Live broadcast of the best pickers around

By Matt Ledger

Brayden Chunn of Greenbrier, Tennessee kicks his heels during the Beginner’s Clogging competition.

Brayden Chunn of Greenbrier, Tennessee kicks his heels during the Beginner’s Clogging competition.

It’s a good thing Tom Duggin likes fiddle music. He’s about to hear plenty of it.

Duggin is the Video Production Editor at DTC Communications, and he, along with Nick Nokes, Video Production Supervisor, are the broadcast team that brings live events to DTC channel 3 on the DTC-TV service. Rather than filming a three-hour football game or other local event, Duggin and Nokes will soon have two 14-to-16 hour days broadcasting live from the Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree and Crafts festival.

“There is no shortage of snacks and energy drinks in the cooler,” says Nokes with a laugh.
Since 1998, Duggin has served as a stage emcee for the Jamboree. This year, DTC will expand its video coverage of the event, which has been held every year on Smithville’s public square since 1972.

“Watching our coverage is almost like being there,” says Duggin, who alternates his time at the event between the stage and the DTC broadcast van. “What viewers see is actually what’s going on in real time on stage.”

The Bluegrass Band competition

The Bluegrass Band competition is among the crowd favorites during the weekend.

“We plan to broadcast the event live from kickoff to signoff,” adds Nokes. “This year’s Jamboree will be the first DTC3 covered event in which 4G customers of DTC Wireless can watch the program live from their smart phones, thanks to the 4G speed upgrade completed last year.”

Can’t stay at the Jamboree for the entire time? No problem! This year, people will be able to watch the event from anywhere they have a good Wi-Fi signal.

 Birdhouses are one of the many crafts offered at the Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree and Crafts Festival.

Birdhouses are one of the many crafts offered at the Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree and Crafts Festival.

“A number of years, the Jamboree has been recognized as one of the top 20 tourist events in the Southeast,” notes Duggin. “Our little town has drawn folks from all over the world.” Over the 43 previous years of the festival, visitors and contestants alike have come from all 50 states as well as several foreign countries.

“Music lovers are everywhere,” says Tim Robinson, DTC’s wireless engineer. “Now it doesn’t matter where you are. That’s especially important for people who went to the Jamboree when it started and may no longer be able to attend.” It also makes it easier for people on the go, or for those who want to avoid large crowds and hot temps.

DTC has apps for both Apple and Android devices. The trend toward “real-time” video streaming of events – such as high school sports, graduations, music festivals and more – is dramatically increasing.

“Everyone who has it is excited about it,” Robinson says. “Nowadays, these devices are basically small computers that happen to make phone calls.”

Jack Barton (left) presents the James G. “Bobo” Driver Award to Maddie Denton.

Jack Barton (left) presents the James G. “Bobo” Driver Award to Maddie Denton.

The 44th Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree and Crafts Festival
Smithville Town Square
Free event for the family
July 3-4
Starting at 9 a.m. both days


Louie Jack Medley

Farming ingenuity leads to a career opportunity

By Matt Ledger
Medley1668Like many in rural America, Louie Jack Medley grew up working on a farm. He likes the challenge of designing and building homemade versions of expensive equipment he sees, including a pneumatic wood splitter he made from scrap when he was 28. “Nothing has been as complicated as that one,” Medley recalls about the splitter. “It probably took me a year to complete it.”

As a teen, he built numerous small devices. “Typically, I don’t buy new material for the projects; I will go to the scrap yards and find what I need,” he says. “I may have to look around for two or three months to find everything I need to build it, but the scrap prices are so much cheaper, and sometimes you find things that are like new.”

Medley maintained the farm equipment and his tinkering skills, and that ingenuity has brought him from the farm to DTC’s installation department.

Passion turns into a profession

DTC trouble-shooting technician Louie Jack Medley finalizes repairs made during one of the temporary outages during winter storms earlier this year.

DTC trouble-shooting technician Louie Jack Medley finalizes repairs made during one of the temporary outages during winter storms earlier this year.

Medley has worked at DeKalb Telephone Cooperative for 14 years; it was his first paying job that began shortly after finishing high school. Medley married his wife, Constance, in 2006, and they have two children, Mason, 4, and Ethan, 2.

His problem-solving skills and friendly personality helped as he began in the installation/repair department, wiring customers’ homes and connecting devices to bring DTC services to families. Nearly five years later, he was promoted to cable splicer and continued advancing to become the technician for DTC’s communications system installations at larger businesses.

Now he combines all of those skills as the company’s most mobile troubleshooter. On any given day, he could be hanging from a power pole while upgrading the system infrastructure or making a simple phone line connection for a new customer. “Some guys will have an area where they work, but I go wherever they need me,” Medley says.

Sometimes, that means wherever the storms hit hardest. Wind, ice or lightning often mean a few long days of troubleshooting. The icy winter storms earlier this year made for several 12- to 15-hour days for technicians, re-establishing service for customers during those frigid days in February.

Luckily, Medley learned to handle troubleshooting on the farm.

Whether he’s working on his wood splitter or a tangled mass of phone lines on a downed pole, Medley studies the working components and makes a rough drawing of what he has in mind. “I try to improve these things and learn what the problems are from other people,” he says. For his 10-horsepower log splitter, he added a mechanical arm that will hoist the log from the ground. It saves on the back-breaking portion of the work by letting the machine do it for you.

It’s a skill he learned from his father. “We were always building something, or tinkering as we liked to call it,” he says. Taking a page from his uncle, Medley bought his own farm, raising nearly 70 feeder calves per year on 20 acres of land. It’s a slow-paced pursuit that is a stark contrast to his high-tech day job.

When bad weather hits, will your family be prepared?

weatherSevere storms and heavy winds can easily disrupt electrical service. Power outages could also occur as a result of any other number of reasons. While landline service generally continues to work during power outages, some networks and cordless phones that require batteries may continue to work for a while during an outage. For safety’s sake, DTC recommends that you to always have at least one corded phone in your home. Perhaps the Federal Communications Commission summed it up best in a recent report stating, “A balanced choice is often the best one — a combination of landline and wireless phone use may be the right choice for you.”

Ten good reasons for using a landline phone

Landline phones are the traditional corded phones found in homes and businesses

  1. Safety — In an emergency, your address automatically displays on the screen at the call center when dialing 911 from your landline phone even if you can’t speak.
  2. Reliability — DTC has built its network to provide you with more reliable service and to protect against unforeseen interruptions, such as lightning storms and power outages.
  3. Cost — You have unlimited usage for every call you make or receive, unlike cell phone plans.
  4. Dependable — Quality landline phones offer the highest quality transmissions, and voices sound crystal clear.
  5. Privacy — You can be assured of privacy when calling from your corded phone. Eavesdroppers can’t use simple scanner devices to intercept landline calls, as they can with cell phone calls.
  6. SpeedNet — Many customers enjoy high-speed Internet, delivered over their state-of-the-art landline connection.
  7. Enhanced Features — Today’s phone systems are designed to enhance landline connection features, to offer enhanced features such as call forwarding and more.
  8. Voicemail — With DTC voicemail, you can check your messages from any phone, at any time, no matter your location.
  9. Directory — Your landline phone number will be automatically updated in the annual telephone directory and with directory assistance.
  10. Data/Voice Capabilities — A landline phone number offers other capabilities for those business communications systems that combine data and voice lines.

Empowering members to be advocates for rural telecommunications

By Craig Gates
Chief Executive Officer

The results are in. Almost 200 readers responded to The DTC Connection 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 The DTC Connection. 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 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 play in making rural America better.

High school graduations

  • Gordonsville High School: Fri., May 15 • 7 p.m.
  • Smith Co. High School: Sat., May 16 • 10 a.m.
  • Cannon Co. High School: Fri., May 22 • 7 p.m.
  • DeKalb Co. High School: Fri., May 22 • 7 p.m

DTC will film each of these graduations, which will air on a later date that has yet to be determined. Watch for further details on DTC3.

A lifetime of memories and memorabilia

By Matt Ledger

Neighbors can inspire people to spruce up their yard, create envy as they splash in the pool, or in the case of Loretta and William Petty of Gordonsville, to follow a dream that will remain for a lifetime.

Loretta Petty stands amid the many collectibles that she and her husband gathered for their store, Pa’s Antiques.

Loretta Petty stands amid the many collectibles that she and her husband gathered for their store, Pa’s Antiques.

The Pettys’ next-door neighbor, Ann Williams, opened the “Ann’s-tiques” store in her front yard. Loretta Petty had all three rooms of her former “wash house” filled with collectibles, and she thought that if the building could be reorganized, she could jump into business alongside her neighbor. “My husband said, ‘No, you’ll never have a minute of privacy,’” Petty recalls. She’s thankful she heeded the advice.

Loretta worked in school food service, even after William had retired from a local airplane parts manufacturer after 35 years.

Chasing Loretta’s dream of turning her hobby of collecting vintage crystal into a business venture, the Pettys purchased property that was once a grocery store. It took three months to renovate the space, at 191 Main Street in Gordonsville, to fit the antiques and collectibles the Pettys had assembled, but the couple proudly opened “Pa’s Antiques” in July 1993.

“I always dreamed I’d have a little shop, but I never thought it would turn into something this big,” Loretta Petty says, referring to the two expansions her husband built onto the store.

Years of cherished memories

William Petty never planned to get very involved with the shop.

“‘When I get your mama set up, I am going home,’” Petty laughingly recalls her husband saying to their children. “But he didn’t; William liked it as much or even more than I did. He realized how much fun it was.”

Loretta has a fondness for early American furniture and glassware, while her husband likes metal objects, like coins and guns. “We would go out to eat and then to an antique shop every Sunday,” Petty says. “He really liked the auctions, too; we’d get there before they started and stay until they closed. Back then, he’d get a whole truckload for about $300. Now, you can’t get one piece for that.”

Early on, any time they sold a piece of furniture, there would be several other pieces in storage, ready to fill the void that same afternoon.

The Pettys enjoyed working together for many of their 58 years of marriage until William Petty’s health quickly took a turn for the worse. Sadly, he passed away in 2013, which left Loretta to run the store herself.

The shop closed for two days for the funeral, and then Loretta reopened Pa’s Antiques, surrounded by the many great memories. Many items in the store serve as a reminder of the collecting adventures with her husband. A memorial tribute on the door of Pa’s Antiques lets customers know that she will never change the store name, even if it was Ma’s idea in the first place.

Supply and demand

The “Old Man’s” section has a number of items men would like, including a jukebox, fishing lures and ceramic jugs.

The “Old Man’s” section has a number of items men would like, including a jukebox, fishing lures and ceramic jugs.

Loretta has sold countless wood-burning stoves over the years, which are a hot commodity and hard to find nowadays. “If he had loved to sell as much as he loved to buy things, we’d have been better off,” she says, laughing. William collected loads of vintage tools and blacksmithing equipment. “He brought them out here, and they all sold,” Loretta remembered. “Tools sell about as good as anything.” Farm tables have become very popular in the past five years and are usually sold within a few days of being put on display.

A variety of Coca-Cola items, lunchboxes, cast iron and tin signs are a reminder of days gone by. “Anything from the Confederacy or World War II always sold really well for us, and there’s no telling how many jukeboxes we’ve sold,” Petty says. Some of their regular customers also caught the “antiquing bug” — including one loyal customer who collected wall clocks and spent hours searching the aisles for his next timepiece.

Sometimes the collector in Petty is at odds with the shopkeeper she’s become.

A man brought a historic cannon to the store last summer, which sold in less than two weeks. “It just tore me to pieces; I really wanted to keep it,” Loretta says. “When you get something different, you like to keep it a while. I like for people to see these things. Of course I wanted to sell it, but not too quick.”

William once spent a few hours hanging a heavy airplane propeller from the ceiling. “Before he put the ladder away, a guy came and bought it,” Petty says with a laugh.

At age 76, she still suggests items to any customer who walks through the door, giving a history lesson that’s equivalent to any time capsule. In its heyday, the store was open four days a week, and William made most of the deliveries. As the times changed, so did the store schedule and hours. Pa’s Antiques is the sole remaining antique store in Gordonsville. Her son, Donnie, now manages the storage building her husband built behind the shop. Loretta now mans the cash register twice a week, on Fridays and Saturdays, enough hours for her most loyal customers to browse and for her to remain connected to the hobby that her husband enjoyed with her for so many years. “Working at the shop gives me something to look forward to, and we were lucky to have made so many good friends over the years,” Loretta says.

Pa’s Antiques: 191 East Main St. • Gordonsville, TN • Open Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

How to lose 100 pounds (mostly) on your lunch hour: Tim Patton’s story

By Noble Sprayberry

Coworkers at DTC Communications sometimes asked Tim Patton to join them for a workout. One day three years ago, he finally accepted the offer.

DTC Network Engineer Tim Patton has lost more than 100 pounds, mostly by walking during his lunch hour.

DTC Network Engineer Tim Patton has lost more than 100 pounds, mostly by walking during his lunch hour.

“In the gym, they had a good scale. I took advantage and weighed myself,” he says. “I pretty much maxed it out. That’s when it all kind of sunk home, because I’d been telling myself I weighed around 250 or 275.”

Instead, the 5-foot-8-inch Patton tipped the scale at nearly 300 pounds.

And, the weight had taken a toll. He took medicine to ease the pain of achy knees. He was once asked to leave an amusement park ride because he was too heavy. “That was kind of embarrassing,” he says.

The Turnaround

Patton, a 55-year-old network engineer, has worked for DTC for about 26 years.

Patton works in DTC’s office, and from his desk he helps keep DTC’s network infrastructure humming. “Think routers, switches and firewalls,” he says. “I work with the devices that connect computers to other computers, and I don’t go out into the field. I do it from here.”

Since that meeting with the scale at the gym near his office, lunch hours have meant walking — miles of it.

“Initially, I didn’t have a plan. I just started doing things,” he says. “I tried different weight machines, but I have bad wrists. Free weights weren’t really an option. Then, I started hitting a treadmill.”

Patton stands with his family during a vacation to Disney World in 2007.

Patton stands with his family during a vacation to Disney World in 2007.

He began walking at a slow pace, about 2 mph. He loaded podcasts and audiobooks on his iPad. “That’s how, basically, I keep myself sane,” he says. “I listen to two or three books a month.”

After the first few months of workouts, he checked with his doctor, who approved of the regimen.

“I gradually increased the distance, increased the speed and built up over the years,” he says. “I don’t run on the treadmill, but I walk about as fast as I can. It’s about 4 miles per hour.”

He also wears a Fitbit, which tracks his activity. He rarely misses his target of walking 10,000 steps daily. He also uses an app called MyFitnessPal to track his calorie intake.

Patton jokes that before he emphasized a better diet, one fast-food meal might total more calories than he allows in a full day.

“Now, I pretty much eat what I want, but I keep up with the portions,” says Patton, who still indulges his love of ice cream. “I try to just eat ice cream sandwiches because I know how many calories are in those.”

He encourages his children, Justin, 24, and Allison, 18, to work out. “I try to talk them into going to the gym, but they’re not as interested as I am,” he says.

Now, Patton weighs 195 pounds, and he hopes to go lower. His knees no longer hurt. He feels better. “It allows me to participate in activities I couldn’t have in the past,” he says.

Capital Credits are a member-based community investment

DeKalb Telephone Cooperative is a member-based nonprofit that has been serving central Tennessee since 1951. It was created to provide telephone services to the rural areas that were otherwise overlooked by larger for-profit telephone corporations. DTC was created by local citizens, where members are owners and vital to the continued success of this company.

The monthly service fees paid by DTC members go directly into a reserve fund to operate the business, upgrade and expand services and implement new technologies. One benefit from membership is the earning of capital credits, which are periodically refunded as the cooperative’s finances allow. When capital credits are distributed, the amounts vary based on a percentage of fees paid by that member during the designated year.

Another advantage of being a part of the member-owned cooperative is that DTC allows members to vote for the board of directors during DTC’s Annual Meeting, held in September. DTC has two different membership types — single membership and joint membership consisting of husband and wife. With a single membership, only the single DTC member may vote at the annual meeting. With a joint membership, either person may vote during the annual meeting, but not both. Only one vote will be counted per joint membership.

A joint membership may be changed to a single membership as long as both individuals of the joint membership are living. The individual withdrawing from the joint membership must give approval to withdraw and authority to DTC to change the membership from the joint membership to a single membership.

In the event a member passes away, capital credits may be refunded to the estate of a deceased member as outlined in the bylaws. In order for the capital credits to be refunded in a single membership, the individual must be deceased; and for a joint membership, both individuals must be deceased. If the estate has been probated, the executor or administrator must sign the appropriate affidavit furnished by DTC and provide the Letter of Testamentary/Letter of Administration as provided by the court. If the estate has not been probated, all heirs are required to sign an affidavit furnished by DTC and provide a copy of the death certificate.

Please refer to the DTC bylaws located on for further information on memberships and capital credits.