Connected May/June 2012
Published for customers of
Flat Rock Grow Co. Using hydroponics to cultivate delicious, healthy produce
Christian Camp A place where youth can go â€œToknowHimâ€?
Original founders share how it all came together
General Manager Comments
n this issue of Connected we have dedicated a fair amount of space to the challenges FTC faces as a result of massive rule changes by the Federal Communications Commission. Please take time to read it. It is not the most exciting subject but we try to help you understand how what takes place in Washington actually affects you. Perhaps reading it will also shed light on my comments that follow. During a particularly trying time a number of weeks ago, I picked up a magazine that has absolutely no relation to the telecommunications industry. Therein was a piece by a gentleman who had a profound impact on my life almost three decades ago. The author, Dr. H. C. Wilson, was preparing to retire from a very significant position overseeing a worldwide mission organization. His article was a letter to his successor, a person that had not yet been named. As I would have expected, the letter contained no trace of a “this is how I did it and so should you” attitude. Dr. Wilson is not that kind of person. On the contrary, he encouraged his successor to expect, yet boldly face, the challenges certain to be encountered in pursuing a worthy cause. There was also talk of the incredibly rewarding nature of the work. But amidst this encouragement there was an abrupt and sobering warning. To his unknown successor Dr. Wilson said of the impending responsibility, “It will require wisdom you do not possess and skills beyond your set.” I have never held the level of responsibility so familiar to Dr. Wilson, but just as poignant as was his advice to me many years ago, his words once more describe how I often feel in the face of significant industry and government policy changes. I suspect I am not alone. The reality is that most of us will, at one time or another, confront challenges in life that are beyond our immediate ability to handle. Worse, there is a popular school of thought that
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tells us only the weak ever admit their weakness. How tragic. I once read a story of a young boy assigned a task by his father to remove a rock from their front yard. The boy tried his best all day to move the rock but it would not budge. When his father came home that evening his son admitted failure and told his father how hard he had tried. His father responded, “But son, you haven’t done everything you can yet.” Somewhat wounded by the comment, the son tearfully responded, “Yes, I have Dad.” “No, you haven’t,” was his dad’s reply. “You haven’t asked me for my help.” Together, they moved the rock. Each of us has our own little corner of the world. Granted, some may have a sphere of influence larger than others, but all of us have some space that is ours alone. In that space we will sooner or later encounter some rocks. Sometimes we can move them alone. I am grateful to a wise man for reminding me that every once in a while moving those rocks will require a wisdom we do not possess or a skill beyond our set. And so the question remains. Will we try it on our own or will we set aside our pride and seek the help we need in order to succeed? One thing is for certain, that choice will be ours and ours alone.n
is Executive Vice President and GM of Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative, Inc.
“We Keep You Connected” is a member-owned corporation dedicated to providing communications technology to the people of Northeast Alabama. The company has over 16,000 access lines, making it the state’s largest telecommunications cooperative. Board of Trustees Randy Wright, President Flat Rock Exchange Gary Smith, Vice President Fyffe Exchange Danny R. Richey, Secretary Geraldine Exchange Lynn Welden, Treasurer Bryant Exchange Kenneth Gilbert Pisgah Exchange Gregg Griffith Henagar Exchange Randy Tumlin Rainsville Exchange
Connected Vol. 16, No. 3
is a bimonthly magazine published by Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative, © 2012. It is distributed without charge to all customers of FTC. Send address corrections to: Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative, Inc. P.O. Box 217 144 McCurdy Ave. N. Rainsville, Alabama 35986 Telephone: (256) 638-2144 www.farmerstel.com Produced for FTC by: WordSouth Public Relations, Inc. www.wordsouth.com On the Cover: Blake Peek (left) and Tommy Woods, owners of Flat Rock Growing Company, started a business providing locals with fresh, delicious produce — without the use of soil. Read their story on Page 6.
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Connected sat down with FTC’s CEO Fred Johnson and asked a number of questions we felt would be of interest to our readers, members, and customers. As usual, sometimes the fun is in finding out which questions need to be asked. We think you will find the results interesting.
Pressing issues for FTC Connected: So, Fred, what’s the most pressing issue facing FTC right now? Johnson: That’s easy; the changing U.S. public policy. Connected: What exactly does that mean? Johnson: You want me to keep it simple, don’t you? I’ll try. Since the early 1930s it has been the policy of the United States government, enacted by Congress and by subsequent rules of the Federal Communications Commission, that all Americans should have access to modern telephone service on comparable rates, terms, and conditions regardless of whether they lived in the city or out in the country. That was known as the principle of Universal Service and it resulted in the world’s finest and most farreaching telephone system. Connected: So, how is it changing? Johnson: First of all, technology has gotten in the mix. Instead of simple landline phones, we now have a national communications network that encompasses cell phones, Internet access, satellites and other information services. Government policy has supposedly not changed as much as how the government is trying to implement that policy. Quite frankly, I think method has overtaken principle. Connected: Exactly what does that mean? Johnson: It’s fairly regarded by many to say that the principles of Universal Service are just as important today as they were in the mid-twentieth century. The 4 Connected - May/June 2012
difference is that then we were talking about plain old voice networks. Today we must consider the economic need of Broadband-capable networks. The future of our communities depends on that. My problem with current FCC Policy is that, in my opinion, it does not show what I consider to be proper respect for the success companies such as FTC have demonstrated by leveraging Universal Service Support to provide future-proof networks. Connected: Around the office, we sense your frustration with government. What exactly is it that bugs you the most? Johnson: Mixed signals. One branch of government doesn’t seem to care at all what another one is trying to do. Connected: Care to give us an example? Johnson: Gladly, and I’m not going to pull any punches. The members of FTC have $39 million of their own money invested in FTC for the sole purpose of ensuring they can get the most modern telecom services they will need. They put up that money because no one else would serve them. The rest of the money necessary to build this system came, over the years, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the form of loans. Our members have never failed to pay back that money, with interest. This system was not paid for by taxpayers. It was paid for by the people and companies who use it. Now, we have the U.S. Congress and the Obama Admin-
istration promoting grant programs to fund the building of optical fiber networks all across this country for the same exact purpose that we built ours — to furnish essential Broadband connectivity to unserved communities. The difference is that these projects were paid for with taxpayer dollars and not by the people who will use them. Depending on your political philosophy, you can argue for or against that approach. That’s entirely up to you. However, while Congress and the President hand out grants for Broadband, another part of government (the FCC) is changing, prospectively AND retroactively, longstanding rules that we relied on to do exactly the same thing. I simply believe we need to expect more out of our government than this. Connected: What is the biggest danger of this change in the way our government views successful local communications companies like FTC? Johnson: It means that the very survival of companies like FTC is threatened. We are fortunate in that all our eggs are not in one basket. We’ve done all within our power to make sure we have alternative forms of revenue. One important thing we’ve done is expand outside our traditional area. We are primarily a fixed-cost operation. That simply means that the majority of what it costs to serve one customer is the same as it costs to serve 20,000 customers. The more customers we have the more affordable our service. Connected: So, when we expand our services into new areas it is good for both existing FTC customers and the new ones as well? Johnson: That’s absolutely right. All these efforts to expand our revenue base gives FTC some breathing room that some of our brethren across the country do not have. Connected: Why does that matter? Johnson: Because someone has to provide Broadband in the communities of today and, most assuredly, the communities of tomorrow. We are here for a reason. No one else would do it. That reason still exists today. Connected: By Broadband you mean High Speed Internet don’t you? Johnson: Yes. Connected: There are a lot of folks who just don’t think that Internet service is that important to life. What do you have to say to those folks? Johnson: Technically, long-distance phone service was considered a luxury in the U. S. until the late 1990s. Would you consider your ability to make or receive a phone call, landline or wireless, an option today? The point is that it is usually surprising how quickly we become dependent upon new technology. Regardless of how dependent or not you are on Internet service at home, business requires it for the long haul. If we expect to have decent paying jobs in our community, Broadband will be right up there with reliable electricity, gas, and water service to attracting those jobs.
Connected: There are those that say wireless technology solves all the problems cheaply; landlines are not needed. What is your response to that? Johnson: I understand the point. Wireless technology (mainly cell phones) is the voice device of choice. That’s understandable. You can take it with you. Though, it should be noted there is now more data traffic (mainly text and web browsing) on the wireless networks than voice. What many people do not realize is that the wireless network is dependent upon the connectivity of the wired Broadband networks that we provide and is growing more so every day. Connected: You mean wireless phones need wires? Johnson: Absolutely. The vast majority of cell towers are connected to the nation’s communications system through high-capacity, wired connections just like what we are building across our entire market. Additionally, at FTC we are not about just voice service anymore. We already have more customers that take more than voice service from us than those who do not. We’ve long since understood we are a full service communication provider; voice, Internet, television. There is no going back on that. Connected: Without going too far into technical issues, what do all the changes mean for the typical FTC customer? Johnson: They will have to pay more for what they get because others who use our networks will be required to pay less. Historically, all who used the public-switched telephone network were required to share in the cost of its provisioning. Rule changes are shifting that burden to the end user which means that customers in rural areas will bear a much greater share of those costs. Connected: You spend quite a bit of time in Washington and in efforts to influence policymakers. We assume that FTC is doing all it can here and in Washington to help our customers as much as possible. Is that true? Johnson: Absolutely. Additionally, our U. S. Congressional delegation is very respectful in listening to our concerns. There is just a lot of pressure from all sides. Make no mistake about it, if you don’t participate in the political process, you will suffer what you get. Connected: How can our customers help? Johnson: Tell your senators and representatives every chance you get that FTC really does care about its members and customers. Tell them to listen to our concerns and to take the time to understand how terribly confusing government signals are to people who are trying to do the smart and responsible thing.n
Connected - May/June 2012 5
Not your Greg Entrekin, a friend of the owners, helps out on harvesting days at FRGC, located on Hwy. 71 in Flat Rock, Ala.
t was only a year and a half ago that Blake Peek of Flat Rock met Tommy Wood from Guntersville. The two were members of a larger group interested in using new technology and ideas to create a large-scale gardening operation. It didn’t take long for them to realize their ideas were different from those of the rest of the group. “Blake and I saw a need for a local source of produce,” says Wood. “We read somewhere that about 95% of Alabama’s produce comes from outside the state. We know people are starting to care about where their food comes from.” For Peek and Wood, the time was perfect to try something new to revolutionize the way people in northeast Alabama get their fruits and vegetables. They decided to team up and create a commercial greenhouse unlike anything ever seen in this area. Flat Rock Growing Company, better known as Flat Rock Grow Co., is a partnership of Blake and his wife, Jerell, and Tommy and his wife, Katrina. For Wood, one of the most important reasons for starting this business was the lack of fresh produce being grown locally. Moving here from Wyoming where he and his wife had purchased a share in an organic CSA — community shared agriculture — they had grown accustomed to having 6 Connected - May/June 2012
farmers By Kerry Scott
fresh fruits and vegetables. CSAs allow individuals to enter into a contract with a local farmer, paying a set amount for a weekly supply of meat, dairy, vegetables and more grown by someone in their community. “What we found here was that Alabama’s focus on agriculture was on commodities — soybeans, corn, catfish,” says Wood. “Even at the local farmers’ markets, a lot of people were trucking food in from out of state. They weren’t growing it themselves.” For Wood, people in the area were missing a great chance to connect what was on their plate with the farmers in their own communities. Peek, whose family has been farming on Sand Mountain for generations, understood the value of not outgrowing your management or taking on more than you can handle. So they decided to proceed cautiously. After much research and development — including hundreds of hours watching YouTube videos — the team came up with a plan.
Going Green Just the sight of the greenhouse lets you know there’s something different about their farm. “I believe we are the only two-story greenhouse in the state,” jokes Wood. But once you step inside you are
transported to another world. It looks less like a farm and more like a science lab — like Old MacDonald meets Mr. Wizard. There are vegetables, but not in the ground or pots. Some are growing out of row after row of spotless six-foot-tall white towers ringed with fat saucers. Others sprout out of long narrow trays on tables that have water constantly flowing over them. Vines snake their way up twine hanging between a crossbar overhead and the 20-feet-long, six-inch tubes where the plants are rooted. The most noticeable feature isn’t what you see at the farm — it is what you don’t see. There is not one speck of soil in the greenhouse. Flat Rock Grow Co. is hydroponic. Hydroponics is a growing method that dates back to ancient times, but has received renewed attention by farmers looking for ways to increase crop yield while decreasing damage from disease and pests. Wood says he and his partner also had another goal. “We consciously try to reduce our energy consumption everywhere we can.” The greenhouse is an example of conservation through design. The Dutch-style house has walls that inflate. These insulate the greenhouse to keep heat out in the summer and hold it in during the winter. High ceilings keep heat away from plants, and the
light and temperature are constantly measured electronically. When there is too much sunlight, shades roll out automatically to protect plants. If it gets too hot, fans kick on and water begins pumping through a cool cell set to automatically engage when temperatures reach a certain level. Even the amount of water the plants require is based on the temperature inside the greenhouse. “To conserve energy here,” says Wood, “most of our water storage is underground where it stays a cool 65 degrees year round.” The water is filtered and recycled as an additional conservation effort. The aeroponic towers where most of the produce is grown are the first commercial towers of their kind in the United States. While that sounds exciting, it also means that, unlike most farmers, Wood and Peek cannot simply call the nearest seed store for advice. “We realized there’s no one to call when you have a problem,” Wood explains. That forced them to get creative and find their own solutions. “For example, we couldn’t get our water pressure to equalize in the corners of the greenhouse,” says Wood. “No one knew what to do because another operation this size didn’t exist.” The team employed what they call “simplified engineering” to fix the problem. “We created a runner of tubing to carry extra water to the corners,” Wood says. “It was what made the most practical sense, and it worked.” Broadband Internet from Farmers Telecommunications has allowed Flat Rock Grow Co. to learn from others across the world who are trying to use the same technology to revolutionize how people eat. “We also now have advanced degrees from ‘YouTube University,’” jokes Wood.
Try Local, Buy Local Philosophy The entire aeroponic station is currently set up with strawberry plants. Less than a week after planting, Wood and Peek were already picking blooms off the plants. “We don’t want the plants to produce berries yet,” explains Wood. “We need more leaves on the plants, which will create glu-
cose. That glucose will make sweeter berries, which is what we want.” Every 10 minutes the plant roots receive a misting of water that lasts for one minute. “We cut our power bill in half when we started using clay pellets,” says Wood. Before, the roots of the plants were exposed to air continuously and had to be misted every five minutes. The clay pellets absorb water and help the roots retain moisture so they don’t have to be watered as often. Since the plants are not in soil, they receive their nutrients through a water-soluble fertilizer. “We tried organic fertilizer, but it clogged our misters,” Wood explains. Since it was more important to grow healthy, nutritious vegetables than to be certified as organic growers, they chose a highquality fertilizer that works well in hydroponic operations. “If we were certified organic, we could charge more, but that’s not our company’s mission,” Wood adds. “We are socially conscious entrepreneurs. We believe that what is best for our company is improving the communities we live in through better quality food and keeping money in the local economy.” In fact, one of the company’s tag lines helps reinforce that principle. “One of our slogans is ‘Try Local, Buy Local,’” says Wood. “We want everyone to try it. If they don’t believe it is more delicious and nutritious and worth the extra 50 cents or dollar, then don’t try it again. We’re betting most people will think it’s a better value.” If you’re interested in trying Flat Rock Grow Co.’s produce, Wood says you won’t find it at Walmart. Instead, they have chosen to sell the produce at a handful of locally-owned grocery stores in and around Jackson County. “That is one of our absolutes. Selling to large chain stores goes against our company mission,” he says. “We want to know that the profit generated off our produce is going into that community. We really want to better the communities we are involved in.” To learn more, search for “Flat Rock Grow Co.” on Facebook, or visit the company website at flatrockgrow.co. Their greenhouse is not open to the public, but their produce is available in several locations.n
Even the display is different Inside produce sections, Flat Rock Grow Co. produce is sold on special carts. The carts are built and designed to give customers the feel of actually picking their own vegetables from the garden. The clever idea came about as the solution to a dilemma with their lettuce. “We discovered early on that if we wanted to keep the produce fresher longer, we should leave the roots on the plants,” explains Wood. “Our racks are designed similar to the tray system in our greenhouse,” says Wood. ”The customers choose the plant they want and pull it up. The roots are still intact and water is dripping from them. They take it home, put the roots in a shallow bowl or ramekin with water and set it on the counter. They tear off leaves to use as needed. The plant will last for some time like this.” He admits it was a little hard to convince customers to keep their lettuce out of the refrigerator at first. All their produce is packaged with the company logo, or in a produce cart with the company name. Shop for Flat Rock Grow Co. produce at these locations: • Dobbins Supermarket, Bryant • Crocker Farms, Bryant • Shoprite, Stevenson • Lucky’s Supermarket, Pisgah • Market on the Mountain, Lookout Mountain, TN • Garden Cove, Huntsville Try their produce at these restaurants: • J’s Hole in the Wall, Bryant • Cloud’s Pizza, Higdon • Bison Drive In, Higdon • Rock House Eatery, Guntersville Connected - May/June 2012 7
knowH Camp To f o rs e n lson, ow gs. Ginny Ne cie the camp do ra Roy and G (left) and with Lily
Between the large and sm a facilities, the camp can acc ll group ommodate up to 200 ca mpers.
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Son, J.T. Nelson designed and created all of the metalwork that is seen throughout the camp.
By Kerry Scott
hen husband and wife Roy and Ginny Nelson moved from Orlando, Fla., in the late 1990s, they envisioned a life of travel and volunteer work. But what God had in store for them was greater than either could have imagined. “When we left Orlando, we wanted to see more of God alive and at work,” says Roy. Years before, Roy had purchased a vacation home nestled on a wooded 10-acre lot in a most unlikely place — Pisgah, Ala. In 1996, Roy and Ginny decided to make it their permanent residence and moved. Soon after, a neighbor asked if they wanted to buy 40 acres that included a portion of their driveway. They did. When a later survey revealed they still didn’t own all of their drive, they bought 20 more acres. “We didn’t need 70 acres of land,” Roy says. “We had no idea what we were going to do with it.” It was about that same time that a friend, Rob Mann, asked a question that helped them figure it out. “Have you ever thought of building a camp here?” their friend asked. They loved the idea and soon formed a board including Roy, Rob and Gordon Oliphant. Construction began on Camp ToknowHim in 2000. “We started out with the idea of creating a traditional Christian youth camp,” says Roy. They constructed a large group facility with eight cabins that accommodate 18 campers in each. A chance encounter with a man from the Buckeye Baptist Builders brought a group of volunteers down to help get the assembly/dining facility underway. “They came in,” says Roy, “stayed two weeks and when they left it was under roof.” Before the walls, plumbing or electricity were ready, a church from Scottsboro asked to use it for a retreat. “They told us that if we could get electricity into one end of the building, they would bring everything they needed to make it work,” says Roy. Over the next three years they hosted groups while construction continued. And it seemed that each person or group that came provided an idea or inspiration for something else. “The camp is so different than we imagined it would be,” says Roy. “A youth pastor would suggest something, then we would see how
another group did something, a pastor would ask if we had ever considered something… and over time, it evolved into what it is today, thanks to the volunteers who built 90 percent of it. It’s evidence that God is in control, not us.” Besides the large group facility, Camp ToknowHim also has a small group facility called The Barn, an amphitheater, a soccer field and a lake complete with a floating iceberg and floating dock. There were more amenities, but on April 27, 2011, a half-mile wide tornado ripped through the camp leaving devastation in its wake. “Acres of forest were demolished,” Roy recalls. “Paths couldn’t be walked. Our small group facility was heavily damaged. We lost our ropes course, zip line, rope swing, waterfront, rappel site — all of our ‘toys.’ “God taught us something amazing in that time,” he continues. “We had groups scheduled to come. We were sort of embarrassed about the camp but grateful they would want to come at all. We told them there was nothing to do. But group after group came anyhow and they all said the same thing — it was the best retreat ever. The kids were so impacted by the destruction they saw all around. It made them realize just how powerful and fragile life is. Youth pastors said it made the worship and the teaching more meaningful.” Since its start in 2000, the camp has grown in size and scope. It now encompasses more than 200 acres, offers a wilderness program and extreme night hikes, a pre-Civil War cabin created especially for married couples, a retreat/conference facility for church leaders and more. Today Camp ToknowHim’s board of directors has seven members. “The camp began with Ginny, Rob and myself,” says Roy, “but the rings keep getting bigger. There is no organization behind us. All of this has been birthed out of one miracle after another. I’ve heard it said all my life that you can’t outgive God. We’re seeing evidence of that with the camp. We were faithful, and God has been more faithful.” n
One of the first things Roy and Ginny Nelson did to their property in Pisgah was put a cabin on it. “We found two men selling pre-Civil War cabins from the Tupelo Pike area of Scottsboro,” says Roy. They purchased one and had it moved to the property where they reassembled it. The cabin, named Pilgrim’s Rest, was a pre-camp labor of love for Roy and Ginny. It is nestled in the woods near a creek bank and only available to married couples who leave their children with a sitter and stay for at least two days. “With divorce rates over 50 percent for couples in church as well as out of church,” explains Roy,” we wanted to create a place that encourages married couples to make time together a priority.” Once, a couple staying in the cabin asked the Nelsons how much it cost to build. “They came back to us later with a check for that amount,” says Roy, “and said ‘we’d like to see you do this again.’” Three more cabins from the 1800’s were purchased and moved to the property. They are awaiting reassembly while camp workers and volunteers focus their efforts on rebuilding what the tornado destroyed.
Volunteers with the Buckeye B aptist Builders coming to the ca have been mp every May for a decade. M building at the ost of the camp has been done by volunt eers.
During high school Roy Nelson and a buddy committed to go into business together when they graduated college. They were young and had nothing to lose. They started a little place they called The Melting Pot in Maitland, Fla. “Our first customer paid us with a $20 bill and we couldn’t make change,” laughs Roy. “I ran out the back door and down the alley to the 7-11, and bought a pack of gum with his money. I got the change, ran back down the alley to the restaurant and presented the customer with change at the table like we were very professional. That’s how poor and broke we were.” But six weeks later the newspaper’s mystery diner came in. They loved the place and wrote about it in the local newspaper. “They gave us the entire front page of the food section,” says Roy. For the next 18 months, the restaurant was so busy they had to turn away as many customers as they served each night. They opened a second location and over time began franchising. For the next 15 years they spent a lot of time on the road finding real estate, building restaurants and training franchisees. “Then we began to hate being away from home all the time,” he recalls. So the partners sold the business to three brothers, one of whom had worked in their first restaurant. “It worked out well and I’m proud of their success,” Roy says. “With more than 150 locations, they are The Melting Pot now.” Connected - May/June 2012 9
The house that Rainsville built The Rainsville Civic Center was brought to life by an idea, a passion, and years of hard work by an entire community.
t started over a cup of coffee, literally, between two Rainsville businessmen. One a former mayor of the small town, the other a future mayor, with both wanting the best for the students of Plainview High School. It was the winter of 1975, and the Plainview varsity boys basketball team had just captured the school’s first ever area basketball title. The tournament was held at Snead State Community College. The next morning, Edmond Burke and Roy Sanderson were having coffee and talking basketball when the conversation turned to the hosting venue. “If they have a venue like that, why can’t we have something like that here,” Sanderson wondered to Burke. And so the possibility was born that day at King’s Restaurant. That same day Terry Mitchell, Plainview’s basketball coach, was called into Principal Doyle Kirk’s office. “He said there was going to be a meeting later that afternoon about us getting a better gym,” remembers Mitchell.
Sitting in his office, Dr. Marvin Barron is surrounded by history. It hangs on the walls in pictures. It’s in cabinet files and folders. And it remains in his memory. Barron remembers well the day he and Ray Williams sat in Kirk’s office, awaiting the arrival of Clyde Wisner, owner of land adjoining the high school. Several years before Wisner had sold 10 acres of land for Plainview and still had 10 acres left there in corn. Next door, the school had a small gym that was built in 1949. “We needed a larger place to play,” says Barron. “And there was that field sitting there with nothing on it but corn.” Wisner agreed to sell the land, 10.8 acres, for $3,000 an acre. Paying for it, though, was another matter. “The school had no money,” says Barron. “And the county wasn’t going to pay for it.” Instead, a plan was put into place to raise the money through the community. “We opened an account at Rainsville Bank,” says Barron. Today, Barron still has a list of the 185 names that contributed at least $200 each to purchase the land. Barron says $37,000 was raised for the purchase. Barron, Kirk, Sanderson and Williams were designated as trustees of the land and deeded the property. The community had taken a major step toward its dream of a better basketball gym and more. 10 Connected - May/June 2012
More than a gym
From the start, the ones who Above: At the groundbreaklaunched this dream wanted ing ceremonies (left to more than just a gym. While it right) Edmond Burke, Larry was important for the students Bouldin, Roy Sanderson, of Plainview High School, John Baker, Billy Poe with it was also important to the Governor George Wallace. Rainsville community. John Baker was a local atBackground photo: Plainview torney who also represented students attending groundthe area in the Alabama Senate. breaking ceremony. “We wanted a community facility,” remembers Baker. A small group from Rainsville went to Ozark, a town that had just built a new coliseum, to attend a gospel singing. “We were looking for a model,” says Baker. With the land secured, the more pressing question was where was the money to build going to come from? “We had no idea where we would get the rest of the money,” says Baker. “I remember a group going in a Winnebago to Washington D.C., to try to get money by just walking the halls. We weren’t successful.” But one thing was clear. There was dedication and commitment to seeing a civic center built.
It was a simpler life in the 1970s. Mitchell, who would lead his teams to back-to-back state championship appearances three years after the first area tournament championship, was the youngest of the group attempting to build a coliseum. “At times, I thought ‘This is impossible,’” says Mitchell. “But I remember Roy [Sanderson] always asking at the
end of a meeting, ‘We’re all together, a day after Gov. Wallace was present liams, Morton Word, Howard Wilks, right?’” for the dedication. The country music Terry Mitchell, Rudolph Skaggs, A.R. There was very little tax base in group Alabama came in 1982, as did Young, Pete Mitchell, Ray Williams, Rainsville in those days, remembers Edmond Burke, Cecil Shirey, Billy Poe, the Harlem Globetrotters. Country Baker. “There was no Hardee’s, no music legend George Jones held four J.V. Mince and Ann Everett. McDonald’s, no Sonic or anything like concerts through the years. There were that,” he says. “There wasn’t enough Unsung heroes also a number of televised championrevenue to amortize any kind of loan.” The first event at the new civic cenship wrestling matches, home and Baker says there were two keys to ter was held in February 1981. It was garden shows, and numerous cooperamaking the coliseum at least more than a basketball game between Plainview tive meetings held there. a dream. First, he said the city limits and rival Sylvania. The Bears pulled The largest event, Mitchell rememneed to be expanded. “A committee off a win on their new home court. bers, was the night Travis Tritt came went door-to-door asking permission “It was the most stressful game I to town — drawing a crowd of more to bring them into the city limits,” he ever coached,” says Mitchell, who than 3,000. says. “It didn’t take anybody against also served as the facility’s director for The biggest stars, however, have their will.” more than 18 years. been the boys and girls basketball The second key was players. Through the a new one-cent sales years, the civic center tax, with one-half cent hosted many Sand earmarked for the civic Mountain and DeKalb center project. County tournaments. Sanderson says another major key Changes was that it was a time The Rainsville Civic of less partisan poliCenter has seen many tics. “People worked changes. Long-time together for the benefit director Mitchell left of the town, politics his position in 1999. “I didn’t matter,” Sander- Repairs will soon be complete on the DeKalb County Schools Coliseum. had plans to serve as son says. director of the building “You couldn’t get a one-cent sales Behind the success of the buildfor one year,” he says. “That one year tax passed today,” adds Baker. ing, from planning to construction to turned into 18.” operations, there are many unsung In his office, Barron has a photoIn 2001, the DeKalb County Board of heroes. Education purchased the facility from graph from May 30, 1975, of the late Baker remembers that, during the the City of Rainsville and renamed it Gov. George Wallace in Rainsville. site preparation phase, county equipthe DeKalb County Schools Coliseum. “We picked him up in Boaz,” Barron The greatest change, however, came ment would just “magically” be remembers. “He pledged $250,000 the evening of April 27, 2011. An EF-5 parked in the area on Friday aftertoward the coliseum that day.” tornado slammed into the building, The citizens group managed to raise noons. “County employees would tearing it apart. “I thought it was de$400,000 through a grant, then the city come out on weekends and work on molished,” says Baker. “It just shows received an $800,000 loan from the their own time,” he says. that the structural design of the buildOf course, one facility director with Farmers Home Administration (FHA). ing was excellent.” a full-time coaching and teaching job “Without FHA, it wouldn’t have Work has been ongoing to repair the could not possibly operate such a been possible,” says Baker. “How it came to be, really, is kind of a miracle.” venue by himself. “I can’t tell you how building. Mitchell says he believes the building will be much better now, in many people worked for free,” says For Baker, he remembers at times it Mitchell. From cleaning to concessions the aftermath of the tornado. Planned looking hopeless. “I just couldn’t see improvements include the addition of to maintenance, there was always where the money was coming from.” a cooling system and features to imFor Sanderson, who would later someone there to help keep the Rainsprove the building’s energy efficiency. ville Civic Center going. serve 16 years as Rainsville mayor, he Through it all, for the group who got Mitchell says countless Plainview never had a doubt. “It took some sellstudents gave of their time to keep the it started and the small town that has ing people on the idea,” he says. grown into city status, the building facility clean and in good shape for After a few years of hard work and remains a source of pride. basketball games and public events. sacrifice by people throughout town, “It’s had a tremendous impact on the Rainsville Civic Center was comThe stars our town,” says Barron. “It’s the house pleted in 1981. The community had Country singer T.G. Sheppard holds that the people of Rainsville built.” successfully built a $1.6 million facility. the honor of being the first performer And for DeKalb County’s secondThe first Rainsville Civic Center in concert at the Rainsville Civic Cenlargest city, it always will be. n Board included Roy Sanderson, John Baker, Katherine Hendrix, Dewey Wil- ter. The event was held Oct. 25, 1981, Connected - May/June 2012 11
y a d h t r ppy Bi
The Oreo® cookie turned the big 1-0-0 this year. And there’s no better way to celebrate such a special occasion than with recipes featuring America’s favorite cookie. Do you like to twist and lick, or do you prefer to dunk them? It really doesn’t matter. With these great recipes, you’re sure to find a new favorite way to eat them.
1 package Oreo cookies, divided 1 package cream cheese, softened 1 package white chocolate bark
Finely crush 7 cookies in a food processor or place them in a Ziploc® bag and crush into a fine consistency. Reserve for later. Crush remaining cookies and stir in softened cream cheese. Use the back of a large spoon to help combine. Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls and place on a wax paper covered cookie sheet. Place
The delicious black and white sandwich cookie we’ve all grown up loving has been bringing out the kid in us for 100 years and counting. But that’s really no surprise since Oreo says “we’ve made it our business to make life a little less serious. In a world that’s become far too adult, a couple of Oreo cookies, a glass of milk, and a shared twist, lick and dunk is all it takes to set your inner kid loose.“ With more than 362 billion sold since they were first introduced, Oreo is the best selling cookie in America! There have been several varieties of the cookie introduced over the years including Double Stuf Oreo, Oreo Fudge Cremes, Oreo Berry Blast Ice Cream Cookies, Golden Oreos, Oreo Cakesters and their newest addition, the Triple Double Oreo with three sandwich cookies, one white creme layer and a chocolate creme layer, too. There are also hundreds of recipes featuring the chocolatey cookie. Many of them can be found at www.nabiscoworld.com/oreo. While you’re there be sure to upload a photo, video or story of your “Oreo moment” and help Oreo reach their goal of sharing one million Oreo moments with the world.
in freezer. Melt chocolate bark according to package directions. Remove balls from freezer. Dip balls into chocolate one at a time, tap off excess chocolate and set on a wax paper covered cookie sheet to dry. Garnish by sprinkling the tops with the reserved crushed cookies or drizzle with melted chocolate. Once set, refrigerate and enjoy! Note: For minty truffles, try using Chocolate Cool Mint Creme Oreo cookies in place of regular Oreos.
Streusel Oreo Muffins
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 2-3/4 teaspoons baking powder 1 cup granulated sugar 1/2 cup butter, softened 2 large eggs 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1/2 cup skim milk 8-12 Oreo cookies, coarsely crushed Streusel: 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 2 tablespoons butter, diced 4 Oreo cookies, finely crushed Preheat oven to 375º. Grease or line muffin tin with liners. To prepare streusel, stir together flour, sugar, and finely crushed Oreos in a small bowl. Cut in butter until consistency becomes like coarse meal. Refrigerate 10 minutes. Whisk together flour and baking powder in a medium bowl. Set aside. With an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring between
12 Connected - May/June 2012
FTC and NACC partner for Career Enrichment Day High school seniors from Jackson and DeKalb County and Fort Payne City Schools attended Career Enrichment Day on the campus of Northeast Alabama Community College on March 13. By popular demand, motivational Sam Glenn was speaker and chalk artist Sam Glenn the keynote opened the day with words of wisdom presenter at Career for these young adults who are about Enrichment Day. to embark on a new journey in their lives. His humorous stories help drive home his message that “life is a journey filled with peaks and valleys and we have to remember that every day is a gift and our attitude determines where we go.” More than 40 professionals and community leaders donated their time to speak with students about what it is truly like on a day to day basis in their chosen professions. Students ended the day with a new technology session “Cyborgs Like Ice Cream Too” presented by Dan Combs of Tell Productions and Dave Nieuwstaten of Pivot Group. Students learned about some interesting futuristic tech gadgets that they will get to experience someday. FTC closed the day by awarding awesome tech prizes to these deserving high school seniors.n
Oreo Mini Cheesecakes
2 packages cream cheese, softened 1/2 cup sugar 2 eggs 12 Oreo cookies 3 (1 ounce) squares semi-sweet baking chocolate 1 cup thawed whipped topping Heat oven to 350º. Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with mixer until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating on low speed after each just until blended. Place 1 cookie in bottom of each of 12 paper-lined muffin cups. Fill with batter. Bake 20 minutes or until centers are almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 3 hours. Melt chocolate as directed on package; drizzle over cheesecakes. Top with whipped topping.
additions. Add vanilla. Add flour all at once. Mix on low speed for a few seconds, then add milk and continue mixing just until incorporated. Fold in crushed Oreos. Divide batter between 10-12 muffin tins, filling each 3/4 full. Evenly sprinkle Oreo streusel atop batter. Bake 16-18 minutes, or until done.
Peanut Butter Oreo Brownies 1 box brownie mix, 8x8 inch size 12 Oreo cookies 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
Preheat oven to 350º. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions. For each cupcake, spread 1 teaspoon of peanut butter over Oreo and place in paper liner with the peanut butter side facing up. Spoon brownie batter over each oreo and let it run down the sides of the cookie filling each liner about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until brownies are cooked through. Let cool completely then serve.
FTC thanks this year’s presenters Gordon Gossett Gant, Croft and Associates Scott Kirk First Southern State Bank Sherry Whitten NACC Jeremy Pruitt University of Alabama Ross Boydston NACC Thomas Whitten DeKalb Youth Service Center Sharon Totten NACC Jan Peppers K&K Financial Sgt. David Davis NACC & Fort Payne Police Dept. Robert Reed nVius Graphics Marquita Bailey DeKalb Regional Hospital Brenda Hammonds Interior designer David Clemons The Times-Journal Curtis Parker FBI, Special Agent Russ Balvin Vulcraft-Nucor Steve Cowart Vulcraft-Nucor Kenny Brown Vulcraft-Nucor Jennifer McCurdy Highlands Medical Center Adam Moore Siemens Energy Matthew Wolfe Siemens Energy Chris Townson NACC BCM & Nehemiah Teams North America Wanda Griffith Retired nurse Amber Harrington Sanofi-Aventis Pharmaceuticals Drake Ibsen Rehab Partners Deana Wigley White Realty Sam Phillips Phillips Engineering Sam Wilson Sam Construction Dr. John Anderson Dentist Angela Smith Cornerstone Christian Academy Pat Allen Pilgrims Pride Ronny Neely DeKalb Farmers Cooperative Lee Buffington Turf Tamer Inc. Judge Jeremy Taylor 9th Judicial Circuit Court Nathaniel Ledbetter Sand Mountain Electric Cooperative Dr. Anthony Sims Henagar Family Medicine SSG Carlos Chaparro Alabama National Guard Dr. Martin Habel Vision Plus Mark Webb NACC Heather Simpson Rainsville Drugs Adrian Casey DeKalb Co. Health Department Pam Gann DeKalb Co. Board of Education Connected - May/June 2012 13
Is your annual household income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for a household of its size or do you or someone in your household participate in any of the following lowincome government assistance programs? • Medicaid • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) • Section 8 Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA) • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) • National School Lunch Program’s Free Lunch Program
If so, you may qualify for a special program:
LifeLine Service This program assists qualified residential customers with their monthly local telephone service.
For more details about Lifeline Service, to apply for assistance, or for additional information about FTC’s local and optional calling, please call us at 256-638-2144, or stop by any of our business offices. To find out whether you qualify for Lifeline Assistance, customers must fill out standard forms, available at FTC’s office, as mandated by the Federal and/or State government. FTC is not responsible for determining who qualifies for these programs or who receives assistance. Customers must meet specific criteria in order to obtain assistance with their local telephone service, and qualifying is dependent upon government-established guidelines. To qualify for Lifeline credit, each customer must apply and provide proof that he/she, or a household member for whom he/she is financially responsible, participates in at least one of the programs listed above in Alabama or that the customer meets the income-based requirements. Additional eligibility requirements also apply.
14 Connected - May/June 2012
Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative is required by the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) to furnish the following information to members prior to the annual meeting
Need help paying for Telephone Service?
BYLAWS - ARTICLE IV TRUSTEE SECTION 2. Election and Tenure of Office. The Trustees shall be elected by secret ballot for a term of three years on a rotating basis with the Trustees from the Pisgah, Bryant, and Geraldine service areas being elected at the annual meeting of the members of the Co-op in August of 1991 and the Trustees from Rainsville and Fyffe service areas being elected at the annual meeting of the members of the Co-op in August of 1992 and the Trustees from the Flat Rock and Henagar service areas being elected at the annual meeting of the members in August of 1993, and after their election the Trustees shall continue to serve until the election of Trustees at the annual meeting of the members of the Co-op at which their term expires or if no election shall be then held, the Trustees shall continue to hold office until their successors shall have been elected and shall have qualified. If an election of Trustees shall not be held on the day designated herein for the annual meeting or at any adjournment thereof, a special meeting of the members shall be held for the purpose of electing Trustees within a reasonable time thereafter. Trustees may be elected by a plurality vote of the members. Trustees shall be nominated and elected as provided hereinafter. The Co-op is divided into seven (7) geographic service areas and from each such service area there shall be elected one Trustee to the Board. Members shall be eligible to vote for every Trustee. The geographic service areas are set forth as follows: Bryant, Flat Rock, Fyffe, Geraldine, Henagar, Pisgah, and Rainsville as the same are shown on the map or plat of the service area on file in the office of the Co-op at Rainsville, Alabama, to which such map or plat thereof reference is here made for a more complete description of said service areas.
SECTION 4. Nominations. It shall be the duty of the Board to appoint, not less than forty (40) nor more than seventy (70) days before the date of a meeting of the members at which trustees are to be elected, a committee on nominations consisting of not less than five nor more than eleven members who shall be selected from different sections so as to insure equitable representation. No member of the Board may serve on such committee. The committee, keeping in mind the principle geographic representation, shall prepare and post at the principle office of the Cooperative at least thirty (30) days before the meeting a list of nominations for trustees which shall include at least two candidates for each trustee to be elected. Any fifteen or more members acting together may make other nominations by petition not less than twenty (20) days prior to the meeting and the Secretary shall post such nominations at the same place where the list of nominations made by the committee is posted. The Secretary shall mail with the notice of the meeting or separately, but at least five (5) days before the date of the meeting, a statement of the number of Trustees to be elected and the names and the addresses of the candidates, specifying separately the nominations made by the committee and the nominations made by petition, if any. The ballot to be used at the election shall list the names of the candidates nominated by the committee and the names of the candidates nominated by petition, if any. The chairman shall call for additional nominations from the floor and nominations shall not be closed until at least one minute has passed during which no additional nomination has been made. No member may nominate more than one candidate.
n o i s mis e l b i s pos FreedomFest raises money to send church families on mission By Kerry Scott
ainsville First Baptist Church started the Crossroads FreedomFest some 15 years ago. “About seven years ago it got so big that the mayor and city council invited us to move it to the city park,” says Jerry Clifton of Rainsville, one of the event’s coordinators. “They started helping us sponsor it, along with FTC. They have both just been great. “We get a lot of help from so many folks and we appreciate them all, of course,” Clifton adds. “All the money we raise sponsors missionaries from our church who are already gearing up for their trip this year.” FTC Engineering Assistant Greg Wigley and his family will be among the 80 missionaries to make the weeklong trip to Mobile. The mission trip is geared for families.
Trey Haymon plays tag football at a sports camp in Mobile last year. This is one of several mission outreach programs planned this year.
“We try to get families to do missions together,” he explains. “Everyone pays some to go, but funds raised from the FreedomFest help keep the costs down so that entire families can afford to go.” Wigley says the trip builds unity in the church. “We may not cross paths much with people in different ministries in our church,” he explains, “but when you are working side by side in the mission field you get to know new people and build new friendships. That helps build the Church.” Once the missionaries arrive in Mobile they will separate into different groups to accomplish one goal — sharing Christ’s love with others. They accomplish this in many different ways, including conducting a sports camp. “This team works with the Boys and Girls Club,” says Wigley. “Last year, this team hosted camps for over 100 kids offering basketball, football, soccer, volleyball and gymnastics. They also did a community service project by painting and cleaning the facility.” Missionaries with the construction team will help renovate several bathroom facilities at the Alabama Children’s Home. Another team will help their host, Anchor of Hope Community Church, conduct a Vacation Bible School for the week. Another team will prepare meals to feed the missionaries for the week. Last year, the group also prepared a meal for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House, which provides a “home-
Avery Pack se rved as a the puppet team last year.
away-from-home” so families can stay close to their hospitalized child. The H.O.P.E. Puppet Team also has 20 performances scheduled for the week. “We will perform as many as five times a day,” says Wigley, a member of the puppet team. They have plans to do shows at assisted living homes, Alzheimer’s care units, three ARC facilities, Camp Smile for special needs adults, three festivals and more. “We will perform at Light of the Village in Alabama Village,” says Wigley. “It’s a really tough neighborhood. There are gangs and drugs. The neighborhood is about as bad as you can get.” But for just a little while, the residents will hear a message of hope. “We may not see immediate results for our efforts,” he says. “Sometimes we just put a smile on someone’s face and take their mind off of things.” There are other times when the results are instant. “We went to a maximum security juvenile facility for boys in New Orleans a few years ago, and 14 boys were saved after the performance.” Wigley and other members of Rainsville First Baptist Church are grateful for the support of the community. “The Crossroads FreedomFest makes these mission trips possible,” he says. “It helps us sow seeds for the Kingdom.” n See back page for more information on this year’s Crossroads FreedomFest. Connected - May/June 2012 15
“We Keep217• You Connected” P.O. Box 144 McCurdy Ave. N. Rainsville, Alabama 35986
s d a o r s s o Cr t s e F m o d e e r F
Huge Entertainment Line Up Begins at 3 p.m.
Saturday, June 23 Rainsville City Park
Free Kids Zone & Swimming Burgers • BBQ Sandwiches Hot Dogs • Fresh Lemonade
H.O.P.E. Puppet Ministries of (Helping Others Prepare for Eternity)
Rainsville First Baptist Church performances in the Bevill Center at 3, 4, 5 & 6 p.m.
10K & 5K Race
Pre-register online at www.rainsvillefreedomfest.racesonline.com 8 a.m. behind Broadway Baptist Prizes for 1st - 3rd place winners
Cruise In Car Show
3 p.m. at Rainsville Church of God Money Tree • Door Prizes • Awards at 7:30 p.m.
HUGE FIREWORKS SHOW
Sponsored by FTC and City of Rainsville For more information call Rainsville First Baptist Church at 256-638-3141
H H Ginny Owens
Guy Penrod rose to fame with the Gaither Vocal Band where he spent 14 years as the centerpiece for the band before starting his career as a solo artist.
33Miles hopes their music will
Ginny Owen is a three-time Dove Award winning artist. Her unique musical style and inspirational lyrics appeal to Christian and mainstream audiences alike.
Victoria Griffith of Ider blesses audiences with her amazing vocals and the heart and soul she puts into every song she sings.
remind Christians to live every day with eternity in mind. Their sound is reminiscent of artists like Coldplay, Train and One Republic.