Solving the puzzle

Locals are seeing a boom in genealogy interest fueled by the Internet

By Patrick Smith

Bill and Birdie Foy volunteer five days a week at the Graves County Public Library genealogy section. Those interested are always welcome to start their search.

Bill and Birdie Foy volunteer five days a week at the Graves County Public Library genealogy section. Those interested are always welcome to start their search.

Jim Alexander spent hours poring over history books, drove to libraries throughout the Southeast and used the Internet to travel around the globe, but he can now trace his roots back to Lord Baltimore in the 1600s. While each method — books, physical trips and the Internet — are important to his research, Alexander is quick to point out how much broadband speeds up the discovery of his true lineage.

“With the technology available today, we can travel around the world to get information with the click of the mouse,” says Alexander. “People go to England, Ireland, France and Germany, and the people over there can look stuff up for us, and then you can check it and you don’t have to travel. It’s amazing.”

On a typical weekday, Alexander is joined by Bill and Birdie Foy in the Graves County Public Library genealogy section. They volunteer their time, surrounded by thousands and thousands of pages of thick-bound books. The genealogy books provide a window into the history of the thousands of people who at one time called Graves County home. But their research isn’t always held within the walls of the library.

“One of the things they did when they started was to go out and read the tombstones that they could find in the cemeteries,” says Bill Foy, speaking of the founders of the local Graves County Kentucky Genealogy Society. “Then they made books so everybody else could do research.”

Birdie Foy, left, B.J. Hale, center, and Bill Foy have seen the massive impact the Internet has had on genealogy research recently.

Birdie Foy, left, B.J. Hale, center, and Bill Foy have seen the massive impact the Internet has had on genealogy research recently.

The three volunteers are truly walking encyclopedias of local history. Need to know why there are no birth or death records before 1911? It turns out Graves County didn’t keep them. Need an explanation on why some records are hard to find? It turns out the Graves County Courthouse burned down three times. Curious about who is the most famous person from Graves County? They usually cite Alben W. Barkley, who was the 35th Vice President of the United States under President Harry S. Truman from 1949-53.


When a new face walks into the library, Alexander and Bill and Birdie Foy are happy to help them discover their ancestry.

“We have a lot of people who come here from out of state, as far away as Oregon, Texas, Alaska, Florida, Missouri, New York, Iowa — the list goes on,” says Bill Foy. “They come in here to do their research. We think a lot of families stopped here when they were moving west.”

Jim Alexander, a member of the Graves County Genealogy Society, has traced his family roots to the 1600s.

Jim Alexander, a member of the Graves County Genealogy Society, has traced his family roots to the 1600s.

Most often, people have found out about Graves County and their unusually well-equipped library because of an Internet site, such as “They come to us to see if we can provide absolute proof of what they need,” says Alexander.

And the fact that visitors find such an immense database to work from is particularly noteworthy for such a small, volunteer-led effort. The hunt for local records was started by Don Simmons in the 1980s.

“He would go to the courthouse, write the information down by hand, then go back and type it up on a typewriter,” says Birdie Foy. “That’s one of the reasons we have such a large amount of information here.”

That was 30 short years ago. Today, technology has transformed genealogy and given it a heightened awareness among people of all ages. “It’s so much faster,” says Birdie Foy. “But sometimes you still want to dig in a book because maybe they made a mistake. It’s hard to refute the facts if you’ve got a paper copy.” That’s why many involved in genealogy recommend those interested do the initial work online, then try to go and see it for themselves, or have someone else double-check your findings.

“The people who started their journey online have created a lot of interest for genealogy,” says Bill Foy. “Even though they may not always have the correct information, a lot of times they come here and get the right information on paper. It has definitely expanded people’s interest in genealogy.”

B.J. Hale, left, and Bill and Birdie Foy do research in the library.

B.J. Hale, left, and Bill and Birdie Foy do research in the library.

The Internet has also greatly reduced the cost of doing genealogy research. Prior to the Internet, people were required to travel to find new information. Now they can find multiple pieces of information in a few clicks, or make one longer trip to several different locations to verify information.

And with each connection made by the genealogy team, whether within their own families or for visitors passing through Graves County, they find an undeniable feeling of satisfaction through helping locate long-lost relatives.

“It’s like putting a puzzle together,” says Birdie Foy. “Once you’ve put a piece in, it’s a great feeling because it may have taken you a year to find that one piece. You’re thrilled when you’ve found someone. It’s just amazing the different ways you connect with your relatives.”

Did you know?

The Graves County Kentucky Genealogy Society holds monthly meetings with about 30 people regularly attending and more than 80 members nationwide. For more information, visit:

Bright lights, big city … slow Internet?

WK&T’s fiber service produces faster broadband than what’s available in many larger cities

Billy “Buck” Viniard has faster Internet from WK&T’s fiber service in Cunningham than what he’s able to get at his job in downtown Paducah.

Billy “Buck” Viniard has faster Internet from WK&T’s fiber service in Cunningham than what he’s able to get at his job in downtown Paducah.

WK&T members live where they do for a reason. Though cities offer some advantages like convenient shopping and more restaurant options, rural residents have chosen the open spaces, quality of life and small-town culture of local communities.

But, as many WK&T members have discovered, living in a rural area doesn’t mean you’ll be getting slower, second-rate Internet service like residents in larger cities, such as Paducah, St. Louis or Memphis sometimes experience.

WK&T’s fiber service provides faster broadband speeds than most people can find in large cities — and WK&T’s service is often available for less money.

For instance, would you believe that residents in Cunningham can get faster Internet than workers and students in downtown Paducah?

Billy “Buck” Viniard, a Cunningham resident and WK&T member, says his home Internet speed is faster and cheaper than what is available to him at work in Paducah.

“I’ve been very, very satisfied with my fiber service, and I’ve recommended it to several people who are on something else,” says Viniard.

Viniard’s home fiber regularly supports his family’s home phone and television services, two game consoles, two Internet video streaming services and Wi-Fi for smartphones and computers. “It’s amazing that our fiber service keeps up with all that,” says Viniard. “There’s no delay; it’s wonderful.”

And as many members quickly realize, as a cooperative, WK&T has the community’s best interest in mind. That community commitment has helped build nearly 25 years of loyalty with Viniard. “I’ve had the same telephone number ever since I’ve lived in Cunningham,” says Viniard. “I love the local relationship that I have with WK&T. If I have a problem, they’re going to be there and they’re going to solve it. That’s worth the money right there.”

Throughout WK&T’s service territory, fiber is doing more than just building member loyalty and speeding up Internet downloads. Fiber is transforming the entire community. It’s furnishing teachers with the ability to teach with the Internet in their classroom. It’s providing new Internet-based jobs. And it’s increasing the speed and effectiveness of local emergency services. The possibilities fiber provides are only beginning.

Today, it’s hard to comprehend all the changes fiber will contribute to the community. So until then, perhaps the best support is given by current users, like Viniard. “I had a neighbor call and ask if I like my fiber service,” he says. “I just smiled and said, ‘I love it.’”

To see the difference fiber can make for your home or business, call WK&T at 1-877-954-8748 or visit

Tech Tips: Start backing up your hard drive now!

Having your information stored externally is key if your hard drive fails

Matt_3969Hi, 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!

Sad as it may be, the holiday season is over, and it’s 12 months until Christmas rolls around again.

Right about now, your waist may be a little larger from all the wonderful food, and your wallet might be a little lighter from gifts you gave — so with all the incredible memories fresh in your mind, consider this:

How many digital photos did you take this holiday season?

Let me ask two more questions: How many of those photos would you still have if your hard drive failed? How many other irreplaceable photos of Christmas, Halloween, school plays and other events would you lose if your computer died?

The answer is scary to think about.

Those photos you took of the whole family together for Thanksgiving or of your toddler opening gifts on Christmas morning are the memories you’ll treasure for a lifetime — so wouldn’t it be a tragedy to lose those photos forever?

Every year, I inevitably meet a customer with tears in their eyes because their computer’s hard drive unexpectedly crashed and they lost those priceless memories. You never know when your hard drive might crash. People often think they might see symptoms of a crash coming, but often this isn’t true. Sometimes a minor power surge or lightning strike can cause a loss of some or all of your information.

Don’t let this happen to you — backup your photos and other important digital files at least twice a month!

If you save your files to a backup drive on a regular basis, you can usually restore the last file you saved, no matter if it was lost, stolen, deleted or corrupted. It’s much easier to restore two weeks of data rather than start from the beginning.

There are several options available to back up your information.

An external hard drive that doesn’t require a dedicated power source is a great way to back up your information. External hard drives require no Internet connection to save your files, and since many models are powered by your computer, it provides a truly portable solution. Be aware that these devices are also prone to lightning strikes and power surges, so treat the device with the same care as you would your computer.

Much like the external hard drive, a USB jump drive gives you a portable storage solution, but since these devices are so small, a jump drive is limited in the amount of storage space it provides.

There are several cloud storage options, such as Dropbox, iCloud, Amazon Cloud and Google Drive. These options give you great flexibility, allowing you to access your information anywhere you have an Internet connection, and there’s no worry about the device breaking or becoming corrupt or outdated. But be aware that some services offer a certain amount of storage for free, while others require a monthly fee.

Each situation is unique, and while finding the right storage option that fits you is important, the decision to start backing up your information is most important.


  • External hard drive
  • Dropbox
  • USB jump drive
  • iCloud
  • Amazon Cloud
  • Google Drive

Device of the month

Toshiba Canvio Basics 1 TB Toshiba Canvio Basics 1 TB

Remember when computers used floppy disks? A standard 3.5-inch floppy disk held 1.44 MB of information. Today’s storage options allow for much larger amounts of information, in a much smaller way. In fact, the Toshiba Canvio Basics 1 TB will hold the contents of approximately 728,000 floppy disks. That’s a lot of information! The Canvio Basics 1 TB model, which is phantom powered by your computer through a USB 2.0 or 3.0 port, gives you the space and flexibility to store all the information you need for months or even years to come. The WK&T Technology Store has them on hand now.

Congratulations, Dick Tribou!

Dick Tribou 1After more than 15 years of working with the cooperative, Drafting Technician Dick Tribou has retired. Over the past several years, Tribou has been instrumental in helping to plan WK&T’s fiber project, which is bringing the fastest broadband available to the area.

“The people here have been super,” says Tribou. “It’s one big family here, and WK&T has always taken care of my needs. It’s been a tremendous opportunity to be part of this great company.”

WK&T would like to thank Dick for his years of dedicated service and wish him the best of luck in his retirement!

Congressman Whitfield sees the impact of fiber on local businesses firsthand

CongressmanWhitfield1U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., visited the offices of Ag Connections in Calloway County to see how WK&T’s fiber services are providing new opportunities for local business. Congressman Whitfield met with WK&T CEO Trevor Bonnstetter and other local business leaders as part of his visit.

“It’s incredibly gratifying to see Congressman Whitfield’s recognition of WK&T’s great work here in Calloway County,” says Bonnstetter. “WK&T’s fiber services are changing how local businesses operate, and it’s wonderful to share our story with our representatives in Washington, D.C.”

WK&T’s fiber project is nearing the finish line!

Stacey Brown, left, and Donnie Thacker install fiber in Wingo

Stacey Brown, left, and Donnie Thacker install fiber in Wingo

WK&T is approaching the final steps in building its fiber network throughout the cooperative’s entire service area. Fiber recently became available to members in the New Concord exchange, which was the last major area where crews completed construction.

Recently, WK&T finished construction on the Fairdealing exchange, and soon all members will have access to the blazing-fast speeds of fiber. The new service allows members to receive broadband Internet, high-definition television and crystal-clear telephone service through a fiber line that’s thinner than thickness of a human hair. WK&T designed the network with the ability to provide service to each and every resident, business and organization in its service area with an individual fiber line for each member.

For more information, or to set up fiber service, call 1-877-954-8748 and schedule an appointment today!

Helping you build the life you want

By Trevor Bonnstetter
Chief Executive Officer
Trevor Bonnstetter

Trevor Bonnstetter

Why do you live in rural America? Maybe it’s family connections. Maybe it’s the close sense of community and the importance of tradition. Maybe it’s because you enjoy a quality of life in this area that would be difficult to find in a metro region.

Whatever your reasons, the people who work at WK&T understand that we play an important role in helping you build the life you want here. As your local telecommunications provider, we know you depend on us to supply the technology you need to stay connected. And that is becoming more important as our world grows increasingly dependent on broadband connections and Internet-based solutions.

Some might think that living in a rural area means sacrificing access to technology. We are proud that, as a member of  WK&T, you do not have to sacrifice at all. In fact, because of our focus on building a state-of-the-art network, you have access to Internet speeds higher than those available to some people living in larger cities.

Of course, we still have many challenges. While just over 19 percent of the U.S. population lives in a rural region, almost half of Americans who are not connected to the Internet are rural. That means there are still millions of rural Americans who are missing opportunities made possible by a broadband connection. From education and jobs to health care and family connections, they have yet to discover what so many of their neighbors have already learned — that a broadband connection can help them build a better life.

That is one of our biggest challenges as your technology leader. Building a broadband network is only the first step; we must also help you understand how to use it. The magazine you are reading now plays an important role in those efforts. We choose the stories for this magazine very carefully. We include subjects that appeal to a broad range of readers with a variety of interests. We can almost guarantee that during the course of a year you will be drawn to something in these pages, no matter what your interests may be. And whether it’s a profile on a local person with a unique hobby or business, a story on how someone is using technology, or a feature on a road trip, these have the mission of helping you learn to put our services to practical use in your life.

Speaking of the magazine, please look again at the top of Page 3 and spend just a few minutes taking our reader survey. Your answers will help us understand what you love best and find most helpful about your magazine.

I also want to call your attention to the Rural Connections article on Page 2. Shirley Bloomfield leads our national trade group, NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association, and does an incredible job keeping us connected on issues in Washington, D.C., that impact us right here in Kentucky and Tennessee. It is more important than ever that independent telecommunications companies work together on matters that impact us all; we are proud to welcome Shirley as a contributor to our magazine as she shares with you some of the work we are all doing together.

When you think about family and community, living in rural America really is all about being connected. At WK&T we are proud to provide the technology that makes many of those connections possible.

Recipes on the wild side

Gator Roll-Ups

Pinwheell0807There are no exact amounts in this recipe. It all depends on how much gator tail you have.

  • Bacon
  • Alligator tail pieces cut 1 inch wide and 4 inches long
  • Cream cheese
  • Prosciutto ham
  • Pepper Jack cheese
  • Barbecue sauce

Prepare smoker. Place a slice of bacon on cutting board or other clean surface. Place one piece of gator tail on bacon, then top with cream cheese, a thin slice of ham and a slice of cheese. Roll up and secure bacon with toothpick. Repeat with remaining gator pieces. Place roll-ups in smoker and smoke for 45 minutes at 300°. Serve with barbecue sauce.


  • Uncooked strips of wild turkey breast, cut into 6- by 1- by 4-inch strips
  • Equal number strips of brown-sugar bacon
  • Pepper Jack cheese slices
  • Prosciutto ham slices

Place turkey strip on a slice of bacon. Cut a square slice of pepper jack into 3 strips; place two on top of turkey. Add 1 slice of ham and top with third cheese strip. Roll into a pinwheel and secure with toothpick. Season to taste with your favorite seasonings. Put three roll-ups on a kabob skewer. Grill on top of foil at 320° for 45 minutes, turning every 15 minutes. Remove from foil and cook over exposed fire or coals for a few minutes to caramelize.

Elk Quesadillas

  • 1 pound ground elk meat
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 can black beans
  • Tortillas
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Garnishes: cilantro, salsa, sour cream, avocado, sliced jalapeno peppers

Preheat oven to 400°. Heat olive oil in pan and add onions, garlic and meat. Once meat is broken up, add spices. Saute peppers in a separate pan with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Add beans after peppers are fork-tender. Place meat, peppers, beans and cheese onto half a tortilla. Fold in half and secure with a toothpick. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Place on a wire rack in the oven or the grill and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and garnish with desired toppings.

Venison Chili

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 3 cups red wine
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder. Salt, to taste
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 10 slices cooked bacon, diced
  • 2 pounds venison (deer) stew meat, ground or finely diced
  • 2 cups kidney or black beans, cooked and drained

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar and saute for 2 to 3 more minutes. Then stir in the red wine, vinegar, tomato paste, chicken stock, cumin, cayenne pepper, chili powder and salt. Simmer for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the mixture is reduced by about half.  Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the bacon and fry for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the bacon is browned. Move the bacon to one side of the skillet and add the venison to the empty side of the skillet. Season the meat with salt, to taste, and saute the meat for 15 minutes or until well browned. Stir in the beans and toss all together. Transfer this mixture to the simmering pot. Mix everything together thoroughly and let simmer for another half hour. Serve in bowls with garnishes, such as sliced green onions, shredded cheese and sour cream on the side.


Game time!

By Anne P. Braly

Mike Page demonstrates his grill skills with some mouth-watering gator roll-ups.

Mike Page demonstrates his grill skills with some mouth-watering gator roll-ups.

There are more tricks to cooking wild game than pulling a rabbit from a hat, and it takes a seasoned cook and avid hunter, such as Mike Page of New Hope, Alabama, to get it right.

Page, pitmaster of Bootlegg BBQ located in New Hope, and a longtime competitor on the wild game cook-off circuit, was the 2013 grand champion of the Alabama Wildlife Federation Wild Game Cook-Off held in Tuscumbia, Alabama. His dish, Elk Tex-Mex, was the best overall of 31 entries.

So it goes without saying … he’s wild about game.

“I was around 8 years old when my dad first started taking me hunting,” he says. With that came an important lesson: “He taught me that if you kill an animal, you have to eat it.”

So by the time he was a teenager, Page began cooking meat on his own. Early on, he learned the age-old, time-honored tricks of the trade: how to lessen the flavors of meats with heavy, gamey flavors; how to marinate tougher cuts; and which meats taste best grilled, smoked or fried. But the name of the game for most of Page’s meats is low and slow: low heat and slow cooking.

“When I’m cooking wild game, most people will ask what it is,” he says. “And they always like it when they try it, especially when I’m cooking more exotic meats, such as bear and gator. They really want to try that.”

GATOR, ANYONE? — Dinner is definitely never boring when Mike Page is in charge of the menu. The pitmaster of Bootlegg BBQ is also a wild game cook-off grand champion.

GATOR, ANYONE? — Dinner is definitely never boring when Mike Page is in charge of the menu. The pitmaster of Bootlegg BBQ is also a wild game cook-off grand champion.

As for technique, Page readily admits that cooking wild game is a bit tougher than preparing farm-raised meats for the table.

“You have to pay attention to your dish,” he says with a nod toward Mother Nature. “Wild game doesn’t come in a package with instructions.”

Most wild game meats require marinating, but what marinade is used depends on the type of meat. All wild game is different and has different textures, Page explains.

“You have to marinate the meat, but be careful not to overdo it,” Page warns. “I like to taste more of the natural flavors of the meat, and I’ve found that others do, too.”

Mike Page’s suggestions for marinades:

  • Combine 3/4 cup apple juice, 1/3 cup oil, 1/4 cup cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons fresh sage and 1 teaspoon salt (good for bear, elk and venison).
  • Mix the amount of Worcestershire sauce you need with some Montreal steak seasoning (good for elk, venison and duck).
  • Red wine with crushed garlic (good for venison and elk).
  • Mix together 1 can beer, 2 cups Worcestershire, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, garlic salt and black pepper (good for almost any game meat).
Anne P. Braly

Anne P. Braly



Staying connected to those New Year’s resolutions

By Matt Ledger

It’s that time of year again — New Year’s resolutions. Some face them with dread, while others resolve to try a bit harder than last year.

Statistically, most resolutions revolve around cutting out the sweets, reinstating gym memberships or trying out another aspect of fitness, but there are many other ways to enhance our lives. Maybe less Facebook and more face time with those friends? You might even include them in your next selfie. It’s easy to let technology distract you, but it can also be used as an incredible tool for time management, goal setting, fiscal planning and of course tracking exercise.

Organization — Trello
Playing games flat icons setDon’t you wish you could have that kitchen dry erase board in your pocket to remind you of that errand you just forgot or that key ingredient from the recipe? Sure, you could just write another Post-it note, but your smartphone can allow you to edit, sync, upload photos and even assign tasks to other family members. Trello is a cloud-based app that you can use to organize the tasks of a big project and/or the daily routine. Users create color-coded boards, with lists of prioritized tasks that are easily dragged to the completed column to track your weekly progress. Trello is used by tech clients at Google, PayPal and Kickstarter.

Budget and finance — Playing games flat icons set
Just about everyone could do a little better managing their money in 2015. To track those finances and budget your spending, offers free tracking software to electronically monitor investments, purchases and income. Mint, from the makers of TurboTax, Quicken and QuickBooks, has encrypted security equal to your bank. Just like those major credit cards, the system will alert you of unusual account purchases, spending trends and if you exceed your budgets.

Fitness — Mobile apps
FitnessSpeaking of investments, improving your overall health is an investment in your future. Being healthy helps parents stay active with their kids and pays many dividends later on during retirement. To get started, try the 7-minute workout app by Johnson and Johnson, which coaches you through dozens of simple home exercises. Once that becomes routine, you can escape to the nearest park and use the RunKeeper or MapMyFitness apps to track how many miles you run or bike.

Volunteerism — & Volunteer
While the first three areas focus on yourself, many people make resolutions to help in their communities to make the spirit of the season last well beyond New Year’s Day. The websites and allow people to search for local volunteer programs. Some current projects are seeking volunteers for everything from youth tutors to repairs at homeless shelters to mentors to helping the elderly. Having your own budget or fitness in order is great, but nothing gives you that feeling of satisfaction quite like helping others