1 year ago

Alabama Power, volunteers partner to save Logan Martin’s School Bus Island

Logan Martin Lake and its waters have held a bit of magic for David “Bama” Smith since his teenage years.

Smith spent his summers off from Woodlawn High School skiing and swimming with friends. Part of “the golden years before life responsibilities set in,” he never forgot the epic sunsets across Logan Martin Lake.

Smith and his buddies often visited a little spot – a green island covered with trees that sprouted from the lake – marked as Grissom Island on maps, but nicknamed School Bus Island by longtime residents. When the lake filled, the protruding land held an abandoned school bus. Though floods carried away the school bus years later, the name remained.

Locals say the area around School Bus Island is great for fishing. Some have stories about losing a bass “with a mouth as big as a hubcap” that could have easily topped 16 pounds.

The history between Smith and the small plot of land is more personal than any fish tale. Many evenings, he and his friends would boat to the grassy island after long hours in the sun. Happily exhausted after skiing, they’d have a sandwich and enjoy conversation around an evening campfire.

“I enjoyed being out with my friends on this little island,” he said.

Fast-forward some 30 years. Logan Martin Lake was always tucked into the back of Smith’s mind as a future home site. When he and his wife, Reneé, decided to build their “forever home,” they happened on a fortuitous find: Property about 5 miles from Logan Martin Dam was for sale. They went to see the land in April 2001, and three days later they owned it.

From the two-story home his wife designed, the couple has a bird’s-eye view of School Bus Island, 350 yards away. But Smith noticed worrisome changes during his 14 years on the lake.

“Almost in slow motion,” Smith saw his beloved getaway slip deeper and deeper into the waters. Estimating the island’s current dimensions at about 150 feet long, 50 feet wide, Smith said the island used to be about four times larger. Erosion was taking a heavy toll.

Saving a treasure

A phone call from Smith in June to Alabama Power’s Rob Coyne changed the future of School Bus Island.

Coyne, team leader at the Ragland Shoreline Office for Logan Martin and Neely Henry lakes, agreed with Smith that residents and lake visitors have enjoyed using School Bus Island for recreation for many years.

“Our Shoreline Management Team works to protect and enhance the environmental, scenic, cultural and recreation values of Alabama Power lakes,” Coyne said. “We understand the historical and recreational importance of the island to the Logan Martin Lake community.”

Coyne and other Shoreline Management team members worked with Fred Casey, owner of Tradesman Co. in Pell City, to stabilize the banks of the island. Casey’s company works on lake properties throughout the state, constructing seawalls, boathouses, piers, docks and other lake structures. For Casey, who has lived on the Pell City side of Logan Martin Lake for 14 years, the campaign to restore the island was personal.

“I wanted to see the work done right,” he said. “It’s just a pleasure to do this work. It’s almost like not working because I enjoy it so much.”

Coyne asked that the work be completed by July 4, if possible, to allow lake residents to enjoy using the island for the holiday.

Tradesman Co. placed a mini-excavator on the island. Smith’s next-door neighbor William Mann was also excited to see the project move forward. Casey and Tradesman Co. stored riprap on Mann’s land before they installed the materials around the island.

Casey and his team installed about 225 tons of riprap – stones about 6 inches to 10 inches long – to shore up the banks of the island. Workers created a beach area, leaving a small inlet to allow boats to anchor offshore. They completed the work, which began in mid-June, by June 27.

Smith, who owns Star Aerial and pilots drones commercially, documented the construction.

“This project was very timely,” said Casey, a member of the Logan Martin Lake Protection Association.

He is chairman of the board for the Logan Martin LakeFest and Boat Show, Alabama’s largest in-water boat show, held annually at Lakeside Park in Pell City. “I’m so glad that Dave Smith took interest in restoring the island – he’s been an advocate for a healthy lake for many, many years. The riprap restricts additional degradation of the island from erosion. We put in long hours to make the deadline as promised.

“I’m very happy with it because it’s encouraged people to look at the rest of the islands on Logan Martin Lake,” Casey added.

A happy ending for all

Smith said that he couldn’t be happier with the end results. He is thrilled the island has been preserved for the enjoyment of lakegoers for years to come.

“It was wonderful to see the work done so quickly,” Smith said.

With the renovations completed, lake residents responded with a July 4 celebration. Homeowners set up a treasure chest for children who visited. Kids reacted as though they’d discovered a pirate’s booty when opening the chest filled with Mardi Gras beads and other trinkets. The island remains the perfect place for boaters to stop for a picnic or to relax under the trees after a day of sun and fun.

Smith was eager to share School Bus Island with his 6-year-old grandson, Calvin, who frequently visits with his parents.

“I want Calvin to be able to enjoy the island for years to come,” Smith said.

The Smiths – including their son, Cameron, daughter-in-law, Jodi, and Calvin – have visited School Bus Island a few times since the shores were upgraded.

For Smith a half a lifetime later, the island still has a tranquil charm.

“I like to say that ‘a stitch in time saves nine,’” he said. “Alabama Power prevented this island from dissolving, and it’s made a lot of people happy. Alabama Power cares about our lake. This has put a smile on a lot of people’s faces by saving a little landmark.”

This story originally appeared in Alabama Power’s Shorelines.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 hour ago

Montgomery launches ‘Feed the Meter for the Homeless’ project

Under the leadership of Mayor Steven L. Reed, new specialized parking meters were installed last week in downtown Montgomery to provide a quick, convenient way to support locals affected by homelessness.

Reed announced the meters were on the way during a recent city council meeting. Called the “Feed the Meter for the Homeless” project, the City’s new initiative is made possible through a partnership with the Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless (MACH).

The special parking meters are green and offer residents a way to donate directly to support MACH and central Alabama agencies working with those experiencing homelessness in Alabama’s capital city. Donations will be accepted in the forms of coins or cash at each specialized meter and by card through the ParkMobile app (zone 36999) or online payment.


“The Feed the Meter for the Homeless initiative connects compassion with convenience by allowing Montgomery residents and visitors to support our neighbors affected by homelessness and its devastating ramifications,” Reed said in a statement. “Each donation is a hand-up to help those in need and an investment in building a better future for Montgomery and the River Region.”

For more information on Feed the Meter for the Homeless MGM, please click here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Cathy Randall now serving on board of The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham

Dr. Cathy J. Randall, chairman of the board of Pettus Randall Holdings, LLC, is now serving as a board member for The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham.

The Women’s Fund made the announcement in a recent release, detailing that Randall term’s officially began on January 1. A Birmingham native and Tuscaloosa resident, she is a longtime, prominent civic and corporate leader, as well as the legendary former director of the University Honors Programs at the University of Alabama.

Tracey Morant Adams, board chair for The Women’s Fund, said in a statement, “The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham strives to elevate and amplify women’s voices, and we are incredibly fortunate to welcome Dr. Randall to our board as she is a well-established voice in the state.”


“Cathy’s passion for community service and her experience in building a better Alabama will be a tremendous asset for the organization,” Adams added.

Randall’s service to the state includes being immediate past chairman of the Alabama Academy of Honor and former president of the boards of directors of the American Village, the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame and the David Mathews Center of Civic Life, as well as former director of Alabama Girls State.

Additionally, she currently serves on the board of Alabama Power Company and is a former board member of Mercedes Benz USI. Randall was the co-chair of Governor Kay Ivey’s inaugural committee and was named as a Woman of Impact by Yellowhammer Multimedia in 2018.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

Sessions responds to ‘desperate and afraid’ Byrne and Tuberville — ‘Sad to see them both descend to such a sleazy low point’

With Alabama’s U.S. Senate Republican primary headed into the home stretch, the field’s three front-runners are beginning to mix it up among one another.

The first significant shot came from U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), who on Saturday went up on air with an ad attacking both his leading opponents: former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville. Tuberville has thrown a few barbs as well while on the stump, including one at Sessions that accused him of having “turned on” President Donald Trump.

In a statement given to Yellowhammer News, Sessions condemned the tone of both Byrne and Tuberville, noting their positions in recent polling and describing their tacks as “sleazy.”


“It is unfortunate that both Tommy Tuberville and Bradley Byrne have abandoned any pretense of running a positive campaign. But it is not surprising: both candidates are trailing in the polls, and when politicians like Tuberville and Byrne are losing, they become desperate and afraid,” Sessions stated. “Both Tuberville and Byrne have quit on themselves and their campaigns. Neither can connect with voters on the merits of their ideas. It is sad to see them both descend to such a sleazy low point.”

Sessions warned there would be a response if this activity persisted.

“If their baseless, desperate attacks continue, they will be forcefully answered,” he continued.

The former U.S. Senator maintained that Alabamians in this primary will be focused on substantive issues.

“The key issue for Alabamians is who will most effectively and forcefully fight for their conservative values and interests, such as ending illegal immigration, protecting our jobs from unfair foreign competition, defending religious freedom, and further advancing our strong Trump economy.”

Alabama Republican voters on March 3 will cast a ballot for their preference to represent them on the general election ballot in November.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.

16 hours ago

Leaders, educators and students gather for Alabama’s 2nd Annual HBCU Summit

Alabama’s 2nd Annual Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Summit celebrated the state’s 14 HBCUs and the value they bring to higher education across our state and country. Saturday’s event, moderated by Alabama U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, was held at Miles College in Fairfield.


The event kicked off with a panel discussion titled “Women in the Lead: How Six Alabama HBCU Presidents Are Raising the Bar.” The session included comments from:

“Extraordinary panel of women in leadership positions,” Jones said afterwards. “I think they provide unique insights to this. Just an amazing group of women that come from varied backgrounds — they came from academics, but also from business, so it’s a unique perspective that is what is going on with HBCUs but also with higher education in general.”

The panelists touched on a number of topics, including ways to help more high school students and nontraditional students get enrolled, making the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) simpler to fill out, partnering with businesses to offer degrees and curriculum the businesses need and working together to elevate the communities they serve.

“That’s what we pride ourselves on is that the benefit of being an HBCU is that … you may not have these large classrooms like you have (elsewhere), but you have teachers that know your name, teachers that care,” Archie said. “We’re going to give you that pep talk when you need that pep talk and we’re going to help you achieve.”

It is that level of concern for students that stood out to Jones.

“These female leaders are so dynamic and so passionate about what they do,” Jones said. “They care so much about their students and their communities. They really represent the best of all HBCUs. HBCUs are the fabric of the communities and I think you saw that reflected here today.”

The summit also featured a career fair and an afternoon panel discussion titled “Student Voices: How Alabama HBCU Student-Leaders Are Lifting Up Their Campuses.” The panel, moderated by Jones, featured students from Miles College, Alabama A&M University, Shelton State Community College, Talladega College and Trenholm State Community College.

“Trying to educate and train the workforce of the 21st century is going to be a challenge,” Jones said. “We’re changing technologically, we’re changing demographically, we’re online — everything is moving in a different direction. Education has got to keep up with that, but also so do businesses. They’ve also got to start reaching out and develop those partnerships to not only train, but to mentor. I think you heard that today.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

16 hours ago

VIDEO: Trust in government was lost long ago, Jeff Sessions leads GOP field while Jones trails all, Birmingham’s battle over monuments and more on Alabama Politics This Week

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Alabama Democratic Executive Committee member Lisa Handback take you through this week’s biggest political stories, including:

— Is President Donald Trump causing mistrust in government or is he exploiting that lack of trust?

— With new polls out, does Jeff Sessions have the GOP race locked up and does Doug Jones even have a chance?

— Is Birmingham’s mayor boosting his profile while continuing the fight over a Confederate monument?


Jackson and Handback are joined by Secretary of State John Merrill to discuss the latest report by the Southern Poverty Law Center that claims Alabama is suppressing voters and Merrill’s willingness to take on more responsibility at the Secretary of State’s office.

Jackson closes the show with a “parting shot” at the waste of millions of dollars Alabama municipalities spend on “public notices” because of a series of outdated laws requiring publication of voter rolls and public notices in local newspapers.

Alabama Politics This Week – 2/16/20

VIDEO: Trust in government was lost long ago, Jeff Sessions leads GOP fields while Jones trails all, Birmingham's battle over monuments has no real purpose and more on Alabama Politics This Week

Posted by Yellowhammer News on Friday, February 14, 2020

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.