Happy retirement, Tim!

TimHolloway
WK&T would like to wish Tim Holloway a happy retirement! After more than 37 years working for the cooperative, Holloway retired from his position as the inspector of plant and safety in June. During his time with WK&T, Holloway was instrumental in helping to complete the fiber project, providing high-speed Internet as well as crystal-clear television and phone service to the area. From everyone at WK&T, thank you for all your work, Tim, and enjoy your retirement!

WK&T’s sales team goes green

SalesTeamMembers of the WK&T sales team are ready for the future! The sales team is taking steps to eliminate paperwork for documents and contracts by allowing customers to use a stylus to sign documents on a tablet. “We’re going green,” says Michael Lee, WK&T’s marketing and sales manager. “It’s a great way to save money and save the environment.”

If you’d like a sales representative to stop by and discuss WK&T’s full line of services, please call 877-954-8748 to schedule a visit.

Making a ‘smart’ decision

CEO, Trevor Bonnstetter

CEO, Trevor Bonnstetter

By Trevor Bonnstetter
Chief Executive Officer

When it comes to technology, we want everything to be “smart” these days. We have smartphones and smart watches, smart appliances in our kitchen and laundry room, smart thermostats and smart home gadgets with smart apps to control them.

While all this smart technology is impressive and can make life more convenient while saving us money, the really smart part of it all is the broadband network that so many of these devices and apps rely on to bring us this functionality.

This trend toward devices that are only possible with broadband is not going away. And as broadband becomes the leading infrastructure driving innovation, it is impacting every facet of our lives.

That’s why we decided long ago that improving broadband service in our rural area was the smart thing to do. With access to an advanced broadband network, boundless opportunities open up for our region:

Smarter businesses: Technology allows businesses to reach new customers and better serve the customers they already have. Smart businesses are using data and their broadband connections to learn more about customer habits, streamline supply chains and optimize their operations. Studies have shown that broadband-connected businesses bring in $200,000 more in median annual revenues than non-connected businesses. Our network ensures that these tools are available to our local businesses so they can compete regionally, nationally or even globally.

Smarter education: Local teachers and school administrators are doing amazing things with tablets, online resources and other learning tools. These smart schools are opening up new avenues for students to learn. Experts say that nationally, students in schools with broadband connections reach higher levels of educational achievements and have higher-income careers.

Smarter health care: From bracelets that keep track of physical activity to telemedicine, smart technology and broadband are improving the way we monitor and care for our bodies. Physicians are able to confer with other medical experts, transmit X-Rays and lab results and communicate with patients over our network. Through smart electronic medical records, everyone from stroke patients to expectant mothers is receiving better care because hospitals and doctors are getting “smarter.”

Smarter homes: A host of new devices has allowed users to bring smart technology into their homes. Smart devices allow you to monitor your home, change the thermostat, turn on lights and even lock or unlock doors remotely.

We’ve made smart decisions that put our community in a position to take advantage of this smart revolution. As our devices, businesses, homes, schools and hospitals get smarter, rest assured that your cooperative is smart enough to have the infrastructure in place to handle these demands — plus whatever the future holds.

Don’t miss the WK&T Annual Meeting!

Untitled-2Saturday, July 18 • 10 a.m. • Graves County Middle School
Please Join us for Donuts, Coffee and Door Prizes!
The doors will open at 9 a.m. and the meeting will start at 10 a.m. Door prizes will be awarded at the conclusion of the meeting. Don’t miss the opportunity to hear how far your cooperative has come in the past year and where it’s headed in the future!

Calling all curious kids (and adults, too)

Discovery Park of America continues to engage, entertain and enlighten

By Patrick Smith

Discovery Park of America

The Discovery Park of America hosted more than 295,000 visitors in its first year of operation in Union City, Tennessee

The Discovery Park of America has established itself as a major tourist attraction.

It’s also become an economic boost to Northwest Tennessee.

And it’s a hub for learning.
While the Discovery Park is many things to many people, there’s one thing founder Robert Kirkland is adamant that it is not — a museum.

“Mr. Kirkland doesn’t like for it to be called a museum,” says Hannah Stewart, a member of the park’s marketing team. “He thinks museums are stuffy, and we are not stuffy. We’re a place kids go to touch things, play with things and learn.” So far, thousands of kids and adults have traveled to Union City to do exactly that.

Train

About 295,000 people visited the 50-plus-acre park in its first year of operation.

Kirkland, an entrepreneur and longtime resident, donated more than $80 million to build Discovery Park, along with a continuing trust to add new exhibits in perpetuity. It was built to cultivate fond memories for adults and inspire today’s children to become the next great scientists, historians or astronauts.

Every inch of the park is built with that purpose in mind. It has something just about everyone can enjoy, including nine permanent galleries covering children’s exploration, military, Native Americans, regional history, science, space and technology.

TW_5773It’s a self-described “mini-Smithsonian,” built in the middle of a cornfield in Union City.

SEEING IS BELIEVING
For many visitors, Discovery Park of America is putting rural America on the map. The top-notch attraction is akin to one normally found in big cities, but it has drawn visitors from all 50 states and international guests since it opened in November 2013.

Before the park’s opening, Kirkland enlisted the help of community members to plan the areas of focus and to get their help finding the perfect pieces to incorporate into the attraction. “(Kirkland) asked anyone who wanted to volunteer on this project to come to a meeting at a local hotel,” says Stewart. “More than 250 people showed up. So there’s been huge support for it in the community.”

Kirkland made his fortune selling home decor and gift items at the retail stores that bear his name. He grew the chain into more than 300 stores, before selling most of his business holdings and focusing on philanthropic efforts. Along with his wife, Jenny, they’ve funded several community foundations to help young residents expand their horizons, but the Discovery Park is no doubt their biggest philanthropic feat.

The giant, two-story “human slide” is the quickest (and most fun) way to go to the floor below.

The giant, two-story “human slide” is the quickest (and most fun) way to go to the floor below.

The park fosters a positive, creative environment where everything is an opportunity for educational fun. Visitors can see everything from a replica of the Wright brothers’ first airplane to artifacts used during the Spanish Inquisition. There’s even a giant two-story “human slide” that takes people on a quick ride between floors. A new outdoor exhibit depicting the surface of the moon will open this summer, focusing on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

If you go, carve out plenty of time to see the park; there’s almost more than you can do in a single day. “Lots of people ask how long they should plan to spend here,” says Stewart. “But it’s hard to say because there’s no telling what’s going to interest you here. It’s just a wonderful place for the community.”

FAST FACTS
In its exhibits, the park covers more than 250 million years of history.

The Simulation Theater features a 270-degree wraparound screen and special effects that include sounds and tremors, replicating the 1811-12 earthquakes that created nearby Reelfoot Lake.

A 120-foot-tall observation tower gives visitors a view high above the park. It also features glass panes in the floor for adventurers brave enough to experience the feeling of walking on air.

RegionalHistory GalleryA 20,000-gallon freshwater aquarium is stocked with species native to the region.
Galleries include replicas of dinosaurs, authentic fossils, Native American artifacts, military equipment, vintage automobiles and dozens of interactive exhibits and activity stations.

Dinosaurs_5780On the grounds outside, rustic cabins depict rural life in the 1800s, including a blacksmith shop, doctor’s office, farm buildings, homes and a one-room schoolhouse.

The barn features restored farm equipment, tractors and vintage neon signs.

A covered bridge leads to a 100-year-old church, as well as a train station, locomotive and several rail cars.

If you go…
Address: 830 Everett Blvd., Union City, TN 38261
Phone: 731-885-5455
Website: www.discoveryparkofamerica.com

EnergyGallery

Advancing the community, one connection at a time

WK&T’s fiber project will be complete by the end of June

By Patrick Smith

Michael Allen, left, goes over the details of his WK&T bundle with sales representative Tim Allred.

Michael Allen, left, goes over the details of his WK&T bundle with sales representative Tim Allred.

When West Kentucky Rural Telephone Cooperative started in 1951, locals banded together to bring telephone service to rural communities that were not profitable enough for large corporations trying to make big earnings for stockholders. Passionate locals went door to door, explaining the benefits of a telephone network and recruiting new members.
One after another, poles were erected and telephone lines were strung throughout the community. Soon, more and more members joined, and over the course of time, a vast telecommunications network was built.

But as time goes on, technology and consumer demands change.

WK&T saw the future potential of bringing fiber to the area, and in 2009, the cooperative was awarded a $123.8 million grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. While the new network would transform the community, it also meant the old network, which had previously taken decades to create, would have to be completely rebuilt in just six short years.
WK&T accepted the challenge.

“It’s been a massive undertaking to build the stimulus portion of the new broadband network in such a short amount of time,” says Trevor Bonnstetter, WK&T CEO. “But it’s been incredibly fulfilling to see the changes that broadband has already created for our community.”

The new network is being constructed using fiber optic technology. It works by sending pulses of light along strands of glass the thickness of a human hair. The network is delivering blazing-fast Internet speeds throughout the area, in addition to crystal-clear television and phone service.

In June, when WK&T will complete the project, each customer’s service will be operating on fiber, allowing the cooperative to discontinue its maintenance of the copper system.
Many companies integrate fiber as part of their network. Some use it alongside copper, and others use one strand for multiple members who share the bandwidth.

WK&T’s fiber-to-the-home network is different, giving members a true fiber connection from the switch at the central office all the way to a member’s home or business.
And, there’s no sharing. Each home or business has its own dedicated line of fiber so they can experience all the connected world has to offer — now, and years into the future.

“I feel like fiber gives WK&T members a product that is truly future-proof,” says Stacey Riley, operations manager for WK&T. “There’s been a lot of work involved in this project by our employees and the community. It’s a big accomplishment for us to have the new network built in just a few years.”

Since the work began, thousands of local businesses and residents have seen the impact of fiber — a technology that’s not yet available in many larger cities like Nashville and St. Louis.

The efforts of the cooperative’s first patrons have paid off time and again. Over the past 64 years, people have depended on WK&T to bring first-class service to the area. WK&T’s services have helped recruit businesses, big and small, and the cooperative has helped locals live and work in their hometown. Today, broadband is continuing the tradition and helping to bring new innovations to the area.

“The infrastructure WK&T is building will continue to change the whole community,” says Bonnstetter. “It’s exciting to think about how fiber will change these communities and the advancements we’ll see in 10 or 15 years.”

 

Device of the month: NETGEAR EX2700 Range Extender

Netgear-EX2700

Need a boost? The closer your device is to the wireless router, the stronger the signal. Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, the signal can weaken between your router and the device you’re using. It could be the distance between the devices, or even the construction materials used in your home or office. Luckily, the NETGEAR EX2700 Range Extender can give your wireless signal the boost it needs. The EX2700 plugs directly into a wall outlet and provides an unobtrusive, simple solution. It’s easy to install and simple to use. The WK&T Technology Store has them on hand now.

Tech tips: Is your home connected?

How to set up a Wi-Fi network to share your broadband Internet connection among your devices

Hi, I’m Matt Garrett. I work at the WK&T Technology Store in Mayfield. In this column, in each issue, you’ll learn about technology and read simple tips to get the most out of your electronics. For more tips or help with your devices, please come see me at the store. I’m always happy to help!

A wireless network provides the easiest, most efficient way for you to get the most out of all your devices. With the power of the Internet, the latest tablets, smartphones, gaming systems, computers and smart televisions are transformed into more robust devices that can make your life easier.

By following a few simple tips, you can set up your own Wi-Fi network and get the most out of your new gadgets and your WK&T Internet connection.

WHY WI-FI?
Wireless networks have always been convenient for laptop users, but now more and more products are designed to access the Internet through Wi-Fi. Once you set up your home network, you can enjoy the full functionality of all your Wi-Fi-enabled devices — along with whatever new gadgets are coming next.

A wireless network, coupled with the power of a WK&T broadband connection, will expand the possibilities for using the Internet throughout your home — all from the comfort of your couch.

BUILD YOUR NETWORK
Wi-Fi networks essentially have two pieces: the modem and the router. The modem is the gateway to the Internet, and the router is where your devices connect to access that gateway.

Most of the newer modems WK&T sells or rents to customers have Wi-Fi routers built in. But even if your router and modem are separate devices, the installation is fairly easy. Routers usually come with an installation CD that you will need to open on your main computer. Follow the prompts in the software to get the network up and running.

LOCK IT UP
The next step is setting up security to prevent unwanted users from logging onto your network. These freeloaders can slow down your connection speed by using up bandwidth, or — worse — they can use your network for illegal purposes.

Follow the instructions with your router’s software to enable security features like password protection and encryption. Make sure to store your passwords in a safe place so you can easily connect to the network.

As an extra precaution, be sure the firewalls are activated on any computer you plan to connect to your Wi-Fi network.

CONNECT YOUR DEVICES
Once the network is up and secure, try connecting your devices. You will need to enter your security password on each device you want to connect. Most computers and smartphones have an easily accessed network settings menu where the password can be entered.

Televisions, Blu-ray players and game systems have similar menus, but you will also need to open programs like Pandora or Netflix and follow a few more steps to link the apps with your account.

TROUBLESHOOTING
If things just don’t seem to be working out, try restarting the process. But this time, set your device to choose the wireless network you’re trying to connect with and tell the devices to “forget this network.” This will clear out any stored information that may be disrupting the process. It’s a clean slate to work from, and it usually solves the problem.

A wireless network can greatly enhance the benefit you receive from your WK&T broadband Internet connection. Don’t fret! More times than not, there’s no issue setting up your network and getting your devices connected — and once you do, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

Don’t let time run out!

WK&T is nearing the completion of its fiber project. Call to schedule your free fiber conversion before it’s too late!

What will YOU do with Internet speeds of 50 Mbps or more?

  • Work from home
  • Discover new music, books, movies & games
  • Learn a new skill
  • Earn a degree online
  • Connect with your doctor
  • Share family photos and video

Winning is easy when you like WK&T’s Facebook page!

You can win big when you like WK&T on Facebook! The cooperative will hold a Facebook contest each month in 2015, with each winner receiving fabulous prizes from WK&T.

Mayfield resident Kristen Hendon won WK&T’s Valentine’s Day contest in February. She won a $25 gift card to Applebee’s; a dozen roses from King’s Flowers, Gifts & Antiques; two movie tickets to Princess Theatres of Mayfield; and a large heart-shaped box of assorted chocolates!

Thanks to everyone who entered, and check back often to keep up with the latest WK&T news and your next chance to win!