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
Career aspirations frequently lead to relocation, and for singers and songwriters determined to leave their mark, Music City has long been that destination. Originally from Ulysses, Kansas, Melissa Ramski, 24, has lived in Nashville six years, while chasing her dream of being a country singer.
“At the age of only 3 or 4, she could memorize songs and just started singing along,” says Dave Ramski, her father. In those days, she would sing from the back of the car as her father drove the family on vacations. “I was probably in the fourth grade when I realized that singing and performing is what I really wanted to do,” Melissa recalls. A fellow Kansan, Martina McBride, was a major early influence for Ramski, among several chart-topping female performers.
A family on the move
“All she ever talked about was wanting to be a country music star,” Dave says. “We tried to help her along the best we could from the middle of nowhere.”
Ramski’s parents drove her to many talent shows and performances throughout the Plains states, and even gave her an acoustic guitar. “It just sat there for a year. Then one day (during her senior year of high school), I decided I was going to learn how to play it,” Melissa says. “I started Googling videos and looking up techniques on writing and eventually got pretty good at it.”
At age 18, Melissa’s family bought another home near Music City, helping to jump-start her career. Melissa’s mother, Nancy, has helped manage Melissa’s career throughout the years. Dave’s career at a telephone cooperative kept him in Kansas for a few more years, traveling cross-country numerous times for performances. That continued until 2013 when he moved to New Hope upon taking a position as an engineering manager at NHTC.
Ramski released a single, “Keep Dreamin’,” earlier this year. While it might sound like a tune about career ambitions, it’s actually a final sentiment to a prior boyfriend. “It’s one of those ‘See ya, I’m not coming back’ kind of songs,” she says, chuckling. “It’s my way of letting all my emotions out. Having people relate to your music is an amazing thing.”
Melissa’s sound is a blend of traditional influences and contemporary pop country from the radio, as evidenced by her most recent song “Lace and Diamonds.” She was nominated for several awards by country promoter Nashville Universe, which recognized Florida Georgia Line and Colt Ford the previous year. In June, Melissa performed at the CMA Fest, then at the Country FanJam festival. She will be touring later this year.
“She’s making a lot of progress and doing really well,” her father says. “I couldn’t be more proud of her.” He not only goes to most of his daughter’s performances, but he also tries to make most of the rehearsals. “We love going to her events, and it’s become our way of life.”
By Matt Ledger
Libraries are no longer “as quiet as a mouse.”
Instead, patrons are sliding mice back and forth as they surf the Internet on public computers. Fingers are busily tapping the keyboard buttons to search for new recipes, download e-books or even apply for new jobs.
Technology has helped the modern library expand its role as a valuable asset in the community.
Local tech support
Staff at the Elizabeth Carpenter Library in New Hope and the Grant Public Library are working hard to keep up with digital trends. “It really all started with the kids,” says Laura Washburn, branch manager at the New Hope library.
The facility has two computers loaded with programs for elementary-aged youngsters. However, librarians noticed a gap for the older kids who needed something more than the kids computers. That gap was remedied by the addition of e-books.
Washburn filed a grant application that allowed for the purchase of four handheld Kindle tablets in 2014. Two of the devices are designated for the kids, loaded with games like Minecraft and other age-appropriate games. “It helps to show that the library is about more than books,” Washburn says. “Many of the kids don’t have access to technology, and this gives them a chance to explore with an e-reader.” The other two tablets are loaded with the current best-selling e-books, and adults can check out the devices for a week at a time.
Officials at the Grant Public Library are working toward the purchase of e-books, ever since a conference earlier this year. Library board member Susie Keller and librarian Thames Robinson convinced city council members to approve funding for the new Atrium library suite of programs.
The Grant library has also selected Overdrive as a platform for e-readers. Having already used grant money for other improvements, Robinson is seeking financial donations to join the Camellia Net collective, which shares e-book resources with numerous Alabama libraries. Officials also hope that the local contributions will allow for the purchase of e-reader devices.
Many local residents and students will benefit from the program by simply using a library card with their own Wi-Fi enabled devices, without even needing to go to the library. “It will be a big benefit for us since we will significantly expand the number of patrons using our services,” Robinson says.
The benefits of e-books
- Significantly lighter than printed books
- Thousands of titles available
- Selections sync across many different devices while maintaining the same page
- Increase or decrease font sizes
- No late fees (An e-book simply disappears from the device when due date is reached.)
By Matt Ledger
Eight archers at New Hope High School set goals, took aim and hit the bullseye quicker than anyone expected, winning the state championship in their first year.
“This is a brand-new thing that started this year,” says Doug Solmon, the 3D archery team coach.
Competitive 3D archery involves aiming at point rings on a foam animal target from distances ranging from 5 to 30 yards. Competitors are awarded points based on the predetermined value of spots on the target — from five points for hitting the foam deer or other animal to 12 points for the smallest ring. Facing 20 targets, New Hope’s top three shooters in each tournament have scored in the 205-212 range, causing lopsided victories by an average of 43 points.
“I’ve got one kid, Adam Reed, who had never shot a bow before,” Solmon says. “During his first year in the sport, he made it into the top ten for shooter-of-the-year points in Alabama.” Four of his teammates also made the list during the inaugural season.
The New Hope High School archery team had their sights set high during its first year competing. The team has practiced twice weekly throughout the year and every night for a week leading up to the Alabama state championships. The team went six-for-six in the regional tournaments and won the state tournament on May 9. Jared Solmon finished second overall at state and had the most points during the season, garnering Alabama shooter-of-the-year honors. His teammates Tyler Brown and Gavin King finished third and fifth place, respectively.
“Their shooting improved all year long,” coach Solmon says. “However, going undefeated and winning the state championship is more than I ever expected.”
The New Hope Telephone Cooperative awards two scholarships each year to students who exemplify academic achievement and community involvement and have submitted an essay. The two selected entries — one from DAR and the other from NHHS — will each receive a $500 scholarship.
Alex Rogers is the DAR High School winner, scoring a 29 on the ACT test. She has been accepted to the University of Alabama in Huntsville where she plans to study nursing.
Autumn Pruitt of Owens Cross Roads is the NHHS scholarship winner. She has been accepted to the University of Alabama in Huntsville where she plans to major in business management.