What are you thankful for?

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Cullman Police Chief Kenny Culpepper is one of many residents who responded to The Tribune’s question, “What are you thankful for?” (Photo courtesy of Kenny Culpepper)

CULLMAN COUNTY, Ala. – The Tribune reached out this week to folks across the county with a simple question: “What are you thankful for?” With no limit on length or content, they could share anything from a phrase to a story, from fun to touching seriousness, and their responses ran the gamut. Here’s what they had to say:


Cullman County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shane Barnette

“First and foremost, I am thankful for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Next, I am most thankful for my best friend and wife, Kristi, and my sons Ethan, Caleb and Noah. I am thankful for all of my extended family, church and friends. I am also very thankful to be a part of the greatest school system and community that exists. We are blessed to have employees that pour their heart into young people’s lives even in these extremely tough times.”


Cullman County Probate Judge Tammy Brown

“I am thankful not just for everything, but in everything. I have made decisions, like we all have, that I know I would like to change. When those decisions do not go in the direction I had hoped, I try to focus on how God brought me through and how I learned from the trials we all face. 

“Going through these trials is where I learned that I am thankful for family, friends, co-workers and the many, many people that I have met and the relationships made throughout the years. People have been put in my life that I never imagined possible.

“I am blessed.”


Karma in Cullman Director Rachel Fillmore

“We are asked every November what we are thankful for. We always respond with some cliche answer about how we were thankful for our jobs, our family, our church or our faith. However, I think this year when we answer that question, our answers will hit a little differently.  For those who have been out of work for months due to COVID-19 will truly understand what being thankful for their job means. Those who have been unable to spend time with their family because of the shutdown or restrictions again will be feeling a different level of thankful this year.  And those who are just returning to church on a weekly basis or those who have learned to praise the Lord safely from home are thankful for technology and good old-fashion faith. 

“For me, personally, I am thankful for my new granddaughter, because she as with all the new babies is a reminder that God has not given up on us. I am thankful for any time that I can spend with my family safely after these past few months. Family events have been few and far between, but we know we would rather be safe than sorry. I am thankful for my health as I know that many in our community, our state, our nation and our world are struggling. I am also thankful that I live in a community that is filled with so many wonderful human beings who support a wide array of nonprofits to help those in need in our area. I am thankful for my friends and family who make my heart smile on a daily basis and give me a reason to wake up each day. 

“The biggest thing I am thankful for is my ability to be thankful.  We live in a time and society where it seems some people feel entitled or owed and they never know what it feels like to be thankful and it truly makes me sad. Because being thankful is what makes you humble and is what often makes you kind. So, my friends, I hope this Thanksgiving you have many things to be thankful for, not cliche things; I mean I hope you are thankful for things that have touched your soul this year.”


Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry

“We know 2020 has been a very tough year for our citizens and our nation. Even through it all, I have been blessed and thankful for many things.

“A few of the things I am thankful for are My Lord and savior, my wife, children and family that continually support me through everything in life. I am thankful for the men and women of the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office who work so hard for the community they love. The citizens of Cullman County who continually show us support every day. I cannot fully describe in words everything that I am thankful for this year, but without a doubt I have been blessed. I pray God’s blessings over everyone this Thanksgiving season.”


Victoria’s Hope Founder April Bowen German

“This year has definitely taught me to be thankful for the moments as they are happening, before they become just a memory! And of course, I’m thankful for my wonderful husband, my boys, the opportunity to teach children and this amazing community who has made my dream a reality!

“After experiencing everything that this year has brought, I have learned to be thankful for the little things that I used to take for granted. I’m thankful to have been able to experience my son play his first season of varsity football. I’m thankful to be able to work side-by-side with my husband and still be able to experience how wonderful this amazing community is and the way we take care of our own. I’m thankful that I still get to teach my students face-to-face instead of in front of a computer. Those are things that I may have taken for granted before, but now I want to soak in every minute of it.”


United Way of Cullman County Executive Director Becky Goff

“There are so many people that come to mind that I am thankful for this year, but without a doubt I am thankful for this community!!  Cullman County is incredibly generous, and we have amazing partners that continue to rise above all the challenges to ensure that people in our community get the services they need. 

“Personally, I am thankful for a rock solid faith.  Even in times of discouragement- and this year has been full of that- I know that I can stand in confidence and with assurance on the promises God has given me.  A better day is coming!”


The Link of Cullman County Director Julie Hall

“I am thankful for a Heavenly Father who loves me and for every person he has placed in my life to love – family, husband, workmates, church family, friends and strangers. Each and every relationship in each and every circumstance is an opportunity to live out His love, and for that I am truly thankful.”


Cullman High School Principal Kim Hall

“I am thankful for my family and for salvation through Christ Jesus.  I am thankful to have the opportunity to serve our community and students. This year, I am especially thankful for the small things- those simple moments of joy- the blessings of my grandson’s laugh, the dogs running through the field, outdoor Thanksgiving dinners and beautiful sunsets.”


Rumors Deli Owner Annette Harris

“I’m very thankful for many things. I’m thankful that we (all of us at Rumors) have remained safe from COVID so far throughout the pandemic. I’m really thankful for all the people who have surrounded and supported us, for my family and friends and my home. There have been a lot of uncertainties all around, but I am very fortunate to still have a job to get up and go to.”


Good Samaritan Health Clinic Executive Director Jolanda Hutson

“I’m thankful for God’s faithfulness, provision and abundant blessings in the midst of all the challenges of 2020.”


Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs

“God’s grace during these uncertain times”


Hanceville Mayor Kenneth Nail

“Thanksgiving is a special time of the year that we should stop and just look around at all of our blessings. First that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. Second, our family and friends. Third, this great country that we live in.”


Warehouse District Developer and Premier Promotions Owner Shane Quick

“This year has taught me that I have a lot to be thankful for. I’m thankful for my wife, boys and dogs. I’m thankful for my faith. It has sustained me throughout my life and in a year where few things seem certain. I’m thankful for my community, an amazing place to raise my family and grow old with the best people in the world. I’m thankful for my work family. We will see the other side of this pandemic and reach our goals even still. I’m thankful that the best days are yet to come!”


Rep. Randall Shedd, R-Fairview

“I am thankful for faith, family, freedom, friends! I am thankful for safety and health! I am thankful for and appreciative to the men and women who do their jobs every day to provide everything I just mentioned! I’m thankful for the little things in life: morning coffee, blue skies, good music, just to name a few.

“I am thankful and blessed!”


Artist and Playwright Ben South

“‘The gift of perpetual curiosity’- My mother said my first words were ‘LOOK. LOOK!’ probably because it’s what I heard her say so often and so joyfully. ‘Look up close at this, Bendigo. LOOK. LOOK!’ 

“I am regularly thankful for eagerly desiring to look, explore, think, read, study, discover something new in this wonderful, creative, grand world which is chockablock with wonders to thrill and amaze us. People with ‘the gift of perpetual curiosity’ rarely get bored. 

“After living and working in large cities for decades, a great pleasure I’ve found in returning to Cullman, another thing for which I’m thankful, is there is greater calm, and freed from chaotic distractions, I’m more able to LOOK. LOOK!”


Rep. Scott Stadthagen, R-Hartselle

“I’m mostly thankful for my family. I’m thankful for the doctors that helped Amy overcome cancer and just thankful for being blessed through all that process.”


Brooks’ Place Child Advocacy Center Director Gail Swafford

Swafford, whose family faced a recent near-tragedy when her mother had an accident told The Tribune, “I’ve always been thankful for her and my family. This year I’m even more thankful. But in addition, thankful for medical professionals, first responders and teachers who risk so much for others. They truly are heroes.”


Cullman Area Technology Academy Principal Billy Troutman

“This year certainly brings to mind what truly matters.  I am thankful for my beautiful family and friends. I am thankful for my career and community. This year, I’m keenly aware of the little things we take for granted, like hearing your kids laugh, beautiful days, front porch friends, mowing grass… this could go on and on LOL!!  

“The thing I’m most thankful for is knowing that God is in control.  I’m thankful for His grace because we know that it’s sufficient.  (That’s every day – not just Thanksgiving!)”


Curt’s Closet Founder Ashley Wilson

“I truly have so much to be thankful for, I could write a book. From the obvious: my three amazing boys, to having a roof over my head and food in my pantry. 

“But there is one thing I wake up to each morning that I am truly thankful for. And that is Curt’s Closet. I am thankful for my little nonprofit for so many reasons. First, it is some good that came out of my tragedy. Curt’s Closet is a way I may carry on Curt’s name, his legacy, and spread a little joy in this dark world. As a grieving mother, I am so thankful I am able to do such in Curt’s name. I am thankful to see the smile on a child’s face when he puts on his new pair of shoes, or the teenage girl’s excitement when she finds that perfect coat to wear to school the next day. 

“I am thankful God opened these doors for me when He knew I would need it the most. I am thankful Curt’s Closet can give back to the children of this amazing community we call home. I am thankful for the many generous donors and supporters that have made my vision a reality. I am thankful that God is at the center of Curt’s Closet; He has blessed my nonprofit beyond my imagination. I am thankful at Curt’s Closet we are showing each child that walks in our doors they are loved, worthy and accepted. I am thankful that the love Curt showed to everyone in his short life is still shining every day at Curt’s Closet. 

“No matter what life throws your way, how awful things can get, we can all find something to be thankful for.”


Cullman Police Chief Kenny Culpepper

“I am so thankful for my family. I have been blessed with wonderful friends, co-workers and a great community, but family is no 1.”


Rep. Corey Harbison, R- Good Hope

“Can I say that there’s so much to be thankful for. It’s hard for me to narrow it down to just two things. 

“I would say that first of all I am thankful for my family. Growing up I had parents who didn’t care to get a belt if they needed to, but they would also give support and praise when they needed to. I am the middle child. I have an older brother and younger sister. We have always had a strong friendship and grew up like almost all other siblings. We may fight with each other and get aggravated and mad, but we also know that when it comes to each other that we have each other’s back and will be there for each other no matter what. Whitney and Hance are always there to support me. Hance is 2 now, and he has been all over this county shaking hands and meeting people since he was born. I appreciate the support they always give me.

“I think more so over the past few years than ever, I am thankful for the community we live in. After watching the news and seeing all of the crazy things going on all over the world, it’s nice to have a little peace knowing that we live in community that we don’t have to worry about most of these things. The people here are good, hard-working people that still love our country. They will stand for the national anthem. They support law enforcement. They believe in investing time with family. Heck, I think most people around here are like me and still watch Andy Griffith every night.”


Fairview Elementary School Principal Marty Hardman

“I am very thankful for my family and our health. Also, to all my faculty and staff for their hard work during this difficult school year!”


Good Hope Mayor Jerry Bartlett

“My family friends and staff, but most of all that my 89-year-old mother survived COVID.”


Cullman County Commissioner Kerry Watson

“On this Thanksgiving Day in 2020, I am very thankful for my faith and the love and support of family and friends.

“I am also very thankful for my good health, the opportunity to serve the people of Cullman County and the privilege to be living in the greatest country that anyone could ever live in.

“My family and I would like to wish everyone a safe, healthy and happy Thanksgiving.”


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United Way of Cullman County Executive Director Becky Goff (Photo courtesy of Becky Goff)
Rep. Corey Harbison, R-Good Hope, pictured with his wife Whitney and son Hance (Photo courtesy of Corey Harbison)
Good Hope Mayor Jerry Bartlett (Photo courtesy of Jerry Bartlett)
Cullman County Commissioner Kerry Watson (Photo courtesy of Kerry Watson)
Rep. Randall Shedd, R-Fairview (Photo courtesy of Randall Shedd)
Cullman County Probate Judge Tammy Brown (Heath Stewart)
My daughters Sophi on the left and Lilly on the right. Sophi is a freshman at Wallace. Lilly is graduating from Athens Dec. 5. Lilly is a Special Ed aide at Fairview and is the assistant JV volleyball coach. This is an actual remake picture (right). We did this for their mom. We had taken a picture when they were little (left) and recreated it.Fairview Elementary Principal Marty Hardman

W.C. Mann