Local headend operation improves TV service

Are you enjoying television programming from Mountain Telephone TV in high definition?

If not, there are almost twice as many reasons to start. If you are, your enjoyment just doubled.

For more information about Mountain’s television services, visit www.mrtc.com or call 607-743-3121.

For more information about Mountain’s television services, visit www.mrtc.com or call 607-743-3121.

Because MTTV is relocating its video headend — the point where a television service’s signals originate — members will see an increase in channels in crystal clear HD.

Under a previous contract, MTTV’s headend was at a remote site run by a separate company in California. When that contract ended, MTTV was able to set up similar equipment locally, giving managers more control over the programming and channel lineup.

“This gives us the ability to offer more HD channels right away,” says Travis Keaton, network engineer at MTTV. “We can offer channels now that we couldn’t offer before because our previous provider didn’t carry them.”

The locally controlled headend will allow MTTV to offer a more robust lineup of high-definition channels and a better signal.

“It gives us the control to repair something without having to wait on someone in California to fix it,” Keaton says.

And in the long run, the new operation will cost less.

“It is expensive right up front, but in the long run it will save us money,” Keaton says. “We built it with what we feel is enough capacity to add channels in the future without adding more equipment.”

In touch with business

Businesses have special needs. Of course, they often have special Internet and broadband requirements, but they also have special telephone needs. Mountain Telephone is meeting those needs and making sure businesses are operating as efficiently as possible.


Ollie Riggsby, left, and Steven Gullett are dedicated to finding the right communication system for your business.

Ollie Riggsby and Steven Gullett are dedicated to making sure Mountain Telephone’s business customers have the telephone system that is best for them and ensuring that it is working as it should.

Riggsby says they talk to the business managers to determine what system best meets their needs. “We try to stay as current as possible with the latest technology,” he says.

Almost all businesses need voice mail. But the newest thing businesses want is a voice over Internet protocol system, commonly referred to as voice over IP.

Voice over IP is technology that allows telephone systems to operate over a broadband Internet connection like the one MRTC provides. The advanced telephone system operates more efficiently.

The IP phone system allows office staff to transfer calls more seamlessly between offices or branch locations, immediately tell if someone is on another line and use an interoffice one-button calling system. It also allows technicians to access the system remotely to make any needed repairs without being on site.

Other features of the system allow employees to stay connected no matter where they are. For instance, users can set their phone to automatically forward calls to their mobile phone or they can take a phone set home and plug it into a broadband connection; the phone will then work remotely just as if it is in the office.

To find out if a voice over IP phone system is right for your business, call MRTC at 606-743-3121 or 800-939-3121 and ask for Ollie or Steven.

Understanding your bill

Mountain Telephone tries to make your bill clear and easy to understand, but questions still arise. Mountain Telephone is required by law to include a number of taxes and fees, and the terminology for some of them can be confusing. Maria Motley, a Mountain Telephone customer service representative, explains some of the frequently misunderstood terms.

Maria Motley, a customer service representative at Mountain Telephone, fields numerous questions from members about the terminology in their telephone bills.

Maria Motley, a customer service representative at Mountain Telephone, fields numerous questions from members about the terminology in their telephone bills.

Regulated charges – Services that are regulated by the government. Fees for regulated services are set by state or federal agencies. Typical regulated services include connection to the Central Office and local usage fees, service features such as call waiting or caller ID, 911 service fees, and associated state and federal taxes.

Unregulated charges – Unregulated charges are price schedules and fees applied to services not regulated by the government. Fees for unregulated services are set by the local service provider. Unregulated services typically include inside wiring, telephone rental, equipment maintenance fees and associated state and federal taxes.

Proration – Mountain Telephone bills customers for basic services a month in advance. Therefore, a customer’s initial bill is often higher because customers are billed from the day the service is installed up to the bill date, plus one month in advance. Bills for subsequent months will include only fees for the current month.

Subscriber line charge – A regulated charge that allows a local telephone service provider to collect a portion of the costs for operating and maintaining the facilities necessary to provide dial tone for all customers.

Access line charge – A regulated fee charged to access a telephone provider’s local telecommunications network

Payments the way you want it

Mountain Telephone understands that everyone is busy in this hectic and fast-paced world. That is why we want to make our services as easy and convenient for you as possible. To do this, Mountain Telephone offers multiple ways to pay, so you can choose the best option to fit your lifestyle.

Auto Debit

The most convenient method of payment is our Auto Debit method, which automatically deducts your payment from your checking account. You can still receive a bill, but your payment will be automatically deducted on the 10th of every month.


You can pay your bill online through our eBill service on our website. Visit www.mrtc.com and click “Pay Your Bill.” You will be directed to a login screen that will walk you through how to securely pay your bill without having to leave your home. You will be given a confirmation number to show that your payment has been received.

Mail, phone or in person

If you prefer to mail your payment to Mountain Telephone, we can accommodate that, too. You can also make your payment on the phone by calling 606-743-3121, and we will gladly accept payments in person at our West Liberty office. Payments can also be made through the 10th of each month at Citizens Bank in West Liberty, First National Bank and Kentucky Bank in Sandy Hook and all Bank of the Mountains locations.

A tale of two teachers: Technology and travel

Saint Augustine is credited with the quote, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” So it is only fitting that two retired school teachers would take that literary analogy to heart and help many in Eastern Kentucky read reams of the world’s pages.

Mary McWhorter, left, and Kim Graham, two retired educators, operate their Internet-based travel business from their homes.

Mary McWhorter, left, and Kim Graham, two retired educators, operate their Internet-based travel business from their homes.

“We both love to travel,” says Kim Graham, who formed G&M Tours with Mary McWhorter. “We wanted to do something after we retired, and we love helping people from Eastern Kentucky see the world.”

Graham and McWhorter hatched plans for their travel company while they were teachers at Rogers Elementary School in Wolfe County. Their classrooms were across the hall from one another, and the pair would talk about the idea throughout the school day. Graham became principal of the school, and the ladies formed the business before they retired in 2009.

G&M Tours was the perfect business for them. They usually each work from their homes, often sitting on their couches with their laptops researching destinations and hotels, as well as planning future trips, through their Internet service provided by Mountain Telephone. They generally communicate with each other through an instant messaging feature or email.

IMG_5673“I don’t think we would have ever attempted this without the Internet,” McWhorter says. “I don’t think it would be possible.”

The first trip was to the Biltmore Estate in Ashville, N.C., but since then G&M Tours has taken groups to New York, New England, Alaska, Nashville and Chicago — just to name a few. In 2014, the duo is planning trips to the Bahamas; Hawaii; Charleston, S.C.; Savannah, Ga.; Williamsburg, Va.; Memphis, Tenn. and many more. G&M Tours will work with school groups, churches and businesses, but their main focus is on groups of individuals.

“We may repeat destinations from time to time, but we always try to do something different,” says Graham. “The itinerary will be completely new.”

Both Graham and McWhorter say they love their new careers. “The most rewarding thing about it is the people we meet,” McWhorter says. “We’ve made some really great friends, and we have helped many people travel, especially some elderly people, that wouldn’t be able to do it without a company like ours.”

Kim Graham and Mary McWhorter retired from teaching to run their own Internet-based travel business.

Kim Graham and Mary McWhorter retired from teaching to run their own Internet-based travel business.

Most trips require a $100 deposit to reserve a spot, with the balance due closer to departure. Travel information, testimonials, photos and itineraries for future
trips can be found on their website,

Graham says people interested in going on one of their trips can call them with questions, or they may contact them through their website or Facebook page.

Broadband bovine technology means faster, more efficient cattle farming

Brad Kidd sits at his computer watching a cattle auction online. If he sees a heifer or calf he wants to bid on, all it takes is a couple of clicks.

Kidd has been a cattle farmer his whole life. He learned from his father, who learned from his father before him. But this is no longer your father’s cattle industry.

Technology is the key to efficiency, and Brad Kidd is teaching that to his son, Jackson, at Triple K Limousin Farms.

Technology is the key to efficiency, and Brad Kidd is teaching that to his son, Jackson, at Triple K Limousin Farms.

“Technology has really changed things for us,” Kidd says. “There is so much we can do online now that makes it quicker and more efficient.”

Triple K Limousin Farms has about 100 head of Limousin cattle that Kidd breeds with the best bulls available to produce top-notch beef stock. Many aspects of cattle farming are now performed digitally to improve the operation.

Kidd has broadband Internet service and television programming from Mountain Telephone. He says there are multiple programs on MTTV plus a variety of Internet sites that are changing the way cattle farms operate.

MTTV programming includes RFD-TV, which is a channel geared toward viewers in rural America. It broadcasts a number of farming shows such as “The American Rancher” and “Cattlemen to Cattlemen,” which Kidd says provide some valuable information about the cattle industry. He also watches cattle auctions and a variety of other agricultural shows.

“They talk about the cattle market, things affecting the cost of grain and a lot of other useful information,” he says.

While Kidd says television programming provides vital information for farmers, the Internet is where the real game-changing action is.

It used to take three to four weeks to register a new calf, Kidd says. But now the process can be done online and completed in less than half that time. He says he can immediately print out registration forms or receive copies sent by the state in about a week and a half.

Kidd now purchases medicines for his cattle online, and another farmer can instantly send pictures of a bull from a farm thousands of miles away to determine if he wants to buy it.

The best bulls that produce the best offspring can cost up to $40,000, which is out of the price range for a small cattle operation like Kidd’s. But he can buy a semen sample from the same bull much cheaper. Yes, that’s right — a bovine semen sample purchased online.

“We can’t go out and buy a bull for that much, but through artificial insemination, we can get a calf out of him for $40,” Kidd says.

Triple K Limousin also sells beef, which Kidd says he often advertises through Mountain Telephone’s online classifieds, www.mrtc.com/CommunityPortal/Classifieds.html.

“Technology has really changed how we do things,” Kidd says. “It has become a necessary tool in this industry.”

Building our future’s foundation

By Shayne Ison
General Manager

Can you imagine life without electricity? Of course not. It helps you take care of your home and family, earn a living, get your news, enjoy entertainment and experience a better quality of life. Wait … can’t the same be said for broadband?

Shayne Ison

Shayne Ison

I draw that parallel to drive home an important point — the broadband network we are building today is as foundational to modern society as the electricity distribution system that began powering rural America in the 1930s and 1940s.

Do you remember the first time you logged on to the Internet? Maybe it was through a Mountain Telephone Internet account. Perhaps you dialed a toll-free number, or even paid long-distance charges, to connect to EarthLink or AOL (how many CDs did you receive in the mail over the years offering 10 free hours of service to try AOL?). As you listened to the whistles and pops of your modem making a dial-up connection, you could not have imagined a day when such a network connection would impact practically every part of your life.

But that day is here. As dial-up access gave way to broadband connections, technology drove innovations that go far beyond simply browsing the Internet. And just like in the early days of electrification, rural America is benefiting greatly.

Consider these examples of how people are using their broadband connections:

  • Students are staying current with their studies when they miss class, and turning in their homework online.
  • Teachers and professors are bringing advanced studies into their classrooms through distance learning.
  • Clinics and hospitals are managing records and expediting test results in ways that help them control costs while improving patient care and convenience.
  • Businesses are selling products and services, buying supplies and communicating in ways that help them compete with companies in larger markets.
  • Local governments, fire departments, police forces, water providers and other agencies are saving money on training while offering greater access and improved services to citizens.

Our network is making stories like these possible. And it’s not just Mountain Telephone. Providers like us across rural America are creating real solutions as we lead the way for a more advanced telecommunications network in our country.

If these stories are not enough to convince you that we truly are building the foundation for our future, look at the story “Wireless Needs Wires” on Page 6. With so many people connected by cell phone these days and the use of traditional landlines on the decline, you might be tempted to think of your local telecommunications company as a provider whose most relevant days are behind them. But as you see from this article, even the cell phone service people are so attached to depends heavily on the wired network that we continue to improve. It wouldn’t work without us.

Broadband is indeed the infrastructure of the future – one we are building for you today.

Baked soup: a family staple

Soup cuts across cultures. Its popularity spans the nation in wintertime and becomes comfort food in every corner of America. This is especially true in the small town of Kirbyton, Ky., when Rebecca Spraggs makes her Baked Soup, a recipe handed down in her family for generations.


Rebecca Spraggs

“I can remember my grandfather making it. Just the thought makes me happy,” she says. “He’d cook it in a great big iron kettle. And when we’d come inside from sledding, it would be ready.”

This soup, as well as others, is part of Spraggs’ repertoire of comfort foods that she brings to the table as a caterer. About a year ago, she and a friend launched Catering by Lorie and Rebecca.

“We both loved to cook, and often did for family and friends,” Spraggs says. “So we started catering out of our houses.” In less than a year’s time, they’ve built up a good client base.

Spraggs says clients often ask for soups when they call. “It’s just good comfort food. People love it. And it makes a hearty meal, too, when we add sandwiches or salads.”

Magic happens when Spraggs stirs the pot of her favorite baked potato soup. As the cheese melts, the flavors of bacon, garlic and onions come together, bringing the pot to a crescendo of comforting flavors. “It’s got just the right amount of texture to make your taste buds happy,” she says. “It’s just wonderful.”

Her lasagna soup is one that sends mouth-watering Italian aromas through the home as it simmers in the slow cooker for hours. And her baked soup cooks in a slow oven allowing the vegetables to absorb the flavors of fork-tender meat, creating a delicious gravy that you can sop up with bread, or use a spoon to get every last bite. There’s something about cooking it in the oven that gives it such good taste, Spraggs adds.

“Soup is just so good. And it’s so easy, you can just throw it together and let it cook all day and you have a full meal, getting all the vegetables and meat you need,” Spraggs says. “You can use leftovers and probably canned goods from your pantry.”

Are you in need of a little comfort? Try one of Spraggs’ recipes and see if it doesn’t bring some warmth to your soul.

Loaded Potato Soup


Loaded Potato Soup

3 pounds potatoes, peeled, cooked and chopped
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
8 cups of half-and-half
16 ounces Velveeta cheese, cubed
White pepper, to taste
Garlic powder, to taste
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
Bacon, cooked and crumbled
Green onions, chopped (tops only)
Cheddar cheese, shredded
Sour cream, optional

Melt butter in large pot, slowly add flour and half-and-half. Stir continually until flour is incorporated. Add Velveeta; continue stirring on medium heat until melted. Add potatoes, pepper, garlic, Tabasco, bacon and green onions. Once cheese is melted, turn heat down and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve topped with cheese and sour cream, if desired.

Baked Soup


Baked Soup

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup water
3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
2 teaspoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
3 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 celery ribs, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1 medium onion, cut into chunks
1 slice of bread, cubed

In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, water, tapioca, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into greased 3-quart baking dish. Cover and bake at 375° for 2 hours or until meat and veggies are tender. Serve with cornbread or corn cakes.

Crock Pot Lasagna Soup

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
3 cups beef broth (or more, see note)
1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 cup V8 juice
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
2 cups uncooked shell pasta
Shredded cheddar cheese, optional

Mix tomatoes and tomato paste in Crock pot. Add broth, beef, garlic, parsley, basil, onion, V8 juice, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low 7 to 8 hours or on high 4 to 5 hours. Thirty minutes before end of cooking time, add in 1 cup of water and pasta. Stir to combine, cover and continue cooking 30 minutes. Serve topped with cheese, if desired.

Note: If you need more liquid, add extra broth when you add pasta.

Tips for making a super bowl of soup:

  • To lighten up a cream-based soup, use fat-free milk or chicken or vegetable broth.
  • Simmer soup as long as you can. It will only make the flavor better.
  • Don’t saute the vegetables first.
  • Use the freshest ingredients you can find.
  • Do not add salt until the end. Taste as you go.
  • If the recipe calls for chicken broth, and if you have the time, make your own. Use the chicken in the soup or save it to make chicken salad for sandwiches to go with the soup.

Picking a favorite?

By Anne P. Braly
Food Editor


Anne P. Braly

There’s no better way to ward off winter’s chill than holing up inside with a bowl of steaming soup. So lately, I’ve been experimenting and making many different soups. I can’t make up my mind which is best, but I know one thing for sure: using my mother’s old soup pot makes a difference. Not only does it make a good soup, but somewhere in the steam, I swear I can see Momma smiling.

So what’s your favorite soup? For me, it’s West African Peanut Soup. There are many different recipes for this soup, but my favorite is this one that I managed to get from a restaurant in Chattanooga that no longer exists.

West African Peanut Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, very finely diced
2 large green peppers, finely chopped
6 large cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes with juice
8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1 (18-ounce) jar creamy peanut butter
Chopped roasted peanuts (optional)

Heat olive oil in large stock pot over medium-high heat. Cook onion, bell pepper and garlic until lightly browned. Stir in tomatoes with juice, broth, pepper and red pepper flakes. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Add rice to soup; stir. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 25 minutes, or until rice is tender. When rice is cooked, whisk in peanut butter, return to a simmer and serve. Garnish with chopped roasted peanuts. Makes about 8 servings.

Email Anne Braly at apbraly@gmail.com

A driving passion

Museums explore America’s love affair with the automobile

By Patrick Smith


Corvettes come from all over the country to pose for the perfect picture.

Since the prehistoric age when the first wheel was chiseled from stone, mankind has been fascinated with motion. Forward motion. That connection between man and machine is embodied in the automobile, with its roaring engine giving humans the power to conquer distance and time. The power of man and machine, performing as one, gave birth to the wide-open road we love to traverse, along with a multitude of ways to work and play behind the wheel.

Long before NASCAR thrived as we know it today, the roar of the dirt track echoed through the South. The glory days of dirt tracks may have waned, but our interest in cars has not. In fact, the South is America’s new automotive corridor, with a number of automakers having located manufacturing plants in the region and thousands of workers earning a living on an automotive assembly line.

Scattered across the region are a number of unique museums that preserve our automotive history and help us to relive the milestones in our fascination with the car (and truck). Visit their websites, learn more, then plan a road trip to remind yourself of why the automobile just might be America’s greatest pastime.

Floyd Garrett’s Muscle Car Museum

The sleek lines and powerful facades of the ‘70s muscle cars are alive and well at Floyd Garrett’s Muscle Car Museum in Sevierville, Tenn. Widely considered an expert on the era, Floyd Garrett showcases his $8 million collection of more than 90 cars, including a 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 and a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle LS6 (Detroit’s highest factory horsepower car).

Address: 320 Winfield Dunn Parkway, Sevierville, TN 37876

Phone: 865-908-0882 • Website: www.musclecarmuseum.com

International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame & Museum

The first tow truck was built in Chattanooga in 1916. Started in 1995, the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame & Museum is a walk through the history of the wrecker. In addition to the array of displays and exhibits, there’s a Hall of Fame presentation and a memorial to those who have fallen during their service as recovery operators.

Address: 3315 Broad Street, Chattanooga, TN 37408

Phone: 423-267-3132 • Website: www.internationaltowingmuseum.org

While in Chattanooga, visit the Volkswagen plant, home of the Passat sedan. For more information email: tours@vw.com.

National Corvette Museum

The father of the Corvette, Belgian-born Zora Arkus-Duntov would surely be proud to see his creation thriving at the General Motors Corvette assembly plant in Bowling Green, Ky., and the accompanying National Corvette Museum. The museum draws enthusiasts from around the world to admire its collection spanning the 60-year history of the American classic.

Address:  350 Corvette Drive, Bowling Green, KY 42101

Phone: 270-781-7973 • Website: www.corvettemuseum.org

Public tours of the assembly plant are also available. For more information visit: www.corvettemuseum.org/plant_tours

Lane Motor Museum

Uncommon cars find a home at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville. Celebrating a decade of operation, the museum showcases vehicles like the 1919 Leyat Helico, a propellor-driven car meticulously developed by aircraft engineer Marcel Leyat. Leyat believed propellor-driven cars would be simpler because they wouldn’t require a transmission, rear axle or clutch. Lane also hosts several unique motorcycle and truck designs.

Address:  702 Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37210

Phone: 615-742-7445 • Website: www.lanemotormuseum.org

Rusty’s TV & Movie Car Museum

The unmistakable creativity of Hollywood, combined with American style and ingenuity, are presented at Rusty’s TV & Movie Car Museum in Jackson, Tenn. Who wouldn’t want to solve a riddle with Scooby Doo in the Mystery Machine, or fight crime in the Batmobile? Rusty’s is the place to see more than 25 cars used in television shows and movies.

Address:  323 Hollywood Drive, Jackson, TN 38301

Phone: 731-267-5881 • Website: www.rustystvandmoviecars.com

International Motorsports Hall of Fame & Museum

Teaming man with machine, the International Motorsports Hall of Fame & Museum satisfies the need for speed. This institution celebrates the achievements of drivers breaking the limits and setting new heights. Spanning three buildings next to the Talladega Superspeedway, the facility is home to the memories of drivers, engineers and designers who shaped the motorsports community.

Address: 3366 Speedway Boulevard, Talladega, AL 35160

Phone: 256-362-5002 • Website: www.motorsportshalloffame.com

Wheels of Yesteryear Car Museum

Lifelong collector Paul Cummings showcases more than 50 vintage muscle cars and trucks at the Wheels of Yesteryear Car Museum in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Opened in 2009, the museum shows off the raw power of the 1965 Pontiac GTO and the elegant simplicity of the 1949 Dodge pickup truck. It has quickly become a landing place for tourists and car aficionados alike.

Address: 413 Hospitality Lane, Myrtle Beach, SC 29579

Phone: 843-903-4774 • Website: www.wheelsofyesteryearmb.com

BMW Zentrum Museum

BMW admirers flock to see the past and catch a glimpse of the future at the Zentrum Museum in Greer, S.C., the home of BMW’s only American production facility. Visitors flow through the history of exquisitely engineered German cars, SUVs and motorcycles while interacting with educational exhibits, galleries and interactive displays.

Address: 1400 Highway 101 South, Greer, SC 29651

Phone: 864-989-5300 • Website: www.bmwusfactory.com/zentrum

Visit www.bmwusfactory.com to inquire about the BMW Performance Center’s “Ultimate Driving Experience” and factory tour.

Swope Auto Museum

The horsepower of the ‘70s or the fuel efficiency of today’s cars can’t match the solid steel and molded aluminum of the time-honored transportation at the Swope Auto Museum in Elizabethtown, Ky. A collection that spans from the early 1900s to the 1960s, Swope is home to classics like the 1914 Model T Ford Touring and the 1925 Pierce Arrow. Swope also sells antiques to passionate collectors.

Address: 100 North Dixie Avenue, Elizabethtown, KY 42701

Phone: 270-765-2181 • Website: www.swopemuseum.com