The Ben Lomand
Connection Tennessee Pickers Local antique dealers search for unique pieces
Video options New system offers members thousands of movies and shows
Memorable Memorial Two families welcome home and remember long-missing soldiers
Telco groups unify to bring stronger voice and new opportunities to rural subscribers By Stephen V. Smith, Editor
Editor’s Note: In February, America’s leading telecommunications trade groups voted to become one association. The unification of NTCA (National Telecommunications Cooperative Association) and OPASTCO (Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies) created a single group representing the concerns of rural telcos and their customers across the nation. As of March 1, the organization became known as “NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association.” In an interview following the vote, we asked Shirley Bloomfield, the CEO of NTCA, about the impact a unified group will have on rural subscribers. Smith: NTCA and OPASTCO were both 50-year-old trade associations comprised of rural telecommunications providers. How were the two groups different? Bloomfield: NTCA had a very strong basis in the cooperative movement, and actually originated as an arm of the NRECA (National Rural Electric Cooperation Association). The organization itself was established as a cooperative entity, with control being held by telephone cooperatives. OPASTCO was formed as a home for those companies that were traditionally family-owned. When rural telephone systems were first established, people either got together and created member-owned cooperatives, or a family said “we see a void, let’s fill it,” and they built a telephone company. Smith: What was the driving force behind unifying the two organizations? Bloomfield: Over the past several years, we have found that in this industry the issues are all the same. It doesn’t matter whether you are a cooperative or a family-owned company, the issues facing this industry impact all the carriers. Things that are taking place on the regulatory front, with state utility commission deci2 | May/June 2013
sions, with technology transforming at a daily rate and changing people’s business models ... these things created an opportunity for the two organizations to work more closely together. We all began to realize that if we bring these forces together there is more that we can do as one, as opposed to trying to do the same thing with two separate organizations. Smith: What benefit will rural telcos, and the industry as a whole, gain from the unification? Bloomfield: The first area I would highlight is advocacy. Because there is so much dissension and politicking in Washington, it has become imperative that the message of the rural telecommunications industry find a voice, that we speak a little bit louder. When you have two entities saying the same thing, they diffuse each other. When you put all carriers together, speaking in a definitive voice for the entire industry, it cuts through the clutter. It allows us to move faster and be more powerful, in a day and age where, frankly, this industry is still very heavily dominated by the large carriers. Another area is the business opportunity front. We now have more than 800 companies at the table, and that will give us the ability to go to wireless carriers,
Shirley Bloomfield NTCA CEO go to middle-mile institutions such as hospitals and educational institutions, and form partnerships to offer different kinds of services. Smith: How do these benefits translate to the consumer at the end of the line? Bloomfield: It will give rural telcos the ability to create some scope and scale in order to offer new services. Rural providers have been terrifically innovative, but what could they do if they could get a nationwide presence? What kind of things could they offer their customers? Also, so much of the revenue of these carriers is tied up in the regulatory arena. If we can be successful speaking with one voice, we hope to keep local costs low, to minimize rate increases and to continue universal service support, which makes things like advanced broadband affordable in these rural communities where you don’t have the customer base to offset the costs.
Our interview with Bloomfield continues in the July/August issue, as she talks about how the uncertainty surrounding FCC regulations is threatening the level of service and investment in rural communities.
The truth behind what’s driving up TV subscription costs nationwide Your Telco (Content Providers/Networks)
As a provider of TV service, we are caught in the middle of a tug-of-war. On one side, content providers and networks are demanding more money every year from companies like ours who carry their programming. On the other side, consumers demand quality content but are growing weary of package prices that continue to rise.
hy does my bill keep going up?” It’s a common question consumers nationwide are asking, as they watch the steady climb of TV programming costs. There are two main factors driving these increases.
1) Cable channels charge us a fee to deliver their programming to you — and those fees keep rising.
We work to include as many channels as possible in our lineup. But most channels add an expense to our cost of providing you TV service. According to estimates from analysts SNL Kagan and Barclays Capital, sports programming accounts for four of the top ten channels as ranked by their monthly subscriber fees. ESPN/ESPN HD leads their list at $5.06 per subscriber. The NFL Network comes in at 84¢. Compare that to Nickelodeon’s 52¢, MTV’s 39¢ and Discovery Channel’s 37¢ and you get a clear picture of the dominant driver behind programming price hikes. (Note: These estimates are based on fees paid by the large, nationwide providers, and do not reflect the exact cost we pay for these channels.)
2) Local network affiliates now charge us a fee to deliver their programming to you — and those fees keep rising. There was a time when your “local stations” charged nothing for a carrier to rebroadcast their signals. Not anymore. In order for you to enjoy channels such as ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX, we must pay them a fee based on our number of subscribers —
and these fees continue to rise each time we renegotiate what is known as the retransmission consent agreements with them. SNL Kagan reported in November that the revenue TV station owners receive from these fees could reach $5.5 billion by 2017 — an even higher number than was previously projected. Why? “The increased projections are due to the success of a wider range of TV station owners in securing sequentially higher (retransmission) fees from multichannel operators over the last year of negotiated deals,” says the report.
Will this trend continue?
Unfortunately, there is no end in sight. Content providers know that consumers want their channels, and they continue to build fee increases into their contracts with providers like us. Furthermore, sports channels are negotiating huge deals with teams and leagues that are driving up their production costs (for example, in late 2011 ESPN agreed to pay the NFL some 70 percent more to carry Monday Night Football through 2021). They are passing these costs on to providers like us nationwide, who have no choice but to pass the increases on to consumers. The bottom line is that we are committed to providing all our subscribers with the channels they want. And as your local telecommunications company, we are doing everything we can to control our operating costs and keep our prices as low as possible. In the end, however, the reality is that TV rates will continue to move upward as long as content providers keep increasing the fees we must pay and the number of channels we must carry. May/June 2013 | 3
From the CEO
Investing in a stronger future For those who put money in the U.S. stock market, the past few years have been like a long ride down a rough road. The same can be said for the real estate market. But as your telco, we are making investments that have guaranteed returns. We are investing in our communities. We are committed to doing more than just providing a basic service to the communities in our area. We understand that quality of life is about more than the basics; it’s about having access to services that create greater opportunities for our families, businesses, schools and other institutions. We are investing the time and resources into making sure you have access to those advanced services. We are investing in technology. Technology is the key that makes those advanced services possible. Just like electricity in the 1930s and 1940s, and reliable telephone service in the 1950s, broadband is the new infrastructure that is driving our community development. We are investing in the equipment and people to deliver broadband technology to everyone in our service area. We are investing in education. Today, children in rural America can have the same opportunities to pursue a top-notch education as their urban counterparts. To take advantage of those opportunities, the systems and the technology must be in place — from Wi-Fi tablets to distance learning. We are partnering with our schools by investing in the broadband network that makes advanced education happen. We are investing in health care. Technology is changing health care faster than perhaps any sector. From electronic medical records to telemedicine, technology is helping people receive better care while helping providers control costs. We are partnering with health care providers by investing in the broadband network that powers these advances. We are investing in business. Local businesses are no longer competing with just the shop next door or in the next town. Now they are competing with companies in other states, and even other countries, thanks to the Internet. We are partnering with our businesses by investing in the broadband network that helps them offer the best local service while competing on a much larger stage. We are investing in the future of this industry. The progress of rural America is directly tied to the success of the rural telecommunications industry. On Page 2 of this issue, you will read how two national rural telco associations have come together to form one voice in order to be more effective in representing your concerns in Washington, D.C. In April, leaders from rural telcos across the country met in our nation’s capital to discuss policy concerns and remind our elected officials that any reforms to this industry must be fair and workable for rural communities. For every proposed law or regulation that comes along, we are there to work on your behalf to protect the progress we have all made together. These are the kinds of investments we are making — and will continue to make. And they are guaranteed to yield a return, because ultimately what we are investing in is a stronger future for you and your family. Trevor Bonnstetter Chief Executive Officer 4 | May/June 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. 3 May/June 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:
Dale Dotson, a picker from Coffee County, says gas and oil memorabilia are hot sellers right now. See story Page 12.
If you need to make any changes to your directory listing, please contact customer service by June 30 to have it updated in the upcoming directory.
Do you like Ben Lomand Connect? Well, “Like” us on Facebook! The Ben Lomand Facebook page is full of relevant information for our members. Find us, "Like" us and stay up to date on the latest happenings within your cooperative.
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. APRIL 30
Hundreds of members attend
Ben Lomand Connect hosted its annual meeting March 23 at the McMinnville Civic Center. Members were treated to live music from Thunder Creek, along with carnival games, balloon animals, door prizes and product demonstrations. In addition to the games, young members were thrilled to be able to tour a truck from the McMinnville Fire Department. The meeting attracted plenty of attention in the community. In addition to the crowd of about 600 people in attendance, WOW Country 105.3 broadcast live from the event. In the business portion of the meeting, CEO Trevor Bonnstetter gave an update on the cooperative's network upgrades, while reiterating its commitment to reliability and customer service.
• Broken City • Silver Linings Playbook • The Guilt Trip May 7 • Mama* • Jack Reacher • Safe Haven* May 14 • Cloud Atlas* • Texas Chainsaw: Evil Wears Many Faces May 21 • Parker • The Last Stand • Side Effects* • Beautiful Creatures* May 28 • Dark Skies June 4 • Identity Thief* • A Good Day to Die Hard* • Escape from Planet Earth • Warm Bodies June 11 • Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters • Snitch • Quartet
This year's annual meeting featured live music, carnival games, a tour of a fire truck and product demonstrations. Ben Lomand Connect
May/June 2013 | 5
Keeping students off the summer slide By Brian Lazenby
eading, writing and arithmetic are the last things on kids’ minds during summer vacation. Most are focused on sports, video games and playing with their friends. This educational downtime contributes to what is known as the “summer slide,” when students lose much of the skill, knowledge and motivation acquired during the previous school year. In fact, a 2011 study conducted by the RAND Corporation shows that most students lose a month’s worth of learning by the time school resumes the following year. This phenomenon affects children of all ages and from all economic backgrounds, but it is most harmful to those students already struggling to keep up. However, it can be avoided. Broadband technology provides access to numerous websites and applications that transform computers and Wi-Fi-enabled tablets into tools that make learning fun and will help avoid the summer slide. Let's take a look at a few of the best sites for your kids to visit this summer. FunBrain.com, for example, is a site geared toward children in grades K-8 that offers online activities to boost learning in math, grammar, science, spelling and history.
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E-learningforkids.org is another site that specializes in providing fun, educational activities for children. Others include thekidzpage.com and pbs.org. According to many educators, one of the most valuable things students can do during the summer to avoid the slide is to continue reading. “Just because school is out doesn’t mean students should take a break from reading,” says Dennis Van Roekel, National Education Association president, on the group's website at www.nea.org. “When students return to their classrooms in the fall, we want reading to top the list of what they did this summer.��� There are thousands of books available on just about any reading level that can be downloaded to an e-reader or wireless tablet. Farfarfia is an app for your smart tablet that gets kids excited about reading. It includes more than 100 stories in e-book form for kids ages 2 to 9, and new titles are added every week. This app will make reading fun for your child, and will make it easy to carry a whole load of books to the pool, the park or the beach — without lugging a heavy bookbag.
There are many other apps designed to keep your kids entertained all summer (they may not even realize they are learning!). For example: • PBS character apps are for children 6 and under who will love reviewing science and math skills with favorite characters from PBS shows. • Ruckus Reader, another educational app for children, offers a unique series of digital storybooks designed to help your child practice important reading skills. • Motion Math Games is one of the many apps that offers a variety of games focused on fundamental math skills. It provides fun with numbers for students ranging in age from 4 to 14, and studies show children who played the game improved their scores on a fractions test by 15 percent. • iLearnWith is an app that offers a suite of games to encourage children ages 3 to 6 to have fun while learning key developmental skills such as adding, counting, spelling, phonics and meteorology.
Summer vacation doesn’t mean your kids have to take a break from learning. By exploring these tools and the many others that are available, your child can still have fun while staying off the summer slide.
Nationwide, consumers are reporting failed connections and poor call quality when dialing into rural areas By Stephen V. Smith, Editor
called you earlier today, but I couldn’t get through; it never even rang.” If you have heard this or similar complaints from friends, family or business associates, there’s a good chance the problem is not with your local telephone company. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), telephone subscribers in rural areas “are reporting significant problems receiving long distance or wireless calls on their landline phones.” The problem appears to lie in the fact that some long distance and wireless carriers, in an effort to cut costs, are contracting with third-party service providers to route phone calls into rural areas. The FCC in February announced that it plans to adopt rules requiring these carriers to keep records on call attempts to determine and track the rural call failure rate. “Our nation’s telephone network is a valuable asset in part because everyone has access to it,” says Trevor Bonnstetter, CEO of Ben Lomand Connect, WK&T Telecommunications and Ardmore Telephone, serving portions of Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama. “These call completion issues are weakening that network, making it less useful to consumers.” Fred Johnson, executive vice president and general manager of Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative in Alabama, agrees. “I’m proud to see the FCC stepping up its efforts to address this issue,” he
says. “Substandard service into America’s rural areas threatens commerce, public safety and consumer convenience. This is an issue that must be resolved.”
WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS?
On its website (www.fcc.gov), the FCC outlines two problems that are being reported by rural consumers and people who call them: Failure to Complete »» Long distance or wireless callers tell you they repeatedly hear nothing or “dead air” for 10 seconds or more after they dial your number. If they stay on the line, the call may seem to be dropped or they may eventually hear a busy signal. »» Long distance or wireless callers tell you they repeatedly hear prolonged ringing on their end after they dial your number (e.g., the callers wait 10-20 rings before they finally hang up). »» Long distance or wireless callers tell you they repeatedly hear a recording such as “The number you have dialed is not in service” or “Your call cannot be completed as dialed” when they know they’ve correctly dialed your number. Poor Call Quality »» Long distance or wireless callers tell you they repeatedly hear nothing or
“dead air” for 10 seconds or more before hearing ringing and you answer your phone. »» Long distance or wireless callers tell you they repeatedly hear prolonged ringing (e.g., 10-20 times or more) before you answer the phone — when you are sure the phone actually rang only a couple of times before you answered. »» Consistently after you answer a call, the voice quality is unacceptable. For example, one person cannot hear the other, the sound is choppy, there are awkward transmission delays after speaking, or there is an echo. »» Fax machines fail to interoperate.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
If someone has trouble completing a call to you from a long distance or wireless telephone service provider, the FCC recommends that you encourage them to report the issue to their provider. They will need the following information: • the date and time the call was attempted • the calling and called telephone numbers • the name of the caller’s long distance or wireless telephone service provider Next, call your local phone company and provide the same information so it may work with the caller’s provider to isolate the problem. May/June 2013 | 7
Grundy County families relieved to have remains of lost kin returned for Memorial Day
Photo courtesy of Chattanooga Times Free Press
Home for the holiday
Ben Lomand and other trucks welcome Schoenmann home.
or the past 62 Memorial Days, when people around the country gathered to remember fallen soldiers, Glenn Schoenmann’s family was left wondering if he was among those honored dead. And if he was, where was he? What had happened to him? Would they ever know? Thanks to DNA testing and hard-working scientists, the family finally has answers and the Korean War veteran is back home in Grundy County for this Memorial Day. “He paid the supreme sacrifice for our country,” says Glenn’s brother Raymond Schoenmann. “Memorial Day is going to mean a lot more to me this year.” Army Pfc. Schoenmann was 20 years old in late November of 1950 when he and his combat team were attacked by the Chinese in North Korea. On Dec. 12, the Tracy City native was reported missing in action. Reports from escaped POWs indicated Schoenmann had been wounded and captured by the Chinese. The Army now believes he died a few days after capture from malnutrition. “It brought up emotions because I can’t imagine my brother going through something like that,” Raymond says. Scientists began finding answers to the family’s questions in the early 1990s when North Korean officials turned over the remains of more than 200 U.S. service members. North Korean documents indicated the remains came from near where Schoenmann was last seen, so scientists requested DNA from family members. Once tests proved some of the bones were Schoenmann’s, the family was notified and they were finally able to get some answers. “It’s been bittersweet, but we’re so happy and glad and blessed that we’re able to have him back in our hometown,” says Schoenmann’s sister Edna Kilgore, who lives in Monteagle.
But as amazing as the Schoenmanns’ story is, another family just a few miles away went through a similar ordeal to find their loved one. In August of 2011, military officials contacted the family of Army Spc. Marvin Phillips, of Palmer, Tenn., who disappeared when his helicopter was shot down over the South China Sea in 1966. 8 | May/June 2013
Raymond Schoenmann with a photo of his brother.
Lucy West and James Phillips reminisce about their brother.
From the time of his disappearance, the family was left guessing what had become of Phillips. “Those first eight or 10 years, I thought any time he was going to walk through the door,” says his brother James Phillips. But in 2010, a Vietnamese villager brought unidentified human remains to authorities, who had them sent back to the United States for testing. Like with Schoenmann, officials contacted the family after the DNA samples matched and plans got underway to bring Phillips home.
Accepting the news
Both soldiers received heroes’ welcomes, with police escorts, flag-waving crowds and packed funerals. “You couldn’t have had any county do a better honor,” says Phillips’ sister Lucy West. “It couldn’t have been any better.” Raymond Schoenmann says he’s just glad to know his brother is resting peacefully in the cemetery alongside their parents. “It’s brought everything to a closure point,” he says. “It’s not easy, but it’s closure.” Sadly, many families don’t yet have that closure. More than 83,000 U.S. servicemen and women are still unaccounted for from past conflicts. This includes 7,900 from the Korean War and 1,600 from Vietnam. To those with family members still unaccounted for, Kilgore urges them not to get discouraged. “Don’t give up hope,” she says. “If they’ve got loved ones still missing just keep believing.” Ben Lomand Connect
Customers Happy, Happy, Happy with Video on Demand and Pay-Per-View
o you were out running errands, forgot to set your DVR and missed “Duck Dynasty.” Don’t worry. There’s still a way to catch up with Uncle Si and the boys — at a price that will leave you happy, happy, happy. BLTV's Video on Demand service and Pay-Per-View channels give members access to new release movies, exclusive sporting events and free TV shows. Ben Lomand Connect Chief Technology Officer Ray Cantrell says the VOD has been available for members on the Expanded Package television service since November. But many members don’t realize that more than 10,000 titles are available. “The folks that know it’s there are wearing it out,” he says. “It’s a great service and I’m glad we can offer it.”
VOD offers selection, convenience
A major time people watch movies is when it’s hot, cold or raining outside. But traditionally, that has meant someone has to brave the weather to go get the DVD. Not anymore. “With our video service, you can do that right from your screen,” Cantrell says. "You don’t even have to worry about returning a disk.” The rentals, most of which are $3.99, allow viewers to watch the program an unlimited number of times in a one-day, two-day or three-day period. The roster of movies includes everything from romantic comedies to horror. The television section includes free shows from 15 networks, including A&E, FX, NatGeo and Sprout. On top of the selection, VOD comes with plenty of handy features like being able to fast forward, rewind and pause. If you have multiple boxes in your home, the movies can bounce from one room to the other. “You can actually start watching something in the living room, pause it and continue watching it in the bedroom right Ben Lomand Connect
where you left off,” Cantrell says. Additionally, unlike a kiosk or rental store, VOD allows users to watch trailers of most movies before committing to rent them. But the biggest benefit for families with busy schedules, Cantrell says, is the flexibility to watch movies or shows when you have free time. “It’s on your time,” he says. “You watch what you want, when you want.”
Pay-Per-View gives exclusive access
For many concerts, comedy tours and sporting events, the only way to see them live is Pay-Per-View, which is found on channels 809 and 810. Ben Lomand began offering Pay-Per-View in 2004 and viewers have become accustomed to a large offering of mixed martial arts and boxing. Cantrell, a big Ultimate Fighting fan himself, says Pay-Per-View makes his house the place to go for big fights. “I’ll have buddies over and we don’t want to watch it a day late,” he says. “On Pay-PerView, we can watch it live.”
To access VOD New remotes: Press the “On Demand” button Older remotes: Press “Menu” then select “VOD” To rent movies or watch free shows, your PIN is your sevendigit phone number.
Pay-Per-View Channels: Standard-Definition 809 High-Definition 810
May/June 2013 | 9
The Southeastern U.S. is an outdoor lover’s paradise. Whether you're looking for a rugged multi-day hike or an afternoon paddle along a quiet creek, the region has something for everyone. But before packing up, spend some time exploring the Internet to ensure you get the most from your adventure. Congaree National Park
Six outdoor destinations and the technology that can enhance the nature experience By Andy Johns
Canoeists at Congaree National Park
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Dotted with waterfalls, unusual rock formations and lush gorges, the trails at Savage Gulf State Natural Area in Tennessee have been ranked among the nation’s best by Backpacker magazine. Not all of the park’s 50 miles of trails are as savage as the name states, but there is a good mix of routes from short walks to multi-night backpacking adventures. The area is also popular with rock climbers for features like the Stone Door, a 10-foot wide, 100-foot deep crack in the rock. Located on the western edge of the Cumberland Plateau, Savage Gulf offers fantastic views during leaf season in the fall. www.tn.gov/environment/na/natareas/savage
The Duck River
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Located southeast of Columbia, S.C., the Congaree National Park claims to preserve the biggest section of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest in the region. What that means is visitors should be prepared to see trees like they’ve never seen before. In fact, to find a “taller” forest you have to travel out west to the famous redwoods and sequoias. One of the nation’s newest national parks, Congaree offers everything from a 2.4-mile boardwalk to the ominously-named, 11-mile King Snake Trail. Rangers say the best way to see the park, however, is by water. Canoes and kayaks can be rented from outfitters in Columbia, or you can register for one of the park’s guided canoe tours. www.nps.gov/cong
The 270-mile Duck River has more species of fish than all of Europe, according to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. A 37-mile section of the river has been designated a State Scenic River and is a perfect spot for beginning paddlers. The river is mostly moving flat water with only a few easy rapids that can be easily portaged. Paddlers will enjoy a variety of wildlife, along with forested banks, rocky cliffs and even a cave or two. At least three outfitters offer canoe or kayak rentals from Columbia and Chapel Hill, so not having a boat is no excuse to stay on the banks. www.tn.gov/environment/tn_consv/archive/duckriver.htm
Upper Greeter Falls in Savage Gulf
A great blue heron at Congaree National Park
Web-based technology can add to your hiking experience before, during and after your hike. Here are three ways technology can help you on the trails.
Photos courtesy of Tennessee State Natural Areas and Congaree National Park.
A green anole lizard at Congaree National Park
Lower Greeter Falls in Savage Gulf
Zebra swallowtail butterfly at Congaree National Park
Hiker at the Walls of Jericho
The Sheltowee Trace
Running for about 300 miles through East Tennessee and Kentucky, the Sheltowee Trace offers hikers a multi-night long-distance trail experience or a collection of shorter day trips. Some of the highlights along the route include Cumberland Falls, Natural Bridge State Resort Park and Cave Run Lake. For some variety, sections of the trail are open to mountain bikes, horses and some off-road vehicles. www.sheltoweetrace.org
While many trails will wear you out climbing mountains, the North/South Trail at Kentucky's Land Between the Lakes (LBL) National Recreation Area is wide and relatively flat, making it easy on hikers. Like other long distance trails, the North/South offers appealing segments for single day hikes or the full 60-mile distance for multi-day trips. The trail offers a few views of nearby Kentucky Lake, but the big attraction to hikers here is the solitude and wildlife. Deer and turkey roam the LBL, and there are even bison in one designated area off the trail. Mountain bikes and horses are allowed, but motor vehicles are prohibited. www.lbl.org/Hiking.html
Walls of Jericho
The Walls of Jericho is a great example of two states working together. Tennessee and Alabama (with the help of private groups) have teamed up to protect 21,000 acres on their border that feature 200-foot cliffs, endangered species and unusually shaped rocks. Getting to the Walls is a 7-mile round-trip hike with several small stream crossings. Hikers need to be sure to wear good boots, bring plenty of water and pay attention to the weather. www.tn.gov/environment/na/natareas/jericho
Websites like backpacker.com/ destinations and gorp.com (which stands for "Good Ol’ Raisins and Peanuts," a popular trail snack) offer countless maps, images and user reviews for hikes in your area. Research ahead of time so you don’t miss spectacular side trails — and so you'll be aware of hazards in the area.
During: The Audubon Society and other groups have developed apps for smartphones that can enhance your nature experience. Apps like Audubon Birds give you access to thousands of bird call sound files and photos to help identify species you may run across.
After: Mobile apps like RunKeeper allow you to map your route as you go. Most of them have features that allow you to review your pace, elevation gain and distance covered so you can analyze your trip. Many also allow you to share your route with friends so they can see where you’ve been and try it themselves.
May/June 2013 | 11
Paul Flury's antique collection spans generations and his store in Tracy City has become a popular destination for pickers and antique enthusiasts.
Middle Tennessee Pickers
Antique dealers scour area to build collections By Andy Johns
ome of the glass bottles people bring to Paul Flury’s store in Tracy City will re-sell for $3. Others will fetch $100. The art of picking is knowing the difference. “People bring stuff in and if it’s cool and rare, I’ll buy it,” says Flury, the third-generation owner of Flury & Sons Store. “People come in from anywhere and everywhere.” Middle Tennessee is prime territory for pickers, the name used for antique dealers who seek out rare items to resell to collectors, popularized by The History Channel’s "American Pickers." And men like Flury say you never know what you might find, or where you might find it. The groceries and general merchandise at Flury’s store is
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ringed by lanterns, old baseball gear, dynamite crates and other oddities. Overhead hang vintage burlap sacks advertising potatoes, navy beans and other dry goods. The decor stems from years of collecting, both things people have brought him and items he’s found tucked away in the shop’s storeroom. “I’m always going to flea markets, looking,” he says. Likely scouring some of those same markets and garage sales is Coffee County picker Dale Dotson. Dotson has traveled coast to coast “digging in old barns” and searching for pieces for his shop. “You might find something, and then you might travel several miles before you find anything again,” he says. Ben Lomand Connect
Picking trips for Dotson aren’t far off from the adventures “American Pickers” stars Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz have as they gather their treasures. In fact, Flury says the junk-digging duo probably help business. “It’s got more people interested in buying this junk,” Flury says, gesturing around the shop. But while Dotson agrees that Pickers, like PBS’s “Antiques Roadshow” before it, has sparked interest in antiques, he sees other reasons as well. As baby boomers retire, many of them are reaching back for a piece of simpler times. “The people that grew up with these things are trying to hold on to them,” Dotson says. Another, younger crowd is gobbling up signs and memorabilia of cars, beer and sports to surround big screen TVs and pool tables in basement rooms. “Everybody’s wanting to build them a little man cave,” Dotson explains. “In our business, you have to have something for everybody.”
Hot and not
Just like any kind of market, antique dealers see the popularity of some items rise and fall. Lately, Flury says, any kind of tobacco advertisement or Coca-Colarelated items are good sellers. Old, brown Coke bottles for the now-defunct Tracy City bottler sell for about $100, he says. But newer clear bottles go for only a couple of bucks. Dotson says oil and gas signs and memorabilia are hot sellers right now. He’s been able to sell some gas company signs for $1,200 each after purchasing them for $200. What’s more, the dealer he sold the signs to re-sold them for $3,500. “There’s good money to be made at it,” Dotson says. But just because something is old doesn’t make it valuable. Dotson says sewing machines and some other home appliances don’t fetch the big dollars that their owners expect. “People get the idea that what they’ve got is worth a fortune, but it’s not,” he explains. “Sometimes you hurt their feelings.” Flury says stamps are particularly tricky, because it takes an expert to know the rarity and value of each one. “People bring in Ben Lomand Connect
Dale Dotson, of Coffee County, travels the country picking antiques, but says there are plenty right around Middle Tennessee. Elvis stamps, but they aren’t worth postage,” he explains. “They printed millions of them.” The more unusual things are the real treasures. “Anything that’s unusual or rare is what we’re looking for,” Dotson says. “That’s what makes things valuable, is how rare they are. If it’s very scarce it’s going to be high.” His shop has everything from a first edition Monopoly board game to a dinosaur tooth. He’s got antique postal scales, boat anchors, arrowheads and one of the first automatic fire extinguishers ever made. “There are not many of them,” he says. A good portion of his collection consists of tools and equipment from railroads and mines in Middle Tennessee. “That thing would still set a charge off,” Dotson says after pushing down on the T-shaped plunger on a dynamite detonator that looks like it came straight out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Flury started off with a collection of dynamite crates and nail barrels that he discovered in a back room of the store. For years, Flury added to the collection a few pieces at a time, without ever parting with any of the antiques. But after a time, he realized it was time to start unloading some of his wares because his space was getting overcrowded.
“They have TV shows for people like that, too — ‘Hoarders,’” he jokes. “You’ve got to have an end game. We’re starting to sell things now.” And when it’s time to find buyers for the collection, Dotson is not afraid to mix the new with the old. A broadband connection from Ben Lomand allows him to sell products all over the world. “I can get on eBay and sell any item in here,” he says. “We can ship it cheaper than they can come get it.” Dotson and Flury also buy, sell and trade at yard sales and flea markets. One of the best times is during big sales such as the 127 Corridor Yard Sale in August, which claims to be the world’s largest and runs right through Middle Tennessee. Dotson says he enjoys seeing familiar faces at the yard sales and on his picking trips out west. “This business is more about friends than money,” he says.
“American Pickers” airs on the History Channel (BLTV Ch. 74) Mondays at 8 p.m. May/June 2013 | 13
Southern Kitchens An art fired by passion My dad was never too fond of barbecue. As a result, I really never experienced smoked foods until well beyond my youth. In fact, it wasn’t until I was well into my third decade of life that I not only learned to love barbecue, but also learned there was more to it than I ever knew — all because of an invitation to judge one of the most esteemed of all barbecue competitions, the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational. In accepting the invitation, I also took classes to become a certified judge. I went back several years to judge this event and came to discover that barbecue is an art. It’s a sixth sense in many barbecuers who are born to the flame, it seems. As years go on, they become adept at putting on the heat to produce just the right amount of smoke to marry with the juices flowing through the meats. These sons — and daughters — of the South have smoke in their veins. It’s an all-consuming passion, and one shared by many now that it’s gone beyond the back yard to become a global cuisine. Just take a look at Eric Stephenson’s recipes in the adjoining story and see if you don’t become addicted to his fiery passion… if you’re not already.
Smoke runs in his blood
ric Stephenson was just 16 years old when he learned that a little bit of flame, a smoker filled with wood and a careful eye produces incredibly good meat. It was then that his dad, James, opened a barbecue restaurant in Geraldine, Ala., and employed his son to work after school and during his summers off. Soon, Eric became a master of the flame under his father’s watchful eye. Now 32, Eric owns his own barbecue restaurant, Stephenson’s Bar-B-Que in Stephenson Rainsville, Ala. It has a take-out drive learned the art through, as well as a covered front porch of barbecue with a handful of picnic tables where from his father. folks can “eat-in.” “I loved working with my dad growing up,” Eric says. "I was able to see first-hand the pride he took in his work. Before his death, he laid out a blueprint for me through multiple conversations. That’s where the idea for Stephenson’s Bar-B-Que began. It’s in my blood.” His first barbecue hut was a Saturday-only business located next to his house. When that building was destroyed by a tornado in April of 2011, he reopened in a new location along Highway 35 in downtown Rainsville. Now folks can smell the smoke from the hickory pit five days a week. From pork sandwiches to rib plates, Stephenson’s Bar-B-Que reigns in Rainsville. Eric took time out from smoking to answer a few barbecue questions: Q: Do you prefer using gas or charcoal? A: Neither. The best method is to use all wood when smoking meat. It gives it a whole lot better flavor. Q: What are the best woods to use? A: Most all hardwoods are good — pecan, hickory, oak, cherry. Q: How do you get juicy meat? A: Don’t pierce the meat; it creates holes that let the juices escape. Brining the meat is a better option. I brine all of mine, from the chickens and turkeys to pork butts and ribs. Q: What is the biggest mistake people make when smoking meat? A: Allowing the flame to touch the meat or cooking it at too high a temperature. That scorches the meat, and the smoke won’t have time to penetrate the inside of the meat. Q: How do you know when the meat is done? A: I can tell just by touch. But people who are new to smoking meats should use a meat thermometer. I cook my pork butts to at least 175° F. Makes them more tender, too.
FOLLOW THE SMOKE TO... Anne P. Braly Food Editor Email Anne Braly at firstname.lastname@example.org. 14 | May/June 2013
Stephenson’s Bar-B-Que H 832 Main St. East H Rainsville, Ala. Hours: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. H Tuesday – Saturday Phone: 256-717-4080 House special: Pulled pork barbecue plate with coleslaw and baked beans ($6.25-$7.75)
BBQ: A mouth-watering Southern tradition Sweet ’n Savory Rub This rub adds a zesty flair to whatever meat you put on the grill. 1/2 1 2 1 1 1 1
cup brown sugar tablespoon black pepper tablespoons paprika tablespoon salt tablespoon onion powder tablespoon garlic powder tablespoon chili powder
Mix together all ingredients and store in airtight container. May be used as a rub for chicken, beef or pork. Makes about 1 cup rub for 2-3 pounds meat. When ready to use, sprinkle rub onto meat and allow to rest for 5 minutes before grilling. Or, rub onto meat, wrap meat in foil and refrigerate overnight to grill the next day.
Bourbon Smoked Pork Tenderloin
Makes an elegant entree or one that can be served with baked beans and coleslaw for tasty picnic fare. 2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin 1/4 cup bourbon whiskey 2 tablespoons molasses or strong honey 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes 3 cloves garlic, crushed 2 bay leaves, crushed 5 teaspoons dried thyme 5 teaspoons dried sage 3/4 cup oil 1 teaspoon salt Combine the bourbon and molasses. Add the remaining ingredients and roll the pork in the marinade. Refrigerate 8 hours, or overnight, turning occasionally. Remove the pork from the marinade, season with salt, and smoke, basting with marinade for 15-20 minutes. The pork may then continue to cook on a smoker, be finished on a grill, or be roasted in a
Using nothing but wood will give your ribs that distinct smoke flavor that barbecue lovers crave. 350° F oven until reaching an internal temperature of 145-150° F. Remove pork from heating source and let rest 15 minutes before serving.
Stephenson's ribs with spicy barbecue sauce
Ribs with Spicy Barbecue Sauce The sauce tickles these ribs with lots of flavor.
1 3-pound rack of ribs
SAUCE: 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar 1/2 cup ketchup 1/3 cup soy sauce 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce 2 cloves garlic, crushed 2 teaspoons prepared mustard 1/8 teaspoon pepper
Place ribs in pan. Combine all sauce ingredients and pour over ribs. Cover ribs and refrigerate for 2 hours, turning ribs frequently. Drain sauce from ribs, reserving sauce. Place ribs over medium coals and grill over direct heat for 1 hour, turning ribs and basting often with sauce. May/June 2013 | 15
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