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connection July/August 2013

A local legend

The amazing life of Ralph Marcum

Smart Water

Broadband streamlines water treatment

Oakwood Acres

A trip back to yesteryear

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 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 meeting on behalf of PRTC, joining some 500 other NTCA members from across rural America to take your concerns to Capitol Hill. There are hundreds of companies like PRTC 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. Keith Gabbard Chief Executive Officer 4 | July/August 2013

is your member-owned cooperative serving Jackson and Owsley counties in East Kentucky. The cooperative is dedicated to using technology to keep its members connected through high-speed broadband Internet, digital and HD television, wireless 4G phone service, local and long-distance calling and beyond.

Board of Directors Don Hughes President Kendall Norris Vice President Wendell Gabbard Secretary Nelson Bobrowski Treasurer Donald Barrett Armel Davidson Pat Henderson Vol. 1, NO. 4 July/August 2013


connection is published by Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative, © 2013. It is distributed without charge to all members of the cooperative. Send address corrections to:

Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative P.O. Box 159 McKee, KY 40447 606-287-7101 • 606-593-5000 Produced for PRTC by: On the Cover:

Local lawmaker honors Owsley County native, Ralph Marcum, for his contributions to Kentucky history. See story Page 12.

Local Treasures

Oakwood Acres:

Board by board, nail by nail


Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative

Travis Sparks stands by the sign for Oakwood Acres, an early 1900s era town he built with his own hands.

Sparks began building the town in 1992. There are now about 25 buildings and storefronts that were common in towns from the early 1900s. sale. Canned goods line the shelves of the local store, jostling for space with vintage Procter & Gamble soaps and one-nickel cigars. The turn-of-the-century schoolhouse is complete with books from the 1890s. Beds, vintage clothing, dishes and other home goods fill the houses in Oakwood Acres. Every building looks as if it were a living, breathing part of the town. And Oakwood Acres continues to grow every year as Sparks adds new items, buildings and supplies to the town. And Sparks doesn’t expect the town will stop growing anytime soon. “I’m out here about every day, and I usually work until dark,” Sparks says. “There is really no end to it. I love every minute of it.” Oakwood Acres is open to the public. There is a picnic area that Sparks says will

Photos by Lelia Martin

ust north of McKee, off Salt Lick Road, lies a nostalgic wonderland of days gone by. Many local residents have likely never heard of Oakwood Acres, yet it has hosted visitors from as far away as Sweden, Germany and England. For older generations, it is a walk down memory lane. For younger folks, it is a chance to step back in time. Oakwood Acres is the creation of 91-year-old Travis Sparks. Part imagination and part childhood memory, it is a town not unlike one that might have existed in East Kentucky or any rural area during the early 1900s. It is complete with about 25 buildings and storefronts that were common in towns from that era – houses, a post office, general store, gas station, church and a one-room schoolhouse just like the one Sparks attended as a child. What’s even more remarkable is that Sparks single-handedly built the entire town. “Every nail, every board, I’ve done it all myself,” Sparks says. “I’ve been lucky. I’ve never had a scratch, not even a mashed finger.” Sparks began building the town in 1992 when he started collecting things that reminded him of his childhood, and the new hobby quickly became his life’s work. In the past 21 years, Sparks has added buildings and furnished them with authentic items from the day. His attention to detail is nothing short of amazing. Mail sits in the post office waiting for residents to pick it up, while a sign advertises nickel and penny stamps for

seat 50 to 60 people. It is a great destination for schools or church groups. Visitors are encouraged to call for an appointment. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. PRTC recently interviewed Sparks and toured Oakwood Acres. TV customers can watch the Local Treasures Video on PRTC TV Channel 9 on Sundays in July at 3 p.m. For more information about Oakwood Acres, go to visitoakwoodacres.  Travis Sparks talks to PRTC about his life and the town he built. What: Local Treasures: Oakwood Acres When: Sundays in July, 3 p.m. Where: PRTC TV Channel 9 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

Broadband technology, just add water W By Brian Lazenby

ater is the most abundant resource in the world. We use it for drinking, cooking, washing laundry, doing the dishes and so much more. But when we turn on the tap, most people don’t think about the technology that delivers it to our homes. Both Booneville Water and Sewage System in Owsley County and the Jackson County Water Association have implemented technology that is revolutionizing that process. And when that technology is combined with broadband provided by PRTC, Booneville and Jackson County water officials are able to operate their systems more efficiently and with fewer employees – an important benefit for rural water systems that are trying to stretch dollars to keep rates low. The Booneville Water and Sewage System implemented a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system, known as SCADA, about 10 years ago. But only since adding broadband technology in 2009 has the system been utilized fully. “When we first implemented it, there were a lot of challenges with it," says David Hall, water system superintendent. "But today I don’t think we could function without it," The Booneville Water and Sewage System provides water and sewage services to all residents in Owsley County, as well as to those in parts of Jackson, Perry and Clay counties. The system consists of two treatment facilities, more than 500 miles of water lines and 13 water storage tanks scattered throughout the Booneville Water District. “We are a fairly small county with a fairly large system,” Hall says. Because of SCADA and broadband technology, water services in the district are managed by about seven employees that monitor and operate the system. Without broadband and the SCADA technology, it would take at least twice that many employees for the system to function, Hall says. The technology allows employees to sit in a single control room and remotely monitor water levels in any of the district’s tanks, operate pump

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Broadband technology allows Booneville Water and Sewage System Superintendent David Hall to remotely monitor water levels. The technology allows the system to operate more efficiently.

Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative

TOP: Johnny Hornsby, treatment plant operator with the Jackson County Water Association, uses broadband to monitor the system's water supply. RIGHT: Hall checks the SCADA equipment that allows Booneville Water and Sewage System workers to monitor water levels and quality from a single location.


It’s pretty remarkable all that we can do with this technology. Barring any mechanical breakdowns, one person can sit here and operate the entire plant.


stations and control tank levels to maintain water supply to the entire district. “Barring any mechanical breakdowns, one person can sit here and operate the entire system,” Hall says. The Jackson County Water Association has similar technology that also allows employees to monitor all aspects of the water system from a single location. John Powell, water system manager, says an employee needs only a laptop and a broadband Internet connection to operate pump stations along about 320 miles of lines and monitor water levels in all 10 Jackson County tanks. Prior to this technology, employees were forced to drive from one end of the county to the other to manually check water levels. Powell says this increased fuel costs and was extremely time-consuming. “This saves a lot of travel time,” Powell says. “It is hard to imagine how we ever got by without this.” Hall agrees and credits the fast, reliable Internet technology provided by PRTC. “Without high-speed Internet, we couldn’t do all the things we can do now,” he says. Booneville Mayor Charles Long is quick to brag about the water system, which he says is one of the crown jewels of the region. “We have one of the best water systems in the country,” Long says. ”I’m mighty proud of this city right now and all that we have accomplished over the years.” In 1968, the Booneville Water and Sewage System only had two water tanks, but the system, much like its counterpart in Jackson County, was forced to grow quickly to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for water and sewage treatment. Water district officials in Owsley and Jackson counties say the new, modern technology will allow the system to operate efficiently for years to come as the region continues to grow. “It’s pretty remarkable all that we can do with this technology,” Hall says. “It really helps us lower costs and operate more efficiently.” 

–David Hall, water system superintendent Peoples Rural Telephone 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

The Kentucky legislature recently honored Ralph Marcum for his contributions to preserving the region's history.


n a place known as Hooten Holler lives a remarkable man. A man of many talents. A Renaissance man, if you will. He’s a Civil War re-enactor, wood carver, ‘old-timey’ photographer, teacher, musician, competition marksman, hunter, taxidermist, gunsmith, historian, writer and pancreatic cancer survivor. There isn’t much Ralph Marcum hasn’t done.

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That’s why state Rep. Marie L. Rader, R-McKee, recently saw fit to draft a resolution of the Kentucky House of Representatives honoring Marcum and naming April 20, 2013, as Ralph Marcum Appreciation Day. “Ralph Marcum is an amazing man,” Rader says. “He is truly a treasure, and the House of Representatives wanted to honor him at an event to show our appreciation for all he has done for this region and the entire state.”

Living History

Ralph Marcum Appreciation Day was celebrated at the Renfro Valley Barn Dance, where Marcum has played the fiddle almost every Saturday night for the past 56 years. The country music hoedown is held each week at the Renfro Valley Entertainment Center in Mount Vernon. “After 56 years, I guess I know every fiddle song there is,” Marcum says. The House resolution recognized Marcum for historical preservation and education, and for his efforts to redevelop the re-enactment park for the Battle of Richmond. He’s a regular participant during the Battle of Richmond and the Battle of Wildcat Mountain re-enactments, where he travels with a replica photographers’ wagon and takes ‘old-timey’ sepia photos. “I also play the general,” Marcum says. Sometimes he dons his Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative

blue and fights for the North. Other times he is clad in gray, fighting for the South. It is Marcum’s efforts to keep history alive that earned him recognition by the legislature. “A native Kentuckian who earned his Master’s Degree in Library Science from Eastern Kentucky University, this distinguished gentleman served for 27 years as an elementary school educator and throughout his lifetime has been a living historian in and out of the classroom,” the resolution reads. Marcum doesn't just limit himself to portrayals of Civil War history. He is also known to wear authentic apparel from the pre-Revolutionary War era in an effort to preserve history and educate others about that time.

Giving a hoot about Hooten

Marcum’s home is along Hooten Branch, in Hooten Holler, where also sits a town that one might expect to find in the wild west of the mid-to-late 19th century or on a movie set of the next Wyatt Earp western. Hooten Old Town is one of Marcum’s proudest accomplishments — and considering all he has done in his life, that is quite a statement. The town has a blacksmith shop, saloon, gallows, jail, church, funeral parlor, gristmill and multiple replica wagons and buggies. Marcum insists that the town is his private creation and is not open to the public. “I didn’t do this for the public. I did it for me,” he says. “I’ve always collected old stuff and antiques. I finally have a place to display them.” And as if the weathered, wooden buildings in Hooten Old Town weren’t enough, once a month the town comes alive with cowboys and cowgirls roaming the streets. A casual onlooker might think he has stepped back in time. About 30 to 40 Old West enthusiasts dressed in authentic western wear descend upon Hooten Old Town for the Single Action Shooting Society’s monthly marksmanship competition. And once a year the town is packed with as many as 200 cowboys for the annual Kentucky state shooting competition. “These cowboys are dressed exactly right,” Marcum says of the clothing of the 1880s. The shooting event is known as the Hooten Holler Roundup, and it was voted as the Best Place to Shoot by the Single Action Shooting Society. The people who participate in the monthly shoots come from all across the country. Many of them take up lodging in Hooten Old Town for the event. Marcum’s wife, Mertie, feeds the group and plays hostess until the competition is over and it becomes a ghost town once again — until the next month.

A survivor with many talents

Marcum is more than just a fiddler and a gunslinger. He is also an artisan gunsmith who makes muzzleloader rifles by hand. Many of the weapons he created have been presented as gifts to past Kentucky governors. Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative

Marcum shows off the jail at Hooten Old Town. The jail is one of many authentic settings he created. He once made an authentic tomahawk for actor Fess Parker, who portrayed the lead character in the “Daniel Boone” television series. Marcum himself once appeared in an episode of the show that was filmed at Tombstone Junction, near the Cumberland Falls. An avid hunter, Marcum has performed taxidermy on many of the animals he has taken with his muzzleloading rifle or bow and arrow. He has taken deer, moose, buffalo and even a mountain lion. Readers of the Renfro Valley Bugle and the Jackson County Sun have enjoyed numerous articles written by Marcum, who also served as the primitive editor of Muzzleloader magazine. But Marcum’s active life was put on hold in 1996. What started as a pain in his gut led to a battle that would have likely spelled the end for most men. “I was hurting here," he says, motioning at his stomach. "I had enough sense to know something wasn’t right.” Marcum figured it was an ulcer. He was wrong. Doctors diagnosed him with pancreatic cancer, and he underwent surgery in which physicians removed his gall bladder and spleen, his entire stomach and part of his pancreas. They fashioned Marcum a stomach out of five inches of his intestines. He recalls that his doctors tried to make him comfortable and sent him home to die. “I weighed 160 pounds and was the picture of health when I went in,” Marcum says. “I went home and had lost 52 pounds. They said I had about three to four months to live.” That was 17 years ago. In that time, Marcum built Hooten Old Town almost entirely by himself. He stays on the go, and has no plans to slow down anytime soon. In fact, he expects to be roaming the streets of his wild-west town for many years to come, while keeping the region’s history alive through music, reenactments and more. 

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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