Category Archives: Community News

Remembering Heardmont Farm

The gates as they originally stood just off Cahaba Valley Road at the entrance to Heardmont Farm. Howard Perdue, Jr. built the gates and today they stand at the Park’s entrance near the playground. Photos courtesy of Nancy Perdue Boone.


Today Heardmont, or as it’s officially named, The Park at Heardmont Farm, welcomes kids playing in its ball fields or along its creek beds and football, soccer and cross country teams from around the state. But longtime residents may remember the park was once Heardmont Farm. Like many park and recreation venues, you might think

Howard Perdue, Jr. constructed this small home on Heardmont Farm that was later converted into a sheriff’s substation. Also pictured are corrals on the farm where he raised Polled Hereford cattle.

there is an ancient Mr. or Mrs. Heardmont somewhere in Alabama’s past, but this is not the case.

Heardmont owes its name to Stephen Heard, the first governor of Georgia named in 1781. Heard’s fourth great-grandson, Howard Perdue, Jr., born in 1912, was a well-known Birmingham trial lawyer. Continue reading


Farming for the future in Mt Laurel

Farm Manager Keith Caton and Jim ‘N Nick’s CEO Nick Pihakis run the community farm in Mt Laurel. Photos by Madoline Markham.


In a valley lies a farm. On its land lives a farmer. From its ground comes sustenance to feed the people who live around it.

This is what you find on Highway 41 near Mt Laurel, but it’s not common outside most urban and suburban landscapes in Alabama, according to Nick Pihakis, the mastermind behind the restaurant empire of Jim ‘N Nick’s.

This year Pihakis is funding the 25-acre Mt Laurel farm, which is owned by Ebsco, to use as a model for small farmers to sell goods to restaurants like his. Ultimately, he hopes this experimental three-acre farm model (only about three acres on the Mt Laurel property are farmed) will help rebuild the agriculture structure in the South so that farmers are guaranteed a buyer for their goods.

“It’s a good deal on both sides,” said Pihakis, a Mt Laurel resident. Continue reading

A rally for Ally

Chelsea Middle School student Ally Nelson with her mom, Christina. Eleven-year-old Ally is battling Osteosarcoma. Photo courtesy of Christina Nelson.


Eleven-year-old Ally Nelson’s fight began with a limp noticed by her mother, Christina, in March. Ally said it didn’t bother her too bad, but by the time the family went out of town for spring break, the pain in her thigh was no longer something to be ignored.

The original diagnosis based on her x-rays was tendonitis, and the Nelsons were advised to give her ibuprofen and to stretch out her leg for three weeks. After a week and a half, Ally’s limp grew worse. Her mom noticed she had lost muscle mass in her left thigh and now had swelling. Continue reading

Chelsea’s own Mrs. USA contestant

Mrs. Alabama United States of America Ashley Bentley lives in Chelsea. Photo courtesy of Frank Carnaggio.


Mrs. Alabama United States of America 2012 Ashley Bentley hasn’t been involved with pageants for her entire life. In fact, she only started a year ago.

“I was pregnant with my second child, and I wanted to make sure that I lived my life to give the best example. I wanted to do more and be more for them,” Bentley said.
Going into the pageant world for the first time, she wasn’t sure what to expect.

“I was happy to find out it wasn’t about a pretty face. It was a good bonding experience with other mothers who wanted to be a good role model,” Bentley said.

A native of Nashville and graduate of the University of Mississippi, Bentley moved to Birmingham after graduation to work at the Hershey Company. Twelve years later, she is the wife of Chris Bentley, owner of Bentley Flooring, and mother to two girls, Brooke, 5, and Brayden, 2. Continue reading

Fireworks for the Fourth

Watch the fireworks explode over Washington Hall when The American Village hosts Independence Day 1776. Photo courtesy of The American Village.

If you are looking for a local venue to enjoy the July 4 holiday, check out these popular spots:

The Big Kaboom
The city of Chelsea is planning its sixth annual Big Kaboom event the evening of July 3 at Chelsea Park subdivision. Pre-show entertainment begins at 8 p.m. with fireworks at 9 p.m. If you can see the water tower, you will be able to see the fireworks.

Entertainment Coordinator Wayne Morris told us some favorite local singers are planned. Mary Padgette, a rising junior at Chelsea High School, will be performing. Mary has been selected as a contestant on an upcoming season of NBC’s The Voice. Other performers planned include Haley Spates Mims, Edwina Chappell, Tammy Mularski, and an ensemble from Liberty Baptist Church.  To get to the entertainment area, turn at the first left, which is the first round-about, after entering Chelsea Park. The stage will be set up at the playground area down the hill on the left. Continue reading

Vintage glitz and glam: Rue Rue Originals designs

Amy Armstrong with her designs at Greystone Antiques & Marketplace


Amy Armstrong wasn’t looking for a business venture when she picked up a new hobby, but her creativity combined with an eye for a good find have turned into a thriving vintage jewelry line.

“I never intended to be so committed to it, and for it to be such a big thing in my life,” Armstrong said, “But it is such a great creative outlet. I’m in all the way.”
Her passion is evident as she sits at her kitchen table in Greystone surrounded by pieces that she designed in her basement studio. Continue reading

People you should know: Earl Niven, Chelsea Mayor

Chelsea mayor Earl Niven outside City Hall. Photo by Kathryn Acree.


Ask any long-time resident (or short-time resident for that matter) about the people who worked to make Chelsea the bustling small city it is today, and the name Earl Niven will quickly enter the conversation.
Mayor since the city officially incorporated in March 1996, Earl Niven is a lifelong Chelsea resident with roots that run deep. 280 Living sat down with Niven recently to discuss all things Chelsea, past, present and future.

Tell us about growing up in this area.
Home for me was down County Road 335. I was one of eight children, and we did a little farming and had a little garden for our family. My father worked for U.S. Steel in Birmingham, and I was always involved in athletics growing up. I went to Chelsea Elementary and Junior High then Shelby County High School and on to college at Montevallo.

I was the first senior high math teacher at Chelsea High School when it opened, then I went to work for Alabama Power for 28 years. In 1996 I was elected mayor, so I took an “early out” from Alabama Power in 1998 to work as mayor full-time.

How did Chelsea get its name?
This area was originally called Melrose until a train depot was built here in about 1906. There was already a depot named Melrose, and there are many stories about how the name was chosen. The railroad renamed the depot Chelsea, and we have been known as Chelsea since that time. Continue reading