NHTC congratulates the DAR Track Team on a very successful season after the girls finished fourth and the boys finished sixth at the state track meet. Savannah Smith took home the gold medal in the 400-meter dash and the silver in both the 200-meter dash and the high jump. She will run track at the University of South Alabama next year. Logan Congo also took home a gold medal in the 800-meter run and a bronze in the 1,600-meter race. He was awarded a track scholarship to Union College in Barbourville, Kentucky, where he will attend this fall.
NHTC would like to introduce Mahalia Barnes, a customer service representative who started in April. Barnes, who lives in Grant with her husband, Blake, enjoys gardening and days at the lake. She is a member of Victory Baptist Church in Crossville, where she sings in the choir. Her favorite part of the job is interacting with the coworkers and NHTC members.
Friday, Oct. 30 • 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Come on out and join NHTC on Oct. 30 as the cooperative celebrates 64 years of serving the community. Enjoy the comforts of our newly-remodeled customer lobby. There will be BINGO for prizes at 9 a.m. and again at 2 p.m. Hot dogs will be provided beginning around 11 a.m., and refreshments will be available throughout the day. Don’t forget to register for door prizes. Also, snap a pic of your Halloween costume in the photo booth. NHTC will award one adult and one child for the most creative outfits.
Every month or two a news story will appear that looks at the so-called “digital divide” between big cities and rural areas like ours. This narrative paints a picture that rural Americans have a more difficult time getting reliable Internet access through broadband.
While statistics may back up that idea in some parts of the country, I’m proud to say our area is the exception thanks to this cooperative.
In some of the recent numbers I’ve seen from the FCC, there is a stark contrast between broadband access in rural America and in big cities, if taken as a whole.
As you’ve read in these pages before, the FCC has redefined broadband as Internet speeds of at least 25 Mbps. Based on that threshold, 94 percent of urban residents have broadband access, compared to only 55 percent of people in rural America.
Sitting in an office in New York or Los Angeles, it would be easy to see those numbers and think rural America has been left behind in today’s technology-driven, connected world.
But that’s not the case here in our part of North Alabama.
We’re happy to offer speeds well above those thresholds to some customers, and we’re working hard to bring those connections to everyone across the service area.
We are proud to be the exception to those numbers because it means we’re serving our customers. But we’re also proud to be exceptional because it means our founders were right about banding together to create NHTC.
Cooperatives like ours were founded by local residents who knew a reliable communications network was important and were willing to join together to bring such a network to our area.
The statistics clearly show that corporate America is not meeting the needs of rural communities like ours. Companies focused on pleasing stockholders don’t see enough profit in our region to invest in building a network.
That’s where cooperatives like NHTC come in. We answer to our customers, who are member-owners of the cooperative.
October is National Cooperative Month, which is a great time to think about our business model and how it benefits families and businesses in our area.
In a news release from the USDA published in July, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said “Broadband is fundamental to expanding economic opportunity and job creation in rural areas, and it is as vital to rural America’s future today as electricity was when USDA began bringing power to rural America 80 years ago.”
Sec. Vilsack is correct. Without access to broadband, our community would be at a disadvantage. And without NHTC our area wouldn’t have such access.
Please join us in October (and throughout the year) in celebrating what our founders created and all the advantages we enjoy today because of their vision and dedication to their communities.
By Matt Ledger
Aretha Franklin’s legendary voice commanded R-E-S-P-E-C-T on her 1967 chart-topping cover of Otis Redding’s song. Amid the civil rights struggle, she gave the song a level of meaning beyond what Redding had in mind for the tune. It has endured as the anthem for women still seeking to be treated as equals.
Franklin’s image is one of many pioneering women that graces a wall inside of the She’s All That boutique in Owens Cross Roads. Other images of inspiration include Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, Anne Frank, Benazir Bhutto and Maya Angelou. Those women’s stories are the first lessons upon starting at the store, showcasing the type of perseverance needed to be successful. “All of them believed in something during their lives and were influential in this world,” says Tara Furlough, the CEO of Tara Manufacturing, which makes custom pool liners.
Finding a path
Furlough served two years as president of the board of the CARE Center and helped in the effort to start the thrift store at 5439 Main Drive in New Hope. That involvement and her personal beliefs led to a program specifically aimed to help younger women in New Hope. “There wasn’t a program that focused on teenage girls,” Furlough says. “I became aware of the many different challenges they face, so I wanted to create a business model to teach girls how to run a business.” As an unpaid volunteer, she created the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Wings of Faith Foundation. She’s All That boutique operates within that charity to provide vital mentorship opportunities and a way to save for college. All profits from the store are designated toward the Wings of Faith collegiate fund for those ladies in the program.
The core values listed on the store’s website use those same seven letters that Franklin sang as their own acronym of empowerment. Even with federal Pell Grants and loans, the ever-increasing cost of a college degree is a large enough hurdle to prevent some qualified students from enrolling. This fashionable store aims to fill in that funding gap for girls striving to improve their lives.
Four young ladies helped launch the concept, making homemade crafts from a building in New Hope. Furlough shared her ideas and concepts for the store with the teens, “so they could visualize the business plan and see it as it was built from the ground up.”
Broadening their horizons
Young women work the register, reset displays and maintain the monthly balance sheet. The process shows the inner details of how a business runs, a lesson that easily adapts to balancing a monthly budget or investing toward retirement. Furlough takes the group of young ladies on a field trip to an Atlanta-based fashion market, wholesale purchasing a portion of the clothing for their store. “It’s not easy to have a small business, and they need to understand that,” she says. “They learn how we negotiate for price and what we sell it for, so they can see the profit margins. I even show them the financial statements.”
Three of those girls are now taking courses at area colleges, returning to OCR on weekends to help mentor the current high school students in the program. “They also need to learn the importance of giving back,” Furlough says. “This is a great opportunity for successful women and the next generation to pay it forward.” She works with a counselor at NHHS to find determined teens who face college funding obstacles. The program helps the girls save toward a collegiate or technical degree while developing entrepreneurial skills at the store.
Upon joining, each girl receives a mentor that works with them one-on-one each week and stays engaged in their lives on almost a daily basis. Furlough recruits successful local women, and after a background check, those qualified volunteers become part of the mentorship program. “They’re wanting to give back and be an influence in someone’s life,” Furlough says. “Some have overcome their own challenging backgrounds, and it’s really important for the students to hear their stories.”
Susan Parker manages the store after previously running her own dance studio for 20 years. She encourages the teens to make a promise with themselves to seek their own future. “Get that engagement ring after you’ve gone to school,” Parker says. “Get a great job! Focus on those things you need to be successful.”
Shoppers quickly become supporters upon learning that their latest fashion update is helping other women strive toward self-sufficiency. Some have even signed on as mentors, and others plan to share skills during the classes occasionally held at the store.
Those partnerships continue through the college years, providing guidance as the teens begin venturing out on their own. “They have an outlet if they need to talk to somebody,” Furlough says.
The next generation
The ten students currently in the program have faced adversity in their homes and persevered through life’s challenges. A primary goal is to overcome the generational grasp of poverty by giving these teens the skills and self-confidence to be successful in life, and toward finding their career path.
The shift in mindset for these girls becomes obvious — even from a quick glance at their social media accounts, which are now frequently full of encouraging updates for friends. “I believe with all my heart that those girls have the potential to become whatever they want to become,” Furlough says.
Kelly Bray helped Furlough open the Owens Cross Roads store and is finishing preparation for a second She’s All That location in Cincinnati, Ohio, that opens this June. “We’ll open other stores because there is that type of need in so many communities,” Furlough says.
Families once huddled around televisions the size of a refrigerator to watch the latest episode of “The Brady Bunch,” “M.A.S.H.” or “Seinfeld.” Those days are long gone and now, thanks to the Internet and a service called WatchTVEverywhere, New Hope Vision Subscribers can enjoy those classic shows or current prime-time hits from anywhere there is an Internet connection.
With WatchTVEverywhere, you could catch the ESPN pre-game show while tailgating in front of Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. Watching Captain Kirk match wits with Mr. Spock on a handheld device is no longer science fiction. It’s now a reality that you can enjoy the Syfy channel, and many others, once you sign up for NHTC’s WatchTVEverywhere plan.
How much does it cost?
Currently NHTC provides this feature at no extra cost to subscribers. This may change over time depending on new requirements made by TV networks. Cellular data rates apply.
Where can I WatchTVEverywhere?
You can watch these channels from anywhere your device can receive an Internet signal. Wired connections and in-home Wi-Fi will provide the best quality, and picture quality is determined by signal strength. For those using a tablet or smartphone, you will need to download the network’s app from your device’s app store.
What programs are available?
Each TV network makes their own decision about what to make available on WatchTVEverywhere, so it’s best to log in and check for your favorite programs.
Why aren’t all programs available?
Broadcasting rights are complicated. A TV network may have the right to transmit a show or movie, but only to TV sets and not on WatchTVEverywhere. Once again, it depends on the TV network.
Will other networks become available?
Yes. NHTC is working with many different program providers to expand the number of networks and programs available on WatchTVEverywhere.
How do I sign up for WatchTVEverywhere?
Visit www.watchtveverywhere.com and select New Hope Telephone as your provider from the drop down menu.
Click “Submit,” then “Register” and follow the prompts.
Your account number can be found on your most recent NHTC bill.
Once finished, check your email and you should find a message with a WatchTVEverywhere activation link. Click on the link to complete the registration process.
What networks will be available?*
Fox College Sports
Fox Sports South
Nat Geo Wild
NBC Sports Network
Fox Sports 1
Turner Classic Movies
The Golf Channel
To begin enjoying WatchTVEverywhere…
Click on “Log In.”
Enter your username and password.
Select the TV Network you want to watch. Click on the network and you will see a list of the available programs.
By Matt Ledger
Seizing an unexpected opportunity can take you to unimagined places.
Just ask New Hope High School senior Jewel Mathis. She took up volleyball in the fifth grade after a recreation director asked her to join a fifth-grade team so they would have enough players. “It started out of nowhere,” Jewel’s mother, Maggie Mathis, recalls. “She was tall but hadn’t planned on playing anything. Then the director asked her to play and for me to coach the team.” Mother and daughter joined in a program so new that the girls practiced on a tennis court.
Later in the season, Huntsville teams nicknamed the team ‘No Hope,’ underestimating the squad from New Hope. They were wrong. New Hope managed to make it all the way to the championship game in their first year. Much like the volleyball, the lead bounced back and forth between the teams for the entire game. “It was a team effort all season long,” Jewel says. “All of the practices we had to endure really made the difference.” New Hope won the championship match, and Mathis got an early taste of success in her newfound sport.
High School highlights
‘Team Mathis’ continued on the following year, placing second this time around as Jewel continued playing volleyball throughout middle school. She joined the JV squad for most of her freshman year, before being promoted to the varsity team for a tournament toward the end of the season. Her skill kept her there for the rest of her high school career. She briefly played as an outside hitter, but she excelled as a middle hitter, thundering spikes upon her opponents in any direction she chose.
Coaches in the region recognized Mathis as an all-county and all-area volleyball player during all four years at New Hope High School. “If it weren’t for my teammates, I would never have been able to shine like this,” Jewel says. During her sophomore and junior years, the Indians went to the regional playoffs. The team built on that success this past year, placing third or higher in five of their seven tournaments — including wins at Elkmont and Decatur. “It was pretty cool because in all of my high school years, we have never won anything like that,” she says.
Finishing as a top-ranked collegiate prospect, the final tally of her stats include 63 aces, 695 kills, 134 assists and 76 blocks. Those achievements netted her a full-ride volleyball scholarship to play at Gadsden State Community College, where she plans to study to become a teacher. Following in her mother’s footsteps, her long-term goal is to eventually become a volleyball coach.
Gadsden’s coach, Angie Sanders, watched Mathis play for 10 minutes, then offered her a scholarship. That meeting was arranged by a longtime rival that Mathis played against numerous times. In the epitome of sportsmanship, Courtney Rowe from Sand Rock High School suggested Mathis to Sanders upon getting her own scholarship. The two new teammates will also become roommates, sharing a dorm when they arrive in Gadsden this fall.
By Jim Cook
The results are in. Almost 200 readers responded to the New Hope Telephone Cooperative Communicator readership survey in our January/February issue. Your responses gave us good insight into what we’re doing right and how we can serve you better.
I appreciate those who took the time to share this valuable feedback with us.
Not surprisingly, the stories about local people in our community and the articles about food are the most popular pages among respondents. But I was pleased to see readers also enjoy the articles with information about your cooperative.
Perhaps that readership is why 85 percent of respondents said this magazine gave them a better understanding of technology, and 90 percent said they have a better understanding of the role this cooperative plays in economic and community development because of NHTC’s Communicator magazine.
It’s very gratifying to know our efforts are working.
I shared this data not to boast about how proud we are of this magazine, but to explain the reason why I’m proud of it. I believe having informed and educated members is a key factor to the long-term health of this cooperative.
In fact, educating our members is one of the seven core principles that lay the foundation for a cooperative. The National Cooperative Business Association says members should be informed about company and industry news “so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperative.”
Informed and engaged members make our cooperative better.
Broadband has been in the news quite a bit lately, from net neutrality to the president discussing high-speed network expansion. It’s important for our members to know how federal regulations, state policies and shifts in the industry can affect their broadband and telephone services.
Educating you on issues that matter to rural telecommunications and your community empowers you to become advocates for rural America. Big corporations and urban residents certainly find ways to make their voices heard, and it’s up to cooperatives like us and members like you to let legislators and policymakers know that rural America matters and decisions that affect telecommunications cooperatives matter to rural America.
I hope you enjoy the stories and photos in this magazine. I always do. But I also hope you come away with a little better understanding of your cooperative, the role we play in this community and the role you can play in making rural America better.