East Alabama Living Spring 2021 Issue

eastalabamaliving


Because We Care

Everywhere you look, you see AuburnBank employees

volunteering and serving to make our community better

and to help it grow. That’s because AuburnBank cares.

Since 1907, AuburnBank has cared about and invested

in this community which is why we have such a strong

presence in local charitable organizations like Habitat

for Humanity, United Way and the Food Bank of East

Alabama, to name a few.

We’re a local bank with deep roots. We care deeply about

our community, so just imagine how much we care

about our customers.

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CONTENTS

Features

40

66

72

79

THE HORSE WHISPERER

PLANTING WITH PONDER

LEARNING THROUGH

LEISURE

TAKING THE REIGNS

88 Fountainview Mansion

Birds on a Wire Photography

EAST ALABAMA LIVING 3


From the Editor

As an avid, self-proclaimed micro-farmer, I love to lean on

the advice of master gardener and plant extraordinaire Rex

Ponder of University ACE Hardware. Buds are peeping, grass

is greening and now is the time to put in the work for a

glorious spring garden. Ponder shares his sage advice on how

to have a successful, colorful season.

In this season of change, let me introduce you to Auburn’s

new city manager, Megan McGowen Crouch. Crouch recently

took the helm as the City of Auburn’s first female city

manager. I cannot wait for you to meet the Crouch fur babies.

One year into a global pandemic, we are finally experiencing

hope with the rollout of vaccines in our community. Our

frontline workers, public safety, and educators have served

with tireless grace and fortitude. Our children have learned

to adapt. Our business owners have managed to reinvent the

consumer experience in order to survive and some even to

thrive. Now, our community will roll up our sleeves not only

to continue the valiant effort, but also to receive a vaccine.

Spring is nearing, the season of change, hope and renewal.

Our new path is certain to continue to be an adventure.

Speaking of adventures, in this issue of East Alabama Living,

we explore the living museum of the historic Westville

Village in Columbus, Ga., and take a much-needed vacation

to the sandy beaches of Gulf Shores State Park. Toes in the

sand are great for the soul.

I am certain many of you have heard of Cesar Millan, the

infamous dog whisperer. But have you ever known a horse

whisperer? Jessica Hodnett of Wadley, Ala., understands

adversity and the healing power of prayer. Hodnett shares

her journey as well as how she learned to “speak” to

troubled horses.

My husband Steve and I are close to celebrating our 24th

wedding anniversary in August. For your enjoyment, I

included our wedding photo. It is mind-blowing how the

weddings have changed over the last couple of decades. This

is our 10th wedding issue at East Alabama Living. Lucious

florals, attention to venue and custom details are abundant

in our featured weddings. As much fun as it would be to

have another wedding, I will live vicariously through these

pages of how I would do it all over again. But who am I

kidding? I would not change a thing.

As my first issue as managing editor of East Alabama Living,

I am grateful to inherit a magazine that has provided stories

of community for over 15 years. I have the deepest respect

for the editors before me including Amy Croushorn and

Scarlotte Brown Vaughn.

A little bit about me. My formal name exceeds the word

count, so call me “Beth.” I have made Auburn home since

1997. My village is somewhat unique. I have two teenage

daughters, Kate and Caroline. We love to mess up a kitchen

in preparation of a gourmet meal. I’m married to Steve

Witten aka the Witten Wednesday guy, and I care for my

two dads, my step-dad and my real dad. We are ruled by

our two dogs, Sky and Luna, and we are still on the hunt

for our missing corn snake, Mochi. I dare to mention the

mouse since I can’t confirm she will be here once you

read this. I love my silly world and all that it entails. In the

issues to come, I will introduce you to our fabulous team of

collaborators. They are the ones who make the pages come

to life. Until then, enjoy taking in this season of change, hope

and renewal.

Play your best today!

Beth

4 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


THE JAY AND SUSIE GOGUE PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

AT AUBURN UNIVERSITY

A new home for the

arts in Alabama

Learn more about our upcoming performances,

events and virtual engagements online.

GOGUECENTER.AUBURN.EDU • 334.844.TIXS (8497)


“When taking my wife on a boat ride to convince her

of the opportunity of investing in Lake Martin, a bald

eagle landed in a slough nearby. Once back on land, we

saw another land as we hoisted the Auburn flag on our

property. We never looked back.”

Stan Graves

Developer, White Oak Landing

Graduate and Scholarship

Donor, Auburn University

6 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


Departments

10 LOCAL LOVE – A CHEF’S TREAT

14 INTERIORSCAPES – SIMPLISTIC STYLE

18 DAY TRIP – HISTORIC LIVING MUSEUM

24 GETAWAY – TOES IN THE SAND

32 TABLESCAPE – CITRUS PARTY

46 RECIPES – EASTER PICNIC

48 ART – A BEAUTIFUL CROSS

52 HELPING HANDS – SPRING CLEANING FOR GOOD

56 WHAT’S GOING ON – CALENDAR OF EVENTS

108 COMMUNITY – FACES OF EAST ALABAMA

Additional Features

58 AWARD WINNING DRINKS

62 CUSTOM WINE CELLAR

Wedding Section

92 ENGAGEMENTS

94 WEDDINGS

Publisher

Lee Perryman

Managing Editor

Beth Witten

Art Direction

JAWS studio

Copy Editor

Christy Jane Kyser

Contributing Writers

Jess M. Burkhart

Ann Cipperly

Kate Asbury Larkin

Mallie Wardrup

Photography

Tristan Cairns

Graphic Design

Craftmaster Printers, Inc.

Vice President and

Market Manager

Steve Witten

General Sales Manager

and Director of Marketing

Ashley James

Advertising Sales

John Bodiford

Jordyn Dawson

Natasha Gunn

Miranda McHale

Ben Taylor

Production Coordinator

Sherrie Stanyard

Printing

Craftmaster Printers, Inc.

Auburn, Alabama

East Alabama Living

P.O. Box 950

Auburn, Alabama 36831

334-826-2929

eastalabamaliving.com

editor@eastalabamaliving.com

Cover Photographer:

The Price Approach Photography

Planning & Design: Valia Rose Events

Photo provided by Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism

East Alabama Living is published quarterly by Auburn

Networks, LLC. The cover and contents are copyrighted

and may not be reproduced without written consent

of the publisher. Reader correspondence and editorial

submissions are welcome. However, we reserve the right

to edit, reject or comment editorially on all contributed

material. Adverting rates are available upon request.

Subscriptions are free, just pay shipping & handling

which is $17 annually. Visit eastalabamaliving.com.

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

7


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hosted by Diana Ramage & Kendall Simmons

> Tuesday, October 12

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> Shotgun start at 12 noon

Proceeds benefit the

EAMC Diabetes and Nutrition Center

To learn more, contact Paige Kahn

paige.kahn@eamc.org // 334.318.7624

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8 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


EAST ALABAMA LIVING

9


L O C A L L O V E

A Chef’s Treat

By Ann Cipperly

Whether it is dessert served in Ariccia Cucina

Italiana, H.C. Valentine, a banquet or catered

event, Pastry Chef Dallas Kee delivers

scrumptious and innovative creations for

The Hotel at Auburn University & Dixon Conference Center.

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, Chef Dallas has

been making her extraordinary “Acts of Kindness Cakes” to

show appreciation and gratitude for anyone needing a small

token of kindness.

Photos by Tristan Cairns

During those uncertain days when the

Covid-19 pandemic began and the community

was concerned about the future, Chef

Dallas began baking. She created her “Acts of

Kindness” cakes, which became a popular way

for individuals in the Auburn-Opelika community

to express gratitude for those simple,

small acts of others that made a difference.

Chef Dallas knew from an early age she

wanted to be a pastry chef. She learned to

bake traditional Southern favorites from her

great aunt while growing up in Grantville, Ga.

Her great aunt had a passion for baking, and

she would sit young Dallas on the counter so

she could mix up pound cakes and cobblers.

Over the years, many memories in her great

aunt’s kitchen were stowed away in her heart.

After high school, Chef Dallas attended

culinary school at the Art Institute in Atlanta.

She began working at a small kosher bakery

in Atlanta just before graduation. Chef Dallas

then began baking desserts for The Ritz-

Carlton, Buckhead, Atlanta. A year and a half

later she applied her culinary skills at Joel, a

French restaurant.

Later, she returned to The Ritz-Carlton

Hotel Company and was promoted to executive

pastry chef. During her 13-year tenure,

Chef Dallas worked for some of the most prestigious

hotels in the company.

Chef Dallas joined the Hotel at Auburn

University in December 2018. While there, she

learned about Auburn University’s plan for the

Tony & Libba Rane Culinary Science Center,

a one-of-a-kind teaching facility where she

could see herself teaching practicum classes

in pastry arts.

In the interim, Chef Dallas creates seasonal

desserts for Ariccia Cucina Italiana. Three

enticing desserts remain on the menu yearround;

the most popular being her decadent

Hazelnut Crunch Cake which is accented with

an edible gold leaf.

10 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


Other delicacies include a layered bar cake

prepared with a hazelnut and peanut praline

crunch on bottom, topped with a hazelnut

and milk chocolate mousse, then a whisperlight

roasted white chocolate mousse. A thin

layer of chocolate ganache finishes the heavenly

confection.

Another superb dessert is the Lemon

Ricotta Cheesecake. Instead of a traditional

crust, the confection features a flawless citrus

olive oil cake topped with a fragrant lemon

ricotta cheesecake.

Since the restaurant is named after Auburn

University’s only permanent campus abroad

in Ariccia, Italy, Chef Dallas serves the most

classic of all Italian desserts, Tiramisu, a delicious

sponge cake, infused with coffee-flavored

liqueur and layered with vanilla bean

mascarpone for a sublime cap to a stellar dining

experience.

Chef Dallas recently began offering custom

celebration cakes for weddings, rehearsal dinners,

birthdays and holidays. These cakes are

offered for events in the hotel or for catering with

pickup and delivery options. The cakes may be

ordered at https://sweettreatsbydallas.com.

Two varieties of Acts of Kindness cakes are

still offered and can be found on the website.

One flavor is a Nutella Lavender Cake with

layers of Nutella sponge cake, Nutella milk

chocolate crunch, lavender cremeux and

Nutella mousse for a luscious first class treat.

The other Act of Kindness Cake is a

Strawberry Basil, created with thin layers of

citrus olive oil cake with orange shortbread,

mascarpone mousse, strawberry gelee, and

basil whipped ganache for a combination of

delightful flavors.

Chef Dallas normally needs 72 hours’ notice

for Acts of Kindness Cakes, a week’s notice

for birthday cakes and a month for wedding

cakes. If someone needs a cake inside this

timeframe, she will do her best to create one

of her culinary masterpieces.

Chef Dallas also crafts special desserts for

holidays, including Thanksgiving, Christmas,

Valentine’s Day, Easter and Mother’s Day. Most

of these desserts can be preordered online.

During the Christmas season, Chef Dallas

and her staff begin baking gingerbread in

October for covering miniature wooden replicas

of well-known buildings on Auburn

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

11


University’s campus for the hotel’s annual

gingerbread village.

Once the gingerbread and icing are prepared,

each department in the hotel covers

a building in gingerbread and decorates it,

using a variety of candies and frostings. It is

a friendly competition to see which building

the Auburn Downtown Merchants Association

judges to be the best.

New for the 2020 Christmas season was

an improved replica of the renovated Auburn

University Ag Heritage Park Pavilion (The Red

Barn).

This spring, Chef Dallas will be offering fresh

seasonal desserts in Ariccia Cucina Italiana and

in H. C. Valentine. Two new desserts are created

daily. Seating is available at H. C. Valentine in

front of the pastry windows and is an attractive

location for an afternoon dessert to savor a

favorite coffee drink with friends.

When Chef Dallas first came to Auburn two

years ago, she found the pace much different

than Atlanta and has enjoyed it tremendously.

“Since being here,” she says, “I have a stronger

bond with the community. It is something I

have not found in a larger city. You don’t make

the connections I have been able to make here.”

The Hotel at Auburn University & Dixon

Conference Center has become home to

this incredibly talented pastry chef. As the

community has enjoyed her creations, they

have given her the name “Sweet Dallas Kee.”

12 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


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Auburn, Alabama

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

13


A R T

Simplistic Style

By Ann Cipperly

Once busy mom Michelle Crum decided to downsize

from her large house in White Oaks, she selected

a new house under construction at the Auburn

University Club. The traditional designed smaller

home provides open rooms and spacious patio areas for enjoying

time outdoors with her young son and pets. Michelle worked

with designer Linda Ayers of Auburn for furnishings, fine fabrics

and using her favorite pieces from the previous home.

Photos by Tristan Cairns

The front door opens to a spacious living

and dining room combination overlooking

the back porch. The cozy seating area in the

living room with a Hickory Chair sofa and

chairs are covered in practical soil resistant

fabrics. The furniture is arranged for relaxing

around the fireplace.

In keeping with the comfortable, casual feeling,

a leather cocktail ottoman is used for a coffee

table. Vaulted ceilings provide an airy feeling.

An antique secretary is conveniently

located on one side of the fireplace for sorting

mail. Opposite the fireplace, an attractive

buffet with an elegant antique mirror creates

visual interest. A large wrought iron chandelier

from Visual Comfort of Savannah, Ga.,

provides soft overhead lighting.

14 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


What is PRP Therapy?

P L A T E L E T R I C H P L A S M A

When it comes to bone

and joint problems,

The Orthopaedic Clinic

has got you covered. Our

doctors have specialized

fellowship training in all

of the major areas of orthopedic

surgery; hand and

wrist, foot and ankle,

sports medicine, back and

neck and joint replacement.

They bring their

skill, expertise and experience

from some of the most

prestigious institutions

across the country to East

Alabama to provide excellent

orthopedic care to

our region.

One of the most exciting

emerging forms of regenerative

medicine for

soft tissue injuries is Platelet

Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy. PRP

injections are an increasingly

popular alternative to surgery

and are getting great results

for patients of all ages. Platelet

Rich Plasma therapy is a safe,

effective and all natural way to

heal damaged joints and soft

tissue in order to alleviate

chronic pain. The doctors of

The Orthopaedic Clinic are the

only doctors in the area offering

this innovative treatment.

PRP consists of a small sample

of your own blood, spun in

a centrifuge to concentrate the

platelets and then injected into

the injured area. The concentrated

platelets have over 1500

healing factors that stimulate

your injured tissues to heal

themselves.

How PRP Therapy Can Help

By concentrating platelets

and administering them

straight into the injury site, a

powerful mixture of growth

factors can be delivered exactly

to where you need it,

dramatically enhancing your

body’s natural healing

process. This treatment may

lead to a more rapid, more efficient,

and more thorough

restoration of the tissue to a

healthy state.

Are You a Candidate?

PRP is currently being used

to treat people in all phases of

life, including:

• Youth/amateur/professional

athletes

• “Weekend warriors” and

other generally active people

• Workers injured on the job

• People of any age with

chronic joint, tendon or

ligament pain

PRP therapy can be used to

treat a variety of acute and

chronic injuries, including but

not limited to:

• Chronic lower back pain

• Tennis elbow

• Rotator cuff tears

• Knee osteoarthritis

• Achilles tendinitis

• Plantar fasciitis

• Neck pain

• Ligament injuries

• Acute and chronic tendon

problems

• Injuries muscles

What to Expect from Your

PRP Procedure

The procedure takes approximately

30 minutes to one hour,

including preparation and recovery

time. Performed safely

at The Orthopaedic Clinic, PRP

therapy can relieve pain without

the risks of surgery, general

anesthesia, or hospital stays

and without a prolonged recovery.

In fact, most people return

to their jobs or usual activities

right after the procedure.

Some patients report

swelling and stiffness or mild

to moderate discomfort after

the injection. This is a normal

response and is a sign that the

treatment is working. Over

time, the affected area will

begin to heal and strengthen

and you will experience considerably

less pain.

Regenerative medicine is

not a “quick fix” and is designed

to promote long-term

healing of the injured tissue.

While most patients require

only one injection, the regeneration

of tissue takes months

and may require multiple injections.

The total number of

treatments you will need depends

on your age, the area

being treated and the amount

of pain you were experiencing

before starting therapy.

Will My Insurance Cover It?

While PRP has helped thousands

of patients over the years,

it is still relatively new and as a

result is not yet covered by

many insurance plans. Since the

cost for and types of treatment

required varies significantly

from patient to patient, you will

be given pricing info during

your initial consultation. ■

Adam C. Dooley, MD Raymond D. Godsil, Jr., MD Geoffrey Hancy, MD Frazier K. Jones, MD Ryan C. Palmer, MD Todd Michael Sheils, MD Trent Wilson, MD

If you think PRP Therapy is something that you

might be interested in, contact us for more information.

(334) 749-8303

theorthoclinic.com

The Orthopaedic Clinic @the_orthoclinic the_orthoclinic

R E G I O N A L O R T H O P A E D I C E X C E L L E N C E

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

15


Another Savannah chandelier, also from

Visual Comfort, hangs over the stunning

round dining table with upholstered chairs.

A portrait of Michelle’s son hangs over the

antique marble top sideboard with matching

buffet lamps. Silk curtains in soothing green

with gold highlights frame the front windows.

The glamorous powder room features dramatic

navy textured and glazed wallpaper

from Schumacher, while framed white and

navy nudes add accent. A brass-framed mirror

hangs over the sink.

The dining and living areas open to the

breakfast room and kitchen. An antique

wooden table in front of the window is a

favorite spot for morning coffee and breakfast.

Comfortable counter stools are covered

in a practical faux leather. Countertops are

white quartz, while light gray subway tiles

provide the backsplash. Michelle enjoys cooking

meals at the large gas stove.

The master bedroom is decorated in soft

greens for a serene feeling, and the windows

are covered in a gray/green silk fabric from her

previous home. The gathered bed skirt features

the same fabric. A bench at the foot of the bed

is covered in Cowtan & Tout’s “Ocelot” fabric.

Bedroom furniture is from Phillips Scott.

The spacious on-suite bath offers a soaking

tub and an open walk-in shower with gray

tiles and a pebble floor.

Decorated in grays and soft pink, the guest

bedroom walls are a soothing pewter shade.

Pink linen covers the king headboard, and a

soft Matte Laissez coverlet covers the bed.

Kate Spade fabrics and trims add punch to the

bedding and drapes.

The son’s bedroom is decorated in red,

white and blue, with blue buffalo check curtains

and bedding.

The floors throughout the house are hardwood,

accented with Oushak rugs.

After a busy day as a real estate agent,

Michelle enjoys spending time with her

son and friends on the covered back porch.

Seating and other furniture on the porch is by

Summer Classics. An outdoor rug defines the

space. Chairs are arranged around the outdoor

16 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


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firepit for savoring crisp spring evenings.

“I think it’s a great size for a smaller home,”

says Linda. “It’s very comfortable for relaxing after

work, as well as entertaining family and friends.”

For others looking to downsize, Linda suggests

choosing your favorite pieces, and then

work from there, adding and deleting as you

plan. “Make your furniture work with your

lifestyle,” she says.

“If you have children or rowdy grandchildren,”

adds Linda, “consider upholstering dining

chairs or bar stools in a faux leather that

can be easily cleaned with a sponge.”

For those wanting furniture covered in light

colored fabrics, Linda suggests outdoor fabrics

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D A Y T R I P

Photos by Ann Cipperly

Historic Living Museum

By Ann Cipperly

Strolling dusty roads in the Historic Westville village

on a cool crisp morning, the clang of the blacksmith’s

hammer echoes in the distance. A demonstration on

weaving fabric is being given in one house, while

an interpreter in period clothing in another tells the history of

the Chattahoochee Valley at the living museum’s new home in

Columbus, Ga.

The present melts into the past as history

comes alive in the authentically restored

Historic Westville, depicting 19th century life

and culture along the Chattahoochee River.

In keeping with the era, everything in the village

is made by hand. Craftsmen demonstrate

early American arts.

Originally established by Col. John Word

West, the village began as “The Fair of 1850”

in Jonesboro, Ga. The colonel, a history professor

at North Georgia College in Dahlonega,

was concerned over the loss of early crafts

and skills. In 1932, he began collecting historic

buildings in Jonesboro.

18 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


After Col. West’s death in 1961, the idea of a

living museum began with the purchase of his

extensive collection. The houses were moved

to Lumpkin, Ga., and named Historic Westville

after the colonel.

Period furniture, tools and accessories were

donated. After opening in 1970, Westville grew

to 31 buildings on 83 acres of land and was a

popular site for tourists and school children

to visit.

In 2013, Columbus received the bid to move

the village again. Historic Westville now sits on

27 acres near the National Infantry Museum

and Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning

Center. The village currently contains 17

of the 31 historic buildings. Fundraising is

planned to move the remaining houses as

funding allows.

When Westville was in Lumpkin, it showcased

life in southern Georgia. At the new

location, the history is focused on Columbus

and the surrounding area, while still including

the history of the original occupants of the

homes and businesses.

Historic Westville re-opened in Columbus

in June 2019 to continue the mission as a living

history museum. Two of the biggest events

were Harvest Fest in November and Frohe

Weichnachten in December.

Interpreters in the village give demonstrations

of traditional crafts, such as leatherworking,

carpentry, blacksmithing and sewing.

More in-depth tours are presented at the

McDonald House, Wells House, and the Randle

General Store, along with rotating volunteers

who work in other buildings.

The village provides a timeline of the history

and culture of the Chattahoochee Valley.

“We try to mark a period of time before the

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

19


treaties,” explains Jessica Parks, the museum

manager of the village. “We have a wide range

of homes from 1826.”

At the Wells house, originally a Native-

American cabin, Jessica talks about the family

living in the heart pine log cabin before the

treaty where land was divided and afterwards.

While the Wells family was living in the cabin,

they did not receive the house in the land lottery.

They were fortunate the owner sold them

the cabin.

Interpreters tell history and stories of

Native Americans and early settlers, including

Euro-Americans and African-Americans,

among other immigrants.

“We are focusing on the Columbus area

instead of all of southern Georgia,” adds the

museum manager. “This area is different from

other parts of southern Georgia because of the

fall line and the Chattahoochee River.”

Columbus began on the banks of the

Chattahoochee River at the falls, a picturesque

display of cascading, pristine water flowing over

huge rocks where Creek Indians could easily

fish with nets. When the town was formed in

1828, there were only a few houses along the

river, with most of the area framed in dense

forests. Steamboats were at the riverbanks with

sharp whistles piercing through the streets of

clay and sand.

The Chattahoochee River made it possible

for the delivery of large equipment as well as

clothes and household items. In 1838, the first

dam over the falls and mill were completed.

There were high expectations of a booming

industry and waterway.

Westville’s first full year in Columbus was

cut short due to Covid-19, and the village temporarily

closed down in March. The museum

re-opened to the public with strict Covid-19

policies in early October, but with significantly

lower visitation and school groups able to visit.

“We are continuing the education of our

craftspeople and expanding our interpretations,”

says Jamie Spencer, manager of the

Welcome Center. “Additional programs include

virtual field trips, at-home activity boxes, and

planning digital content that will allow us to

reach those who are unable to visit right now.”

At the new site, it is easier for visitors with

walkers and in wheelchairs to tour the village.

While food is not served on site, several

wooden tables are provided for enjoying a

picnic. Plans for the future include having

a restaurant in the Kiser House. Westville is

located near the National Infantry Museum,

which is interesting to tour and has a restaurant.

Check on hours due to Covid-19.

Historic Westville is located at 3557 S. Lumpkin

Road, Columbus and open Thursday, Friday and

Saturday. Tickets are $10 for adult, $8 for senior/

military/student, $5 for children kindergarten

to 12th grade, and children 5 and under are

free. Group rates are $8. While at the Welcome

Center, take a look at the museum shop.

For further information on Historic Westville, call

706.507.1621 or visit www.Westville.org.

The National Infantry Museum

The National Infantry Museum and Soldier

Center exhibits 240 plus years of infantry history,

thousands of priceless artifacts in 11 galleries,

authentic World War II Company Street,

monuments and memorials, combat simulators

and a giant screen theater.

A three-quarters scale replica of the Vietnam

Wall lists the names of more than 58,000

killed or missing service members.

The newest memorial includes eight granite

panels etched with the names of nearly

7,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines

who have died in service since 9/11.

20 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


New York City firefighters donated a 13-foot

steel beam taken from the wreckage of the

World Trade Center, which sits atop concrete

columns representing the Twin Towers.

While visiting the museum, lunch can be

enjoyed at the Fife and Drum restaurant.

The attraction was voted the nation’s best

free museum by USA Today. Check to be sure

the museum is open because of Covid-19.

1775 Legacy Way

706.685.5800

www.nationalinfantrymuseum.org.

Dining

PLUCKED UP CHICKEN AND BISCUITS

Before touring sites, try the fried chicken

and biscuits with a blackberry mustard sauce

for breakfast.

At lunch, biscuit sandwiches, chicken salads,

and chicken pot pie are featured on the menu.

1208 1st Ave.

706.225.0044

www.pluckedupchickenandbiscuits.com

Beth Hoven Au.D., Co-Owner/Audiologist

Allison Kelly Au.D., Co-Owner/Audiologist

Voted Best

Hearing Center

6 years in a row.

Opelika-Auburn News

Readers’ Choice Awards

START LIVING A FULLER

LIFE WITH BETTER HEARING.

Call us today at

334-521-7501

to set up your

hearing consultation.

MY BOULANGE AND PIZZA TOWER

The French bakery cafe offers assorted breads,

main dishes, as well as pastries for breakfast

and lunch. The macrons are scrumptious.

Pizza is now available.

111 12th Street

706.940.0112

www.facebook.com/myboulange

THE LOFT

The lively restaurant has burgers and sandwiches

for lunch, along with a large selection

of house-made cakes.

1032 Broadway

706.596.8141

www.theloft.com

WICKED HEN RESTAURANT

The menu offers a variety of regional

dishes at lunch, brunch and dinner. Choices

for lunch include hearty sandwiches, soups,

sandwiches and main dishes, including

shrimp and grits.

2415 Moore’s Mill Road, Suite 225, Hamilton Place (next to Publix), Auburn, AL 36830

334.521.7501 l www.hpoal.com

Train up a child in the way he should go; even

when he is old he will not depart from it.

Call 334-745-2464 to schedule a tour.

kmarrs@tcsopelika.org | tcsopelika.org

PROVERBS 22:6

A CLASSICAL AND CHRISTIAN ACADEMY

1350 Thirteenth Street

706.984.7215

www.wickedhenrestaurant.com

MINNIE’S UPTOWN RESTAURANT

Southern dishes and vegetables are available.

Check Facebook page for menu.

104 8th street

706.322.2766

TCS Senior Carly Culpepper

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

21


P R O F E S S I O N A L S O F E A S T A L A B A M A

dermaLAB: located in Auburn’s Bodegas

Owned and operated by Sarah Wilson, Registered Nurse and Licensed Esthetician,

the first ever dermaLAB was opened in September 2020 in the beautiful college town of

Auburn, Alabama.

Sarah has eight years’ experience as an ER and MICU nurse and has seen it all—especially

wounds, skin disorders, and all stages of epidermal healing. She is proud to have a medical

background that gives her an edge on esthetics and skincare treatments. Sarah is the only

nurse esthetician in Central and East Alabama that specializes in Biologique Recherche

facial treatments.

dermaLAB is the first mini-store of its kind, offering luxury skincare products and in-house

facial treatments found typically only in major city spas around the world. We carry the full

facial line of Biologique Recherche and Agent Nateur—and as a complimentary detail—we

also offer Cire Trudon candles. We know that self-care and skin love is best experienced

involving all the senses—and what better way than treat your skin in the heavenly aroma

of Cire Trudon, the ultimate scent of luxury.

MENU

Facials and Skincare Consultation

dermaGLOW (includes dermaplaning)

75 mins, $120

Our most popular service starts with a double

cleanse, extensive and thorough dermaplaning,

facial and neck massage, lymphatic drainage,

chemical exfoliation, masque, cryo sticks,

serums, and finishing serums. Extractions

as needed. Products used: 100% Biologique

Recherche, an imported French skincare line,

cold-pressed for quality and concentration.

dermaBOOST — 90 mins, $175

Everything included in dermaGLOW treatment

PLUS one Biologique Recherche booster appropriate

for Skin Instant.

dermACNE — 90 mins, $115

Having trouble with clogged pore, acne, or

maskne? This facial service includes a double

cleanse, facial steaming, extractions,

masque, cryo stick facial massage, customized

Biologique Recherche serum cocktail, highfrequency

(electrical current that zaps bacteria

out of your pores), and finishing serum.

Skincare Consultation — 30 mins, FREE

If you’re more interested in a skincare routine

than facial services, we got you covered! This

service is free of charge and you will be provided

with recommendations for your AM and

PM skincare routine. Recommendations will be

completed to match your skin types and budget

needs. Perfect for brides wanting to perfect

their skin before the wedding. Recommended

to start 3 months prior to the special day.

Waxing

browWAX — $15

dermaLAB uses exclusively Novawax, a revolutionary

wax formula created from the world’s

most flexible polymers and natural ingredients

to create a waxing experience unlike any other.

lipWAX — $10

dermaLAB uses exclusively Novawax, a revolutionary

wax formula created from the world’s

most flexible polymers and natural ingredients

to create a waxing experience unlike any other.

Permanent Makeup

Microblading — 3 hours, $415

Appointment includes professional brow

mapping using the MadluvvTM method, traditional

microblading, and shading. Client

gets to see shape and pigment shade prior to

procedure. 6 week follow-up appointment recommended.

All procedures performed by registered

nurse trained in both clean and sterile

techniques, Blood-borne pathogen certified,

and double certified by Madluvv (Scottsdale,

AZ), and the Refinery Lab (Miami).

Microblading (Perfecting Session)

90 mins, $85

Let’s see how those brows have healed and

make any needed adjustments. Done 6 weeks

after initial appointment if necessary.

To book an appointment, visit dermalabauburn.com

or call (334) 549-5737. Follow us on Instagram at

dermalabauburn.

When we were researching brands, we

really wanted to offer something unique

to the Auburn/Opelika area. Before we

agreed to partner with these companies,

each product was carefully tested and

vetted to ensure we would be providing

the most effective and highest quality

products money could buy.

Thank you to all our friends and family

that supported us along the way to make

this happen—we hope you fall in love

with dermaLAB as much as we have.

Sarah

22 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


Spring.

Styled.

TLRCLOTHIERS.COM

175 E. MAGNOLIA AVE | 334.321.4962

MON–SAT 10AM–6PM

LR01-50421-East AL Living-Spring 2021.indd 1

2/2/21 3:53 PM

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

23


GETAWAY

Toes in the Sand

By Ann Cipperly

Under sapphire Alabama skies, pristine emerald

waters roll onto white sandy beaches in Gulf

Shores. While sun-drenched, leisurely days at the

beach beckon, the area offers numerous activities

and attractions. With the Fort Morgan historic site, the zoo,

a wildlife refuge and the Gulf State Park providing outdoor

activities and sports, Gulf Shores offers an active spring

getaway everyone in the family will enjoy.

Photos provided by Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism

24 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


Despite ravages of hurricanes along the

coast in recent years, Gulf Shores has recovered,

and the pier, damaged by Hurricane

Sally, is being repaired. Brilliant white sand

covering 32 miles of beach gleams in the sun.

The fine particles are almost entirely quartz

grains washed down from the Appalachian

Mountains thousands of years ago.

At the 6,150-acre Gulf State Park, 3.5 miles

of gorgeous beach offers fun and relaxation

with family. The beach pavilion provides a

shady area for enjoying a picnic while lingering

at the beach for the day. A concession

stand, climate-controlled restrooms, and

showers are housed at the pavilion.

Take a break from the beach in the heat of the

afternoon and explore the Nature Center, which

showcases plants and animals native to the area.

Weekly programs, activities and educational

events are scheduled throughout the year.

Plan a day at Lake Shelby in the center

of Gulf State Park for swimming and water

sports, including kayaking and canoeing.

Freshwater fishing can be experienced at the

900-acre lake. Pavilions and picnic tables are

situated around the lake.

The Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail has

access to the lake. The 28 plus mile paved trail

system meandering through the park is open

for hiking and biking. Bikes can be rented

throughout the trail with the first three hours

free. Several playgrounds and picnic areas are

provided throughout the park.

Along with beach access, the trail also

has stops at the butterfly garden and the

Interpretive Center where guests are encouraged

to explore the park’s nine ecosystems.

The Learning Campus facility also offers educational

programs.

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

25


Photo provided by the Lodge at Gulf State Park

Photo provided by the Lodge at Gulf State Park

Lodging

With sweeping views of the beach, the

Lodge at Gulf State Park, a Hilton Hotel, is

reminiscent of the previous lodge that was

destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. The new

Lodge opened in November 2018 with 350

rooms, four restaurants, over 40,000 square

feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space

with access to the beach and park.

Located inside the scenic Gulf State Park, the

Lodge offers outdoor terraces for enjoying sunsets

around a firepit. Numerous boardwalks

lead to the beach for putting toes in the sand. A

Gulf front infinity edge pool is a popular spot,

as well as the state-of-the-art fitness center.

Two Gulf front restaurants and bars have

outdoor terrace seating where locally sourced

regional specialties are served.

In the lobby, a curated coffee shop offers a

fresh cup to start the day.

Along with the Lodge, the park has Lakeside

Cabins and Eagle Cottages. The Lakeside Cabins

are along Lake Shelby, while Eagle Cottages are

near fishing, swimming and boating.

For campers, canvas tents to full hook-up

RV sites are available. The improved 496-acre

site features waterfront campsites and ADAaccessible

sites as well as 11 modern bathhouses.

Amenities include electricity, grills and picnic

tables. Primitive camping sites also available.

26 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


Other Attractions

ALABAMA GULF COAST ZOO

Families will enjoy visiting the Alabama

Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shores. The zoo is

home to 400 animals and offers a petting zoo.

The zoo was voted the best in the state.

www.alabamagulfcoastzoo.com

BON SECOUR NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

Named “Bon Secour” after the French words

for “safe harbor,” the wildlife refuge protects

neotropical migratory songbird habitats, as

well as threatened and endangered species.

To plan a visit, go to the website at www.fws.gov/

refuge/Bon_Secour/ for further information.

MUSEUMS

Two museums, the Gulf Shores Museum and

the Orange Beach Indian and Sea Museum,

showcase artifacts specific to the area’s Native

American and fishing heritages.

www.gulfshoresal.gov/356/musem/

www.orangebeachal.gov/facilities/

indian-sea-museum/about/

FORT MORGAN HISTORIC SITE

History buffs will enjoy touring Fort Morgan

and the museum. Fort Morgan was active

during four wars: the Civil War, the Spanish-

American War, and World Wars I and II. The

fort is most famous for its role in the Civil War

Battle of Mobile Bay.

Enjoy nature areas with picnic tables during

the visit.

Go to www.fort-morgan.org to plan your visit.

THE COASTAL ARTS CENTER

OF ORANGE BEACH

Local artists exbibit works at the gallery.

The center has art classes, pottery demonstrations

and a glass blowing studio.

For additional information go to www.orangebeachal.

gov/facilities/art-center/about.

26389 Canal Rd., Orange Beach

THE WHARF AT ORANGE BEACH

The Wharf showcases a marina, mile-long

boardwalk, restaurants and boutiques.

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

27


Dining

After a day of sun and sand, plan to visit

one of the area’s many restaurants offering

diverse options.

WOODSIDE AT GULF STATE PARK

Make reservations for the dining room,

screened porch or outdoors.

Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Crabcake sandwich and fresh catch with grits

are popular choices.

Food, beer and wine are available for carry out.

Visit woodsideatgsp.com or call 251.923.3100.

COBALT RESTAURANT

After a day at the beach unwind with a

relaxing dinner at Cobalt Restaurant and

dine overlooking the bay. Nestled under the

Perdido Bay Bridge, Cobalt offers a casual and

relaxing ambiance with waterfront dining.

Try the crab claws sautéed with tomatoes

and herbs or lightly fried with enough to share.

One popular entree is the grouper served

over risotto topped with blue crab and a

smoked tomato cream.

The restaurant also serves a variety of

stone hearth pizzas.

For additional information, call 251.923.5300 or visit

www.cobaltrestaurant.net.

28 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


KITTY’S KAFE AT PELICAN PLACE

If you have a big appetite order the “perfect

breakfast,” which includes two eggs, sausage,

grits and a pancake.

At lunch, sandwiches and southern dishes

are served.

Call 251.948.5233 for additional information.

LULU’S

Lucy Anne Buffett, nicknamed LuLu, is the

little sister of singer Jimmy Buffett. LuLu’s restaurant

is a popular spot in Gulf Shores.

Menu includes a variety of seafood dishes,

such as snapper, seafood gumbo, shrimp and

others. Chicken, sandwiches and cheeseburgers

are also served. A children’s menu is available.

200 East 25th Avenue, Gulf Shores, 251.967.5858

FOODCRAFT

Located at Gulf State Park, Foodcraft serves

coastal seafood and steaks. Enjoy a view of

the Gulf of Mexico while dining.

For further information call 251.923.2950.

WOLF BAY RESTAURANT

Located at Zeke’s Landing in Orange Beach,

Wolf Bay has been a popular seafood restaurant

for generations.

Call 251.965.5129 before going to be sure it is open.

A gift & clothing boutique

specializing in home decor,

seasonal giving, jewelry,

and bridal gifts.

Downtown Auburn

334-887-7447

wrapsodyonline.com

@shopwrapsody

PERCH

Perch in Gulf Shores serves freshly sourced

ingredients from regional fishermen and farmers.

Enjoy seating on the outdoor terrace with

two fire pits and views of the Gulf.

Visit perchgsp.com or call 251.540.6100.

THE ORIGINAL OYSTER HOUSE

RESTAURANT

The seafood restaurant has been in business

since 1983. The restaurant started with

60 seats, and after numerous expansions now

seats 300.

Popular menu items include oysters on the

half shell, blackened mahi with fried crawfish

tails, flounder and seafood gumbo.

701 Gulf Shores Pkwy., Gulf Shores, 251. 948.2445

FISHER’S

Located at the Orange Beach Marina,

Fisher’s houses two restaurants, Upstairs and

Dockside. Upstairs is elegantly furnished and

serves upscale fare, while Dockside offers

casual dining.

Dockside was damaged by Hurricane Sally.

Check opening before going. Call 251.981.7305.

For a complete list of accommodations, attractions and

restaurants, check the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach

Visitors’ Center website at www.gulfshores.com.

Locally Owned and Operated

by Scott & Lynn Slocum

Care for

Everyone

Companionship • Personal Care

Light Housekeeping • Memory Care

Medication Reminders & Much More!

Call for a FREE Care Assessment

334.203.1850

synergyhomecare.com/opelika

EAST ALABAMA LIVING 29


to become

a physician?

Hands-on diagnosis and treatment are hallmarks of the Osteopathic

medical profession and an important part of instruction at the

Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine. VCOM students

hone their diagnostic skills through standardized patient

encounters, manikin simulators, student organization

workshops and through local community and international

health outreach efforts. VCOM’s partnership with Auburn

University strengthens instructional opportunities for our

students through interprofessional educational events,

collaborative research and sports medicine training.

Visit us online to find out how we are

inspired to make a difference

in our communities and beyond.

www.vcom.edu

30 EAST ALABAMA LIVING

Please visit our website at www.vcom.edu/outcomes for a copy of our Outcomes Report.

©2021 Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine. All rights reserved.


NEW HOMES

BY HARRIS DOYLE

LAKE MARTIN, AL

NEW HOME COMMUNITY

lots now available

HOMES FROM THE $360’S

Brian Dodson | 205.341.9016

TALISICOVEAL.COM

AUBURN, AL

NEW HOME COMMUNITY WITH

A LAKE, NEIGHBORHOOD POOL

AND COMMUNITY GARDEN

lots now available

HOMES FROM THE $270’S

Brooke Chase | 334.835.8530

AUBURN, AL

NEW HOMES AND TOWNHOMES

now available

Travis Chase | 334.759.3379

OPELIKA, AL

LUXURY TOWNHOMES

now available

STARTING IN THE LOW $200’S

Megan Corcoran | 334.258.1608

HARRIS DOYLE HAS JOINED FORCES

WITH DILWORTH HOMES!

Providing a first-class homebuilding experience to the Auburn and Opelika area

HARRISDOYLE.COM

EAST ALABAMA LIVING 31


T A B L E S C A P E

Photos by ING Studios

Citrus

Party

THE SETTING

The Waverly Local

Although it is certainly well known for its exceptional culinary fare, this

unique eatery also boasts singular event spaces, especially ideal for

smaller functions.

Situated just outside of Auburn in the charming municipality of Waverly,

Ala., this former filling station has charm and character to spare. Indoors,

the well-appointed dining room offers cozy seating options, while the

adjacent bar beckons thirsty patrons and diners alike.

Outside, an inviting covered patio (shown here) provides the perfect

backdrop for an intimate summer dinner. There, a collection of life-long

friends gathered to catch up over cocktails and sumptuous Southern

fare. Between bites and sips, the group traded tales and toasted to good

friends and good times!

32

EAST ALABAMA LIVING


THE DINNER

Guests were treated to a choice of either

“The Daily Gulf Catch” or the restaurant’s

famous fall-off-the-fork pork. Both were

preceded by a selection of small bites

and specialty drinks.

EAST ALABAMA LIVING 33


THE DRINKS

Pairing perfectly with the ‘Summer

Citrus’ theme for the evening, guests

enjoyed Lemon Drop cocktails, complete

with a decorative rind garnish.

THE DESSERTS

As a nod to the guest of honor and her

well-known affinity for sweets, the evening

featured an impressive array of dessert

selections, including: The Waverly’s coconut

cake as well as their house-made cheesecake

topped with locally sourced jam from

neighboring Hornsby Farms. By special

request, an additional pistachio-flavored cake

was commissioned from local baker, Tania

Cobine, owner of Sweet As Cakes.

34 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


THE DECOR

Local designer Jess Burkhart, owner of

Frou Frou, adorned the long dining table

with copious amounts of fresh flowers,

paired with inserts of cut fruit for added

interest. To complete the look, she added

an array of candles in varying heights atop

a cheesecloth runner to create a rich,

layered aesthetic.

EAST ALABAMA LIVING 35 33


A Secret Too Good To Keep

• Exceptional quality of life

• State-of-the-art school system

• Advanced technology and infrastructure

• Excellent healthcare facilities

• Thriving local parks and recreation

• Amazing retail and boutique shopping

• Magical Christmas destination

#myopelika | www.opelika-al.gov |

Dr. Keri Miller

Most major insurance accepted

including BCBS and Southland.

742 N. Dean Road

Auburn, AL 36830

(334) 321-0780

Check out our newly updated website!

www.gatorgrins.com

36 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


EAST ALABAMA LIVING

37


P R O F E S S I O N A L S O F E A S T A L A B A M A

Nostalgia and Magic

Photos by Jackie+Luke

Nestled in the quiet countryside

of East Alabama sits Creekwood, a

private 100-acre, family-owned estate

on the ready to host the next event.

Two friends who grew up in Phenix

City, Ala. were on a mission to find a

special place that would serve as an

oasis for their family gatherings and

possibly their children’s future weddings.

Drew Edwards and Matt Mixon

are not new to real estate or landing

the perfect property. Drew and Matt

own 323 Properties, a company specializing

in custom built homes. The

challenge to find properties to transform

is a passion for these two. Their

inspiration comes from Colossians

3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it

with all your heart, as working for

the Lord, not human masters.”

When Drew and Matt discovered

Creekwood, they knew they had

found something special. The pristine

1844 Greek Revival home is accessed

through a pillared gate opening to

a serpentine drive punctuated by

mature oaks, magnolia trees and florals.

Creekwood’s inviting Southern

porch and balustraded balcony meets

guests with open arms. The main

entrance doorway is stately and opens

into a full-length central hallway connected

by a grand stairway. In 1989,

Creekwood was added to the National

Register of Historic Places. Many of the

original furnishings remain with the

home. Creekwood maintains its integ-

38 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


rity of location, design and feeling. The

home continues its alliance with the

Old Federal Road and is the last Greek

Revival building on this historic route.

Creekwood is only 30 minutes

from Auburn, Ala. in the unincorporated

community of Creekstand.

Its proximity to larger communities

makes Creekwood a desired destination

venue for weddings, family

reunions, formals or corporate events.

Creekwood owners are adding a 6,000

square-foot pavilion inclusive of the

amenities for a perfect venue.

Drew and Matt enjoy creating

memories at Creekwood with their

wives and children. They are excited

to open Creekwood to the public to

experience the nostalgia and magic.

Creekwood is currently accepting

bookings for summer and fall 2021.

To experience Creekwood, visit

creekwoodevents.com or contact

info@creekwoodevents.com.

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

39


40 EAST ALABAMA LIVING

Photos by Jacquie Hodnett


The Horse

Whisperer

B Y A N N C I P P E R L Y

Growing up on a horse farm, Jessica Hodnett learned

to ride at an early age and knew she wanted a career

working with horses. She became a horse whisperer,

traveling across the country to heal troubled horses.

Jessica was living an active charmed life until one day

when she was suddenly dealing with the possibility

of being bedridden and blind for the rest of her life.

Located outside Wadley, the Hodnett family’s

farm in the small community of FrogEye

opens from the surrounding forests to pastures

and hay fields where 26 horses roam on

175 acres. The land has been in the Hodnett

family for six generations. Jessica’s grandparents

divided the original 350 acres between

her father and his brother.

Jessica received her first pony when she

was a small child, and her father taught her

to ride. Her love of horses led to her receiving

degrees in equestrian science and psychology

at Wallace State College in Hanceville.

After graduating, she enrolled in a twoyear

internship at a thoroughbred farm in

Kentucky. While there, a foal was born with

legs bent like pretzels and had to have surgery.

Since he would never be able to run, the

owner asked Jessica if she wanted him. She

was thrilled to have the thoroughbred, naming

him Prophet, and still has him at the farm.

When she completed the internship,

Jessica began traveling across the country as

a horse whisperer. “I was working with horses

with mental and people problems,” she says.

“Horses are very unique that they communicate

through body language. If you understand

the movements, it is a way to communicate

with them.”

Jessica’s work took her to New York, Florida,

Nevada, Montana, Wyoming and California. In

California, she worked for publisher George

Hearst after she had worked with his trainers

in Nevada. Some of the trainers she worked

with are in the Hall of Fame.

While she was enjoying her work, falls

from horses were beginning to add up. “When

you are working with horses,” Jessica says, “it

is not if you are going to fall off a horse, but

when.”

She just had a bad fall when her sister, Toni

Hodnett, called to tell her she was learning to

fly helicopters. She began thinking that flying

helicopters would be a good career change.

Jessica left California and went to Tennessee

with her sister, and they both received pilot

licenses. They went home to FrogEye for a

break before starting their new work.

While at home, Jessica received a call from

Robert Hilyer, who had gotten two horses

from Idaho, and one of them was completely

wild. He asked if she would look at the horse

named Bonnie to see what she could do.

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

41


Jessica heard her

doctor on the phone

with the specialist

and could hear him

yelling to not let her

move. Nurses began

strapping her down.

She decided to work with Bonnie. The horse

was doing so well they decided to take her on

a trail ride in Pell City.

Once they got to the site, Jessica began riding

Bonnie to warm up while others in the

group were getting their horses ready. When

they got ready to hit the trail, someone had a

blue healer cow dog and took the dog off his

leash to run the trail.

Helping You Stay

in the Comfort

of Your Home

• Personal Care and Companionship

• Housekeeping & Laundry

• Meal Preparation/Planning

• Transportation, Shopping & Errands

• Medication Reminders

• Memory Care

• After Surgery or Hospital Stay Care

• From 1 to 24-Hour Care

“For some reason the dog decided to go

after Bonnie,” remembers Jessica. “The dog

started running after Bonnie, barking and biting

her heels, which spooked her. She jumped

and began bucking, then I hit the ground.”

Since she had fallen off horses many times,

Jessica thought she was fine until she put her

foot in the stirrup to get on the horse and felt

pain. Bonnie’s owner ended the trail ride and

334-539-5140 . 611 E Glenn Ave., Ste. C, Auburn

Locally Owned & Operated

put the horse back in the trailer.

As they were driving back, Robert saw that

Jessica was in severe pain. He took her to a

nearby hospital.

Jessica will always remember Nov. 17, 2012,

when she walked into the emergency room.

When she came out from x-rays, the doctor

said her neck was broken in two places, and

her back was broken.

“All I heard was your life is never going to be

the same,” says Jessica.

Nurses began putting IVs in her arms as

they prepared to transport her to UAB to see

a specialist. Jessica heard her doctor on the

phone with the specialist and could hear

him yelling to not let her move. Nurses began

strapping her down.

The vertebrae that was connected to her

skeleton had flipped down and was resting

on another vertebrae, held together with just

a sliver of bone. If she moved and that bone

fractured, she would be permanently paralyzed

from the neck down.

“My mind was reeling,” she remembers. The

nurse in the ambulance to UAB was trying to

comfort her. Jessica was on strong pain medicines,

and everything looked foggy.

The doctor tried a halo that didn’t work.

Jessica had surgery that was supposed to be

eight hours that ended up being 12 hours. A

bone graft was taken from her hip to put in

her neck, and the doctor was trying to wrap

up the surgery as quickly as possible.

They started waking her up. The memories

are a blur, but she remembers the anesthesiologist

kept saying they couldn’t keep her under

any longer as she had been under too long.

Jessica tried to sit up and realized she

couldn’t see. The doctor came in and told her

the surgery was unsuccessful and that one of

44 42 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


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the cottages are designed by national award winner Larry Garnett and feature inviting porches. Best of all, The

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tennis, and pool. Schedule a tour by calling 334.749.8165 or visit NationalVillage.com.

ample settings for neighbors to gather. The home plans for the cottages are designed by national award winner Larry Garnett and

built by Ab and Don Conner at Conner Bros. Construction Co., Inc., a local company with more than 100 years of experience.

Best of all, The Yards is adjacent to the Marriott at Grand National and all of the resort amenities including spa,

pickle ball, tennis, and pool. Schedule a tour by calling 334.749.8165 or visit NationalVillage.com.

TO LEARN MORE VISIT NATIONALVILLAGE.COM OR CALL 334.749.8165

NV_Lake_March2020_.indd 3

7/17/20 2:05 PM

TO LEARN MORE VISIT NATIONALVILLAGE.COM OR CALL 334.749.8165

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

43


Photos by Jacquie Hodnett

the side effects from being under too long was

blindness.

“The surgery being unsuccessful meant I

would be bedridden the rest of my life,” says

Jessica, “and there was the possibility that I

would be blind.”

Members of her church and other churches

were praying. Her brother, Lin Hodnett, had a

prayer chain going at their church. One of the

nurses told Jessica there was a revival going

on in the waiting room.

Auburn Pediatric Dentistry

Specializing in

children and Teenagers

After a nurse worked with Jessica on eye

therapy for nearly a month, her vision returned.

The surgeon told her mother that he

wanted to try the surgery again. He said if it

were his daughter, he would do the surgery.

After a great deal of prayer, Jessica had the surgery

again. This time it was successful. She had

four bolts and two screws inserted that are holding

up her head. She could not move until the

bones healed or it would have caused more damage.

She praises the doctors and nurses at UAB.

(334) 826-6651

Charles R. Greenleaf, DMD

841 North Dean Road, Auburn, AL 36830

info@auburnpediatricdentistry.com

We are providers for BCBS, Delta Dental, Metlife, Southland, and accept most other insurances.

“During the surgery, it was a sense of comfort

and assurance of being in God’s hands,”

she remembers.

“They said all the movement from my

shoulder is connected to my neck and limited

what I could do. Not just my life changed, but

my entire family. My sister and mother were

dedicated to my care. At that time brushing

my teeth was an ordeal.”

Jessica was told that based on the amount

of damage that was done, she would not be

able to work. She was placed on 100 percent

disability.

It took a year to recover, and her family says

she is a walking miracle.

Although she could never work with horses

again, Jessica wanted to find some kind of

work. She talked to attorneys to find out how

to be removed from the disability list. She was

told to find a job that would not cause damage

to her neck.

Jessica learned from a friend about a customer

service representative job at the Opelika

Power Services. She got the job and started in

October 2013. She had x-rays to confirm work

was not causing damage. Jessica was able to

get off disability. She has since been promoted

to administration coordinator.

“I am sure I am where the Lord wants me to

be,” she says. “The OPS group is a work family

and just as supportive as my family. The city

has done a lot for me. The Lord has put me

with a group of people who have encouraged

me and are a good influence. I can work and

go home to my horses, including Bonnie.

“I felt the Lord’s presence even when they

were telling me the surgery was unsuccessful

and I was blind,” states Jessica. “It was a sense

of hope that it wasn’t over yet. God is in control,

and He saw fit to heal me. I believe if it were not

for the prayers, I wouldn’t be here today.”

44 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


This could become

your favorite place to

pick up East Alabama

Living magazine

You can grab your complimentary copy of East

Alabama Living in numerous locations around

East Alabama. But did you know you can have it

delivered right to your home?

Four issues per year can be delivered to you for just

$17—which covers the cost of shipping and handling.

Pay $29 for eight issues over two years.

A subscription to East Alabama Living is also the

perfect gift for friends and loved ones who would

enjoy a deeper connection to our community—

whether they live here or somewhere else.

For more information call 334.826.2929

To subscribe, visit eastalabamaliving.com

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

45


Peanut Butter Eggs and cupcakes. Place each

one in a plastic bag or wrap in cellophane.

Place desserts in baskets ahead of time, but

keep sandwiches and salads refrigerated or in

a cooler until ready to serve, and then add to

baskets.

Select spring colored napkins and wrap

plastic ware. Create egg shaped nametags,

and let children color them, creating their

own designs. Finish baskets with a cheerful

bow. After lunch, children can use their baskets

for an egg hunt.

Look over the following ideas for filling baskets

with tasty sandwiches and salads, as well

as yummy desserts. Whether you have a picnic

in the backyard or a local park, may this

Easter be a time of renewed faith and hope for

your family.

CRISPY CHEESE WAFERS

Linda Silavent McMillan

At one time, Linda sold her cheese wafers and

cheese straws at shops around East Alabama.

1 stick margarine or butter, softened

2 cups grated New York Extra sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup Rice Krispies cereal

Dash of red pepper

Pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients together. Roll out on floured

surface and cut with a small round biscuit cutter

or shape into small balls. Place on cookie sheet

sprayed with Pam.

Bake at 375 degrees about 10-12 minutes or until

lightly brown. Bake longer if you prefer crispier

cheese wafers.

SOUTHERN KITCHEN CHICKEN SALAD

Easter Picnic Recipes

BY ANN CIPPERLY

With azaleas, dogwoods and spring flowers in Chicken Salad with a classic base and a list

bloom, celebrate Easter this year outdoors with of ingredients for adding ones that appeal

a picnic featuring individual festive baskets. Fill to your family. Among the selections are

each basket with assorted sandwiches, salads chopped pecans, toasted almonds, dried

and scrumptious homemade Easter candy eggs cranberries, halved grapes, chopped apple,

and other desserts. Accent each basket with chopped boiled eggs and others.

pastel hued ribbon tied into a big bow.

Wraps made with flour tortillas go together

Chicken salad, pimento cheese and egg salad quickly and are easy to eat on a picnic. Select

can be prepared ahead and used for filling sliced ham or turkey to combine with slices of

sandwiches, mini croissants, slider buns, mini favorite cheeses. Slice the rolls and wrap them

pitas or flour tortillas for wraps. When making individually.

sandwiches for children, remove crusts and Place salads in mason jars or small food

cut into triangles for ease in eating. Use cookie containers with secure tops. Tuck small bags

cutters in egg or bunny shapes for cutting children’s

sandwiches into seasonal designs.

dren’s baskets.

of thin carrot sticks and sliced fruit into chil-

Instead of having several chicken salad Along with coloring eggs, let children help

recipes, I assembled the Southern Kitchen prepare and decorate the Chocolate Covered

Ann Cipperly

Use chicken salad for sandwiches, slider buns, mini

crescents, mini pitas or for making wraps with

flour tortillas

3 cups chopped cooked chicken

Salt to taste

½ to ¾ cup finely chopped celery

½ to ¾ cup quality mayonnaise (adjust according

to taste)

Select from these additions: chopped pecans, walnuts

or toasted almonds, diced apples, halved red

or green grapes, dried cranberries, chopped boiled

egg, drained crushed pineapple, sweet or dill pickle

relish, finely chopped onion, mandarin oranges.

Season chicken with salt to taste. Mix in celery

and then mayonnaise. Select a favorite or more

from the additions, and stir into chicken mixture.

Chill until ready to serve.

MASON JAR SALADS

Place dressing in bottom of mason jars. Add

bite-sized pieces of lettuce, chopped tomatoes,

chopped cucumber and other salad ingredients

of choice. Place lids on jars. When ready to eat,

shake jars.

46 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


EGG SALAD

Nealey Dozier Thompson

Nealey grew up in Opelika and has had an amazing

culinary career since graduating from the New

School of Cooking in Los Angeles; CA. Nealey currently

works at the Atlanta Cook’s Warehouse where

she is the cooking school director and executive chef.

8 eggs

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise

2 Tbsp. snipped chives

2 tsp. cider vinegar

1/2 tsp. prepared mustard

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, optional

Bring the eggs to a boil, then remove from heat

and allow to sit for 12 minutes. Rinse with cold

water (or place in an ice bath) to stop the cooking.

Peel and chop.

Combine chopped eggs, mayonnaise, chives,

cider vinegar, mustard, salt and bacon crumbles.

Adjust seasoning to taste. Will make four

sandwiches.

PIMENTO CHEESE

Jennifer Wilson

Jennifer’s husband, the late Chef Scott Wilson, was

a talented chef who authored four cookbooks.

Two 10 oz. blocks sharp cheddar cheese

1 10 oz. block extra sharp cheddar cheese

Two 7 oz. jars diced pimentos, drained

1 tsp. lemon juice

1/4 tsp. granulated garlic

2 dashes cayenne pepper, optional

2 dashes Worcestershire sauce

1 cup or more Duke’s mayonnaise

Grate the cheeses into a large bowl and let sit at

room temperature for 1 hour. (Do not use preshredded

cheese, as something added keeps the

flavors of the seasonings from being absorbed.)

Add pimentos, lemon juice, garlic, cayenne and

Worcestershire and then toss.

Add 1 cup of the mayonnaise and stir until

blended. Add more mayonnaise, if needed.

Refrigerate overnight for the best flavor. Makes 6

cups. Can make half the recipe.

HAM OR TURKEY RANCH WRAPS

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 Tbsp. ranch dressing mix

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

½ lb. thinly sliced deli turkey or ham or a combination

Four 12-inch burrito tortillas

Add ranch powder and cheddar cheese to cream

cheese, mixing well. Spread about 2 Tbsp. mixture

evenly on each tortilla. Place 3-4 slices of

ham or turkey flat on top of the cheese mixture

to cover in a single layer.

Carefully roll tortilla up tightly to make sure it

holds together and keeps its shape.

Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to firm up the

softened cheese. Cut off ends of tortilla rolls and

slice. Wrap each roll in plastic wrap and chill.

LEMON BLOSSOMS

Deidra Bell

Deidra prepared these little gems for a Campus Club

garden party in 2019. They were a hit.

1 box (18 ½ oz.) yellow cake mix

3½ oz. instant lemon pudding

4 eggs

¾ cup vegetable oil

GLAZE:

4 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/3 cup lemon juice

Zest of 1 lemon

3 Tbsp. vegetable oil

3 Tbsp. water

Preheat oven to 350.

Coat miniature muffin tins with nonstick spray.

Combine cake mix, pudding, eggs and oil and

blend well with electric mixer until smooth,

about 2 minutes. Fill muffin cups halfway full.

Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from tins.

To make glaze, sift sugar into bowl; add remaining

ingredients. Stir with a spoon until smooth.

Dip warm cupcakes into glaze or set cupcakes on

wire racks with wax paper underneath and pour

glaze over them. Let glaze set for about an hour.

CHOCOLATE COVERED

PEANUT BUTTER EGGS

Ann Cipperly

1½ cups graham cracker crumbs

¾ cup butter, melted

1 cup peanut butter

1 box or less confectioners’ sugar

Chocolate bark

Sprinkles, candies for decorating

Combine crumbs, butter and peanut butter;

add confectioners’ sugar. Mix until smooth. Roll

mixture into egg shapes in sizes desired. Dip in

melted chocolate bark.

Before the coating sets, cover tops with sprinkles

or write names with small candies. After the

coating sets, names and flowers can be piped on

with frosting.

Note: Can dip eggs in melted chocolate chips, but

for a picnic use chocolate bark since it will not melt.

NEW POTATO SALAD WITH

VINAIGRETTE DRESSING

2 lb. new potatoes, washed and quartered

1/4 to 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions

1/3 cup olive oil

2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

1 tsp. or more Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook potatoes in salted water until just tender;

drain. Combine green onions, olive oil, white

wine vinegar and Dijon mustard; blend well and

pour over potatoes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Store in

refrigerator.

MARINATED VEGETABLE SALAD

Elizabeth Whatley

Elizabeth is a busy mother with four young children.

This is one of her favorite tailgating recipes

that is also good for picnics.

DRESSING:

½ cup olive oil

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1 ½ tsp. Italian seasonings

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, minced

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. freshly ground pepper

1 pkg. Splenda or Stevia or sugar

Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake.

SALAD:

Cauliflower florets

Carrots, cut in small strips

Red pepper strips, cut in small squares

2 green onions, white and green parts

1 can artichoke hearts, drained

Sliced black olives

Broccoli florets and cherry tomatoes, optional

Combine salad ingredients. Pour dressing over

vegetables and marinate overnight.

EAST ALABAMA LIVING 47


A R T

A Beautiful Cross

Photos by Tristan Cairns

By Ann Cipperly

At 93 years of age, Slaton Crawford is not spending

his days in a rocking chair reminiscing of days

gone by. Almost every day, he can be found in his

workshop carving wood, despite trembling hands

and declining vision, to create beautiful crosses to give others as

a way of sharing his faith. He has created hundreds of crosses

in various sizes and inspired others to live a fruitful life with

purpose, regardless of age or circumstances.

Slaton grew up in the “small, wide spot in

the road” of Portland, Carlowville, and Tilden

in Dallas County on the Alabama River. His

father was a farmer and cattleman, as well

as running a sawmill. Slaton worked with his

father on the farm, milking cows and tending

to whatever there was to do with horses,

cattle, and other farm animals.

48

EAST ALABAMA LIVING


Shortly after graduating from high school,

he joined the Navy and served for four years

aboard the USS Whetstone during the Korean

War. When he returned, Slaton attended

Hinds Junior College in Raymond, MS.

Afterwards, he began working for an insurance

investigation company. A few years later,

he went to work in the business office at

Baptist Hospital in Jackson, MS. Slaton worked

at numerous hospitals in Mississippi for 30

years, becoming a hospital administrator and

chief executive officer.

After he retired, Slaton and his wife, Ada

Mae, purchased a farm in Grenada, MS, and

grew organic produce. When Ada Mae became

ill, Slaton knew they needed to sell the farm

and move to Jackson to be near her doctors

for treatment.

He was having problems selling the farm.

Slaton began praying God would find a buyer.

He had been doing woodwork, making birdhouses

and plaques with floral designs. He

decided to carve a cross, took it to the end of

the driveway and buried it, saying a prayer for

God to send a buyer.

Soon afterwards, the farm sold fairly quickly.

Slaton dug up the cross and took it with him.

Ada Mae passed away in 1993 after 39 years of

marriage. Two years later, he married a second

time that ended in divorce 12 years later.

Slaton moved to Auburn in 2007 to be near

relatives and closer to his daughter, Cindy, his

two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren,

who live in Georgia.

He attended Auburn United Methodist

Church where he met Mary Elizabeth

Browning, and they were married. After she

died in 2017, Slaton began making crosses.

In January 2019, he moved to a cottage at

Camellia Place. “When I came here,” says

Slaton, “I found a new spiritual awakening

and started getting closer to Jesus. My friend

JoAnna Murray invited me to visit Auburn

Community Church that I later joined.”

He set up a workbench in his garage and

EAST ALABAMA LIVING 49


began creating five or six crosses a week to

give to others as a way of sharing his faith.

“It is a labor of love,” says Slaton. “The first

ones I made were rather crude, but I have

learned as I make more.” He works on the

crosses almost every day by a small heater in

the garage.

He has made hundreds of crosses in sizes

ranging from small ones for necklaces to 14

inches or taller. The Auburn Community Church

has a unique cross with a curve that is difficult

to make. He has created several of those.

While it takes hours to make a cross, he

does so despite his hands trembling from

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East Alabama, P.C.

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essential tremor. While some days it is difficult

for Slaton to hold a pen or a cup of coffee,

he can still manage to make crosses.

He uses red mahogany, dark mahogany

or cedar for creating the crosses, which are

works of art. He has a cedar block where he

chips away at two pieces of wood for a cross.

He carves a notch in the longer piece of wood

with a sharp knife to hold the crossbar, which

is glued and clamped in place. This is left

overnight.

The next day Slaton removes the clamp,

trims away any excessive glue and begins

to shape the cross with a sharp knife. The

crosses are then stained or finished with

clear tongue oil, and then rubbed with wax

to achieve a soft, gleaming look. For the necklaces,

he uses deer, goat or kangaroo leather

strips to hold the crosses.

During Covid, he has continued honing his

craft. He always has a couple of crosses in his

Family Medicine Associates of East Alabama, P.C.

122 N. 20th St. #24 • Opelika, Alabama 36801

334-745-4646

www.familymedicineopelika.com

50 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


pocket to give away when he meets a believer

while he is out and about at the hardware store,

Health Plus or church. He has given a necklace

cross to all the ladies at Camellia Place.

Slaton will give anyone a cross who wants

one, but if someone wants them to give as

gifts, he charges a small amount.

“The longer I stay here and deal with

people,” he says, “the closer I come to Jesus.

I dedicate all these crosses to Jesus and give

them to people to remind them that He saved

us from our sins. I wear my cross around my

neck seven days a week.”

While he tries new designs, Slaton doesn’t

have enough time to do all he wants to accomplish.

“I try to make each one better than the

last,” he says, “but my eyesight is beginning to

wane, and my future work will depend on that.”

Slaton also enjoys gardening. In the spring,

he tills a small plot to grow tomatoes, and he

plants flowers outside his garage.

In the past two years, he has found renewed

purpose and joy. Carving the crosses brings

comfort and reminds him of God’s living hope.

“I am going to make these crosses as long

as I can,” says Slaton. “My mission is to share

my faith, and I am the happiest I have ever

been in my life.”

EAST ALABAMA LIVING 51


H E L P I N G H A N D S

Spring Cleaning for Good

By Mallie Wardrup

Spring is right around the corner and with it comes

a fresh start. As the green on the ground starts to

appear, and the flowers begin to bloom, a sense of

starting over creeps in with the seasonal shift. The

tugging of a new beginning brings along the need to shed the

old, to rid oneself of the heaviness that comes with the

unnecessary — and it is in that place that spring cleaning

begins. A clean space starts to emerge both in our homes and in

our heads, but in the corner of each room the full bags and boxes

beg the question, “What now?”

At the new America’s Thrift Stores in

Opelika, donating is not only easy, but also lifechanging.

In partnership with Make-A-Wish

Alabama, America’s Thrift gives you a place to

spring clean for good. The donations you make

bring wishes to children with illness, and what

better way to give back than to be a part of a

local child getting their wish. When asked how

donations made right here go on to help, Ken

Sobaski, CEO of America’s Thrift Stores emphasizes

these local donations matter.

“We have figured out that about 3 million

pounds of donations generate well over

$100,000 dollars for Make-A-Wish, and they

figure a wish costs typically between $5,000

Photos by Tristan Cairns

52 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


and $8,000. So if you think about it that way

— the Opelika location itself grants about 30

wishes that wouldn’t have been granted if the

people in this area weren’t donating to us,”

says Sobaski.

While Make-A-Wish’s mission reaches far

and wide, it is also happening right here on a

local level. “The thing I want people to understand

the most is that we are a local organization.

Currently there are about 300 kids waiting

for their wish, and now more than ever

these kids need hope and joy. What better way

to give back to your community than to give a

child hope? Now more than ever, wishes are

waiting.” says Tracy Smith, CEO of Make-A-

Wish Alabama.

The partnership between America’s Thrift

Stores and Make-A-Wish Alabama began in

2018, and the foundation was strong from

the very beginning. When discussing the

earliest stages, Smith says, “When America’s

Thrift Stores approached Make-A-Wish about

the potential partnership, their footprint

matched, their priorities about community

matched, and they were very grass roots in

terms of leadership - as were we. Their culture

and ours matched, our missions matched, it

really just made sense. It created a way for

people to donate in a way that isn’t necessarily

monetary. Every socioeconomic level of the

community was given a chance to give back,

and that’s huge. Our leadership is so on the

same page, we are so in-sync. We have such a

deep mutual respect for one another.”

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

53


Sobaski speaks fondly of the partnership’s

developmental stage as well. “When the partnership

began, we visited every store and

shared some videos and stories and even got

to meet a few kids - and we discovered that

in all, but one store somebody knew someone

who was or has a wish kid. The amount of

times there was a connection was incredible.

It also sparked conversations with employees

who had children with critical conditions

about whether their child could be a wish

kid, so we ended up having a half dozen or so

families become wish families through that.

They all knew somebody, and they all knew

the story.

“As far as Make-A-Wish, they are such an

active and proactive partner. When we open

a new store, they always come and meet

directly with employees,” says Sobaski.

America’s Thrift Stores Regional manager,

Dawn Roberson, shares that sentiment.

“Make-A-Wish is so hands on. They really

focus on being more than just a name that

we put on our boxes. Employees get to see

firsthand, ‘Hey, what I’m doing today really

is making a difference in someone’s life,’ and

that is what has been so wonderful about having

them on board. That’s why employees are

here, and that’s why I came here, to know that

what I do every day really helps someone,”

says Roberson.

The reach of Make-A-Wish goes far and

wide, while still managing to impact individuals

on a personal level. Sobaski shares a story

that reinforces the personal impact Make-A-

Wish has had on America’s Thrift Stores’ own

team. “Our vice president of people had a wish

kid 20 years ago. One of the reasons she joined

us was that when she realized that partnership

existed, she said, ‘Well then I have to join.

It’s the inevitable,’” he says.

Smith also shares, “One of our Wish managers

was a wish kid in the 90s, and her wish

was to go to Disney. She then went on to conquer

her cancer, and now she gets to work to

give wishes to other kids. What really keeps us

going are the stories of our wish kids who have

gone on to beat their diagnosis and thrive.”

America’s Thrift Stores in this community

creates such a wonderful opportunity

for people to give back to the very ones with

whom they share it. When asked about what

makes this location stand out from the rest,

Roberson shares, “This whole town has been

a pleasure, but what has struck me the most is

how friendly it is. Not only in the people that

we have hired or the customers that we have,

but even out in other businesses. It truly is the

‘friendliest’ village on the plains. That is the

thing that has impressed me the most.”

With spring comes the peak season for

donations. “Whenever you switch over

your closet, it is basically our Christmas,”

says Roberson. So as the season of renewal

approaches and you allow the old to fall away,

give it the opportunity to continue doing

some good.

54 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


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EAST ALABAMA LIVING

55


W H A T ’ S G O I N G O N

AUBURN-OPELIKA TOURISM presents

SPRING

Photo: Andrew Lambert

Bark in the Park

March 20, 9am-2pm

Kiesel Park, Auburn

Auburn Parks and Recreation and the

Lee County Humane Society will host

Bark in the Park. This free community

event is open to all dog owners and

their favorite four-legged friends. This

celebration of responsible dog ownership

includes vendors, activities and

fun for the whole fur family!

Thunder City Classic

March 26-28

Auburn Soccer Complex

The Auburn Thunder City Classic

is the largest soccer tournament in

Auburn for ages U6-U19, and will bring

in the best teams in youth soccer

from Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee,

North Carolina, South Carolina, North

Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, and

more! Open to spectators.

Chewacla State Park open seven days, 8am-5pm

Fishing, hiking, biking, paddle boats, and more!

56 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


CALENDAR of EVENTS

Nature Art Series

Recycled Plastic

Bottle Critters

April 17, 2-4pm

Kreher Preserve, Auburn

Inspired by Earth Day, learn

how to “Reduce, Reuse, and

Recycle” by creating fun

planters from recycling

plastic 2 liter soda bottles.

Design your own critter

such as a bunny, a frog,

a pig, a bear, panda bear,

cow, fox, dog, and cat.

BBQ 101

April 18

Butcher Paper BBQ,

Opelika

All-day class on mastering

BBQ basics. Register online

at butcherpaperbbq.com.

Bo Bikes Bama

“Virtual” Ride

April 24

Ride with Bo. Ride for

Alabama. This year’s event

might be a little different,

but you can still get your

exercise and support a great

cause. Register online and

make a donation to receive

a t-shirt, rider number, and

bike plate. Ride wherever

you are on April 24th

and post your photos on

our social media pages!

BoBikesBama.com

Auburn CityFest

April 24, 9am-4pm

Kiesel Park, Auburn

Auburn’s largest free

outdoor festival includes

live music, arts & crafts and

fine arts vendors, children’s

activities, food, and more!

CityFest is FREE to the public

and is a rain or shine event.

Sundown Concert Series

May 6, 5:30pm

Kiesel Park, Auburn

Join Auburn Parks and

Recreation for an evening of

music and fun at beautiful

Keisel Park. Bring your lawn

chair or blanket and choose

a designated spot to socially

distance while enjoying free

live music.

*All events subject to

change/cancellation.

For the most up-to-date details, or to submit an event, visit AOTourism.com

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

57


58 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


Photos provided by Neil Cooper

By Jess M. Burkhart

As Auburn residents

can attest, the secret

is out—Lucy’s is far

more than just delicious

culinary fare. Indeed, the

inspired eatery offers

guests a unique blend

of ambiance paired with

an exceptional dining

experience. An integral

ingredient in that blend:

a carefully curated

cocktail selection.

Enter, Head Bar Man Neil Cooper.

Recently, Cooper took his craft to an even

higher level by winning not one, but two awards

for his innovation in all things libation. At a

statewide competition held in Montgomery,

Cooper captured two awards—one reflecting

the region and another encompassing the

entire state.

Asked what he feels set his concoctions

apart this year, Cooper comments, “I’m a

huge Old Fashioned enthusiast and, as such,

I wanted to create that cocktail, but this time

with the inclusion of chocolate and cherry flavors

as well. I had this vision for quite a while,

but felt that this was finally my opportunity to

showcase it to the world.”

Cooper used a singular blend of ingredients

(see recipe on page 61) and then smoked the

actual glass itself with a blend of Cherry Wood.

According to Cooper, this final step plays a

pivotal role in sealing the overall flavor of the

drink. He explains, “The recipe was successful

because it was different while still keeping

the integrity of the traditional and already

well-balanced Old Fashioned we already know

and love.”

He continues, “I dubbed my next creation

a ‘Trillionaire’—meaning that it was my take

on the classic Millionaire cocktail. Although it

is complex, I believe that it is what ultimately

secured the award. It is definitely one of the most

intricate cocktails I have ever created, as it is a

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

59


twist on a twist. First inspired by the

classic Millionaire cocktail (and the

subsequent variation of the Billionaire

cocktail as well).”

Summing up the secret to his success,

Cooper reflects, “Last year I

focused more on flair and presentation,

whereas this year I focused on

the actual drink, as well as the ingredients

used. I also elected to keep the

garnish simple. I believe these tactics

really drove the judges to think about

flavor rather than presentation.”

This annual competition is sponsored

by Old Forester in partnership

with The Alabama Restaurant

& Hospitality Association and interested

patrons can sample these and

other innovation creations currently

included on the Libations Menus

offered at Lucy’s.

jana r. jager

R E A L T O R

334-332-9583

janajagerrealestate@gmail.com

@homeinauburn

337 E. Magnolia Avenue

Auburn, AL 36830

REAL ESTATE . INVESTMENT . DEVELOPMENT.

60 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


L U C Y ’ S

COCKTAIL RECIPES

SIGNATURE DRINK NUMBER ONE

Cooper’s Twist On An Old-Fashioned

2 oz Old Forester 86

½ oz House-Made Bordeaux Cherry Syrup

2 dashes of Angostura Bitters

5 drops of Chocolate Bitters

SIGNATURE DRINK NUMBER TWO

Cooper’s Twist On A Millionaire

2 oz Old Forester Rye

1/4 oz Sugar

1/4 oz Lemon

1/4 oz House-Made Grenadine

1/4 oz Cinzanno Rosso

4 drops Absinthe

.....

1 drop Tart Cherry and Saffron Bitters

magnoliajamesboutique.com

1957 E Samford

Suite B, Auburn AL

(334) 521-0063

@shopmjboutique_

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

61


62 EAST ALABAMA LIVING

Photos by Tristan Cairns


Wine

CUSTOM

Cellar

BY ANN CIPPERLY

When Auburn businessman Allen

Harris began traveling to Europe

after opening an office in Spain, he

became interested in the relaxed style

of living with the cuisine and wines.

As his collection of fine wines grew,

Allen began thinking about having a

wine cellar in his home. After months

of planning, he designed and built

a stunning, first-class wine cellar for

hosting wine tastings and entertaining.

Co-founder of Bailey-Harris Construction,

Allen had not often tried wine until 1999

when he began spending time in France, Italy

and Spain. “After three trips,” he remembers,

“I was hooked.” While he has closed the development

company in Spain, Allen’s interest in

wine has continued to expand.

A few years ago, Allen and his wife Kay,

moved into a home in White Oaks that had a

storm shelter on the lower floor. Allen saw the

windowless space as an opportunity to have

a wine cellar.

The Harris’ home was built for entertaining

with spacious rooms opening to screened

porches and outdoor areas with fireplaces. An

outdoor kitchen is located on a covered porch

overlooking the pool area.

Since Allen and Kay enjoy entertaining and

hosting charity and political events, it seemed

a wine cellar would be splendid for storing the

wine collection, as well as offering wine tastings

for entertaining with antipasto platters

or nibbles before dinners.

Allen did a great deal of research online.

He drew the plans and thought about it over

time. After spending five to six months preparing

plans, he finally knew exactly what he

wanted. Work began last May and was completed

in December. He has a source for wine

crates and used the fronts to decorate a door

pocket for the electric slider door, as well as

in the décor.

The wine connoisseur transformed the

concrete safe room into an elegant wine cellar

with natural stone columns and panels,

a sparkling chandelier featuring 500 crystal

droplets, cork flooring, and a honeycomb coffer

ceiling with hammered copper in the flat

of the coffers. The handsome wine cellar features

many gorgeous details and an interesting

mixture of textures.

In the center of the cellar, a table is topped

with an exotic black granite and butterscotch

quartz from Brazil softly gleaming with a

leather finish. This blends with the other granite

counters, which also exhibit a leather finish.

Against the back wall, a lighted tile mosaic

was created from a photo Allen took when he

and Kay were in Tuscany on a trip. The mosaic

art brings back pleasant memories of their

travels. When Allen’s business ventures took

him on frequent trips to Europe, they had the

opportunity to dine at world-class restaurants

offering the best in food, wine and hospitality.

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

63


Wooden wine racks are backlit to showcase

the bottles. The collection includes wine from

Italy, Spain, Napa, West Coast, Loire Valley,

South America, Mendoza, Bordeaux and others.

Diamond-shaped bins also hold wine bottles.

Two wine cooler cases keep wine at the

perfect temperature for serving red and white

juice at a moment’s notice. The cellar can hold

900 bottles of wine.

Wine glasses are displayed under a cabinet.

A variety of wine glass shapes are stored for

use to suit the type of wine served.

“I wanted a room that was comfortable,” says

Allen. The cellar is kept at a temperature of

67-68 degrees. He enjoys being in the wine cellar

to watch football games on the flat screen

television and is planning on adding music.

Allen is the chief executive officer of Bailey-

Harris Construction, which has been in business

for 42 years. He became full partner of

the company in 1992. His son, Russell, is the

next generation as resident of Bailey-Harris

Construction.

Bailey-Harris has a new office in Auburn

and an office in Huntsville. The company’s

extensive construction portfolio includes

multi-family homes, custom residences and

large, high-visibility commercial projects

throughout the Southeast. Allen is the developer

of The Springs at Mill Lakes, a 55 plus

community in Opelika that has received

national awards.

Now that the wine cellar is completed,

Allen and Kay look forward to entertaining

when the Covid-19 pandemic is over. “The

house is made for entertaining,” says Kay, “so

the wine cellar fits in nicely. We feel it will be

used often when entertaining.”

“It was built to share,” adds Allen, as he

selects a bottle of wine from the cooler.

For those interested in starting their own

wine collection, Allen suggests the following

wines that are easy to find locally. Wines are

noted by the grape varietal.

Reds:

Pinot Noir from Oregon

Cabernet Sauvignon from California

Tempranillo from Spain

Syrah from West Coast

Malbec from Argentina

Whites:

Sancerre from France

Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand

Pinot Gris from France

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66 EAST ALABAMA LIVING

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Planting with Ponder

BY

JESS M. BURKHART

It is safe to say that Rex Ponder’s roots run deep in the area of horticulture. Born and

raised in the nursery business, he boasts decades of experience in the field as well

as a degree in Ornamental Horticulture from Auburn University, where his brother is a

professor in the same field. Although the family eventually sold the business, Ponder

continued on his own in the field, eventually opening a landscape business.

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

67


The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art

Delita Martin, If it Falls Behind Pick it Up (detail), 2020.

Museum purchase by TenSeventyTwo — A Campaign for

Collecting and Conserving Art.

EXPLORE. EXPERIENCE. ENGAGE.

901 SOUTH COLLEGE STREET

AUBURN, ALABAMA 36849

JCSM.AUBURN.EDU

@JCSMAUBURN

Now in the golden years of his career,

he enjoys managing The Garden Center

at Auburn’s own University Ace Hardware

Store. Customers from all over the region

bring their horticultural questions and

conundrums, along with actual plant cuttings

and even the occasional soil sample,

for his review. Whatever the situation, he

fields their queries with a patience and

kindness that have made him a perennial

favorite among customers and co-workers

alike.

University Ace Hardware owner, David

Fichtner, confirms, “Here at the store, all

of our associates strive daily to provide

the very best in customer service and

support to our wonderful customers. Rex

68 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


is a perfect example of that type of support.

He genuinely loves to help people and he is

such a wealth of knowledge and expertise. We

are blessed to have him as an integral part of

our team.”

Ace customer Mardi Rochwell says, “Rex

Ponder both planned and developed The

Mises Institute’s grounds and gardens (located

on Magnolia Avenue) back in 1997. Rex and

University Ace have worked with us on multiple

occasions and always with such heartwarming

enthusiasm. He is a walking plant

encyclopedia, not to mention an all-around

awesome person!”

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

69


For those not able to meet or shop in person with

him, Ponder offers the following tips for garden preparation

as we head into the spring planting season:

TIP NUMBER ONE:

Prevent Weeds Before They Start!

According to Ponder, late winter is the perfect time

to begin pre-emergent applications. These chemical

additives work to thwart weed growth in advance,

making growing season much more enjoyable!

TIP NUMBER TWO:

Be Patient In Your Planting!

Ponder reminds us to resist the urge to plant too

soon. Instead he cautions, “Do not to let the occasional

warm day fool you. February is still a bit too

soon to plant most things.” He recommends utilizing

those unseasonably warm days for flowerbed preparation,

being sure to work in all soil amendments and

additives.

This tip may not apply to those with greenhouses

or access to special outdoor insulating garden covers,

but as a rule, it is typically too soon to plant.

TIP NUMBER THREE:

Plan, Plan, Plan!

He further recommends using the winter season

for planning purposes. For instance, staking out flowerbed

locations, conducting soil testing and noting

the light exposure in various areas of your property.

Careful planning will help narrow your selections for

purchase and ensure your ultimate success!

Ponder’s Picks for

Late Winter/ Early Spring

Garden favorites such as Broccoli, Collards,

Radishes, Beets, Turnips and other vegetables are

ideal choices for this season.

Ponder’s Picks for Spring

Floral staples such as Zinnias, Petunias, Impatiens

and so many more!

For Additional Information:

Visit Ponder most weekdays, during standard

business hours at The University Ace Hardware in

Auburn, where he is happy to assist with all your

planting needs!

You can also tune in to his two weekly radio programs

airing every Thursday. The first begins at 8:15

a.m. where he joins Ben Taylor, host of Ben & Friends,

on Wings 94.3 FM. Ponder also appears with Zac

Blackerby, host of Auburn-Opelika This Morning on

NewsTalk WANI 98.7 FM every Thursday, starting at

8:35 a.m. for his “Planting with Ponder” segment, presented

by University Ace Hardware.

70

EAST ALABAMA LIVING


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EAST ALABAMA LIVING

71


KREHER

Learning

Through

Leisure

BY ANN CIPPERLY

72 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


Photos provided by the Kreher Preserve and Nature Center

On a sunny afternoon, a mother gathers

the last of her family’s lunch from the

picnic area as the children race to the Nature

Playground to climb into the tree house with a

Little Free Library inside. A morning of hiking,

observing turtles at the pond, exploring the

butterfly garden and the waterfall has been a

fun outing for the entire family at the Kreher

Preserve and Nature Center (KPNC) in Auburn.

As Dr. Louise Kreher Turner and her husband,

Frank, were facing retirement years,

they began to feel that the city of Auburn was

losing many of its green spaces. They had purchased

120 acres of cotton farmland in the

1940s and turned it into a cattle ranch.

The Turners decided to donate their property

off North College Street to the School

of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences at Auburn

University in 1993. It became the Louise

Kreher Forest Ecology Preserve, which was

later renamed the Kreher Preserve and Nature

Center. The preserve was established as an outreach

program for people of all ages to enjoy

with a strong focus on families and children.

Dr. Turner, who had been a professor in

physical education at Auburn University,

wanted their land used for education and

research by Auburn University students and

professors. Dr. Turner worked with volunteers,

who helped her with gardening projects.

One of these volunteers, Margaret Holler,

took over managing the preserve, and opening

it to the public several days a week. She

also helped develop some programs for area

schools with the help of other volunteers,

including Karni Perez and Jane Bell.

Jennifer Lolley was hired in June 2007

as the first full-time employee as an outreach

administrator. Jennifer and her family

had moved to Auburn from Dothan in

2006. Jennifer, who graduated from Auburn

University with a degree in biology, had been

working at Landmark Park in Dothan, teaching

environmental education programs.

Dr. Turner was still living when Jennifer

started to work, and she enjoyed spending

time with her learning about the history of

the preserve. Dr. Turner lived to be 98 years

old and left a foundation that helps the KPNC

on a regular basis with projects, such as the

Entry Pavilion and Pond Pavilion, which is

under construction.

“Our theme of learning through leisure can

be observed throughout the property,” says

Jennifer. “There are learning station sites to

view and learn about birds, honey bees, reptiles

and other wildlife. We have an entire

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

73


water system including freshwater springs

that follow down a creek into a pond and to

a natural waterfall. There are many different

ecosystems, gardens and over six miles of hiking

trails in the 120 acres.”

Jennifer, who was building chairman of the

playground at Landmark Park, knew some

kind of unique play area would be a great addition

to the preserve for families. The Nature

Playground, built beneath a canopy of three

huge trees, features big boulders, crossing logs,

a tree house, spider web, eagles nest and beavers

lodge. Educational signage near these features

teach about eagles, spiders and beavers.

The preserve is a favorite site for Eagle Boy

Scout and Girl Scout Silver projects. “There

are currently about 60 Eagle Scout projects,”

says Jennifer, “including outdoor classrooms,

informational kiosks, benches, boardwalks,

and nature observation sites. Many of the

Scouts hold their Eagle Scout ceremonies on

the property.”

Around 6,000 children participate each year

in environmental education programs. Many

programs are designed for parents and toddlers,

and last year a nature preschool was created.

“The Woodland Wonders Nature Preschool

is Auburn’s first nature preschool, and the

second in the state of Alabama,” adds Jennifer.

“Children spend their school time exploring

outside and uncovering knowledge in an environment

where curiosity and child-led discovery

is encouraged.”

74

EAST ALABAMA LIVING


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FAVORITE DESTINATION SITES AT

KREHER PRESERVE AND NATURE CENTER

Kreher Freshwater Springs—Site offers informational sign and lovely

view of springs and the start to Kreher Creek.

Turtle Pond—Small pond full of fish and turtles with surrounding

boardwalks, docks, benches and educational signage.

Kreher Creek Waterfall—Beautiful natural waterfall due to fall-line

with a nice bench to view it.

Kreher Pond Education Pavilion—This is under construction by AU

Building Science students. This large pavilion near the pond will have a

bathroom and storeroom and be supplied with solar energy.

Butterfly Garden—The beautiful garden is maintained by Lee County

Master Gardeners to attract butterflies and caterpillars. Nice benches

for sitting are available to enjoy the over 40 species of butterflies that

have been spotted at this garden. There is also educational information

about these gorgeous insects that visit all their favorite nectar flowers.

Nature Playground—This shady, unique play area is a favorite for area

families and out-of-town guests.

Four outdoor classrooms include—Homestead Outdoor Classroom,

Longleaf Forest Outdoor Classroom, Green Outdoor Classroom and Big

Oak Outdoor Classroom.

Two more outdoor classrooms in the works by Eagle Scouts include—

Skunk Hollow Preschool Outdoor Classroom and Mud Kitchen and

Turtle Pond Outdoor Classroom.

Azalea Place—Another beautiful area with a bench where Kreher Creek

leaves the property full of native azaleas, trilliums, bloodroot, ginger,

ferns and dogwoods.

Homestead Organic Garden and Fruit Trees—This garden is on the Lee

County Ag Trail. Garden is kept up by AU Organic Gardening Club and

Lee County Master Gardeners. There is a lovely old barn and buggy at

this site that people enjoy photographing.

Boulder Ridge Bench—This spot at the top of the hill is above our fresh

water springs with big stunning hardwoods and large granite boulders.

Turner Amphitheater—This structure was designed by AU Architectural

students where many programs are presented.

Alligator Enclosure—Built by AU Building Science students, this small

enclosure with a pond houses our alligator and aquatic turtles in the

warm months.

Bird Watching Kiosk and displays—Information and brochures are

available on Alabama birds and the Piedmont Birding Trail. Benches are

available for enjoying bird watching.

Fernview—Large ravine on the south side of the property with a large

variety of fern species with labels.

Reptile Rest—A rock wall that attracts lizards and snakes and an informational

kiosk make this a unique place to observe reptiles basking in

the sun.

Sensory Garden—Attractive little raised bed and native garden to fill

(and feel) all your senses with the power of plants.

Honey Bee Observation Center—Honey beehive area with benches and

educational signage that are taken care of by Saugahatchee Bee Keepers.

Longleaf Demonstration Forest—Small forest of longleaf pines with

educational information, maze of trails and benches.

Soils Demonstration Area—This area offers bank cut-a-way demonstration

soil layers, informational kiosk and soil tables for classroom

education.

76 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


A large staff of part-time teachers help to

provide the programming for area schools.

The preserve is also a field trip destination for

schools as far away as Dothan and Birmingham.

When Jennifer started at the Kreher

Preserve and Nature Center, visitation was

under 3,000. They now have over 30,000 visitors

a year. Jennifer believes because of Covid-

19, there were 40,000 visitors in 2020 since

being outdoors has been safer alternative to

indoor activities.

KPNC is open every day from sunrise to

sunset with no admission fee. Dogs are not

allowed since it is a wildlife preserve. Bikes

are also not allowed.

“An education building for programs and

the nature pre-school is being designed

for construction sometime this year,” says

Jennifer. “This will allow programming to

continue even on hot or rainy cold days. This

unique, beautiful building will feature crosslaminated

timber construction methods.”

Parking on North College is near the playground,

picnic areas and the pavilion. Parking

off of the Farmville Road entrance is closer to

the pond, butterfly and vegetable garden.

For further information on the Kreher Preserve and

Nature Center, visit wp.auburn.edu./preserve.

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

77


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78 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


Taking

the

Reigns

With 23 years of working for the City of

Auburn in the rearview mirror, Megan

McGowen Crouch realizes now that her

interview began on day one. Long before

becoming a driving force in Auburn’s

economic development efforts. Long before

becoming the organization’s first executive

director of development services. Long

before rising to the level of assistant city

manager. And long before becoming the City

of Auburn’s first female city manager.

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

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“I’ve always believed in getting up every

day and doing the best job that you can—you

learn, you work hard and good things will

happen,” says Megan.

Auburn’s former City Manager Jim Buston

retired on Jan. 31, and passed the baton to

Megan on Feb. 1. Did she think she’d now sit

in the corner office at Auburn City Hall when

she first began her career?

“The truth is, no,” says Megan. “I thought

I would eventually become the Economic

Development director and remain in that role

until retirement.”

Despite that, Megan’s pursuit of excellence

and love for her community have led her to

this moment in the city’s history.

“I’ve always been this way.”

A sense of drive has been omnipresent in

Megan’s life for as long as she can remember.

In a parent-teacher conference in her hometown

of Tulare, Calif., Megan’s kindergarten

teacher described her drive and work ethic

with words that would stick with Megan’s

mother for years: “She’s a 30-year-old living in

a 5-year-old’s body.”

But Megan’s mother also heard less encouraging

words from doctors who said Megan

wouldn’t fit in as a child because her diet was

so limited. They believed the illnesses she

battled as a child would make it challenging

for her to become successful later in life. But

young Megan didn’t realize she had something

to overcome—she “just went for it.”

She could hit a baseball at age 2. While not

always the star player on the softball field or

the basketball court, Megan excelled in athletics

and coaches said time and again that

no one would out-work Megan. She joined

the marching band in high school playing

the baritone and trombone and went on to

earn a music scholarship to California State

University, Northridge in Los Angeles.

Megan began her college career with her

sights set on becoming a pharmacist. In her

second semester, she took an urban studies

class that changed that course. As a freshman

who lived in Los Angeles without a car, Megan

saw many of the challenges the City of Los

Angeles faced. Her interest was piqued, and

she wanted to find solutions.

Megan became an urban studies major

and volunteered as an intern with the City of

Burbank’s Planning Department. Volunteering

turned into a paid internship with Burbank’s

Community Development Department. There,

she learned about budgeting, public transit

and disaster management. When an earthquake

hit and the interstate collapsed, Megan

80 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


was part of a team working long days to manage

the increased capacity on their commuter

rails. This was where Megan truly got her start

in public service.

Moving East

Post-graduation, she took an opportunity

to travel the country working for her sorority,

Alpha Xi Delta, before jumping into municipal

work. Megan traveled to 80 universities in 40

states over two years and used that time to

scout out graduate schools. One trip took her

to Auburn, and shortly after, she began pursuing

a master’s in community planning at

Auburn University in 1996.

Three quarters into grad school, an internship

opened with the City of Auburn’s

Planning Department, and so began Megan’s

career with the City of Auburn.

Less than a year into her position as a city

planner, her work ethic and desire for excellence

caught the eye of others in the organization.

Economic Development Director Phillip

Dunlap had created the city’s first Economic

Development Department in 1984, and the

department was growing.

“Some people have a certain spark that

you can tell that they get it—they want to

win,” says Dunlap. “Megan has always had a

tremendous amount of drive and a desire to

be the best that she could possibly be. When

you take that kind of drive in an individual

and focus it on the organization and its goals,

then you have someone who is going to be

very successful.”

Phillip offered Megan a job in Economic

Development, vowing to invest in her and

grow her position as she grew. She had one

night to think it over.

“I needed to decide if I was going to commit

to living in Auburn long-term,” Megan remembered.

“I had learned very quickly that Auburn

was a great place to live. At the time, I didn’t

know I’d be here my entire career, but I knew

I’d be here awhile. And I knew that the city

was going to provide opportunities I wouldn’t

have in other organizations.”

She accepted the job and would spend the

next 20 years working under Phillip’s wing.

Fostering Investment

Her role in Economic Development introduced

her to many different stakeholders:

city departments, the business community,

civic groups and others. She’s held positions

on the Auburn Chamber of Commerce Board

of Directors, the Economic Development

Association of Alabama Board of Directors

and worked with the International City/

County Management Association and the

Urban Institute to provide economic development

and strategic planning training in

Bulgaria, Serbia and Kosovo.

Megan learned “a little about a lot of things

and sometimes a lot about a lot of things.” She

learned about citizens’ concerns and policy as

she began attending City Council meetings.

She learned the finesse of recruiting the right

companies that will invest in Auburn without

sacrificing the community’s quality of life.

“Our goal was to diversify our economy

enough to where our manufacturing employment

would equal the full-time employment

of Auburn University,” says Megan. “This stabilized

our economy and ensured that we

weren’t dependent on any one sector for our

economic livelihood.”

She helped secure that diversity by recruiting

companies like GE Aviation, whose Auburn

location was the first to mass produce engine

components using 3-D printing. This and the

other 49 industrial projects in which Megan

has been involved have generated more than

$1.1 billion of capital investment and created

4,460 jobs.

A large part of recruiting was making sure

companies had a place to thrive. Megan was

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the project manager for Auburn Technology

Park North, the city-owned 200-acre technology

and manufacturing park. She also

managed the design and construction of

infrastructure for phase one of the Auburn

Research Park off South College Street, helping

foster one of the cornerstones of Auburn’s

industrial efforts—the city’s partnership with

Auburn University.

With sales tax as the primary revenue for

the city, another key element of economic

development is bringing the right mix of

commercial businesses to the area. In 2011,

she was part of a team that created the

Commercial Development Incentive Program

to provide incentive packages for those

investing in Auburn. The program has benefited

28 projects so far, including Ross House

Coffee, The Depot, the Auburn Mall and most

of Auburn’s shopping centers.

Out of all these efforts, Megan believes her

work on the Renew Opelika Road Plan is some

of the most valuable of her career. The City has

steadily invested in the area since the plan’s

adoption in 2013, and the private sector has

followed. Revenue generated along the corridor

now far exceeds that of when the Auburn Mall

was fully occupied and the old K-Mart was in

full swing, and even more new businesses are

expected to come to the area soon.

Becoming City Manager

In 2018, Buston promoted Megan to lead the

city’s five development-related departments

as the first executive director of development

services. A little over a year later, Megan

became the assistant city manager and chief

operating officer. Though only comprising two

years of her career, these positions coupled

with the vast experience she gained in her

economic development days gave her many

tools needed to lead a growing, dynamic city

like Auburn.

She gained institutional knowledge by sitting

in council meetings and working on plans

and projects throughout the city. This knowledge

gave her an understanding of where the

city has been and where it’s headed. Closely

working with other departments gave her

insight into efficiencies that could be replicated

elsewhere.

“Megan constantly looks for ways to

improve what and how we do things to provide

the best service to Auburn’s residents,”

said Engineering Services Director Alison

82 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


Frazier, who has worked with Megan for more

than 20 years. “I have found her drive, determination

and dedication as traits to be modeled

and emulated.”

By taking opportunities and gleaning what

she could from those who came before, she

learned what being city manager is really

about—the small things.

While in Economic Development, she was

invited to lunch with former City Manager

Doug Watson and other department heads.

That invite was extended again and again,

and she soaked up what she could. They

would discuss capital projects and drive by

them to and from lunch. She would hear him

call city employees and leave messages about

litter, graffiti, cracks in the sidewalk and so

many other seemingly “small” things.

“Megan has never been one to let an opportunity

pass by,” says Buston. “No matter her

position on the organizational chart, she’s

always been willing to learn and to pour herself

into becoming better. She serves Auburn

with everything she has, and that heart of service

is what truly makes her a great fit to lead

Auburn into its next chapter.”

Moving into her first year as city manager,

Megan plans to continue the solid foundation

that was laid before her and keep the city

operating efficiently. As she sets goals for the

future, a primary driving force will be Auburn

2040, the community visioning and strategic

planning initiative that will create a roadmap

for the next 20 years. The initiative was

delayed because of the pandemic, but is currently

planned to kick off this spring.

“Auburn’s a great community, and I intend

to continue to work to make it even better,”

says Megan. “But I also want to work to celebrate

all that we are. Because sometimes we

don’t take time to stop and smell the roses,

and there’s a tremendous number of positive

things that happen here. There have been four

Auburn city managers who have come before

me who were great stewards of the city, and I

will do the same. I’m grateful, and I’m ready.”

Megan lives in Auburn with her husband,

Matt Crouch, and their two Bengal kittens,

which she affectionately refers to as “terrors.”

When not in the office, you may find Megan

spending time with her six nieces and nephews,

serving as the national vice president for

her sorority or on the statistics crew for Auburn

University Women’s Basketball. You can reach

her at mmcgowen@auburnalabama.org.

EAST ALABAMA LIVING 83


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P R O F E S S I O N A L S O F E A S T A L A B A M A

Financial Advice for Newlyweds:

Coping with the “New Normal”

The last few years have been

financially challenging. Couples

getting married and starting out

their lives together are facing a

“new normal” unlike anything their

parents or grandparents confronted.

Many of the financial problems

facing households today are a result

of too much debt on the household

balance sheet and too few assets.

Couples starting out today can avoid

these mistakes by living within their

means from the beginning. Keep

debt to an affordable level, rent until

you can afford to own a house, buy

a house with a 10-to-20-percent

down-payment, and put money aside

for a rainy day. Boring old-fashioned

advice, but especially relevant given

today’s challenges.

Some traditional financial-planning

concepts still apply. Some probably

should be modified given today’s

challenges. Conventional wisdom is

couples should have 3 to 6 months’

living expenses in savings.

Establishing a household budget

from the beginning is a must. This

often involves establishing joint

checking accounts and credit cards. It

is advisable to continue to maintain

separate checking accounts and

credit cards as well. This allows each

spouse to build and maintain his or

her credit history and score. Credit

scores have become important in

obtaining jobs and insurance as well

as additional credit. Separate checking

accounts allow for the establishment

of a discretionary spending allowance

for each spouse which often helps

marital harmony.

Couples often delegate different

financial responsibilities to one

spouse or the other, such as

investment decisions, payment of

bills, or maintenance of assets such

as cars or houses. If a couple splits

responsibilities, it is advisable to

have a regular “State of the Union”

meeting, at least once a year, in

which each spouse updates the other

in detail about the activity under

their responsibility. It is equally

important for each spouse to be

knowledgeable about the details

behind the annual tax returns that

are filed with federal and state

governments.

Again, it is advisable for each

spouse to have their own retirement

account or 401(k) benefiting from

monthly contributions. It gives

the couple the ability to save

more money over time, diversify

their investment options, have

more accessibility in the event of

a family financial crisis, and puts

the household on a better financial

footing in the event of untimely

death or divorce.

The economic challenges facing

newly married couples today are

considerably different than those

that confronted their parents or

grandparents. These challenges

present great opportunities if

dealt with properly. These aren’t

conventional times. Therefore, the

conventional financial-planning

wisdom that applied in the past needs

By Susan Clayton Moore, J.D.

Principal of

Moore Wealth Management, Inc.

to be modified to the new challenges

and hurdles that exist in today’s

world. We wouldn’t think of using a

cell phone or computer from 20 years

ago. We want an updated model. We

need to update our financial planning

concepts as well.

Susan Clayton Moore, J.D., is a financial

advisor and wealth manager of Moore

Wealth Management, Inc., with offices

in Auburn, Montgomery, and Alexander

City, AL. Susan manages over $170 million

(as of 7.31.2020) in brokerage and advisory

assets through Kestra Financial and has been

a financial planner for over 37 years. Contact

Susan at 334.270.1672. Email contact is

susan@moorewealthmanagement.com.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment

Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC.

Investment Advisory Services offered through

Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS),

an affiliate of Kestra IS. Kestra IS or Kestra

AS are not affiliated with Moore Wealth

Management,Inc. https://bit.ly/KF-Disclosures

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

85


86 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


EAST ALABAMA LIVING

WEDDINGS

Image by Photos for Hearts Photography, provided by Fountainview Mansion

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

87


FOUNTAINVIEW MANSION

Experience the Grandeur

BY KATE MOSES

90 88 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


Blue and Blue Photography

The Price Approach Photography

Tucked away just five miles from the heart of downtown Auburn sits one

of the most sought-after wedding venues in the Southeast. Fountainview

Mansion was built on one of the highest vantage points on The Loveliest

Village on the Plains which provides guests with the most beautiful sunset

view you can witness within the city limits. The mansion started

being skillfully crafted with timeless architecture designed by Gaines

Blackwell in 1999 and was completed by being surrounded with a breathtaking

English garden in 2002. It is home to old-world charm and stunning

antiques, but holds all of the benefits of being a modern build.

The mansion is owned by Dr. John Wayne Mitchell and his wife,

Deborah Mitchell, RN, JD. Dr. Mitchell has always dreamed of an old

English home to raise his family in and he was so tickled when it came

to fruition. His and Deborah’s happiest moments in the home are when

their children and grandchildren come to visit them and their canine

companion, Callie. Dr. Mitchell says “Fountainview Mansion is our home

and we would love to share it with you to produce many loving memories

like we have made. Deborah and I look forward to seeing you!”

EAST ALABAMA LIVING 89


Piper Vine Photography

Julia Hinson Photography

Birds on a Wire Photography

Kerry Varner Photography

Fountainview Mansion offers two wedding packages,

one for more intimate ceremonies and one for

weddings with larger receptions. They can happily

provide you with a custom quote for your unique

celebration. A fun touch that they offer is for a

bride and her bridesmaids to stay at the mansion

the night before their wedding. It is like a fairy tale

sleepover and makes for the best celebration with

girlfriends. On wedding days, they have a fun and

feminine bridal suite with a rooftop balcony over-

Blue and Blue Photography

90 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


Haint Blue Collective

Haint Blue Collective

looking the gardens where the ceremony and reception are being

prepared so the bride can watch her big day come together. In a wing

of the house away from the bridal suite is a space for the groom and

groomsmen to gather and kick off this momentous day with him.

When the grounds are not being used for a wedding, they love hosting

a plethora of other special events and serving as the backdrop for

photoshoots and cinematography projects.

The team at Fountainview Mansion specializes in luxurious celebrations.

Their Special Events Coordinator, Nicole Lynch, has an

expansive event repertoire ranging from high profile holiday parties,

university and corporate dinners, and even events at The Final

Four in Minneapolis but her heart work is without a doubt serving

engaged couples and bringing their dream weddings to life. Her professionalism

and expertise in event planning drive her to make sure

every detail of a wedding is taken care of and executed seamlessly so

couples can be worry free and enjoy every second of kicking off their

happily ever after.

Whether you are dreaming of a trendy micro wedding or a strikingly

magnificent affair, Fountainview Mansion is sure to be the best

frame for your picture-perfect day. The team looks forward to hearing

your love story, answering any questions you may have, and touring

you through the gorgeous grounds, Fountainview Mansion invites

you to be their guest and experience the grandeur for yourself. To

schedule a tour, or receive more information, contact our special

events coordinator at nicole@fountainviewmansion.com.

Julia Hinson Photography

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91


ENGAGEMENTS

Photo by Sarah Marie Photos

AnnaAsburyLarkin

and Ian Carlson

After two consecutive not-so-great dates in December

2018, Anna Asbury Larkin had decided she wasn’t even

going to meet this third guy she had connected with

through the dating app, Bumble. But in a last-minute

change of heart, she reconsidered and went to dinner

with Ian Carlson of Americus, Ga.

“We talked for hours that first night,” Anna said. “As soon

as I got back to my car in the parking lot, I sent a text to

my Mom to tell her I had just had the best first date I had

ever been on. I was so excited.”

The couple has been together ever since.

Ian surprised Anna by asking her to marry him on April

9, 2020—Anna’s 30th birthday. A few friends and family

members socially distanced to watch the proposal

unfold and to celebrate.

The wedding was scheduled for February 6, 2021 at the

Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta, however

due to the spike in COVID-19 cases, the couple has

postponed until July 31.

JordynDawson and

Matthew Mills

Fletcher and Paula Dawson are pleased to announce the

engagement of their daughter, Jordyn, to Matthew Mills, son of

Frank Mills and Tommy and Renita Main. Jordyn and Matthew

met in March 2017 after they both moved back to the Auburn

area to be closer to family. The couple purchased their first

home in spring 2019 where they now live with their two dogs,

Gracien and Percy. Matthew works as an estimator for Dixie

Electric. Jordyn works as an account executive for Auburn

Network. Matthew asked Jordyn to marry him on Thanksgiving

morning 2020, surrounded by family. The pair plan to wed on

March 27th, at the Dawson Family Farm. They could not be

more excited!

Photo by Love and Legacy

92 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


The Auburn Tigers’ season opener in 2019 against Oregon was a nail-biter.

The Tigers’ victory was also a win for Brooke and Timothy. That evening in

Downtown Auburn, Ala. was their first encounter and an impressionable one.

Brooke Kirkpatrick grew up in Hoover, Ala. and is a 2018 graduate from Auburn

University in with a degree in Communications and minor in Philanthropy

and Nonprofit Studies. She is the owner of Magnolia James Boutique in

Auburn, Ala. Timothy Slezak, a native of Omaha, Neb., is active-duty military

stationed in Ft. Benning, Ga. The couple enjoys dates in the park and time

with Brooke’s dog Barlow.

Downtown Auburn was the scene for another milestone for the couple. A

surprise, daytime proposal took place June 28, 2020 at Samford Park near

the Auburn Seal. Timothy and Brooke’s dad hid in the bushes nearby as

Brooke, her mom and co-workers arrived for a “planned” fashion shoot for

the boutique.

Brooke Kirkpatrick

and Timothy Slezak

Brooke and Timothy’s wedding is set for May 22, 2021. The ceremony and

reception will be held at Moore’s Mill Club in Auburn. The couple are excited

to welcome friends and family from near and far.

Photo by Haint Blue Collective

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

93


EMILY CRAWFORD RIVENBARK

&

HUSTON HICKS

JULY 18, 2020

They met by chance, but it seems “love at first sight” does exist. Emily

Crawford Rivenbark and Huston Hicks met in May 2017 on a flight to

Lubbock, Texas. Both lived in Auburn and both had family in Lubbock that

they were traveling to visit. As it turns out, the two were seated next to

each other and hit it off right away. Little did they know, the two seatmates

would soon become soulmates.

Huston planned a perfect engagement surprise for Emily Crawford in

Chattanooga, TN where she was working as a pharmacist since her graduation

from the Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy. Huston

proposed on October 26, 2019 with a beautiful custom-made diamond ring

designed by Dianne’s Jewelry in Auburn. The ring contained diamonds

from Emily Crawford’s mother and both grandmothers. There to celebrate

the engagement with the couple were their closest family and friends.

The wedding planning began, and the couple set their date for July 18,

2020. Selecting the location was easy, they knew it had to be Auburn. That

94 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


Photos by AL Weddings

is where they grew together as a couple and

really fell in love. They could not have foreseen

all the changes that 2020 would bring.

Many original plans had to be changed last

minute, including the ceremony and reception

venues. However, as chance would have

it, Auburn Oaks Farm was available and this

venue could not have been more perfect.

Wedding Planner and Florist, Rebecca Nichols,

with Tea Olive Designs worked with the couple

and the mother of the bride to bring all the

special details together, creating the wedding

of their dreams.

Emily Crawford wore a beautiful custom

designed gown by Heidi Elnora. Her bridesmaids

wore dove grey chiffon dresses, each

with a unique style. The ceremony setting was

lakeside on the lawn of the venue. The Jonquil

String Quartet set the mood as guests arrived

to be seated under large white umbrellas.

The ceremony was conducted by Father

Geoff Evans of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.

Following the ceremony, guests were welcomed

into the reception hall with a champagne

welcome and passed hors d’oeuvres.

Ursula’s catering provided a delicious dinner

for the wedding guests. The beautiful wedding

cakes were provided by Sonshine Cakes.

The floral arrangements contained a variety

of flowers including Menta Roses, White

O’Hara Garden Roses and White Peonies.

Guests danced the night away entertained

by The Park Band. Outside the reception hall,

Memories in Motion captured fun moments

of the guests with their Photo Bus. The wedding

couple departed with a sparkler send-off

before being whisked away in a vintage car.

The beautiful summer wedding was a day filled

with love. Emily Crawford and Huston are now

settled in their new home in Chattanooga, TN

with their two husky puppies.

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

95


SAMANTHA BRIDGES

&

REID DUVALL

NOVEMBER 14, 2020

96 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


Photos by Sarah and Paul Photography

Marriage was on the minds of Samantha Bridges and Reid Duvall from

the moment they met—but not their own! Introduced at the wedding

of mutual friends, Samantha and Reid danced the night away and

were inseparable from that moment on. Born and raised in Auburn,

and an Auburn University graduate, Samantha was undeterred by

Reid’s diploma from the University of Alabama. Both graduates had

found work and were settled in Birmingham when their relationship

began. After a year of dating, Reid proposed on New Year’s Eve, 2019,

by having “Will you marry me?” engraved on a heart-shaped dog tag

for the yellow lab puppy the couple had recently brought home.

With no possibility of knowing what 2020 was going to hold, the couple

set their wedding date for November 14 of that year. The daughter

of Mark and Robyn Bridges, Samantha and her family had spent

several years vacationing on St. George Island, Florida, and she saw it

as the perfect backdrop for the small, intimate event the couple envisioned.

An avid fisherman and outdoor enthusiast, Reid had never

been to the island and their introduction was, in fact, love at first

sight. After one meeting with Clay Keels of Signature Weddings &

Events, their dream began to take shape.

The venue was the Aisle of Palms, a four-story, beachfront home

designed for hosting special events. Not only would it be the ideal

setting to begin their happily ever after, it would also host Samantha

and her family for a week of rest and relaxation leading up to the big

day. Who could have anticipated the arrival of a global pandemic and

the relief of knowing that a beach wedding and outdoor reception on

the grounds would be the safest possible solution?

In an elegant ivory lace gown from Ivory & White in Mountain Brook,

Alabama, the bride came barefoot down the beach on the arm of

her father to Vitamin String Quartet’s Can’t Help Falling in Love with

You. Her bouquet, along with those of the bridal party and reception

arrangements, featured a stunning white king protea among

white roses, orchids, and natural grasses. Nicknamed “Bluebell” by

her mother, the bride honored her “something blue” in the form of

blue thistle stems scattered among the white blooms of her bouquet.

After a cocktail hour including raw oysters, a massive charcuterie

board, and champagne wall, the real party began. Guests danced

the night away around the expansive pool deck, and, naturally, it

was only a matter of time before the pool and spillover spa were

exactly where all the guests ended up. The bride and groom departed

through a glow stick tunnel into the Bentley house car of the Gibson

Inn in neighboring Apalachicola. Thus began their life together the

same way they hope to end it, with salty hair and sandy feet.

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

97


CATHERINE MC COWN

&

BO LARKIN

JULY 25, 2020

Bo Larkin and Catherine McCown knew each

other long before they began dating. Both

graduates of Opelika High School (Bo in 2010,

Catherine in 2011), they met in a class they had

together, but did not reconnect until after they

graduated from Auburn University in 2015.

“I had a crush on Bo when I was in high

school, but I never let him know that,” says

Catherine. “Bo and I started ‘talking’ again in

late 2015, and it wasn’t long after that, that we

began dating.”

After almost four years, Bo, the director of

football technology at Auburn University,

proposed to Catherine in July 2019, using the

video board in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

“I told her we had to go to the stadium to run

video for a recruit, something we do often, so

there wasn’t anything suspicious about that,”

says Bo. “Family and friends were hiding out

to watch and then celebrate with us. It was a

special day.”

The couple originally chose May 9, 2020, for

the big day, but with the pandemic looming,

they postponed until July 25.

Water Oak Manor in Auburn was the venue

for the ceremony and reception. Owner Susan

Konstant created the flowers for the house,

the bride and the bridal party. The bride’s bouquet

was a loosely arranged combination of

white poppy anemones, seeded eucalyptus,

ranunculus, thistle, veronica and blue delphinium.

The bridesmaids carried a smaller

version of the same, and the groom and his

groomsmen wore boutonnieres of white spray

roses, thistle and seeded eucalyptus.

98


Photos by Sarah Marie Photos

An arrangement of Southern smilax with

white roses, blue hydrangeas and blue and

white delphinium draped the front door of the

house, creating a backdrop for the ceremony,

which took place on the porch.

Lucas Asbury, cousin of the groom played guitar

and sang preservice music, and Dr. Tim

Thompson, a dear friend of the couple and

the groom’s family, performed the ceremony.

Dinner and dancing followed under tents in

the backyard of Water Oak. As a gift to their

nephew and his bride, Joan and Wake Asbury

created centerpieces for the tables, featuring

white roses and hydrangeas nestled in smilax

and pittosporum. Candles illuminated

the bottom of the tall vases and the centers

of the wreath arrangements. Ursula’s catering

served dinner to the guests, and O Town provided

personalized ice cream choices in lieu

of a groom’s cake.

Friends and family danced the night away to

tunes played by DJ S!D (Sid). Bo and Catherine

were “showered” with sparklers as they made

their exit to an awaiting vintage Bentley.

Ben and Marie Mann Cardwell of Omaha, Neb.,

were the photographers, and CreatiVideos of

Columbus, Ga., created a keepsake video of

the memorable night.

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

99


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100 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


Photo by (T2 Photography).

Photo by (T2 Photography).

We’re Marriage Material

From bridal luncheons and engagement parties to rehearsal dinners and wedding

ceremonies, the stylish and historic Collegiate Hotel in downtown Auburn is the perfect

venue for you and your guests to celebrate your day!

The Collegiate offers guests a dose of authentic Auburn character, one-of-a-kind outdoor

venues, and an unparalleled location that is walking distance to dozens of restaurants

and shops; an amenity you and your guests will love.

Our team is dedicated to exceeding your expectations to create a single charmed day or

a weekend of unfettered joy. Reserve your room block or rental venue today.

Contact kim@staycoho.com for availability

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©Photo by (Kate Cauthen).

©Photo by (ING Studios).

©Photo by (Callie Gilbert).

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

101


102 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


JESS MARGESON

&

DAVID BURKHART

OCTOBER 27, 2020

Vendor Credits

Planning: Jessica Silver,

Old Edward’s Inn

Photographer: Jennings

Bowden Enke (ING Studios)

Baker: Tania Cobine

(Sweet As Cakes)

Florals: Hall’s Wholesale,

Frou Frou (Jess Margeson

with Angie Brown)

Introduced through mutual friends, David Burkhart and Jess Margeson

instantly felt a unique kinship and comradery. Soon, that same friendship

blossomed into a romance.

After a year-long courtship, Burkhart eagerly proposed amidst the idyllic

backdrop of his beach home in Dog Island, Florida. There, on the

roof-top of the home, the couple sipped champagne and toasted to the

days ahead.

With an answer in the affirmative, plans were soon underway. Due to

the current climate, the couple was quicky forced to pivot-putting their

dreams of a larger (local) celebration on hold, at least for the moment.

Instead, the pair planned an intimate (yet still elegant) affair in one

of their favorite locations: Highlands, North Carolina. An industry

expert herself, the bride immediately selected The Old Edward’s Inn

as their location. Long known for its immaculate attention to detail,

the facility did not disappoint. Once there, the couple booked the historic

Hutchinson House (for their ceremony site) as well as The Rooftop

Terrace (for the reception dinner to follow).

As an added touch, the groom reserved the estate for the week, inviting

guests to lodge at The Hutchinson House. The pair recounts that having

their families together (under one roof) was particularly special and set

the tone for the days to follow…

Later, surrounded by family (and set against the backdrop of a roaring

fire accented by sumptuous, trailing florals) the couple exchanged vows

in a small pavilion on the grounds of the estate. Though smaller in size,

the setting still managed to feel grand, even magical, in tone.

From there, guests were whisked away to The Roof-Top Terrace (situated

atop the historic main inn) downtown. There, the group selected

from a spectacular culinary spread, sparing no detail. Indeed, every

touch was truly exquisite-from the specialty linens to the wine pairings,

no detail was overlooked.

As the evening came to a close, the new couple enjoyed a moment

alone. Once again, they found themselves on a beautiful roof-top, toasting

to their future and eagerly looking ahead.

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

103


Photos by Hannah Miller Photography

TAYLOR ANN ATKINS

&

EVAN HARVARD

JULY 25, 2020

Taylor Ann Atkins first met Evan Harvard

while both were attending Auburn University.

Introduced through mutual friends, the pair

connected, and soon it was time to take the

next step.

With planning officially underway, the bride

carefully considered their already demanding

schedules and rigorous academic obligations.

With the groom enrolled in graduate school

while she juggled full-time work as a nurse,

she quickly decided that a local wedding

would be best.

From there, the couple selected Moore’s Mill

Country Club. The venue was indeed truly

‘close to home’ as the bride’s parents live

just minutes away. With her venue selection

firmly in place, Atkins then turned her attention

to assembling a top-notch team to carry

out her vision.

Her first stop-florals and décor. As Nikki

Atkins, mother of the Bride, recounts, “From

the moment we first met Jess (of Frou Frou), we

instantly felt that she understood our unique

vision. It was as easy as telling her what colors

we wanted or showing her some inspiration

photos. From there, we gave her our blessing

and basically told her to just run with it! And I

am happy to say that she did not disappoint!”

Desiring to create a soft palette, the designer

drew heavily on airy selections such as Silver

Dollar Eucalyptus and Smilax. The trailing

greenery, paired against floral tones in soft

blush and ivory, ensured a look that was both

timeless and romantic.

Aside from a quick rain shower, the stage was

set for a picture-perfect day. While a light

breeze wafted over the manicured lawns of

the country club, staff scattered about setting

the stage for the fabulous evening to follow.

104 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


Indeed, the entire venue buzzed with preparation

and an air of eager anticipation.

Club Manager Carley Lutz says, “I think so

many of our clients are naturally drawn to The

Pavilion because it provides the best of both

worlds. Guests can enjoy both the open-air

flow of the outdoors, along with the structure

afforded by an indoor facility as well. And in

the unfortunate event of rain, which we experienced

on Taylor Ann’s occasion, we have a

built-in backup plan. This ensures that we do

not miss a beat, whether in décor installation

or in the overall flow of the evening.”

The designer concurs. “My absolute favorite

part of Moore’s Mill—the stunning floral backdrop

that we can create against the already

beautiful, over-sized fireplace in The Pavilion.

These grand displays can then go on to serve

as statement pieces for both the rehearsal

dinner as well as the wedding ceremony and

reception!” says Jess.

The bride completely agrees. She says, “My

absolute favorite floral piece was the stunning

fireplace display. Honestly, I could not believe

it was real when I first saw it. It was just that

beautiful and magical.”

Since the space was decorated in advance, the

bride opted to enjoy her morning coffee and

devotional time under the floral canopy that

morning. There, she read letters from both her

father and the groom, setting the tone for the

special day to follow.

Soon, it was time for events to get truly underway.

The bride stunned in classically elegant

gown, perfectly complemented by a beautiful,

flowing veil, while her maids added to the

overall ambiance in soft blush tones. The ceremony

was intimate and perfectly reflected

the young couple.

Immediately following the ceremony, guests

were treated to cocktails, and the stage was set

for an amazing party to follow. As the evening

unfolded, guests enjoyed delicious food as well

as the vocal stylings of a fabulous, live band.

As the evening came to a close and the band

began to wind down, guests were invited to

line the walkway to see the new pair off in

grand style. Surrounded by friends and family,

the young couple drove off into the night,

eager to embark on the journey ahead.

Pandemic planning tip from the bride:

“Planning a wedding during a worldwide

pandemic definitely forced all of us to be flexible.

My advice to other brides—assemble a team of

vendors that will support you in this!”

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

105


EMILY LYTLE

&

PATRICK KEIM

JUNE 13, 2020

Although they both attended Auburn University,

Emily Lytle and Patrick Keim did not truly connect

until later in life when a combination of

their respective careers and mutual passions

brought them into each other’s orbit.

As the bride explains, “I teach here in Auburn,

while Patrick serves as the student pastor at a

local church. There, we quickly realized that

we shared a mutual passion for both leading

students and serving students as well as our

church.”

It was during that service that a mutual attraction

was sparked. The connection was so

strong and felt so confirmed that Emily recalls,

“In fact, the first time Patrick officially reached

out with a phone call, I honestly felt as though

I was speaking with my (future) husband! God

instilled that much peace in my heart!”

Soon, the couple enjoyed their first date at the

Springhouse located in the Lake Martin area.

It obviously went well as nearly a year to the

date, Patrick proposed at the exact same location.

Offering her a ring he designed himself,

she eagerly accepted. “I was in sheer delight.

And months later (as his now wife) I am still

delighted!” she says.

106 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


With that, their plans were now quickly underway.

Enter Russell Lands and its host of rustic,

yet elegant offerings. With the natural beauty of

Lake Martin as a backdrop, venues such as The

Stables and the Springhouse instantly appealed

to the pair. Ultimately, the two settled on The

Stables for both the ceremony and reception,

and an overall plan became to take shape.

With its exposed beams above and beautiful

bucolic surroundings, the venue was the

epitome of rural elegance. Contrasted against

the wooden accents, delicate touches (strands

of twinkling lights or spilling florals) lent the

space a softer, more romantic feel. Ultimately,

the bride’s palette was perfect for the setting,

ensuring an occasion that was nothing less

than picture perfect!

Pandemic planning tip from the bride:

“Throughout the entire process, I leaned heavily

on The Lord. I prayed faithfully over every detail,

and my prayers were answered. Patrick and I

enjoyed an amazing engagement and wedding

season overflowing with His peace and provision.

He is faithful to His promises and to the prayers

of His people. I can attest to this!”

Vendor Credits

Cake: Peggy McKinney Cakes

Event Rentals: PRE Events

Floral: Tori Brinson Design

Photographer: Hannah Miller Photography

Wedding Planner: Mary Me / Mary Sanders

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

107


C O M M U N I T Y

FACES of EAST ALABAMA

Tigers, Totties and Tailgates

The Exceptional Foundation of East Alabama hosted

Tigers, Totties and Tailgates at the Thorn Farm in

Auburn, Ala., on October 31, 2020. Guests interacted

with sports legends and experienced a VIP tailgate

in a beautiful fall backdrop. To learn more about the

Exceptional Foundation of East Alabama, visit efofea.

org. Photography by Jennifer Young Photography.

108 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


BUILDING

SUPPLY STORE

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

109


Auburn Christmas Parade

The Auburn Downtown Merchants Association hosted

a favorite holiday tradition, the Auburn Christmas

Parade. The parade was held in Downtown Auburn on

Sunday, Dec. 6th. The parade featured festive floats,

local celebrities and a surprise ending of snow. Photos

provided by John Wild, Auburn-Opelika Tourism.

110 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


Snow Much Fun

The Opelika Chamber of Commerce hosted Snow

Much Fun on Dec. 5th. The community enjoyed a

“reverse” walking parade, tree lighting and snowfall

in the Opelika Courthouse Square. Photos provided

by John Wild, Auburn-Opelika Tourism.

EAST ALABAMA LIVING

111


Course and Clays

The Auburn Chamber of

Commerce met on the greens

on October 15, at Moore’s Mill

Club for its annual Chamber

Golf Classic. Additionally,

members participated in the

inaugural Auburn Chamber

Clay Shoot on November 5,

at Auburn Oaks Farm. Photos

provided by the Auburn

Chamber of Commerce.

112 EAST ALABAMA LIVING


The Fighter

Will O. (Trip) Walton, III

2011- 2015 Super Lawyers

334.321.3000

www.waltonlaw.net

waltonlaw@waltonlaw.net

As an Alabama Golden

Gloves Heavy Weight

Boxing Champion, Trip’s

motto has always been

“We don’t Start the Fight

- We Finish It!”

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25,000 acres of unspoiled forests

in the center of

Lake Martin’s

880 miles of

pristine shoreline.

Unique venues, chef-prepared

menus and a Southern

hospitality of a simpler time.

Say I do at our

place

or

yours and

experience the memory of a lifetime.

for more information, contact 256-794-1397 or visit RussellLandsOnLakeMartin.com

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