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TARCOG News & Headlines

Read on for recent happenings, announcements, and notable headlines from TARCOG and its communities throughout the region.

Acumen DCI Training Opportunity

If you are a Personal Choices Program participant, TARCOG is offering in-person, one-on-one, training sessions on the Acumen DCI Time Entry Training for Employers and Employees.

Each training session covers time entry and management options in the mobile app, web portal, mobile web, and phone (IVR).

If you would like to participate in the training, no reservations are required. Stop by the TARCOG office any time between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Monday, June 17. A Personal Choices Counselor will conduct the training on a first-come, first-served basis.

The TARCOG office is located in the Research Park Office Center, 7037 Old Madison Pike, Suite 450, Huntsville. The trainings will take place in the Large Conference Room at the office entrance.

Directions to TARCOG!

It’s been about a year since TARCOG has left its longtime location on Research Drive. Currently, the TARCOG Office is located at 7037 Old Madison Pike, Suite 450. Below are directions on how to find us!

If you have questions, please call 256-830-0818.

Senior Center Spotlight — Ider

If you want a quiet, hum drum place to pass the time, then the Ider Senior Center is not the place for you.

“We like to laugh and cut up,” Sharon Culpepper, the center manager, said. “We pick on one another in a fun way and we don’t expect you to do anything except what you want to do and feel like doing.”

The center is in a building that originally was a grocery store and restaurant before it became the town’s gathering spot for seniors. It’s at the Alabama Highway 117 and Dogwood Drive intersection, which was once the location of town’s four-way stop. Today, the 4-way stop is just up the road at the Alabama Highway 75 intersection.

Polly Adkin

On a recent Thursday morning, Polly Adkins, 87, is working on a puzzle, while Rook card games are underway at two nearby tables. This is a slow-paced day compared to Tuesdays, which are BINGO days that draw in a larger crowd. But today, the conversations and games are friendly.

Jackie Frazier, 76, Helen Landers, 77, Sherry Landers and her twin sister Terri Landers, both 41, are playing for bragging rights.

Helen said playing cards and the fellowship of being able to talk to others makes the center enjoyable.

At the next table over, Rickey Garner, 67, his mother Beatrice Garner, 90, and Frankie Durham, 70, are just playing for fun with a ghost player for their fourth player.

From left, Rickey Garner, Beatrice Garner, Frankie Durham

As the oldest participant at the center, Beatrice says she’s come to the center on an off for many years.

“I love coming because it makes me get out of the bed and go instead of wearing my housecoat and gown until I get back in the bed again,” Beatrice said. “It’s easy to stay at home and just hibernate so this gives me a reason to keep going.”

Frankie is one of the newest center participants. He stopped by one day to see how it works because he thought it would be good for one of his relatives. “She doesn’t come all the time, but I come all I can,” Frankie said. “The people here keep me coming back, these are all good people.”

Rickey said his mother got him started about two years ago.

“I enjoy meeting people and playing cards or whatever game it is, I like to play,” he added.

Lunch is served around 11. Today it’s a chicken noodle casserole, sauteed tomatoes, peas and carrots, a whole wheat roll and white cake.

Craig Nichols

Craig Nichols, 69, started coming to the center in February after a neighbor told him about the hot lunches. He comes in before lunch with a thick novel about Pearl Harbor. Craig said he doesn’t care for playing cards or puzzles, but he loves to read, so he finds himself a comfortable spot and reads until lunch is ready.

He moved to Ider in 2006 from Wisconsin to be closer to his son and his family in Fort Payne.

Craig has traveled the world, often to run marathons. He likes the Ider area but lost everything in the 2011 tornadoes, including his beloved Rhodesian Ridgeback dog, Muffin. He’s slowly rebuilding his book collection but hasn’t considered a new dog yet because he’s considering a move to Belize. He has a fiancée there.

As a bachelor, he said cooking meals for one isn’t his thing. Coming to the center for lunch satisfies a need and he can get out of the house for a bit and sit and read while he’s there.

The Ider Senior Center nourishes with food, provides social interaction, and it’s also filled with people who encourage one another.

At age 41, twins Sherry and Terri Landers aren’t seniors yet, but they come to the center everyday with their half-sister, Helen. The sisters each have a different form of cancer but maintain a positive outlook and have a lot of support from the center.

Terri and Sherri Landers

Jackie said she’s lived in Ider about 40 years and been coming to the Senior Center for almost 16 years. She loves the fellowship and playing cards, even when her team gets beat.

Jackie Frazier

While everyone was busy with their activities, a man stopped by to talk with Sharon about bringing a music program back to the center.

“We had a music program before Covid and it was very popular so I’m excited that he stopped by,” Sharon said. “I told him he could come any day between 9 and 10 a.m. so I’m hopeful this works out for our center because I’d love to bring back our music program.”

She’s always looking for ways to improve the center’s offerings.

Sharon Culpepper

Sharon said she was the 13th child of 15 siblings. Her father died when she was 12 and her mother died when Sharon was 33 and there will still 8 children still at home. Being at the center makes her feel like she has a “thousand” mothers and fathers.

“I love on them, and they love on me,” and it fills a big void in her life.

“When I first got here seven to eight years ago, I told them I am not here to manage you but to take care of this place to keep it open and running for them,” Sharon added.

Ider is a small town of about 730 people located on top of Sand Mountain in DeKalb County, where it has an active Senior Center. About 16 percent of the of town’s population are 65 and older.

Joyce Hicks

During the week, depending on the day, the center provides nine to 12 hot meals and delivers 16 meals to homebound participants.

Tuesdays are the busiest days in Ider because that’s BINGO Day. Every other day includes card games, puzzles, occasional group trips, “and just whatever they want to do. If we don’t already have it here, I’ll find it,” Sharon added.The community and its leadership are also supportive of the center, with the Mayor Wendy Lassetter donating rocking chairs and ferns for the front porch,

The Senior Center also serves as polling site for Ider voters. Joyce Hicks, 81, said she dropped in one day to see what the center was about and now she comes every chance she gets.

For more information about the Ider Senior Center, call 256-632-3367.

Ider Senior Center

June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month


How Everyone Can Make a Difference

Looking forward to a future where older adults are treated with dignity, respect and compassion is TARCOG’s goal for observing World Elder Abuse Month throughout June, and World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, on Saturday, June 15.

“This year, we want to raise awareness about elder abuse, a pressing issue affecting our olde population,” TARCOG’s Area Agency on Aging Director Sheila Dessau-Ivey said. “Elder abuse is an act that harms our seniors and is often perpetrated by those they trust.”

Elder abuse is everyone’s business, Sheila said.

An aging adult has different internal and societal pressures for self-care. They have spent their adult life not only caring for themselves, but in most cases, being responsible for the care of others.

Sheila said adults moving into a phase of life where they need assistance to be independent can experience a challenge to self-identity and self-worth. Asking for help can be difficult.

Often, Sheila said many older adults who experience a decline in their ability to take care of day-to-day matters fear that asking for help will lead to loss of independence and possible placement in a nursing home or other long-term care facility. Sheila said that by accepting help, a person will become more capable of maintaining their independence and living at home.

Sheila said TARCOG is here to provide and coordinate services to elders and others, which enable them to continue living at home and in their communities. Help is available by calling 256-830-0818.

TARCOG’s Elder Law Attorney LaTanya Rhines said older adults throughout the United States lose an estimated $2.6 billion or more annually due to elder financial abuse and exploitation. Elder abuse also creates health care and legal costs for our society. If you’re interested in learning how to can change this, visit

LaTanya said community education, supportive communities and accessible resources are essential to engaging older adults and preventing abuse. To learn more, visit

“Educating our communities on how to prevent abuse requires us all to do our part,” LaTanya said. “Recognizing abuse is the first step. It is also essential to know how to report and knowing what resources are available to help those being abused. Finally, you have to speak up – if you see something, say something.”

LaTanya said an estimated 5 million, or 1 in 10, older Americans experience abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

“Working together, we can raise awareness and foster action to end elder abuse. Let’s work to keep everyone safe as we age,” LaTanya added.

If you suspect elder self-neglect or other abuse, you can call the Alabama Adult Abuse Hotline at 1-800-458-7214.

In an emergency, call 9-1-1

$1.5 million granted by EPA for environmental cleanup and redevelopment planning


Athens, Fort Payne and Gurley site assessment projects funded

TARCOG is getting ready to determine what it will take to transform areas with potential environmental concerns in Athens, Fort Payne and Gurley thanks to a $1.5 million Federal Brownfield Assessment Grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Economic Development and Planning Director Lee Terry said the funding will be used to inventory, conduct environmental assessments, develop 15 cleanup plans, three revitalization plans, and support community engagement activities in each of the communities for input on redevelopment potential over the next four years.

Executive Director Michelle Jordan said she is proud of the TARCOG team that landed the grant and excited for what the funding will mean for Athens and Limestone County, as well as Gurley and Fort Payne.

“This will be the starting point for positive changes in each of these areas,” Jordan said.

Assessment activities will focus on the:

  • Easy Street Corridor in the Athens’ downtown district
  • Gault Avenue Corridor in Fort Payne
  • Walker Street Corridor in Gurley

What is a brownfield?

EPA’s Brownfields Program empowers states, communities, and other stakeholders to work together to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfield sites.

A brownfield site is real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. The Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act of 2002, as amended by the Brownfields Utilization, Investment and Local Development Act of 2018, was passed to help states and communities around the country clean up and revitalize brownfield sites.

Under this law, EPA provides financial assistance to eligible applicants through five competitive grant programs: Multipurpose Grants, Assessment Grants, Revolving Loan Fund Grants, Cleanup Grants, and Job Training Grants.

EPA has selected TARCOG to lead a $1.5 million Brownfields Assessment Coalition Grant with coalition members from the cities of Athens and Fort Payne, and the Singing River Trail.


The Athens portion will focus on the proposed Easy Street Art Trail in Downtown Athens.

The proposed trail location is along the railroad tracks from the vacant freight depot and Alabama Veterans Museum, south to Hendricks-Patton, and west to Old Black Bear. One of TARCOG’s priority sites on the trail is the vacant Limestone County-owned L&N Freight Depot.

“Athens is extremely excited about Easy Street Art Trail and how it can honor our history, promote the arts, enhance an unattractive area, and improve walkability downtown,” Mayor Ronnie Marks said. “This is history we need to preserve, or we will lose it.”

While the grant will address different phases of the project, long range plans the city has for the site includes creating a trail that will pay homage to the history of Easy Street, which ran along the railroad tracks between Hobbs and Market streets. According to history provided in 2002 by James Croley, which was published in a booklet, Easy Street was the black-owned business area and included Bell Café, Simmons and Grigsby Barbershop, Coble Barbershop, Higgins Café and Dr. B.F. Hill’s veterinary office.

Fort Payne

Fort Payne Mayor Brian Baine said the site the city is interested in looking at is from Second Street North to Fourth Street North. It’s a 3-acre lot that houses six vacant industrial and warehouse buildings.

“It’s in the heart of our downtown and being able to revitalize and repurpose sites in this area will be huge for our downtown and businesses,” Baine said. “We want to incorporate several different things in there from shops, eating establishments, places to hang out and a stage area that can be used for our ‘Third Saturday’ concerts and to serve as an area where we can pull our community together.”

He said being able to identify what’s there and get them cleaned up will be beneficial to the city so that it can then move forward with revitalization plans.


John Kvach, executive director of the Singing River Trail, said he sees this as another way of investing in communities and in this case, taking a space that is not helping the community in any way and helping prepare it for an educational or recreational space.

He’s talking about a 0.33-acre vacant lot that houses a 1,290-square-foot former convenience store and gas station with three above-ground storage tanks in Gurley, and the Athens corridor.

“To repurpose or reuse what they’ve had and change it to something that can be used in relation to the Singing River Trail for Athens and Gurley is exciting,” he said. “Both are trail towns working toward connecting their towns and making them more accessible.

The trail is a recreational greenway project covering more than 200 miles across the top of Alabama that will showcase towns and cities along the route.

“This is a route we’re taking in both towns and for us it’s really symbolizes how Athens and Gurley are open for business and developing around their natural resources which is exciting for us,” Kvach added.

Medicare Fraud Prevention Week

Most people become eligible for Medicare when they turn 65. Each year, the week of 6/5, is observed as Medicare Fraud Prevention Week.

It’s important because Medicare loses an estimated $60 billion each year due to fraud, errors, and abuse. Every day, these issues affect people across the country and can lead to identity theft and cost you money.

“Medicare fraud has a devastating impact on both beneficiaries and the Medicare program,” said TARCOG’S Area Agency on Aging Director Sheila Dessau-Ivey, who oversees the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP). “We teach people how to avoid experiencing Medicare fraud. By preventing fraud from happening, this program helps individuals and protects the Medicare program for generations to come.”

Sheila encourages the community members to learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones with some simple tips.

Watch for warning signs of a scam.

  • Unsolicited calls, emails, or visits – someone contacting you out of the blue, claiming to be from Medicare and offering free services.
  • Requests for personal information – a demand for your Medicare number, Social Security number, or other personal information.
  • Pressure to act quickly – any threat that you’ll lose benefits or face other consequences if you don’t comply with a deadline, often by paying or providing personal information.
  • Billings with errors – charges for services or supplies that weren’t ordered, were never received, or that Medicare already covered.
  • Suspicious websites or mailings – fake websites created to look like official ones but that have inconsistencies, errors, or other odd elements.

How to Reduce your risk

  • Only share your Medicare and Social Security numbers with people you trust.
  • Carry your Medicare card only when you need it.
  • Keep a record of all your medical visits and procedures.
  • Carefully review Medicare statements for mistakes and charges you don’t recognize.
  • Trust your instincts and report any suspected fraud.

Ask for help

If you have questions about how to protect yourself, need to report fraud, or want help determining whether you’ve been a victim, Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) can help. Call TARCOG at 256-830-0818.

TARCOG Employee of the Month — June 2024

Name:  Emmitt Davis

Title: Community Services Coordinator

How long have you been at TARCOG and what do you do?  I have been at TARCOG for 10 years and currently have 25 service years in the social work field. As a program manager, I oversee our Nutrition, SenioRx, and Title III-D programs. Since March 2024, I have also been assisting the Medicaid Waiver Program with supervision as well as reviewing Redeterminations, Readmissions and Reinstatements to support one of TARCOG’s key programs.

What did you want to be when you grew up?  I wanted to be a professional basketball player. I was able to experience that dream by playing in Portugal.

What do you hope to accomplish within the next year?  To be done with Medicaid Waiver!! Seriously, by playing a strategic role in helping stabilize Medicaid Waiver and working toward helping them to become the Number One program in the state, just like our SenioRx Program.

Who is your hero and why?  Martin Luther King, Jr is my hero. Why? He led a nonviolent approach for civil rights for African Americans, the economically disadvantaged and all victims of injustice through peaceful protests. Most importantly, he was not afraid to give up his life for what he believed in.

If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be?  Go to all doctors’ offices in the TARCOG region and pick-up medial forms for our wonderful Case Managers to help them meet their Redetermination goals.

What is the best piece of advice someone has given you?  My father, Emmitt Davis, Sr., always told me to treat others the way you want to be treated.

What is the most daring thing you’ve ever done?  In my younger days, my two close friends would go to a small creek on my parent’s land and catch small copperhead snakes. We would put them in a bottle and bring them back to the house where we played with them until my father saw what we were doing one day. I want to tell you in person what happened next!

Who knows you the best?  My brother, Kelvin Davis.

What would you do if you won the lottery?  Take care of family and closest friends. Pay off the mortgage of my church at Fletcher’s Chapel. Increase the Davis Family sponsorship of the TARCOG Caregiver College Program.

SenioRx Is Saving Millions

Nearly $2 million in savings occurred for 90 new clients of the SenioRx program in the first half of TARCOG’s fiscal year.

Director of Aging Programs Sheila Dessau-Ivey said this type of savings on medications can make a big difference in the lives of those with disabilities or who are age 55 and older.

“Too often we hear from clients that they are choosing between buying their medications or food and this program allows us to help alleviate that pressure with our staff assisting them find a program for a lower cost or free medication that they need,” Sheila said.

What is SenioRx?

While the name of the program is SenioRx, it is not just for seniors. It is for anyone with a disability, regardless of age, or those who are 55 and older. The prescription medication assistance program has helped thousands of Alabamians receive free or low-cost prescription medications from pharmaceutical companies.

Eligible clients may receive a three-month supply of medication from pharmaceutical companies either free or at a reduced cost. Medication refills are permitted as long as the participant remains eligible for the program.

How to qualify?

To qualify for SenioRx assistance through TARCOG, an individual must be an Alabama resident of DeKalb, Jackson, Limestone, Madison or Marshall counties, and meet some of the following:

  • Age 55 or any age with a disability, if you have been deemed disabled by social security, have applied for disability, and are awaiting a decision, have a doctor’s declaration of disability, or you are in the 24-month Medicare waiting period.
  • Have a chronic medical condition that you take daily medication for
  • Have no prescription drug insurance or limited prescription drug coverage
  • Meet certain income limits (which varies by company)
  • Medicare Part D recipients may be eligible
  • Meet pharmaceutical company eligibility requirements which differ by company

Who to call?

For more information or to see if you qualify, contact:

DeKalb County — 256-845-8590

Jackson County — 256-259-9911

Limestone County — 256-233-6412

Madison County — 256-830-0818

Marshall County — 256-571-7805