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

iJump 280

Children from a YMCA day camp take turns on the inflatable tree house at iJump 280. Photos by Madison Miller.


Walking into iJump 280 makes even adults remember the excitement of childhood. With kids jumping around on every inflatable that they could possibly imagine, it’s a child’s paradise. Best of all, it’s weather resistant.

The space is equipped with seven large inflatables, a rock climbing wall, two arcades, a go-cart track, five private party rooms and a café.

The play center, located behind Logan’s Roadhouse and FedEx Office in Inverness off Highway 280, offers an alternative to the pool for families looking for kids’ activities to beat the heat. Continue reading

Off the beaten path: Highway 280

Joyce Balch demonstrates the best technique for picking blueberries at her u-pick farm. She recommends hooking the bucket on your arm and running your fingers along a cluster of berries as the ripest ones drop into the bucket. Photo by Kathryn Acree.


For many of us, summertime brings out the urge to hop in the car and see something new. Whether you are a longtime resident or have just moved to our area, here are a couple of venues we recommend a visit to this month. All of these spots are family-friendly and found a short drive from Double Oak Mountain.

Balch’s U-Pick Blueberries
Grab your sunscreen and load up the car with the whole clan because blueberry picking is easy and inviting to everyone from toddlers to grandparents. Bob and Joyce Balch have four acres of blueberries in Sterrett that are overflowing with the little blue gems this summer. All of the varieties available are known as “rabbiteyes” but vary in size and “juiciness,” with names like “climax” and “premiere.” 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

Barbecue fresh from your backyard


Homemade barbecue plate: sandwich, baked beans, twice-baked potatoes, deviled eggs, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers.

When we were first married, my father and my husband’s grandfather taught Wayne how to grill. They did a great job, and now our friends call him “the grill master” and always say we need to open a restaurant.
I am not talking about hamburgers and hot dogs, although they are good too, but rather we have developed a love for

Wayne’s BBQ Pork. Photos by Lisa Johnsey.

smoking meats and honest grilling.
Through the years, Wayne has adjusted our family recipes to suit our taste. The chicken and pork recipes here are some of our classic favorites. With both meals, we serve similar side items including baked beans, deviled eggs, twice-baked potatoes, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers; and do not forget the bread for sopping up the sauce!  These dishes are some of our summer time favorites, and we hope you enjoy them as much as we do. Continue reading

Dahl selected by Rockies in MLB Draft


David Dahl signed with Auburn earlier this year and now will decide whether to play for the university or in the MLB for the Colorado Rockies. Photo courtesy of Shannon Floyd.

Recent Oak Mountain graduate David Dahl got the call of a lifetime Monday, June 4 at 7:10 p.m.  David was selected no. 10 overall by the Colorado Rockies in the first round of the Major League baseball draft.

His mother knew when he got the call it was for more than just small talk.

“A big smile came over David’s face as he listened to the phone call,” said Kelli Dahl.  “He talked us through the conversation he was having as he was on the phone.”

The Rockies organization saw Dahl as a great fit for their team after he finished a workout in which he hit 9 home runs and ran a blistering 6.4 seconds in the 60-yard dash. Continue reading