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The Tuscaloosa Museum of Art: Home of the Westervelt Collection is pleased to present an exhibition: Drawn to the Light – the paintings of Evan Wilson. This show will feature works owned by citizens of Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and the Huntsville Museum of Art, as well as collectors from around the country, including the stunning painting shown here, entitled Textures (2011).

Evan Wilson was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in 1953. He showed interest in art at an early age when University of Alabama art professor and family friend Richard Brough provided him with painting materials and inspiration.  Wilson extended the realism tradition into a new realm when he painted a series of canvases depicting baptisms in the Gees Bend area of Alabama. 

The opening reception will be held April 25, 2014 from 5:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. The show will run through July 4th. As always, admission to the museum is free to the public.

Come help the Tuscaloosa Museum of Art celebrate this wonderful contemporary artist and be drawn into the light of his works!

For more information, visit the Tuscaloosa Museum of Art’s official website, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (205) 562-5280.

Photo credit: Tuscaloosa Museum of Art

Tuscaloosa County’s newest retreat, The Cornerstone Retreat, LLC, is holding a Dedication Celebration on Saturday, April 26. This promises to be a fun-filled day for everyone, with guest speakers, live music, pony rides, inflatables, face painting, food, craft vendors, and much more. The Cornerstone Retreat invites everyone in our area to come out and bring your favorite dessert, blankets, lawn chairs and join in the fun! The Dedication Celebration for The Cornerstone Retreat gets underway at 10 a.m., and events are planned through 3 p.m.

The Cornerstone Retreat, located at 21160 Max Vinston Road in Northport, has year round facilities open to churches, organizations and small groups. It can accommodate small groups for day, overnight or weekend retreats. Along with 37 acres to explore, the retreat includes a fishing lake, a pavilion with a kitchen, picnic tables, an outdoor grill, and handicap accessible bathrooms. The two large cabins are heated and cooled with a kitchenette, bathrooms and sleeping accommodations.

Driving directions to The Cornerstone Retreat: From Northside High School on Hwy 43 North, it is 4.8 miles to Max Vinston Road on the right.

For more information, visit The Cornerstone Retreat’s official website, the Facebook page or or call (205) 339-5869.

By Ashley Maughan

On Saturday, March 8, hundreds of runners participated in the Tuscaloosa Half Marathon, and just as many participated in the Fun Run that followed it. Many of those who participated trained thanks to Read Bama Read, a local non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to help replace and replenish local school libraries destroyed in the April 27, 2011, tornado.

Well, those kids? They helped to raise a lot of money for Alberta Elementary School. Just after the Fun Run, Read Bama Read, along with co-founder Dana Duckworth and others, presented a check for $50,000 to the school.

"The Fun Run was terrific and will continue to get better each year,” Duckworth said. “The smiles on the faces of children and adults as the sea of multi-color shirts launched from the start line filled your heart with joy to know these participants were giving back to the community, being active as they did it and having fun!”

Duckworth said giving back made everything worth it, and she’s grateful for the community effort. "The feeling of providing a check to Alberta Elementary for such a large sum of money made you realize at that moment that all the hard work, endless hours of preparation, planning and purpose was worth the sacrifices you made to get there. To see our board come together for a greater good was synergistic and intrinsically rewarding for all of us. We could not have done this without the support of sponsors, participants and volunteers.”

For more information about Read Bama Read, visit the organization's official website.

Photos: Jessie Patterson Jones

Tuesday, 22 April 2014 00:00

Yummy recipes: Light Cheesecake Pie

By Beth Branch

For the crust on this pie, I used reduced fat Oreos and about a 1/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt. It turned out a little soft, not crunchy and crumbly like common Oreo crusts. I call this a “Cheesecake Pie” because the filling is cheesecake flavored, but really it’s a cheesecake filling/pudding mix. I used unsweetened almond milk, which only has 30 calories per cup. Once the pudding thickened up, I folded in an 8 oz. container of Lite Cool Whip and spread that out over the frozen crust. Then just freeze it for a few hours or overnight, and then your pie is ready!

Ingredients:

12 reduced fat Oreos

1/4 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt

1 3.5 oz package of Cheesecake Filling

2 cups unsweetened Almond milk

8 oz container of Cool Whip

Sprinkles (optional)

Preparation:

1. Spray a 9 inch springform pan (or cake pan) with non-stick spray.

2. Add Oreos to a food processor and process until the crumbs are fine, not large or chunky.

3. Mix Oreo crumbs and yogurt until a paste forms. Press into the bottom of the springform pan, but not up the sides. Place the springform pan in the freezer.

4. In a medium sized bowl, combine cheesecake filling mix and almond milk. Whisk until there aren’t any lumps. I like to put the pudding in the fridge at this point so it will thicken faster.

5. Once the pudding has thickened, fold in Cool Whip. Then pour the filling into the springform pan and smooth it out with a spoon or rubber spatula.

6. Garnish with sprinkles. Return the pan to the freezer for at least 2-3 hours.

See more recipes on bethcakes.com.

Photo credit: Beth Branch

This Saturday, April 26, the Cottondale Dixie Youth Baseball and Softball will celebrate its Park Fun Day. The event is a mid-season fun day, allowing the kids to come have fun at Gordon Davis Ballpark – for a great cause. Fun Day is a fundraiser for the park, so the group can continue to allow everyone to play there, and make necessary improvements.

Lots of great activities are planned, including a homerun derby and pitching contests for all ages, jumper houses, and an adult, slow-pitch softball game that starts after the kids’ activities are over. The fun begins at 9 a.m. at Gordon Davis Park, and goes all day long. $5 armbands for children allow them to participate in all Fun Day activities.

For more information, visit Cottondale Dixie Youth Baseball and Softball on Facebook.

The Tuscaloosa community is invited to the 2nd Annual Paul W. Bryant School Health & Community Resource Fair this Thursday, April 24, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the school’s gymnasium and courtyard. There will be information about healthy living, as well as health screenings, Zumba demonstrations, exhibits, free food, fun activities for all ages and door prizes.

This event is a perfect opportunity for everyone in Tuscaloosa to come out and learn more about how to get, and stay, healthy!

Paul W. Bryant High School is located at 315 Mary Harmon Bryant Dr., just off Buttermilk Road, I-20/59 exit 77.

Photo: Paul W. Bryant High School Facebook page

By Derek Osborn

Let’s roll some names and see if you can venture an educated guess about what this column is going to discuss: Heath Ledger. Whitney Houston. Cory Monteith. John Belushi. Janis Joplin. Elvis Presley. I could fill up this rest of this wonderful paper with names, but I bet you can identify the intent here. 

Now, before you turn the page on another story about lives cut short and celebrities who probably had too much and, as a result, died too young, please hear me out. 

The latest well-known person to suffer an early fate by the hands of overdose (at least at the time of this writing) was potentially one of the greatest actors of our time, Philip Seymour Hoffman. Hoffman apparently died from a heroin overdose, a substance from which he simply could not stay away from. Another talented entertainer; another unfortunate and unnecessary waste of life. 

Why is this printed in a community newspaper, and what does this have to do with West Alabama? Everything.

Mass media and national news outlets will always concentrate on the recognizable names. Those are the ones that keep you tuned in, or buying another magazine, or clicking on their site. Hoffman was an incredible talent and an almost perfect example of a man who seemed to have everything going for him, with his life well under control. 

But the media will likely never consistently concentrate efforts on those lesser-known names that have suffered the same fate. They are justified for not doing so… there is no way that they can. There are too many of them. 

Statistically, the number of overdose cases in this country is baffling. Some credible outlets have estimated that more than 100 people are dying from heroin overdoses in this country every day. When you consistently look at numbers, it’s quite easy to pass them by without giving them a second thought. But think about it… one hundred people. A day. Hoffman was just one of them, on one day. And that’s just heroin. 

Add in all other drug overdose causes (which are too many to mention here), and this country is in a crisis - including our own little corner of the world right here in the Tuscaloosa area.

If you don’t have any interest in this topic, you should - regardless of what your opinion is on legalization, medicinal use, ending the war on drugs, or otherwise. Our children and grandchildren are growing up in a time where drug use is growing exponentially, and use is becoming more and more accepted. Everyone is medicated. Their eyes are watching and their ears are listening, and much of what they are seeing and hearing is that it’s “ok.” In the meantime, the real problem is being ignored. 

Hoffman most likely did not want to die on February 2. He did not want to cut his life short in exchange for getting high. He likely did not want to leave a scar on his otherwise flawless resume that would embarrassingly state that he died from a drug overdose. And I can guarantee that he did not want to leave behind his three beautiful children at such a young age. 

But Hoffman was addicted. And therein lies the real problem.

While the Republicans and Democrats, the righties and the lefties, the conservatives and liberals, etc. continue on with the argument of legalization and what substance might be worse than the other substance, the true substance of the issue is getting ignored: Addiction. 

Addiction is the reason we must educate our children and grandchildren about drug use and abuse. It is the reason that we need to be concerned with acceptance and legalization. It is the reason, regardless of stance and opinion, that we should all take interest. 

Last month, PRIDE of Tuscaloosa started a program in the County Schools entitled “Have a Little PRIDE.” If you have 3rd grader in the County School System, they will come home one day with some fun, age-appropriate materials about making healthy lifestyle choices and staying away from alcohol and tobacco. The goal is to lay the groundwork for a higher quality of life and to provide them with education so that they can make an informed decision in regards to addictive substances in the future. 

PRIDE hopes to extend this program to the Tuscaloosa City and private schools throughout our great community. I (shamelessly plugging and begging) ask that you support this program and help us make it better. 

Look for PRIDE of Tuscaloosa on Facebook. Like us. Share us. Get in touch with us.  There has never been a greater need in this country for drug prevention and education and it has to start at the community level.   

I do pledge to not make this monthly column a shameless plug for a great organization. But the relevance is here in our backyard, and ultimately we owe it to our kids. 

Derek Osborn is the Executive Director of PRIDE of Tuscaloosa by trade and writer by hobby. He lives in Tuscaloosa with wife Lynn, and daughters Savannah and Anica. Follow him on twitter @ozborn34. 

For the past several months, kids involved in the Alabama Blues Project’s Afterschool Camp at Martin Luther King Elementary School in Tuscaloosa have been learning. They’ve learned about the history of blues music, and they’ve learned how to play. Now, the kids are ready to show off their new skills.

The Afterschool Blues Camp’s spring 2014 performance will take place at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 22, at the McKenzie Court Community Center. This performance, sponsored by the Weaver Bolden Branch of the Tuscaloosa Public Libraries, is free and open to the public.

The children have worked very hard all semester, so come see what they learned!

For more information, visit the Alabama Blues Project’s official website.

Sunday, 20 April 2014 00:00

Happy Easter, Tuscaloosa

Happy Easter to everyone in Tuscaloosa, Northport and beyond! Residents far and wide celebrated the holiday all weekend, enjoying a myriad of different events in our area. One of the best? EasterFest 2014! This was, without a doubt, Tuscaloosa's largest Easter egg hunt.

The First Wesleyan Church of Tuscaloosa's annual event, held on Saturday, April 19, drew huge crowds to Snow Hinton Park, where kids searched for 26,000 eggs! Bands played, children enjoyed all sorts of activities, including face painting and inflatables, and everyone seemed to have a wonderful time. Kudos to First Wesleyan and all of the FWC volunteers who helped organize this big event, and helped make the day so special for so many.

For an up close look at all the fun from EasterFest 2014, check out this great video on Druid City Living's Facebook page.

Hopefully all of you had a memorable Easter holiday, too!

Photo credit: First Wesleyan Church Facebook

Together Assisting People (TAP) was founded by former University of Alabama football player Chris Rogers in 2010. Rogers was a part of Alabama’s 2009 national championship team, and is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. For the third year in a row, Rogers’ paintball tournament is planned for this Saturday, April 19, just after the A-Day game. The tournament will be held at Central High School; the action gets underway at 6 p.m.

TAP raises funds to host multiple educational sessions for high school athletes, with a focus on financial literacy, personal branding, social media etiquette, self-introduction, dressing for the occasion, tying ties, and finding which programs that would best fit the athlete.

The Chris Rogers Paintball Tournament helps to raise funds for these important programs that help at-risk youth. Last year’s event drew several notable former UA football players: Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, and Mark Barron were all on hand. Many former players signed autographs for fans and took photos, too.

If you’d like to participate in this year’s Chris Rogers Paintball Tournament, gather a team together and register! Visit the official TAP website for more information, including registration fees. The deadline for teams to sign up is Friday, April 18.