By: Holly Hollman
The Friendship Quilters Guild issued a challenge to its members to use their sewing creativity to symbolize historic sites in Athens and Limestone County for the bicentennial. Both Athens and Limestone County are 200 this year.

The quilters drew the name of a historic site and had to research the site and then determine how to interpret the site through a quilt.

Carole Hamilton won first place with her star design for Cambridge United Methodist Church. Hamilton said the Cambridge community was among the areas in consideration for the seat of Limestone County. When Athens became the seat, Cambridge lost its “star” on the map and never materialized into a city. During her research, Hamilton said she discovered that worshippers sometimes used quilts on the walls to block wind after the Union Army used some of its planks for firewood during the Civil War. Although Cambridge is not a city, the church still conducts services.

Jane Clark placed second with her depiction of Athens State University. She used the bear claw pattern and added the school mascot, Hebrew the Bear. Clark also included two columns to represent Founders Hall.

Kim Johnson and Cecelia Bradford tied for third place. Johnson made the Limestone County Courthouse and painted cotton bolls on her quilt. Bradford made the steeple of Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Downtown Athens because the steeple is an iconic part of the downtown skyline.

Other quilters also made creations for the Presbyterian Church, Athens State, and Gulf Station.

The bicentennial quilts will be on display starting late March through September at Athens City Hall. The quilts then will go to High Cotton Arts for the “Art As Our Narrative: A Bicentennial Exhibit,” from October through December.

By: Holly Hollman

By: Holly Hollman
In Athens, if you want to know the latest on a sick neighbor, you tune in to the morning Sick Call Radio Program on WKAC. On the momentous occasion of their 65th anniversary, co-hosts Corey Hudson and Jay Hudson want to tell the story of this staple of our hometown news.

The Sick Call first aired on WMJW on February 15, 1953. Buford Romine and J. C. Dobbs wanted a way to advertise Buford’s restaurant and J. C.’s Shoe Shop. They got with “Pappy” Dunnavant, who owned the radio station. They added the theme song “Someone To Care.” They borrowed the ‘sick call’ from the Army. The show moved to WKAC 1080 AM. Over the years, Buford’s wife, Mary, and their daughter Jill Hudson were all active in the program.

Jay Hudson became co-host in 1973. Forty-five years later, he is on the air at 8 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Corey Hudson came on as co-host in 2000. Between father and son, they make sure the program goes right on.

The show lets everyone know about deaths, funerals, birthdays, anniversaries, and special events in Athens, Decatur, Florence, Pulaski, Rogersville, and many other areas. Also news from all the Senior Centers.

Several faithful sponsors have supported the show through the years. One of the many sponsors, Dobb’s Shoe Shop, third generation, is still a sponsor. Most of the sponsors have been with the program 15 plus years. Some over 40 years.

Jay and Corey want you to know how much they appreciate their listeners and sponsors. We are hometown folks sharing the news while you have your coffee. Corey always says, “Dad loves to talk.”

For 65 years, the show has exemplified Athens is a community that cares. So, this week, Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks honored current Sick call co-hosts Corey Hudson and Jay Hudson with a Key to the City and certificate of appreciation for being Classic. Southern. Characters.

Please turn your radio on at 8 a.m. Tune it to WKAC 1080. You will hear the words, “It’s time for the legendary Sick Call Program.” Either Jay or Corey will welcome everyone with a “Good Morning,” and you’ll know that – It’s time for another Sick Call Program…The tradition continues!!!
By: Holly Hollman
Grant Coordinator/Communications Specialist
City of Athens, Alabama

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: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Just before Christmas, Cornelius and Kisha Mitchell opened up a new restaurant called Big Boy’s Grilling and Southern Cooking Restaurant, located at 17480 Sudbury Drive in Athens-West Limestone. And they want everyone to know about their smoke-free, family friendly environment, home cookin’ and perfectly smoked ribs, chicken, and more. They have extensive restaurant experience, but to them there is something special about this new location, and their customers agree.

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 their BBQ chicken is some of the best I have ever tasted. Kisha is getting ready to make some tasty cupcakes for their special Valentine’s Day dinner. Word is getting out, people are heading down Hwy 99 on their lunch hour to get great food at a reasonable price, and now have a welcoming place to enjoy it. As one client puts it, you can “feel love in the atmosphere.”

Cornelius and Kisha decided to go with a homey farm décor, and some of their raving fan customers have offered to pay hundreds of dollars for the antique farm implements that are on display at BBG. There is also a multi-purpose room in the back, and there are plans to have several genres of live music, including R & B, as well as country.

So, let’s talk about Valentine’s Day first. There is going to be a live band, and the music will be the kind that you won’t have a problem with your kids hearing or humming. The menu for Valentine’s Day is rib-eye steak for two, baked potato with all the fixin’s, salad, and dessert for $29.99. Call soon and let them know you are coming so that you can get everything just the way you want it. The celebration starts at 5 p.m., and if you need to bring your kids, the atmosphere will be appropriate for them, too. Kisha and the rest of the crew are putting the finishing touches on the red and white decorations, and it will be a great night.

One of the things that impresses me personally about Big Boy’s is their dedication to and appreciation for our veterans. In the middle of the south wall of the restaurant is a large silhouette of a soldier in front of an American flag. However, BBG does more than just use what’s on the wall for decoration; once a month they actually have their own version of Veterans’ Day, where all currently active or former military members can have any dinner on the menu for $5.99. That includes steaks, even rib-eye, frog legs, or any of their other delicious menu items. And, this special deal is not just for veterans, the invitation is extended to all first responders. “Veterans’ Day” is going to be the 3rd Saturday of every month. “We are the only place in the area that does this,” said Cornelius.

Big Boy’s Grilling and Southern Cooking has dine-in, carry out, and drive-thru. They are also aware that at lunch folks are on a tight schedule, and if you call ahead, they will have your lunch ready and waiting for you to pick up. Their hamburger patties are made by hand, and the burgers are cooked to order. Other menu items include pulled pork sandwiches, fish sandwiches, and an all you can eat salad bar. There are also daily specials.

The meat-and-two menu includes pulled pork, dark or white meat chicken, ribs, pork chops, frog legs catfish, or two meats and a side. The sides are mac & cheese, cabbage, baked beans, fries, green beans fried okra, or potato salad. Kisha specializes in the desserts, and she makes sure there is a selection of cakes and makes a mean banana pudding, as well as peach pie, apple pie, and brownies.
If you are looking for a place where you are treated like family, and can head home with a full heart in addition to a full tummy, then Cornelius and Kisha hope you will come and give Big Boy’s Grilling and Southern Cooking Restaurant a try. You can’t go wrong!
Big Boy’s Grilling and Southern Cooking Restaurant
17480 Sudbury Drive, Athens, AL 35614
Hours: Mon-Tue, 11-8, Wed, 11-5, Thur, Fri, and Sat 11-8 CLOSED Sun
Phone: 256 348-8107
Facebook: Big Boy’s Grilling and Southern Cooking Restaurant
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Mrs. Wynell Reynolds was born at home near Cross Key on February 18, 1939, “right in the middle” of two brothers and two sisters. She graduated from West Limestone High School in 1956, and she married that same year. Her daddy was a farmer, “and we farmed with horses,” she told me. They grew cotton and corn. She grew up without a phone or TV, and she’ll tell you that she thinks that the greatest change in her lifetime has been the invention of both. She was on her smartphone when I came in to her room, and knows her way around Facebook I think better than I do.

Wynell and her husband Wesley first had two boys, David and Dwight. It was the early days of open-heart surgery, and three-year-old Dwight only lived for a few days after the surgery that they hoped would close up the hole in his heart. Wynell is glad that she got to hold him, and is full of faith that she will see him again, but that’s not a loss that any parent ever gets over completely. David was 5 at the time of his brother’s passing, and she says it was “really hard on him,” as it was on the rest of the family. Several years passed, and the Reynolds decided that they wanted to add to their family, so three more sons came along—Paul, Dwayne and Preston. Wynell worked for 29 years at Clements High School, first as a teacher’s aide, then later as a library assistant.

Wynell and her family have always fellowshipped with the Church of Christ, and her favorite scripture is Romans 8:28, which says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Her favorite hymn is “When We All Get To Heaven,” so we sang the chorus together: “When we all get to heaven/what a day of rejoicing that will be/When we all see Jesus/We’ll sing and shout the victory.”

We moved on to some other favorites:

Favorite color? Purple, or lilac. “Not too dark,” she said.

Favorite season? “Fall. I like spring, too, but that’s when I lost my son, so I really like fall better. I love the colors.”

Favorite food to cook? “Reynolds stew.” It’s a family favorite.

Favorite food to eat? That would be her mom’s pork, gravy, and biscuits. Wynell told me the biscuits were the best she ever ate, anywhere.

Favorite authors? Grace Livingston Hill and Mary Higgins Clark.

Mrs. Reynolds is an avid reader, and loves to do word search puzzles. She was working on a Bible word search puzzle whose theme was I Corinthians 13, most commonly known as “The Love Chapter.”

Favorite President? Harry Truman. She was young when he was president, but she remembers him well and thinks he was the best.

She has been at the Limestone Health Facility for rehab three times, and raves about the care she receives and the attentiveness of the staff. She took me down to the therapy room to tell them that she was going to be in the paper, and she told me that earlier they all teased her about who her favorite was. She smiled back with, “You ALL are!” She told me that if she ever has to be a permanent resident anywhere, this is where she wants to come.

I asked her if she had any advice for young people, and she replied, “Listen to your elders because they have been through things you haven’t. Ask them questions, and keep Christ in your life.” Those are good words no matter how old you are, from a sweet and wise woman named Wynell Reynolds.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

A Celebration of Cranes

By: Melinda Dunn, President & CEO – Decatur Morgan County Tourism, Inc.
Decatur, Ala. (January 3, 2018) – Over 14,000 Sandhill Cranes along with several pairs of Whooping Cranes spend the winter each year at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. In celebration of these long-legged and long-necked birds, Wheeler Wildlife Refuge Association hosts a two day event filled with nature walks, concerts and special programs for experienced birders and anyone who would like to learn more about birding and other wildlife that call the Refuge home. Set for January 13-14, 2018, Festival of the Cranes takes place at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge with the popular live raptor presentations to be held at the Princess Theater.

Now in its fifth year, Festival of the Cranes has become a popular weekend activity for families near and far. New for 2018 is a change in venue for one of the more crowd favorite activities. Due to the popularity of the raptor presentations and the limited seating and parking at the Refuge’s visitor center, the three Auburn University Southeastern Raptor Center presentations will take place at the historic Princess Theater in downtown Decatur. The new location will ensure everyone will have the opportunity to enjoy the wonderful entertaining and educational program. To make it even more convenient to enjoy all the events at Festival of the Cranes, a shuttle will be available to take festival goers to and from the Wheeler Visitor Center to the Princess Theater and other areas of historic downtown Decatur for a nominal fee. Show times are set for 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 13 and 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 14 and admission is free.

Festival of the Cranes kicks off bright and early Saturday, January 13 at 6:30 a.m. with a breakfast in the Visitor Center classroom. Following breakfast, Dwight Cooley, former refuge manager, will lead an early morning birding walk to see cranes and other waterfowl arrive in the fields to begin their day of feeding and loafing. Cost is $5 per person with proceeds benefiting future refuge programs. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable walking shoes and to bring binoculars and a camera.

A variety of activities and educational opportunities are lined up throughout the day at the Refuge. At 8 a.m., members of the Alabama Ornithological Society and Tennessee Valley Audubon Society will host Birding 101, a beginner course in birding. Participants are asked to meet at the Visitor Center Information Desk for a walk along the grounds of the Visitor Center.

A photography workshop with David Akoubian follows at 9 a.m. in the auditorium.

Acclaimed author, storyteller, and naturalist Brian “Fox” Ellis will present his Adventures with John James Audubon at 10:30 a.m. and will lead a nature hike at 3 p.m.

Flutist Michael Graham Allen will perform a free concert at 1 p.m. in the auditorium. Allen is the founder, principal flutist and composer of the band COYOTE OLDMAN. An early researcher and builder of ancient flutes of North America, he has been a professional flute maker since the mid 1970s.

Additional activities on Saturday include special activities for children to take part in from 9 to 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 to 3 p.m. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., there will be a pizza lunch with proceeds benefitting the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge Association. The enclosed Wildlife Observation Building offers views of thousands of Sandhill Cranes, along with Whooping Cranes, ducks, geese, raptors, and maybe a bald eagle. There are bleachers and spotting scopes available along with volunteers and staff members on hand to answer questions.

On Sunday, January 14, members of the Alabama Ornithological Society and Tennessee Valley Audubon Society will host Birding 101, a beginner course in birding at 8 a.m. Participants are asked to meet at the Visitor Center Information Desk for a walk along the grounds of the Visitor Center.

At 9 a.m., festival goers can choose from a photography workshop hosted by David Akoubian in the classroom or the Comic Mis-Adventures of Lewis and Clark with Brian “Fox” Ellis as Meriwether Lewis in the Auditorium.

Flutist Michael Graham Allen will perform another free concert at 11 a.m. in the auditorium.
At 1:30 p.m., storyteller and author Brian “Fox” Ellis steps into the shoes of Prince of Wied, Maximilian allowing the audience to step back in time. Blending history, science, art and cultural anthropology, the Prince gives us a unique view of America as he saw it in the early 1830s. Much of the text for this performance comes directly from his journals.

Additional fun on Sunday includes special activities for children in the classroom from 1:30 to 3 p.m.

The Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center is located at 3121 Visitor Center Road in Decatur. For more information on the Festival of the Cranes, visit or call Teresa Adams, supervisory ranger for Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, at 256.350.6639 or call Decatur Morgan County Tourism at 256.350.2028 or 800.232.5449.

Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge was established on July 7, 1938 by Executive Order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the first National Wildlife Refuge placed on a multi-purpose reservoir to provide habitat for wintering and migrating birds. Covering 35,000 acres, it attracts thousands of wintering waterfowl each year and is home to Alabama’s largest wintering duck population. The Refuge also supports the state’s largest concentration of Sandhill Cranes and the endangered Whooping Crane. For more information on Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, visit

A variety of activities are planned in conjunction with Festival of the Cranes before, during and after the annual event. From now until January 26, 2018, the public is invited to take part in StoryWalk presented by Decatur Public Library. This is the fourth year that Wheeler Refuge and the Decatur Public Library have partnered to display the story, Because of an Acorn by Lola and Adam Schaefer, to visitors while walking along the Atkeson Cypress Trail at the Wheeler Visitor Center. The trail is open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The public is invited to attend a Raising Crane Awareness program at the Decatur Public Library. Presented by Amber Wilson from the International Crane Foundation, Back from the Brink is the topic for Dec. 28 and Life as a Whooping Crane follows on Jan. 11. Both programs will take place in the library’s community room at 5 p.m. All ages are welcome.

The Carnegie Visual Arts Center plan to offer special hours the weekend of Festival of the Cranes. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. From January 13 through February 24, Spectrum: Diverse Creations of Alabama Artists, featuring Sculptor Mircea Lacatus from Huntsville, Painter Sarah Carlisle Towery from Lake Martin, Ala., Painter Susan Downing-White from Mobile and Sculptor Charlie Lucas, from Selma, Ala., will be on display.
By: Melinda Dunn, President & CEO – Decatur Morgan County Tourism, Inc.

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

Holiday Events

By: Holly Hollman
Athens State Community Band Christmas Concert
Sunday, Dec. 3, 3 p.m., Athens State University gym
Enjoy a free holiday concert by the band. A reception hosted by the Athens State University Alumni Association will follow in the gym. The reception will include a visit from Santa. Parents are encouraged to bring their children and cameras to make their own photos.

Holiday Soiree for the Athens-Limestone Public Library Foundation
Friday, Dec. 1, at 6 p.m., home of Monya and Mitch Claborn at 1808 Lindsay Lane South
Tickets are limited and are $75; get tickets at the library or online at

Athens North Pole Stroll

Dec 1-30, daily until 9 p.m., Big Spring Memorial Park
Stroll amid decorated trees and Christmas scenes by the duck pond. Each tree has its own theme. This is a free community Christmas event hosted by Tourism, Lowe’s, City of Athens, and Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful. Santa plans to visit on Dec. 16.
One Athens Christmas Showcase
Friday, Dec. 1, 6-8 p.m., Athens Middle School
Hosted by the Athens City Schools Fine Arts Department. See art made by students and hear performances by the schools’ various choirs and bands.

Athens High School JROTC Jingle Bell Jog 5K

Saturday, Dec. 2, 6:45 a.m., Athens High.
The race will begin and end behind Athens High School. Don your funniest Christmas costume and lace up your shoes for a flat and fast USATF Certified 5K Course (AL13063JD). Race will be chip timed. In addition to race awards, will be an award for best costume; cost is $28. Register here: Athens/ AthensHighSchoolJROTCJingleBel lJog5K

Learn-to-Read Christmas Dinner

Monday, Dec. 4, at 6 p.m., Rodgers Center at First Presbyterian
Cost is $10. Please RSVP by emailing

Ladies Civitan Christmas Party

Tuesday, Dec. 5, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Friendship United Methodist
Held for the clients in the Mental Health program. Please RSVP to Lynne Hart at 256-233-8000. (Media, if you would like to cover this, please call Lynne first. It is my understanding the clients cannot be filmed or photographed, but there is a program that will include police, firefighters, Mayor’s office, and church members, that you could get footage of.)

Limestone County Christmas Tree Lighting

Thursday, Dec. 7, at 5 p.m., Courthouse lawn
Music by the Athens High Choir. See ornaments designed by the city and county schools. This is held prior to the kickoff of the annual Christmas Parade.

Trustmark Athens Christmas Parade

Thursday, Dec. 7, 6 p.m., Athens High School and through Downtown Athens
Hosted by Trustmark Bank, this beloved tradition will bring thousands of spectators to Athens to see floats, horses, fire trucks, marching bands, vintage vehicles and more. This year’s theme is Winter Wonderland, and the grand marshal is Athens Police Chief Floyd Johnson. Route is Athens High, west on Hobbs Street, around The Square, and south on Jefferson Street to Hometown Grocery.

Birdie Thornton Center Christmas Program
Friday, Dec. 8, at 11:30 a.m. at the center
Enjoy a meal and program offered by the clients of the center. They enjoy giving the community this Christmas present.

Sippin’ Cider
Saturday, Dec. 9, 5-8 p.m., Downtown Athens
Finish your Christmas shopping while enjoying cider, music, store specials, and crafts. The participating merchants will compete for your vote for the best cider concoction. High Cotton Arts will have snacks, music, and a craft as part of the Sippin’ Cider event. This overall event is hosted by Athens Main Street.

Annual Bells of Christmas Holiday Home Tour
Sunday, Dec. 10, 1-5 p.m., various Athens homes
This event is sponsored by the Athens-Ladies Civitan and offers ticketholders the opportunity to see prominent and historic homes decorated for Christmas. Cost is $20 in advance and $25 day of tour. Proceeds benefit the special needs population of Limestone County. Tickets available at Pimento’s, Pam’s Home Furniture, Osborne’s Jewelers, Kathleen’s Hair Salon, First Nation Bank, Crawford’s, and Class Act Hair Salon.

Lincoln-Bridgeforth Park Christmas Tree Lighting and Gift Give-Away
Monday, Dec. 11, at 5 p.m., at the park
Feel the joy of Christmas as children whose families need a little help from Santa receive gifts, including random drawings for a bicycle. Santa will dance on the tables and lead the children in singing. This event is supported by the Lincoln-Bridgeforth Park Committee, Athens Fire and Rescue, Athens Police and Mayor’s Office as well as local merchants, and this year, the East Limestone Band.
By: Holly Hollman

By: Holly Hollman
Planning a 200th birthday party takes more than a few party hats and a cake.

The City of Athens is developing plans to recreate Trade Day on The Square to celebrate its 200 years of history. The Athens Bicentennial Bash will be Nov. 17, 2018, on The Square. Athens turns 200 before the State of Alabama celebrates its bicentennial in 2019.

For the city’s party, Limestone County Archivist Rebekah Davis had the idea of recreating Trade Day, when people flocked to downtown for a drawing to win a vehicle. There is a historic photograph of the event that shows mainly men in hats filling the streets of downtown.

“The plan is to recreate the photo with men, women and children and give away a vehicle to reenact a part of our history,” said Athens Bicentennial Bash Committee Chair Holly Hollman.

The bash will be in conjunction with Christmas Open House. The Athens High School Choir has agreed to sing “Happy Birthday” to the city, and Mayor Ronnie Marks has asked the committee to provide 200 cupcakes in lieu of one large birthday cake. The committee is working on other activities as well.

Sen. Arthur Orr with the Alabama Bicentennial Commission recently presented the City of Athens with a $2,500 grant to fund marketing and celebrating the Athens Bicentennial Bash. Rep. Danny Crawford added a $1,000 community grant toward the event.

“The City of Athens appreciates the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, Sen. Orr, and Rep. Crawford recognizing that by celebrating the history of Athens, we are also celebrating the state’s history and our city’s role in that history,” Hollman said.

In addition to Davis, Hollman has asked the Limestone County Bicentennial Committee Chairs, Tourism Director Teresa Todd, and Limestone County Communications Coordinator Michelle Williamson, to assist in the planning process. She has also asked Trisha Black, who volunteers on the Athens Arts League Board, and Leah Beth McNutt, who works with the Athens-Limestone Hospital Foundation, to assist.

The Athens Mayor’s Youth Commission will participate, and their input helps to encourage youth to engage in learning about their city’s history. Some Youth Commissioners have already created videos highlighting aspects of the city as part of the bicentennial celebration.
By: Holly Hollman

By: John Buhler
In 1943, both houses of the Alabama State Legislature made history by being the first to call for the formation of the State of Israel. This was two years before the end of WWII, the liberation of the death camps, as well as the full understanding of what had happened under Adolph Hitler’s Final Solution. For reasons that many feel could only be described as biblical, our state led the charge by unanimously passing the hand-written proposal into law. That was the beginning of a long and strong relationship with our most ardent ally, and our unique bond is something both states enjoy celebrating to this day.

The Alabama-Israel Task Force (AITF) will be hosting several distinguished leaders from Israel for a special Alabama-Israel Leadership Gala in North Alabama on Saturday, November 18th 2017, at 7 p.m. at the Epicenter in Tanner. Brigadier General Gal Hirsch, Israel Defense Forces (IDF), is a leading expert in counter-terrorism and one of Israel’s most decorated heroes. Mr. Eeki Elner is the founder of the Israel Leadership Institute in Sderot-Israel.

The evening will honor leadership and celebrate friendship between Alabama and Israel during this 50th Anniversary and Jubilee of the Reunification of Jerusalem. It will include the Israel Leadership Award ceremony and presentation from the Steering Committee and Board of Directors of the Israel Leadership Institute (ILI). The ILI is one of Israel’s truly advanced and creative leadership schools, with a board of directors which includes some of Israel’s most distinguished leaders across a variety of disciplines. There will also be a special commemorative presentation honoring the Consul General of Israel to Alabama, Lior Haiat.

The Governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey, will be honored as the recipient of the 2017 Israel Leadership Award 2017. Israeli BG Gal Hirsch will present the award personally. The Alabama-Israel Task Force had nominated Governor Ivey for consideration having witnessed first-hand her exceptional work and leadership on behalf of the Alabama-Israel relationship. As Lt. Governor and President of the Senate, her strong keynote at a statewide gathering, her invitation to the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset to address a Joint Session of the Legislature, and her support of anti-BDS resolution and legislation, have been a testament to her leadership and dedication to this historic relationship. As governor, she has carried on that legacy signing a Statement Against Anti-Israel Bias and issuing a Proclamation Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Reunification of Jerusalem.

The Gala is a charitable benefit for the Alabama-Israel Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response (EPDR) initiative with the Israel Leadership Institute in Sderot. Through AITF’s partnership, ILI was able to launch an 18-month leadership training earlier this year in Kiryat Shmona (Israel) at the request of their Mayor.

In addition to the governor, Israeli Consul General, and special guests from Israel, U.S. Senate candidate Judge Roy and Kayla Moore are joining us at the Gala, our host district U.S. Congressman Mo and Mrs. Martha Brooks (AL-05) will be attending, and we have secured personal video greetings to the Gala from the Mayor of Jerusalem. We are in the process of securing a personal video greeting from the Speaker of the Knesset (Israel’s National Parliament).

The Alabama-Israel Task Force (AITF) seeks to provide a bridge and catalyst for broader cooperative efforts and help cultivate an even stronger and expanding state-to-state relationship between Alabama and Israel for the mutual benefit of their people. For information on the Task Force or the Gala, visit:
By: John Buhler