5-20-2016 11-24-25 AM

It is hard to believe that Joe’s World Famous Pizzeria has been with us for a full year, and what a year it has been! In May of 2015, Joe opened up his place, which is located at 1260 Hwy 72, just down from Nestle’s Toll House Cookies. The unique blend of having pizza made in a 4,000 lb hand-made oven, the ‘50s/’60s diner décor, and Joe’s quintessential New York approach to life and pizza have been a winning combination.

Joe is a veritable legend in international “Pizza-dom.” There is an Olympic competition for pizza, and he has won multiple Golds. He is a 3-time world pizza champion, and has won several other awards he doesn’t bother mentioning. He is the Guinness Book of World Record holder for the highest pizza toss, (over two stories straight up,) and in 2010, Joe’s was voted The Best Pizza in America. In 2012, he won the award in Naples, Italy, for being the World’s Fastest Pizza Maker. He has a certificate from the Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli, which loosely translated, means, “Professional Pizza School.”

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His media exposure has been extensive. Besides being featured in newspapers here and abroad, he has been seen on CNN, ESPN, The Food Network, Martha Stewart, and the Today Show. Last fall during football season, Joe made a pizza that looked like football legend Tim Tebow, and this past March he made another that featured an amazing likeness of Donald Trump.

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While I was in Joe’s shop for this edition, I met a 4 year old little girl who had come to know Joe well in this last year. Her name is Tinley Romine. She was with her grandma, Teresa Gibbs, and every time they come in, Joe gives Tinley a little bit of dough to play with. In return she gives Joe a hug, and it was a joy to watch her with her “play dough.” Tinley is a bit older than Joe’s little girl, Valentina, who is the light of his life.

Speaking of Valentina, Joe named the oven that makes his shop “pop” after his daughter, and he has exciting news: he has purchased a second oven made by Marra Forni, with whom Joe has worked for years, and the wood fired mobile unit has been mounted to a trailer. So, what’s the plan? To take “Valentina” to festivals, corporate events, wedding receptions, parties of all kinds, and to bring Joe’s World Famous Pizza to people “anywhere, anytime, and anyplace,” he told me.

5-20-2016 11-24-49 AM“Valentina bakes at 800 to 900 degrees,” he said. “We can make 250 pizzas an hour, and it takes 90 seconds.” “What? That’s like a natural microwave” I said, and added, “and much better for you.” He smiled. The mobile Valentina is usually fired by oak, and Joe gets his wood from Ricky Adams, of Adams and Son, here in Athens. It takes a crew of 3-4 to work a festival, and it takes around 3 ½ hours to get the fire just right for baking. So far, Valentina has been to Whistlestop in Huntsville, Blue Pants Microbrewery in Madison, Do Dah Day, and will be appearing at our very own Athens Grease Festival, as well as the Florence Arts Alive Festival. He is going to go on the road for events in Florida, and Ocean City, MD. I asked him, “Are you going to make special pizzas for Grease?” “Yes,” he said, but I knew he was not about to say any more, and based on personal experience, I am sure it will be a glorious surprise. While Joe is at the festivals, Chris Miller, his assistant chef, will hold down the Athens fort.

5-20-2016 11-25-13 AMThere are a number of things Joe would like us to know after his first year in our fair town. “I am very thankful to the community of Athens for how they have welcomed me, and supported me,” he said. He went on to tell me about his crew. “I am thankful for my staff,” he said. “They stuck by me, and became a small family. I am losing some high school seniors who will be irreplaceable because of their work ethic.” He finished up our time with saying, “I thank God for everything I have.”

Good word, Carlucci, and may there be many more anniversaries to celebrate at Joe’s World Famous Pizza.

Joe’s World Famous Pizzeria
1260 Hwy 72 Athens, AL 35611
Hours: Mon-Wed, 10:30-8, Thur-Sat, 10:30-9:30
Phone: 256-434-8400
Facebook: Joe’s World Famous Pizzeria
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

5-6-2016 10-01-59 AM

In May of 2015, Camellia Moree, owner of Camellia’s Country Store and Restaurant, opened up a “country cookin’ place” on the corner of Lucas Ferry Road and Nuclear Plant Road, where Athens meets Tanner. She is no newcomer to folks in our area, as she had previously operated the restaurant in the same location, Marie’s Country Store, as well as had a successful catering business. For several years she had a contract with TVA to provide “home-cooked” food for employees. She would work around the clock during an outage, sometimes only getting 30 minutes of sleep. “We were all in it together,” she said. When the day came that Camellia was offered a new opportunity, she says she was “cryin’ like a baby, ‘cuz we were like family.” Wherever Miss Camellia goes, she “builds her a community.” “I’ll be back, you just hang on,” she told her “TVA-ers,” and they knew, God willing, she’d be true to her word.

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“Life happens,” as they say, and during this tough time, she also lost her dearest friend and head cook, Peaches Walton. Even talking about it all these years later brings tears to her eyes, and there is a monument to their friendship hanging on the wall right next to the kitchen. The current location became available in May of last year, and it is a pleasure to announce that business is brisk, and the word is spreading.

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By way of background, Camellia grew up in Andrews, SC, in what she calls the “low country.” Her parents operated a BBQ place for 30 years, have since passed, and it’s still going strong. She learned a number of things beside how to cook for a crowd from her parents. The first and most important thing they taught her was, “Ya gotta love your customers,” she told me. Her parents also told her that if you “Be good to your customers, and cook good food, you won’t have to worry about customers.” She has certainly followed that advice, and when I visited during lunch hour, the place was packed. The Fire Marshall will let her have a few over 60 seated at any one time, and as one of her servers told me with a happy sigh, “It’s like this every day.”

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Hard work is obviously another component for success, and Camellia’s is open from 5am to 1:30pm, Monday through Saturday, with the help of staff who are as dedicated as she is. She also says, with a charming blend of firmness and shyness, that she is “funny about good quality food.” She is simply not going to cut corners, and, for example, the biscuits are made from scratch, and that’s just that.

She went on to tell me what they have found to be customer favorites, and the day I was there, two gentlemen, one from Huntsville and one from Madison, were glad to have made the trip just to get the “real deal.” Camellia says her signature piece is pork chops, which are served on Wednesdays. “On Friday, we have catfish,” she said. Other specials include fried chicken, BBQ chicken, ribs and salmon patties, and one client says he comes “just for the chicken.” There is meatloaf from an age old recipe, and the day I had lunch, my BBQ chicken fell right off the bone. Because I was sitting in the corner working mostly out of sight, I licked my fingers with abandon, and I don’t think anyone could have blamed me!

5-6-2016 10-02-29 AMCamellia’s also serves the sides one would expect to find paired with a home cooking café. There is mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, turnip greens, collard greens, sweet tea, and then there are the desserts. They vary from day to day, but include caramel pecan delight pie, Elvis Presley cake, Sundrop Cake, blackberry wine cake, chess pie, and she has recently gotten requests for her chocolate gravy over biscuits.

I asked her why, when there are a number of home cooking places in North Alabama, should I come to her. She was thoughtful, and then said, “We have good quality food, and we put the love into the food.” She went on to say, “We like to laugh and joke with our customers, and make them feel at home.” I will also add that they’ll cry with their customers, too, as I had just received the news that a very dear friend, (who would have felt right at home at Camellia’s), had suddenly passed, minutes before our appointment. I was conducting this part of the interview through tears while we sat outside on the picnic bench, and when we were finished, Miss Camellia gave me what one friend describes so well as a “proper hug.” If you are looking for a café that is also a community, as well as a wonderful caterer, then come and join the people who make the drive from Pulaski, Priceville, Florence, Huntsville and Madison to get country cookin’ at Camellia’s.
Camellia’s Country Store and Restaurant
18025 Nuclear Plant Road
Athens, AL 35611
Phone: 256-444-4800
FAX: 256-444-4801
Hours: M-Sat 5am-1:30pm
Facebook: Camellia’s Country cooking
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

5-6-2016 10-02-50 AM 5-6-2016 10-03-06 AM
5-6-2016 9-43-40 AM

The 34th annual Limestone Sheriff’s Rodeo is just around the corner, and the “get ready” events have already begun.The program is being set for the publisher, T-shirt orders for all the Special Needs Rodeo participants are being processed, all the event and major sponsors have been secured, the Street Dance and Fashion Show are being planned, and committees of volunteers are receiving their instructions to complete a successful event. The Queen contestant applications are being processed, and in addition to all of the traditional goings on, the Sheriff’s Office staff and volunteers are making last minute plans for the biggest outdoor rodeo east of the Mississippi River.

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What began 33 years ago as a means to supplement the purchase of patrol cars for the sheriff’s office has now blossomed into a community event that is second to none. Teresa Todd, President of the Athens Limestone Tourism Association estimates the revenue impact from the rodeo at over a million dollars locally. “It is important to all of us as fans, visitors and competitors that come to Limestone County every year for the rodeo, shop in local stores, buy gasoline, stay in local motels, eat in local restaurants, and generally boost our entire economy. We strive to match that gift by producing a fun filled event packed with family entertainment and fierce competition in all of the rodeo events,” said Sheriff Blakely.

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Sheriff Blakely has always been a big fan of rodeo, even from his high school days when he would compete. “The rich tradition and values of rodeo are still alive in this community and are often relative to our parents’ teachings. Most of our parents taught us the same things that cowboys call the ‘Code Of The West’ to this day: ‘If it’s not yours, don’t take it; If it’s not true, don’t say it; If it’s not right, don’t do it.’ It is very humbling as an elected official to see this entire community support this event each and every year,” remarked Blakely.

This year the Limestone Sheriff’s Rodeo is returning to an IPRA sanctioned event. The International Professional Rodeo Association sanction will mean the cream of the crop in professional competitors will make a stop in Athens to earn points toward the International Finals in Oklahoma City, OK next January. IPRA President Dale Yerigan remarked “We sanction 350 rodeos a year and the Limestone Sheriff’s Rodeo will rank among the top 10 in prize money rodeos in the Nation. And Lone Star Rodeo Company will continue to produce a great rodeo with some of the most competitive stock on the circuit,” added Yerigan.

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If you have never attended the “Greatest Show on Dirt,” you should join us on May 20 or 21 and see what you have been missing. Your family will thoroughly enjoy themselves, and you will be positively impacting the success of local law enforcement.

And if you have never attended the Special Needs Rodeo, you owe it to yourself to see how your community rallies around a group of people to make sure they have their day too. Just show up at the arena on Friday morning, May 20 at 10 a.m., and witness the outpouring of volunteers as they paint faces, help with roping and disco dancing, pin the star on the sheriff, horseback rides, the petting zoo, hay rides and much, much, more.
By: Paul Cain, Limestone County Deputy Sheriff

4-15-2016 5-05-25 PM

Charlene Cummings is a native to Alabama, having been born in Clanton near Birmingham on September 22, 1942. She never married, but really likes kids, so she did “lots of babysitting.” As far as her work life, she did “a little of this and a little of that.”

She used to visit Athens a lot, because her brother, David, was here. “He works part time for the Sheriff’s Department,” she said. When it came time for her to be in a place where she could get full time care, Athens Rehab and Senior Care was the perfect choice. She arrived about a month ago. The Activities staff at the facility told me that “Miss Charlene is a hoot,” and so I was really looking forward to getting to know her.

Her dad was a barber, and her mom stayed at home. She grew up as a Baptist, and also has been to Calvary Assembly in Decatur. We talked about times we had both been to Calvary Assembly for various events, and how much we enjoyed it.

I asked about her favorite song, and she thought for awhile before she said, “Reach Out And Touch The Lord As He Goes By.” I sang the one I thought she meant, and it turns out, it was indeed her favorite.

Here are the lyrics:
Reach out, and touch the Lord as He goes by
You’ll find He’s not too busy to hear your heart’s cry
He is passing by this moment, your needs to supply
Reach out, and touch the Lord as He goes by*

She really enjoyed baking, especially pies and cakes. “These days, though, I have a feeding tube, so I don’t get to taste anything,” she said. One of her favorite foods is banana pudding, and she loves the way food smells at the facility.

Speaking of Athens Rehab, she really likes the care she gets and says, “The people have been good to me.”

We moved on to favorites. As a child, besides the Bible, her favorite books were the Little House series. “I think I read them all,” she said, and I told her they had been some of my favorites as a kid, too. As an adult, she has really enjoyed reading Debbie McComber.

Her favorite color? “Purple.” That was also the color of the T-shirt she was wearing for our time together.

Favorite celebrities? Bob Hope and Minnie Pearl.

President? JFK. We talked about a day we will never forget, November 22nd, 1963.
The biggest change that has occurred in her life? “Rockets and Space.” To this day, she is still enthusiastic about everything that happened during the Space Race, especially here in our area.

Favorite Scripture? “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Jn 14

I asked her what her advice is for young people. “Trust in Christ. Don’t do alcohol or drugs, and be good.” Then I steered her in her wheelchair back to one of her favorite places in the facility. As we maneuvered down the hall, I bent down near her ear and sang “Reach Out And Touch The Lord…” I am glad that here in Athens, Alabama, we have a care facility where that would not be frowned upon.

*Words and music by Bill Harmon
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

4-15-2016 5-05-35 PM
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John and Amanda McGrew joined the “Made in America” movement when they did their Christmas holiday shopping for the 2012 season. The “Made in America Challenge” was designed to encourage people to purchase their gifts from American companies, with goods produced here in the good ol’ U S of A. Amanda said, “It’s not that we are opposed to imports, it’s just that we feel that things are out of balance, and we want to help keep America from losing jobs that Americans need to be working at here at home.”

They got “bit by the bug,” and came up with the idea of opening Homeland Trading Company, which was born in July of 2015. It was one bold throw, a labor of love as well as time, and they are pleased to announce that they are starting to prepare for their first anniversary celebration.

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As is the case with any small business, the first year always has a steep learning curve attached to it. They learned a lot by listening to their customers, and finding out what they really wanted. For example, women who wear plus sizes want to have the same kinds of styles as Misses, and thankfully, the current “tunic trend” has made that unusually easy.

“We have met a lot of cool people who are on board with the ‘American Made’ movement,” said John. He added, “People see our sign, and come in to find out what we are about. We are not just a women’s store”, he said.

He went on to say that he and Amanda try to “touch on the ‘Made in America’ movement” when they are greeting new customers, and says that “About 75% of the people who come in and buy are receptive. Some don’t care, but that’s ok, because we have really good prices, and they like that.”

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As we chatted, I learned something fun about both John and Amanda. Not only does John have a strong sense of fashion, but as a former Architecture student at Auburn, he knows more of the actual science of form, line, balance, and color. “I know what works,” he said. Truth is, he does a lot of the display work at Homeland Trading, and has found that his time at Auburn has garnered him a o great opportunity for practical application in his own store.

4-15-2016 3-52-26 PMAmanda and I are somewhat the same when it comes to fashion. We don’t want to spend a lot of time figuring stuff out when it comes to clothing. We just want to know what can be put together quickly, look well put together, put it on, and “git ‘er dun.” Amanda will tell you that her sense of style and fashion has grown since they opened the shop. “John always tells me, ‘You are shopping for every woman, not just you.’” She tries to wear stock from Homeland as much as she can, and this past Easter wore a charming green polka dotted dress that is available at the shop to church. When I asked her how she felt in her “frock,” she smiled, put her hands out, and would have twirled like her daughter, Katy, if she’d had the chance.

Both John and Amanda work at other jobs, and “meet themselves coming and going.” They operate equipment and/or supervise in the construction based fields, and the blue collar worker has always been part of the target market at Homeland Trading. John says it well: “Homeland Trading Company carries stock that is American made, a family store with family prices for working people.” He also wanted to emphasize that Homeland is not just a women’s store. There is men’s work and casual apparel, including denim work shirts, jeans, T shirts, and John’s favorite, Thoroughgood brand work boots. He says, “These are the kind of boot that you never throw out, you get them re-soled. They don’t wear out, they ‘ugly out.’” He swears by them.

So, what’s ahead? Eventually they want to add more children’s clothes, and a teen line, which is hard to break into because of how particular teen shoppers are. They are planning on having food, fun, and give-aways for the anniversary party, and more information on that will be forthcoming as July gets closer. It will be an “Independence Day” of a sort that has been understood by generations of people who have either been born here or have risked all to come here and be a part of what we have come to call the American Dream.

Until then, just know that there is a young family that embodies all that is possible with hard work in America, and that is Homeland Trading Company. Stop by and see for yourself!
Homeland Trading Company
1207 East Forrest Street Athens, AL 35613
Hours: Tue-Thu 9-5, Fri-Sat, 9-5:30
Phone: 256-444-4825
Facebook: Homeland Trading Company
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

4-15-2016 3-52-15 PM
4-1-2016 11-29-25 AM

Nine years ago, a group of hard-core “automobile aficionados” got together to put together a car show on the Limestone County Courthouse Square for two reasons: they wanted to enjoy their hobby as well as the fun that comes from getting together, and wanted to help support charities in Athens Limestone.

This year’s event will be held on Saturday, April 30th, from 8am to 3pm. Tickets are $20, day of show.

“We don’t make a dime from this,” event organizer Tom Schuman told me. “We just love doing it, and love being able to give back to the community,” he added.

As is the case with many events in Athens, what started off as being a small, local event, has grown tremendously. This year they are expecting between 400 and 600 cars, and motorcycles have been added to the lineup. There will be antique cars, muscle cars, classic cars, hot rods, and more, and the same is true for the motorcycles.

It is not uncommon for Cars and Bikes on the Square to bring 3,000 people to Athens, so in addition to being something that raises money for several local charities, it also helps to kick off our tourist season.

One of the automobiles that will be at the show is literally a million-dollar car, having been selected as a finalist in the Detroit Auto Rama Great 8 Competition. It is a lime green 1965 Dodge Dart, and has had 14,000 hours of labor put into it.

Another “must see” car is a locally owned and restored 1955 Porsche Speedster convertible, which has an interesting story attached to it. Jay McCook, of McClary Ford purchased the Speedster over 40 years ago, and it sat for decades up in Chicago, in a completely ruined state. “It was rusted through,” he told me, “and it wasn’t worth anything.” He had paid a whopping $700 for it back in the day, and sank around $175,000 into it to restore it. “We researched every detail, and made sure that this car looks exactly like it did back in 1955 when it was new.” It was indeed a labor of love and meticulous attention to detail from the period, and it is now estimated to be worth $400,000. Jay is planning on selling it eventually, but for now is just enjoying the fruit of his labors as he drives it around. I got to sit in it for a few minutes as he parked it outside the Keep Athens Limestone Beautiful Gulf Station, and pretended I was Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn back in the day. Man, what a car!

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There will be what is known as a Builders’ Alley, which is sponsored by Clayton Machine Works, as well as a Hot Rod Alley. Professionals from the vehicle restoration business from Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee will be on hand. An added treat will be the presence of Derek Travis from the Discovery Channel’s hit TV show, Street Outlaws, and Lou Santiago from Car Fix, also seen on Discovery/Velocity. They will be available to chat and sign autographs. For fun, Shake, Rattle and Roll will “roll on down” from Columbia, TN, along with an Elvis impersonator.

One unique and important feature of Cars and Bikes on the Square is that it is not a judged event in the usual sense, other than there is a Mayor’s trophy. Tom told me, “Early on we realized that people liked the drawings and the cash prizes, and wanted us to leave the judging out.” However, there are ample opportunities for both exhibitors and attendees alike to win cash prizes, as well as bless those who are in need. Tom added, “There is a drawing every half hour from the money tree, and that begins at 9 am. People need to get there early.” There will be at least $10,000 in cash and other prizes given away, and another feature, which is known as the “50/50 pot.” That is a raffle that is open to all attendees, and at the end of the day the winner will be announced. Fifty percent of the pot will go to the winner, and 50 percent to a designated charity.

Cars and Bikes on the Square as always supported Hospice of Limestone County, but as the event has grown, so has their ability to give back. This year they will also be donating to the Ft. Henderson Museum project, as well as the Alabama Veterans’ Museum. LCCI (Limestone County Churches Involved), which runs the food bank on Jefferson Street in Athens, will be the recipient of the 50/50 pot.

If you are in the market for good, family fun, an opportunity to view automotive history, and be part of helping several good causes in Limestone County, then come to the 9th Annual Cars and Bikes on the Square on April 30th.

For more information, contact Tom Schuman at tschuman@comrep.com, or his cell at 256-457-9179, or visit their Facebook page at Cars and Bikes on the Square.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

3-18-2016 10-06-15 AMHave you ever given a thought to the people that came here, cleared large old-growth forests and started building what later became the beautiful town of Athens? The Native Americans (A.K.A. Indians) had lived here for hundreds of years before us, and were better organized than most of us realized. They may not have been “civilized” in our way of thinking, but they had developed much more sophistication than we gave them credit for until archeologists began to learn more of their culture.

Just what were the trail marker trees? You have all seen trees that grew vertical for three or four feet, but then grew horizontal for several feet but then grew vertical again. Some of these were large old trees. Now, we are finding out that they were trained that way by the Indians as trail markers to show where trails were, direction to water or a natural shelter from a trail, and other valuable information. Unfortunately, the code to these directions was never written down, but everyone depended upon the elders in the tribe of an area to remember these details. As the white man took over the land, either the elders were shipped elsewhere or died without transmitting this knowledge, along with much more valuable information.

Acknowledging that “all generalizations are false – including this one,” we can approximately divide the settlers of Limestone County and Athens into three groups. Probably the most obvious group was comprised of the developers Beaty and Mason, who came in shortly after the land became available for sale. They bought significantly large tracts of land, perhaps several, and started developing them for resale. In town, they laid out lots and streets for homes and businesses. They had enough foresight and capital, but were taking a rather big risk. Today, we look at Athens and assume it was so obvious that it was going to be the county seat and would have to have a courthouse on the square in the middle of things.

Did you know that Cambridge was a close contender for the County seat? What is there now?

Robert Beaty and John Carrol planned ahead and donated some the land they had just bought for things like a courthouse, a jail, a college, and several of the churches. If Athens were not selected as county seat, this land would only have value as farm land at much less than what they had paid for it. Robert Beaty was one of the town’s founders, but is not buried here. After his wife died, he took their son and moved to Kentucky. Come see where some of the rest of his family is buried, and listen to Billy Ward tell their stories.

Limestone County could not be bought until 1818, because prior to that it was still Indian Territory. Fort Hampton was established here and garrisoned with Federal Troops to keep the white settlers out of the Indians’ land. If a settler (aka “squatter”), often floating down the Elk River on a flat boat, found a rather remote spot, landed, cleared off it enough to build a house and plant a small crop, the Indians would “rat him out” and tell the soldiers. The soldiers would arrest the man, burn the house and his crops and probably take him to jail in Huntsville or Pulaski. He would usually “winter over” in jail and try again the next spring. When the Indians “sold” the land to the U.S. Government, (which is another story entirely) the settler would buy a little and start all over again. Glenn Hall will be portraying his ancestor that followed that pattern.

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If a successful planter in Virginia or one of the Carolinas had been one of the early settlers in the 1600’s, they were now beginning to have several kinds of growing pains. The most common and profitable crop was tobacco, which is somewhat labor intensive. They were land locked and could not expand their acreage. If they had been treating their slaves well, they had a surplus of them also. Large successful plantations were rather self-sufficient. By the second or third generation, they had skilled slaves in most of the trades.

In 1793 the invention of the cotton gin dramatically changed the economics of cotton from a very expensive cloth to an economical one. Now the above planter could give his second son (assuming the older son would inherit the existing plantation) some of the excess slaves, and go “out west” across the mountains and buy land to start over again. Haven’t you wondered how the virgin, old growth forests that used to cover most of Limestone County were cut and cleared? How some of these magnificent homes were built in a relative short time? The land could not be purchased until 1818 and – by definition – the antebellum mansions were done by 1860. Try to imagine the amount of work it would take to clear cut some of the large fields, usually south of Highway 72. Then came the really had work: digging out and pulling the stumps with nothing but man power and mule power. Next, move onto the sawing all those trees into usable lumber. Steam power came a little later because the equipment was so expensive.

Visit with Katy and Johnny Garrett at the Cemetery Walk. The Garretts are one of Limestone County’s oldest families, and probably fit this pattern rather closely except we do not know whether they were still growing tobacco when the young generation departed for the west.

Some time ago, we were doing some plumbing in one of the Antebellum homes when one of my men said he could tell that a wing had been added instead of being built with the rest of the home. The plaster lathing on one section was over split red oak whereas the “add on” section had sawn white oak under the plaster.

One family that does not perfectly fit any of the above categories, but had many similarities was the Barksdale Family. I highly recommend Jerry Barksdale’s book, “Revolutionaries to Rebels.” It is a novel, and is one of the most enjoyable books I have read in many years. The section that amazed me is when his Revolutionary War ancestor decides to go “out west.” He loads up his entire family, including an infant, and has to put his oldest son on a horse, scouting ahead for the trail. There were no roads, so he had to also find them a place to camp each night that would have good grazing for the horses and mules, and good water for all.

This last summer I had an opportunity to ride through some of that area with someone else driving. It is remarkable to me that anyone had the courage to attempt that, and the determination to actually do it. Talk to Jerry Barksdale at the cemetery walk. While you are at it, buy a copy of his book, and get him to autograph it for you. You can’t beat that deal with a stick!
By: Buzz Estes

3-5-2016 10-12-40 AM

Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful is excited to announce its inaugural Paws for the Environment Photo Contest. The contest kicks off on March 1, 2016 and will continue through April 30, 2016.

Elkmont’s superstar 1/2 marathon-running bloodhound, Ludivine, has endorsed this contest. KALB is working with Ludivine’s human and we are very proud of her support.

To enter, simply submit a photo of your dog along with an entry form and a $5.00 donation to KALB. If the photo is submitted with a $10 donation (instead of $5), it will include entry into the contest plus 10 votes for the entered pooch. Entries will be accepted now through April 22nd; however, the sooner an entry is received, the sooner it will be eligible for votes.

This contest is open to everyone and is a fundraiser for KALB, which is a non-profit affiliate of Keep America Beautiful. All donations are tax deductible.

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On March 15th, the public will be invited to vote for their favorite entries. A $1 to KALB will equal one vote. Online voting and donation will be available; however, voting may be done by mail or at the KALB office located at 125 East Street in Athens.

Winning entries will be those with the votes at the close of voting. Final voting will take place at KALB’s Earth Day & Outdoor EXPO on April 30, 2016 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Friendship Church on Lucas Ferry Rd. in Athens.

Winning dogs will be featured in the 2017 Paws for the Environment Calendar, a copy of which will be given to each winning owner. Some winners will be offered a photo shoot in preparation for the calendar.

•Multiple photos may be entered; however, each must accompany an entry form and $5 donation to KALB.
•Entries will be accepted from March 1, 2016 through April 22, 2016.
•Photos may be no larger than 8.5″x11″ and should be of the highest resolution possible.
•Photos should have emphasis on the pet and not people; however, photos that include people will be accepted.
•Photos will be viewable online. Providing a high resolution JPG of your photo will be helpful, but is not required.
•Public voting will begin on March 15, 2016. Owners of entered pets may collect and enter $1 “votes” for their dog.

A complete set of contest rules are available at www.KALBCares.com under the EVENTS tab.
For information and entry forms, contact
KALB at 256-233-8000 or KALBCares@gmail.

3-5-2016 9-21-21 AM

On the heels of President Obama’s criticism of the recently passed bipartisan anti-BDS Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act last week, Alabama became the fifth state in the nation to pass a landmark resolution to condemn the anti-Semitic BDS movement.

Laurie Cardoza-Moore, President of Proclaiming Justice to The Nations (PJTN), who spearheaded the passage of the Resolution in Tennessee stated, “President Obama once again, is in complete opposition to the majority of citizens throughout the U.S. The passage of another anti-BDS Resolution in the Alabama State Legislature is a testimony to that fact. This President never seems to miss an opportunity to single out Israel with his appalling action of boycotting America’s only legitimate ally in the Middle East, further threatening to isolate and demonize Israel.”

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Building on the nationwide momentum created by the Tennessee State Legislature in 2015, legislators in Alabama decided to join their colleagues in Tennessee to confront this growing threat head-on. The Senate Joint Resolution 6 (SJR6) was introduced by Alabama State Senator Arthur Orr and Alabama House Speaker Pro Tem Victor Gaston and was signed by Governor Robert Bentley on February 16, 2016. The passage of the strongly worded Joint Resolution also reaffirms Alabama’s support of the State of Israel as a Jewish State and recognizes that the Jewish people are indigenous to the land of Israel.

The catalyst for this effort was a result of PJTN’s grassroots/media campaign in conjunction with Jewish and Christian leaders mobilizing together across the state, including the Birmingham Jewish Federation, The Alabama-Israel Task Force and Church4Israel.

According to Robin Rowan, Founder of Church4Israel, one of the organizations spearheading this effort in Alabama, “The purpose is to recognize the resurgence of global anti-Semitism currently being at its highest point since World War II and condemns the anti-Israel activities on college campuses. It recognizes that the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has resulted in ‘intimidation and violence on University campuses, is harmful to the State’s Jewish citizens and has a deleterious impact on the educational environment.'”

PJTN’s Board Chairman, Mr. Stanley G. Tate stated, “Alabama and Israel have enjoyed a long history of friendship and are great allies of our shared Democratic values. Alabama has a unique history with regards to the State of Israel. In 1942, Alabama passed a resolution calling for the establishment of the Jewish State and homeland five years before the Nation State was established. That’s a miracle! No other state shares that unique history.”

BDS is an international anti-Israel, anti-Zionist propaganda campaign and by extension, an anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish campaign. The BDS movement calls for:
• Boycotting Israeli products, academics, and cultural leaders.
• Pressuring companies to stop doing business with Israel and divesting from companies that do business with Israel.
• Sanctioning Israel for its legitimate self-defense measures to protect Israelis of all ethnicities from terrorism, and Hamas rocket/missile attacks.

The BDS movement promotes the delegitimization of Israel with the stated goal… to eliminate the State of Israel, utterly and completely.

The time has come for elected state leaders to step forward and condemn the hate speech and targeting of pro-Israel and Jewish students on college campuses that has been fueled by the BDS campaign. The incidents of anti-Semitic attacks in general, and against Jewish students on college campuses specifically, have seen a dramatic increase over the last several years.

In closing, Ms. Cardoza-Moore stated, “The recent passage of the Alabama resolution can serve as a positive example and concrete model of a firm step that other state legislators can take as we begin to expose the malicious intent of the BDS campaign and confront it head-on! With 70% of Americans supporting Israel, I am calling on Christians, Jews and people of conscience to add their voices to this groundbreaking initiative by contacting PJTN.org and launching this initiative in their states. It’s time to confront this anti-Semitic threat head-on!”
By: Jackie Monaghan

3-5-2016 9-21-44 AM
3-5-2016 9-15-36 AM

Over 125 years ago, the Lovvorn family came to our area, and continued to settle the state whose motto is “Alabama the Beautiful.” For the past two years, Garth Lovvorn has made it his full time occupation to make that motto a reality in North Alabama by providing lawn and garden care, along with home inspection and property maintenance services.

Garth is a graduate of Athens State University, and has worked in a number of corporate contexts which include banking, construction and property development, and insurance. He also has worked for Habitat for Humanity. However, he has always loved to beautify the outdoors, and for years did so on the side. He decided to go full time as a sole proprietor in 2014, hanging out his shingle as Valley Mowing Company.

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Starting one’s own business is not for the faint of heart, but going with what he loves has paid off, and Garth has been able to increase his clientele, amount of equipment, and the size of his crews. I know few people who are as excited to see Spring arrive as Garth is, and he can hardly wait for March 11th and 12th, when the Limestone County Chamber of Commerce Home and Garden Show officially kicks off Spring in the Tennessee Valley.

I asked him what was new this season, and if he has any specific goals for this year. He told me he has been able to expand to Madison and elsewhere in North Alabama, has a number of new commercial accounts, and the purchase of extra equipment has made it possible to work “smarter and faster.” It also helps to keep prices low. Caring for commercial properties involves a lot more bagging up of grass, and picking up trash. He gets nearly as unhappy as Mayor Ronnie when people litter, and that takes some doing. This is supposed to be Alabama the Beautiful, and we need to keep it that way! Garth will tell you he has an eye for detail, almost to a fault, but in this business, that’s what separates the men from the boys.

His plan is to divide his crew into two parts. One will pretty much handle grass cutting, and the other will focus on landscaping, pruning, and planting shrubs. He expects to implement his plan by June, and this will allow him to focus on landscaping, which is his favorite. With a wife, a preschooler, and a brand new baby due in June, he’ll be able to get home at a decent time and spend time with his young family. “I won’t be trying to squeeze too much into one day,” he said.

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Spring is certainly the time when the local owners of lawn and garden services come out in full force, and we have a number from which to choose. I asked him, “Why should I choose you?” Perhaps, more pointedly, what I meant, was, “Why should I let you in my yard?”

“I pay greater attention to detail,” he said. He also emphasized that it is important to him to introduce his crew to the clients so that everyone feels comfortable and knows what to expect. This is especially a good thing for seniors, who make up a sizeable portion of his business. “I also value the people who are working for me, and I want the crew to be comfortable with each other.”
He then made mention of how important it is to be “a huge community advocate.” He said, “The success of my business ultimately results in the success of the community

3-5-2016 9-16-31 AMGarth has also always had quite a love for property maintenance, and when he was an insurance agent, he became fully acquainted with the requirements of insurance companies toward residential properties, especially rentals. He became aware of how important it is to have someone who genuinely cares about other peoples’ properties after the legendary tornadoes of April 2011. “I’ll take care of limbs, damage, shrubbery that has gotten out of control, haul away messes, and treat each house as though it is my own,” he added. “I take an active interest in the condition of peoples’ property,” he said. We discussed prices, and his are both reasonable as well as competitive. “I do my best to work with people,” he said.

As mentioned previously, the Home and Garden Show and Habitat for Humanity are important to Garth, as is being a member of Round Island Baptist Church. He finished our time together by saying, “I get a lot of satisfaction in seeing a noticeable improvement in someone’s property.” If that is what you are looking for in a yard and property maintenance business owner with “deep roots” in Athens, then give Garth Lovvorn of Valley Mowing Company a call today.
Valley Mowing
Facebook: Garth Lovvorn
Email: glovvorn1@hotmail.com
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

3-5-2016 9-16-20 AM