Bringing Congress to Rural America

By Craig Gates
Chief Executive Officer

It’s not often that rural telcos like ours get a chance to share our stories, struggles and successes with a busload of Congressional staff members.

So when the Foundation for Rural Service recently brought a group of legislative advisors on a bus tour through East Kentucky and Middle Tennessee, we at DTC made the best of the opportunity.

These bright, young staffers — most of whom work for representatives and senators on key commerce, technology and communications committees — left Washington, D.C., to visit our part of the country and see what rural broadband looks like firsthand.

The staffers came from across the country, representing places such as Salt Lake City, the Dallas suburbs, Central Florida and the Research Triangle in North Carolina. Before moving to the nation’s capital, many of them lived in big cities, such as Chicago. For some, this bus trip may have been the first time they’d ever spent in an area that could be considered rural.

While on the trip they observed a crew plowing fiber in Middle Tennessee, toured the facilities of a number of small rural communication companies like ours and talked with local officials.

At one stop on the tour, I, along with other nearby rural broadband providers, made sure to catch the ear of a few of the staffers and explain how important our mission is to our local residents. It was important for them see how vibrant our communities are and to meet the great people in our region.

It was important for them to hear rural Tennessee businesses owners, hospital administrators and local officials talk about the importance of a broadband connection.

And it’s important for them to understand the challenges cooperatives like ours face in building a network that may cost tens of thousands of dollars each mile, with as few as five customers per mile.

Long term, Congress and Washington regulators play a significant role in the strength of our telco and our industry, through issues such as the Universal Service Fund. As you’ve read in this space before, the USF provides funding that allows rural, high-cost providers like us a way to recoup the investments we’ve made in our communities and still provide telephone and broadband service at a price local residents can afford.
It was a great chance to tell them our cooperative’s story: We are providing service in areas that for-profit companies will not serve, and local residents depend on our network to work, play, shop, learn and connect with friends and family.

I am proud DTC could play a role in bringing the congressional delegation to rural Tennessee. And I’m proud every day that you’ve trusted DTC to connect you to the world.

Annual Meeting Election Results

All incumbents retained their seats during the DTC board election on Sept. 19.

Alexandria Exchange — Bennie “Buck” Curtis defeated Mark Willoughby.

Liberty Exchange — Randy Campbell defeated Danny Lynn Hale.

Smithville Exchange — Ronnie Garrison defeated Paul Cantrell.

Board members (from left) Bennie “Buck” Curtis, Ronnie Garrison and Randy Campbell retained their seats following the election at the annual meeting.

Board members (from left) Bennie “Buck” Curtis, Ronnie Garrison and Randy Campbell retained their seats following the election at the annual meeting.

Congressional staff members tour Tennessee and Kentucky

DTC CEO Craig Gates visited with congressional staff members as part of a tour organized by the Foundation for Rural Service. Many of the staff members on the trip have the privilege of advising members of congress on telecommunications issues. The trip throughout East Kentucky and Middle Tennessee gave them a firsthand look at the challenges and triumphs rural telcos face while providing high-speed broadband.

The Foundation for Rural Service is the nonprofit organization which functions in collaboration with NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association. NTCA represents nearly 900 independent, community-based telecommunications companies and their interests in national government affairs.

“It was wonderful to have several congressional staff members on the ground in rural Tennessee and Kentucky,” Gates says. “Any time we can get staffers out of Washington and in the rural areas like where DTC serves, it helps them to understand our mission, and it helps us to showcase the high-quality services we provide to our members.”

Scam Alert!

DTC has recently received word of scam artists posing as DTC and contacting customers. In the scam, customers are asked to fill out a survey and then provide payment information for a shipping fee, so the scammers can allegedly send them a watch or other prize.

These surveys are not affiliated with DTC, and DTC will never ask customers for payment information in regards to a survey or collecting a prize.

If you receive any suspicious phone calls or emails claiming to be from DTC, please call 615-529-2955 or 615-588-1277 to verify the message.

Building a business

Tom Janney is the architect behind a top local firm

By Matt Ledger

Upon arriving at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tom Janney began his college days as an architecture major. However, instead of mastering the ability to create blueprints, he revised his plan and chose to learn “the language of business.”
Little did he know at the time, that decision would lead him to becoming the lead architect and builder of one of the most successful accounting firms in the region, Janney and Associates.

Tech strategy for recovery and growth

Janney graduated in 1985 with a bachelor’s in accounting and started with one of the largest accounting firms in the world at the time, Arthur Andersen. A year later in 1986, he decided to move back to Smithville, learning accounting at a local firm for several years.

After a few years of contract work, he drafted a business plan to found Janney and Associates, CPA’s.
A significant part of the company’s expansion came from customer referrals through the years, leading to a few satellite offices in Livingston and Carthage. “As time has gone on, we’ve become more and more focused on small family-owned businesses,” he says.

Janney and Associates eventually returned to a primary office in Smithville, with the firm’s foundation remaining in tax preparation. But, as for many, the recession of 2008 led to some hard decisions of consolidating locations and reducing employees. Janney also needed to innovate with technology, which helped streamline the office. Eight employees now provide payroll, bookkeeping and consulting services throughout the year.

“We haven’t needed as many employees because now we can significantly leverage new technology in preparing returns,” Janney says. “When people drop off tax information, we are able to scan it into our system, and our software can input that automatically. We’re no longer bound to those paper documents and manual computations.”
Tom Janney * also serves as a financial advisor for business clients and individual investors. “The first step seems obvious, but get in the habit of saving early,” he says. “It needs to be automatic every month, just like a utility bill.” He suggests starting with a quality mutual fund.

A Valuable Connection

Investing into technology-based infrastructure is vital to running a successful business. “It’s critical for us to have a very good Internet connection,” Janney says. “We rely on that day in and day out. It’s the life-blood of our business, and that’s why we choose DTC services.”

Tax season can be especially taxing on accounting offices, so reliable services are a must, and Janney has continually upgraded to DTC’s highest current Internet speed over the past decade. After DTC added security systems to their menu of services, Janney changed from another provider to DTC’s 1st Choice Security that now safeguards the firm’s tax and accounting documents.

“We’ve been with DTC since day one with our telephone system and when Internet access became available,” Janney says. “I try to shop locally when possible, and they’ve been extremely involved in the community.”

He prides himself on being on the front end of tech trends — “a technology company that happens to do a bit of accounting” — recalling a $700 fax machine purchase in the early ’90s. “I remember people telling me, ‘Who needs anything that quickly?’” he says, as customers continued to personally deliver documents. Many people even resisted leaving recorded voice mail messages when those began.

“We’ve gone from that extreme to the other,” Janney says. “It’s amazing how we’ve all become so reliant on technology that we don’t even realize it. Anyone who thinks that having a website is optional simply needs to update their thinking, because your website is the new front door for your business.”

Janney and Associates opted to add a secure online portal for clients to access their information, much like a bank. For 2014, this new feature allowed several clients to skip Janney’s office entirely by scanning and sending their tax documents. He expects that trend to grow in the next few years.

“DTC is always very responsive if we need something,” Janney says. “In those very rare occasions when something may go wrong with technology, they were here in a matter of minutes.”

*Securities offered through H.D. Vest Investment ServicesSM, Member SIPC, Advisory services offered through H.D. Vest Advisory ServicesSM, 6333 N. State Highway 161, Fourth Floor, Irving, TX 75038, 972-870-6000. Janney & Associates, CPAs, PC is not a registered broker/dealer or independent advisory firm.

Advisor’s Tips

Accounting gets complicated quickly, but Janney says there are a few simple tips to help out local business owners and taxpayers.

Business owners may think about paying down principal on debt in their business at tax time; however, the interest is the only tax deduction. Janney cautions that debt reduction is tricky and can sometimes lead owners to unnecessarily overextend themselves for gains that are realized years down the road.

For farmers or other small business owners, it may be tempting to reduce their tax burden with capital investments. “Purchasing equipment will give you a great tax break, but do you need the equipment?” Janney asks. “If the answer is no, you’re throwing good money after bad. Your taxes may go to zero, but if you’re not getting a return on your investment, if it’s not helping to make you money, then you’re better off paying the income tax.”

Many individuals can complete simple tax returns online, but Janney cautions that as taxpayers’ lives become more complex, so do their tax credits and obligations. That’s when it’s best to seek an accountant.
The most common investing mistake made by employees is not participating in a retirement plan, especially for those with an employer match. “The younger you are when you start participating in those individual retirement accounts, the better off you are,” Janney says.

Cashing out an IRA upon changing careers is a bad idea in most cases because it creates a tax penalty and will delay retirement to a later age. For those closing in on that finish line, Janney suggests meeting with a consultant to strategically plan how to get the most out of social security. “Even though people tend to relax when they retire, your taxes continue on,” Janney says.

Don’t ignore a notice from the IRS. The longer the issue remains unresolved, the more penalties and interest will add up. “Don’t ever think that it will just go away,” Janney says. “You have to face it head-on, no matter the circumstance, and if you don’t understand it, you must find someone who does.”

DTC Employee Spotlight: Appreciation leads to inspiration

The greatest gifts are given without the expectation of receiving anything in return. Knowing you’ve brightened someone’s day is reward enough.

That’s a lesson inspired by Twana Green’s grandmother, Lillie Lawson. And it’s the motivation behind the Alexandria Senior Angel Tree, which provides Christmas gifts to nursing home residents who are alone during the holidays.

“My grandmother has been my rock for my entire life,” says Green. Now, it’s Green who cares for the blind 98-year-old. “I can’t imagine her being alone, especially at the holidays,” says Green, who helps make sure others also receive some holiday cheer.

For Green, the DTC team helped make it all happen.

Professional Experience

Raised in McMinnville, Green and her husband, Jonathan, appreciate family. They have two children and four grandchildren, and they enjoy hiking, fishing and four-wheeling.

She joined DTC as a part-time employee in 2006 at the Alexandria office, advancing to customer service representative in DTC’s wireless division. After two years at the Smithville location, she returned to Alexandria to fill a team leader position in 2010.

“As a part of Leadership DeKalb, each member proposed a community-based project that we’d like to do,” Green says. “It was a great opportunity to try and make a difference. My project was selected out of 10 projects submitted.” She selected a cause that is close to her heart — seniors in need of holiday cheer. Three of the 10 projects were selected that year — including Green’s. Then, the team brought the first Angel Tree to life.
It started with a visit to the National HealthCare nursing home in Smithville. “We went and spoke with the officials, asking about any of the people who didn’t have any family,” Green says.

Then, NHC staffers help by recommending gifts for each resident, then assigning a corresponding number.
The resulting anonymous wish lists are hung from Christmas trees awaiting generous holiday shoppers.

Personal Passion

That first year, Green placed a Christmas tree at a local retailer, but it didn’t stop there. Green and another fellow team leader, Kiki Brown, chose to continue the Senior Angel Tree.

Last year, the colorful duo of Green and Brown — coincidently the colors of a Christmas tree — helped nearly 100 seniors. With the holiday season about to begin, watch for the trees to soon appear.

The tree location changed in 2011 to the DeKalb County Florist, owned by Sissy Ray. Green also decided to add a few locations for convenience, with the salons of Rhonda Moore’s Creative Styles and JJ Poss’ Headlines joining the cause.

“They’ve all been wonderful about being a part of this and have helped make this a great success,” Green says.
For the organizers and volunteers, the experience is heartwarming and often tearful. “We sat and watched one woman open up the gift of a doll,” Green says. “The look on her face said it all. I think nearly all of us were in tears that day.”

’Tis the season to celebrate

The holiday season kicks into high gear early for 2015, mere days after all of that turkey and shopping. So, instead of singing about those five golden rings, there are that many local Christmas parades for families to enjoy.


Officials with the Alexandria Christmas parade are pulling out all the stops for 2015. Santa’s sleigh may remain grounded for the evening, but it will be pulled by live reindeer. Also, expect to see several horses and mules.

The Nov. 29 parade starts at 2 p.m. There will also be a drawing for country hams and gift cards.


On Nov. 29, the historical Smith County Courthouse in Carthage will be the backdrop for the Smith County Hometown Christmas Open House from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Christmas parade starts at 5 p.m.


The Woodbury Christmas parade begins at noon on Dec. 5 at the Cannon County fairgrounds, and it runs along Adams Street to Highway 70 and then to Highway 53. You must register any floats for the parade by calling 615-563-2554 or dropping by the UT Extension office at 614 Leadman St. Due to insurance liability, there will be no four-wheelers in the parade. The day will start with the Lions Club pancake breakfast from 7 a.m. until 10 a.m. Also, a map for the 2015 Tour of Homes will be available at 5 p.m.


Don’t miss Santa’s parade in Smithville on Dec. 5. Smithville Elementary School will serve as the starting point for the parade. Drivers will start to line up vehicles at 11 a.m., and the parade will roll out at 1 p.m. Call 615-597-6750 to register for the event.


The Gordonsville Christmas Parade is Dec. 5 at 5 p.m. along Main Street. All drivers and riders should be in place at 4:30 p.m. at the Living Waters Ministry Church.


The Liberty Christmas Parade will begin at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 6. Call Charlotte Bratton at 615-536-5419 to register.

Parade float drivers must see a Liberty State Bank employee during the day to get their number for lineup in the parade. Drivers will line up by 1:30 p.m. at the Salem Baptist Church. Hot chocolate, cider and cookies will be served on Main Street after the parade.

Broadband may be the greatest health care innovation for rural America


By Shirley Bloomfield, CEO
NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association

When we talk about the impact of broadband Internet access, we often focus on its importance to economic development, business growth and such. While it is absolutely an economic driver, broadband may also be just what the doctor ordered for rural America.

You will sometimes hear it referred to as telemedicine; other times, telehealth. Whatever you call it, the use of broadband technology is changing the way health care is delivered. And I believe we are only seeing the beginning.

For example, electronic medical records are allowing doctors to streamline care, especially for patients in rural areas. A patient who normally visits a rural clinic can be confident that their health information is accurate and up-to-date when they visit a regional hospital.

I wrote in the previous issue of this magazine about aging in place, noting that technologies such as videoconferencing, remote health monitoring and X-ray transmission are helping rural seniors stay at home longer. But the aging population is just one segment that can benefit from broadband-enabled applications.

Recently, I attended a technology showcase that focused on the interconnection between technology providers, health care providers and innovation in telemedicine. It was a fascinating conference that left my mind spinning with the possibilities for rural health care delivery.

We heard from a rural telecommunications provider who said small telcos are often too small to get the main contracts from the base hospitals, but that they have an important role in providing the local infrastructure and having the construction team on the ground. This has helped build the case for having a role in the large clinic and university hospital contracts in the future.

Hugh Cathey of the innovative company HealthSpot provided a real glimpse into what broadband can mean to all segments of society. His company has kiosks in several Rite Aid drug stores in Ohio where patients can walk in and be face-to-face with a healthcare professional via a video screen. These stations come outfitted with everything you need to receive a wide variety of remote treatments. The HealthSpot network has seen thousands of patients since May, for ailments such as allergies, cold and flu, bronchitis, cough, rashes, sore throat and fever.

With applications such as these, it’s easy to get excited about what the future holds for telemedicine. And with the great work being done by your telco and others like it who are building world-class broadband networks, we can know that rural America will not be left behind in this evolution.

Easy steps to help stop telemarketing calls!

If you are like most consumers, you are tired of being disturbed by telemarketing calls. There is help.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have established a National Do Not Call Registry. Joining this registry can drastically reduce the number of telemarketing calls you receive.

Here are some important facts about the list:

  • Once registered, telemarketers have 31 days to stop calling your number.
  • You can register up to three non-business telephone numbers. You can register cell phone numbers; there is not a separate registry for cell phones.
  • Your number will remain on the list permanently unless you disconnect the number or you choose to remove it.
  • Some businesses are exempt from the Do Not Call Registry and may still be able to call your number. These include political organizations, charities, telephone surveyors and businesses that you already have a relationship with.

Strict Federal Trade Commission rules for telemarketers make it illegal to do any of the following regardless of whether or not your number is listed on the National Do Not Call Registry:

  • Call before 8 a.m.
  • Call after 9 p.m.
  • Misrepresent what is being offered
  • Threaten, intimidate or harass you
  • Call again after you’ve asked them
    not to

Adding your number to the Do Not Call Registry is easy!
Register online at or call 888-382-1222
For TTY, call 866-290-4236
You must call from the telephone number you wish to register.

Attention local business owners: You can be penalized for not following these FCC rules

When people think of telemarketing phone calls, they usually imagine them coming from distant call centers. But local businesses that make phone calls to customers or potential customers should be aware that the same National Do Not Call Registry rules and regulations apply to them.
The Do Not Call initiative, regulated by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), requires telephone service providers to notify customers of the National Do Not Call rules and regulations.

If you are a company, individual or organization that places telemarketing calls, it is very important that you familiarize yourself with the operations of the National Do Not Call Registry. Unless you fall under one of the established exceptions, such as telemarketing by charitable organizations or for prior business relationships, you may not make telemarketing calls to numbers included in the National Do Not Call Registry.

For information regarding National Do Not Call regulations, visit the National Do Not Call registry at You can find the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission rules governing telemarketing and telephone solicitation at 47 C.F.R. § 64.1200 and 16 C.F.R. Part 310, respectively.