The Center for Lifelong Learning welcomes Dr. Yvette Rice, president of LLVE, LLC, to teach the soft skills for leaders. On February 9, she will teach Communication Skills at the Center from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. The fee is $69/person. Communication skills are pivotal for leaders to create an engaging workplace environment that promotes teambuilding and teamwork.

Have you always wanted to try yoga? Now is your chance to get started! The Center for Lifelong Learning is offering a Level One Yoga Class connecting postures (asanas) with breath, flowing from one posture to the next. The class includes standing and floor postures while elevating the heart rate to a moderate level. This means you will be breathing moderately but still able to speak. Depending on how you feel about your progress, our instructor will show ways to both increase and extend the pose or keep the pose at a beginner level. Bring your own mat, and wear comfortable clothing. Classes are held on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, from 11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. The fee is $5 per session or you can get a punch card for five or ten lessons.

Sign Language
American Sign Language is a complex language using hand motions and facial expressions. Using your hands and different facial expressions, you can have a complete conversation with someone who is deaf or hearing impaired. This class will begin with an introduction to the language by learning to sign and fingerspell. Before you know it, you will be signing phrases and expanding to complete sentences. Family rates are available. Beginning Sign Language is offered on Mondays, February 6-March 12, from 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
By: Wanda Campbell
Center for Lifelong Learning – 121 South Marion Street, Athens, AL 35611 – 256-233-8262

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
On Wednesday, January 31, Mayor Ronnie Marks gave his annual State of the City address at the Athens State University Ballroom. The room was full and the food was good. For several years, the mayor has found that a specific book serves well to provide a theme for the address, and this year’s selection was Steve Gilliam’s Enjoy The Ride. Gilliam’s continual point is that, one way or another, there is going to be a journey, and since “no one gets out of here alive,” everyone from a city to a family or an individual would be well-served to find a way to enjoy the journey.

Currently we have many reasons to enjoy the ride. The recent announcement of the Toyota plant and the thousands of jobs it will create was even mentioned Tuesday night in President Trump’s State of the Union speech. We have successfully finished negotiating with Pilgrim’s Pride, and now have the deed to the property that has been legendary for its blight. Now there are bright prospects for the land to be beautifully re-purposed. The new Athens High School is coming right along, and construction has begun on the new Athens Bible School.

The plans were revealed for the new 70,000-square-foot Parks and Recreation building, as well as the architect’s rendering of the building planned for the Greater Limestone Chamber of Commerce; there was much discussion about the grants received for various road improvements, including sidewalks and bridges, sewers, and the need for a road to be made connecting Forrest St. all the way down to where Chick-fil-A meets Highway 72.

There was much discussion about our 200 year birthday celebrations, for both Limestone County and the city of Athens, and a reminder of some of our most famous citizens. We were reminded of how blessed we have been to have people like Patty Malone, Judge James Horton, Mary Wells, Governor Houston, and more. We were reminded that City Councilman Frank Travis is heading up this year’s special production of Poke Sallet, which will be a revue of the 200 years that have made Athens-Limestone County the wonderful place that it is.

As heartening as all the good news of economic development, housing developments, and infrastructure improvements may be, what I think rang true for all those attending is that the greatest thing being developed in our area is our young people. Students from the current Mayor’s Youth Commission, now in its 5th year, made statements that were shown as part of the slide presentation. They talked about how much they love our town, how safe they feel, and how much they have enjoyed being a part of the Commission.
But, I think the best was saved til last. Third grader Madisyn Marshall, who was the 3rd grade winner of the Martin Luther King Essay Contest, wrote in her essay that she planned to be President of the United States when she turns 35. Apparently, she has it all planned out because she said that in order to do so, she is first going to have to be a United States Senator. And, I think it’s safe to say that we are all going to enjoy the ride as we cheer her on.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

By: Lynne Hart
As I write this article, the temperatures outside are dropping. I’m ready to go home and snuggle up under a warm blanket with my dog, Annie, and a cup of hot chocolate. How about you?

Before we get too comfortable in our warm homes, let’s take a few minutes to think about what we can do to make the winter months more comfortable for local wildlife.

Land development is pushing wildlife out of areas they once called home, leaving them to search for food, water, and shelter outside of their normal habitat. I have always felt a strong tie to the natural world, and agree with Peter Coyote’s statement, “Habitat for wildlife is continually shrinking – I can at least provide a way station.”

You will find some ideas below on how to provide a “way station” for local wildlife right in your own back yard.

• Fill your feeders with seeds that will provide high energy, such as black oil sunflower seeds. See the recipe included in this article for birdseed ornaments you can hang outdoors. Then enjoy watching the birds dine on your creations!
• Woodpeckers, Blue Jays, and other birds love suet. It provides the fats needed to help keep the birds warm. Be careful not to leave them out too long when the weather is above freezing as they can spoil.
• If you prefer to go natural, consider hanging dried sunflower heads for the birds to pick out the seeds. Hang strings of popcorn and cranberries where the animals and birds can reach them.
• Prepare for next winter by planting shrubs that produce berries, nuts, and seeds. The animals and birds will thank you for the healthy winter meals.


• Provide a birdbath or two. Place one on the ground for animals that can’t climb.
• Heat your birdbath if you are able. A warm bath is always nice!
• If you have the inclination, build a pond! Even a small one in your flower garden will be a welcomed addition.
• Keep your birdbaths and ponds clean.

Providing shelter doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive!
• Create a brush pile. Find a corner of your yard and pile leaves as the base. Add sticks and twigs and other brush. Small animals will find safety and warmth.
• Covering your flower garden with leaves provides shelter to small animals and insects.
• Add birdhouses, hollow logs, old drain tiles, rock piles and other creative shelters to your yard.
• Create a warm hideaway by cutting a hole in the side of a Styrofoam cooler. Add some straw (not hay or blankets) to add some warmth and tape the lid closed to prevent air leaks. Tuck the cooler in a protected area.
• Consider waiting until spring to trim your flowers and prune your hedges. The extra coverage will offer protection to small animals.

I find my greatest peace when I connect with nature, and I have a huge love for animals. How true are the words of Cecil Frances Alexander: “All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all.”
By: Lynne Hart
Executive Coordinator – Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful

By: Holly Hollman
The community worked together to ensure children in Athens enjoyed the Christmas season.

About 85 children received presents and more than 20 won bicycles at the annual Lincoln-Bridgeforth Park Committee Tree Lighting and Gift Giveaway.

Each year, the committee works with the Boys and Girls Club and families in the area to help Santa provide a gift to each child who attends. In addition, there are random drawings for bicycles. The community ensured this year’s event was one of the largest to date, said Councilman Frank Travis.

East Limestone Band with assistance from Chick-fil-A, Edward Jones, Village Pizza at East Limestone, and Village Vet filled its trailer, the one recently stolen in Birmingham and recovered. East Limestone Band Director Jennifer “Miss Sam” Janzen said the students wanted to give back to the community this season as a thank you for those who helped share news about the stolen trailer, which led to the recovery of the trailer which was filled with band instruments.

The donations meant that no child left the event without a gift.

“This event is one of my favorites because you see what can happen in a community when people work together to bring smiles to children’s faces,” Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks said.

The mayor’s office assisted in event planning, and Athens Fire and Rescue assisted with collecting and wrapping presents. The Athens Mayor’s Youth Commission and Lowe’s employees joined firefighters and committee members to help wrap the donated gifts.

Among the donors were Athens State University’s Young Alumni Advisory Council, which donated $500, and employees at Limestone County DHR who shopped for gifts to donate.

Santa arrived via firetruck and danced on picnic tables, and Kingdom United sang carols. The Youth Commission, Athens Fire and Rescue, and Mayor’s Office helped the park committee give out snacks and distribute gifts. A wonderful time was had by all.
By: Holly Hollman

By: Holly Hollman
Students with the Athens Mayor’s Youth Commission recently went on a hunting trip armed with baskets and merchandise scanners.

The students received a retail scavenger hunt challenge from the Lowe’s staff to learn how to locate items in the store based on its location code, scan it, and add it to their cart. Lowe’s hosted the students for their November program. Some of the students have expressed interest in retail and the decision making that goes into a business locating in Athens.

Lowe’s Manager Darwan Kerr talked to the students about a city’s population, growth rate, transportation access, and other attributes. Kerr and his staff also explained to students what an employer looks for in an employee, women in leadership, being a service-minded leader, and why businesses support community engagement.

“This is important for them to hear because they may already have a job, or they soon will, and they need to know what they can do to advance in their careers and be a valued employee and leader,” Mayor Ronnie Marks said.

Lowe’s treated the visiting students as new employees, issued them employee badges, and challenged them to learn how to locate and scan items through the scavenger hunt activity designed by Lowe’s SOS Credit Coordinator Melissa Calvert. Only one team found all 14 items on the list.

“The students had to divide into small teams, and they had to work together and follow directions in order to complete the task,” said Youth Commission mentor Holly Hollman. “The students were very competitive, and it was fun to watch them debate on which aisle was the right way to go and which item was the correct one.”

The goal of the Athens Mayor’s Youth Commission is to teach high school students in Athens about local government’s role and their role as citizens so that they will be informed and engaged citizens. The program includes community service projects, tours of various businesses, non-profit agencies and historic sites, and visits to city departments.
By: Holly Hollman

By: Wanda Campbell
Every fall, the Center for Lifelong Learning engages in a flurry of activity. From the end of September to near the end of November we are busy with community events, class activities, and planning future classes, events, and activities.

Community Activities

Starting the last weekend in September this year, we hosted the Grease Festival. The next weekend was the Ol’ Time Fiddlers Convention. Starting on October 26, the Athens Storytelling Festival comes to town. And just three weeks after Storytelling, we are geared up for Christmas Open House. If you have not had the opportunity to participate in the community activities, I invite you to come on down. Although the Grease Festival and Fiddlers Convention have already passed, you still have time to attend the Athens Storytelling Festival and Christmas Open House.

The Athens Storytelling Festiva
l is jam-packed with great stories, nationally recognized storytellers, and lots of opportunity to mingle and buy author recordings and books. Donald Davis, Bill Lepp, Bill Harley, Geraldine Buckley, and The Dill Pickers are the featured artists. Get “the Whole Schebang” to come and go as you please throughout the entire festival, including Tuesday’s 5th Annual Dan Williams Local Tellers Competition. Or you can pick and choose what days you’d like to come. Tickets are available online.

The Christmas Open House event is sponsored by the Greater Limestone Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Athens. With activities scattered around the Courthouse, everyone enjoys the sounds and smells of Christmas. Carolers will be singing many of your favorite Christmas carols as they stroll through downtown. Santa will arrive in style at the Center for Lifelong Learning Center and will take toy requests. During the Christmas Open House, we will host Merry Market in the Mezzanine of our building. Merry Market gives home-based businesses an opportunity to sell on the Courthouse Square. Call Jennifer Williamson at 256-232-2600 for more information about fees and spaces.

Upcoming Classes
It is not too early to mark your calendar for the 3rd Annual Women’s Leadership Conference, April 11. The 2018 theme is Women Who Serve and the line-up of speakers is just fabulous. We are trying something new and offering three Dessert and Discussion Series. The first is a series on Caring For Older Adults. The four-week series will focus on Dementia, Social Security, and more. The second series will focus on Foreign Affairs. The topics for that discussion include Trade, Jobs, and Treaties, Crisis in the South China Sea and more. Our third series will focus on Our Town. Topics include Streets and People and so much more. We hope you will come out and discussion our topics while enjoying a dessert.

Like the iceberg that floats in the sea, what I have mentioned is just the beginning. There is so much more in the planning stages. We have trips, professional development courses, leisure fun, and so much more coming up.

Wait for more here, on our website – or stop by to see us at 121 South Marion Street. We would love to talk with you.
By: Wanda Campbell
Center for Lifelong Learning – 121 South Marion Street, Athens, AL 35611 – 256-233-8262

By: Teresa Todd, TMP
NORTH POLE STROLL – Christmas trees are being presold for the North Pole Stroll. DEADLINE IS Oct 31, 2017. Lowes of Athens sponsors our 7ft tall Christmas trees. Only SOLAR-LED lights are used along with unbreakable ornaments. There will be signs at each tree by Athens Sign Co. highlighting its sponsor and decorator.

The deadline to order your Christmas tree is October 31! Pick up your forms at the Tourism Office or online at (go to “Things to do” tab – click on the ‘North Pole Stroll’ link, look for a ‘click here’ link at the top of text for forms.)
Now – December 10 — Deck our Halls with Jingle Paws picture collection with the Friends of Athens-Limestone Animal Shelter. Bring your 4×6 or small picture and commemorate your pet for $10.00. Pictures will be non-returnable. Your pet’s picture will be laminated and featured at the Athens North Pole Stroll and Ardmore Tinsel Trail. Drop off — Athens Tree: Athens-Limestone Animal Shelter; Ardmore Tree: Ardmore Companion Hospital

Oct 19 — Judge James E. Horton Jr. Monument Dedication on the lawn of the Limestone County Courthouse (520 South Jefferson Street in Athens) at noon honoring the judge’s contribution to the Scottsboro Boys Trial. Light refreshments to follow.

Oct 19 — Through the Eyes of a Soldier with the Captain Thomas H. Hobbs Sons of Confederate Veterans at the Alabama Veterans Museum and Archives (100 West Pryor Street in Athens) starting at 6:00 P.M. Speaker Bruce Stewart will talk about the common man in the ranks, perspectives/lives before, during and after the Civil War based on his manuscript. FB Event Page

Oct 20 & 21, 27 & 28
— Doomsday at Dog Days (Dog Day Flea Market Grounds 30444 Gowan Road in Ardmore, TN) with ticket sales 7:00 -11:00 P.M and attraction opens 7:30 P.M.

Oct 20 — ARToberfest with High Cotton Arts (103 West Washington Street in Athens) from 6:00 -9:00 P.M. Enjoy beverages, brats and brushes to the sounds of The Little German Band of Huntsville. Tickets at EVENTBRITE FB Event Page

Oct 21 — Fall Festival at the Shops of Ardmore Avenue in Ardmore, Alabama with Trunk or Treat with merchants, games, coloring contest, fall food and music.

Oct 23-28 — 11th Annual Athens Storytelling Festival in downtown Athens, AL will make you laugh, cry, and sigh as the storytellers fill the tent with entertainment.
Special Monday night FREE music night with members of ‘Iron Horse’ and ‘Just Down the Road’ starting at 6:30 P.M.
School Days Oct 24 – 26 with Donald Davis, Bil Lepp, Carmen Deedy and Bobby Norfolk.

Oct 24 – Dan Williams Local Teller Competition

Oct 26 is the Tellers Olio, with a sampling of all tellers and winner of competition

Oct 27 – 28 All day tellers Friday and Saturday with Donald Davis, The Dill Pickers, Bil Lepp, Geraldine Buckley and Bill Harley.

Oct 28 — Pride of Athens Marching Invitational at Athens Stadium (100 U.S. Highway 31N in Athens) from 3:00 -10:00 P.M. This annual Marching Band Contest will feature regional High School Marching Bands and an exhibition of the Golden Eagle Marching Band and the UNA “Pride of Dixie” Marching Band. Open to the public.

For more information on any of these events, go to VISITATHENSAL.COM – (FACEBOOK) ATHENS-LIMESTONE TOURISM or call 256-232-5411. (The Tourism Office is located at 100 N. Beaty Street, Athens, AL, in Big Springs Memorial Park @ the Duck Pond) you can also email your events to CAYCE@VISITATHENSAL.COM to be published on our website and/or Facebook pages. Please give at least a 2-week or more notice of your event to publicize on our website.
By: Teresa Todd, TMP
President, Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association