Singer Anderson East performs hometown concert to support Scout Music House

ATHENS, Ala. – While home for Thanksgiving, Athens native Anderson East performed a private benefit concert to support Scout Music House and opportunities for students to explore their interest in the music business.

East performed at Athens State University’s McCandless Hall on Friday, Nov. 23, to a sold out crowd. Athens Arts League presented the concert, and Athens-Limestone Hospital helped sponsor it.

Proceeds will benefit Athens Arts League’s Scout Music House project. The League is leasing the 1938 structure originally built for Boys and Girls Scouts from the City of Athens. Athens Arts League is raising money to renovate the once decaying structure into a music venue where students will get hands-on experience marketing, setting up and recording house concerts and other events.

During his performance, East remarked that for him, Scout Music House is 20 years too late. He said that 20 years ago the only place in Athens he had to perform was the coffee house at the Methodist Church. He toured Scout Music House while home for the holiday, and said he was honored Athens Arts League asked him to perform in support of the project.

East is a soulful R&B singer who was nominated for the Emerging Artist of the Year at the 2018 Americana Music Association Honors. He recently made his debut on the legendary PBS series “Austin City Limits.”

East said he performs concerts everywhere, but he was most nervous performing in his hometown where he knew many in the audience. Several of East’s family members and friends attended.

“Athens Arts League is humbled that a performer of Anderson East’s caliber believes in our mission to expand art opportunities in his home community, and we are grateful he and his band took of their time to support us with the concert,” said Athens Arts League Board President Jennifer Hilton Sampieri.

Athens Arts League Board member Holly Hollman, who serves as the Scout Music House Committee chair, said East also graciously donated part of the proceeds from his merchandise sales at the concert. Hollman said there are some outstanding invoices as well as additional donations to count, but she estimates the concert raised between $17,000 to $18,000.

“We are in the final phase of renovations, and this will go a long way to helping us complete the work left to be done,” Sampieri said.

Work remaining includes finishing the wiring, insulation, Sheetrock and restoring the wooden floor.

Although Scout Music House is not yet open, Athens Arts League is finding ways to involve students in programs. For example, sponsors paid for four students from city and county schools to attend East’s concert. The students not only enjoyed the performance, they obtained hands on experience setting up for the concert, taking photographs, and event planning.

SOURCE: Holly Hollman/City of Athens

Band students help park committee share Christmas spirit

ATHENS, Ala. – Each year at the Lincoln-Bridgeforth Park Committee Tree Lighting in Athens, the committee helps families in need celebrate Christmas by providing toys to children from the community and those recommended from the Boys and Girls Club. During the event, there are random drawings so some children receive a bicycle.

In 2017, when the East Limestone Marching Band learned the committee was in need of more presents and bicycles, the band collected gifts and bicycles at a Chick-fil-A toy drive. Band Director Jennifer “Miss Sam” Janzen said the band students are ready to help again.

“This Christmas project teaches the band kids to learn the importance of giving back and supporting their community,” she said.

On Nov. 26 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., the band will host a toy drive at Chick-fil-A in Athens. Those who want to donate can bring toys and bicycles for all ages, but especially toys for older children.

“We are always in need of gifts for those ages 10 to 14, girls and boys,” said Athens City Councilman Frank Travis, who is a member of the park committee. “We want them to get an age appropriate gift.”

The committee provides gifts for 100 to 150 children. The tree lighting will be Dec. 11 at Lincoln-Bridgeforth Park at 5:30 p.m. Volunteers from the committee, City of Athens, Athens Mayor’s Youth Commission and other student groups assist with wrapping gifts prior to the event and serving snacks and distributing gifts at the event.

“You see the true meaning of Christmas at the Tree Lighting,” Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks said. “You see how people from various groups can work together to bring a smile to a child’s face. Seeing those smiles is the best Christmas gift we as a city can receive.”

Source: Holly Hollman/City of Athens, Alabama

Athens-Limestone Tourism Seeks Sponsors with “Christmas Memories” To Deck Trees for Bicentennial North Pole Stroll

Photo: Athens Limestone Tourism

LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. – The thoughts of many may be on football and Fall leaves mid-September but planning for the Athens North Pole Stroll has begun in hopes that local churches, businesses, organizations, non-profits, families and individuals will help make this annual Christmas tradition even grander as Athens, Limestone, Mooresville and the State of Alabama mark 200 years of history, people, places and tales.

A new twist for this year’s Athens North Pole Stroll is the choice of a theme, “Christmas Memories” to fall in line with the Bicentennial-themed events occurring around Limestone County including the Athens Trustmark Christmas Parade. Organizers, Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association, hope this encourages decorators to put on their thinking cap of bygone Christmases and let nostalgia loose with their creativity.

Held annually during the month of December in Big Spring Memorial Park in the historic Beaty District of Athens – the Athens North Pole Stroll features an array of creatively decorated trees by sponsors and decorators, Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful’s “Tired” Family in a bemusing situation, and a visit from Santa and a reading of “T’was the Night Before Christmas”.

Anyone interested in participating as a sponsor, decorator, or would like to volunteer at the Athens North Pole Stroll can visit  or contact the Athens-Limestone Visitors Center at 256-232-5411.

Source: Cayce Lee/Athens-Limestone Tourism

Governor Ivey Issues Statement Following Meeting with Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles

(Governor’s Office: Sydney Foster)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Governor Kay Ivey on Monday met with members of the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles, along with Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall. At the conclusion of the meeting, Governor Ivey announced that she has designated Lyn Head as the Chairperson of the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles. Ms. Head will take over those responsibilities from Clifford Walker, who remains a member of the Board.

Governor Ivey also signed Executive Order 716 which, effective immediately, imposes a temporary moratorium on early parole hearings and requires the submission and implementation of a corrective action plan by the Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Governor Ivey issued the following statement regarding today’s events:

“Today, I have taken decisive action to address the alarming concerns surrounding the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles. First, through Executive Order, I am directing a halt on all early parole hearings, so that the Board’s focus remains entirely on addressing the problems at hand. To shift the direction of Pardons and Paroles, I have also designated new leadership. The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles’ decisions are crucial to the safety of our state, and the issues here are not to be taken lightly. I directed the Board to produce a detailed, corrective action plan, which they will report back to the Attorney General and myself. It’s clear that things need to change, and I assure the families of victims and all Alabamians that I am working diligently to solve this problem.”

Athens City Council sets public hearing on proposed animal ordinance changes

ATHENS, Ala. – There will be a public hearing on Oct. 22, 2018, to hear comments regarding proposed changes to the City of Athens animal ordinance. The hearing will occur during the regular Athens City Council meeting at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

The proposed changes address clarifying some areas such as ADA requirements, updating sections and eliminating portions no longer viable.

The major change focuses on tethering and non-tethering.

The council is considering two options:
● Allowing dogs to be kept on a tether or in a pen with various requirements related to that option.
● Banning all tethering.

A committee of city staff and citizens drafted the ordinances with input from the city attorney and presented them to the City Council at the Oct. 8 Council meeting.

Click here to view an overview of the proposed changes and the two drafts the Council is considering.

Source: Holly Hollman/City of Athens

Limestone County Modern Woodmen of America Representative presents $2,500 check to the American Cancer Society

ATHENS, Ala. – The Limestone County Relay for Life team, County for a Cure, is starting the 2019 season with a $2,500 check from Modern Woodmen of America Representative Andrew Kirk.

The check was a matching grant for County for a Cure’s 2nd annual Mud Volleyball Tournament. This check allowed the fundraiser to gross over $12,000 which went directly to the American Cancer Society.

Kirk presented the check on Tuesday, September 4, 2018 to American Cancer Society Community Manager Cherry Hammonds and County for a Cure team captain Michelle Williamson.

Hammonds said, “Andrew Kirk with Modern Woodmen is a great friend of the Limestone Relay. With this donation, it will continue to fund the American Cancer Society mission which is to save lives, celebrate lives, and lead the fight for a world without cancer.”

Williamson said, “County for A Cure is very thankful for our partnership with such an amazing organization and look forward to our partnership to continue in the future.”

Kirk said, “It was an honor to partner with the American Cancer Society at the 2018 Mud Volleyball Tournament. Modern Woodmen of America loves giving back and serving its community in which we live.”

About Modern Woodmen of America: Founded in 1883, Modern Woodmen supports members, families and communities throughout the United States. As a fraternal benefit society, the organization is defined by its unique blend of financial services, member benefits and community impact opportunities. In 2017, Modern Woodmen and its members provided $20.6 million and 534,000 volunteer hours to support fraternal activities and programs. For more information go to

About the American Cancer Society: The American Cancer Society is a global grassroots force of nearly 2 million volunteers dedicated to saving lives, celebrating lives, and leading the fight for a world without cancer. From breakthrough research, to free lodging near treatment, a 24/7/365 live helpline, free rides to treatment, and convening powerful activists to create awareness and impact, the Society is the only organization attacking cancer from every angle. For more information go to

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