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The Ben Lomand

Connection Cavern Connection Technology and talent drive Bluegrass Underground

Students Shine at Ben Lomand Technology Day

The Future is Now with new fiber network

July/August 2013


Industry News

Growth in the face of uncertainty FCC regulatory changes are creating challenges for rural telecommunications providers planning network expansions By Stephen V. Smith, Editor

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n the May/June issue of this magazine, Shirley Bloomfield talked about the newly unified NTCA, the association for which she serves as CEO. In a continuation of that interview, Bloomfield describes how changes in federal regulations are creating an atmosphere of uncertainty among rural telecommunications companies. Smith: The telecommunications industry is in a state of transition. What challenges are rural providers facing? Bloomfield: There are regulatory proceedings going on right now regarding Universal Service, which is regulated by the FCC. They have essentially turned on its head how this regulation works. So far, they have cut and capped a lot of the support the rural telecommunications providers have been getting. Smith: What is Universal Service, and how does it work? Bloomfield: Universal Service allows carriers who provide service in rural, high-cost areas to essentially have support from the rest of the industry to keep their monthly subscription fees low.

Shirley Bloomfield NTCA CEO 2 | July/August 2013

Consumers in these rural markets benefit from this offset in terms of the actual cost of providing that service. It’s important to note that Universal Service is a support mechanism supported by other carriers. It is not a tax. It is not government support. It is a fee that other carriers pay into the Universal Service Fund, or USF. Smith: How will rural telecommunications providers be affected by these cuts and caps to the USF dollars they depend on? Bloomfield: It’s going to impact them in two ways. One, they are going to have a lot less money, and that’s going to mean a lot less investment. Two, the FCC wants to reassess every single year, which means providers won’t know until that next year if they are going to be able to recover any of their costs. Providers will be paralyzed, because the FCC has created this environment of regulatory uncertainty. This is a capital-intensive industry. You can’t make investments if you don’t know if you can recover your costs. Smith: Are we seeing this impact now in the industry? Bloomfield: We are. In NTCA surveys, several rural telecommunications providers have told us they have actually cut back or eliminated an upgrade to their network or an investment in new construction that they had planned on making. Smith: Why is it so important for providers to continually invest in improving and expanding their networks? Bloomfield: Telecommunications networks are living, breathing operations.

You don’t just put broadband in and walk away, saying “job well done, now we have broadband.” There is so much more to consider. Maybe a provider offers DSL, but how do they get to a point where they can do fully interactive service? How do they provide enough bandwidth to allow rural hospitals to do diagnostics using fiber? How can they support distance learning programs so schools can aggregate and share their resources? Broadband that was installed 5 to 10 years ago isn’t going to do the trick. Networks need constant upgrades and new deployment. And there are still people in some parts of rural America who don’t have access to broadband yet. Smith: NTCA and its members work hard to strengthen and protect the rural telecommunications industry. Why are these providers so important to the rural markets they serve? Bloomfield: I can’t stress enough the importance of local telecommunications providers and what a difference they make in their rural communities. They are so innovative and willing to try new things. They are incredibly creative about the services they offer to their consumers. The people they serve are their neighbors and friends. The idea of customer service is important to them. For the consumer, it’s great to know you can pick up the phone and get help immediately, or sit down with folks who know you who can answer your questions as you look at new products. I can’t overemphasize what it means to be served by a locally owned and controlled telecommunications provider in this day and age, and what a driver that is for the rural economy. 


Digital Citizenship

Do you know the rules of the road?

By Carissa Swenson

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e all know the Internet can connect us to the world, but do we really understand what that means? Understanding the power behind that connectivity is critical to becoming a safe, productive digital citizen. What is digital citizenship? It is the “rules of the road” or guidelines we follow when interacting with others in the digital world. The Internet is much like the roads we drive on every day. Each connection provides access to people, places and things all over the world. The devices we use to access the Internet, such as smartphones, tablets, computers and gaming units, are much like the cars we drive. Some are fancier with more buttons, but they all can get us to our destination. Driving a car is a rite of passage that our youth anticipate and even study for. They stay awake at night dreaming about the places they want to go and things they want to see. Meanwhile, parents stay up at night worrying about what their sons and daughters will do once they have that freedom: • What if they make poor choices while behind the wheel? • What if their friends pressure them to do things we don’t approve of? • How are we going to prepare our child to become a responsible driver? Despite these concerns, teenagers are getting behind the wheel every day. Why do parents let their kids drive when there is so much risk? Because the rewards outweigh the risks.

Rules and rewards

The Internet should be treated the same way — yet often we aren’t asking these same types of questions when giving our youth access to the world via the Internet. We are buying Web-ready devices for our

kids, but are we making sure they know the rules? After all, there is no Internet “drivers ed” or test to pass. Knowing the rules of digital citizenship will help young users reap the rewards of a connected world. Being a good digital citizen means you: • Understand the impact of your digital footprint and your future • Know the risks involved with cyberpredators, cyber-bullies, sexting and other high-risk behaviors • Discover ways to protect your identity when going online

raising digital citizens

As adults, it is our job to teach our young people the rules of the digital road. They may be able to text under the table during dinner and customize an iPad in record time, but do they understand the ramifications of their digital behaviors? As adults, we don’t need to know how all these pieces of technology work, we just need to make sure we are teaching and practicing good digital citizenship. Yes, there are risks to accessing the digital world. And topics like cyberbullying, sexting, identity theft and other online risks can make a parent want to keep their child unplugged. The idea, however, is not to disconnect, but to be aware — and to raise responsible digital citizens.  In our next issue, Carissa will share ways to protect your reputation, because “you can’t take back what you post online.” Carissa Swenson is the owner and technology specialist of TechTECS, a technology training, education, consulting and support company.

Lifeline ‹‹ Service When you need help paying for telephone service Is your annual household income at or below 135 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for a household of its size? Do you or someone in your household participate in any of the following lowincome government assistance programs? If so, you may qualify for Lifeline Service. • 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 To find out whether you qualify for Lifeline assistance, customers must fill out standard forms, available at your local telephone company’s office, as mandated by the Federal and/or State government. Your telephone company 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 or that the customer meets the income-based requirements. Additional eligibility requirements may also apply. Customers must choose to apply the Lifeline discount to a landline or a wireless number, not both.

For more details about Lifeline Service and to apply for assistance, please contact your local telephone company. July/August 2013 | 3


From the CEO

Time for FCC to count the cost Have you ever botched a job because you got in a hurry? Maybe you cut a 2-by-4 too short because you only measured once. Or perhaps you missed that big buck because you didn’t take time to aim. “Haste makes waste” can be a hard lesson learned. Sometimes you just need to slow down. And that’s the message hundreds of people who work in the telecommunications industry recently took to Washington, D.C. NTCA’s 2013 Legislative and Policy Conference was held toward the end of April. I attended the event, along with a delegation from Ben Lomand Connect. We joined some 500 other NTCA members from across rural America to take your concerns to Capitol Hill. There are hundreds of companies like Ben Lomand Connect in the United States that are working hard to bring advanced broadband services to rural areas — communities where the cost of providing service is much higher than in the larger cities. As you have read in these pages before, we are concerned that changes in regulations by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are driving up the cost of delivering service to you. These changes are also making it difficult for companies like ours to predict how we will recover the cost of future investments in our networks. In April, as we met with lawmakers and their staffs, we asked for their support in telling the FCC to slow down and count the cost. Specifically, we asked them to support a bipartisan bill that seeks greater analysis of the FCC’s 2011 Universal Service Fund (USF) reforms that are limiting support for many rural providers. The bill, sponsored by Sens. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., and Mark Begich, D-Alaska, calls on the Government Accountability Office to study the effects of the FCC’s reforms, and to give us a clear idea of how broadband speeds and rates are being impacted. At times it feels like the FCC has taken a “Ready, Fire, Aim!” approach to reforming the telecommunications industry, and it is time for a comprehensive study to gauge the true effect of the agency’s actions. YOUR VOICE HAS BEEN HEARD In early June, NTCA informed us that the federal government is indeed listening to your voice, and that our outreach campaign was effective. The Government Accountability Office has confirmed that it will begin a study to provide answers to the questions we are all asking. Are the changes being made by the FCC actually improving broadband service in rural America? Are broadband speeds increasing? Are consumers paying more, less or the same for service? The GAO plans to report on its findings later this year. This is an important victory for the communities we serve, for two reasons. Not only do we need to know whether the FCC’s changes are good for consumers today, but we also need the facts to help lawmakers and regulators make better, more informed decisions in the future. Our grassroots efforts are paying off as we work through our national association, taking your concerns to Washington to ensure that your voice is heard. Trevor Bonnstetter Chief Executive Officer 4 | July/August 2013

is a member-owned corporation dedicated to delivering advanced telecommunications technology to the people of Middle Tennessee and the Upper Cumberland, including all of Grundy, Warren and White counties, and portions of Coffee, DeKalb, Marion, Bedford, Franklin, Van Buren and Rutherford counties.

Board of Directors Bobby A. Thompson, President, Grundy County Donald Hollingsworth, Vice President, Van Buren County Dr. Ray Troop, Secretary/Treasurer, Warren County Janey Ruth Price, White County Roger W. Bynum, Coffee County Bill Hickey, White and DeKalb Counties Robert W. (Bob) Jones, Warren County Joe C. Roper, Coffee, Bedford, Rutherford and Franklin Counties Gerald L. Sitz, Grundy and Marion Counties Trevor Bonnstetter, CEO The Ben Lomand

Vol. 1, NO. 4 July/August 2013

Connection is a bimonthly newsletter published by Ben Lomand Connect, © 2013. It is distributed without charge to all member/owners of the cooperative. Ben Lomand Connect 311 N. Chancery St. P.O. Box 670 McMinnville, TN 37111 Telephone: 931-668-4131 or 800-974-7779 www.benlomandconnect.com Produced for Ben Lomand Connect by: www.WordSouth.com On the Cover:

Cumberland Caverns manager Teddy Jones uses one of the emergency phones deep in the cave. See story Page 9.


Ben Lomand Connect visits Van Buren Chamber Two members of Ben Lomand’s management team were recently invited to speak at the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce meeting. On April 18, Karen Wilson and Mike Birdwell explained Ben Lomand’s new fiber network to chamber members and told them it would be an important tool in recruiting businesses to Spencer and Van Buren County. “You’ve got what a lot of communities wish they had,” Wilson told the members. If you would like to have Ben Lomand staff come talk to your group about the opportunities fiber can provide in your community, please contact Karen Wilson at kawilson@blomand.net or 1-800-974-7779.

Mike Birdwell says businesses are looking for sites with fiber networks.

Video on Demand New Release Schedule For a small rental fee, BLTV's Video on Demand service gives you access to new movies right in your living room. Some titles (shown with an *) are available as many as eight weeks before they come to Netflix or Redbox. Dates and titles are subject to change. July 2 • A Good Day to Die Hard (Extended Cut)* July 9 • Admission* • The Host* • Dead Man Down • Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor July 16 • Evil Dead • Bullet to the Head* August 6

Karen Wilson, Ben Lomand's creative services manager, says metro areas should be envious of the Internet speeds in Van Buren.

• Oblivion* • The Place Beyond the Pines* August 13 • Olympus Has Fallen

Ben Lomand Connect is excited to once again support our local county fairs. Please mark your calendars and be sure to stop by our booth! Warren County Fair Starts on Sept. 6 Carnival open Sept. 9 – Sept. 14 White County Fair Aug. 30 – Sept. 7 Van Buren fair Aug. 3 – 10 Ben Lomand Connect

August 20 • Scary Movie 5

Security customer discount You may be entitled to a special discount with your insurance company. If you are a Ben Lomand Security customer, be sure to notify your home insurance provider to see if you qualify to have your premium reduced. This applies to new and existing customers. July/August 2013 | 5


Web-powered summer vacations

8 ways to use the Internet to create an awesome family vacation this summer By Mariann Martin

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oes the phrase “family vacation” bring back painful memories of long, boring drives, dozens of wrong turns and hotels with an advertised beachfront view that turned out to be a sandy parking lot? If those scenarios sound familiar, there is a solution — the Internet! Use websites for research and booking accommodations online to plan the details of your vacation before heading out for a relaxed, enjoyable trip with the family. Here are some tips:

1 Plan together

Get the entire family involved in planning your vacation with online exploration. Most states, cities and parks have detailed websites that give an overview of available activities. Children can click through pictures, read about the destination points and pick out places of interest.

2 Be prepared

Find out what documents you will need by checking the websites of all the places you plan to visit. Make sure you have the right insurance cards, passports and travel documents before you head out the door. Also check the weather for your destination, so you can pack the proper clothing.

3 Book it

Hotels, car rentals and airline tickets can be purchased online, using various websites to find deals. Travel experts recommend searching at least three booking websites to find the best prices, which are frequently offered at the beginning of the week (especially on Tuesdays).

4 read Reviews

Even the most drab hotel can look good in a photo, so use the Internet to learn what other travelers think of the places you plan to visit. Websites such as TripAdvi-

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sor include reviews from people who have visited the places, and can also offer useful tips and warnings.

stretching visit. Use GPS devices to skip all those wrong turns.

5 Save information

If your day trip to the water park gets rained out, use the Internet to quickly find the closest kids’ museum or other indoor activity. And if the wait is too long at the restaurant you planned to visit, get online to check nearby options.

Use online resources such as Google Docs or Dropbox to plan your itinerary and budget your trip. If you are traveling with other families, Google Docs allows multiple users to share plans and add information. During your trip, you can access your stored trip details.

6 On the road

To avoid the infamous “are we there yet?” chorus, download apps and activities to a smartphone or tablet to entertain the kids. Research historical sites along the way and stop for a quick educational and leg-

7 Changing plans

8 Savor the memories

Once you return home, create an album on Facebook or a photo sharing website to upload your favorite photos from the trip. You can share the album with friends and family, or click through them on a dreary winter day when summer vacations are only a distant dream. 


➜ Places to visit, sights to see Summer memories are filled with blue swimming holes, dripping ice cream cones and family vacations. From beaches and mountains to historical downtowns and outer space exploration, the Southeast abounds in unique spots ideally suited for family trips. These days, a well-planned and researched family trip begins with a few mouse clicks and a quick review of the endless resources on the Internet. Then set out to make memories in one of these breathtaking locations.

First stop on your vacation: the Internet Preparation is the key to success when it comes to family vacations. Here are some state tourism sites to help you plan your next getaway.

• • • •

www.tnvacation.com www.alabama.travel www.kentuckytourism.com www.discoversouthcarolina.com

Photo courtesy of Kentucky Derby Museum

Kentucky Kentucky Derby Museum • www.derbymuseum.org The Kentucky Derby Museum offers visitors a chance to explore Kentucky’s rich horse racing heritage within view of the famed racetrack. The smell of leather and the sound of thundering hooves are recreated through thousands of books, photos, films and racing artifacts housed in the museum. Visitors can also take guided tours for a behind-the-scenes look at Churchill Downs.

Photo courtesy of South Carolina Botanical Garden

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center

Alabama The U.S. Space & Rocket Center • www.rocketcenter.com Visitors to Huntsville’s U.S. Space & Rocket Center trace the history of ventures into space and watch as potential future scientists and astronauts train at the home of America’s space program since the early 1950s. Visitors can “be an astronaut for the day” as they explore a rocket park, education training center and theater. The museum includes space hardware from the first trip to the moon, along with information about the space race, the Apollo missions and the International Space Station.

South Carolina Botanical Garden • www.clemson.edu/public/scbg Take a day away from hectic life to explore beautiful gardens and hike nature trails at the South Carolina Botanical Garden in Clemson. The 295 acres of beauty feature an arboretum, woodlands, streams, managed meadows, turf and shrubs filled with birds, fish and other wildlife. The garden features a geology museum and an art gallery, as well as one of the largest collections of nature-based sculptures in the country.

South Carolina

Photo courtesy of National Park Service

Tennessee Cades Cove • www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/cadescove.htm Whether you are a wildlife enthusiast, nature lover, photographer, hiker or history buff, Cades Cove should be at the top of your list of places to visit. Part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this broad valley features an 11-mile loop road that presents travelers with stunning mountain vistas; sightings of white-tailed deer, black bear, turkey and more; and a number of hiking trails. You will encounter several 18th- and 19thcentury structures, including churches, barns, log cabins and a working grist mill. July/August 2013 | 7


Students from Irving College watch a Ben Lomand crew put a bucket truck into action.

From textbook to tech

Technology day a hit with students

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n March 19, students from several area schools toured some of Ben Lomand Connect’s facilities, and according to Eastside Elementary School eighth-grader Abraham Villafuerte, the experience was eye-opening. “I had no idea it was all that,” he said, walking past Ben Lomand’s huge satellite receiver after leaving the building that houses the video transcoders. “It was way cooler than I thought. That really changed everything I thought about Ben Lomand.” Teachers said the trip changed the way their students think about technology. “They’re getting more insight into the electronics we take for granted,” says Kenneth Fountain, a teacher at Cedars of Lebanon Academy. “It’s good for them to know someone had to work to make the services we enjoy.” Vincente Ortega, an eighth grader at Dibrell Elementary School, agreed. “Before, I thought the TV just worked when somebody plugged it in at my house,” he said. Technician Clent Kesey says that’s a common response. “Most of it is totally new to them,” he explains. “It doesn’t matter, young or old, most people have no idea what goes on behind the scenes to make their video service work.” After the head-in, the tour brought stu-

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Lewis Beaty demonstrates his climbing skills.

Ray Cantrell explains satellite technology to Dibrell students.

Rob Williams talks about bucket trucks with students. dents to a bucket truck and pole-climbing demonstration. “He’s like a real-life Spider-Man,” one student from Dibrell said as lineman Lewis Beaty climbed a pole during a demonstration. “It looks like a fun job, but it’s a really hard job,” explained Ellen Thomas, human resources manager for Ben Lomand. “Where can you buy those things?”

asked one student, pointing at the spiked boot covers Beaty wore to climb the pole. “They’d be great for deer hunting!” The students’ enthusiasm and curiosity — even when it’s unpredictable — made for a fun day for employees. “I had a blast,” said Rob Williams, who ran the bucket truck demonstration. “It’s always good to work with kids,” said fellow crew member Philip Gilley.  Ben Lomand Connect


Subterranean Sound

Technology helps Bluegrass Underground celebrate fifth season By Andy Johns

Eons in the making

Like most caves, Cumberland Caverns was formed by water. As two subterranean rivers carved out the Volcano Room, where the concerts are held, the currents shaped the stone so there are almost no flat surfaces, which makes for great sound clarity. “The acoustics in the cave in the Volcano Room are very special,” Mayo says. “It’s like a recording studio.” The sound, as well as the uniqueness of the venue, has brought some of the biggest names in bluegrass and Americana music — including Old Crow Medicine Show, Ricky Skaggs and Ralph Stanley. “I think the novelty of it is what’s drawn some of the oldtimers in,” Jones says. “These Grammy-winning, big-time acts turn into tourists when they get here.”

Cave computing

Just because concertgoers are 350 feet underground doesn’t mean they don’t want to post about the music on social media with their smartphones. There’s no cell service underground, but with its Ben Lomand Ben Lomand Connect

Old Crow Medicine Show performs for a packed house 350 feet underground at Cumberland Caverns.

Photo by Michael Weintrob

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utting on a concert is a lot of work. Putting on a concert 350 feet underground is even tougher. Putting on a concert, underground, that is good enough to be the opening act to the Grand Ole Opry is nothing short of amazing. “If it was easy, everybody would do it,” says Teddy Jones, general manager at Cumberland Caverns. Thanks to a determined crew and a little bit of technology from Ben Lomand Connect, Bluegrass Underground at Cumberland Caverns is now in its fifth season and still growing. The concert series airs on PBS in 80 percent of U.S. television markets and on the radio on the legendary WSM right before the Grand Ole Opry radio show. “Prime time Friday night in L.A., there’s a half-hour show from McMinnville, Tenn.” Jones says, still sounding amazed. Todd Mayo, the concert producer who came up with the idea for the series, says it’s unusual, but there couldn’t be a better spot. “We do a network-quality television show — from a cave,” he says. “The show is really about the two best things about Tennessee: our music and our natural beauty. This combines the two.”

connection, Cumberland Caverns offers wireless Internet in the Volcano Room. “We may be the only cave that has Wi-Fi,” Jones says. While the Wi-Fi started off as a novelty for fans, many of the bands now use it to swipe credit cards when selling merchandise. The cave is also wired with a few emergency phones, one of which is located nearly a mile back into the maze of tunnels. This summer, crews should link Cumberland Caverns to Ben Lomand’s new Flite fiber optics network. An ultra-high-speed connection, Mayo says, could open the door for live streaming shows or other possibilities. “If we had a nice line of fiber running into the cave, there are a lot of things we could do,” he explains. 

Summer/Fall Lineup July 27 - Chip Taylor Aug. 10 - The Cleverlys with the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band Sept. 7 - HoneyHoney with Cereus Bright Oct. 26 - Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper July/August 2013 | 9


Minor Attraction0 Stars of tomorrow and fan-friendly venues draw crowds By Jeremy Wood

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hen it comes to big-league rooting alliances, Southern baseball fans are mostly left listening to radio broadcasts of teams in faraway cities like Atlanta, St. Louis and Cincinnati. But the South has plenty of the next-best thing: the minor leagues. The region’s rich baseball playing history and small-town style fit perfectly with the essence of minor league baseball, where teams send younger players to develop. The South boasts nearly 50 minor league teams, ranging in level from Rookie (just signed their first pro contract) to AAA (one step away from the big time). Here are a few popular places to see a minor-league game in the South, along with their classification and big-league parent club. For a portal to every minor league team’s website, visit www.minorleaguebaseball.com.

Nashville Sounds

H Huntsville (Ala.) Stars (AA, Milwaukee Brewers) Tickets: $8 for adults, $5 for kids under 12 (all tickets are general admission and must be purchased at the ballpark). At the park: An $8 ticket is a good deal for the upper minors and it allows you to pick from any seat at Joe Davis Stadium. Promotions this year include a bobblehead night on July 27, discounted drinks on Thirst-Aid Thursdays, fireworks and bingo games. Watch for mascot Homer the Polecat, who was created in honor of a skunk that used to live behind the outfield wall. While you’re in town: Take the money you save on baseball tickets and visit the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. 10 | July/August 2013

Photo courtesy of Nashville Sounds

(AAA, Milwaukee Brewers) Tickets: $15 day-of-game, $12 when purchased in advance. They also offer a family ticket bundle that includes seats, hot dogs and sodas for four at a cost of $56. At the park: There are six Faith Night promotions throughout the season, featuring live Christian music prior to the game. Sticking with the religious theme, there will be two “Bible Series” bobblehead giveaway nights during the season. The featured statuettes? David and Goliath. While you’re in town: The Tennessee State Museum has exhibits covering 15,000 years of human history in the state. Best of all, museum admission is free.


Chattanooga Lookouts (AA, Los Angeles Dodgers) Tickets: Range from $5 for adult general admission to $9 for lower box seats. At the park: Sitting on the third-base side offers a better view of the nearby mountains and shade from the setting sun, while the first-base side treats you to cars going by on U.S. 27 outside the park. While you’re in town: Have dinner at Big River Grille and Brewing Works for a family-friendly menu. It’s a two-block walk from the restaurant door to the front gate of AT&T Park. If you’re a baseball history buff, Engel Stadium (which is no longer used by the Lookouts) has been open since 1929 and is a must-see.

H Jackson (Tenn.) Generals (AA, Seattle Mariners) Tickets: $10 reserved, $6 general admission. At the park: If you can make it for any Dollar Thursday during the season, general admission seats are knocked down to a single greenback (as are hot dogs, popcorn, soft drinks and beer). Sarge, the Generals’ bulldog mascot, was named by a six-year-old in an online contest. While you’re in town: It’s a good place for railroad fans, who can visit both the Casey Jones Village and the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railroad Museum and still make a night game.

H Charleston (S.C.) Riverdogs (A, New York Yankees) Tickets: $8 to $17 for Friday nights, cheaper by $1 for all other nights except July 4. At the park: Joseph P. Riley park was designed by the same architectural firm that worked on several modern major league stadiums. It is one of the most picturesque locales in the minors.

While you’re in town: If you can’t find a great meal at one of Charleston’s more than 350 restaurants, you’re not really trying. Chefs at places from famous staples like Hyman’s Seafood to hot new restaurants like Macintosh serve up their take on shrimp and grits, barbecued ribs and more every day. For non-culinary exploration, your best bet is to ride the ferry to Fort Sumter for some Civil War history and watch for dolphins while you’re on the boat.

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Tennessee Smokies (AA, Chicago Cubs) Tickets: $11/$10 for adults/children infield box seats; $6 for all ages on grass outfield berm. At the park: Located in Kodak, Tenn., a few miles east of Knoxville, the Smokies enjoy one of the minors’ more creative promotional teams. Movie Mondays weave great baseball movies into the live game experience, while country music fans can hit Kenny Chesney night on July 19. While you’re in town: The glitz of Dollywood and Gatlinburg and the wilderness of Great Smoky Mountains National Park are both just a short drive away.

H Rome Braves (A, Atlanta Braves) Tickets: Club seats are $10 apiece; cheapest is $4 lawn seating. At the park: Romey and Roxie are two of the biggest, bluest mascots in the minors. Rome also hosts Superhero Night on July 6; dressing up as your favorite superhero is encouraged and Captain America will be in attendance for pictures. While you’re in town: Grab dinner at local institution Schroeder’s on Broad Street in downtown Rome. If you have time for sightseeing, visit the campus of nearby Berry College to check out the exquisite Frost Chapel and a vintage overshot wooden water wheel.

Lexington Legends (A, Kansas City Royals) Tickets: The cheapest reserved seats are $14 when purchased in advance (add $1 to all prices day-of-game). At the park: Kids receive a voucher for a free ballpark meal on Monday night home games. Also, the Legends will have three George Brett bobblehead giveaways this season, honoring one of the Royals’ alltime greats. While you’re in town: The Kentucky Horse Center is referred to as “Disneyland for horse lovers.” It features two theaters and two museums on the grounds.

H Bowling Green (Ky.) Hot Rods (A, Tampa Bay Rays) Tickets: Highest are $12 for premium box seats; cheapest are $7 for general admission. At the park: The parent club, Tampa Bay, has one of the best reputations for developing minor league talent in the business, and some of the Rays’ top prospects figure to be in Bowling Green this summer. While you’re in town: If you love cars, check out the National Corvette Museum. If the great outdoors is more appealing, enjoy an underground boat tour at the Lost River Cave & Valley on the outskirts of town.  July/August 2013 | 11


The future is fiber

New network brings speed, capabilities to the region By Andy Johns

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hen Ben Lomand Connect crews and contractors finish a new fiber optic network, there will be few places to find better speed, reliability and features to do the things you love and need online. In fact, there may not be any. “You won’t find better service if you’re in Nashville or New York,” says Ben Lomand’s Engineering Supervisor Richard Boyd. The new fiber optics network, called Flite service, will allow Ben Lomand to provide a new array of offerings and give members more entertainment and communications options than ever before. “I think it’s bigger than the day we started offering DSL,” says Ben Lomand’s Chief Technology Officer Ray Cantrell. Fiber optic technology — which sends microbursts of light through strands of glass — is much more reliable than signals on copper lines because it allows the signals to travel farther and isn’t vulnerable to most types of interference. But the biggest benefit most members will enjoy from Flite service is the speed. While a 1.5 Mbps connection might be fine for someone who just wants to check email, the faster speeds that fiber allows will enable members to stream video, upload photos quickly and download music in no time. And when you consider the way combining a couple of computers, smartphones and a tablet can bog down a connection, Flite service is a must have. “With all the devices in a home today, that puts a lot of demand on the connection,” Boyd says. “With fiber, you have all of the bandwidth you need.” And that bandwidth, capable of speeds up to 100 Mbps, can be used for industries, schools, hospitals and other operations as well. Ben Lomand is working with officials to provide fiber connections at industrial parks in Morrison and Manchester, and is looking for other ways to work with industries.

Contractors Matt Ford (front), Bud Peters, Lee Jackson and Jordan Clark lay fiber east of McMinnville.

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Ben Lomand Connect


Communities are excited to get the highspeed service because it can make them a more appealing location for businesses or families looking to relocate. With this in mind, members of the Van Buren County Chamber of Commerce asked Ben Lomand Connect to send representatives to one of their meetings to explain the new network. “You can be proud that your cooperative is on the cutting edge of technology,” Mike Birdwell, district operations manager, told the chamber members. “You’ve got what a lot of communities wish they had,” summarized Karen Wilson, Ben Lomand’s creative services manager. But just like it took years to string phone lines around Middle Tennessee when Ben Lomand was founded, building this new fiber network is a lengthy process. “The goal is to build fiber everywhere in the service area, but that takes a lot of time and money,” says engineer Richard Boyd. “It’s a costly investment, but it’s an investment in our communities and we believe it will be worth it.” Currently, the engineering plans call for fiber to be installed in higher-demand areas or locations where copper lines have been a problem in the past. Fiber crews have already built the lines in several communities within Ben Lomand’s service area, including Pelham, Bon De Croft, Spencer and Beersheba Springs. Current plans call for new fiber installation in some parts of McMinnville, as well as 12 new spots in Warren County this year. Ben Lomand’s Flite network links each household or business with its own individual fiber instead of daisy-chaining customers together on the same fiber like some providers. To put that in perspective, most DSL networks run a single fiber connection to a remote box, which links copper lines out to 300 or 400 homes. On the new Flite network, the power of that single fiber will run to each home instead of being split 400 ways. The decision to build the network this way should ensure it not only keeps up Ben Lomand Connect

Contractor Dave Smith splices fiber near Irving College.

with today’s demands, but whatever technology comes next. “The sky is the limit,” Cantrell says. “No matter what services come along, this will be able to handle it.” When the fiber network is available in your area, Ben Lomand will send out information notifying you of your new cutting-edge service options.

Fiber on TV

One often-overlooked aspect of a fiber connection is its ability to bring highdefinition television service to rural areas. BLTV is what’s called Internet Protocol Television (IPTV), a type of service that is growing rapidly in popularity across the country. The biggest difference for IPTV is that it is broadcast over an Internet connection rather than conventional cable or satellite. All of the channels and programming you love is still there, along with a couple of big benefits for viewers. In addition to crystal-clear HD viewing, BLTV also provides extra features like Video On Demand (see Page 5 for a new release schedule). VOD allows members to digitally “rent” movies right from their TV menu. Another popular feature is the ability to make Caller ID messages pop up on the television screen, so you can know who is calling without ever leaving the couch. The system is designed so either the member or a technician at the central office can add such features without making a trip to the home. “It will just take a few

keystrokes to make that happen,” Cantrell says. But the biggest benefit to members is that fiber technology will enable BLTV to bring television service to areas that have previously had trouble getting service. Just like a copper-based Internet network, cable companies are limited by the fading signal strength over distances with copper lines. Satellite providers can only install dishes where there are clear lines of sight, which can be difficult to find in the ridges and valleys of the Cumberland Plateau. Just like with Internet speeds, the lightning-fast fiber allows signals to retain almost all of their strength, no matter the distance they are traveling. “In some areas, IPTV over fiber will give our members entertainment options they’ve never had before,” Boyd says. In homes that have been receiving standard definition signals, Flite service will be able to provide HD signals. On copper lines, HD signals sometimes don’t come through if they are being split among four or five televisions. “The only way to do that is with fiber,” Boyd says. 

Exchanges where fiber is already built: Spencer Bon De Croft Pelham Beersheba Springs Old Zion Sparta Rural July/August 2013 | 13


Southern Kitchens

Every time I bite into a peach, the memories come flooding back. My mother loved Anne P. Braly peaches, but her Food Editor favorite variety was one you don’t see very often these days: Georgia Belle. We had a summer home in the North Carolina mountains, and there was one roadside stand we passed every time we made the drive. When the sign went up saying Georgia Belles were in season, Momma would make a quick turn into the open-air market along Highway 64. Momma’s gone now, Georgia Belles aren’t so easy to find anymore, and the last time I drove past, the fruit stand had closed. But farmers are now growing other good peaches, and they’re readily available this time of year. Here’s one of my favorite ways to use peaches on grilled chicken. For the best taste, make it the night before, put it in a sealed container and allow the flavors to marry.

Fresh Peach Salsa 3-4 1/4 2 2 1 1 1 2

peeled peaches, diced cup fresh lime juice teaspoons honey tablespoons diced red bell pepper tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper tablespoon chopped cilantro clove garlic, minced tablespoons chopped red onion

Combine ingredients; refrigerate until serving time. Makes 1-1/2 to 2 cups. Email Anne Braly at apbraly@gmail.com. 14 | July/August 2013

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A passion for peaches

“After the 5-1/2-hour drive to Arkansas, we got back in the car and drove another 50 miles just to pick peaches from an orchard that Ronda Hays’ recipe was well-known for for her mom’s peach its beautiful and sweet pie brings back fruit,” she says. “There childhood memories. were acres and acres of peach trees loaded with ripe, luscious fruit ready for picking.” After picking their fill — several bushels, Hays recalls — they got back in their car, having rearranged their luggage so that the peaches would have a protected place to travel. “When the visit was over, our trip home was a constant reminder by the ever-present smell of fresh peaches and the thoughts of delicious treats to come,” she says. “Once home, Mom and Dad began the process of preserving the tasty peaches for us to enjoy during the cold winter months.” Her love of peaches has never diminished, only bloomed. And though Hays prefers freestone peaches over any other — the pits are easier to remove and there’s less waste, she says — she really doesn’t have a preference about what specific variety she uses. “I usually just buy the freshest-smelling the grocery store offers,” she says. “The same goes when I go to the local farmers’ markets in the summer.” If it looks like a peach and smells like a peach, she bags it. Though she uses frozen peaches when good fresh ones are not available, Hays’ favorite peach dessert is never made until this time of year when peaches are at their best. Her mother’s peach pie is special to her because it brings back such good memories. “I remember her making it when my brother and I were children,” she says. “We could hardly wait for a slice of it every time she made it.” So she, like you, has to wait no longer. Peaches are in their prime, right in time to please your peachy palate. Here are two of Hays’ favorite recipes. 

Photo by Thomas Jackson

The perfect peach

onda Hays of Cunningham, Ky., has a passion for peaches that goes all the way back to her childhood. She remembers a trip to visit family in Arkansas when she was about 10 years old, and on the way back to her home in Missouri the smell of peaches filled the car.


Peaches: The fresh taste of summer Peach-Blueberry Bread eggs cups sugar cup vegetable oil teaspoons vanilla extract cups all-purpose flour teaspoon baking powder teaspoon baking soda teaspoon salt teaspoons cinnamon cups diced peaches cup blueberries cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 8-by-4-inch loaf pans. In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Blend in the sugar, oil and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; mix just to combine, but do not overwork the batter. Stir in the peaches, blueberries, and nuts. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for about 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool in loaf pans for 10 minutes. Turn the bread out onto the wire rack to completely cool. Serve with softened cream cheese or your favorite flavored butter. Note: Frozen blueberries may also be used. If frozen fruit is used, thaw and drain excess moisture prior to use.

Photo by Thomas Jackson

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One of Ronda Hays’ favorite peach desserts is her mom’s peach pie.

Mom’s Peach Pie 3-4 2 1 2 1 1 1 1 1

peaches, peeled, pits removed graham cracker crusts cup water tablespoons cornstarch cup sugar (3-ounce) package peach gelatin (8-ounce) container whipped topping, thawed cup powdered sugar (3-ounce) package cream cheese

Slice peaches into crusts. In a small saucepan, add water, sugar and cornstarch, stirring and cooking until sugar is dissolved and mixture is clear. Add peach gelatin and stir to dissolve. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Pour mixture over peaches; place pies in refrigerator until they are set. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, blend whipped topping, powdered sugar and cream cheese. Remove pies from refrigerator, spread with cream cheese mixture, slice and serve. Store any leftovers, covered, in refrigerator.

Dessert, Decor and More Ronda Hays of Cunningham, Ky., has a knack for domestic creativity. In 2011, Hays turned her passion for home arts into All Things Home Related, a blog in which she shares favorite recipes and photo updates about life on the farm, as well as arts and crafts projects around her home. The recipe index makes finding just the right dish quick and easy. Hays’ recipes have been featured in various cookbooks and publications, all of which are listed on her website. For more information or to contact Hays, visit her blog:

www.allthingshomerelated.com July/August 2013 | 15


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July/August 2013 Ben Lomand Connection