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Connected July/August 2013

Published for customers of

Pickett’s Charge

Fyffe’s FFA String Band State Champions

minor leagues Enjoy a day at the ballpark Just peachy Delicious summertime recipes

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


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


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 General Manager

Feel deeply

It’s been an emotional week at the Johnson household. Those of you with children will relate to this fairly quickly; those of you without will too but probably a bit differently. I just witnessed my youngest child graduate from high school as the valedictorian of her class. A few days earlier I listened to my older son address a group of graduates with a challenge full of wisdom way beyond his years. As if that isn’t enough, my oldest daughter is getting married in a few days. Needless to say, there is no boredom around our house. The first person to suggest there is will be banished to the garage until repentance is forthcoming. Amidst all of this, a close associate lost his father, and I shared in his grief. Quite unexpectedly, a friend popped in with a bit of news that had a significant emotional impact on me. That story is far too complex to talk about here, but it nonetheless illustrates just how emotional the week really was. Some folks are quite uncomfortable talking about their emotions. I, obviously, am not one of them. A fellow church member recently joked that he gets choked up over the announcements in the bulletin. I can relate. The following is not an original thought. I would properly credit it better if I could, but my memory fails to adequately connect the several literary sources from which it comes. The principle is this. Sometimes, what exactly we feel is not as important as is the fact that we simply feel at all. There is much truth there. It is, after all, our ability as human beings to feel, and to feel deeply, about things in our life that add to our humanity. Think for one moment about those people for whom you hold the most admiration and respect. There is a strong likelihood that you will describe them as quiet and thoughtful people who have relatively strong feelings about certain things and certain values in life. More often than not, those people who make the greatest difference in their world are those who have managed to find and pursue their passions. Properly focused passion is a powerful motivator. In the context of FTC, we understand that a strong and modern communications infrastructure is essential to the economic health of our community. Believing strongly in our mission of improving the quality of life in our communities is a sustaining principle of our leadership and employees. It is one of the most important reasons I appreciate and enjoy the opportunity to work with them. To wrap it up, I am not suggesting that you wear your feelings on your sleeve all the time or drool all over the shoulder of anyone who will listen. There are, after all, some things best kept in private. Still, take comfort in knowing that it is perfectly all right to feel and to feel deeply. Perhaps you can forgive me if I occasionally choke up with a grieving friend, swell with pride as a brilliant daughter or an amazing son speaks with extreme poise in front of hundreds or, as I am pretty sure will happen, get rather misty-eyed as I escort a beautiful young lady down an aisle even though it’s toward a young man of whom I totally approve. She is, after all, the person who first taught me what is meant by the phrase “Daddy’s little girl!”  Fred johnson Executive Vice President and General Manager 4 | July/August 2013

“We Keep You Connected” is a member-owned corporation dedicated to providing communications technology to the people of Northeast Alabama. The company has more than 15,000 access lines, making it the state’s largest telecommunications cooperative.

Board of Trustees Randy Wright, President Flat Rock Exchange Gary Smith, Vice President Fyffe Exchange Danny R. Richey, Secretary Geraldine Exchange Lynn Welden, Treasurer Bryant Exchange Kenneth Gilbert Pisgah Exchange Gregg Griffith Henagar Exchange Randy Tumlin Rainsville Exchange

Connected Vol. 17, No. 4

July/August 2013

is a bimonthly magazine published by Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative, © 2013. It is distributed without charge to all customers of FTC. Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative, Inc. P.O. Box 217 144 McCurdy Ave. N. Rainsville, AL 35986 Telephone: 256-638-2144 Produced for FTC by: On the Cover: Members will enjoy the progressive bluegrass sounds of Pickett’s Charge at the FTC Annual Meeting on Aug. 3. See story Page 9.

FTC awards scholarships Each year, two deserving area students receive a $2,000 scholarship from FTC to help them pursue their educational goals. One scholarship is awarded to a graduating high school student and the other is awarded to a student already attending college. Congratulations to this year’s winners! High School Winner: Michael Davis Michael Davis is a 2013 graduate of Geraldine High School. He was a member of the Beta Club, FFA, FCA and SGA. Michael was an All-County, AllRegion, County MVP and All-State football player. He is attending Jacksonville State University where he will continue his football career for the Gamecocks. He plans to become an educator and coach.

Two earn national scholarships through FRS

College Winner: Stacey Chaney Stacey Chaney is a student at Athens State University, where she is pursing a bachelor’s degree in health sciences. Ultimately, Stacey plans to obtain a doctorate in physical therapy. She currently works as a physical therapist assistant at facilities in DeKalb, Jackson and Marshall counties. She and her husband, Ricky, live in Rainsville and are raising four children.

The Foundation for Rural Services (FRS) awards 30 scholarships annually to high school students living in rural areas around the country. Students are chosen based on their academic achievement and involvement with their school and community. Two students in FTC’s service area were recently selected as scholarship recipients. Kyle Nash and Patrick Ryan Gant each received $2,000 from the FRS and a matching contribution of $500 from FTC to help with college expenses.

Patrick Gant of Pisgah is a 2013 graduate of Pisgah High School. He was active in sports, student government, FFA, 4-H and the school newspaper. Gant is an active community volunteer, helping with numerous community projects including food drives, tornado relief and Christmas charities. He will attend Northeast Alabama Community College in the fall where he plans to earn degrees in computer engineering and business management. Kyle Nash from Bryant is a 2013 graduate of North Sand Mountain High School. He played football and was on the track team. He was an officer in the Science Club and a member of the Beta Club. He is an active volunteer in his community, helping with tornado relief and food drives and volunteering at the Flat Rock Community Center. Nash will attend Northeast Alabama Community College this fall to pursue a business management degree before transferring to a four-year college. Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative

Washington Youth Tour FTC sponsored two high school students as part of the Foundation for Rural Service Youth Tour to Washington, D.C., in June. This year’s representatives for FTC were Heather Boman of Rainsville and Rosamaria Luna-Paredes of Higdon. They and their chaperones, Tony and Evelyn Newsome, spent four days touring some of the most historic sites in the nation. They met some members of Congress and learned about the telecommunications industry, regulatory agencies and the legislative processes. They also visited George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon, the Smithsonian Museums, the Korea, Vietnam and World War II Memorials and several other national monuments. “We’re proud to partner with FRS to provide this opportunity for these students,” says Brandi Lyles, FTC manager of marketing and public relations. “They come away with a better understanding of the important role companies like FTC have in the rural communities they serve.”

Rosamaria Luna-Paredes

Heather Boman 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


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-

6 | July/August 2013

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.

• • • •

Photo courtesy of Kentucky Derby Museum

Kentucky Kentucky Derby Museum • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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





a n o e r ’ u Yo ing team! winn

2013 Annual Meeting

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Northeast Alabama Agri-Business Center Highway 75 North in Rainsville



• Registration begins at 8 a.m. • Entertainment by Pickett’s Charge begins at 9 a.m. • Business Meeting begins at 11 a.m. • Election for the Board of Trustees: Fyffe and Rainsville Prize: Grand Advanced ! of 1 yearces from FwTinC) • Door Prizes, including an iPad, i Servust be present to (m HDTV, Kindle Fire and more!

ket ium blan d a t s e e r F rst 1,000 for the fi istered! s reg member


8 | July/August 2013

Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative


Tom Annual Meeting Entertainment






Charged Up!

By Kerry Scott

Pickett’s Charge headlines FTC’s Annual Meeting Aug. 3

ight harmonies. Gifted musicians. Outstanding instrumentals. These are just a few of the phrases used to describe the five-member progressive bluegrass group from Fyffe known as Pickett’s Charge. FTC members are sure to enjoy a great mix of bluegrass, country and gospel as this local group provides entertainment for this year’s annual meeting. John Hicks is lead vocalist and plays rhythm guitar for the band. Jesse McClendon sings tenor and plays bass. Tom George sings baritone and plays mandolin. Avery Rains is the lead guitarist and Levi Thompson is the band’s banjo picker. The group got its start about three years ago as part of Fyffe High School’s FFA String Band. “Our Ag teacher, Mr. Myers, came up with the idea that the school should have a string band,” says Hicks. Performing as the FFA String Band, they have won two district championships, one second-place finish at the state convention and are this year’s State FFA Convention champions. Rains, George and McClendon have been playing music together since they were in 6th grade. George credits his father, Dennis, for teaching the three of

them so much. “In the George family, you come out of the womb playing an instrument,” jokes Rains. Hicks’ ability to write songs, his smooth lead vocals and talent on the guitar make him an asset. And no bluegrass band would be complete without a banjo player. Thompson’s picking style helps wrap the group’s sound into a unique package. One of the reasons for the band’s distinctive sound is their eclectic individual tastes in music. “Because we’re listening to all this different inspiration, it really creates a different feel,” says McClendon. “If bluegrass was all we listened to all day, we’d sound like every other bluegrass band you’ve heard. But we bring something different to the table because we all have our different tastes in music.” The group puts an individual spin on each song they write, too. While Hicks

and George do most of the group’s songwriting, each member adds his own flavor to the song with their music. “Every band member does their own thing with the music to give it their own personality,” says Hicks. They collectively work out any rough edges until the end result is something with which they are all pleased. Four of the five members graduated high school in May. Thompson is a senior. Rains is hopeful that his move to Auburn this fall will open more doors for the group. “It’s going to be tough living so far away, but I’m hoping Pickett’s Charge will have some opportunities to play down there on weekends,” he says. The group’s single-minded focus at this point is to one day play at the Grand Ole Opry. “As long as we keep our heads on straight and don’t get stupid, we’ve got nowhere to go but up,” says Hicks. 

Pickett’s Charge will have their first CD available for sale at FTC’s Annual Meeting. Find the band on Facebook by searching “Pickett’s Charge (Fyffe FFA String Band)” to learn more about them and upcoming performances. Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative

July/August 2013 | 9

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


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

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.


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

New look and features for By Elizabeth Wootten


t’s now even easier to explore all that FTC offers thanks to its newly redesigned website. A user-friendly interface, improved navigation and contemporary layout feature innovative ways to help users in their online experience. One new feature is a link to FTCtv’s local programming. One can browse through numerous past video clips of “Connected Life,” “Tech Talk” and more. The search feature provides quick access to a particular clip. “By offering our local programming online,” says Brandi Lyles, marketing director at FTC, “we can reach more people and increase awareness of this service.” Another feature that will benefit FTC customers is the Interactive Fiber Availability Map. This color-coded map shows the estimated

times when FTC’s fiber network will reach different parts of the service area. “We wanted our customers to see the progress we have made with our fiber network, as well as our goals this year for the project,” Lyles says. FTC will also offer video tutorials to help answer technical FAQs from its customers. The videos will allow customers to view helpful demonstrations of FTC technicians solving common problems, rather than simply reading instructions. “FTC strives to provide customers with both the latest technology and the information about the best ways to use that technology in their daily lives,” says Lyles. “The new website helps us meet both of those goals. It’s a better, more useful online experience.” 

›› Check out some features of FTC’s updated website The Quick Links banner is where customers can easily log in to their Webmail account, pay their bills and access the online directory. Users can also connect with FTC through Facebook, Twitter and more. The search bar provides an easy way to locate information. Type a key word or phrase into the search bar, then click go. The rotating banner shows any specials FTC is currently promoting. Customers can click on the banner to find out more about the newest deals on products and services. The products and services you want more information about can be accessed by clicking either the buttons at the top or the boxes below the banner.

Local programming segments from FTCtv can be viewed by clicking the link in the lower right corner of the home page.

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The Interactive Fiber Availability Map is color-coded to show where fiber is currently available, as well as where it will be installed next. The address search bar enables users to type in their address to learn if fiber is available at their location.

The Connected Online link allows readers to browse current and past issues of Connected. Flip through recent issues of the magazine, print or download previous issues or share a story with friends through social media. Older issues are also accessible by clicking the download issues button.

Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative

TC and NACC teamed up once again to co-sponsor their annual Career Enrichment Day. On May 8, seniors from high schools across the DeKalb and Jackson county school systems and Fort Payne High School were on the college campus to hear from professionals in a number of different vocations. Popular speaker Sam Glenn — The Chalk Man — returned to provide the morning keynote address for the event. He performed a fast-paced chalk art demonstration before encouraging seniors with a message about pursuing their greatness. Students then dispersed and went to classrooms across the campus to explore their career options. The day was divided into three sessions, offering seniors an opportunity to hear about several career choices they found interesting. Students chose different sessions throughout the day, during which a professional explained details about their career and answered questions from students. Presenters talked about the challenges they face daily in

More than 700 seniors from across Jackson and DeKalb counties attended Career Day.

NACC campus classrooms were packed with seniors eager to learn about career options. Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative

their jobs and answered tough questions­ — including some about job availability in the area. Students who haven’t chosen the field in which they want to work found the day quite helpful. “I’m undecided right now,” says Taylor Pack. “I attended two sessions about careers I’m interested in and then I went to the career planning session. It was great because I was able to go ahead and set up an appointment with a career counselor at NACC. That was really helpful.” Brandi Lyles, manager of marketing and public relations for FTC, believes Career Enrichment Day has a great impact on students’ lives. “This event provides valuable insight to the youth in our area,” she says. “Through our partnership with the college and our wonderful presenters, we’re giving students a unique opportunity to spend time hearing from professionals who work in these fields every day. It’s great guidance for students who are considering different career paths and are ready to solidify their decisions.” 

Students mingled with friends during lunch, which was provided by FTC.

Ashley Stanford, FTC multimedia production coordinator, was among the session leaders.


Helping seniors   find direction


 

FTC extends a special “Thank You” to these 2013 presenters: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Gordon Gossett • Gant, Croft and Associates Tyler Pair • Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative Jessica Blalock and Sherry Whitten • NACC Sharon Totten • NACC John T. Davis • Edward Jones Ashley Stanford • Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative Jeff Rains • DeKalb Regional Hospital Kenny Brown, Steve Cowart and Jason Plunkett • Vulcraft-Nucor Tom Norquist • Gametime Adam Moore • Seimens Energy Fred Johnson • Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative Dr. Cindy Jones • NACC Mark Webb • NACC Reggy Jones • Pharmacy Partners Drake Ibsen • Rehab Partners Ashley Vaughn and Deanna Wigley • White Realty Amanda Woodall • Fyffe Special Services Center Scott Kirk • First Southern State Bank Mike Cochran • Retired Coach, DeKalb County Sports Hall of Fame Thomas Whitten • DeKalb Youth Services David Davis and Brent Satterfield • NACC Jim Allen • Alabama Farmers Cooperative Ronny Neely • DeKalb Farmers Cooperative Jason Yerby • Pilgrim’s Pride Robert Reed • nVius Graphics Tony Newsome • Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative Wayne Cummins • Consultant Scott Martin • Federal Bureau of Investigation Dr. Anthony Sims • Henagar Family Medicine SSG Carlos Chaparro • Alabama National Guard Adrian Casey • DeKalb County Health Department Sam Phillips • Phillips Engineering Ross Boydston • NACC Sam Wilson • Sam Construction Dr. John Anderson • Dentist Marcie Davis • Fort Payne City Schools Brenda Hammonds • Studio B Designs David Clemmons • The Times-Journal Lee Buffington • Turf Tamer, Inc. Julie Baker-McCormick • DeKalb and Cherokee Asst. District Attorney Joseph Bates • Sand Mountain Electric Cooperative Dr. Martin Habel • Vision Plus 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 14 | July/August 2013


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

3 2 1 2 3 1 1 1 3 2 1/2 1/2

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: July/August 2013 | 15

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