Get ready…get set…GO to our website and register to be part of the 9th Annual Duck and Run 5K Race and Fun Run taking place on Saturday, September 15th to support the work of Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful! You can also register through

The Duck and Run 5K is a moderately challenging race through the streets of historic Athens, Alabama. Runners will pass antebellum homes, pass through the Courthouse Square, and enjoy refreshments and award presentations in the historic Athens Utilities Building which was built in 1906. This building was recently renovated and is now the Athens Visitors Center.

The first 25 runners to register for this race will have a rubber duck entered into the Wacky Quacky Ducky Derby which takes place on October 6th and offers a $1,000 grand prize sponsored by McClary Ford in Athens. This event also supports the work of Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful.

Pre-registration for the 5K is $15 and must be postmarked by 9/8/12. Race Day registration is $20. Fun Run registration is $10. A race form can be printed off the KALB website if you prefer not to register online.

Packet pickup and late registration will be on Friday, September 14th from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the KALB office located at 125 East Street — right behind Big Spring Memorial Park. Race Day registration will begin at 6:45 a.m. 5K Race will begin at 8:00 a.m. Fun Run begins at 9:00 a.m.

T-Shirts will be guaranteed to the first 200 registered runners. Awards and prizes will be presented. Must pre-register to guarantee size.

For more information on the race, please contact KALB at 256-233-8728 or email to

KALB appreciates our sponsors for this race: Fleet Feet, McClary Ford, Pepsi, Dub’s, Athens-Limestone Hospital, Advocare, Wilmer & Lee, P.A., Quizno’s and Bruegger’s Bagels. We appreciate these businesses supporting this fundraiser!

If you or your business would like to help sponsor this event, we would be pleased to add your name or logo to our race t-shirts, place any advertising you provide into the race bags, and provide recognition on all printed materials. Just give us a call!
By: Lynne Hart
(256) 233-8728

We are told in Scripture that unless we become like little kids, we won’t see the Kingdom, and we know that at least on one occasion our Savior repeatedly jumped for joy. There is a place in Madison where kids of all ages can jump on inflatables to their heart’s content, and I can tell you that doing so made me feel way more like a joyful kid and much less like a stressed business owner who was at the end of a difficult work week.

It’s called Monkey Town Party and Play Center, and it’s located at 140 Castle Drive, just off Hwy 72 and Slaughter Road. It is a family owned business, and a favorite hangout for homeschoolers, church groups, birthday parties, parents and kids who are looking for an activity that won’t break the bank. Formerly known as Jump Zone, Larry and Connie Martin recently bought and renovated the place, and their children Courtney and Brianna helped them. They are a homeschool family, and running such a fun business is a unique part of the girls’ education.

When they took over on February 1st of this year, they began to renovate and rearrange. Bright colors were painted on the walls, the party rooms were decorated, and the rooms were reconfigured so there could be better supervision.

Monkey Town has everything from a hurricane simulator to a room that is one non-stop blackboard and plenty of colored chalk. There are rooms with air hockey, and very soon they’ll be opening up an arcade with all kinds of video games that won’t give parents the creeps. There’s a playroom for preschoolers, several rooms with tables on the first floor and a second story of party rooms.

Let me tell you about the inflatables. For smaller kids there is one that is shaped like a carousel. There is a giant Superman inflatable slide, but hands down, my fave was the Jurassic Park themed inflatable. It had a mountain you could climb, inflatable tusks to push through, and several slides cascading from the top of the mountain. The inflatables can handle adults up to the weight of 300 lbs, so size is rarely an issue if you want to jump.

Several open play times are scheduled, and once a month on the 4th Friday there is a time for homeschoolers to get together. I spoke with a homeschooling mom by the name of Laura Minjares, who was there with her two daughters, aged 5 and 11. “I like the owners,” she said, and comes as often as she can. “What’s nice is that one daughter can be jumping and the other can be practicing the letter A if she wants,” she said.

For $300, Monkey Town can be rented for what are known as Cosmic Nights. That’s when the laser and strobe lights come out, the kids are given glo-stick necklaces to wear, and if they come in having applied face paint that glows in the dark, this is when it will show up. It is one of Monkey Town’s most popular venues. Soon they’ll be adding a black light, which will make the face paint all the more interesting.

The “Cosmic Glo” parties feature pizza from Marco’s Pizza in Madison. Peggy Newton, the Martin girls’ grandmother says that the pizza “rocks.” Quite an endorsement, I’d say, coming from Nana. Glo party nights are on Friday or Saturday nights from 6-8:30, and are especially popular with highschoolers.

Monkey Town features sports parties, day cares, end of year Awana parties, and special times for toddlers. However, what made me wish my kids weren’t all grown was the “Parents’ Night Out.” This is held once a month, and for $17 dollars for the first child, and $15 for the second, parents can drop their children off from 6-10 pm and go have a date. Babysitters are hired, the kids are fed and Laura says it’s a wonderful way to spend time with her husband and get in both dinner and a movie.

The basic pricing schedule for parties is as follows:

There are add-ons such as pizza, ice cream, goodie bags, colored popcorn bags, beverages and extra play time. During the month of August, get $40 off on your party, and for more information, hours or to book a play day or party, call 256-325-jump. Monkey Town, for “monkeys” of all ages.

Monkey Town
140 Castle Drive
Madison, AL
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

No one in their mid fifties expects to find themselves in what is often referred to as a convalescent center, but that is the situation in which Sandra Wagner found herself. A few months back, she literally woke up paralyzed from the waist down, had a pinched nerve, near failure of her kidneys, and barely beat back the Grim Reaper. She was in Athens-Limestone Hospital for 3 ½ weeks, and then was transferred to Athens Rehab and Senior Care to continue her recovery.

She couldn’t walk, and she was so distressed at first that she didn’t want to leave her room. However, she says with gratitude, “They coaxed me out, and all of that is in now in the past.” Two months have gone by, and she is walking with a walker, laughing, considers the staff and residents her “new family,” and says with confidence, “I am going to throw away this walker someday.” She can’t say enough about the excellent care she has received since arriving in May. “It’s awesome, there are no words for it,” she says. “I now have no regrets about being here, and I am thankful to the staff for getting me back up and walking again.”

She loves the activities, and some of her favorites are Bingo and Wii bowling. It is clear that the staff loves “Miss Sandi,” and the feeling is mutual. We shared several laughs, and talked about her life prior to coming to Athens Rehab and Senior Care. She has two grown children and 4 grandkids. She attended church at New Oakland Baptist and Decatur Christian Fellowship.

What makes Sandi’s story so interesting is that for six years, back in the ‘80s, she actually worked as a caregiver at the very center where she now resides. She became so attached to the residents that she finally had to quit, and she is quick to mention that there are staff workers who will come down on their day off or in the middle of the night to be with a patient in need or who is about to pass, and she both appreciates and understand their dedication.

So, what are her “favorite things,” as the song goes? Favorite movie? Without a moment’s hesitation she told me that it’s “Fried Green Tomatoes.” Her favorite color? Blue. “Mine too, I told her.” Her favorite food is homemade tacos or spaghetti, and if she were President of the United States, she’d “fix health care and the economy.”

She loves all kinds of music, and especially bluegrass gospel. Her favorite place in the whole wide world is Montego Bay, Jamaica, and told us of a memorable trip she took with her children a few years back. “Oh, I would love to live there,” she said.

What advice does she have for young people? “Trust in God, obey your mom and dad, and learn from other peoples’ lives.” I’d say that’s wisdom no matter what your age. There is a chance that Sandra might be at the Center for a very long time, and being able to live without regret if that ends up being the case is a rare gift for which she is continually thankful.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner


In today’s world, “What’s in it for me?” seems to be a frequent question.

One of my favorite quotes is from Senator Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day, who said, “The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.”

Our actions, more than our words, indicate whether we care about the condition of this planet when handed over to those future generations.

I believe that most people are caring and unselfish, and will do the right thing if given the necessary information. I still have hope for the goodness of the human race.

Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful has a mission and goal to provide environmental education and information to our community so everyone can make informed choices about their personal behaviors.

Here are a few ways that YOU can connect with the information you need:

Monthly e-Newsletters
Our e-Newsletters are an excellent way to receive up-to- date, local information on events, programs, and upcoming volunteer opportunities. Newsletters are brief with added links for additional information. Email addresses are protected, never sold or given away, and are only used for KALB business.

Facebook Page
KALB’s Facebook page – Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful – is a great source of quick, useful information. Our posts provide information in easy-to-swallow bites — and it is ALWAYS local and pertinent.

KALB also has a website dedicated to our entire organization, which includes information on our education programs, litter abatement activities, our Recycling Center, and Beautification Board. Here you can find details about our programs, find a list of what, where, and how to recycle, and seek out the many volunteer and sponsorship opportunities available through KALB.
We rely on Planet Earth to provide a great deal to us — food, water, fresh air, and more. Future generations are relying on us, people they’ve never met, to handle their planet with care and concern. Connect with KALB and we’ll help you do just that. (256) 233-8728
By: Lynne Hart

Recently I had a chance to interview three members of the Burial Detail that are in charge of the military ceremony held at the gravesides of veterans. Their names were J.D. Jones, Tink Haney, and Lyle Sadler. I learned some things, not just about what they do and the need they have for more citizens to become a part of their team, but about the symbolism of the ceremony and the need for the restoration of respect for the flag.

Our burial detail is sponsored by the VFW, and is under the supervision of Roger Keyes. Currently there are about 25 members, and it would be ideal to have at least five more in order to keep a rotation going and avoiding burn out, literally, in this summer’s heat. It takes a team of 11 to do a ceremony properly: 7 shooters, a bugler, two to fold the flag that was on the coffin, and one to give the commands so the ceremony goes off with precision. If the deceased is a Marine, for example, at least one member of the team needs to be a Marine as well, and this is true for all the branches of service.

In a pinch they can get by with three shooters, and typically three rounds are fired. The full 21 gun salute is reserved for officials like the President, military officers and heads of state. The history of the “21 guns” goes back to the days of the Revolutionary War, and the number 21 was picked because it is the total of the numbers which make up the year 1776. The flag is folded with great care a total of 13 times, signifying the 13 colonies. Each fold has a special meaning, and includes such things as belief in eternal life, honor and remembrance toward the sacrifice of veterans, a tribute to woman and mothers, and others.

Tink also told me that the history behind the three shots fired goes back to the battlefield, where a succession of three fired shots after a cease fire indicated that the fighting was to resume again after a time of respect for the fallen.

Burial Detail members need not be veterans, and they need not be only men. They simply need to be people who have a passionate respect for our veterans and our flag. One thing that is bothersome to all three men I interviewed is the lack of respect for the flag at games, and to a lesser extent, at funerals. Tink said, “If people can, they need to stand, and put their hand over their heart. It shows respect both for the flag and the veteran.”

On the lighter and perhaps more practical side, a pet peeve of J.D’s is “long winded preachers.” He has been on duty at graveside services where the detail stood at parade rest for a total of 40 minutes in 100 degree weather. “They were lucky we didn’t faint,” he said. Lyle enjoys being a part of the detail because it “shows respect, and gives me a chance to say thanks.” So far this year they have officiated at over 60 funerals. Tink, who calls out the commands, says that their two jobs are to “follow protocol,” and “to do what the family wants.”

If this sounds like something you’d like to be a part of, your uniform and training will be provided for you, and you can learn more by calling Roger Keyes at 256-374-2072.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Back in 2009, while driving down Hwy 72 W near Dupree Worthey Road, I noticed a sign and some furniture pieces displayed outdoors that caused me to turn straight into the driveway of Nina’s Place Home Furnishings. Why? Because they had the unmistakable look of the substantive, artfully hand crafted, wood, metal, leather, stoneware and travertine home furnishings and décor that I had come to love so dearly while living and working with my husband at an orphanage in Juarez, Mexico.

I was most definitely on a sentimental journey, and my joy has only increased since then by getting to know “Nina,” (whose real name is Melinda Freeman,) and learning of her heart to help, her spirit of adventure, and her tea cup Chihuahuas, Kitty and Kali, whom, she says, “are part of the store.”

Melinda, (who picked up from her brother the nickname “Nina” when they were still small kids,) has done everything from helping to manage her family’s electronics brokerage business, to living for several years in Guadalajara, Mexico, to being involved with supporting international adoptions. She did what so many Athens Now customers have done: defy conventional wisdom and start a business in the middle of a recession, and the result is a place where it is not at all uncommon to have someone walk in for the first time and say, “This is just what I have been looking for!” Her love of rustic home furnishings goes back to her childhood in California, and she loves to think of it as “furniture with a soul.”

The furniture comes from Puebla, Guadalajara, and all over Mexico. “Some of the reclaimed and primitive pieces are actually made in people’s living rooms,” she told me. People, I might add, that she has come to know personally. The artisans who work with copper and travertine, (a type of stone whose composition is somewhat similar to limestone) have been at it for years, and the excellent level of craftsmanship has remained unchanged.

Melinda is a big fan of radio talk show host Dave Ramsey, who has helped many families become debt free through common sense, biblically based financial strategies, and Nina’s Place is happily “in the black.” “We do not operate in a negative cash flow,” she says, and as a result, she has an uncommon level of flexibility when it comes to selecting the pieces that fill Nina’s Place. She also is able to steer clear of the usual level of price mark up in which many furniture dealers things that make all the hard work involved in selecting and importing furniture so worth it is the joy she feels when someone finally sees the thing that they had lost hope of ever finding in a chain store or anywhere else. She also has helped give several local interior designers their start by employing them in the store, and loves it when they come back “home” with a client who is genuinely delighted in what is available.

Nina’s Place makes a point of carrying the work of several local artisans, and does cross promoting of their work with other outlets. Melinda, as do I, believes that “there is enough to go around.” In addition, due to the fact that her “passion is antiquing,” she has a real knack for finding treasures here in the South where so many regions have been picked over. Recently she found a rustic mantle that had come from a cabin in Kentucky, and once again, a couple who wanted something out of the ordinary was thrilled when they saw it. Nina’s Place carries excellent quality unfinished furniture, and will custom finish pieces to suit the client’s exact needs. They also specialize in painting furniture with the current interior color trends for which Mexican décor is so well known, and “if you bring in the paint, (and the piece you purchased has an unfinished surface,) there is no charge for painting or distressing it,” she added. Someone who was going through an intense time of personal crisis distressed her own piece of furniture, and found it positively therapeutic! Hmmm, a new take on “anger management?!” Nina’s Place has a hope and a vision for their future in the Athens area. The business is doing well, they are planning on having classes on refinishing furniture and other teaching venues, are passionate about giving back to the community, and the hard work is paying off. Come to Nina’s and enjoy the fruit of their labors, and explore a home furnishing store where their motto is, “We don’t carry a brand, we make it by hand.”
by Ali Elizabeth Turner

Terri Dunn, owner of Shoe Gallery, and her husband, Dr. Jimmy Dunn at the entrance to the new location of Shoe Gallery II on Marion Street.

It has been a dream of Terri Dunn’s to have her charming boutique shoe store be located on the Courthouse Square. For much longer than anyone anticipated, the storefront located at 109 S. Marion Street in Athens has been undergoing painstaking renovation, and the effort, while quite intense, is going to be fully worth it.

Wayne Kuykendall, the owner of the building and the visionary behind its renovation, has paid scrupulous attention to every detail of the project, and many times when I have been doing Saturday deliveries of Athens Now I have seen him “knee deep” in the work. For those who know Wayne, who is a lifelong resident of Athens, it is no surprise that he knows so much about the building and is totally committed to its restoration. He told me a bit of its history. It has been everything from an alley way to a restaurant to a sewing store. The reason it is so long and narrow is that it originally was the space between two buildings, but the “shotgun” shape is perfect for a boutique. The rough brick walls give a warm, homey feel, and the unusually high ceilings give the place a sense of space and light. The tile work at the threshold is accurate to the period, as well as the overhead lighting and the opaque tile work that makes up the transom. The original floors were too far gone to use, but Wayne found some old ones from another building, had them refinished, and they are beautiful. Only a few details remain on the “punch list,” as well as the final inspection, and then the process of moving from the current store, located at 1207 East Forrest Street, Suite G, can begin.

Before that can happen, however, Terri and her husband, Dr. Jimmy Dunn are going to be counselors at church camp, something they have done for years since their own kids were small. Once the move to the new location begins, there will be an “everythingmust- go” moving sale and both stores will be open for business until the transition is completed. Lots of work, to be sure, and the results will be wonderful, both for shoe lovers as well as people interested in the revitalization and restoration of the Courthouse Square.

So, whether you shop at the current location, or wait until the new one opens, what can you expect to find at the Shoe Gallery? For openers, service extraordinaire from Terri and her team. I have always been treated like a queen, as has anyone I have sent there to shop. Once I purchased a pair of shoes that turned out to be defective. Not only did I get my money cheerfully refunded, but Terri took my shoes to the market and spoke with the representative to make sure the problem with the shoe’s construction was remedied.

As far as actual shoes are concerned, Shoe Gallery carries such well known lines as Clark’s, Merrell, Vaneli, Pierre Dumas, (one of my favorites,) Nicole, and Jambu, an “eco-shoe” whose sales line is “be you with Jambu.” There are sandals, dressy evening shoes, boots, comfy-butnot- dumpy, and the new ultra light running shoes that are “all the rage.” When Terri can get great deals, she passes on the savings to the customers, and I personally have loved a pair of Nicole black patent leather flats that in New York go for $300, but are much less at Shoe Gallery.

Lovely, elegant, practical, and kicky purses are available, with a new line called Papaya being one of Terri’s current favorites. There are also some lovely scarves. The store also specializes in custom jewelry, including bracelets, earrings and necklaces. One line, called Priti, is made by a woman named Michele Smith who lives near Birmingham. Michele is very selective regarding her choice of stones, and she uses components from estate sales and other venues to craft her unique creations. She will do custom work, and if, for example, you purchase a necklace that is not quite the right length, she will adjust it for you. Shoe Gallery carries invitations, watches, umbrellas, note cards, stationery, journals and planners. One other service that Terri offers is ordering items for a customer from one of her many catalogues. No one can stock everything, so she is happy to show customers what’s available and get it for them.

I do believe the new location of Shoe Gallery II will prove to be one of the most beautiful shops on the Square, and thank Wayne, Terri and Jimmy for having a vision and then seeing it through. Can’t wait til the Grand Opening!
by Ali Elizabeth Turner

Much has changed in the life of LMT (Licensed Massage Therapist) Wendy Couch since I last interviewed her. She is now happily married, and on July 1st had an open house at her practice’s new location just off the Square at 109 Marion Street in Athens, having moved from her previous location in the Lambert Law Firm building on Market Street. There was a great turnout, with “lots of tours and socializing.”

Indeed the new location is ideal. It is roomy, serene, has potential for expansion of services, and as soon as I put this paper “to bed,” I am going to make an appointment for a much needed massage. I am truly overdue!

For those of you who don’t know Wendy, I can say from experience that her knowledge of both massage and massage-related health issues, compassion and level of professionalism have been a blessing to me both professionally as a publisher, and personally as a woman who tends to store her tension between her shoulders. I have needed her skilled hands to “unravel those ropes,” and she has amply delivered.

Wendy is a native of Madison, and after 12 years returned to the area in 2010. She opened her first practice in Athens just after the tornadoes hit in April, 2011, and says “the people in Athens have been wonderful to me.” There are several things I have found endearing about this young woman in the time that we have been each other’s clients. First is of hands.” Wendy, as is the case with many of us in Athens, sees her work as both a profession as well as a ministry, and I always enjoy her fellowship.

Second is that her rates are more than reasonable, and she is worth every penny. While she and I are both convinced of the truth of the biblical maxim which says that the “laborer is worthy of their hire,” she has a heart for people who normally would dismiss the idea of getting massage due to cost. She regularly has promotions, and clients need only to call to inquire. Wendy also offers full body scrubs, masks, and ionic footbaths, and uses only the purest of ingredients in her practice.

She received her degree from Madison School of Massage in 2006, and is licensed to practice several types of massage, including deep tissue, trigger point and Swedish. She also practices medical massage and is trained in pain management. Prior to her working in North Alabama, she was on the Army base located at Ft. Riley, Kansas, and used her expertise in pain management to help our soldiers, for which I am deeply grateful. Wendy, congratulations on your “new digs,” and we trust that your practice in Athens will only continue to grow and thrive!