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The educators who have emerged as the “final four” finalists vying to serve as the 2016-2017 Alabama Teacher of the Year are innovative and enthusiastic teachers who are committed to cultivating life-long learners who reach their full potential not only in the classroom, but throughout their lives.

The winner of Teacher of the Year will be announced May 11 in Montgomery.  The Teacher of the Year is not only recognized for his or her outstanding work as a teacher, but also functions as a resource and ambassador for teachers for the next year.

The finalists are:


  • Dawn Davis, Montana Street Academic Magnet School, Dothan City School System, District II
  • Sandy Georgette Deades Ritchey, Crestline Elementary School, Mountain Brook City School System, District VII


  • Vinny Chiaramonte, Robert F. Bumpus Middle School, Hoover City School System, District III
  • Dana Jacobson, Clay-Chalkville High School, Jefferson County School System, District VII

Interim State Superintendent of Education Dr. Philip Cleveland said the final four candidates for the 2016-2017 Alabama Teacher of the Year have been chosen from many other outstanding examples of educational leadership in our state.

“Well-trained, dedicated, caring, enthusiastic, and innovative elementary and secondary teachers are among the ingredients essential to achieving excellence in preparing Alabama’s children and youth to become capable adults,” Cleveland said. “The final four are student-centered educators who personify the time, attention, and patience that great educators show every day in the classroom.”

The next step for the final four is an extensive interview with the state judging committee.  The 2016-2017 Alabama Teacher of the Year will be revealed at a ceremony hosted by the Alabama State Board of Education and the Alabama State Department of Education at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11, 2016, at the RSA Plaza Terrace in Montgomery

Jemison Park is a 54-acre area designed for preservation as a green way in Mountain Brook, Alabama. The trail at Jemison Park is often used for walking, jogging, reading, bird watching, and sometimes just enjoying a picnic.

According to a growing body of evidence, spanking is not a healthy way to discipline children. A recent study of 160,000 children over 50 years indicates that spanking can be linked to poor mental health. 

So, if the time honored Southern Switch (as in “Granny told me I had to go pick out my own switch for my spanking”) is no longer acceptable, what options do parents have for consequences when rules are disobeyed or general snottiness abounds?

The answer lies, as it does in many instances these days, in TECHNOLOGY.

The videogames, the YouTube, the Snapchat, the iphone – in short – the internet is the key to discipline in 2016.  Removal of the internet/technology  is the absolute worst thing you can do to most children and teens – indeed, most adults too!


Stone Age Methods

These are the methods that require no computer savvy on the part of the parent. The truth is that your child is probably the Technology Guru of your home, so stone age is the only method you can use without their help.  In truth, you could just tell the child that they are grounded, but there appears to be some additional acceptance when there is no way to access the technology. Makes it more real.

  • Put away the electronics - Put them in your drawer or lock them in your trunk.  Deny the access for however long the consequence is needed. This works great for small devices like iPods, phones, laptops and handheld games.   Remember where you put them as their value goes down when you find them years later under “V” in your office file cabinet (not that that has ever happened – well, maybe it has. Sorry).
  • Take the power cord to their gaming system or computer – this works well when there it is a non-universal cord (hard to replace)and the item is really too big and a pain to move.
  • Take the internet cord – the one that connects to the internet box. It looks like a phone cord and plugs into the internet box and that phone plug looking thing in the wall. The plus and downside is that it restricts internet for all members of the household. This is great for enforcing bedtimes. No one wants to be up without internet.   Sleep with it under your pillow if necessary. The internet will come back on when you plug it back in.


Technologically Advanced Methods

These require a bit of computer knowledge, but they have the added value of impacting only the household member who is currently grounded. Plus they can be done with your phone once you learn how to do it, so you don’t even have to get up.

  • Change the WiFi password  – This method has been popular around the internet for a while. One mom posted the list of chores that the children had to do to get the daily WiFi password. This is actually pretty easy to do once do it the first time. 
  • Ban Their IP From Your Router – This method can block specific devices from your home internet. This means that the rest of the family can use the internet, but the grounded child cannot from their devices. 
  • Make Their Internet Feel Like Dial Up - QoS.  This may be considered cruel and unusual punishment.  This can also be done to specific devices.  Here’s a guide.  Not gonna lie, it’s a little complicated.    (Note: This is also a good prank and it’s not messy like putting whipped cream in their hand and tickling their nose while they sleep.)


But my kids don’t LIKE the internet, what can I do?

Go ahead and sign them up for the local chapter of The Society for Creative Anachronism.  The Birmingham chapter can be found here

In the meantime, if they require discipline,  here are some old school consequences that don’t involve spanking or the internet.

  • Memorize a famous speech or passage - Child remains grounded until they can recite the chosen passage.   This method has bonus point for educational value.  For example, the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales in Old English. They will probably have to learn it in 11th grade anyway – get a head start.    The Gettysburg is also great.
  • Extra chores –  Otherwise known as "The Classic". The bonus for this is that Mom and Dad have LESS chores. Those things you have been meaning to do like pulling weeds, dusting the baseboards or scrubbing out the kitchen cabinets are perfect for Johnny to do while he contemplates his transgressions. Has the added bonus of teaching the children how to take care of their home.


Is your child ALWAYS grounded?

Realistically, if reasonable consequences are consistently failing to change a negative behavior, get a professional involved because there may be additional problems going on,  such as an undiagnosed mental health issue.

Here are some mental health resources for children in Birmingham:

NAMI of Birmingham The National Alliance of Mental Health Birmingham office

Vulcan Psychology Group 

Pitts and Associates

Bair, Peacock, McDonald and McMullan, P.C.



Note: The author has tested most of these methods except the QoS one because she just found out about it and it is hard. She currently sleeps with the internet cord under her pillow.  She has two boys. Her oldest is purportedly a low level member of Anonymous which means his computer skills far outstrip hers.

Tuesday was a big day of celebration for Dennis Pursley's University of Alabama men's and women's swimming and diving programs, programs that seemingly continue to shatter illustrious UA marks on a yearly basis. 

For the third year in a row, the Alabama men's and women's swimming and diving teams broke a slew of school records, so Tuesday, for the third year in a row, the Crimson Tide held a record-smashing ceremony on the deck of the Don Gambril Olympic Pool in the Alabama Aquatic Center.

“Everyone has a plan 'til they get punched in the mouth.” – Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson has said some dumb things over the years, but that quote perfectly sums-up

the times for a lot of people—and companies—living through challenging economic


So many of us thought we had it all worked out. But here we are: successful individuals

with career records (and lifestyles) that our fathers would envy; established companies

with marquee names, some in their third generation; staggering punch-drunk from a

solidly-landed economic uppercut we never saw coming.

Personally, I’ve felt this concussion (more than once, I might add), and am happy to

report that I’ve clambered back to my feet once again.

When I found myself at fifty, facing yet another start, one advisor said to me: “Ken, you’ve reinvented yourself

perhaps five or ten times during your career. It’s just time to do it once more.”

Muhammad Ali said, “A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty

has wasted thirty years of his life.” In my career, I find myself sharing my own setbacks

and experiences—as we entrepreneurial types seem to draw more from listening to

stories about others than we do from having someone preach to us.

I’ve pretty much seen it all. Humble background as seventh of eight children. Working

my way through college. Joining Corporate America right out of school. I ditched it all at

24 to start my own business, lived through new partners, acquisitions, mergers, several

business divorces, litigation, business and real estate successes and failures, a second

stint in corporate america, and now, full circle, on my own again. And happier than ever.

And during my own personal dramas, I was working for clients as a CPA—serving them

through their own trials and tribulations. As a turnaround professional, I helped several

near bankruptcy rise out of the ashes to some measure of success.

During my own personal turnaround, close friends and advisors who spoke to me early

on, then again three months later (after I’d crafted and executed a winning reinvention),

exclaimed, “Wow, you’ve come a long way in three months – exactly what did you do?”

Here’s what worked for me:

1. Huddled with my support team: My wife Pam and daughter Morgan served as

the core support group, and a few other close friends listened patiently and

offered reaction to my ideas. Everything was possible with their encouragement

and belief in me.

2. Embraced social media: Especially LinkedIn. Setting up my own social media

profile and expanding my connections helped me refine the process of

presenting my public image to the world.

3. Got coached: A coach in my employment search insisted that I hire one as well

for writing a resume. This process of self-examination helped me see what I’d

accomplished, not as I saw it, but as the job market would see it. For additional

background, I bought the book, The Executive Job Search by Orrin Wood.

4. Read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. This study of successful people and the

often hidden circumstances that lead to their success helped me better

understand my past successes, and gave me clues for succeeding again in the


5. Took time for reflection: On my long-planned bicycle tour of Colorado in June, I

never stopped my reinvention efforts, but the change of scenery and the

symbolic (and real) scaling of mountains on a bicycle helped me realize that new

things were possible.

6. Focused on my “10,000 hour skills”: One chapter in Gladwell’s Outliers

focuses on skill sets and how long it takes to become good at something. I

realized that whatever new career I chose, I needed to capitalize on the tens of

thousands of hours I’d spent working with entrepreneurial business owners and

leaders of organizations.

7. Became the king of lists: I had a “To-Do” list for dozens of tasks -- people to

contact, organizations to call on -- for every conceivable task to guide me daily.

8. Became a champion goal setter: On the wall, I posted yearly “Personal Goals”

and “Professional Goals;” simple-to-understand reminders of what was important

and easy to measure if I’d achieved them.

9. Network, network, network: I became relentless in attending networking

events, meeting people, looking for how I could help them in their search or their

businesses, doing favors for others, and accepting them in return.

10. Early to bed, early to rise: For me personally, my highest energy period is very

early in the morning, so I began my days early with my reinvention tasks. Some

days, I get more done by 7 a.m. than most people do by noon!

No one asks for a punch in the mouth—and they usually come when we least expect

them. Printed at the bottom of my goals list is a quote from Benjamin Mays that helps me

daily: “The tragedy in life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having

no goal to reach”. I’ve found that a good place to start every time I’m reinventing myself.

For further reading:

“Fired to Hired – Finding an Executive Job is Tougher than Ever” – by Romy Ribitzky, Jan 5, 2010 from Portfolio.com

http://www.portfolio.com/resources/2010/01/15/tips-on- finding-jobs- for-executives/?ana=e_pft

“Working Identity - Nine Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career” by Herminia Ibarra, 2/10/2003 Harvard Business School “Working Knowledge” Archive


Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, http://www.gladwell.com/outliers/index.html

“100 Tips, Tools and Resources to Reinvent Your Career” Courtesy of JobProfiles.org, published July 2009 http://www.jobprofiles.org/library/students/100-tips- and-tools- to-reinvent- your-career.htm

“Reinventing Yourself: The Ultimate Balancing Act” - By Helen Jonsen, Balancing Act 2008, Forbes.com http://www.forbes.com/2008/12/30/reinvent-job- career-leadership- careers- cx_hj_1230ultimate.html

“Reinvent Your Career in Five Simple Steps” By Cheryl Lynch Simpson E-Zine Articles - http://ezinearticles.com/?Reinvent-Your- Career-In- Five-Simple- Steps&id=1875

The Executive Job Search: a Comprehensive Handbook for Seasoned Professionals by Orrin Wood, http://www.amazon.ca/Executive-Job- Search-Comprehensive- Professionals/dp/0071409424

“Corporate Renewal Industry Overview”, online article by the Turnaround Management Association, http://www.turnaround.org/Assistance/IndustryRenewal.aspx


Kenneth C. DeWitt is founder of DeWitt LLC, an Alabama-based business strategy execution and coaching firm. DeWitt is a life-long entrepreneur, having been a founding member of two accounting firms, as well as having partnership in other businesses in the retail, agriculture, consumer finance, overseas travel, and commercial real estate industries. DeWitt specializes in helping entrepreneurs and CEOs create highly profitable businesses that serve and enrich their lives rather than control them. During his 30 year career, DeWitt has served over 150 companies with revenues from $1 million to $50+ million as a trusted advisor. His extensive experience has taught him what works — and what does not work — in building valuable businesses that are worth owning, and he brings this to bear in helping organizations implement strategic initiatives that reduce frustrations and improve profits, cash flows, banker relationships, and quality of life for the owners. DeWitt is a published author of two books and over 300 articles on financial and business matters. He has a combined 14 years’ experience as a regular columnist for The Tuscaloosa News and the Commercial Carrier Journal, and frequently publishes op-ed pieces in the Birmingham Business Journal and other periodicals. His monthly newsletter, Alabama Entrepreneur, currently has over 1,500 subscribers and is aimed at helping business leaders get more of what they want out of their companies. DeWitt holds a B.S. in Commerce and Business Administration from the University of Alabama.


Over the past decade, new innovations in technology have substantially improved our lives. The development of smartphones alone has changed the way we live and work. Nearly 64 percent of American adults now own smartphones. Many high school and middle school students are now very interested in technology careers.

The Alabama Technology Student Association (TSA) 37th Annual State Conference will be held this week at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) on April 27-28.

Racing in Alabama barrels on.  After an exciting weekend at Barber,  Birminghamians can look forward to an exciting time at the for NASCAR at Talladega Raceway this coming weekend.

To get you up to date on who to watch, here is a quick recap of the racers.  Plus we have included a listing of where you can listen or watch the races. Start your engines!

Here are the results from this past weekend.  The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) and the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) hit the track at Richmond International Raceway. The ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menards went to Salem Speedway.  All three Series will be at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

  • Carl Edwards pulled the classic “bump and run” move on teammate Kyle Busch just moments before crossing the finish line, taking home the victory in Sunday’s race at Richmond. This was Edwards’ second consecutive win, clinching a spot in the season-ending Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
  • Jimmie Johnson finished third with teammate Kasey Kahne following in fourth. Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five.
  • Tony Stewart finished 19th in his first race of the 2016 season after suffering a back injury in the off season.
  • Other race winners in 2016 include: Johnson (2), Kyle Busch (2), Denny Hamlin, Harvick and Brad Keselowski.
  • Edwards will look to capture his first Talladega Superspeedway triumph in Sunday’s GEICO 500, and in the process, win his third straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
  • Edwards jumped to the lead in the Chase standings over Harvick (-7). Johnson sits third (-21) with Busch fourth (-29) and Joey Logano fifth (-32).
  • The GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway is set this Sunday, May 1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the race's defending champion.


  • Dale Earnhardt, Jr. scored his fourth NASCAR XFINITY Series victory at Richmond after a late wreck set the race into overtime for a two-lap dash to the finish Saturday. This was Earnhardt, Jr.’s first win driving in his own JR Motorsports equipment.
  • Earnhardt, Jr. held off Ty Dillon by .266 seconds, but it was Dillon who came home with the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus available to the highest finisher among drivers who compete for the XFINITY Series Championship.
  • Earnhardt, Jr., will be looking to win his second straight GEICO 500 victory Sunday in Talladega.
  • Elliott Sadler came home third, followed by Daniel Suarez and Austin Dillon. Cole Custer finished sixth in his XFINITY Series debut.
  • Suarez holds a nine-point lead over Sadler in the battle for the championship. Ty Dillon sits third (-19) with Brandon Jones (-30) fourth and Erik Jones (-35) fifth.
  • The NXS will be at Talladega Superspeedway this Saturday for the Sparks Energy 300. Joey Logano is the race’s defending champion.

ARCA Racing Series

  • Christopher Bell took the checkered flag after having an eventful day at Salem Speedway Sunday.
  • Bell hung on all day after a hard battle with Justin Haley, who finished second.
  • Dalton Sargeant wound up third in his ARCA Series debut. Kyle Weatherman finished fourth and Blake Jones, the 2015 General Tire 200 champion at Talladega Superspeedway, rounded out the top five.
  • John Wes Townly heads the series leader board with 460 points. Chase Briscoe is second, followed by Bo LeMastus, Josh Williams and Brandon Lynn.
  • The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards General Tire 200 is set this Friday, April 29 at Talladega Superspeedway.

TV/Radio Coverage for Next Weekend

  • Sunday’s GEICO 500 pre-race coverage begins at 11:30 am CDT with race coverage starting at noon CDT. FOX, MRN and NASCAR SIRIUSXM will provide TV and radio coverage. 
  • Television race coverage for Saturday’s Sparks Energy 300 is set for 2:00 pm CDT on FOX, as well as MRN and NASCAR SIRIUSXM with radio coverage
  • TV coverage for Friday’s General Tire 200 begins at 5:00 CDT on FOX Sports 1. Local radio coverage will be provided by WTDR Thunder 92.7 FM.


HGTV has recently featured several lake homes around Birmingham for “Lakefront Bargain Hunt”.  The series focuses on affordable lake houses around the country.  Birmingham area lakes have been featured in past seasons and new episodes are airing tonight.


Take A Break On Smith Lake, Alabama (Season 3, Episode 4)

Joseph and Leslie live in Birmingham, Alabama and have been married four years. While raising two children and working full-time, there aren't many opportunities for relaxation. So after careful planning and a long period of saving, Joseph and Leslie are finally ready to look for a vacation home where they can escape and enjoy time together as a family. They first heard about Smith Lake through friends and after visiting on several occasions they fell in love with the area. Now, with the help of real estate agent, Justin Dyar, they hope to find their own lakeside sanctuary for under $350,000.

Next Airing on HGTV:

Sunday Apr 24 8:30pm | 7:30c

Monday Apr 25 3:30am | 2:30c                                  

This episode is also available on YouTube for $1.99. Click here


Legacy on Logan Martin Lake, Alabama (Season 3, Episode 3)

Steve and Roxann live in Alabaster, Alabama and have been married for 30 years. Ever since their two kids were young, they've vacationed along the shores of Logan Martin Lake. As the children grew up learning how to swim, fish, and water ski, the entire family developed a very special connection with the area. Unfortunately most of these trips would only last a single day or weekend. So now Steve and Roxann feel they're ready to purchase a home of their own, so the family can enjoy the lake for extended periods of time and come and go as they please. With the help of real estate agent, Nicole Anderson Walters, they hope to find their very own lakeside haven for $300,000 or less.

Next Airing on HGTV:

Sunday  May 1  8pm | 7c

Monday  May 2  3am | 2c


Home Sweet Home Lake Martin, Alabama (Season 2 Episode 8)

John and Holly have been taking their two kids to the beach on the gulf coast for years, but with beautiful Lake Martin less than an hour away from their home in Auburn, it seemed like the obvious choice to look lakeside when it came time to purchase a vacation home on the water; especially with the bevy of activities that can keep them active year round on the lake! After making the leap to buy closer to home, the Parkers enlist the help of local real estate agent, Amy Clark, to help them take advantage of one of Alabama's most premier and pristine getaways, all for under $300,000.

This episode is available on Youtube for $1.99 Click here



All in the Family in Lake Martin, Alabama (Season 2, Episode 12)

A young Alabama couple, Lacey and John, have decided to return home to their native Lake Martin from bustling Birmingham. They agree that a return to the water's edge, where all their family is located, is the best place to put down roots and start a brood of their own. They enlist the help of local real estate agent, and Lacey's mom, Linda, to help them achieve their dream home on the water for only $375,000. After all, mother knows best!


It is finals week at UAB and finals for the high schools and Samford are just around the corner.

This means students hunched over their laptops, hogging the WiFi all over town.   And to those of you who are not in finals, don’t be surprised if you can’t find a place to plug in your laptop at any of these places near UAB or Samford this time of year.

Remember that many places of these places are businesses, so be courteous.  Purchase food and drink and don’t hog the tables during peak times.

CHATTANOOGA, TN - Birmingham Barons starter Tyler Danish shined in his fourth start of the season, but Birmingham’s offense could not come to life as the Barons ended up on the wrong side of a 4-0 pitcher’s duel.


Lookouts starter Jason Wheeler dealt his longest outing of the season, shutting the Barons out over seven innings while recording nine strikeouts, the most by one pitcher against Birmingham this year.


For the Barons, Danish followed up his first win of the season against the Jackson Generals Sunday evening with 6.1 innings pitched and three strikeouts against Chattanooga tonight.


RHP James Dykstra inherited Danish’s second earned run, surrendering three straight hits in the seventh inning that extended the Barons deficit to 4-0 late in the game.


At the dish, Trey Michalczewski extended his hitting streak to a team-high eight games, and Jake Peter added his third double of the year.


Tonight marks the first shutout of the season for the Barons, who had not been on either side of the decision through 15 games.


Carson Fulmer makes his fourth start of the season, seeking his first win in a Barons uniform and pitching just two hours away from Vanderbilt, where he attended college.


Surprisingly Awesome is my favorite podcast.  Each episode explores topics that would put most people to sleep, but the show makes boring topics interesting and fun.

Subjects like pigeons, mold, or concrete become fascinating.

Birmingham, Alabama would be the perfect topic for the show.

Birmingham may sound boring—but Birmingham is Surprisingly Awesome.

The Birmingham story is definitely not boring—it’s been one crazy roller coaster ride.

Birmingham probably shouldn’t have been born in the first place and it’s a miracle that she has survived.

Every time Birmingham appears to be on the verge of greatness, she stumbles and falls.

For those of you who don’t know Birmingham, she’s the largest city in the state of Alabama.  Birmingham’s the economic and financial center of the state.  She is mountainous and beautiful and her people are kind and generous.

You probably know the names of many Southern Cities—Nashville, Chattanooga, Memphis, Atlanta, New Orleans.  You likely have read about their role in the Civil War.  General Sherman may have marched through Atlanta, but he never marched through Birmingham, because Birmingham wasn’t founded until 1871—six years after the Civil War.

Birmingham had a late start, but she took off like a rocket.

Birmingham is founded

Land developers heard about the possible location of the intersection of the North & South and Alabama & Chattanooga Railroads.  It was like knowing the location of an Interstate exit today, but a 1,000 times bigger.  Right from the start, real estate values soared.

Two catastrophes strike Birmingham

But bad luck hit Birmingham almost immediately.  In the summer of 1873 a cholera epidemic slammed Birmingham causing thousands to flee the city.  And in the fall, just as the epidemic subsided, the economic Panic of 1873 hammered Birmingham causing many others to leave also.  Birmingham was fighting for her young life within two years of her founding.

Birmingham roars back

There are very few places on earth where iron ore, limestone, and coal are located next to one another—and one of those areas is Birmingham.  Iron ore, limestone, and coal are required to smelt iron—and this amazing coincidence propelled Birmingham to become the industrial center of the New South.

In 1907 when U.S. Steel bought Tennessee Iron and Coal (TCI) Birmingham’s economy exploded.  In addition–manufacturing rails and railroad cars made Birmingham a railroad industrial center.

Birmingham soon became known as, “The Magic City,” and “The Pittsburgh of the South.

The depression punished Birmingham like no other city in America

In October, 1929, the stock market crashed.  U.S. Steel closed its Birmingham mills leaving only 8,000 of its 108,000 local workers employed causing the Hoover administration to call Birmingham “the hardest hit city in the nation.”  Birmingham was devastated and many people thought Birmingham might never recover.

U.S. war effort propels Birmingham

The city that had gotten financially annihilated by the depression was indispensable during World War II.  The mills that sat empty through the 1930’s ran at full capacity during the war.  Birmingham’s economy was roaring and Birmingham was again leading the South.

Racial violence destroys Birmingham’s reputation

Most every city in the South fought integration, but Birmingham had the misfortune to have a hotheaded Bull Connor as police and fire commissioner.  Birmingham saw its image annihilated when Connor dispersed black protesters with high-pressure fire hoses and dogs in 1962.  This unwelcomed notoriety was reinforced by the horrific bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963, in which four little black girls were killed by white racists.

Birmingham suffers the consequences

In 1960, 340,887 people lived in Birmingham.  Her population shrank to 212,247 by 2014 as white flight and then black flight hit the city.  The much broader Birmingham-Hoover seven county metropolitan area was stagnant also–while other Southern metropolitan areas celebrated double digit increases in population.

Birmingham was in a rut and many of her citizens had given up on her future.

But then something awesome happened to Birmingham

Just when all hope seemed to fade, something amazing happened to Birmingham.

Even though Birmingham had lost much of her manufacturing and steel industry, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) picked up the slack.  UAB now occupies over 100 square blocks, is the largest employer in the state, and has a $5 billion economic impact on the region.

Then, unexpectedly, Birmingham found herself in the middle of an amazing renaissance punctuated by a $1 billion construction boom.  Even the population of the city began to grow.

As one visitor recently posted on Facebook, “Birmingham, Alabama is amazing!!! The people are so friendly, the food is yummy!! One thing is better than the other. The community is so welcoming, and to top it all off it is beautiful!”

And even more remarkable–Birmingham is working to take advantage of one of her biggest blemishes–turning its historic downtown into a Civil Rights landmark by becoming a National Park.

Is this finally Birmingham’s time?

This blog is titled ComebackTown because Birmingham always seems to be on the verge of a comeback.

Will this latest comeback be the one that finally allows Birmingham to achieve her potential?

Whether Birmingham makes it this time or not—you must admit that Birmingham is Surprisingly Awesome!

Let’s turn Birmingham around.  Click here to sign up for our newsletter.  There’s power in numbers. (Opt out at any time)

David Sher is co-CEO of AmSher Compassionate Collections.  He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

Music icon, Prince, died this Thursday, April 22nd.  He was just 57.   One of his most iconic works is the feature movie, Purple Rain.  If you find yourself wanting to watch (or re-watch) "Purple Rain" tonight, here are all the places you can stream it online with the prices. 

Back in the day (in 1985) you had to wait at Movie Gallery or Bob's Videos or Blockbuster (if you lived somewhere with a population base) if you wanted to watch "Purple Rain". 

Thanks to streaming video, it is here for you whenever you want it, in the comfort of your home.

Middle Schoolers Unite of Birmingham will run a food drive and fundraiser at Shades Mountain Park this Saturday, April 23rd.

The "Strike Out Hunger" campaign will benefit food insecure children in the Hoover City School district through the Hoover Helps Weekend Backpack program.

This project is hosted by Middle Schoolers Unite of Birmingham, our local youth service club, who are the recipients of a Make Your Mark on Hunger grant through GenerationOn, a global youth service organization based out of NYC. The group joins 30K youth across america to fight hunger through local service. Local players will contribute by bringing designated items or financial contributions.

The top 3 teams will receive prizes (donated by ChickfilA) and the top league will receive a popcicle party. Many individual players are holding their own mini food drives in their neighborhoods leading up to the event.

Middle Schoolers Unite hopes to raise enough money to fund the Weekenders Backpack program at Green Valley Elementary for at least 3 months.

Earth Day 2016 is Friday, April 22nd.   There are celebrations all month focusing on topics like sustainability and the environment.


Here are a few of the free Earth Day celebrations in Birmingham this weekend


Earth Day at The Gardens


Birmingham Botanical Gardens

2612 Lane Park Road

Birmingham, AL 35223


Apr 23, 2016: 11 am - 4 pm (Sat)

Phone: 205-414-3950

Free parking is available in our lot.


Earth Day at The Gardens takes place from 11-4 p.m., and it will include exhibitor booths, local vendors, free activities and live music from Tommy Ellison.


This year, the annual celebration will celebrate The Gardens’ Moon Tree, which grows just above Blount Plaza.   Planted in 1976 after traveling to space as a seed aboard Apollo 14 to test the effects of weightlessness on germination, the Moon Tree now stands 80-feet tall. The Gardens will have a hands-on display about the dispersal method of the sycamore seed, which floats on the wind like tiny parachutes.


Beneath the Moon Tree, children will be able to make their own hand-held parachutes from coffee filters.


Live diamondback terrapins will be a featured in the Orientation Room next to Blount Plaza from noon to 2 p.m., presented by biology professor, Dr. Ken Marion.


He will discuss how scientists are raising terrapins at the turtle hatchery at UAB and releasing them back into their natural habitat in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta — to keep the terrapins off the endangered species list. Children’s author and storyteller, Claire Datnow of Media Mint Publishing, will share her adventures while doing research for Operation Terrapin Rescue, book seven of her eco-mystery series, The Adventures of The Sizzling Six. Her presentations will be from 1:30 to 2 p.m. and again from 2 to 2:30 p.m.


For more information, click here  http://www.bbgardens.org/earth-day.php



Earthbound's Earthfest


Avondale Brewing Company

201 41st Street South

Birmingham, AL 35222

Suggested $5 donation.

Apr 23, 2016: 2 pm - 9 pm (Sat)

Phone: 205-458-0095

Presented by Black Warrior Riverkeeper               at Avondale Brewing Company

Earthbound’s Earthfest  celebrates Earth Day and promotes Black Warrior Riverkeeper, a nonprofit clean water advocacy organization protecting the Black Warrior River basin. 


The family friendly concert is open to pets and humans of all ages, although guests under 21 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.  Suggested $5 donations at the door – as well as proceeds from merchandise, art, beer, Smokey Sam’s BBQ, and Red Mountain Crawfish – will support Black Warrior Riverkeeper.  The event’s top sponsor is Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, followed by MacLellan, Inc., their award winning water treatment partner, and PRADCO, the world’s largest manufacturer of bass fishing lures.


Earth Day Shredding Event

Homewood Public Library (Library Parking Lot

1721 Oxmoor Road

Homewood, AL 35209


Apr 22, 2016: 10 am - 2 pm (Fri)

Phone: 205-332-6619


We will have document shredding and electronics recycling along with other Earth Day related activities for the whole family!



And (a few) worth paying for….


This is a great time of year to support environmental efforts. Here are several of top fundraising events in honor of Earth Day.


20th Annual Green Tie Affair


Friday, April 22nd, 6:30-11:00pm

Old Car Heaven

3501 1st Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35222

(205) 326-8902




This is the largest FUN-draiser of the year for the Alabama Environmental  Council.   Always one of the highlights of the spring, Green Tie Affair is a gala with food, beverages, music, and silent and live auction. Being on Earth Day this year, this is a great way to kick up your Earth Month celebration.


Heavy hors d'oeuvres - Beer from local breweries like Good People Brewing and Cahaba Brewing - silent and live auction. LLive music by Wildcat and the Waffle Boys with DJSupreme closing out the evening - a great night for all!


Donate an auction item and get a free ticket for each $50 value. Use our friendly online system: http://www.tinyurl.com/gtaauction



Earth Month Art Party + Silent Auction to benefit Cahaba River Society


Tonya Jones SALONSPA

2410 Fairway Drive

Birmingham, AL 35213


$20 donation

 Apr 21, 2016: 5 pm - 8 pm (Thu)

Phone: 205-322-5326


Cahaba River Society, tonyajones SALONSPA, & Aveda invite you to celebrate Earth Month by supporting CRS at this year's Art Party + Silent Auction. Enjoy a silent auction, live music, food, drinks, & more in support of clean water. All proceeds benefit Cahaba River Society.


On Sunday, April 24th, Schaeffer Eye Center and the Forest Park South Avondale Business Association presents the Alabama Symphony Orchestra performing a free, open to the public concert in the amphitheater. The program will be family friendly, and will feature light classical music as well as music from well-known musicals and films. Examples might be Seventy Six Trombones from the Music Man or Waltz of the Flowers from the Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky. Before the concert, please bring your children to experience the Symphony Education Department's "petting zoo" of instruments. Seating in the amphitheater opens at 1:30. Concert begins at 3:00pm.

The Rural Members Association is proud to announce the 19th Annual Freedom Creek Blues Festival founded by the late, great Willie King. This year’s festival is to be held near downtown Aliceville, in "Cookieman's" place at 1438 Wilder Circle, rain or shine! 


One of the more challenging aspects of being the parent of a child with autism is finding the right services and professionals to help your child. The surge in autism has taxed the services available. Long wait times, difficulty obtaining appointments and little coverage of services is the norm. However, with the constant advocacy of parents and organizations focused on autism, services for autism in Birmingham are improving over time.

The following list is not meant to be an exhaustive list of every single resource available in Birmingham. However, these are programs, services and providers that are recognized as being particularly focused on autism spectrum issues.



The first step in most parent’s journey is getting a correct diagnosis. Getting a good quality diagnosis that will be recognized by the school system typically means finding a psychologist that works with those on autism spectrum regularly. This step is also necessary to receive the proper supports in school settings as well. Psychologists can also work with the family to address behavioral strategies and emotional issues.



Once you have a diagnosis, identifying the service providers for various therapies is next on the list.

Puzzle Piece

Located in Cahaba Heights, Puzzle Piece offers a variety of therapies in a fun, child centered environment for therapies ranging from social skills to speech and language skills. Owner Renee Plata has personal experience as an autism parent that brings a special level of care to their services.

Mitchell’s Place

One of the first autism specific service providers in the state, Mitchell’s Place has a large number of service providers and treatment options. Everything from ABA to develop verbal skills to after school social skills groups for kids with Asperger’s.

Child’s Play

This group is not autism only, but does have a number of therapists and therapies that are useful to children on the spectrum, ranging from occupation and physical therapy to speech therapy.

UAB/Children’s Hospital

The Medical Autism Clinic (MAC) is located in The Children's Hospital of Alabama at Birmingham and serves children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). This group provides assessments, evaluations and referrals for issues from eating to hearing to motor skills and more. Note that this group is focused on assessments and will likely refer to other service providers. However, proper assessment is a key to getting the right services for your child.


Devoted to providing treatment, education, and research in the area of children’s mental health, including autism, Glenwood provides inpatient, outpatient and summer services for children with all types of mental health issues. The campus includes the Cott School, a program for children with autism.



The Alabama Autism and Asperger Info and Support Network was designed and implemented by an autism parent. It is worth reviewing past discussion threads to find information about providers, school systems and resources.

The Autism Society of Alabama is a major resource for those with autism. In addition, ASA maintains a website that provides up to date information and provides direct links to other important informational sites. Not only are there treatment resources listed, but also fun, autism specific activities, such as reduced sensory movie times and early entry to events like the recent Lego convention at the BJCC.

The Resources page for Autism Society of Alabama has big list of services and service providers across the state and deserves a bookmark on any autism parent’s computer.

Wrights Law Started by parents that needed then hard to find information for the IEP process, Wrights Law is the most comprehensive location for information as you go into the IEP or 504 process with your school system. Over the years, this site has gone beyond basic IEP law information to positive strategies in the IEP process.



There are no autism specific schools (other than Alan Cott at Glenwood) for children on the spectrum in Birmingham.

Most children on the spectrum in Birmingham receive schooling through the public school systems which means working with school to develop and implement an appropriate IEP. A large number are homeschooled.

However, a few of the private schools have situations that make them uniquely suited for some children on the spectrum.


Spring Valley School

This private school focuses on students with learning differences. The structured setting coupled with inclusion of child specific interventions (for example, most students type their work instead of writing since many of the students have dyspraxia) may be a good fit for some children with ADHD and Asperger’s.


The Alabama Waldorf School

This school has no autism specific programs. However, the Waldorf approach – with its focus on natural materials and lights, very clear routines and calm teaching style – may work well for some children on the spectrum that are comfortable learning in a group setting. Classes range from preschool programs to middle school. The Waldorf community, including the parents and other students, are kind and accepting. The school is in the process of building a new, updated campus.


Horizons School

The Horizon School provides a residential, college like setting for mildly disabled students with learning issues aged 18-26.



When parents find they are in disagreement with the program or services offered by the public school in an IEP, and cannot reach an acceptable compromise, a parent should consider consulting with a special education lawyer. There are very few attorneys in Alabama that focus on special education litigation. Here are the two that specialize in special education issues in Birmingham.

The Gallini Group, LLC

Deborah Mattison, J.D., Wiggins and Childs


Cam Ward is an autism parent and has been the Alabama State Representative for District 14 since 2010.

Ward is chairman of the Autism Task Force of Alabama[5] and recently announced the launch of Autism Alabama, "an on-line library providing distance learning for teachers who have children on the autism spectrum. He often supports autism specific legislation in the Alabama legislature.

Contact information for Cam Ward can be found here.


Note: Hanson Watkins is the parent of a child with autism and has been a client or used many of the services listed.

The Birmingham Zoo’s beloved African elephant, Bulwagi, is set to receive potentially life-saving surgery in May to remove his infected tusk.

Bulwagi, age 35, came to the Birmingham Zoo with only one tusk, as he lost the first tusk following an injury sustained at an early age.His remaining tusk has a long-term crack. Elephants use their tusks for digging, lifting objects, gathering food, stripping bark from trees and for protection. Through these activities, their tusks can be damaged.

The veterinary staff at the Zoo has been working to correct this condition since he arrived. In November 2015, Bulwagi participated in a revolutionary procedure in partnership with University of Alabama at Birmingham to place a composite wrap on his cracked tusk in an attempt to keep the crack from growing. Despite the continued efforts of the Zoo’s Veterinary Staff, the crack has worsened over time and become infected. The Veterinary Staff has tried several attempts at treating the infection with antibiotics without success. If left in place, there is a risk of the infection spreading to other organs, including the heart, which is why the tusk must be removed.

The surgery is a very involved process requiring intense preparation, so the Birmingham Zoo is bringing in experts from the Colyer Institute and extra veterinary assistance from across the country to help with the multiple hour operation. In addition, Bulwagi has been receiving advanced training in preparation for the surgery. Following a successful procedure, Bulwagi will receive daily care of the surgical site.

The Zoo’s staff does not anticipate any changes to the social structure, and believe Bulwagi will remain the dominant male of the Zoo’s bachelor herd.

The Glenwood Center, are proud to announce that Disorders: From Mitochondria to Music" at The Glenwood Center on Wednesday, April 20, 2016 from 11:15 am - 12:30 pm in the UAB Alumni House Auditorium at 1301 10th Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35294. Dr. Goh is a pediatric neurologist & Director of Pediatric Neurology Therapeutics in San Diego, CA. This event is free of charge & open to the public. Seating is available to the first 200 participants. Register online at www.glenwood.org/2016lecture. This event is a joint projected between The Glenwood Center, UAB School of Public Health and UAB Civitan-Sparks Clinics.

Last week the Baron's capped off a five game series against the Jacksonville Suns with a 1-4 record before opening the 2016 home season at Regions Field with a 3-2 series victory over the Tennessee Smokies. Despite just five openings, the Barons remain the Southern League leaders in overall (34,162) and average (6,832) attendance this season.


Birmingham Post-Herald (BPH) is Birmingham, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

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